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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aguinas

4:1–4

1. And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

2. Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

3. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

4. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

THEOPHYLACT. Christ is tempted after His baptism, shewing us that after we are baptized, temptations await us. Hence it is said, But Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit, &c.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. God said in times past, My Spirit shall not always abide in men, for that they are flesh. (Gen. 6:3. Vulg.) But now that we have been enriched with the gift of regeneration by water and the Spirit, we are become partakers of the Divine nature by participation of the Holy Spirit. But the first-born among many brethren first received the Spirit, who Himself also is the giver of the Spirit, that we through Him might also receive the grace of the Holy Spirit.

ORIGEN. When therefore you read that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, and it is written in the Acts concerning the Apostles, that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, you must not suppose that the Apostles were equal to the Saviour. For as if you should say, These vessels are full of wine or oil, you would not thereby affirm them to be equally full, so Jesus and Paul were full of the Holy Spirit, but Paul’s vessel was far less than that of Jesus, and yet each was filled according to its own measure. Having then received baptism, the Saviour, being full of the Holy Spirit, which came upon Him from heaven in the form of a dove, was led by the Spirit, because, as many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God, (Rom. 8:14.) but He was above all, especially the Son of God.

BEDE. That there might be no doubt by what Spirit He was led, while the other Evangelists say, into the wilderness, Luke has purposely added, And he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days. That no unclean spirit should be thought to have prevailed against Him, who being full of the Holy Spirit did whatever He wished.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Severus.) But if we order our lives according to our own will, how was He led about unwillingly? Those words then, He was led by the Spirit, have some meaning of this kind: He led of His own accord that kind of life, that He might present an opportunity to the tempter.

BASIL. For not by word provoking the enemy, but by His actions rousing him, He seeks the wilderness. For the devil delights in the wilderness, he is not wont to go into the cities, the harmony of the citizens troubles him.

AMBROSE. He was led therefore into the wilderness, to the intent that He might provoke the devil, for if the one had not contended, the other it seems had not conquered. In a mystery, it was to deliver that Adam from exile who was cast out of Paradise into the wilderness. By way of example, it was to shew us that the devil envies us, whenever we strive after better things; and that then we must use caution, lest the weakness of our minds should lose us the grace of the mystery. Hence it follows: And he was tempted of the devil.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Behold, He is among the wrestlers, who as God awards the prizes. He is among the crowned, who crowns the heads of the saints.

GREGORY. (3. Mor. sup. Job 2.) Our enemy was however unable to shake the purpose of the Mediator between God and men. For He condescended to be tempted outwardly, yet so that His soul inwardly, resting in its divinity, remained unshaken.

ORIGEN. But Jesus is tempted by the devil forty days, and what the temptations were we know not. They were perhaps omitted, as being greater than could be committed to writing.

BASIL. Or, the Lord remained for forty days untempted, for the devil knew that He fasted, yet hungered not, and dared not therefore approach Him. Hence it follows: And he eat nothing in those days. He fasted indeed, to shew that He who would gird Himself for struggles against temptation must be temperate and sober.

AMBROSE. There are three things which united together conduce to the salvation of man; The Sacrament, The Wilderness, Fasting. No one who has not rightly contended receives a crown, but no one is admitted to the contest of virtue, except first being washed from the stains of all his sins, he is consecrated with the gift of heavenly grace.

GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Orat. 40.) He fasted in truth forty days, eating nothing. (For He was God.) But we regulate our fasting according to our strength, although the zeal of some persuades them to fast beyond what they are able.

BASIL. (ex Const. Mon.) But we must not however so use the flesh, that through want of food our strength should waste away, nor that by excess of mortification our understandings wax dull and heavy. Our Lord therefore, once performed this work, but during this whole succeeding time He governed His body with due order, and so in like manner did Moses and Elias.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 13. in Matt.) But very wisely, He exceeded not their number of days, lest indeed He should be thought to have come in appearance only, and not to have really received the flesh, or lest the flesh should seem to be something beyond human nature.

AMBROSE. But mark the mystical number of days. For you remember that for forty days the waters of the deep were poured forth, and by sanctifying a fast of that number of days, He brings before us the returning mercies of a calmer sky. By a fast of so many days also, Moses earned for himself the understanding of the law. Our fathers being for so many years settled in the wilderness, obtained the food of Angels.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. ii. c. 4.) Now that number is a sacrament of our time and labour, in which under Christ’s discipline we contend against the devil, for it signifies our temporal life. For the seasons of the year run in courses of four, but forty contains four tens. Again, those ten are completed by the number one successively advancing up to four. This plainly shews that the fast of forty days, i. e. the humiliation of the soul, the Law and the Prophets have consecrated by Moses and Elias, the Gospel by the fast of our Lord Himself.

BASIL. (ubi sup.) But because not to suffer hunger is above the nature of man, our Lord took upon Himself the feeling of hunger, and submitted Himself as it pleased Him to human nature, both to do and to suffer those things which were His own. Hence it follows: And those days being ended, he was a hungered. Not forced to that necessity which overpowers nature, but as if provoking the devil to the conflict. For the devil, knowing that wherever hunger is there is weakness, sets about to tempt Him, and as the deviser or inventer of temptations, Christ permitting him tries to persuade Him to satisfy His appetite with the stones. As it follows; But the devil said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command these stones that they be made bread.

AMBROSE. There are three especial weapons which we are taught the devil is wont to arm himself with, that he may wound the soul of man. One is of the appetite, another of boasting, the third ambition. He began with that wherewith he had already conquered, namely, Adam. Let us then beware of the appetite, let us beware of luxury, for it is a weapon of the devil. But what mean his words, If thou art the Son of God, unless he had known that the Son would come, but supposed Him not to have come from the weakness of His body. He first endeavours to find Him out, then to tempt Him. He professes to trust Him as God, then tries to deceive Him as man.

ORIGEN. When a father is asked by his son for bread, he does not give him a stone for bread, but the devil like a crafty and deceitful foe gives stones for bread.

