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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 2. In collating the present narrative with that of S. Mat. it appears that Jesus Christ was not tempted till the expiration of forty days. V. — Many reasons may be assigned why Christ permitted himself to be tempted. 1st. To merit for man the grace of overcoming temptations. 2d. To encourage us under temptations. 3d. To teach us not to be cast down with temptations, however grievous they may be, since even Jesus Christ submitted to them. 4thly. To point out to us the manner in which we ought to behave in time of temptation. D. Dion.
Ver. 3. The tempter here appears to endeavour to discover by stratagem whether Christ was the Son of God. He does not say, if thou be the Son of God, "pray" that these stones be made bread, which he might have said to any man; but "command," effect by thine own authority, that this come to pass. If Christ had done this, the tempter would have instantly concluded, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, since only God could effect such a miracle. D. Dion.
Ver. 10. We have the devil here again citing Scripture, (Ps. xc. v. 11.) [Read what is given on this subject in note on v. 6, c. iv. of S. Matthew's gospel] which shews how very dangerous a thing it is to put the Scripture, in the first instance, indiscriminately into every, even the most illiterate person's hands, without any previous disposition of the mind and heart, by study and prayer. How much more satisfactory must it be to be guided by the Church of God, which Christ has promised to secure against all error, and which he commands all to obey! How much more rational to begin with distributing elementary catechisms, approved by the Catholic Church as conformable to the word of God, and then only opening to them the sacred mystic book, when their minds and hearts are better prepared to avail themselves of the inestimable treasure, and of justly appreciating and exploring the golden lore. If humility be a virtue that renders us most pleasing to God, it is a virtue particularly necessary for the proper understanding of Holy Writ. This will teach us to submit (whenever the Scripture is either silent or obscure in points of faith) our own private and unassisted judgment to the judgment and comments of the Church. This was the sentiment of a great philosopher of this nation, who, when charged with scepticism and a love of novelty by his contemporaries, replied: "However fanciful I may be esteemed in matters of philosophy, in religious concerns I like to go the beaten road. Where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my text. Where that speaks, it is but the comment; and I never refer any thing to the arbitration of my own judgment, but in the silence of them both."
Ver. 13. For a time, viz. until his Passion, in which he again most grievously tempted him, by the hands of impious persecutors, whom he could not overcome with sensuality, covetousness, or vanity. The devil now deals with men in the same manner. He tempts them, and, being overcome, leaves them for a time, to prompt them to rest in a fatal security; that indulging indolence, they may at some future period be attacked, with greater certainty of success, when unprepared. Knowing, therefore, the trick and design of our infernal enemy, how much does it behove us to be on our guard; and having overcome in one temptation, prepare ourselves for another; never resting in the presumptuous thought, that we are sufficiently strong in virtue to resist the enemy, without fresh preparation. D. Dion. — This history of the various temptations to which our Saviour subjects himself, as related by S. Luke, is exactly the same as that given by S. Matt. with this only difference, that the order in which the temptations took place is not the same in both evangelists: but it does not matter what order is observed, where all the circumstances are related. S. Austin.
Ver. 17. As he unfolded the book: and again, (v. 20) when he had folded the book. Books at that time where not like our now-a-days, but were skins or parchments, rolled or folded up. Wi. — Some are of opinion that the Jews of Nazareth, having heard of the miracles and fame of Jesus, and that he was accustomed to teach in the synagogues, though he had never been instructed in any learning, when he rose to speak, purposely gave him the book of Isaias, which was esteemed the most difficult to be explained, in order to try his learning; though it is probable that it was done by the all-directing interposition of Divine Providence. Maldonatus.
Ver. 18. By the poor are to be understood the Gentiles; who might truly be called poor, since they possessed neither the knowledge of the true God, nor of the law, nor of the prophets. Origen. — Isaias in this place speaks of himself, as a figure of the Messias. The captivity of Babylon, which is the literal object of this prophecy, was a figure of the then state of mankind; the return from this captivity announced by the prophet, and effected by Cyrus, represented the redemption of man, effected by Jesus Christ. V.
