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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aguinas

11:1–4

1. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

2. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3. Give us day by day our daily bread.

4. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

BEDE. After the account of the sisters, who signified the two lives of the Church, our Lord is not without reason related to have both Himself prayed, and taught His disciples to pray, seeing that the prayer which He taught contains in itself the mystery of each life, and the perfection of the lives themselves is to be obtained not by our own strength, but by prayer. Hence it is said, And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now whereas He possesses every good in abundance, why does He pray, since He is full, and has altogether need of nothing? To this we answer, that it befits Him, according to the manner of His dispensation in the flesh, to follow human observances at the time convenient for them. For if He eats and drinks, He rightly was used to pray, that He might teach us not to be lukewarm in this duty, but to be the more diligent and earnest in our prayers.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (in Matt.) The disciples having seen a new way of life, desire a new form of prayer, since there were several prayers to be found in the Old Testament. Hence it follows, When he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, in order that we might not sin against God in asking for one thing instead of another, or by approaching God in prayer in a manner that we ought not.

ORIGEN. And that he might point out the kind of teaching, the disciple proceeds, as John also taught his disciples. Of whom in truth thou hast told us, that among them that are born of women there had arisen none greater than he. And because thou hast commanded us to seek things that are great and eternal, whence shall we arrive at the knowledge of these but from Thee, our God and Saviour?

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. Dom. Serm. 1.) He unfolds the teaching of prayer to His disciples, who wisely desire the knowledge of prayer, directing them how they ought to beseech God to hear them.

BASIL. (Const. Monast. cap. 1.) There are two kinds of prayer, one composed of praise with humiliation, the other of petitions, and more subdued. Whenever then you pray, do not first break forth into petition; but if you condemn your inclination, supplicate God as if of necessity forced thereto. And when you begin to pray, forget all visible and invisible creatures, but commence with the praise of Him who created all things. Hence it is added, And he says unto them, When you pray, say, Our Father.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (App. Serm. 84.) The first word, how gracious is it? Thou durst not raise thy face to heaven, and suddenly thou receivest the grace of Christ. From an evil servant thou art made a good son. Boast not then of thy working, but of the grace of Christ; for therein is no arrogance, but faith. To proclaim what thou hast received is not pride, but devotion. Therefore raise thy eyes to thy Father, who begot thee by Baptism, redeemed thee by His Son. Say Father as a son, but claim no especial favour to thyself. Of Christ alone is He the especial Father, of us the common Father. For Christ alone He begot, but us he created. And therefore according to Matthew when it is said, Our Father, (Matt. 6:9.) it is added, which art in heaven, that is, in those heavens of which it was said, The heavens declare the glory of God. (Ps. 19:1.) Heaven is where sin has ceased, and where there is no sting of death.

THEOPHYLACT. But He says not, which art in heaven, as though He were confined to that place, but to raise the hearer up to heaven, and draw him away from earthly things.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. Dom. Serm. 2.) See how great a preparation thou needest, to be able to say boldly to God, O Father, for if thou hast thy eyes fixed on worldly things, or courtest the praise of men, or art a slave to thy passions, and utterest this prayer, I seem to hear God saying, ‘Whereas thou that art of a corrupt life callest the Author of the incorruptible thy Father, thou pollutest with thy defiled lips an incorruptible name. For He who commanded thee to call Him Father, gave thee not leave to utter lies. (et serm. 3.). But the highest of all good things is to glorify God’s name in our lives. Hence He adds, Hallowed be thy name. For who is there so debased, as when He sees the pure life of those who believe, does not glorify the name invoked in such a life. He then who says in his prayer, Be thy name, which I call upon, hallowed in me, prays this, “May I through Thy concurring aid be made just, abstaining from all evil.”

CHRYSOSTOM. For as when a man gazes upon the beauty of the heavens, he says, Glory be thee, O God; so likewise when He beholds a man’s virtuous actions, seeing that the virtue of man glorifies God much more than the heavens.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Or it is said, Hallowed be thy name; that is, let Thy holiness be known to all the world, and let it worthily praise Thee. For praise becometh the upright, (Ps. 33.) and therefore He bids them pray for the cleansing of the whole world.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Since among those to whom the faith has not yet come, the name of God is still despised. But when the rays of truth shall have shined upon them, they will confess the Holy of Holies. (Dan. 9:24.)

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (ubi sup.) And because in the name of Jesus is the glory of God the Father, the name of the Father will be hallowed whenever Christ shall be known.

ORIGEN. Or, because the name of God is given by idolaters, and those who are in error, to idols and creatures, it has not as yet been so made holy, as to be separated from those things from which it ought to be. He teaches us therefore to pray that the name of God may be appropriated to the only true God; to whom alone belongs what follows, Thy kingdom come, to the end that may be put down all the rule, authority, and power, and kingdom of the world, together with sin which reigns in our mortal bodies.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (ubi sup.) We beseech also to be delivered by the Lord from corruption, to be taken out of death. Or, according to some, Thy kingdom come, that is, May Thy Holy Spirit come upon us to purify us.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For then cometh the kingdom of God, when we have obtained His grace. For He Himself says, The kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21.)

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Or they who say this seem to wish to have the Saviour of all again illuminating the world. But He has commanded us to desire in prayer that truly awful time, in order that men might know that it behoves them to live not in sloth and backwardness, lest that time bring upon them the fiery punishment, but rather honestly and according to His will, that that time may weave crowns for them. Hence it follows, according to Matthew,a Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

CHRYSOSTOM. As if He says, Enable us, O Lord, to follow the heavenly life, that whatever Thou willest, we may will also.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. Dom. serm. 4.) For since He says that the life of man after the resurrection will be like to that of Angels, it follows, that our life in this world should be so ordered with respect to that which we hope for hereafter, that living in the flesh we may not live according to the flesh. But hereby the true Physician of the souls destroys the nature of the disease, that those who have been seized with sickness, whereby they have departed from the Divine will, may forthwith be released from the disease by being joined to the Divine will. For the health of the soul is the due fulfilment of the will of God.

AUGUSTINE. (in Enchirid. c. 116.) It seems according to the Evangelist Matthew, that the Lord’s prayer contains seven petitions, but Luke has comprehended it in five. Nor in truth does the one disagree from the other, but the latter has suggested by his brevity how those seven are to be understood. For the name of God is hallowed in the spirit, but the kingdom of God is about to come at the resurrection of the body. Luke then, shewing that the third petition is in a manner a repetition of the two former, wished to make it so understood by omitting it. He then added three others. And first, of daily bread, saying, Give us day by day our daily bread.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (App. Serm. 84..) In the Greek the word is ἐπιούσιον, that is, something added to the substance. (supersubstantialem) It is not that bread which goes into the body, but that bread of everlasting life, which supports the substance of our soul. But the Latins call this “daily” bread, which the Greeks call “coming to.” If it is daily bread, why is it eaten a year old, as is the custom with the Greeks in the east? Take daily what profits thee for the day; so live that thou mayest daily be thought worthy to receive. The death of our Lord is signified thereby, and the remission of sins, and dost thou not daily partake of that bread of life? He who has a wound seeks to be cured; the wound is that we are under sin, the cure is the heavenly and dreadful Sacrament. If thou receivest daily, daily does “To-day” come unto thee. Christ is to thee To-day; (Heb. 13:8.) Christ rises to thee daily.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. Or the bread of souls is the Divine power, bringing the everlasting life which is to come, as the bread which comes out of the earth preserves the temporal life. But by saying “daily,” He signifies the Divine bread which comes and is to come, which we seek to be given to us daily, requiring a certain earnest and taste of it, seeing that the Spirit which dwells in us hath wrought a virtue surpassing all human virtues, as chastity, humility, and the rest.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now perhaps some think it unfit for saints to seek from God bodily goods, and for this reason assign to these words a spiritual sense. But granting that the chief concern of the saints should be to obtain spiritual gifts, still it becomes them to see that they seek without blame, according to our Lord’s command, their common bread. For from the fact that He bids them ask for bread, that is daily food, it seems that He implies that they should possess nothing, but rather practise an honourable poverty. For it is not the part of those who have bread to seek it, but rather of those who are oppressed with want.

