Thomas Aquinas: Catena Aurea - Mark: English

St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain)

Gospel of Mark

translated by John Henry Newman

(John Henry Parker, v. II, J.G.F. and J. Rivington:London, 1842)


CONTENTS
Chapters:
*1**2**3**4**5**6**7**8*
*9**10**11**12**13**14* *15**16*


Chapter 1

[p. 5]

Ver. 1: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Jerome, in Prolog: Mark the Evangelist, who served the priesthood in Israel, according to the flesh a Levite, having been converted to the Lord, wrote his Gospel in Italy, shewing in it how even his family benefited Christ. For commencing his Gospel with the voice of the prophetic cry, he shews the order of the election of Levi, declaring that John the son of Zachariah was sent forth by the voice of an angel, and saying, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The Greek word ‘Evangelium’ means good tidings, in Latin it is explained, ‘bona annunciatio,’ or, the good news; these terms properly belong to the kingdom of God and to the remission of sins; for the Gospel is that by which comes the redemption of the faithful and the beatitude of the saints.

But the four Gospels are one, and one Gospel in four. In Hebrew, His name is Jesus, in Greek, Soter, in Latin, Salvator; but men say Christus in Greek, Messias in Hebrew, Unctus in Latin, that is, King and Priest.

Bede, in Marc., i, 1: The beginning of this Gospel should be compared with that of Matthew, in which it is said, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” But here He is called “the Son of God.”

Now from both we must understand one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and of man. And fitly the first Evangelist names Him “Son of man,” the second, “Son of [p. 6] God,” that from less things our sense may by degrees mount up to greater, and by faith and the sacraments of the human nature assumed, rise to the acknowledgment of His divine eternity.

Fitly also did He, who was about to describe His human generation, begin with a son of man, namely, David or Abraham. Fitly again, he who was beginning his book with the first preaching of the Gospel, chose rather to call Jesus Christ, “the Son of God;” for it belonged to the human nature to take upon Him the reality of our flesh, of the race of the patriarchs, and it was the work of Divine power to preach the Gospel to the world.

Hilary, de Trin., iii, 11: He has testified, that Christ was the Son of God, not in name only, but by His own proper nature. We are the sons of God, but He is not a son as we are; for He is the very and proper Son, by origin, not by adoption; in truth, not in name; by birth, not by creation.

2. As it is written in the Prophets, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” [Mal 3:1]

3. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” [Isa 40:3]

Bede: Being about to write his Gospel, Mark rightly puts first the testimonies of the Prophets, that he might notify to all, that what he should write was to be received without scruple of doubt, in that he shewed that these things were beforehand foretold by the Prophets. At once, by one and the same beginning of his Gospel, he prepared the Jews, who had received the Law and the Prophets, for receiving the grace of the Gospel, and those sacraments, which their own prophecies had foretold; and he also calls upon the Gentiles, who came to the Lord by publishing of the Gospel, to receive and venerate the authority of the Law and the Prophets; whence he says, “As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, &c.”

Jerome: Hierom. ad Pammach, Epist 57: But this is not written in Isaiah, but in Malachi, the last of the twelve prophets.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But it may be said that it is a mistake of the writer. Otherwise it may be said that he has compressed [p. 7] into one, two prophecies delivered in different places by two prophets; for in the prophet Isaiah it is written after the story of Hezekiah, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness;” but in Malachi, “Behold, I send mine angel.”

The Evangelist therefore, taking parts of two prophecies, has put them down as spoken by Isaiah, and refers them here to one passage, without mentioning, however, by whom it is said, “Behold, I send mine angel.”

Pseudo-Aug., Quaest. nov. et vet. Test. lvii: For knowing that all things are to be referred to their author, he has brought these sayings back to Isaiah, who was the first to intimate the sense.

Lastly, after the words of Malachi, he immediately subjoins, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” in order to connect the words of each prophet, belonging as they do to one meaning, under the person of the elder prophet.

Bede: Or otherwise, we must understand, that although these words are not found in Isaiah, still the sense of them is found in many other places, and most clearly in this which he has subjoined, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.” For that which Malachi has called, the angel to be sent before the face of the Lord, to prepare His way, is the same thing as Isaiah has said is to be heard, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

But in each sentence alike, the way of the Lord to be prepared is proclaimed. It may be, too, that Isaiah occurred to the mind of Mark, in writing his Gospel, instead of Malachi, as often happens; which he would, however, without doubt correct, at least when reminded by other persons, who might read his work whilst he was yet in the flesh; unless he though that, since his memory was then ruled by the Holy Spirit, it was not without a purpose that the name of one prophet had occurred to him instead of another. For thus whatsoever things the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets are implied each to have belonged to all, and all to each.

Jerome: By Malachi, therefore, the voice of the Holy Spirit resounds to the Father concerning the Son, who is the countenance of the Father by which He has been known.

Bede: But John is called an angel not by community of nature, according to the heresy of Origen [ed. note: Origen taught that all rational beings, angels, devils, and men, were of one nature, differing only in rank and condition, according to their deserts (in Joan, tom. ii, 17) and capable of change: that men had once been angels: that angels took human nature to serve man, and that St. John Baptist was an angel, quoting this text. (in Joan, ii, 25.) v Huet, Orig. II, qu. 5, No. 14, 24, 25], but by the dignity [p. 8] of his office; for angel in Greek is in Latin, nuntius (note: messenger), by which name that man is rightly called, who was sent by God, that he might bear witness of the light, and announce to the world the Lord, coming in the flesh; since it is evident that all who are priests may be their office of preaching the Gospel be called angels, as the prophet Malachi says, “The lips of the priest keep knowledge, and they seek the law at his mouth, because he is the Angel of the Lord of hosts.” [Mal 2:7]

Theophylact: The Forerunner of Christ, therefore, is call an angel, on account of his angelic life and lofty reverence. Again, where he says, “Before thy face,” it is as if he said, Thy messenger is near thee: whence is shewn the intimate connection of the Forerunner with Christ; for those walk next to kings who are their greatest friends.

There follows, “Who will prepare thy way before thee.”

For by baptism he prepared the minds of the Jews to receive Christ.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or, “the way of the Lord,” by which He comes into men, in penitence, by which God comes down to us, and we mount up to Him. And for this reason the beginning of John’s preaching was, “Repent ye.”

Bede: But as John might be called an angel, because he went before the face of the Lord by his preaching, so he might also be rightly called a voice, because, by his sound, he preceded the Word of the Lord.

Wherefore there follows, “The voice of one crying, &c.”

For it is an acknowledged thing that the Only-Begotten Son is called the Word of the Father, and even we, from having uttered words ourselves, know that the voice sounds first, in order that the word may afterwards by heard.

Pseudo-Jerome: But it is called “the voice of one crying,” for we are wont to use a cry to deaf persons, and to those afar off, or when we are indignant, all which things we know applied to the Jews; for “salvation is far from the wicked,” and they “stopped their ears like deaf adders,” and deserved to hear “indignation, and wrath, and tribulation” from Christ.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But the prophecy, by saying, “In the wilderness,” plainly shews that the divine teaching was not in Jerusalem, but in the wilderness, which was fulfilled to [p. 9] the letter by John the Baptist in the wilderness of Jordan, preaching the healthful appearing of the Word of God.

The word of prophecy also shews, that besides the wilderness, which was pointed out by Moses, where he made paths, there was another wilderness, in which it proclaimed that the salvation of Christ was present.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else the voice and the cry is in the desert, because they were deserted by the Spirit of God, as a house empty, and swept out; deserted also by prophet, priest, and king.

Bede: What he cried is revealed, in that which is subjoined, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” For whosoever preaches a right faith and good works, what else does he but prepare the way for the Lord’s coming to the hearts of His hearers, that the power of grace might penetrate these hearts, and the light of truth shine in them? And the paths he makes straight, when he forms pure thoughts in the soul by the word of preaching.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” that is, act out repentance and preach it; “make his paths straight,” that walking in the royal road, we may love our neighbours as ourselves, and ourselves as our neighbours. For he who loves himself, and loves not his neighbour, turns aside to the right; for many act well, and do not correct their neighbour well, as Eli.

He, on the other hand, who, hating himself, loves his neighbour, turns aside to the left; for many, for instance, rebuke well, but act not well themselves, as did the Scribes and Pharisees.

“Paths” are mentioned after the “way” because moral commands are laid open after penitence.

Theophylact: Or, the “way” is the New Testament, and the “paths” are the Old, because it is a trodden path. For it was necessary to be prepared for the way, that is, for the New Testament; but it was right that the paths of the Old Testament should be straightened.

4. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and [p. 10] with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

7. And preached, saying, “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”

Pseudo-Jerome: According to the above-mentioned prophecy of Isaiah, the way of the Lord is prepared by John, through faith, baptism, and penitence; the paths are made straight by the rough marks of the hair-cloth garment, the girdle of skin, the feeding on locusts and wild honey, and the most lowly voice; whence it is said, “John was in the wilderness.”

For John and Jesus seek what is lost in the wilderness; where the devil conquered, there he is conquered; where man fell, there he rises up.

But the name, John, means the grace of God, and the narrative begins with grace. For it goes on to say, “baptizing.” For by baptism grace is given, seeing that by baptism sins are freely remitted.

But what is brought to perfection by the bridegroom is introduced by the friend of the bridegroom. Thus catechumens, (which word means persons instructed,) begin by the ministry of the priest, receive the chrism from the bishop [ed. note: “Chrismantur.” Chrism in the Roman Church, was applied twice; at Baptism, and more solemnly to the forehead by the Bishop at Confirmation. In the Eastern Church, it was only given once, at Confirmation, and by the Bishop only. In the French Church, it was given once, usually at Baptism, by the Priest, but if for any reason omitted, by the Bishop at Confirmation, see Bingham, Antiq. b., xii, e. 2, 2].

And to shew this, it is subjoined, “And preaching the baptism of repentance, &c.”

Bede: It is evident that John not only preached, but also gave to some the baptism of repentance; but he could not give baptism for the remission of sins [ed. note: vol 1, p. 97, note A]. For the remission of sins is only given to us by the baptism of Christ. It is therefore only said, “Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;” for he “preached” a baptism which could remit sins, since he could not give it.

Wherefore as he was the forerunner of the Incarnate Word of the Father, by the word of his preaching, so by his baptism, which could not remit sins, he preceded that baptism, [p. 11] of penitence, by which sins are remitted.

Theophylact: The baptism of John had not remission of sins, but only brought men to penitence. He preached therefore the baptism of repentance, that is, he preached that to which the baptism of penitence led, namely, remission of sins, that they who in penitence received Christ, might receive Him to the remission of their sins.

Pseudo-Jerome: Now by John as by the bridegroom’s friend, the bride is brought to Christ, as by a servant Rebecca was brought to Isaac [Gen 24:61]; wherefore there follows, “And there went out to him all, &c. For “confession and beauty are in his presence,” [Ps 96:6] that is, the presence of the bridegroom. And the bride leaping down from her camel signifies the Church, who humbles herself on seeing her husband Isaac, that is, Christ. But the interpretation of Jordan, where sins are washed away, in ‘an alien descent.’ For we heretofore aliens to God by pride, are by the sign of Baptism made lowly, and thus exalted on high [ed. note: see St. Cyril of Jerus., Cat. xx, 4-7].

Bede: An example of confessing their sins and of promising to lead a new life, is held out to those who desire to be baptized, by those words which follow, “confessing their sins.”

Chrys.” Because indeed John preached repentance, he wore the marks of repentance in his garment and in his food.

Wherefore there follow, “And John was clothed in camel’s hair.”

Bede: It says, clothed in a garment of hair, not in woollen clothes; the former is the mark of an austere garb, the latter of effeminate luxury. But the girdle of skins, with which he was girt, like Elias, is a mark of mortification. And this meat, “locusts and wild honey,” is suited to a dweller in the wilderness, so that his object in eating was not the deliciousness of meats, but the satisfying of the necessity of human flesh.

Pseudo-Jerome: The dress of John, his food, and employment, signifies the austere life of preachers, and that future nations are to be joined to the grace of God, which is John, both in their minds and in externals. For by camel’s hair, is meant the rich among the nations; and by the girdle of skin, the poor, dead to the world; and by the wandering locusts, the wise men of this world; who, leaving the dry stalks to the Jews, draw off with their legs the mystic grain, and in the warmth of their [p. 12] faith leap up towards heaven; and the faithful, being inspired by the wild honey, are full-fed from the untilled wood.

Theophylact: Or else; The garment of “camel’s hair” was significative of grief, for John pointed out, that he who repented should mourn. For sackcloth signifies grief; but the girdle of skins shews the dead state of the Jewish people. The food also of John not only denotes abstinence, but also shews forth the intellectual food, which the people then were eating, without understanding any thing lofty, but continually raising themselves on high, and again sinking to the earth.

For such is the nature of locusts, leaping on high and again falling. In the same way the people ate honey, which had come from bees, that is, from the prophets; it was not however domestic, but wild, for the Jews had the Scriptures, which are as honey, but did not rightly understand them.

Gregory, Moral., xxxi, 25: Or, by the kind itself of his food he pointed out the Lord, of whom he was the forerunner; for in that our Lord took to Himself the sweetness of the barren Gentiles, he ate wild honey. In that He in His own person partly converted the Jews, He received locusts for His food, which suddenly leaping up, at once fall to the ground. For the Jews leaped up when they promised to fulfil the precepts of the Lord; but they fell to the ground when, by their evil works, they affirmed that they had not heard them. They made therefore a leap upwards in words, and fell down by their actions.

Bede: The dress and food of John may also express of what kind was his inward walk. For he used a dress more austere than was usual, because he did not encourage the life of sinners by flattery, but chid them by the vigour of his rough rebuke; he had a girdle of skin round his loins, for he was one, “who crucified his flesh with the affections and lusts.” [Gal 5:24] He used to eat locusts and wild honey, because his preaching had some sweetness for the multitude, whilst the people debated whether he was the Christ himself or not; but this soon came to an end, when his hearers understood that he was not the Christ, but the forerunner and prophet of Christ. For in honey there is sweetness, in locusts swiftness of flight.

Whence there follows, “And he preached, saying, there cometh one mightier [p. 13] than I after me.”

Gloss.: He said this to do away with the opinion of the crowd, who thought that he was the Christ; but he announces that Christ is “mightier than he,” he was to remit sins, which he himself could not do.

Pseudo-Jerome: Who again is mightier than the grace, by which sins are washed away, which John signifies? He who seven times and seventy times seven remits sins [Matt 18:22]. Grace indeed comes first, but remits sins once only by baptism, but mercy reaches to the wretched from Adam up to Christ through seventy-seven generations, and up to one hundred and forty-four thousand.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But lest he should be thought to say this by way of comparing himself to Christ, he subjoins, “Of whom I am not worthy, &c.”

It is not however the same thing to loose the shoe-latchet, which Mark here says, and to carry his shoes, which Matthew says. And indeed the Evangelists following the order of the narrative, and not able to err in any thing, say that John spoke each of these sayings in a different sense. But commentators on this passage have expounded each in a different way.

For he means by the latchet, the tie of the shoe. He says this therefore to extol the excellence of the power of Christ, and the greatness of His divinity; as if he said, Not even in the station of his servant am I worthy to be reckoned.

For it is a great thing to contemplate, as it were stooping down, those things which belong to the body of Christ, and to see from below the image of things above, and to untie each of those mysteries, about the Incarnation of Christ, which cannot be unravelled.

Pseudo-Jerome: The shoe is in the extremity of the body; for in the end the Incarnate Saviour is coming for justice, whence it is said by the prophet, “Over Edom will I cast out my shoe.” [Ps 60:9]

Gregory: Shoes also are made from the skins of dead animals. The Lord, therefore, coming incarnate, appeared as it were with shoes on His feet, for He assumed in His divinity the dead skins of our corruption. Or else; it was a custom among the ancients, that if a man refused to take as his wife the woman whom he ought to take, he who offered himself as her husband by right of kindred took off that man’s shoe.

Rightly then does he proclaim himself unworthy to loose his shoe-latchet, as if he said openly, I cannot [p. 14] make bare the feet of the Redeemer, for I usurp not the name of the Bridegroom, a thing which is above my deserts.

Theophylact: Some persons also understand it thus; all who came to John, and were baptized, through penitence were loosed from the bands of their sins by believing in Christ. John then in this way loosed the shoe-latchet of all the others, that is, the bands of sin. But Christ’s shoe-latchet he was not able to unloose, because he found no sin in Him.

Bede: Thus then John proclaims the Lord not yet as God, or the Son of God, but only as a man mightier than himself. For his ignorant hearers were not yet capable of receiving the hidden things of so great a Sacrament, that the eternal Son of God, having taken upon Him the nature of man, had been lately born into the world of a virgin; but gradually by the acknowledgment of His glorified lowliness, they were to be introduced to the belief of His Divine Eternity. To these words, however, he subjoins, as if covertly declaring that he was the true God, “I baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” For who can doubt that none other but God can give the grace of the Holy Ghost.