BASIL. (ubi sup.) He tried to persuade Christ to satisfy His appetite with stones, i. e. to shift his desire from the natural food to that which was beyond nature or unnatural.

ORIGEN. I suppose also that even now at this very time the devil shews a stone to men that he may tempt them to speak, saying to them, Command this stone to be made bread. If thou seest the heretics devouring their lying doctrines as if they were bread, know that their teaching is a stone which the devil shews them.

BASIL. (ubi sup.) But Christ while He vanquishes temptation, banishes not hunger from our nature, as though that were the cause of evils, (which is rather the preservative of life, but confining nature within its proper bounds, shews of what kind its nourishment is, as follows; And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.

THEOPHYLACT. As if He said, Not by bread alone is human nature sustained, but the word of God is sufficient to support the whole nature of man. Such was the food of the Israelites when they gathered manna during the space of forty years, and when they delighted in the taking of quails. (Exod. 16:15, Numb. 11:32) By the Divine counsel Elias had the crows to entertain him; (1 Kings 17:6) Elisha fed his companions on the herbs of the field. (2 Kings 4:44.)

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Or, our earthly body is nourished by earthly food, but the reasonable soul is strengthened by the Divine Word, to the right ordering of the spirit.

GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Poem. Mor. x. 624.) For the body nourishes not our immaterial nature.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (in Eccles. Hom. 5.) Virtue then is not sustained by bread, nor by flesh does the soul keep itself in health and vigour, but by other banquets than these is the heavenly life fostered, and increased. The nourishment of the good man is chastity, his bread, wisdom, his herbs, justice, his drink, freedom from passion, his delight, (εὐφροσύνη quasi ex εὐφρόνειν) to be rightly wise.

AMBROSE. You see then what kind of arms He uses to defend man against the assaults of spiritual wickedness, and the allurements of the appetite. He does not exert His power as God, (for how had that profited me,) but as man He summons to Himself a common aid, that while intent upon the food of divine reading He may neglect the hunger of the body, and gain the nourishment of the word. For he who seeks after the word cannot feel the want of earthly bread; for divine things doubtless make up for the loss of human. At the same time by saying, Man lives not by bread alone, He shews that man was tempted, that is, our flesh which He assumed, not His own divinity.

4:5–8

5. And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

6. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

8. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

THEOPHYLACT. The enemy had first assailed Christ by the temptation of the appetite, as also he did Adam. He next tempts Him with the desire of gain or covetousness, shewing Him all the kingdoms of the world. Hence it follows, And the devil taking him up.

GREGORY. (Hom. 6. in Ev.) What marvel that He permitted Himself to be led by the devil into the mountains, who even endured to be crucified in His own body?

THEOPHYLACT. But how did the devil shew Him all the kingdoms of the world? Some say that he presented them to Him in imagination, but I hold that he brought them before Him in visible form and appearance.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. Or, the devil described the world in language, and as he thought brought it vividly before our Lord’s mind as though it were a certain house.

AMBROSE. Truly in a moment of time, the kingdoms of this world are described. For here it is not so much the rapid glance of sight which is signified as is declared the frailty of mortal power. For in a moment all this passes by, and oftentimes the glory of this world has vanished before it has arrived. It follows, And he said unto him, I will give thee all this power.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (non occ.) He lied in two respects. For he neither had to give, nor could he give that which he had not; he gains possession of nothing, but is an enemy reduced to fight.

AMBROSE. For it is elsewhere said, that all power is from God. (Rom. 13:1.) Therefore from God’s hands comes the disposal of power, the lust of power is from the evil one; power is not itself evil, but he who evilly uses it. What then; is it good to exercise power, to desire honour? Good if it is bestowed upon us, not if it is seized. We must distinguish however in this good itself. There is one good use of the world, another of perfect virtue. It is good to seek God; it is a good thing that the desire of becoming acquainted with God should be hindered by no worldly business. But if he who seeks God, is from the weakness of the flesh, and the narrowness of his mind, often tempted, how much more is he exposed who seeks the world? We are taught then to despise ambition, because it is subject to the power of the devil. But honour abroad is followed by danger at home, and in order to rule others a man is first their servant, and prostrates himself in obedience that he may be rewarded with honours, and the higher he aspires the lower he bends with feigned humility; whence he adds, If thou will fall down and worship me.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. And dost thou, whose lot is the unquenchable fire, promise to the Lord of all that which is His own? Didst thou think to have Him for thy worshipper, from dread of whom the whole creation trembles?

ORIGEN. Or, to view the whole in another light. Two kings are earnestly contending for a kingdom; The king of sin who reigneth over sinners, that is, the devil; The king of righteousness who ruleth the righteous, that is, Christ. The devil, knowing that Christ had come to take away his kingdom, shews Him all the kingdoms of the world; not the kingdoms of the Persians and of the Medes, but his own kingdom whereby he reigned in the world, whereby some are under the dominion of fornication, others of covetousness. And he shews Him them in a moment of time, that is, in the present course of time, which is but a moment in comparison of eternity. For the Saviour needed not to be shewn for any longer time the affairs of this world, but as soon as He turned His eyes to look, He beheld sins reigning, and men made slaves to vice. The devil therefore says unto Him, Camest Thou to contend with me for dominion? Worship me, and behold I give Thee the kingdom I hold. Now the Lord would indeed reign, but being Righteousness itself, would reign without sin; and would have all nations subject to Him, that they might obey the truth, but would not so reign over others as that He Himself should be subject to the devil. Hence it follows, And Jesus answering said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.

BEDE. The devil saying to our Saviour, If thou wilt fall down and worship me, receives answer that he himself ought rather to worship Christ as his Lord and God.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. (in Thes. 32.) But how comes it that the Son (if as the heretics say a created being) is worshipped? What charge can be brought against those who served the creature and not the Creator, if the Son (according to them a created being) we are to worship as God?