BASIL. (in Reg. brev. ad inter. 252.) As if He said, For thy daily bread, namely, that which serves for our daily wants, trust not to thyself, but fly to God for it, making known to Him the necessities of thy nature.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 23. in Matt.) We must then require of God the necessities of life; not varieties of meats, and spiced wines, and the other things which please the palate, while they load thy stomach and disturb thy mind, but bread which is able to support the bodily substance, that is to say, which is sufficient only for the day, that we may take no thought of the morrow. But we make only one petition about things of sense, that the present life may not trouble us.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. Dom. Serm. 5.) Having taught us to take confidence through good works, He next teaches us to implore the remission of our offences, for it follows, And forgive us our sins.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (in Matt.) This also was necessarily added, for no one is found without sin, that we should not be hindered from the holy participation on account of man’s guilt. For whereas we are bound to render unto Christ all manner of holiness, who maketh His Spirit to dwell in us, we are to be blamed if we keep not our temples clean for Him. But this defect is supplied by the goodness of God, remitting to human frailty the severe punishment of sin. And this act is done justly by the just God, when we forgive as it were our debtors, those, namely, who have injured us, and have not restored what was due. Hence it follows, For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For He wishes, if I may so speak, to make God the imitator of the patience which men practise, that the kindness which they have shewn to their fellowservants, they should in like manner seek to receive in equal balance from God, who recompenses to each man justly, and knows how to have mercy upon all men.

CHRYSOSTOM. Considering then these things, we ought to shew mercy to our debtors. For they are to us if we are wise the cause of our greatest pardon; and though we perform only a few things, we shall find many. For we owe many and great debts to the Lord, of which if the least part should be exacted from us, we should soon perish.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) But what is the debt except sin? If thou hadst not received, thou wouldest not owe money to another. And therefore sin is imputed to you. For thou hadst money with which thou wert born rich, and made after the likeness and image of God, but thou hast lost what thou then hadst. As when thou puttest on pride thou losest the gold of humility, thou hast receipted the devil’s debt which was not necessary; the enemy held the bond, but the Lord crucified it, and cancelled it with His blood. But the Lord is able, who has taken away our sins and forgiven our debts, to guard us against the snares of the devil, who is wont to produce sin in us. Hence it follows, And lead us not into temptation, such as we are not able to bear, but like the wrestler we wish only such temptation as the condition of man can sustain.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (ubi sup.) For it is imposible not to be tempted by the devil, but we make this prayer that we may not be abandoned to our temptations. Now that which happens by Divine permission, God is sometimes in Scripture said to do. And in this way by hindering not the increase of temptation which is above our strength, he leads us into temptation.

MAXIMUS. (in Orat. Dom.) Or, the Lord commands us to pray, Lead us not into temptation, let us not have experience of lustful and self-induced temptations. But James teaches those who contend only for the truth, not to be unnerved by involuntary and troublesome temptations, saying, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. (James 1:2.)

BASIL. (in reg. brev. ad inter. 221.) It does not however become us to seek by our prayers bodily afflictions. For Christ has universally commanded men every where to pray that they enter not into temptation. But when one has already entered, it is fitting to ask from the Lord the power of enduring, that we may have fulfilled in us those words, He that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Mat. 10:22.)

AUGUSTINE. (in Enchirid. c. 116.) But what Matthew has placed at the end, But deliver us from evil, Luke has not mentioned, that we might understand it belongs to the former, which was spoken of temptation. He therefore says, But deliver us, not, “And deliverus,” clearly proving this to be but one petition,” Do not this, but this.” But let every one know that he is therein delivered from evil, when he is not brought into temptation.

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For each man seeks to be delivered from evil, that is, from his enemies and sin, but he who gives himself up to God, fears not the devil, for if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31.)

11:5–8

5. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6. For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

7. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

8. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Saviour had before taught, in answer to the request of His apostles, how men ought to pray. But it might happen that those who had received this wholesome teaching, poured forth their prayers indeed according to the form given to them, but carelessly and languidly, and then when they were not heard in the first or second prayer, left off praying. That this then might not be our case, He shews by means of a parable, that cowardice in our prayers is hurtful, but it is of great advantage to have patience in them. Hence it is said, And he says unto them, Which of you shall have a friend.

THEOPHYLACT. God is that friend, who loveth all men, and wills that all should he saved.

AMBROSE. Who is a greater friend to us, than He who delivered up His body for us? Now we have here another kind of command given us, that at all times, not only in the day, but at night, prayers should be offered up. For it follows, And shall go into him at midnight. (Ps. 119:62.) As David did when he said, At midnight I will rise and give thanks unto thee. For he had no fear of awakening them from sleep, whom he knew to be ever watching. For if David who was occupied also in the necessary affairs of a kingdom was so holy, that seven times in the day he gave praise to God, (Ps. 119:164.) what ought we to do, who ought so much the more to pray, as we more frequently sin, through the weakness of our mind and body? But if thou lovest the Lord thy God, thou wilt be able to gain favour, not only for thyself, but others. For it follows, And say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves, &c.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 105) But what are these three loaves but the food of the heavenly mystery? For it may be that one has had a friend asking for what he cannot supply him with, and then finds that he has not what he is compelled to give. A friend then comes to you on his journey, that is, in this present life, in which all are travelling on as strangers, and no one remains possessor, but to every man is told, Pass on, O stranger, give place to him that is coming. (Ecclus 29, 27.) Or perhaps some friend or yours comes from a bad road, (that is, an evil life,) wearied and not finding the truth, by hearing and receiving which he may become happy. He comes to thee as to a Christian, and says, “Give me a reason,” asking perhaps what you from the simplicity of your faith are ignorant of, and not having wherewith to satisfy his hunger, are compelled to seek it in the Lord’s books. For perhaps what he asked is contained in the book, but obscure. You are not permitted to ask Paul himself, or Peter, or any prophet, for all that family is now resting with their Lord, and the ignorance of the world is very great, that is, it is midnight, and your friend who is urgent from hunger presses this, not contented with a simple faith; must he then be abandoned? Go therefore to the Lord Himself with whom the family is sleeping, Knock, and pray; of whom it is added, And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not. He delays to give, wishing that you should the more earnestly desire what is delayed, lost by being given at once it should grow common.

BASIL. (Const. Mon. c. 1.) For perhaps He delays purposely, to redouble your earnestness and coming to him, and that you may know what the gift of God is, and may anxiously guard what is given. For whatever a man acquires with much pains he strives to keep safe, lest with the loss of that he should lose his labour likewise.

GLOSS. (ordin.) He does not then take away the liberty of asking, but is the more anxious to kindle the desire of praying, by shewing the difficulty of obtaining that we ask for. For it follows, The door is now shut.

AMBROSE. This is the door which Paul also requests may be opened to him, beseeching to be assisted not only by his own prayers, but those also of the people, that a door of utterance may be opened to him to speak the mystery of Christ. (Col. 4:3.) And perhaps that is the door which John saw open, and it was said to him, Come up hither, and, I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Rev. 4:1.)

AUGUSTINE. (Qu. Ev. l. ii. qu. 21.) The time then referred to is that of the famine of the word, when the understanding is shut up, (Amos 8:11.) and they who dealing out the wisdom of the Gospel as it were bread, preached throughout the world, are now in their secret rest with the Lord. And this it is which is added, And my children are with me in bed.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. Well does he call those children who by the arms of righteousness have claimed to themselves freedom from passion, shewing that the good which by practice we have acquired, had been from the beginning laid up in our nature. For when any one renouncing the flesh, by living in the exercise of a virtuous life, has overcome passion, then he becomes as a child, and is insensible to the passions. But by the bed we understand the rest of Christ.

GLOSS. (ordin.) And because of what has gone before he adds, I cannot rise and give thee, which must have reference to the difficulty of obtaining.

AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Ev. lib. ii. qu. 21.) Or else, the friend to whom the visit is made at midnight, for the loan of the three loaves, is evidently meant for an allegory, just as a person set in the midst of trouble might ask God that He would give him to understand the Trinity, by which he may console the troubles of this present life. For his distress is the midnight in which he is compelled to be so urgent in his request for the three. Now by the three loaves it is signified, that the Trinity is of one substance. But the friend coming from his journey is understood the desire of man, which ought to obey reason, but was obedient to the custom of the world, which he calls the way, from all things passing along it. Now when man is converted to God, that desire also is reclaimed from custom. But if not consoled by that inward joy arising from the spiritual doctrine which declares the Trinity of the Creator, he is in great straits who is pressed down by earthly sorrows, seeing that from all outward delights he is commanded to abstain, and within there is no refreshment from the delight of spiritual doctrine. And yet it is effected by prayer, that he who desires should receive understanding from God, even though there be no one by whom wisdom should be preached. For it follows, And if that man shall continue, &c. The argument is drawn from the less to the greater. For, if a friend rises from his bed, and gives not from the force of friendship, but from weariness, how much more does God give who without weariness gives most abundantly whatever we ask?