Jerome: For what is the difference between water and the Holy Ghost, who was borne over the face of the waters? Water is the ministry of man; but the Spirit is ministered by God.

Bede: Now we are baptized by the Lord in the Holy Ghost, not only when in the day of our baptism, we are washed in the fount of life, to the remission of our sins, but also daily by the grace of the same Spirit we are inflamed, to do those things which please God.

9. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Mark the Evangelist, like a hart, longing [p. 15] after the fountains of water, leaps forward over places, smooth and steep; and, as a bee laden with honey, he sips the tops of the flowers.

Wherefore he hath shewn us in his narrative Jesus coming from Nazareth, saying, “And it came to pass in those days, &c.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Forasmuch as He was ordaining a new baptism, He came to the baptism of John, which, in respect of His own baptism, was incomplete, but different from the Jewish baptism, as being between both. He did this that He might shew, by the nature of His baptism, that He was not baptized for the remission of sins, nor as wanting the reception of the Holy Ghost: for the baptism of John was destitute of both these.

But He was baptized that He might be made known to all, that they might believe on Him and “fulfil all righteousness,” which is “keeping of the commandments:” for it has been commanded to men that they should submit to the Prophet’s baptism.

Bede, in Marc., i, 4: He was baptized, that by being baptized Himself He might shew His approval of John’s baptism [ed. note: vol i, pl 109, note h], and that, by sanctifying the waters of Jordan through the descent of the dove, He might shew the coming of the Holy Ghost in the laver of believers.

Whence there follows, “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit like a dove descending, and resting upon him.”

But the heavens are opened, not by the unclosing of the elements, but to the eyes of the spirit, to which Ezekiel in the beginning of his book relates that they were opened; or that His seeing the heavens opened after baptism was done for our sakes, to whom the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened by the laver of regeneration.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, that from heaven sanctification might be given to men, and earthly things be joined to heavenly. But the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon Him, not as if He then first came to Him, for He never had left Him; but that He might shew forth the Christ, Who was preached by John, and point Him out to all, as it were by the finger of faith.

Bede: This event also, in which the Holy Ghost was seen to come down upon baptism, was a sign of spiritual grace to be given to us in baptism.

Pseudo-Jerome: But this is the anointing of Christ according to [p. 16] the flesh, namely, the Holy Ghost, of which anointing it is said, “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” [Ps 45:7]

Bede: Well indeed in the shape of a dove did the Holy Ghost come down, for it is an animal of great simplicity, and far removed from the malice of gall, that in a figure He might shew us that He looks out for simple hearts, and deigns not to dwell in the minds of the wicked.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the Holy Ghost came down in the shape of a dove, because in the Canticles it is sung of the Church: “My bride, my love, my beloved, my dove.”

“Bride” in the Patriarchs, “love” in the Prophets, “near of kin” in Joseph and Mary, “beloved” in John the Baptist, “dove” in Christ and His Apostles: to whom it is said, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” [Matt. 10:16]

Bede: Now the Dove sat on the head of Jesus, lest any one should think that the voice of the Father was addressed to John and not to Christ. And well did he add, “abiding on Him;” for this is peculiar to Christ, that the Holy Ghost once filling Him should never leave Him.

For sometimes to His faithful disciples the grace of the Spirit is conferred for signs of virtue, and for the working of miracles, sometimes it is taken away; though for the working of piety and righteousness, for the preservation of love to God and to one’s neighbour, the grace of the Spirit is never absent.

But the voice of the Father shewed that He Himself, who came to John to be baptized with the other, was the very Son of God, willing to baptize with the Holy Spirit, whence there follows, “And there came a voice from heaven, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.” Not that this informed the Son Himself of a thing of which He was ignorant, but it shews to us what we ought to believe.

Augustine, de Con. Ev., ii, 14: Wherefore Matthew relates that the voice said, “This is my beloved Son;” for he wished to shew that the words, “This is My Son,” were in fact said, that thus the persons who heard it might know that He, and not another, was the Son of God.

But if you ask which of these two sounded forth in that voice, take which you will, only remember, that the Evangelists, though not relating the same form of speaking, relate the same meaning. And that God delighted Himself in His Son, we are reminded in these words, “In [p. 17] thee I am well pleased.”

Bede: The same voice has taught us, that we also, by the water of cleansing, and by the Spirit of sanctification, may be made the sons of God. The mystery of the Trinity also is shewn forth in the baptism; the Son is baptized, the Spirit comes down in the shape of a dove, the voice of the Father bearing witness to the Son is heard.

Pseudo-Jerome: Morally also it may be interpreted; we also, drawn aside from the fleeting world by the smell and purity of flowers, run with the young maidens after the bridegroom, and are washed in the sacrament of baptism, from the two fountains of the love of God, and of our neighbour, by the grace of remission, and mounting up by hope gaze upon heavenly mysteries with the eyes of a clean heart.

Then we receive in a contrite and lowly spirit, with simplicity of heart, the Holy Spirit, who comes down to the meek, and abides in us, by the never-failing charity. And the voice of the Lord from heaven is directed to us the beloved of God; “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God;” [Matt. 5:9] and then the Father, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, is well-pleased with us, when we are made one spirit with God.

12. And immediately the spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.

13. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., xiii: Because all that Christ did and suffered was for our teaching, He began after His baptism to dwell in the wilderness, and fought against the devil, that every baptized person might patiently sustain greater temptations after His baptism, nor be troubled, as if this which happened to Him was contrary to His expectation, but might bear up against all things, and come off conqueror.

For although God allows that we should be tempted for many other reasons, yet for this cause also He allows it, that we may know, that man when tempted is placed in a station of greater honour. For the Devil approaches not save where he has [p. 18] beheld one set in a place of greater honour; and therefore it is said, “And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”

And the reason why He does not simply say that He went into the wilderness, but was driven, is that thou mayest understand that it was done according to the word of Divine Providence. By which also He shews that no man should thrust himself into temptation, but that those who from some other state are as it were driven into temptation, remain conquerors.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 5: And that no one might doubt, by what spirit he said that Christ was driven into the wilderness, Luke has on purpose premised, that “Jesus being full of the Spirit returned from Jordan, “ and then has added, “and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness;” lest the evil spirit should be thought to have any power over Him, who, being full of the Holy Spirit, departed whither He was willing to go, and did what He was willing to do.

Chrys., in Matt., Hom., xiii: But the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, because He designed to provoke the devil to tempt Him, and thus gave Him an opportunity not only by hunger, but also by the place. For then most of all does the devil thrust himself in, when he sees men remaining solitary.

Bede: But He retires into the desert that He may teach us that, leaving the allurements of the world, and the company of the wicked, we should in all things obey the Divine commands.

He is left alone and tempted by the devil, that He might teach us, “that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” [2 Tim 3:12] whence it follows, “And He was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, and was tempted of Satan.”

But He was tempted forty days and forty nights that He might shew us that as long as we live here and serve God, whether prosperity smile upon us, which is meant by the day, or adversity smite us, which agrees with the figure of night, at all times our adversary is at hand, who ceases not to trouble our way by temptations.

For “the forty days and forty nights” imply the whole time of this world, for the globe in which we are serving God is divided into four quarters.

Again, there are Ten Commandments, by observing which we fight against our enemy, but four times ten are forty. [p. 19]

There follows, “and He was with the wild beasts.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He says this to shew of what nature was the wilderness, for it was impassable by man and full of wild beasts.

It goes on; “and angels ministered unto Him.” For after temptation, and a victory against the devil, He worked the salvation of man. And thus the Apostle says, “Angels are sent to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” [Heb 1:14]

We must also observe, that to those who conquer in temptation angels stand near and minister.

Bede: Consider also that Christ dwells among the wild beasts as man, but, as God, uses the ministry of Angels. Thus, when in the solitude of a holy life we bear with unpolluted mind the bestial manners of men, we merit to have the ministry of Angels, by whom, when freed from the body, we shall be transferred to everlasting happiness.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or then the beasts dwell with us in peace, as in the ark clean animals with the unclean, when the flesh lusts not against the spirit. After this, ministering Angels are sent to us, that they may give answers and comforts to hearts that watch.

14. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God,

15. And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The Evangelist Mark follows Matthew in his order, and therefore after having said that Angels minister, he subjoins, “But after that John was put into prison, Jesus came, &c.”

After the temptation and the ministry of Angels, He goes back into Galilee, teaching us not to resist the violence of evil men.