ORIGEN. Or else, All these, he says, I would have subject to me, that they might worship the Lord God, and serve Him alone. But dost thou wish sin to begin from Me, which I came hither to destroy?

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. This command touched him to the quick; for before Christ’s coming he was every where worshipped. But the law of God casting him down from his usurped dominion, establishes the worship of Him alone who is really God.

BEDE. But some one may ask how this injunction agrees with the word of the Apostle, which says, Beloved, serve one another. (Gal. 5:13.) In the Greek, δουλεία signifies a common service, (i. e. given either to God or man,) according to which we are bid to serve one another; but λατρεία is the service due to the worship of the Deity, with which we are bid to serve God alone.

4:9–13

9. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

10. For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

11. And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

12. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

AMBROSE. The next weapon he uses is that of boasting, which always causes the offender to fall down; for they who love to boast of the glory of their virtue descend from the stand and vantage ground of their good deeds. Hence it is said, And he led him to Jerusalem.

ORIGEN. He followed evidently as a wrestler, gladly setting out to meet the temptation, and saying, as it were, Lead me where you will, and you will find me the stronger in every thing.

AMBROSE. It is the fate of boasting, that while a man thinks he is climbing higher, he is by his pretension to lofty deeds brought low. Hence it follows, And he said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down.

ATHANASIUS. (non occ.) The devil entered not into a contest with God, (for he durst not, and therefore said, If thou art the Son of God,) but he contended with man whom once he had power to deceive.

AMBROSE. That is truly the devil’s language, which seeks to cast down the soul of man from the high ground of its good deeds, while he shews at the same time both his weakness and malice, for he can injure no one that does not first cast himself down. For he who forsaking heavenly things pursues earthly, rushes as it were wilfully down the self-sought precipice of a falling life. As soon then as the devil perceived his dart blunted, he who had subdued all men to his own power, began to think he had to deal with more than man. But Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and often from the Holy Scriptures weaves his mesh for the faithful: hence it follows, It is written, He shall give, &c.

ORIGEN. Whence knowest thou, Satan, that those things are written? Hast thou read the Prophets, or the oracles of God? Thou hast read them indeed, but not that thyself mightest be the better for the reading, but that from the mere letter thou mightest slay them who are friends to the letter. (2 Cor. 3:6.) Thou knowest that if thou wert to speak from His other books, thou wouldest not deceive.

AMBROSE. Let not the heretic entrap thee by bringing examples from the Scriptures. The devil makes use of the testimony of the Scriptures not to teach but to deceive.

ORIGEN. But mark how wily he is even in this testimony. For he would fain throw a slur upon the glory of the Saviour, as though He needed the assistance of angels, and would stumble were He not supported by their hands. But this was said not of Christ, but of the saints generally; He needs not the aid of angels, Who is greater than angels. But let this teach thee, Satan, that the angels would stumble did not God sustain them; and thou stumblest, because thou refusest to believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. But why art thou silent as to what follows, Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk, (Ps. 91:13.) except that thou art the basilisk, thou art the dragon and the lion?

AMBROSE. But the Lord, to prevent the thought that those things which had been prophesied of Him were fulfilled according to the devil’s will, and not by the authority of His own divine power, again so foils his cunning, that he who had alleged the testimony of Scripture, should by Scripture himself be overthrown. Hence it follows, And Jesus answering said, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

CHRYSOSTOM. For it is of the devil to cast one’s self into dangers, and try whether God will rescue us.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. God gives not help to those who tempt Him, but to those who believe on Him. Christ therefore did not shew His miracles to them that tempted Him, but said to them, An evil generation seeketh a sign, and no sign shall be given to them. (Mat. 12:39.)

CHRYSOSTOM. But mark how the Lord, instead of being troubled, condescends to dispute from the Scriptures with the wicked one, that thou, as far as thou art able, mightest become like Christ. The devil knew the arms of Christ, beneath which he sunk. Christ took him captive by meekness, He overcame him by humility. Do thou also, when thou seest a man who has become a devil coming to meet thee, subdue him in like manner. Teach thy soul to conform its words to those of Christ. For as a Roman judge, who on the bench refuses to hear the reply of one who knows not how to speak as he does; so also Christ, except thou speakest after His manner, will neither hear thee nor protect thee.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (ubi sup.) In lawful contests the battle is terminated either when the adversary surrenders of his own accord to the conqueror, or is defeated in three falls, according to the rules of the art of fighting. Hence it follows, And all the temptation being completed, &c.

AMBROSE. He would not have said that all the temptation was ended, had there not been in the three temptations which have been described the materials for every crime; for the causes of temptations are the causes of desire, namely, the delight of the flesh, the pomp of vain-glory, greediness of power.

ATHANASIUS. (non occ.) The enemy came to Him as man, but not finding in Him the marks of his ancient seed, he departed.

AMBROSE. You see then that the devil is not obstinate on the field, is wont to give way to true virtue; and if he ceases not to hate, he yet dreads to advance, for so he escapes a more frequent defeat. As soon then as he heard the name of God, he retired (it is said) for a season, for afterwards he comes not to tempt, but to fight openly.

THEOPHYLACT. Or, having tempted Him in the desert with pleasure, he retires from Him until the crucifixion, when he was about to tempt Him with sorrow.

MAXIMUS. (lib. ad. piet. ex. 12.) Or the devil had prompted Christ in the desert to prefer the things of the world to the love of God. The Lord commanded him to leave Him, (which itself was a mark of Divine love.) It was afterwards then enough to make Christ appear the false advocate of love to His neighbours, and therefore while He was teaching the paths of life, the devil stirred up the Gentiles and Pharisees to lay traps for Him that He might be brought to hate them. But the Lord, from the feeling of love which He had towards them, exhorted, reproved, ceased not to bestow mercy upon them.

AUGUSTINE. (de con. Ev. lib. ii. c. 6.) The whole of this narrative Matthew relates in a similar manner, but not in the same order. It is uncertain therefore which took place first, whether the kingdoms of the earth were first shewn unto Him, and He was afterwards taken up to the pinnacle of the temple; or whether this came first, and the other afterwards. It matters little however which, as long as it is clear that they all took place.

