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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Other seventy-two. Most Greek copies, and the Syriac version, have seventy, as in the Prot. translation. Yet there seems no doubt but the true number was seventy-two. For seventy-two may be called seventy; but had they been only seventy, they could never have been called seventy-two. This was also the exact number of the judges chosen to assist Moses; (Exod. xxiv. 1.) though called seventy, (Numb. xi. 16.) as it is evident, because there were six chosen out of every one of the twelve tribes. In like manner the exact number of the interpreters called the Sept. must have been seventy-two; and also the just number of the Sanhedrim. — Two and two, that one might be a help and comfort to the other; as also a witness of the carriage and behaviour of his companion. Wi.
Ver. 4. As Moses formerly chose twelve elders as princes and fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and afterwards gave to each of these elders six others, to assist them in the arduous work of governing the people, so our divine Saviour chose twelve apostles to govern his Church. He likewise afterwards gave six disciples to each apostle, which makes 72, to serve as priests, and assist in governing the Church. Tirinus. — Salute no man, i.e. go forwards promptly, and do not stay to amuse yourselves with vain compliments and useless civilities towards those whom you meet. This was a proverb. Eliseus said the same to Giezi, when he sent him to restore life to the child of the widow of Sunamis. If any man meet you, salute him not; think of nothing but of executing the orders I give you. Calmet.
Ver. 15. And thou, Capharnaum, &c. Capharnaum is situated on the western coast of the sea of Tiberias. Christ having left Nazareth, made the former city the usual place of his abode. There was no city in which he had preached so much, or wrought so many miracles. On this account, he said it was exalted to the heavens; but for its incredulity he threatens it shall be cast down even unto hell. Calmet.
Ver. 18. I saw Satan as lightning, &c. Many expound it in this manner: I, who am from eternity, saw Satan with all the rebellious angels, as glorious as they were, fall from heaven; fear then, and tremble, though you have received such favours from God. Others take it in this sense, that Christ, by his incarnation, hath seen the power of the devils lessened and confounded, according to what he also said, (Jo. xii. 31.) Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. Wi. — What connexion have these words with what goes before? Some understand them thus: the reign of the devil is near at an end; this prince of darkness is going to be overturned; he will fall from the air, where he reigns, with the same precipitation as lightning, which cuts the clouds and presently disappears. It is almost the same thing he says in other places. "The prince of this world is already judged; behold now is the judgment of this world; behold now the prince of this world shall be cast forth! When I sent you to preach the gospel to the poor, I saw Satan fall; I saw his empire overturned. The last effort which this empire of darkness shall make is the death of our Saviour, as he himself says: This is your hour, and the power of darkness. Since his resurrection he has bound the dragon in the abyss for a thousand years; he has shut up the entrance, and sealed it with his seal." Apoc. xii. 9. xx. 2. Others think that Jesus speaks here of the fall of Lucifer, at the beginning of the creation. Wishing to give his disciples a lesson in humility, on account of the vain complacency which he saw they took in the miracles they wrought, he says to them: Beware of pride, that precipitated the first angel from heaven: I have seen him in the glory with which he was surrounded, and I have seen him hurried into the abyss. Fear, lest the same should happen to you. The former explanation appears to us more simple and literal. Calmet.
Ver. 19. Given you power, &c. By these words our Saviour seems to insinuate, that the venom of serpents, and the other noxious qualities of some animals, proceed from the malice of the devil. These are the arms and the instruments he makes use of to kill us, being the prince of death and a murderer from the beginning, as the Scripture styles him. The Jews attributed sickness, poisons, and every thing of the same kind to evil spirits.
Ver. 21. He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost. In almost all Greek copies, we read in spirit, without holy. And it is expounded of Christ's own spirit. Wi. — I give thanks, &c. In this verse we see plainly refuted the heretical Marcion, and his follower Manicheus, who asserted that God was not the creator of the earth, or of any thing existing on the earth. S. Epiphanius says, that in a gospel written by Marcion, the words Father and earth were entirely omitted. Who does not here deplore the blindness of heretics, who, in order to spread their errors, do not hesitate thus to corrupt the original Scripture received by the whole Christian world!!! D. Dion. Carth.
Ver. 25. Eternal life? The law of Moses does not expressly promise eternal life to the observers of it, but confines its promises to temporal blessings during this life. Still we always find that the Jews hoped in another life after this. This opinion is clearly observable in the books of Scripture, written both before and after the captivity, and in Josephus and Philo. Calmet.
Ver. 29. Neighbour? It appears this was a celebrated controversy among the doctors of the law; some probably affirming, that the Jews only were so; while others maintained that their friends alone were their neighbours. Maldonatus.
Ver. 30. A certain man, &c. This some would have to be a history: others rather judge it spoken by way of parable, to teach us to perform offices of charity towards all men without exception. Wi. — Were we to adhere to the mere words of this parable, it would seem to follow, that only those who do us good were to be esteemed our neighbours; for the context seems to intimate, that the Levite and the priest were not neighbours to the man who fell among the robbers, because they did not assist him. But according to the opinion of most fathers, the intent of this parable is the shew, that every person who has need of our assistance is our neighbour. Maldonatus.
Ver. 31. Our Saviour here shews the Jewish priests how preposterous was their behaviour, who, though scrupulously exact in performing all external acts of religion, entirely neglected piety, mercy, and other more essential duties. The Jews despised the Samaritans as wicked and irreligious men; but our Saviour here tells them that they were less exact in works of charity towards their neighbours than the very Samaritans. Tirinus.
Ver. 34. This is the allegorical meaning of the parable: The man that fell among robbers, represents Adam and his posterity; Jerusalem, the state of peace and innocence, which man leaves by going down to Jericho, which means the moon, the state of trouble and sin: the robbers represent the devil, who stripped him of his supernatural gifts, and wounded him in his natural faculties: the priest and Levite represent the old law: the Samaritan, Christ; and the beast, his humanity. The inn means the Church; wine, the blood of Christ; oil, his mercy; whilst the host signifies S. Peter and his successors, the bishops and priests of the Church. Origen, S. Jerom, S. Ambrose, S. Austin, and others.
Ver. 40. Calvin here ridicules the professors of evangelical poverty, because they gather from this place that there are two states of life, viz. the active and the contemplative, figured by Martha and Mary. But what will he answer, when he is informed, that this is the opinion not merely of monks, but even of a S. Austin, (Serm. xxvii, De verbis Domini,) of a S. Jerom, (Com. 3 cap. of Jeremiah,) of a S. Greg. and many others? Not that they were ignorant that there was another more natural explanation; but they were of opinion that nothing could be found more proper for the illustration of these different states of life. Maldonatus.
Ver. 42. One thing is necessary. Some think that Christ's meaning was, that Martha was preparing many dishes, when one was sufficient. But others, that this one thing necessary, was to learn, and comply with the will of God; which Mary was employed about. Wi.
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