Theophylact: And to shew us that in persecutions we ought to retire, and not to await them; but when we fall into them, we must sustain them.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He retired also that He might keep Himself for teaching and for healing, before He suffered, and after fulfilling all these things, might become obedient unto death.

Bede: John being put in prison, fitly does the Lord begin to preach: wherefore there follows, “Preaching the Gospel, &c.” For when the Law ceases, the Gospel arises in its steps. [p. 20]

Pseudo-Jerome: When the shadow ceases, the truth comes on; first, John in prison, the Law in Judaea; then, Jesus in Galilee, Paul among the Gentiles preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. For to an earthly kingdom succeeds poverty, to the poverty of Christians is given an everlasting kingdom; but earthly honour is like the foam of water, or smoke, or sleep.

Bede: Let no one, however, suppose that the putting of John in prison took place immediately after the forty days’ temptation and the fast of the Lord; for whosoever reads the Gospel of John will find, that the Lord taught many things before the putting of John in prison, and also did many miracles; for you have in his Gospel, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus;” [John 2:11] and afterwards, “for John was not yet cast into prison.” [John 3:24]

Now it is said that when John read the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he approved indeed the text of the history, and affirmed that they had spoken truth, but said that they had composed the history of only one year after John was cast into prison, in which year also he suffered. Passing over then the year of which the transactions had been published by the three others, he related the events of the former period, before John was cast into prison.

When therefore Mark had said that “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom,” he subjoins, “saying, Since the time is fulfilled, &c.”

Pseudo-Chrys., vict. Ant. Cat. in Marc.: Since then the time was fulfilled, “when the fulness of times was come, and God sent His son,” it was fitting that the race of man should obtain the last dispensation of God. And therefore he says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Origen, in Matt., tom. x, 14: But the kingdom of God is essentially the same as the kingdom of heaven, though they differ in idea. [ed. note: see Origen, de Orat. 25, 26 in Matt. t 12.14 (?)]

For by the kingdom of God is to be understood that in which God reigns; and this in truth is in the region of the living, where, seeing God face to face, they will abide in the good things now promised to them; whether by this region one chooses to understand Love, or some other confirmation [ed. note: By ‘confirmation,’ seems to be meant the perfecting of spiritual natures; see Thomas Aq., Summa Theologica, part 1, Q62, Art 1. It answers to (greek word) as used by St. Basil; de Sp. S 16] of those who put on the likeness of things [p. 21] above, which are signified by the heavens. [ed. note: “Coeli” is commonly interpreted of the Angels, by the Fathers.]

For it is clear [ed. note: see Chrys., in Matt., Hom. 19 in c. 6,9] enough that the kingdom of God is confined neither by place nor by time.

Theophylact: Or else, the Lord means that the time of the Law is complete; as if He said, Up to this time the Law was at work; from this time the kingdom of God will work, that is, a conversation according to the Gospel, which is with reason likened to the kingdom of heaven. For when you see a man clothed in flesh living according to the Gospel, do you not say that he has the kingdom of heaven, which “is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost?” [Rom 14:17]

The next word is, “Repent.”

Pseudo-Jerome: For he must repent, who would keep close to eternal good, that is, to the kingdom of God. For he who would have the kernel, breaks the shell; the sweetness of the apple makes up for the bitterness of its root; the hope of gain makes the dangers of the sea pleasant; the hope of health takes away from the painfulness of medicine.

They are able worthily to proclaim the preaching of Christ who have deserved to attain to the reward of forgiveness; and therefore after He has said, “Repent,” He subjoins, “and believe the Gospel.” For unless ye have believed, ye shall not understand.

Bede: “Repent,” therefore, “and believe;” that is, renounce dead works; for of what use is believing without good works? The merit of good works does not, however, bring to faith, but faith begins, that good works may follow.

16. Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.

17. And Jesus said unto them, “Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

18. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him.

19. And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20. And straightway He called them: and they [p. 22] left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him.

Gloss.: The Evangelist, having mentioned the preaching of Christ to the multitude, goes on to the calling of the disciples, whom He made ministers of His preaching, whence it follows, “And passing along the sea of Galilee, &c.”

Theophylact: As the Evangelist John relates, Peter and Andrew were disciples of the Forerunner, but seeing that John had borne witness to Jesus, they joined themselves to him; afterwards, grieving that John had been cast into prison, they returned to their trade.

Wherefore there follows, “casting nets into the sea, for they were fishers.”

Look then upon them, living on their own labours, not on the fruits of iniquity; for such men were worthy to become the first disciples of Christ; whence it is subjoined, “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after Me.”

Now He calls them for the second time; for this is the second calling in respect of that, of which we read in John. But it is shewn to what they were called, when it is added, “I will make you become fishers of men.”

Remig.: For by the net of holy preaching they drew fish, that is, men, from the depths of the sea, that is, of infidelity, to the light of faith. Wonderful indeed is this fishing! for fishes when they are caught, soon after die; when men are caught by the word of preaching, they rather are made alive.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 6: Now fishers and unlettered men are sent to preach, that the faith of believers might be thought to lie in the power of God, not in eloquence or in learning. It goes on to say, “and immediately they left their nets, and followed Him.”

Theophylact: For we must not allow any time to lapse, but at once follow the Lord. After these again, He catches James and John, because they also, though poor, supported the old age of their father.

Wherefore there follows, “And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James, the son of Zebedee, &c.”

But they left their father, because he would have hindered them in following Christ. Do thou, also, when thou art hindered by thy parents, leave them, and come to God. It is shewn by this that Zebedee was not a believer; but the mother of the Apostles believed, for she followed Christ, when Zebedee was dead. [p. 23]

Bede: It may be asked, how he could call two fishers from each of the boats, (first, Peter and Andrew, then having gone a little further, the two others, sons of Zebedee,) when Luke says that James and John were called to help Peter and Andrew, and that it was to Peter only that Christ said, “Fear not, from this time thou shalt catch men;” [Luke 5:!0] he also says, that “at the same time, when they had brought their ships to land, they followed Him.”

We must therefore understand that the transaction which Luke intimates happened first, and afterwards that they, as their custom was, had returned to their fishing. So that what Mark here relates happened afterwards; for in this case they followed the Lord, without drawing their boats ashore, (which they would have done had they meant to return,) and followed Him, as one calling them, and ordering them to follow.

Pseudo-Jerome: Further, we are mystically carried away to heaven, like Elias, by this chariot, drawn by these fishers, as by four horses. On these four corner-stones the first Church is built; in these, as in the four Hebrew letters, we acknowledge the tetragrammation, the name of the Lord, we who are commanded, after their example, to “hear” the voice of the Lord, and “to forget” the “people” of wickedness, and “the house of our fathers’ “ [Ps 45:10] conversation, which is folly before God, and the spider’s net, in the meshes of which we, like gnats, were all but fallen, and were confined by things vain as the air, which hangs on nothing; loathing also the ship of our former walk.

For Adam, our forefather according to the flesh, is clothed with the skins of dead beasts; but now, having put off the old man, with his deeds, following the new man we are clothed with those skins of Solomon, with which the bride rejoices that she has been made beautiful [Song of Songs, 1:4].

Again, Simon, means obedient; Andrew, manly; James, supplanter [ed. note: Cf. vol i, 139, 140, 364]; John, grace; by which four names, we are knit together into God’s host [ed. note: Al. ‘in imaginem’]; by obedience, that we may listen; by manliness, that we do battle; by overthrowing, that we may persevere; by grace, that we may be preserved. Which four virtues are called cardinal; for by prudence, we obey; by justice, we bear ourselves manfully; by temperance, we tread the serpent underfoot; by fortitude, we earn the grace of [p. 24] God.

Theophylact: We must know also, that action is first called, then contemplation; for Peter is the type of the active life, for he was more ardent than the others, just as the active life is the more bustling; but John is the type of the contemplative life, for he speaks more fully of divine things.

21. And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught.

22. And they were astonished as His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mark, arranging the sayings of the Gospel as they were in his own mind, not in themselves, quits the order of the history, and follows the order of the mysteries.

Wherefore he relates the first miracle on the sabbath day, saying, “And they go into Capernaum.”

Theophylact: Quitting Nazareth. Now on the sabbath day, when the Scribes were gathered together, He entered into a synagogue, and taught.

Wherefore there follows, “And straightway on the sabbath day, having entered into the synagogue, He taught them.”

For this end the Law commanded them to give themselves up to rest on the sabbath day, that they might meet together to attend to sacred reading. Again, Christ taught them by rebuke, not by flattery as did the Pharisees; wherefore it says, “And they were astonished at His doctrine; for He taught them as one having power, and not as the Scribes.”