MAXIMUS. (ut sup.) But the reason why one Evangelist places this event first, and another that, is because vain-glory and covetousness give birth in turn to one another.

ORIGEN. But John, who had commenced his Gospel from God, saying, In the beginning was the Word, did not describe the temptation of the Lord, because God can not be tempted, of whom he wrote. But because in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke the human generations are given, and in Mark it is man who is tempted, therefore Matthew, Luke, and Mark have described the temptation of the Lord.

4:14–21

14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

15. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.

ORIGEN. The Lord having overcome the tempter, power was added to Him, i. e. as far as regards the manifestation of it. Hence it is said, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.

BEDE. By the power of the Spirit he means shewing forth of miracles.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now He performed miracles not from any external power, and from having as it were the acquired grace of the Holy Spirit, as other saints, but rather as being by nature the Son of God, and partaking of all things which are the Father’s, He exercises as by His own power and operation that grace which is of the Holy Spirit. But it was right that from that time He should become known, and that the mystery of His humanity should shine forth among those who were of the seed of Israel. It therefore follows, And his fame went out.

BEDE. And because wisdom belongs to teaching, but power to works, both are joined here, as it follows, And he taught in the synagogue.

Synagogue, which is a Greek word, is rendered in Latin congregatio. By this name then the Jews were accustomed to call not only the gathering together of people, but also the house where they met together to hear the word of God; as we call by the name of Church, both the place and the company of the faithful. But there is this difference between the synagogue which is called congregation, and the Church which is interpreted convocation, that flocks and cattle, and any thing else can be gathered together in one, but only rational beings can be called together. Accordingly the Apostolical doctors thought right to call a people which was distinguished by the superior dignity of a new grace rather by the name of Church, than Synagogue. But rightly also was the fact of His being magnified by those present proved, by actual evidence of word and deed, as it follows, And he was magnified by all.

ORIGEN. But you must not think that they only were happy, and that you are deprived of Christ’s teaching. For now also throughout the world He teaches through His instruments, and is now more glorified by all men, than at that time when those only in one province were gathered together.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He communicates the knowledge of Himself to those among whom He was brought up according to the flesh. As it follows, And he came to Nazareth.

THEOPHYLACT. That He might teach us to benefit and instruct first our brethren, then to extend our kindness to the rest of our friends.

BEDE. They flocked together on the Sabbath day in the synagogues, that, resting from all worldly occupations, they might set themselves down with a quiet mind to meditate on the precepts of the Law. Hence it follows, And he entered as was his custom on the Sabbath day into the synagogue.

AMBROSE. The Lord in every thing so humbled Himself to obedience, that He did not despise even the office of a reader, as it follows, And he rose up to read, and there was delivered unto him the book, &c. He received the book indeed, that He might shew Himself to be the same who spoke in the Prophets, and that He might stop the blasphemies of the wicked, who say that there is one God of the Old Testament, another of the New; or who say that Christ had His beginning from a virgin. For how did He begin from a virgin, who spoke before that virgin was?

ORIGEN. He opens not the book by chance, and finds a chapter containing a prophecy of Himself, but by the providence of God. Hence it follows, And when he had opened the book, he found the place, &c. (Is. 61:1.)

ATHANASIUS. (Orat. 2. cont. Arian.) He says this to explain to us the cause of the revelation made to the world, and of His taking upon Him the human nature. For as the Son, though He is the giver of the Spirit, does not refuse to confess as man that by the Spirit He casts out devils, so, inasmuch as He was made man, He does not refuse to say, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. In like manner we confess Him to have been anointed, inasmuch as He took upon Him our flesh, as it follows, Because he hath anointed me. For the Divine nature is not anointed, but that which is cognate to us. So also when He says that He was sent, we must suppose Him speaking of His human nature. For it follows, He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor.

AMBROSE. You see the Trinity coeternal and perfect. The Scripture speaks of Jesus as perfect God and perfect man. It speaks of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, who was shewn to be a cooperator, when in a bodily form as a dove He descended upon Christ.

ORIGEN. By the poor He means the Gentile nations, for they were poor, possessing nothing at all, having neither God, nor Law, nor Prophets, nor justice, and the other virtues.

AMBROSE. Or, He is anointed all over with spiritual oil, and heavenly virtue, that He might enrich the poverty of man’s condition with the everlasting treasure of His resurrection.

BEDE. He is sent also to preach the Gospel to the poor, saying, Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For perhaps to the poor in spirit He declares in these words, that among all the gifts which are obtained through Christ, upon them was bestowed a free gift. It follows, To heal the broken hearted. He calls those broken hearted, who are weak, of an infirm mind, and unable to resist the assaults of the passions, and to them He promises a healing remedy.

BASIL. (non occ.) Or, He came to heal the broken hearted, i. e. to afford a remedy to those that have their heart broken by Satan through sin, because beyond all other things sin lays prostrate the human heart.

BEDE. Or, because it is written, A broken and a contrite heart God will not despise. (Ps. 51:17.) He says therefore, that He is sent to heal the broken hearted, as it is written, Who heals the broken hearted. (Ps. 147:3.)

It follows, And to preach deliverance to the captives.

CHRYSOSTOM. (in Ps. 125.) The word captivity has many meanings. There is a good captivity, which St. Paul speaks of when he says, Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5.) There is a bad captivity also, of which it is said, Leading captive silly women laden with sins. (2 Tim. 3:6.) There is a captivity present to the senses, that is by our bodily enemies. But the worst captivity is that of the mind, of which he here speaks. For sin exercises the worst of all tyrannies, commanding to do evil, and destroying them that obey it. From this prison of the soul Christ lets us free.