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) But when thou shalt have obtained the three loaves, that is, the food and knowledge of the Trinity, thou hast both the source of life and of food. Fear not. Cease not. For that bread will not come to an end, but will put an end to your want. Learn and teach. Live and eat.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, The midnight is the end of life, at which many come to God. But the friend is the Angel who receives the soul. Or, the midnight is the depth of temptations, in which he who has fallen, seeks from God three loaves, the relief of the wants of his body, soul, and spirit; through whom we run into no danger in our temptations. But the friend who comes from his journey is God Himself, who proves by temptations who has nothing to set before Him, and who is weakened in temptation. But when He says, And the door is shut, we must understand that we ought to be prepared before temptations. But after that we have fallen into them, the gate of preparation is shut, and being found unprepared, unless God keep us, we are in danger.

11:9–13

9. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

11. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

12. Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Having laid aside the metaphor, our Lord added an exhortation, and expressly urged us to ask, seek, and knock, until we receive what we are seeking. Hence he says, And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The words, I say unto you, have the force of an oath. For God doth not lie, but whenever He makes known any thing to His hearers with an oath, he manifests the inexcusable littleness of our faith.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 23. in Matt.) Now by asking, He means prayer, but by seeking, zeal and anxiety, as He adds, Seek, and ye shall find. For those things which are sought require great care. And this is particularly the case with God. For there are many things which block up our senses. As then we search for lost gold, so let us anxiously seek after God. He shews also, that though He does not forthwith open the gates, we must yet wait. Hence he adds, Knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for if you continue seeking, you shall surely receive. For this reason, and as the door shut makes you knock, therefore he did not at once consent that you might entreat.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Severus Antioch.) Or by the word knock perhaps he means seeking effectually, for one knocks with the hand, but the hand is the sign of a good work. Or these three may be distinguished in another way. For it is the beginning of virtue to ask to know the way of truth. But the second step is to seek how we must go by that way. The third step is when a man has reached the virtue to knock at the door, that he may enter upon the wide field of knowledge. All these things a man acquires by prayer. Or to ask indeed is to pray, but to seek is by good works to do things becoming our prayers. And to knock is to continue in prayer without ceasing.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 105.) But He would not so encourage us to ask were He not willing to give. Let human slothfulness blush, He is more willing to give than we to receive.

AMBROSE. Now he who promises any thing ought to convey a hope of the thing promised, that obedience may follow commands, faith, promises. And therefore he adds, For every one that asketh receiveth.

ORIGEN. But some one may seek to know, how it comes that they who pray are not heard? To which we must answer, that whose sets about seeking in the right way, omitting none of those things which avail to the obtaining of our requests, shall really receive what he has prayed to be given him. But if a man turns away from the object of a right petition, and asks not as it becomes him, he does not ask. And therefore it is, that when he does not receive, as is here promised, there is no falsehood. For so also when a master says, “Whoever will come to me, he shall receive the gift of instruction;” we understand it to imply a person going in real earnest to a master, that he may zealously and diligently devote himself to his teaching. Hence too James says, Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, (James 4:3.) namely, for the sake of vain pleasures. But some one will say, Nay, when men ask to obtain divine knowledge, and to recover their virtue they do not obtain? To which we must answer, that they sought not to receive the good things for themselves, but that thereby they might reap praise.

BASIL. (in Const. c. 1.) If also any one from indolence surrenders himself to his desires, and betrays himself into the hands of his enemies, God neither assists him nor hears him, because by sin he has alienated himself from God. It becomes then a man to offer whatever belongs to him, but to cry to God to assist him. Now we must ask for the Divine assistance not slackly, nor with a mind wavering to and fro, because such a one will not only not obtain what it seeks, but will the rather provoke God to anger. For if a man standing before a prince has his eye fixed within and without, lest perchance he should be punished, how much more before God ought he to stand watchful and trembling? But if when awakened by sin you are unable to pray stedfastly to the utmost of your power, check yourself, that when you stand before God you may direct your mind to Him. And God pardons you, because not from indifference, but infirmity, you cannot appear in His presence as you ought. If then you thus command yourself, do not depart until you receive. For whenever you ask and receive not, it is because your request was improperly made, either without faith, or lightly, or for things which are not good for you, or because you left off praying. But some frequently make the objection, “Why pray we? Is God then ignorant of what we have need?” He knows undoubtedly, and gives us richly all temporal things even before we ask. But we must first desire good works, and the kingdom of heaven; and then having desired, ask in faith and patience, bringing into our prayers whatever is good for us, convicted of no offence by our own conscience.

AMBROSE. The argument then persuading to frequent prayer, is the hope of obtaining what we pray for. The ground of persuasion was first in the command, afterwards it is contained in that example which He sets forth, adding, If a son shall ask bread of any of you, will he give him a stone? &c.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. In these words our Saviour gives us a very necessary piece of instruction. For often-times we rashly, from the impulse of pleasure, give way to hurtful desires. When we ask any such thing from God, we shall not obtain it. To shew this, He brings an obvious example from those things which are before our eyes, in our daily experience. For when thy son asks of thee bread, thou givest it him gladly, because he seeks a wholesome food. But when from want of understanding he asks for a stone to eat, thou givest it him not, but rather hinderest him from satisfying his hurtful desire. So that the sense may be, But which of you asking his father for bread, (which the father gives,) will he give him a stone? (that is, if he asked it.) There is the same argument also in the serpent and the fish; of which he adds, Or if he asks a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? And in like manner in the egg and scorpion, of which he adds, Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

ORIGEN. Consider then this, if the bread be not indeed the food of the soul in knowledge, without which it can not be saved, as, for example, the well planned rule of a just life. But the fish is the love of instruction, as to know the constitution of the world, and the effects of the elements, and whatever else besides wisdom treats of. Therefore God does not in the place of bread offer a stone, which the devil wished Christ to eat, nor in the place of a fish does He give a serpent, which the Ethiopians eat who are unworthy to eat fishes. Nor generally in the place of what is nourishing does he give what is not eatable and injurious, which relates to the scorpion and egg.

AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Ev. lib. ii. qu. 22.) Or by the bread is meant charity, because we have a greater desire of it, and it is so necessary, that without it all other things are nothing, as the table without bread is mean. Opposed to which is hardness of heart, which he compared to a stone. But by the fish is signified the belief in invisible things, either from the waters of baptism, or because it is taken out of invisible places which the eye cannot reach. Because also faith, though tossed about by the waves of this world, is not destroyed, it is rightly compared to a fish, in opposition to which he has placed the serpent on account of the poison of deceit, which by evil persuasion had its first seed in the first man. Or, by the egg is understood hope. For the egg is the young not yet formed, but hoped for through cherishing, opposed to which he has placed the scorpion, whose poisoned sting is to be dreaded behind; as the contrary to hope is to look back, since the hope of the future reaches forward to those things which are before.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 105.) What great things the world speaks to thee, and roars them behind thy back to make thee look behind! O unclean world, why clamourest thou! Why attempt to turn him away! Thou wouldest detain him when thou art perishing, what wouldest thou if thou wert abiding for ever? Whom wouldest thou not deceive with sweetness, when bitter thou canst infuse false food?

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now from the example just given he concludes, If then ye being evil, (i. e. having a mind capable of wickedness, and not uniform and settled in good, as God,) know how to give good gifts; how much more shall your heavenly Father?

BEDE. Or, he calls the lovers of the world evil, who give those things which they judge good according to their sense, which are also good in their nature, and are useful to aid imperfect life. Hence he adds, Know how to give good gifts to your children. The Apostles even, who by the merit of their election had exceeded the goodness of mankind in general, are said to be evil in comparison with Divine goodness, since nothing is of itself good but God alone. But that which is added, How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, for which Matthew has written, will give good things to them that ask him, shews that the Holy Spirit is the fulness of God’s gifts, since all the advantages which are received from the grace of God’s gifts flow from that source.