He taught them also in power, transforming men to good, and He threatened punishment to those who did not believe on Him.

Bede: The Scribes themselves taught the people what was written in Moses and the Prophets; but Jesus as the God and Lord of Moses, himself, by the freedom of His own will, either added those things which appeared wanting in the Law, or altered things as He preached to the people; as we read in Matthew, “It was said to them of old time, but I say unto you.” [Matt. 5:27]

23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, [p. 25]

24. Saying, “Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.”

25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.”

26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

27. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.”

28. And immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 7: Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, “And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The word, Spirit, is applied to an Angel, the air, the soul, and even the Holy Ghost. Lest therefore by the sameness of the name we should fall into error, he adds, “unclean.” And he is called unclean on account of his impiousness and far removal from God, and because he employs himself in all unclean and wicked works.

Augustine, City of God, 21: Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh. For there follows, “And he cried out, saying, What have we to do we Thee, Jesus of Nazareth, &c.”

For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

Bede: For the devils, seeing the Lord on the earth, thought that they were immediately to be judged.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, ‘by taking away uncleanness, and giving [p. 26] to the souls of men divine knowledge, Thou allowest us no place in men.’

Theophylact: For to come out of man the devil considers as his own perdition; for devils are ruthless, thinking that they suffer some evil, so long as they are not troubling men.

There follows, “I know that Thou art the Holy One of God.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: As if he said, Methinks that Thou art come; for he had not a firm and certain knowledge of the coming of God. But he calls Him “holy” not as one of many, for every prophet was also holy, but he proclaims that the was the One holy; by the article in Greek he shews Him to be the One, but by his fear he shews Him to be Lord of all.

Augustine: For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free the predestinate.

He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, [see 1 John 5:20, John 17:3] but by some temporal effects of His Power, which might be more clear to the angelic senses of even bad spirits than to the weakness of men.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Further, the Truth did not wish to have the witness of unclean spirits.

Wherefore there follows, “And Jesus threatened him, saying, &c.”

Whence a healthful precept is given to us; let us not believe devils, howsoever they may proclaim the truth.

It goes on, “And the unclean spirit tearing him, &c.”

For because the man spoke as one in his senses and uttered his words with discretion, lest it should be thought that he put together his words not from the devil but out of his own heart, He permitted the man to be torn by the devil, that He might shew that it was the devil who spoke.

Theophylact: That they might know, when they saw it, from how great an evil the man was freed, and on account of the miracle might believe.

Bede: But it may appear to be a discrepancy, that he should have gone out of him, tearing him, or, as some copies have it, vexing him, when, according to Luke, he did not hurt him. But Luke himself says, “When He had cast him into the midst, he came out of him, without hurting him.” [Luke 4:35] Wherefore it is inferred that Mark meant by vexing or tearing him, what Luke expresses [p. 27], in the words, “When He had cast him into the midst;” so that what he goes on to say, “And did not hurt him,” may be understood to mean that the tossing of his limbs and vexing did not weaken him, as devils are wont to come out even with the cutting off and tearing away of limbs. But seeing the power of the miracle, they wonder at the newness of our Lord’s doctrine, and are roused to search into what they had heard by what they had seen.

Wherefore there follows, “And they all wondered, &c.”

For miracles were done that they might more firmly believe the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which was being preached, since those who were promising heavenly joys to men on earth, were shewing forth heavenly things and divine works even on earth. For before (as the Evangelist says) “He was teaching them as one who had power,” and now, as the crowd witnesses, “with power He commands the evil spirits, and they obey Him.”

It goes on, “And immediately His fame spread abroad, &c.”

Gloss.: For those things which men wonder at they soon divulge, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” [Matt. 12:34]

Pseudo-Jerome: Moreover, Capernaum is mystically interpreted the town of consolation, and the sabbath as rest. The man with an evil spirit is healed by rest and consolation, that the place and time may agree with his healing. This man with an unclean spirit is the human race, in which uncleanness reigned from Adam to Moses; [Rom 5:14] for “they sinned without law,” and “perished without law.” [Rom 2:12] and he, knowing the Holy One of God, is ordered to hold his peace, for they “knowing God did not glorify him as God,” [Rom 1:21] but “rather served the creature than the Creator.” [Rom 1:25]

The spirit tearing the man came out of him. When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also. Pharaoh, when about to let [ed. note: Al. ‘dismissus ab Israel’] Israel go, pursues Israel; the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.

29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. [p. 28]

31. And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 7: First, it was right that the serpent’s tongue should be shut up, that it might not spread any more venom; then that the woman, who was first seduced, should be healed from the fever of carnal concupiscence.

Wherefore it is said, “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, &c.”

Theophylact: He retired then as the custom was on the sabbath-day about evening to eat in His disciples’ house. But she who ought to have ministered was prevented by a fever.

Wherefore it goes on, “But Simon’s wife’s mother was lying sick of a fever.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., 1, 32: But the disciples, knowing that they were to receive a benefit by that means, without waiting for the evening prayed that Peter’s mother should be healed.

Wherefore there follows, “who immediately tell Him of her.”

Bede: But in the Gospel of Luke it is written that “they besought Him for her.” [Luke 4:38] For the Saviour sometimes after being asked, sometimes of His own accord, heals the sick, shewing that He always assents to the prayers of the faithful, when they pray also against bad passions, and sometimes gives them to understand things which they do not understand at all, or else, when they pray unto Him dutifully, forgives their want of understanding; as the Psalmist begs of God, “Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults.” [Ps 19:12]

Wherefore He heals her at their request; for there follows, “And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up.”

Theophylact: By this it is signified, that God will heal a sick man, if he ministers to the Saints, through love to Christ.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 6: But in that He gives most profusely His gifts of healing and doctrine on the sabbath day, He teaches, that He is not under the Law, but above the Law, and does not choose the Jewish sabbath, but the true sabbath, and our rest is pleasing to the Lord, if, in order to attend to the health of our souls, we abstain from slavish work, that is, from all unlawful things.

It goes on, “And immediately the fever left her, &c.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 8: The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to [p. 29] minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need.

Again, if we suppose that the man delivered from the devil means, in the moral way of interpretation, the soul purged from unclean thoughts, fitly does the woman cured of a fever by the command of God mean the flesh, restrained from the heat of it concupiscence by the precepts of continence.

Pseudo-Jerome: For the fever means intemperance, from which, we the sons of the synagogue [ed. note: See St. Augustine on Ps 72, no. 4, 5, “Ecclesia Socrus Synagogue.” The Church is called the daughter of the Synagogue in the spurious ‘Altercatio Eccles. et Synagog.’ (Aug. Opp t. viii, p. 19.) They word ‘synagogue’ is applied to the Church by Justin M. Dial, see Tryph, p. 160 (Ben.) Clem. Alex. Str. vi, 633.], by the hand of discipline, and by the lifting up of our desires, are healed, and minister to the will of Him who heals us.

Theophylact: But he has a fever who is angry, and in the unruliness of his anger stretches forth his hands to do hurt; but if reason restrains his hands, he will arise, and so serve reason.

32. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

33. And all the city was gathered together at the door.

34. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him.

Theophylact: Because the multitude thought that it was not lawful to heal on the sabbath day, they waited for the evening, to bring those who were to be healed to Jesus.

Wherefore it is said, “And at even, when the sun had set.”

There follows, “and He healed many that were vexed with divers diseases.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now in that he says “many”, all are to be understood according to the Scripture mode of expression.

Theophylact: Or he says, “many”, because there were some faithless persons, who could not at all be cured on account of their unfaithfulness. Therefore He healed many of those who were brought, that is, all who had faith.

It goes on, “and cast out many devils.”

Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest. e Vet. et Nov. Test. 16: For the devils knew that He was the Christ, who had been promised by the Law: for they saw in Him all [p. 30] the signs which had been foretold by the Prophets; but they were ignorant of His divinity, as also were “their princes, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” [1 Cor 2:8]

Bede: For, Him whom the devil had known as a man, wearied by His forty days’ fast, without being able by tempting Him to prove whether He was the Son of God, he now by the power of His miracles understood or rather suspected to be the Son of God. The reason therefore why he persuaded the Jews to crucify Him, was not because he did not think that He was the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that he himself was to be condemned by Christ’s death.