THEOPHYLACT. But these things may be understood also of the dead, who being taken captive have been loosed from the dominion of hell by the resurrection of Christ. It follows, And recovering of sight to the blind.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For the darkness which the Devil has spread over the human heart, Christ the Sun of Righteousness has removed, making men, as the Apostle says, children not of night and darkness, but of light and the day. (1 Thess. 5:5.) For they who one time wandered have discovered the path of the righteous. It follows, To set at liberty them that are bruised.

ORIGEN. For what had been so shattered and dashed about as man, who was set at liberty by Jesus and healed?

BEDE. Or, to set at liberty them that are bruised; i. e. to relieve those who had been heavy laden with the intolerable burden of the Law.

ORIGEN. But all these things were mentioned first, in order that after the recovery of sight from blindness, after deliverance from captivity, after being healed of divers wounds, we might come to the acceptable year of the Lord. As it follows, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Some say that, according to the simple meaning of the word, the Saviour preached the Gospel throughout Judæa in one year, and that this is what is meant by preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. Or, the acceptable year of the Lord is the whole time of the Church, during which while present in the body, it is absent from the Lord.

BEDE. For not only was that year acceptable in which our Lord preached, but that also in which the Apostle preaches, saying, Behold, now is the accepted time. (2 Cor. 6:2.) After the acceptable year of the Lord, he adds, And the day of retribution;a that is, the final retribution, when the Lord shall give to every one according to his work.

AMBROSE. Or, by the acceptable year of the Lord, he means this day extended through endless ages, which knows of no return to a world of labour, and grants to men everlasting reward and rest. It follows, And he closed the book, and he gave it again.

BEDE. He read the book to those who were present to hear Him, but having read it, He returned it to the minister; for while He was in the world He spoke openly, teaching in the synagogues and in the temple; but about to return to heaven, He committed the office of preaching the Gospel to those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. He read standing, because while explaining those Scriptures which were written of Him, He condescended to work in the flesh; but having returned the book, He sits down, because He restored Himself to the throne of heavenly rest. For standing is the part of the workman, but sitting of one who is resting or judging. So also let the preacher of the word rise up and read and work and preach, and sit down, i. e. wait for the reward of rest. But He opens the book and reads, because sending the Spirit, He taught His Church all truth; having shut the book, He returned it to the minister, because all things were not to be said unto all, but He committed the word to the teacher to be dispensed according to the capacity of the hearers. It follows, And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.

ORIGEN. And now also if we will, our eyes can look upon the Saviour. For when you direct your whole heart to wisdom, truth, and the contemplation of the only-begotten Son of God, your eyes behold Jesus.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But then He turned the eyes of all men upon Him, wondering how He knew the writing which He had never learnt. But since it was the custom of the Jews to say that the prophecies spoken of Christ are completed either in certain of their chiefs, i. e. their kings, or in some of their holy prophets, the Lord made this announcement; as it follows, But he began to say unto them that this Scripture is fulfilled.

BEDE. Because, in fact, as that Scripture had foretold, the Lord was both doing great things, and preaching greater.

4:22–27

22. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

23. And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

24. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

25. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;

26. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

27. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 48. in Matt.) When our Lord came to Nazareth, He refrains from miracles, lest He should provoke the people to greater malice. But He sets before them His teaching no less wonderful than His miracles. For there was a certain ineffable grace in our Saviour’s words which softened the hearts of the hearers. Hence it is said, And they all bare him witness.

BEDE. They bare Him witness that it was truly He, as He had said, of whom the prophet had spoken.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) But foolish men though wondering at the power of His words little esteemed Him because of His reputed father. Hence it follows, And they said, Is not this the son of Joseph?

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But what prevents Him from filling men with awe, though He were the Son as was supposed of Joseph? Do you not see the divine miracles, Satan already prostrate, men released from their sickness?

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) For though after a long time and when He had begun to shew forth His miracles, He came to them; they did not receive Him, but again were inflamed with envy. Hence it follows, And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. It was a common proverb among the Hebrews, invented as a reproach, for men used to cry out against infirm physicians, Physician, heal thyself.

GLOSS. (ordin.) It was as if they said, We have heard that you performed many cures in Capernaum; cure also thyself, i. e. Do likewise in your own city, where you were nourished and brought up.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. lib. ii. 42.) But since St. Luke mentions that great things had been already done by Him, which he knows he had not yet related, what is more evident than that he knowingly anticipated the relation of them. For he had not proceeded so far beyond our Lord’s baptism as that he should be supposed to have forgotten that he had not yet related any of those things which were done in Capernaum.

AMBROSE. But the Saviour purposely excuses Himself for not working miracles in His own country, that no one might suppose that love of country is a thing to be lightly esteemed by us. For it follows, But he says, Verily I say unto you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As if He says, You wish me to work many miracles among you, in whose country I have been brought up, but I am aware of a very common failing in the minds of many. To a certain extent it always happens, that even the very best things are despised when they fall to a man’s lot, not scantily, but ever at his will. So it happens also with respect to men. For a friend who is ever at hand, does not meet with the respect due to him.

BEDE. Now that Christ is called a Prophet in the Scriptures, Moses bears witness, saying, God shall raise up a Prophet unto you from among your brethren. (Deut. 18:15.)

AMBROSE. But this is given for an example, that in vain can you expect the aid of Divine mercy, if you grudge to others the fruits of their virtue. The Lord despises the envious, and withdraws the miracles of His power from them that are jealous of His divine blessings in others. For our Lord’s Incarnation is an evidence of His divinity, and His invisible things are proved to us by those which are visible. See then what evils envy produces. For envy a country is deemed unworthy of the works of its citizen, which was worthy of the conception of the Son of God.