ATHANASIUS. (Dial. 1. de Trin.) Now unless the Holy Spirit were of the substance of God, Who alone is good, He would by no means be called good, since our Lord refused to be called good, inasmuch as He was made man.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 105.) Therefore, O covetous man, what seekest thou? or if thou seekest any thing else, what will suffice thee to whom the Lord is not sufficient?

11:14–16

14. And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.

15. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

16. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.

GLOSS. (non occ.) The Lord had promised that the Holy Spirit should be given to those that asked for it; the blessed effects whereof He indeed clearly shews in the following miracle. Hence it follows, And Jesus was casting out a devil, and it was dumb.

THEOPHYLACT. Now he is called κωφὸς, as commonly meaning one who does not speak. It is also used for one who does not hear, but more properly who neither hears nor speaks. But he who has not heard from his birth necessarily cannot speak. For we speak those things which we are taught to speak by hearing. If however one has lost his hearing from a disease that has come upon him, there is nothing to hinder him from speaking. But He who was brought before the Lord was both dumb in speech, and deaf in hearing.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (in Matt.) Now He calls the devil deaf or dumb, as being the cause of this calamity, that the Divine word should not be heard. For the devil, by taking away the quickness of human feeling, blunts the hearing of our soul. Christ therefore comes that He might cast out the devil, and that we might hear the word of truth. For He healed one that He might create a universal foretaste of man’s salvation. Hence it follows, And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spake.

BEDE. But that demoniac is related by Matthew to have been not only dumb, but blind. Three miracles then were performed at the same time on one man. The blind see, the dumb speaks, and he that was possessed by a devil is set free. The like is daily accomplished in the conversion of believers, so that the devil being first cast out, they see the light, and then those mouths which were before silent are loosened to speak the praises of God.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now when the miracle was performed, the multitude extolled Him with loud praises, and the glory which was due to God. As it follows, And the people wondered.

BEDE. But since the multitudes who were thought ignorant always marvelled at our Lord’s actions, the Scribes and Pharisees took pains to deny them, or to pervert them by an artful interpretation, as though they were not the work of a Divine power, but of an unclean spirit. Hence it follows, But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Beelzebub was the God Accaron. For Beel is indeed Baal himself. But Zebub means a fly. Now he is called Beelzebub as the man of flies, from whose most foul practices the chief of the devils was so named.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But others by similar darts of envy sought of him a sign from heaven. As it follows, And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. As if they said, “Although thou hast cast out a devil from the man, this is no proof however of Divine power. For we have not yet seen any thing like to the miracles of former times. Moses led the people through the midst of the sea, (Exod. 14) and Joshua his successor stayed the sun in Gibeon. (Josh. 10:13.) But thou hast shewn us none of these things.” For to seek signs from heaven shewed that the speaker was at that time influenced by some feeling of this kind towards Christ.

11:17–20

17. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.

18. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

19. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

20. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 41. in Matt.) The suspicion of the Pharisees being utterly without reason, they dared not divulge it for fear of the multitude, but pondered it in their minds. Hence it is said, But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself will be brought to desolation.

BEDE. He answered not their words but their thoughts, that so at least they might be compelled to believe in His power, who saw into the secrets of the heart.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) He did not answer them from the Scriptures, since they gave no heed to them, explaining them away falsely; but he answers them from things of every day occurrence. For a house and a city if it be divided is quickly scattered to nothing; and likewise a kingdom, than which nothing is stronger. For the harmony of the inhabitants maintains houses and kingdoms. If then, says He, I cast out devils by means of a devil, there is dissension among them, and their power perishes. Hence He adds, But if Satan be divided against himself, how shall he stand? For Satan resists not himself, nor hurts his soldiers, but rather strengthens his kingdom. It is then by Divine power alone that I crush Satan under my feet.

AMBROSE. Herein also He shews His own kingdom to be undivided and everlasting. Those then who possess no hope in Christ, but think that He casts out devils through the chief of the devils, their kingdom, He says, is not everlasting. This also has reference to the Jewish people. For how can the kingdom of the Jews be everlasting, when by the people of the law Jesus is denied, who is promised by the law? Thus in part does the faith of the Jewish people impugn itself; the glory of the wicked is divided, by division is destroyed. And therefore the kingdom of the Church shall remain for ever, because its faith is undivided in one body.

BEDE. The kingdom also of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not divided, because it is sealed with an eternal stability. Let then the Arians cease to say that the Son is inferior to the Father, but the Holy Spirit inferior to the Son, since whose kingdom is one, their power is one also.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 23. in Matt) This then is the first answer; the second which relates to His disciples He gives as follows, And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? He says not, “My disciples,” but your sons, wishing to soothe their wrath.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For the disciples of Christ were Jews, and sprung from Jews according to the flesh, and they had obtained from Christ power over unclean spirits, and delivered those who were oppressed by them in Christ’s name. Seeing then that your sons subdue Satan in My name, is it not very madness to say that I have My power from Beelzebub? Ye are then condemned by the faith of your children. Hence He adds, Therefore shall they be your judges.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ut sup.) For since they who come forth from you are obedient unto Me, it is plain that they will condemn those who do the contrary.

BEDE. Or else, By the sons of the Jews He means the exorcists of that nation, who cast out devils by the invocation of God. As if He says, If the casting out of devils by your sons is ascribed to God, not to devils, why in My case has not the same work the same cause? Therefore shall they be your judges, not in authority to exercise judgment, but in act, since they assign to God the casting out of devils, you to Beelzebub, the chief of the devils.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Since then what you say bears upon it the mark of calumny, it is plain that by the Spirit of God I cast out devils. Hence He adds, But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

AUGUSTINE. (de cons. Ev. l. ii. c. 38.) That Luke speaks of the finger of God, where Matthew has said, the Spirit, does not take away from their agreement in sense, but it rather teaches us a lesson, that we may know what meaning to give to the finger of God, whenever we read it in the Scriptures.

AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Ev. l. ii. qu. 17.) Now the Holy Spirit is called the finger of God, because of the distribution of gifts which are given through Him, to every one his own gift, whether he be of men or angels. For in none of our members is division more apparent than in our fingers.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Or the Holy Spirit is called the finger of God for this reason. The Son was said to be the hand and arm of the Father, (Ps. 98:1.) for the Father worketh all things by Him. As then the finger is not separate from the hand, but by nature a part of it; so the Holy Spirit is consubstantially united to the Son, and through Him the Son does all things.

AMBROSE. Nor would you think in the compacting together of our limbs any division of power to be made, for there can be no division in an undivided thing. And therefore the appellation of finger must be referred to the form of unity, not to the distinction of power.

ATHANASIUS. (Orat. 2. con. Arian.) But at this time our Lord does not hesitate because of His humanity to speak of Himself as inferior to the Holy Spirit, saying, that He cast out devils by Him, as though the human nature was not sufficient for the casting out of devils without the power of the Holy Spirit.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. And therefore it is justly said, The kingdom of God is come upon you, that is, “If I as a man cast out devils by the Spirit of God, human nature is enriched through Me, and the kingdom of God is come.”

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 41. ut sup.) But it is said, upon you, that He might draw them to Him; as if He said, If prosperity comes to you, why do you despise your good things?

AMBROSE. At the same time He shews that it is a regal power which the Holy Spirit possesses, in whom is the kingdom of God, and that we in whom the Spirit dwells are a royal house.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (in Matt.) Or He says, The kingdom of God is come upon you, signifying, “is come against you, not for you.” For dreadful is the second coming of Christ to faithless Christians.

11:21–23

21. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:

22. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

23. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As it was necessary for many reasons to refute the cavils of His opponents, our Lord now makes use of a very plain example, by which He proves to those who will consider it that He overcomes the power of the world, by a power inherent in Himself, saying, When a strong man armed keepeth his palace.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 41. in Matt.) He calls the devil a strong man, not because he is naturally so, but referring to his ancient dominion, of which our weakness was the cause.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For he used before the coming of the Saviour to seize with great violence upon the flocks of another, that is, God, and carry them as it were to his own fold.

THEOPHYLACT. The Devil’s arms are all kinds of sins, trusting in which he prevailed against men.