Theophylact: Furthermore, the reason that He forbade the devils to speak, was to teach us not to believe them, even if they say true. For if once they find persons to believe them, they mingle truth with falsehood.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And Luke does not contradict this, when he says, that “devils came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God:” [Luke 4:41] for he subjoins, “And He rebuking them, suffered them not to speak;” for Mark, who passes over many things for the sake of brevity, speaks about what happened subsequently to the abovementioned words.

Bede: Again, in a mystical sense, the setting of the sun signifies the passion of Him, who said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” [John 9:5] And when the sun was going down, more demoniacs and sick persons were healed than before: because He who living in the flesh for a time taught a few Jews, has transmitted the gifts of faith and health to all the Gentiles throughout the world.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the door of the kingdom, morally, is repentance and faith, which works health for various diseases; for divers are the vices with which the city of this world is sick.

35. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

36. And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him.

37. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, “All men seek for Thee.” [p. 31]

38. And He said unto them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.”

39. And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

Theophylact: After that the Lord had cured the sick, He retired apart.

Wherefore it is said, “And rising very early in the morning, He went out and departed into a desert place.” By which He taught us not to do any thing for the sake of appearance, but if we do any good, not to publish it openly.

It goes on, “and there prayed.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Not that He required prayer; for it was He who Himself received the prayers of men; but He did this by way of an economy, and became to us the model of good work.

Theophylact: For He shews to us that we ought to attribute to God whatever we do well, and to say to Him, “Every good gift cometh down from above,” [James 1:17] from Thee.

It continues: “And Simon followed Him, and they that were with Him.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Luke however says that crowds came to Christ, and spoke what Mark here relates that the Apostles said, adding, “And when they came to Him, they said to Him, All seek thee.” [Luke 4:42] But they do not contradict each other; for Christ received after the Apostles the multitude, breathlessly anxious to embrace His feet. He received them willingly, but chose to dismiss them, that the rest also might be partakers of His doctrine, as He was not to remain long in the world.

And therefore there follows: “And He said, Let us go into the neighbouring villages and towns, that there also I may preach.”

Theophylact: For He passes on to them as being more in need, since it was not right to shut up doctrine in one place, but to throw out his rays every where.

It goes on: “For therefore am I come.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: In which word, He manifests the mystery of His “emptying himself,” [see Phil. 2:7-8] that is, of His incarnation, and the sovereignty of His divine nature, in that He here asserts, that He came willingly into the world.

Luke however says, “To this end was I sent,” proclaiming the Dispensation, and the good pleasure of God the Father concerning the incarnation [p. 32] of the Son.

There follows: “And He continued preaching in their synagogues, in all Galilee.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 19: But by this preaching, which, he says, “He continued in all Galilee,” is also meant the sermon of the Lord delivered on the mount, which Matthew mentions, and Mark has entirely passed over, without giving any thing like it, save that he has repeated some sentences not in continuous order, but in scattered places, spoken by the Lord at other times.

Theophylact: He also mingled action with teaching, for whilst employed in preaching, He afterwards put to flight devils.

For there follows: “And casting out devils.”

For unless Christ shewed forth miracles, He teaching would not be believed; so do thou also, after teaching, work, that thy word be not fruitless in thyself.

Bede: Again, mystically if by the setting of the sun, the death of the Saviour is intended, why should not His resurrection be intended by the returning dawn? For by its clear light, He went far into the wilderness of the Gentiles, and there continued praying in the person of His faithful disciples, for He aroused their hearts by the grace of the Holy Spirit to the virtue of prayer.

40. And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

41. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, “I will; be thou clean.”

42. And as soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43. And He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44. And saith unto him, “See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the Priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” [p. 33]

45. But he went out and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to Him from every quarter.

Bede, in Marc., i, 7: After that the serpent-tongue of the devils was shut up, and the woman, who was first seduced, cured of a fever, in the third place, the man, who listened to the evil counsels of the woman, is cleansed from his leprosy, that the order of restoration in the Lord might be the same as was the order of the fall in our first parents.

Whence it goes on: “And there came a leper to him, beseeching Him.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 19: Mark puts together circumstances, from which one may infer that he is the same as that one whom Matthew relates to have been cleansed, when the Lord came down from the mount, after the sermon. [Matt 8:2]

Bede, in Marc., i, 9: And because the Lord said that He came “not to destroy the Law but to fulfill,” [Matt. 5:17] he who was excluded by the Law, inferring that he was cleansed by the power of the Lord, shewed that grace, which could wash away the stain of the leper, was not from the Law, but over the Law. And truly, as in the Lord authoritative power, so in him the constancy of faith is shewn.

For there follows: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

He falls on his face, which is at once a gesture of lowliness and of shame, to shew that every man should blush for the stains of his life. But his shame did not stifle confession; he shewed his wound, and begged for medicine, and the confession is full of devotion and of faith, for he refers the power to the will of the Lord.

Theophylact: For he said not, If thou wilt, pray unto God, but, “If Thou wilt,” as thinking Him very God.

Bede: Moreover, he doubted of the will of the Lord, not as disbelieving His compassion, but, as conscious of his own filth, he did not presume.

It goes on; “But Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will, be thou clean.”

It is not, as many of the Latins think, to be taken to mean and read, I wish to cleanse thee, but that Christ should say separately, “I will,” and then command [p. 34], “be thou clean.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Further, the reason why He touches the leper, and did not confer health upon him by word alone, was, that it is said by Moses in the Law, that he who touches a leper shall be unclean till the evening; that is, that he might shew that this uncleanness is a natural one, that the Law was not laid down for Him, but on account of mere men. Furthermore, He shews that He Himself is the Lord of the Law; and the reason why He touched the leper, though the touch was not necessary to the working of the cure, was to shew that He gives health, not as a servant, but as the Lord.

Bede: Another reason why He touched him, was to proved that He could not be defiled, who free others from pollution. At the same time it is remarkable, that He healed in the way in which He had been begged to heal.

“If Thou wilt,” says the leper, “Thou canst make me clean.”

“I will,” He answered, behold, thou hast My will, “be clean;” now thou hast at once the effect of My compassion.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Moreover, by this, not only did He not take away the opinion of Him entertained by the leper, but He confirmed it; for He puts to flight the disease by a word, and what the leper had said in word, He filled up in deed.

Wherefore there follows, “And when He had spoken, immediately, &c.”

Bede: For there is no interval between the work of God and the command, because the work is in the command, for “He commanded, and they were created.” [Ps 148:5]

There follows: “And He straitly charged him, and forthwith, &c.” See thou tell no man.”

Chrys., Hom 25: As if He said, It is not yet time that My works should be preached, I require not thy preaching. By which He teaches us not to seek worldly honour as a reward for our works.

It goes on: “But go thy way, shew thyself to the chief of the priests.”

Our Saviour sent him to the priest for the trial of his cure, and that he might not be cast out of the temple, but still be numbered with the people in prayer. He sends him also, that he might fulfil all the parts of the Law, in order to stop the evil-speaking tongue of the Jews. He Himself indeed completed the work, leaving them to try it.

Bede: This He did in order that the priest might understand that the leper was not healed by the Law, but by the grace of God above [p. 35] the Law.

There follows: “And offer for thy cleansing what Moses, &c.”

Theophylact: He ordered him to offer the gift which they who were healed were accustomed to offer, as if for a testimony, that He was not against the Law, but rather confirmed the Law, inasmuch as He Himself worked out the precepts of the Law.

Bede: If any one wonders, how the Lord seems to approve of the Jewish sacrifice, which the Church rejects, let him remember that He had not yet offered His own holocaust in His passion. And it was not right that significative sacrifices should be taken away before that which they signified was confirmed by the witness of the Apostles in their preaching, and by the faith of the believing people.

Theophylact: But the leper, although the Lord forbade him disclosed the benefit, wherefore it goes on: “But he having gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the tale;” for the person benefitted ought to be grateful, and to return thanks, even though his benefactor requires it not.

Bede, see Greg., Moral., 19, 22: Now it may well be asked, why our Lord ordered His action to be concealed, and yet it could not be kept hid for an hour? But it is to be observed, that the reason why, in doing a miracle, He ordered it to be kept secret, and yet for all that it was noised abroad, was, that His elect, following the example of His teaching, should wish indeed that in the great things which they do, they should remain concealed, but should nevertheless unwillingly be brought to light for the good of others. Not then that He wished any thing to be done, which He was not able to bring about, but, by the authority of His teaching, He gave an example of what His members ought to wish for, and of what should happen to them even against their will.

Bede: Further, this perfect cure of one man brought large multitudes to the Lord.

Wherefore it is added, “So that He could not any more openly enter into the city, but could only be without in desert places.”

