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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. It was not immediately after he had spoken the preceding words that Christ entered Capharnaum, for in the interim he healed the man afflicted with the leprosy, according as S. Matthew related it in its proper place. S. Austin.
Ver. 2. This history, though different in some circumstances from that related by S. Matt. c. viii. is most likely a relation of the same event, and the apparent discrepancies may be easily reconciled. S. Matt. says it was the centurion's boy; S. Luke calls him his servant: but in these terms there is no necessary contradiction. And whereas the former says the centurion went himself to Christ, S. Luke mentions that he sent the ancients, or senators, of the Jews. Here, as in other places, we may suppose, that the former evangelist, for the sake of brevity, attributes to the centurion what was done in his name and with his authority; and through the whole narrative he represents our Saviour answering the centurion as if personally present. Jans. concord. Evan.
Ver. 3. When S. Luke says that the centurion begs of our Lord to come to him, he must not be supposed to contradict S. Matt. who says, that the centurion objected he was not worthy to receive him under his roof. S. Luke seems here to relate the words of the Jews, who most probably would stop the centurion as he was going to Christ, and promise to intercede with our Lord for him. S. Chrysos. hom. xxvii. in Matt. — Some pretend that the centurion, after having sent to Jesus, went himself; but there is no necessity for such a supposition. We see in another case, that the petition of the sons of Zebedee, made by them to Jesus Christ, according to S. Mark (x. 35.) was made to him by the mouth of their mother, according to S. Matt. xx. 20. And this the old adage also teaches: qui facit per alium, facit per se; what a man does by another, he does by himself.
Ver. 6. Jesus Christ went with them, not because he could not cure him, when absent, but that he might set forth the centurion's humility for our imitation. He would not go to the child of the ruler of the synagogue, lest he might appear to be induced by the consideration of his consequence and riches; but he went to the centurion's servant, that he might appear to despise his humble condition. S. Amb.
Ver. 9. Our Lord does not speak of the patriarchs, but of the Israelites of his own time, with whose faith he compares and prefers that of the centurion, because they had the assistance of the law and of the prophets; but this man, without any such instruction, willingly believed. V. Bede.
Ver. 11. Naim is a city of Galilee, about two miles from Mount Thabor. It was by divine dispensation, that so very great a multitude was present on this occasion, in order to witness this stupendous miracle. Ven. Bede. — The burying-places of the Jews were out of the precincts of the city, as well for the preservation of health as decency. Thus Joseph of Arimathea, had his sepulchre in the rock of Mount Calvary, which was out of the city. Tirinus.
Ver. 12. The evangelist seems to relate this miracle, as if it had happened by mere accident; though, beyond a doubt, divine Providence disposed all things to increase the splendour of the miracle. Jesus Christ would not raise this young man to life before he was carried out to be buried, that he might meet him near the gates of the city, where the assembly of the people took place. Besides this, there were present both the multitude that followed Jesus, and the multitude that followed the corpse, to the end that all these might be eye-witnesses to the miracle, and many might praise God, as Ven. Bede remarks. It was very proper that Christ should work this miracle just as he was entering the city, that he might preach the gospel with better success, from the opinion they must form of him, after beholding so great a miracle, and so great a favour bestowed upon them. Maldonatus. — In a few words, the evangelist paints to life the affliction of this distressed widowed parent: a mother and a widow, without the least hopes of children, deprived of him who was her only support, the life of her habitation, the source of all her maternal tenderness and satisfaction, now in the prime of health, the only branch of her succession, and the staff of her old age. S. Greg. of Nyssa, de hominis opificio.
Ver. 14. Here Christ shews that he raised the dead by his own power, and at his own command: I say to thee, arise. This shews that it is the voice of God that speaks; for the dead can hear the voice of him alone, according to S. John. Amen, I say to you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they who hear shall live. S. John v. 25. Maldon. — Our Saviour is not like Elias, weeping for the son of the widow of Sarepta; nor Eliseus, who applied his own body to the body of the dead child; nor Peter, who prayed for Tabitha: but he it is that calls the things that are not, as those that are; who speaks to the dead as to the living. Titus Bostrensis.
Ver. 16. And there came a fear on them all; i.e. a certain reverential awe and trepidation seized them, and an uncommon degree of astonishment at the divinity which appeared to them. Menoch. — And they glorified God: (edoxapan) they gave praise and glory to God for thus visiting his people, by sending them the Saviour he had promised them. Polus synop. crit.
Ver. 20. The men; (oi andreV) viz. the two disciples sent by John, who delivered their master's message; but, before Jesus Christ undertook to reply to their question, he performed on the spot various kinds of miracles.