BEDE. But the world he calls his palace, which lieth in wickedness, (1 John 5:19.) wherein up to our Saviour’s coming he enjoyed supreme power, because he rested in the hearts of unbelievers without any opposition. But with a stronger and mightier power Christ has conquered, and by delivering all men has cast him out. Hence it is added, But if a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome, &c.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For as soon as the Word of the Most High God, the Giver of all strength, and the Lord of Hosts, was made man, He attacked him, and took away his arms.

BEDE. His arms then are the craft and the wiles of spiritual wickedness, but his spoils are the men themselves, who have been deceived by him.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For the Jews who had been a long time entrapped by him into ignorance of God and sin, have been called out by the holy Apostles to the knowledge of the truth, and presented to God the Father, through faith in the Son.

BASIL. Christ also divides the spoil, shewing the faithful watch which angels keep over the salvation of men.

BEDE. As conqueror too Christ divides the spoils, which is a sign of triumph, for leading captivity captive He gave gifts to men, ordaining some Apostles, some Evangelists, some Prophets, and some Pastors and Teachers. (Ephes. 4:8, 11.)

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Next we have the fourth answer, where it is added, He who is not with me is against me; as if He says, I wish to present men to God, but Satan the contrary. How then would he who does not work with Me, but scatters what is Mine, become so united with Me, as with Me to cast out devils? It follows, And he who gathereth not with me, scattereth.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As if He said, I came to gather together the sons of God whom he hath scattered. And Satan himself as he is not with Me, tries to scatter those which I have gathered and saved. How then does he whom I use all My efforts to resist, supply Me with power?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 41. in Matt.) But if he who does not work with Me is My adversary, how much more he who opposes Me? It seems however to me that he here under a figure refers to the Jews, ranging them with the devil. For they also acted against, and scattered those whom He gathered together.

11:24–26

24. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.

25. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

26. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. After what had gone before, our Lord proceeds to shew how it was that the Jewish people had sunk to these opinions concerning Christ, saying, When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, &c. For that this example relates to the Jews, Matthew has explained when he says, Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matt. 12:45.) For all the time that they were living in Egypt in the practice of the Egyptians, there dwelt in them an evil spirit, which was drawn out of them when they sacrificed the lamb as a type of Christ, and were sprinkled with its blood, and so escaped the destroyer.

AMBROSE. The comparison then is between one man and the whole Jewish people, from whom through the Law the unclean spirit had been cast out. But because in the Gentiles, whose hearts were first barren, but afterwards in baptism moistened with the dew of the Spirit, the devil could find no rest because of their faith in Christ, (for to the unclean spirits Christ is a flaming fire,) he then returned to the Jewish people. Hence it follows, And finding none, he saith, I will return to my house whence I came.

ORIGEN. That is, to those who are of Israel, whom he saw possessing nothing divine in them, but desolate, and vacant for him to take up his abode there; and so it follows, And when he came, he findeth it swept and garnished.

AMBROSE. For Israel being adorned with a mere outward and superficial beauty, remains inwardly the more polluted in her heart. For she never quenched or allayed her fires in the water of the sacred fountain, and rightly did the unclean spirit return to her, bringing with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself. Hence it follows, And he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there. Seeing that in truth she has sacrilegiously profaned the seven weeks of the Law, (i. e. from Easter to Pentecost,) and the mystery of the eighth day. Therefore as upon us is multiplied the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit, so upon them falls the whole accumulated attack of the unclean spirits. For the number seven is frequently taken to mean the whole.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 43. in Matt.) Now the evil spirits who dwell in the souls of the Jews, are worse than those in former times. For then the Jews raged against the Prophets, now they lift up their hands against the Lord of the Prophets, and therefore suffered worse things from Vespasian and Titus than in Egypt and Babylon. Hence it follows, And the last state of that man is worse than the former. Then too they had with them the Providence of God, and the grace of the Holy Spirit; but now they are deprived even of this protection, so that there is now a greater lack of virtue, and their sorrows are more intense, and the tyranny of the evil spirits more terrible.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The last state also is worse than the first, according to the words of the Apostle, It were better not to have known the way of truth, than after they have known it to turn back from it. (2 Pet. 2:21.)

BEDE. This may also be taken to refer to certain heretics or schismatics, or even to a bad Catholic, from whom at the time of his baptism the evil spirit had gone out. And he wanders about in dry places, that is, his crafty device is to try the hearts of the faithful, which have been purged of all unstable and transient knowledge, if he can plant in them any where the footsteps of his iniquity. But he says, I will return to my house whence I came out. And here we must beware lest the sin which we supposed extinguished in us, by our neglect overcome us unawares. But he finds his house swept and garnished, that is, purified by the grace of baptism from the stain of sin, yet replenished with no diligence in good works. By the seven evil spirits which he takes to himself, he signifies all the vices. And they are called more wicked, because he will have not only those vices which are opposed to the seven spiritual virtues, but also by his hypocrisy he will pretend to have the virtues themselves.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ut sup.) Let us receive the words which follow, as said not only to them, but also to ourselves, And the last state of that man shall be worse than the first; for if enlightened and released from our former sins we again return to the same course of wickedness, a heavier punishment will await our latter sins.

BEDE. It may also be simply understood, that our Lord added these words to shew the distinction between the works of Satan and His own, that in truth He is ever hastening to cleanse what has been defiled, Satan to defile with still greater pollution what has been cleansed.

11:27–28

27. And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.

28. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

BEDE. While the Scribes and Pharisees were tempting our Lord, and uttering blasphemies against Him, a certain woman with great boldness confessed His incarnation, as it follows, And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, &c. by which she refutes both the calumnies of the rulers present, and the unbelief of future heretics. For as then by blaspheming the works of the Holy Spirit, the Jews denied the true Son of God, so in after times the heretics, by denying that the Evervirgin Mary, by the cooperating power of the Holy Spirit, ministered of the substance of her flesh to the birth of the only-begotten Son, have said, that we ought not to confess Him who was the Son of man to be truly of the same substance with the Father. But if the flesh of the Word of God, who was born according to the flesh, is declared alien to the flesh of His Virgin Mother, what cause is there why the womb which bare Him and the paps which gave Him suck are pronounced blessed? By what reasoning do they suppose Him to be nourished by her milk, from whose seed they deny Him to be conceived? Whereas according to the physicians, from one and the same fountain both streams are proved to flow. But the woman pronounces blessed not only her who was thought worthy to give birth from her body to the Word of God, but those also who have desired by the hearing of faith spiritually to conceive the same Word, and by diligence in good works, either in their own or the hearts of their neighbours, to bring it forth and nourish it; for it follows, But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 44. in Matt.) In this answer He sought not to disown His mother, but to shew that His birth would have profited her nothing, had she not been really fruitful in works and faith. But if it profited Mary nothing that Christ derived His birth from her, without the inward virtue of her heart, much less will it avail us to have a virtuous father, brother, or son, while we ourselves are strangers to virtue.

BEDE. But she was the mother of God, and therefore indeed blessed, in that she was made the temporal minister of the Word becoming incarnate; yet therefore much more blessed that she remained the eternal keeper of the same ever to be beloved Word. But this expression startles the wise men of the Jews, who sought not to hear and keep the word of God, but to deny and blaspheme it.

11:29–32

29. And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

30. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.

31. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them; for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

32. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

BEDE. Our Lord had been assailed with two kinds of questions, for some accused Him of casting out devils through Beelzebub, to whom up to this point His answer was addressed; and others tempting Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven, and these He now proceeds to answer. As it follows, And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation, &c.

AMBROSE. That you may know that the people of the Synagogue are treated with dishonour, while the blessedness of the Church is increased. But as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of man be to the Jews. Hence it is added, They seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given them but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

BASIL. (in Esai. 7.) A sign is a thing brought openly to view, containing in itself the manifestation of something hidden, as the sign of Jonas represents the descent to hell, the ascension of Christ, and His resurrection from the dead. Hence it is added, For as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. He gives them a sign, not from heaven, because they were unworthy to see it, but from the lowest depths of hell; a sign, namely, of His incarnation, not of His divinity; of His passion, not of His glorification.

AMBROSE. Now as the sign of Jonas is a type of our Lord’s passion, so also is it a testimony of the grievous sins which the Jews have committed. We may remark at once both the mighty voice of warning, and the declaration of mercy. For by the example of the Ninevites both a punishment is denounced, and a remedy promised. Hence even the Jews ought not to despair of pardon, if they will but practise repentance.