ORIGEN. As far as Luke’s narrative is concerned, our Lord is not yet said to have worked any miracle in Capernaum. For before He came to Capernaum, He is said to have lived at Nazareth. I cannot but think therefore that in these words, “whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum,” there lies a mystery concealed, and that Nazareth is a type of the Jews, Capernaum of the Gentiles. For the time will come when the people of Israel shall say, “The things which thou hast shewn to the whole world, shew also to us.” Preach thy word to the people of Israel, that then at least, when the fulness of the Gentiles has entered, all Israel may be saved. Our Saviour seems to me to have well answered, No prophet is accepted in his own country, but rather according to the type than the letter; though neither was Jeremiah accepted in Anathoth his country, nor the rest of the Prophets. But it seems rather to be meant that we should say, that the people of the circumcision were the countrymen of all the Prophets. And the Gentiles indeed accepted the prophecy of Jesus Christ, esteeming Moses and the Prophets who preached of Christ, far higher than they who would not from these receive Jesus.

AMBROSE. By a very apt comparison the arrogance of envious citizens is put to shame, and our Lord’s conduct shewn to agree with the ancient Scriptures. For it follows, But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias: not that the days were his, but that he performed his works in them.

CHRYSOSTOM. He himself, an earthly angel, a heavenly man, who had neither house, nor food, nor clothing like others, carries the keys of the heavens on his tongue. And this is what follows, When the heaven was shut. But as soon as he had closed the heavens and made the earth barren, hunger reigned and bodies wasted away, as it follows, when there was a famine through the land.

BASIL. (Hom. 2. de jejun. Hom. de fame.) For when he beheld the great disgrace that arose from universal plenty, he brought a famine that the people might fast, by which he checked their sin which was exceeding great. But crows were made the ministers of food to the righteous, which are wont to steal the food of others.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. in Pet. et Eli.) But when the stream was dried up by which the cup of the righteous man was filled, God said, Go to Sarepta, a city of Sidon; there I wall command a widow woman to feed you. As it follows, But to none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And this was brought to pass by a particular appointment of God. For God made him go a long journey, as far as Sidon, in order that having seen the famine of the country he should ask for rain from the Lord. But there were many rich men at that time, but none of them did any thing like the widow. For in the respect shewn by the woman toward the prophet, consisted her riches not of lands, but of good will.

AMBROSE. But he says in a mystery, “In the days of Elias,” because Elias brought the day to them who saw in his works the light of spiritual grace, and so the heaven was opened to them that beheld the divine mystery, but was shut when there was famine, because there was no fruitfulness in acknowledging God. But in that widow to whom Elias was sent was prefigured a type of the Church.

ORIGEN. For when a famine came upon the people of Israel, i. e. of hearing the word of God, a prophet came to a widow, of whom it is said, For the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband; (Isa. 54:1, Gal. 4:27.) and when he had come, he multiplies her bread and her nourishment.

BEDE. Sidonia signifies a vain pursuit, Sarepta fire, or scarcity of bread. By all which things the Gentiles are signified, who, given up to vain pursuits, (following gain and worldly business,) were suffering from the flames of fleshly lusts, and the want of spiritual bread, until Elias, (i. e. the word of prophecy,) now that the interpretation of the Scriptures had ceased because of the faithlessness of the Jews, came to the Church, that being received into the hearts of believers he might feed and refresh them.

BASIL. (Hom. in div.) Every widowed soul, bereft of virtue and divine knowledge, as soon as she receives the divine word, knowing her own failings, learns to nourish it with the bread of virtue, and to water the teaching of virtue from the fountain of life.

ORIGEN. He cites also another similar example, adding, And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Eliseus the Prophet, and none of them were cleansed but Naaman the Syrian, who indeed was not of Israel.

AMBROSE. Now in a mystery the people pollute the Church, that another people might succeed, gathered together from foreigners, leprous indeed at first before it is baptized in the mystical stream, but which after the sacrament of baptism, washed from the stains of body and soul, begins to be a virgin without spot or wrinkle.

BEDE. For Naaman, which means beautiful, represents the Gentile people, who is ordered to be washed seven times, because that baptism saves which the seven-fold Spirit renews. His flesh after washing began to appear as a child’s, because grace like a mother begets all to one childhood, or because he is conformed to Christ, of whom it is said, Unto us a Child is born. (Isa. 9:6.)

4:28–30

28. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

29. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down head-long.

30. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He convicted them of their evil intentions, and therefore they are enraged, and hence what follows, And all they in the synagogue when they heard these things were filled with wrath. Because He had said, This day is this prophecy fulfilled, they thought that He compared Himself to the prophets, and are therefore enraged, and expel Him out of their city, as it follows, And they rose up, and cast him out.

AMBROSE. It can not be wondered at that they lost their salvation who cast the Saviour out of their city. But the Lord who taught His Apostles by the example of Himself to be all things to all men, neither repels the willing, nor chooses the unwilling; neither struggles against those who cast Him out, nor refuses to hear those who supplicate Him. But that conduct was the result of no slight enmity, which, forgetful of the feelings of fellow citizens, converts the causes of love into the bitterest hatred. For when the Lord Himself was extending His blessings among the people, they began to inflict injuries upon Him, as it follows, And they led him unto the brow of the hill, that they might cast him down.

BEDE. Worse are the Jewish disciples than their master the Devil. For he says, Cast thyself down; they actually attempt to cast Him down. But Jesus having suddenly changed His mind, or seized with astonishment, went away, since He still reserves for them a place of repentance. Hence it follows, He passing through the midst of them went his way.

CHRYSOSTOM. (48. in Joann.) Herein He shews both His human nature and His divine. To stand in the midst of those who were plotting against Him, and not be seized, betokened the loftiness of His divinity; but His departure declared the mystery of the dispensation, i. e. His incarnation.

AMBROSE. At the same time we must understand that this bodily endurance was not necessary, but voluntary. When He wills, He is taken, when He wills, He escapes. For how could He be held by a few who was not held by a whole people? But He would not have the impiety to be the deed of the many, in order that by a few indeed He might be afflicted, but might die for the whole world. Moreover, He had still rather heal the Jews than destroy them, that by the fruitless issue of their rage they might be dissuaded from wishing what they could not accomplish.