Ver. 22. Then addressing himself to these disciples of John, he ordered them to go and relate to their master all they had seen and heard; and to tell him, that he declared all those to be happy, who, strong in faith, should not take occasion to doubt of his divine power, (the proofs of which they had so recently seen) from the weakness of his flesh, which he had taken upon himself for the love of man. — Jesus Christ alludes to the known and full testimonies that had been given of him by the prophets. The Lord giveth food to the hungry, the Lord looseth them that are in fetters, the Lord enlighteneth the blind, he lifteth up them that are cast down, . . . . . . and he who does these things, shall reign for ever thy God, O Sion, from generation to generation. Ps. cxlv. S. Ambrose. — The words of the prophet Isaias are not less descriptive of the promised Messias: God himself will come, and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. The lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free. Isai. xxxv. 4, 5, 6. Theophylactus.
Ver. 26. Because the Scripture styles him an angel; or, because he is the immediate precursor of him whom all the prophets announced at a distance.
Ver. 29. Justified God; i.e. feared and worshipped God, as just, merciful, &c. Wi. — There are only two different sets of men, who glorified God for the baptism of John, and these seemed the most remote from works of piety; viz. the ignorant multitude, who scarcely knew the law; and the publicans, who were in general the most avaricious of mortals, and were looked upon as public sinners. If the preaching of the Baptist had such an effect upon these men; what kind of hearts must not the Scribes have had, who, with all the advantage of the knowledge of the law, still refused to believe? This verifies the saying of our Lord, in S. Matt. c. xxi. 31: Amen, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of heaven before you. Maldon. — God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them to little ones; (S. Luke, x. 21.) for so it hath seemed good in his sight. Ibid.
Ver. 32. Speaking one to another: (prosfwnousin allhloiV) they seem to have been alternate choirs of youths, answering each other in the above words. Menochius.
Ver. 36. And one of the Pharisees, by name Simon, as we learn in v. 40.
Ver. 37. A woman in the city, who was a sinner. Some say she had only been of a vain airy carriage; one that loved to be admired for her beauty and wit; but the common exposition and more conformable to the text, is, that she had been of a lewd, debauched life and conversation. Wi. — Mary Magdalene.
Ver. 38. Jesus Christ was then at table, after the manner of the Orientals, reclined at length on a couch, a little raised from the ground, having his face turned towards the table, and his feet extended. He had quitted his sandals, according to the custom of the country, before he had laid himself on the couch. V.
Ver. 39. The Pharisee was egregiously deceived. 1. In thinking that Christ was ignorant of the character of the woman, when he not only clearly saw the past bad conduct of the woman, but the present unjust thoughts of the Pharisee; 2. in his erroneous inference that Christ could not be a prophet; for all things are not necessarily revealed by God to his prophets; 3. by judging of Christ, after his own and the other Pharisees' treatment of sinners; who, elated with pride, and thinking themselves just, kept all public sinners at a respectful distance; whereas not those who are well, but such as are sick, need the physician. Menochius.
Ver. 42. Which will love him most? as we read in the Protestant version, and in the Greek, agaphsei. But Christ, seeming to require love as a previous disposition to the remission of sins, as appears from v. 47 infra, the Catholic Church has adopted the version of S. Austin, hom. xxiii. in the present tense: quis ergo plus eum diligit? Jans. Comment. in Evang.
Ver. 43. In proportion to our sins, should be our grief, says S. Cyprian: ut pœnitentia non sit minor crimine. l. de lapsis.
Ver. 47. Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. In the Scripture, an effect sometimes seems attributed to one only cause, when there are divers other concurring dispositions; the sins of this woman, in this verse, are said to be forgiven, because she loved much; but (v. 50,) Christ tells her, thy faith hath saved thee. In a true conversion are joined faith, hope, love, sorrow, and other pious dispositions. Wi.
Ver. 50. This is one of those places upon which modern sectaries lay so much stress, in order to prove that faith alone can save us. But if they will attentively consider the different parts of this history, they will easily discover the fallacy of their argument. Because, before Christ spoke these words: thy faith, &c. he had said to Magdalene: many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. Therefore she was justified not so much through her faith, as her charity: still she had faith, or she would not have come to Jesus, to be delivered from her sins. It was therefore her faith, working by charity, that justified her: and this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, she had not that faith, which modern sectaries affirm to be necessary for their justification, viz. a belief that they are already justified, and that their sins are forgiven: this faith the woman here mentioned had not before Christ spoke those words to her; for it was to obtain the remission of her sins, that she performed so many offices of charity, washing his feet with her tears, &c. But is may be asked, why then does Christ attribute her salvation to her faith? The answer is easy, and has often been given, viz. that faith is the beginning of salvation; for it was her faith that brought her to Christ: for had not the woman believed in him, she never would have come to him to obtain the remission of her sins. Maldonatus.