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An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, we have an account of our Lord’s ministry and attendants (1–3). The Parable of the Sower and its explanation (4–15). The arrival of our Lord’s blessed mother and brethren from Nazareth, and His teaching relative thereto (19–21). The stilling of the storm at sea (22–25). The healing of the Gerasene demoniae (26–39). The raising to life of Jairus’ daughter, and the healing of a woman with an issue of blood (40–56).

1. “He travelled through the cities and towns,” of Galilee. This was our Lord’s second journey through Galilee, “preaching and evangelizing the kingdom of God,” announcing the joyous tidings regarding the near approach of the kingdom of heaven. For meaning of “kingdom of heaven” (see Matthew 4:22). We are informed (Matthew 9:35), that on this occasion our Lord was also “healing every disease and every infirmity,” doubtless, with the view of proving the truth of His sacred doctrines. This occurred after the decollation of John the Baptist. Our Lord, very likely, now wished to attach to Himself, and count among His followers, the disciples of the Baptist, who were left without a guide to direct them, after John’s death.

For, “through towns and cities,” the Greek is, “through town and city,” used, in a distributive sense, to denote several towns and cities. Hence, the meaning is expressed in our version.

“And the twelve were with Him.” He wishes them to accompany Him in order to give them an idea of the hardships of the Apostolic office, and to point out the mode of labouring successfully hereafter, for the salvation of souls.

2. “And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.” Corporal obsession and possession by demons was at this time very common, and bodily infirmities were often caused thereby. Our Lord, as we find it frequently recorded in the Gospels, exercised His power over demons, by expelling them from the bodies of those whom they possessed. The women, of whom there is question here, being freed from evil spirits, and cured of their bodily distempers, attached themselves to Him out of feelings of gratitude and devotion; and, probably, from a dread, if He were absent, of being again subject to their former afflictions. These women also furnished our Lord and His Apostles with the necessary means of support, out of their temporal substance, accompanying them on their missions—a usage quite common among the Jews, as we learn from St. Jerome on chap. xxvii. St. Matthew. Hence, it was not wondered at by any one; nor was it a subject of scandal or of wonder to any one among the Jews, to see these devoted and pious women attend on our Lord and His Apostles. (See 1 Cor. 9)

Among these pious women, the first-mentioned is, “Mary who is called Magdalen.” It is generally supposed, that she was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the same spoken of (chap. 7:37) as “a sinful woman of the city,” who, “anointed our Lord’s feet with ointment” (John 11:2). (See Matthew 26:7.) She is called “Magdalen,” from Magdala, a town or castle in Galilee, to whose proprietor she was married. St. Augustine holds, that she was not only a public sinner, but an adulteress (Hom. 23, int. 50). It is deemed more probable by many interpreters, that she was not by birth a Galilean, that she came from Judea, her native place being Bethania, where her brother and sister lived. She was in Galilee when our Lord entered on His mission, and being converted by Him, and freed from evil spirits, she followed Him; hence, was among these who followed Him from Galilee, ministering unto Him (Matthew 27:55); and thus, through her, our Lord became intimate with her brother and sister, honouring their house with His personal abode (Luke 10:38). Others maintain, that the Mary, who was sister of Martha and Lazarus, is a different person from Magdalen referred to here, by St. Luke, and by St. Matthew 26. This they infer from the different accounts given here and in chap. 10:40. It would be hard for one, after reading St. Luke’s account of the woman here, to suppose he referred to the same in chap. 10:39, &c. The former opinion, however, which holds that the sinful woman (Luke 7:37), Mary Magdalen and Mary the sister of Lazarus, refer to one and the same person, is far the more probable, and accords best with the sense of the Church as expressed in the Roman Breviary and Missal in the Office and Mass of Mary Magdalen. (July 22.)

“Seven devils were gone forth.” Mark (16:9) says, “out of whom He had cast seven devils.” By these some understand seven grievous sins, passions or capital vices of which she was cured by her conversion. But the more probable opinion seems to be, that there is question of evil spirits who were permitted to possess and torment her in punishment of her wicked, disorderly life. Of these our Lord mercifully freed her. The word “seven,” according to Scriptural usage, denotes a large number. We find elsewhere that a whole legion of evil spirits possessed one man (v. 30).

3. “Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward.” It may be that her husband was dead, or that having become himself a follower of our Lord, he permitted his wife, out of gratitude for the cure performed on her, to follow Him. She would hardly have done so, without her husband’s sanction. There is question of “Herod,” tetrarch of Galilee. What office is designated by “steward” (in Greek, επὶτροπον) is not agreed upon. It may mean, guardian, lieutenant of a province, treasurer, land or house steward. It denotes, at all events, some office to which large emoluments were attached, which enabled Joanna to act a liberal part in the support of our Lord and His disciples.

“Who ministered” (Greek, διακονουν, supplied the necessaries of life) “unto him.” Some Greek copies have “unto them,” but the Vulgate reading is the best supported by critical evidence. Our Lord permitted such of those as were able, to supply Himself and His Apostles with the necessaries of life, in order not to be a burden on the poor among whom He was preaching.

4–15. (See Matthew 13:2–23.)

16. (See Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21, &c.)

17. (See Matthew 10:26; Mark 4:22.)

18. (See Matthew 13:12; 25:29.)

19–21. (See Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31.

22. (See Matthew 8:18.)

23–26. (See Matthew 8:23–28.)

27–34. (See Matthew 8:28–33.)

35–39. (See Mark 5:15–20.)

40–56. (See Matthew 9:18–26.)

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