BEDE. The hour of His Passion had not yet come, which was to be on the preparation of the Passover, nor had He yet come to the place of His Passion, which not at Nazareth, but at Jerusalem, was prefigured by the blood of the victims; nor had He chosen this kind of death, of whom it was prophesied that He should be crucified by the world.

4:31–37

31. And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

32. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.

33. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

34. Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

35. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

36. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

37. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

AMBROSE. Neither indignation at their treatment, nor displeasure at their wickedness, caused our Lord to abandon Judæa, but unmindful of His injuries, and remembering mercy, at one time by teaching, at another by healing, He softens the hearts of this unbelieving people, as it is said, And he went down to Capernaum.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For although He knew that they were disobedient and hard of heart, He nevertheless visits them, as a good Physician tries to heal those who are suffering from a mortal disease. But He taught them boldly in the synagogues, as Esaias saith, I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. (Isa. 45:19.) On the sabbath day also He disputed with them, because they were at leisure. They wondered therefore at the mightiness of His teaching, His virtue, and His power, as it follows, And they were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. That is, not soothing, but urging and exciting them to seek salvation. Now the Jews supposed Christ to be one of the saints or prophets. But in order that they might esteem Him higher, He passes beyond the prophetic limits. For he said not, “Thus saith the Lord,” but being the Master of the Law, He uttered things which were above the Law, changing the letter to the truth, and the figures to the spiritual meaning.

BEDE. The word of the teacher is with power, when he performs that which he teaches. But he who by his actions belies what he preaches is despised.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But He generally intermingles with His teaching the performance of mighty works. For those whose reason does not incline to knowledge, are roused by the manifestation of miracles. Hence it follows, And there was in the synagogue a man which had a devil.

AMBROSE. The work of divine healing commenced on the sabbath, signifying thereby that he began anew where the old creation ceased, in order that He might declare at the very beginning that the Son of God was not under the Law, but above the Law. Rightly also He began on the sabbath, that He might shew Himself the Creator, who interweaves His works one within another, and follows up that which He had before begun; just as a builder determining to reconstruct a house, begins to pull down the old one, not from the foundation, but from the top, so as to apply his hand first to that part, where he had before left off. Holy men may through the word of God deliver from evil spirits, but to bid the dead rise again, is the work of Divine power alone.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But the Jews spoke falsely of the glory of Christ, saying, He casteth out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. To remove this charge, when the devils came beneath His invincible power, and endured not the Divine Presence, they sent forth a savage cry, as it follows: And he cried with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, &c.

BEDE. As if he said, Abstain a while from troubling me, thou who hast no fellowship with our designs.

AMBROSE. It ought not to shock any one that the devil is mentioned in this book as the first to have spoken the name of Jesus of Nazareth. For Christ received not from him that name which an Angel brought down from heaven to the Virgin. The devil is of such effrontery, that he is the first to use a thing among men and bring it as something new to them, that he may strike people with terror at his power. Hence it follows: For I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

ATHANASIUS. (ad Epise. Æg. et Lib.) He spoke of Him not as a Holy One of God, as if He were like to the other saints, but as being in a remarkable manner the Holy One, with the addition of the article. For He is by nature holy by partaking of whom all others are called holy. Nor again did He speak this as if He knew it, but He pretended to know it.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. (et Tit. Bost.) For the devils thought by praises of this sort to make Him a lover of vainglory, that He might be induced to abstain from opposing or destroying them by way of grateful return.

CHRYSOSTOM. The devil wished also to disturb the order of things, and to deprive the Apostles of their dignity, and to incline the many to obey Him.

ATHANASIUS. (ut sup.) Although he confessed the truth he controlled his tongue, lest with the truth he should also publish his own disgrace, which should teach us not to care for such, although they speak the truth, for we who know the divine Scripture, must not be taught by the devil, as it follows: And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, &c.

BEDE. But by the permission of God, the man who was to be delivered from the devil is thrown into the midst, that the power of the Saviour being manifested might bring over many to the way of salvation. As it follows: And when he had thrown him in the midst. But this seems to be opposed to Mark, who says, And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying with a loud voice, went out of him, unless we understand that Mark meant by tearing him the same as Luke by these words, And when he had thrown him in the midst, so that what follows, and hurt him not, might be understood to mean, that that twisting of limbs, and sore troubling, did not weaken him, as is often the case when devils depart from a man, leaving him with limbs cut and torn off. Well then do they wonder at such complete restoration of health. For it follows: And fear came upon all.

THEOPHYLACT. As if they said, What is this word by which he commands, Go out, and he went out?

BEDE. Holy men were able by the word of God to cast out devils, but the Word Himself does mighty works by His own power.

AMBROSE. In a mystery, the man in the synagogue with the unclean spirit is the Jewish people, which being fast bound in the wiles of the devil, defiled its vaunted cleanliness of body by the pollution of the heart. And truly it had an unclean spirit, because it had lost the Holy Spirit. For the devil entered whence Christ had gone out.

THEOPHYLACT. We must know also that many now have devils, namely, such as fulfil the desires of devils, as the furious have the dæmon of anger; and so of the rest. But the Lord came into the synagogue when the thoughts of the man were collected, and then says to the dæmon that dwelt there, Hold thy peace, and immediately throwing him into the middle he departs out of him. For it becomes not a man always to be angry, (that is, like the brutes,) nor always to be without anger, (for that is want of feeling,) but he must take the middle path, and have anger against what is evil; and so the man is thrown into the midst when the unclean spirit departs from him.

4:38–39

38. And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever: and they besought him for her.

39. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever: and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.

AMBROSE. Luke having first introduced a man delivered from an evil spirit, goes on to relate the healing of a woman. For our Lord had come to heal each sex, and he ought first to be healed who was first created. Hence it is said, And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 27. in Matt.) For He honoured His disciples by dwelling among them, and so making them the more zealous.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now see how Christ abides in the house of a poor man, suffering poverty of His own will for our sakes, that we might learn to visit the poor, and despise not the destitute and needy. It follows: And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever: and they besought him for her.