Chrys.: For the leper every where proclaimed his wonderful cure, so that all ran to see and to believe on the Healer; thus the Lord could not preach the Gospel, but walked in desert places.

Wherefore there follows, “And they came together to Him from all places.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, our leprosy is the sin of the first man, which began from the head, when he [p. 36] desired the kingdom of the world. For covetousness is the root of all evil; wherefore Gehazi, engaged in an avaritious pursuit, is covered with leprosy.

Bede: But when the hand of the Saviour, that is, the Incarnate Word of God, is stretched out, and touches human nature, it is cleansed from the various parts of the old error.

Pseudo-Jerome: This leprosy is cleansed on offering an oblation to the true Priest after the order of Melchisedec; for He tells us, “Give alms of such things as ye have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you.” [Luke 11:41]

But in that Jesus could not openly enter into the city, it is meant to be conveyed that Jesus is not manifested to those who are enslaved to the love of praise in the broad highway, and to their own wills, but to those who with Peter go into the desert, which the Lord chose for prayer, and for refreshing His people; that is, those who quit the pleasures of the world, and all that they possess, that they may say, “The Lord is my portion.” But the glory of the Lord is manifested to those, who meet together on all sides, that is, through smooth ways and steep, whom nothing can “separate from the love of Christ.” [Rom 8:35]

Bede, in Marc., i, 10: Even after working a miracle in that city, the Lord retires into the desert, to shew that He loves best a quiet life, and one far removed from the cares of the world, and that it is on account of this desire, He applied Himself to the healing of the body.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2

 

[p. 37]

1. And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.

2. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them.

3. And they came unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four.

4. And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

5. When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

6. But there were certain of the Scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

7. Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

8. And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

9. Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

10. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,) [p. 38]

11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”

12. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw it on this fashion.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 10: Because the compassion of God deserts not even carnal persons, He accords to them the grace of His presence, by which even they may be made spiritual. After the desert, the Lord returns into the city.

Wherefore it is said, “And again He entered into Capernaum, &c.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 25: But Matthew writes this miracle as if it were done in the city of the Lord, whilst Mark places it in Capernaum, which would be more difficult of solution, if Matthew had also named Nazareth. But seeing that Galilee itself might be called the city of the Lord, who can doubt but that the Lord did these things in His own city, since He did them in Capernaum, a city of Galilee; particularly as Capernaum was of such importance in Galilee as to be called its metropolis?

Or else, Matthew passed by the things which were done after He came into His own city, until He came to Capernaum, and so adds on the story of the paralytic healed, subjoining, “And, behold, they presented to Him a man sick of the palsy,” after he had said that He came into His own city.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, Matthew called Capernaum His city because He went there frequently, and there did many miracles.

It goes on: “And it was noised that He was in the house, &c.”

For the desire of hearing Him was stronger that the toil of approaching Him. After this, they introduce the paralytic, of whom Matthew and Luke speak; wherefore there follows: “And they came unto Him bearing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four.”

Finding the door blocked up by the crowd, they could not by any means enter that way. Those who carried him, however, hoping that he could merit the grace of being healed, raising the bed with their burden, and uncovering the roof, lay him with his bed before the face of the Saviour.

And this is that which is added: “And when they could not [p. 39] lay him before Him, &c.”

There follows: “But when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

He did not mean the faith of the sick man, but of his bearers; for it sometimes happens that a man is healed by the faith of another.

Bede: It may indeed be seen how much each person’s own faith weighs with God, when that of another had such influence that the whole man at once rose up, healed body and soul, and by one man’s merit, another should have his sins forgiven him.

Theophylact: He saw the faith of the sick man himself, since he would not have allowed himself to be carried, unless he’d had faith to be healed.

Bede: Moreover, the Lord being about to cure the man of the palsy, first loosed the chains of his sins, in order to shew that he was condemned to the loosening of his joints, because of the bonds of his sins, and could not be healed to the recovery of his limbs, unless these were first loosened.

But Christ’s wonderful humility calls this man, despised, weak, with all the joints of his limbs unstrung, a son, when the priests did not deign to touch him. Or at least, He therefore calls him a son because his sins are forgiven him.

It goes on: “But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man speak blasphemies?”

Cyril [ed. note: Nicolai observes on this passage, Nihil tale occurrit in Cyrillo, tametsi blasphemiae ideo a Judaeis improperatae Christo meminit in Johannem, Lib. ii, e.3.]: Now they accuse Him of blasphemy, anticipating the sentence of His death: for there was a command in the Law, that whosoever blasphemed should be put to death. And this charge they laid upon Him, because He claimed for Himself the divine power of remitting sins.

Wherefore it is added, “Who can forgive sin, save God only?” For the Judge of all alone has power to forgive sin.

Bede: Who remits sin by those also to whom He has assigned the power of remitting, and therefore Christ is proved to be very God, for He is able to remit sins as God.

The Jews then are in error, who although they hold the Christ both to be God, and to be able to remit sins, do not however believe that Jesus is the Christ.

But the Arians err much more madly, who [p. 40] although overwhelmed with the words of the Evangelist, so that they cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ, and can remit sin, nevertheless fear not to deny that He is God.

But He Himself, desiring to shame the traitors both by His knowledge of things hidden and by the virtue of His works, manifests Himself to be God.

For there follows: “And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?”

In which He shews Himself to be God, since He can know the hidden things of the heart; and in a manner though silent He speaks thus, With the same power and majesty, by which I look upon your thoughts, I can forgive the sins of men.

Theophylact: But though their thoughts were laid bare, still they remain insensible, refusing to believe that He who knew their hearts could forgive sins, wherefore the Lord proves to them the cure of the soul by that of the body, shewing the invisible by the visible, that which is more difficult by that which is easier, although they did not look upon it as such.

For the Pharisees thought it more difficult to heal the body, as being more open to view; but the soul more easy to cure, because the cure is invisible; so that they reasoned thus, Lo, He does not now cure the body, but heals the unseen soul; if He’d had more power, He would at once have cured the body, and not have fled for refuge to the unseen world.

The Saviour, therefore, shewing that He can do both, says, “Which is easier?” as if He said, I indeed by the healing of the body, which is in reality more easy, but appears to you more difficult, will prove to you the health of the soul, which is really more difficult.

Psuedo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And because it is easier to say than to do, there was still manifestly something to say in opposition, for the work was not yet manifested.

Wherefore He subjoins, “But that ye may know, &c.” as if He said, Since ye doubt My word, I will bring on a work which will confirm what was unseen.

But He says in a marked manner, “On earth to forgive sins,” that He might shew that He has joined the power of the divinity to the human nature by an inseparable union, because although He was made man, yet He remained the Word of God; and although by an economy He conversed on the earth with men, nevertheless He was not prevented from working [p. 41] miracles and from giving remission of sins.

For His human nature did not in any thing take away from these things which essentially belonged to His Divinity, nor the Divinity hinder the Word of God from becoming on earth, according to the flesh, the Son of Man without change and in truth.

Theophylact: Again, He says, “Take up thy bed,” to prove the greater certainty of the miracle, shewing that it is not a mere illusion; and at the same time to shew that He not only healed, but gave strength; thus He not only turns away souls from sin, but gives them the power of working out the commandments.

Bede: A carnal sign therefore is given, that the spiritual sign may be proved, although it belongs to the same power to do away with the distempers of both soul and body.

Whence it follows: “And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all.”

Chrys.: Further, He first healed by the remission of sins that which He had come to seek, that is, a soul, so that when they faithlessly doubted, then He might bring forward a work before them, and in this way His word might be confirmed by the work, and a hidden sign be proved by an open one, that is, the health of the soul by the healing of the body.

Bede: We are also informed, that many sicknesses of body arise from sins, and therefore perhaps sins are first remitted, that the causes of sickness being taken away, health may be restored. For men are afflicted by fleshly troubles for five causes, in order to increase their merits, as Job and the Martyrs; or to preserve their lowliness, as Paul by the messenger of Satan; or that they may perceive and correct their sins, as Miriam, the sister of Moses, and this paralytic; or for the glory of God, as the man born blind and Lazarus; or as the beginnings of the pains of damnation, as Herod and Antiochus.

But wonderful is the virtue of the Divine power, where without the least interval of time, by the command of the Saviour, a speedy health accompanies His words.

Wherefore there follows: “Insomuch that they were all amazed.” Leaving the greater thing, that is, the remission of sins, they only wonder at that which is apparent, that is, the health of the body.

Theophylact: This is not however the paralytic, whose cure [p. 42] is related by John, [John 5] for he had no man with him, this one had four; he is cured in the pool of the sheep market, but this one in a house. It is the same man, however, whose cure is related by Matthew [Matt. 9] and Mark.