THEOPHYLACT. Now Jonas after he came forth from the whale’s belly converts the men of Nineveh by his preaching, but when Christ rose again, the Jewish nation believed not. So there was a sentence already passed upon them, of which there follows a second example, as it is said, The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them.

BEDE. Not certainly by any authority to judge, but by the contrast of a better deed. As it follows, For she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. Hie in this place is not the pronoun, but the adverb of place, that is, “there is one present among you who is incomparably superior to Solomon.” He said not, “I am greater than Solomon,” that he might teach us to be humble, though fruitful in spiritual graces. As if he said, “The barbarian woman hastened to hear Solomon, taking so long a journey to be instructed in the knowledge of visible living creatures, and the virtues of herbs. But ye when ye stand by and hear Wisdom herself teaching you invisible and heavenly things, and confirming her words with signs and wonders, are strangers to the word, and senselessly disregard the miracles.”

BEDE. But if the queen of the South, who doubtless is of the elect, shall rise up in judgment together with the wicked, we have a proof of the one resurrection of all men, good as well as bad, and that not according to Jewish fables to happen a thousand years before the judgment, but at the judgment itself.

AMBROSE. Herein also while condemning the Jewish people, He strongly expresses the mystery of the Church, which in the queen of the South, through the desire of obtaining wisdom, is gathered together from the uttermost parts of the whole earth, to hear the words of the Peacemaking Solomon; a queen plainly whose kingdom is undivided, rising up from different and distant nations into one body.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Hom. 7. Cant.) Now as she was queen of the Ethiopians, and in a far distant country, so in the beginning the Church of the Gentiles was in darkness, and far off from the knowledge of God. But when Christ the Prince of peace shone forth, the Jews being still in darkness, thither came the Gentiles, and offered to Christ the frankincense of piety, the gold of divine knowledge, and precious stones, that is, obedience to His commands.

THEOPHYLACT. Or because the South is praised in Scripture as warm and life-giving, therefore the soul reigning in the south, that is, in all spiritual conversation, comes to hear the wisdom of Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Lord our God, (i. e. is raised up to contemplate Him,) to whom no one shall come except he reign in a good life. But He brings next an example from the Ninevites, saying, The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it.

CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) The judgment of condemnation comes from men like or unlike to those who are condemned. From like, for instance, as in the parable of the ten virgins, but from unlike, when the Ninevites condemn those who lived at the time of Christ, that so their condemnation might be the more remarkable. (Hom. 43. in Matt.). For the Ninevites indeed were barbarians, but these Jews. The one enjoying the prophetic teaching, the other having never received the divine word. To the former came a servant, to the latter the Master, of whom the one foretold destruction, the other preached the kingdom of heaven. To all men then was it known that the Jews ought rather to have believed, but the contrary happened; therefore he adds, For they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

AMBROSE. Now in a mystery, the Church consists of two things, either ignorance of sin, which has reference mainly to the queen of the South, or ceasing to sin, which relates indeed to the repentant Ninevites. For repentance blots out the offence, wisdom guards against it.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. lib. ii. c. 39.) Luke indeed relates this in the same place as Matthew, but in a somewhat different order. But who does not see that it is an idle question, in what order our Lord said those things, seeing that we ought to learn by the most precious authority of the Evangelist, that there is no falsehood. But not every man will repeat another’s words in the same order in which they proceeded from his mouth, seeing that the order itself makes no difference with respect to the fact, whether it be so or not.

11:33–36

33. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

34. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

35. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

36. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Jews said, that our Lord performed His miracles not for faith, i. e. that they might believe on Him, but to gain the applause of the spectators, i. e. that He might have more followers. He refutes therefore this calumny, saying, No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick.

BEDE. Our Lord here speaks of Himself, shewing that although He had said above that no sign should be given to this wicked generation but the sign of Jonas, yet the brightness of His light should by no means be hid from the faithful. He Himself indeed lights the candle, who filled the vessel of our nature with the fire of His divinity; and this candle surely He wished neither to hide from believers, nor to place under a bushel, that is, enclose it in the measure of the law, or confine it within the limits of the single nation of the Jews. But He placed it upon a candlestick, that is, the Church, for He has imprinted on our foreheads the faith of His incarnation, that they who with a true faith wish to enter the Church, might be able to see clearly the light of the truth. Lastly, He bids them remember to cleanse and purify not only their works, but their thoughts, and the intentions of the heart. For it follows, The light of the body is the eye.

AMBROSE. Either faith is the light, as it is written, Thy word, O Lord, is a lantern to my feet. (Ps. 119:105.) For the word of God is our faith. But a lantern cannot shine except it has received its quality from something else. Hence also the powers of our mind and senses are enlightened, that the piece of money which had been lost may be found. Let no one then place faith under the law, for the law is bound by certain limits, grace is unlimited; the law obscures, grace makes clear.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, because the Jews, seeing the miracles, accused them out of the malice of their heart, therefore our Lord tells them, that, receiving the light, that is, their understanding, from God, they were so darkened with envy, as not to recognise His miracles and mercies. But to this end received we our understanding from God, that we should place it upon a candlestick, that others also who are entering in may see the light. The wise man indeed has already entered, but the learner is still walking. As if He said to the Pharisees, You ought to use your understanding to know the miracles, and declare them to others, seeing that what you see are the works not of Beelzebub, but the Son of God. Therefore, keeping up the meaning, He adds, The light of the body is the eye.

ORIGEN. For He gives the name of the eye especially to our understanding, but the whole soul, although not corporeal, He metaphorically calls the body. For the whole soul is enlightened by the understanding.

THEOPHYLACT. But as if the eye of the body be light the body will be light, but if dark the body will be dark also, so is it with the understanding in relation to the soul. Hence it follows, If thine eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light; but if evil, thy whole body will be full of darkness.

ORIGEN. For the understanding from its very beginning desires only singleness, containing no dissimulation, or guile, or division in itself.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 20. in Matt.) If then we have corrupted the understanding, which is able to let loose the passions, we have done violence to the whole soul, and suffer dreadful darkness, being blinded by the perversion of our understanding. Therefore adds he, Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness. He speaks of a darkness which may be perceived, but which has its origin within itself, and which we every where carry about with us, the eye of the soul being put out. Concerning the power of this light He goes on to say, If thy whole body therefore be full of light, &c. &c.

ORIGEN. That is, If thy material body, when the light of a candle shines upon it, is made full of light, so that not one of thy members is any longer in darkness; much more when thou sinnest not, shall thy whole spiritual body be so full of light, that its brightness may be compared to the shining of a candle, while the light which was in the body, and which used to be darkness, is directed whithersoever the understanding may command.

GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Epist. 41.) Or else; The light and eye of the Church is the Bishop. It is necessary then that as the body is rightly directed as long as the eye keeps itself pure, but goes wrong when it becomes corrupt, so also with respect to the Prelate, according to what his state may be, must the Church in like manner suffer shipwreck, or be saved.

GREGORY. (28. Mor. c. 12.) Or else; By the name body each particular action is understood which follows its own intention, as it were the eye of the spectators. Therefore it is said, The light of the body is the eye, because by the ray of a good intention the deserving parts of an action receive light. If then thy eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light, for if we intend rightly in singleness of heart, we accomplish a good work, even though it seem not to be good. And if thy eye be evil, thy whole body will be full of darkness, because when with a crooked intention even a right thing is done, although it appears to glitter in men’s sight, yet before the bar of the internal judge it is covered with darkness. Hence too it is rightly added, Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. For if what we think we do well we cloud by a bad intention, how many are the evils themselves which even when we do them we know to be evil?

BEDE. Now when He adds, If thy whole body therefore, &c. by the whole of our body He means all our works. If then thou hast done a good work with a good intention, having in thy conscience nothing approaching to a dark thought, though it chance that thy neighbour is injured by thy good actions, nevertheless for thy singleness of heart shalt thou be rewarded with grace here, and with glorious light hereafter; which he signifies, adding, And as the bright shining of a candle shall it give thee light. These words were especially directed against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who sought for signs that they might catch him.