Ver. 19. To set at liberty them that are bruised, or oppressed. These words are not in the prophet; but are added by S. Luke, to explain the others. — To preach the acceptable year, as it were the jubilee year, when slaves used to be set at liberty. Wi.
Ver. 20. To observe and admire a person that had never learned letters, and who stood up amongst them an experienced teacher. Menochius. See John vii. 15. and Maldonatus.
Ver. 21. By this Christ wished to shew that he was the Messias foretold by the prophet Isaias, whom they so anxiously expected: he declares himself to be the person pointed out by the prophet. There seems also to be a secret reprehension in these words of Christ; as if he were to say: Why are you so desirous to behold the Messias, whom, when he is before your eyes, you will not receive? Why do you seek him in the prophets, when you neither understand the prophets, nor perceive the truth of their predictions, when they are fulfilled before you eyes? Maldonatus.
Ver. 23. I see you will object to me this similitude, (parabolhn) or trite saying, applied to such as attended to the concerns of others, and neglected their own. Menochius.
Ver. 30. Passing through the midst of them, went his way. Perhaps by making himself on a sudden invisible, or by striking them with blindness, or by changing their minds, and hearts, as he pleased. Wi. — All commentators observe on these words, that the evangelist wished to shew that Christ worked a miracle on this occasion, and by it proved his divinity. This is the opinion of SS. Euthymius, Ambrose, and Thomas. S. Ambrose says, we must observe that Christ did not suffer from necessity, but because he wished it. He was not taken by the Jews, but delivered up himself; at his own pleasure he is seized, and at his own pleasure he escapes; when he wills it, he is condemned; and when he wills it, he is freed. The most common opinion is, that he rendered himself invisible on this occasion; though others imagine that he changed their wills, or withheld their hands. Maldon. — When we observe the outrageous treatment Jesus Christ met with from the people of Nazareth, we are not surprised that he should shut up the fountain of his beneficence against them for their incredulity, and return to Capharnaum. A.
Ver. 31. Although Christ was well acquainted with the obduracy of the Jews, nevertheless, like a good physician, he condescends to pay them another visit, and try what a fresh medicine might effect in this their last stage, as it were, of existence. He publicly preaches therefore in the synagogue, according as Isaias had declared of him, and struck amazement into every heart. The Jews themselves considered him as something very extraordinary; as one of the prophets, or ancient saints. But Christ, that they might conceive a higher opinion of his person, does not make use of the expressions they did, but speaks as Lord and Master of the law. S. Cyril.
Ver. 38. It is evident that S. Peter was married; but after his call to the apostleship, he left his wife, as S. Jerom writes, in ep. xliii. C. ii. ad Julianum, and l. i. adv. Jovin. See Matt. xix. 29.
Ver. 40. The evangelist mentions this circumstance, because these distressed people did not dare to bring their sick before that time, either through fear of the Pharisees, or of violating the sabbath. Origen.
Ver. 41. It appears, that when the devil expresses himself thus, it is less through conviction than artifice. He suspected the fact; and to certify the same, he said to him in the desert, if you be the Son of God, change these stones into bread. In the same manner by saying here, you are the Son of God, he wished to give him an occasion of explaining himself on the subject. V. — But Jesus Christ would not accept of the testimony of evil spirits, lest he might be suspected of some intelligence with them, to cause himself to be acknowledged the Son of God. Ibid.
Ver. 43. From the apparent good dispositions of these people, we might be induced to think, that if Christ had yielded to their solicitations, and remained with them, he could have drawn all to himself; yet he did not choose to do this, but has left us an example worthy of our imitation, in seeking out the perishing and strayed sheep; for by the salvation of one soul, our many sins will be remitted. S. Chrys. in cat. Græc. Pat. hom. in Matt.
Ver. 44. Our divine Redeemer frequented the Jewish synagogue, to shew he was no seducer. If he had inhabited wilds and deserts, it might have been objected to him, that he concealed himself, like an impostor, from the sight of men. S. Chrys. Ibid.