BEDE. At one time at the request of others, at another of his own accord, our Saviour cures the sick, shewing that He is far aloof from the passions of sinners, and ever grants the prayer of the faithful, and what they in themselves little understand He either makes intelligible, or forgives their not understanding it. As, Who understands his errors? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults. (Ps. 19:12.)

CHRYSOSTOM. (ut sup.) Because Matthew is silent on the point of asking Him, he does not differ from Luke, or it matters not, for one Gospel had brevity in view, the other accurate research. It follows: And he stood over her, &c.

ORIGEN. Here Luke speaks figuratively, as of a command given to a sensible being, saying, that the fever was commanded, and neglected not the work of Him who commanded it. Hence it follows: And she arose, and ministered unto them.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ut sup.) For since the disease was curable, He shewed His power by the manner of the cure, doing what art could never do. For after the allaying of the fever, the patient needs much time ere he be restored to his former health, but at this time all took place at once.

AMBROSE. But if we weigh these things with deeper thoughts, we shall consider the health of the mind as well as the body; that the mind which was assailed by the wiles of the devil may be released first. Eve was not a hungered before the serpent beguiled her, and therefore against the author of evil himself ought the medicine of salvation first to operate. Perhaps also in that woman as in a type our flesh languished under the various fevers of crimes, nor should I say that the fever of love was less than that of bodily heat.

BEDE. For if we say that a man released from the devil represents morally the mind cleansed from unclean thoughts, consequently a woman vexed by fever, but cured at our Lord’s command, represents the flesh controlled by the rules of continence in the fury of its own lust.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Let us therefore receive Jesus. For when He has visited us, we carry Him in our heart and mind; He will then extinguish the flames of our unlicensed pleasures, and will make us whole, so that we minister unto Him, that is, do things well-pleasing to Him.

4:40–41

40. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.

41. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.

THEOPHYLACT. We must observe the zeal of the multitude, who after the sun had set bring their sick unto Him, not deterred by the lateness of the day; as it is said, Now when the sun was setting, they brought their sick.

ORIGEN. It was ordered about sun-set, that is, when the day was gone, that they should bring them out, either because during the day they were employed about other things, or because they thought that it was not lawful to heal on the sabbath. But He healed them, as it follows, But he laid his hands upon every one of them.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But although as God He was able to drive away diseases by His word, He nevertheless touches them, shewing that His flesh was powerful to apply remedies, since it was the flesh of God; for as fire, when applied to a brazen vessel, imprints on it the effect of its own heat, so the omnipotent Word of God, when He united to Himself in real assumption a living virgin temple, endued with understanding, implanted in it a participation of His own power. May He also touch us, nay rather may we touch Him, that He may deliver us from the infirmities of our souls as well as the assaults of the evil spirit and pride! For it follows, And devils also came out.

BEDE. The devils confess the Son of God, and as it is afterwards said, they knew him to be Christ; for when the devil saw Him distressed by fasting, he perceived Him to be truly man, but when he prevailed not in his trial he doubted whether or not He were the Son of God, but now by the power of Christ’s miracles he either perceived or suspected Him to be the Son of God. He did not then persuade the Jews to crucify Him because he thought Him not to be Christ or the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that by this death he himself would be condemned. Of this mystery hidden from the world the Apostle says, that none of the princes of this world knew, for if they had known they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. (1 Cor. 2:8.)

CHRYSOSTOM. But in what follows, And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak, mark the humility of Christ, who would not let the unclean spirits make Him manifest. For it was not fit that they should usurp the glory of the Apostolical office, nor did it become the mysteries of Christ to be made public by impure tongues.

THEOPHYLACT. Because, “praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner.” Or, because He did not wish to inflame the envy of the Jews by being praised of all.

BEDE. But the Apostles themselves are commanded to be silent concerning Him, lest by proclaiming His divine Majesty, the dispensation of His Passion should be delayed.

4:42–44

42. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.

43. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

CHRYSOSTOM. When he had bestowed sufficient favour upon the people by miracles, it was necessary for Him to depart. For miracles are always thought greater when the worker is gone, since they themselves are then the more heeded, and have in their turn a voice; as it is said, But when it was day, he departed, and went.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Victor Antiochenus.) He went also into the desert, as Mark says, and prayed; not that he needed prayer, but as an example to us of good works.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25. in Matt.) The Pharisees indeed, seeing how that the miracles themselves published His fame, were offended at His power. But the people hearing His words, assented and followed; as it is said, And the multitudes sought him, not indeed any of the chief priests, or scribes, but all those who had not been blackened with the dark stain of malice, and preserved their consciences unhurt.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (ut sup.) Now when Mark says that the Apostles came to him, saying, All seek thee, but Luke, that the people came, there is no difference between them, for the people came to Him following in the footsteps of the Apostles. But the Lord rejoiced in being held back, yet bid them let Him go, that others also might partake of His teaching, as the time of His presence would not last long; as it follows, And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, &c. Mark says, Unto this I came, shewing the loftiness of His divine nature, and His voluntary emptying Himself of it. But Luke says, Unto this am I sent, shewing His incarnation, and calling also the decree of the Father, a sending Him forth; and one simply says, To preach, the other added, the kingdom of God, which is Christ Himself.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 48. in Matt.) Observe also, that He might, by abiding in the same place, have drawn all men over to Himself. He did not however do so, giving us an example to go about and seek those who are perishing, as the shepherd his lost sheep, and as the physician the sick. For by recovering one soul, we may be able to blot out a thousand sins. Hence also it follows, And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. He frequently indeed went to the synagogues, to shew them that He was no deceiver. For if He were constantly to dwell in the desolate places, they would spread abroad that He was concealing Himself.

BEDE. But if the sun-setting mystically expresses the death of our Lord, the returning day denotes His resurrection, (the light of which being made manifest, He is sought for by the multitudes of believers, and being found in the desert of the Gentiles He is held back by them, lest He should depart;) especially as this took place on the first day of the week, on which day the Resurrection was celebrated.








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