11:37–44

37. And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him, and he went in, and sat down to meat.

38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

39. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

40. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

41. But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

42. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

43. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

44. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Pharisee, while our Lord still continued on speaking, invites Him to his own house. As it is said, And while he was speaking, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him.

BEDE. Luke expressly says, And as he spake these things, to shew that He had not quite finished what He had purposed to say, but was somewhat interrupted by the Pharisee asking Him to dine.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. lib. ii. c. 40.) For in order to relate this, Luke has made a variation from Matthew, at that place where both had mentioned what our Lord said concerning the sign of Jonah, and the queen of the south, and the unclean spirit; after which discourse Matthew says, While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without desiring to speak to him; but Luke having also in that discourse of our Lord related some of our Lord’s sayings which Matthew omitted, now departs from the order which he had hitherto kept with Matthew.

BEDE. Accordingly, after that it was told Him that His mother and brethren stood without, and He said, For he that doeth the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother, we are given to understand that He by the request of the Pharisee went to the dinner.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For Christ, knowing the wickedness of those Pharisees, Himself purposely condescends to be occupied in admonishing them, after the manner of the best physicians, who bring remedies of their own making to those who are dangerously ill. Hence it follows, And he went in and sat down to meat. But what gave occasion for the words of Christ was, that the ignorant Pharisees were offended, that while men thought Him to be a great man and a prophet, He conformed not to their unreasonable customs. Therefore it is added, But the Pharisee began to think and say within himself, Why had he not first washed before dinner?

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 106.) For every day before dinner the Pharisees washed themselves with water, as if a daily washing could be a cleansing of the heart. But the Pharisee thought within himself, yet did not give utterance to a word; nevertheless, He heard who perceived the secrets of the heart. Hence it follows, And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now our Lord might also have used other words to admonish the foolish Pharisee, but he seizes the opportunity and framed his reproof from the things that were ready before him. At the hour, namely, of meals He takes for His example the cup and the platter, pointing out that it became the sincere servants of God to be washed and clean, not only from bodily impurity, but also from that which lies concealed within the power of the soul, just as any of the vessels which are used for the table ought to be free from all inward defilement.

AMBROSE. Now mark that our bodies are signified by the mention of earthly and fragile things, which when let fall a short distance are broken to pieces, and those things which the mind meditates within, it easily expresses through the senses and actions of the body, just as those things which the cup contains within make a glitter without. Hence also hereafter, by the word cup doubtless the passion of the body is spoken of. You perceive then, that not the outside of the cup and platter defiles us, but the inner parts. For he said, But your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 106.) But how was it that He spared not the man by whom He was invited? Yea rather, He spared him by reproof, that when corrected He might spare him in the judgment. Further, He shews us that baptism also which is once given cleanses by faith; but faith is something within, not without. The Pharisees despised faith, and used washings which were without; while within they remained full of pollution. The Lord condemns this, saying, Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

BEDE. As if He says, He who made both natures of man, will have each to be cleansed. This is against the Manicheans, who think the soul only was created by God, but the flesh by the devil. It is also against those who abominate the sins of the flesh, such as fornication, theft, and the like; while those of the Spirit, which are no less condemned by the Apostle, they disregard as trifling.

AMBROSE. Now our Lord as a good Master taught us how we ought to purify our bodies from defilement, saying, But rather give alms of such things as ye have over: and, behold, all things are clean unto you. You see what the remedies are; almsgiving cleanseth us, the word of God cleanseth us, according to that which is written, Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3.)

CYPRIAN. (de Op. et Eleem.) The Merciful bids us to shew mercy; and because He seeks to save those whom He has redeemed at a great price, He teaches that they who have been defiled after the grace of baptism may again be made clean.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 72. in Joan.) Now He says, give alms, not injury. For almsgiving is that which is free from all injury. It makes all things clean, and is more excellent than fasting; which though it be the more painful, the other is the more profitable. It enlightens the soul, enriches it, and makes it good and beautiful, He who resolves to have compassion on the needy, will sooner cease from sin. For as the physician who is in the habit of healing the diseased is easily grieved by the misfortunes of others; so we, if we have devoted ourselves to the relief of others, shall easily despise things present, and be raised up to heaven. The unction of almsgiving then is no slight good, since it is capable of being applied to every wound.

BEDE. (quod superest.) He speaks of “what is over and above” our necessary food and clothing. For you are not commanded to give alms so as to consume yourself by want, but that after satisfying your wants, you should supply the poor to the utmost of your power. Or it must be taken in this way. Do that which remains within your power, that is, which is the only remedy remaining to those who have been hitherto engaged in so much wickedness; give alms. Which word applies to every thing which is done with profitable compassion. For not he alone gives alms who gives food to the hungry and things of that kind, but he also who gives pardon to the sinner, and prays for him, and reproves him, visiting him with some correcting punishment.

THEOPHYLACT. Or He means, “That which is uppermost.” For wealth rules the covetous man’s heart.

AMBROSE. The whole then of this beautiful discourse is directed to this end, that while it invites us to the study of simplicity, it should condemn the luxury and worldliness of the Jews. And yet even they are promised the abolition of their sins if they will follow mercy.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 106.) But if they cannot be cleansed except they believe on Him who cleanses the heart by faith, what is this which He says, Give alms, and behold all things are clean to you? Let us give heed, and perhaps He Himself explains it to us.

For the Jews withdrew a tenth part from all their produce, and gave it in alms, which rarely a Christian does. Therefore they mocked Him, for saying this to them as to men who did not give alms. God knowing this adds, But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God. This then is not giving alms. For to give alms is to shew mercy. If thou art wise, begin with thyself: for how art thou merciful to another, if cruel to thyself? Hear the Scripture, which says unto thee, Have mercy on thy own soul, and please God. (Ecclus. 30:23.) Return unto thy conscience, thou that livest in evil or unbelief, and then thou findest thy soul begging, or perhaps struck dumb with want. In judgment and love give alms to thy soul. What is judgment? Do what is displeasing to thyself. What is charity? Love God, love thy neighbour. If thou neglectest this alms, love as much you like, thou doest nothing, since thou doest it not to thyself.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Or He says it by way of censure upon the Pharisees, who ordered those precepts only to be strictly observed by their people, which were the cause of fruitful returns to themselves. Hence they omitted not even the smallest herbs, but despised the work of inspiring love to God, and the just awarding of judgment.

THEOPHYLACT. For because they despised God, treating sacred things with indifference, He commands them to have love to God; but by judgment He implies the love of our neighbour. For when a man judges his neighbour justly, it proceeds from his love to him.

AMBROSE. Or judgment, because they do not bring to examination every thing that they do; charity, because they love not God with their heart. But that He might not make us zealous of the faith, to the neglect of good works, He sums up the perfection of a good man in a few words, these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 73. in Matt.) Where indeed the subject treated was the Jewish cleansing, He altogether passed it by, but as the tithe is a kind of almsgiving, and the time was not yet come for absolutely destroying the customs of the law, therefore He says, these ought ye to have done.

AMBROSE. He reproves also the arrogance of the boasting Jews in seeking the preeminence: for it follows, Woe unto you, Pharisees, for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, &c.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. By means of those things for which He blames us He makes us better. For He would have us be free from ambition, and not desire after vain show rather than the reality, which the Pharisees were then doing. For the greetings of men, and the rule over them, do not move us to be really useful, for these things fall to men though they be not good men. Therefore he adds, Woe unto you, who are as graves which appear not. For in wishing to receive greetings from men and to exercise authority over them, that they might be accounted great, they differ not from hidden graves, which glitter indeed with outward ornaments, but within are full of all uncleanness.

AMBROSE. And like graves which appear not, they deceive by their outside beauty, and by their look impose upon the passers by; as it follows, And the men that walk over them are not aware of them; so much that in truth, though they give outward promise of what is beautiful, inwardly they enclose all manner of pollution.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 73.) But that the Pharisees were so, cannot be wondered at. But if we who are counted worthy to be the temples of God suddenly become graves full only of corruption, this is indeed the lowest wretchedness.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. (con. Julian. lib. 10.) Now here the apostate Julian says, that we must avoid graves which Christ says are unclean; but he knew not the force of our Saviour’s words, for He did not command us to depart from the graves, but likened to them the hypocritical people of the Pharisees.

11:45–54

45. Then answered one of the Lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

46. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye Lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

47. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

48. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

49. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

50. That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

51. From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

52. Woe unto you, Lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye enter not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

53. And as he said these things unto them, the Scribes and Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:

54. Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. A reproof which exalts the meek is generally hateful to the proud man. When therefore our Saviour was blaming the Pharisees for transgressing from the right path, the body of Lawyers were struck with consternation. Hence it is said, Then answered one of the Lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

BEDE. In what a grievous state is that conscience, which hearing the word of God thinks it a reproach against itself, and in the account of the punishment of the wicked perceives its own condemnation.

THEOPHYLACT. Now the Lawyers were different from the Pharisees. For the Pharisees being separated from the rest had the appearance of a religious sect; but those skilled in the Law were the Scribes and Doctors who solved legal questions.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But Christ brings a severe charge against the Lawyers, and subdues their foolish pride, as it follows, And he said, Woe unto you also, ye Lawyers, for ye lade men, &c. He brings forward an obvious example for their direction. The Law was burdensome to the Jews as the disciples of Christ confess, but these Lawyers binding together legal burdens which could not be borne, placed them upon those under them, taking care themselves to have no toil whatever.

THEOPHYLACT. As often also as the teacher does what he teaches, he lightens the load, offering himself for an example. But when he does none of the things which he teaches others, the loads appear heavy to those who learn his teaching, as being what even their teacher is not able to bear.

BEDE. Now they are rightly told that they would not touch the burdens of the Law even with one of their fingers, that is, they fulfil not in the slightest point that law which they pretend to keep and transmit to the keeping of others, contrary to the practice of their fathers, without faith and the grace of Christ.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. So also are there now many severe judges of sinners, yet weak combatants; burdensome imposers of laws, yet weak bearers of burdens; who wish neither to approach nor to touch strictness of life, though they sternly exact it from their subjects.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Having then condemned the burdensome dealing of the Lawyer, He brings a general charge against all the chief men of the Jews, saying, Woe to you who build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

AMBROSE. This is a good answer to the foolish superstition of the Jews, who in building the tombs of the prophets condemned the deeds of their fathers, but by rivalling their fathers’ wickedness, throw back the sentence upon themselves. For not the building but the imitation of their deeds is looked upon as a crime. Therefore He adds, Truly ye bear witness that ye allow, &c.

BEDE. They pretended indeed, in order to win the favour of the multitude, that they were shocked at the unbelief of their fathers, since by splendidly honouring the memories of the prophets who were slain by them they condemned their deeds. But in their very actions they testify how much they coincide with their fathers’ wickedness, by treating with insult that Lord whom the prophets foretold. Hence it is added, Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute.

AMBROSE. The wisdom of God is Christ. The words indeed in Matthew are, Behold I send unto you prophets and wise men.

BEDE. But if the same Wisdom of God sent prophets and Apostles, let heretics cease to assign to Christ a beginning from the Virgin; let them no longer declare one God of the Law and Prophets, another of the New Testament. For although the Apostolic Scripture often calls by the name of prophets not only those who foretell the coming Incarnation of Christ, but those also who foretell the future joys of the kingdom of heaven, yet I should never suppose that these were to be placed before the Apostles in the order of enumeration.

ATHANASIUS. (Apol. 1. de fuga sua.) Now if they kill, the death of the slain will cry out the louder against them; if they pursue, they send forth memorials of their iniquity, for flight makes the pursuit of the sufferers to redound to the great disgrace of the pursuers. For no one flees from the merciful and gentle, but rather from the cruel and evil-minded man. And therefore it follows, That the blood of all the prophets who have been slain from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation.

BEDE. It is asked, How comes it that the blood of all the prophets and just men is required of the single generation of the Jews; whereas many of the saints, both before the Incarnation and after, have been slain by other nations? But it is the manner of the Scriptures frequently to reckon two generations of men, one of the good, and the other of the evil.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Although then He says pointedly of this generation, He expresses not merely those who were then standing by Him and listening, but every manslayer. For like is attributed to like.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 74. in Matt.) But if He means that the Jews are about to suffer worse things, this will not be undeserved, for they have dared to do worse than all. And they have been corrected by none of their past calamities, but when they saw others sin, and punished, they were not made better, but did likewise; yet it will not be that one shall suffer punishment for the sins of others.

THEOPHYLACT. But our Lord shews that the Jews have inherited the malice of Cain, since he adds, From the blood of Abel, to the blood of Zacharias, &c. Abel, inasmuch as he was slain by Cain; but Zacharias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar, some say was the Zacharias of old time, the son of Jehoiadah the Priest.

BEDE. Why He begins from the blood of Abel, who was the first martyr, we need not wonder; but why, to the blood of Zacharias, is a question, since many were slain after him even up to our Lord’s birth, and soon after His birth the Innocents, unless perhaps it was because Abel was a shepherd, Zacharias a Priest. And the one was killed in the field, the other in the court of the temple, martyrs of each class, that is, under their names are shadowed both laymen, and those engaged in the office of the altar.

GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. in Diem Nat. Christi.) But some say that Zacharias, the father of John, by the spirit of prophecy forecasting the mystery of the immaculate virginity of the mother of God, in no wise separated her from the part of the temple set apart for virgins, wishing to shew that it was in the power of the Creator of all things to manifest a new birth, while he did not deprive the mother of the glory of her virginity. Now this part was between the altar and the temple, in which was placed the brazen altar, where for this reason they slew him. It is said also, that when they heard the King of the world was about to come, from fear of subjection they designedly attacked him who bore witness to His coming, and slew the priest in the temple.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Geometer.) But others give another reason for the destruction of Zacharias. For at the murder of the children the blessed John was to be slain with the rest of the same age, but Elisabeth, snatching up her son from the midst of the slaughter, sought the desert. And so when Herod’s soldiers could not find Elisabeth and the child, they turn their wrath against Zacharias, killing him as he was ministering in the temple.

It follows, Woe to you, lawyers, for ye have taken away the key of knowledge.

BASIL. (in Esai. 1.) This word woe, which is uttered with pain intolerable, is suited to those who were shortly after to be cast out into grievous punishment.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now we say, the law itself is the key of knowledge. For it was both a shadow and a figure of the righteousness of Christ, therefore it became the Lawyers, as instructors of the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets, to reveal in a certain measure to the Jewish people the knowledge of Christ. This they did not, but on the contrary detracted from the divine miracles, and spoke against His teaching, Why hear ye him? So then they took away the key of knowledge. Hence it follows, Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entered in ye hindered. But faith also is the key of knowledge. For by faith comes also the knowledge of truth, according to that of Isaiah, Unless ye have believed, ye will not understand. (Isa. 7:9. LXX.) The Lawyers then have taken away the key of knowledge, not permitting men to believe in Christ.

AUGUSTINE. (de qu. Ev. l. ii. q. 23.) But the key of knowledge is also the humility of Christ, which they would neither themselves understand, nor let be understood by others.

AMBROSE. Those also are even now condemned under the name of Jews, and made subject to future punishment, who, while usurping to themselves the teaching of divine knowledge, both hinder others, and do not themselves acknowledge that which they profess.

AUGUSTINE. (de con. Ev. lib. ii. c. 75.) Now all these things Matthew records to have been said after our Lord had come into Jerusalem. But Luke relates them here, when our Lord was yet on His journey to Jerusalem. From which they appear to me to be similar discourses, of which Matthew has given one, Luke the other.

BEDE. But how true were the charges of unbelief, hypocrisy, and impiety, brought against the Pharisees and Lawyers they themselves testify, striving not to repent, but to entrap the Teacher of truth; for it follows, And as he said these things to them, the Pharisees and Lawyers began to urge him vehemently.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now this urging is taken to mean pressing upon Him, or threatening Him, or waxing furious against Him. But they began to interrupt His words in many ways, as it follows, And to force him to speak of many things.

THEOPHYLACT. For when several are questioning a man on different subjects, since he can not reply to all at once, foolish people think he is doubting. This also was part of their wicked design against Him; but they sought also in another way to control His power of speech, namely, by provoking Him to say something by which He might be condemned; whence it follows, Laying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. Having first spoken of “forcing,” Luke now says to catch or seize something from His mouth; at one time indeed they asked Him concerning the Law, that they might convict as a blasphemer Him who accused Moses; but at another time concerning Cæsar, that they might accuse Him as a traitor and rebel against the majesty of Cæsar.








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