But mystically, Christ is still in Capernaum, in the house of consolation.

Bede: Moreover, whilst the Lord is preaching in the house, there is not room for them, not even at the door, because whilst Christ is preaching in Judaea, the Gentiles are not yet able to enter to hear Him, to whom, however, though placed without, he directed the words of His doctrine by His preachers.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the palsy is a type of the torpor, in which man lies slothful in the softness of the flesh, though desiring health.

Theophlyact: If therefore I, having the powers of my mind unstrung, remain, whenever I attempt any thing good without strength, as a palsied man, and if I be raised on high by the four Evangelists, and be brought to Christ, and there hear myself called son, then also are my sins quitted by me; for a man is called the son of God because he works the commandments.

Bede: Or else, because there are four virtues, by which a man is through an assured heart exalted so that he merits safety; which virtues some call prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice. Again, they desire to bring the palsied man to Christ, but they are impeded on every side by the crowd which is between them, because often the soul desires to be renewed by the medicine of Divine grace, but through the sluggishness of the grovelling body is held back by the hindrance of old custom. Oftentimes amidst the very sweetness of secret prayer, and, as it may be called, the pleasant converse with God, a crowd of thoughts, cutting off the clear vision of the mind, shuts out Christ from its sight.

Let us not then remain in the lowest ground, where the crowds are bustling, but aim at the roof of the house, that is, the sublimity of the Holy Scripture, and meditate on the law of the Lord.

Theophylact: But how should I be borne to Christ, if the roof be not opened. For the roof is the intellect, which is set above all those things which are within us; here it has much earth about it in the tiles which are made of clay, I mean, earthly things: but if these be taken away, the virtue of the intellect within [p. 43] us is freed from its load. After this let it be let down, that is, humbled. For it does not teach us to be puffed up, because our intellect has its load cleared away, but to be humbled still more.

Bede: Or else, the sick man is let down after the roof is opened, because, when the Scriptures are laid open to us we arrive at the knowledge of Christ, that is, we descend to His lowliness, by the dutifulness of faith. But by the sick man being let down with his bed, it is meant that Christ should be known by man, whilst yet in the flesh.

But by rising from the bed is meant the soul’s rousing itself from carnal desires, in which it was lying in sickness. To take up the bed is to bridle the flesh itself by the bands of continence, and to separate it from earthly pleasures, through the hope of heavenly rewards.

But to take up the bed and to go home is to return to paradise. Or else the man, now healed, who had been sick carries back home his bed, when the soul, after receiving remission of sins, returns, even though encompassed with the body, to its internal watch over itself.

Theophylact: It is necessary to take up also one’s bed, that is the body, to the working of good. For then shall we be able to arrive at contemplation, so that our thoughts should say within us, never have we seen in this way before, that is never understood as we have done since we have been cured of the palsy; for he who is cleansed from sin, sees more purely.

13. And He went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them.

14. And as He passed by, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, “Follow Me.” And he arose and followed Him.

15. And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many Publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.

16. And when the Scribes and Pharisees saw Him [p. 44] eat with Publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, “How is it that He eateth and drinketh with Publicans and sinners?”

17. When Jesus heard it, He said unto them, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Bede: After that the Lord taught at Capernaum, He went to the sea, that He might not only set in order the life of men in towns, but also might preach the Gospel of the kingdom to those who dwelt near the sea, and might teach them to despise the restless motions of those things which pass away like the waves of the sea, and to overcome them by the firmness of faith.

Wherefore it is said, “And He went forth again to the sea, and all the multitude, &c.”

Theophylact: Or else, after the miracle, He goes to the sea, as if wishing to be alone, but the crowd runs to Him again, that thou mightest learn, that the more thou fliest from glory, the more she herself pursues thee; but if thou followest her, she will fly from thee. The Lord passing on from thence called Matthew.

Wherefore there follows, “And as He passed by, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting, &c.”

Chrys.: Now this is the same publican who is named by all the Evangelists; Matthew by Matthew; simply Levi by Luke; and Levi, the son of Alphaeus, by Mark; for he was the son of Alphaeus. And you may find persons with two names in other parts of Scripture; as Moses’ father in law is sometimes called Jethro, sometimes Raguel.

Bede, in Marc., 11: So also the same person is called Levi and Matthew; but Luke and Mark, on account of their reverence and the honour of the Evangelist, are unwilling to put the common name, while Matthew is a just accuser of himself, and calls himself Matthew and publican. He wishes to shew to his hearers that no one who is converted should despair of his salvation, since he himself was suddenly changed from a publican into an Apostle.

but he says that he was sitting at the ‘teloneum,’ that is, the place where the customs are looked after [p. 45] and administered. For ‘telos’ in Greek is the same as ‘vectigal,’ customs, in Latin.

Theophylact: For he sat at the receipt of custom, either, as is often done, exacting from some, or making up accounts, or doing some actions of that sort, which publicans are wont to do in their abodes, yea this man, who was raised on high from this state of life that he might leave all things and follow Christ.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He saith to him, Follow Me, &c.”

Bede: Now to follow is to imitate, and therefore in order to imitate the poverty of Christ, in the feeling of his soul even more than in outward condition, he who used to rob his neighbour’s wealth, now leaves his own. And not only did he quit the gain of the customs, but he also despised the peril, which might come from the princes of this world, because he left the accounts of the customs imperfect and unsettled. For the Lord Himself, Who externally, by human language, called Him to follow, inflamed him inwardly by divine inspiration to follow Him the moment that He called him.

Pseudo-Jerome: Thus then Levi, which means Appointed, followed from the custom-house of human affairs, the Word, Who says, “He who doth not quit all that he has, cannot be My disciple.”

Theophylact: But he who used to plot against others becomes so benevolent, that he invites many persons to eat with him.

Wherefore it goes on: “And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at meat in his house.”

Bede, in Marc. i, 12: The persons here called publicans are those who exact the public customs, or men who farm the customs of the exchequer or of republics; moreover, those also, who follow after the gain of this world by business, are called by the same name. They who had seen that the publican, converted from his sins to better things, had found a place of pardon, even for this reason themselves also do not despair of salvation.

And they come to Jesus, not remaining in their former sins, as the Pharisees and Scribes complain, but in penitence, as the following words of the Evangelist shew, saying, “For there were many who followed Him.”

For the Lord went to the feasts of sinners, that He might have an opportunity of teaching them, and might set before His entertainers spiritual meats, which also is carried on in mystical figures. For he who receives Christ into his inward habitation [p. 46] is fed with the highest delights of overflowing pleasures.

Therefore the Lord enters willingly, and takes up His abode in the affection of him who hath believed on Him; and this is the spiritual banquet of good works, which the rich cannot have, and on which the poor feast.

Theophylact: But the Pharisees blame this, making themselves pure.

Whence there follows: “And when the Scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat, &c.”

Bede: If by the election of Matthew and calling of the publicans, the faith of the Gentiles is expressed, who formerly were intent on the gains of this world; certainly the haughtiness of the Scribes and Pharisees intimates the envy of the Jewish people, who are vexed at the salvation of the Gentiles.

It goes on: “When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, They that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick.”

He aims at the Scribes and Pharisees, who, thinking themselves righteous, refused to keep company with sinners. He calls Himself the physician, Who, by a strange mode of healing, was wounded on account of our iniquities, and by His wound we are healed. And He calls those whole and righteous, who, wishing to establish their own righteousness, are not subject to the righteousness of God. Moreover He calls those rich and sinners, who, overcome by the consciousness of their own frailty, and seeing that they cannot be justified by the Law, submit their necks to the grace of Christ by repentance.

Wherefore it is added, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, &c.”

Theophylact: Not indeed that they should continue sinners, but be converted to that repentance.

18. And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?”

19. And Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

20. But the days will come, when the bridegroom [p. 47] shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

21. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

22. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.”

Gloss.: As above, the Master was accused to the disciples for keeping company with sinners in their feasts, so now, on the other hand, the disciples are complained of to the Master for their omission of fasts, that so matter for dissension might arise amongst them.

Wherefore it is said, “And the disciples of John and the Pharisees used to fast.”

Theophylact: For the disciples of John being in an imperfect state, continued in Jewish customs.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 27: But it may be thought that He added Pharisees, because they joined with the disciples of John in saying this to the Lord, whilst Matthew relates that the disciples of John alone said it: but the words which follow father shew that those who said it spoke not of themselves, but of others.

For it goes on, “And they came and say unto Him, Why do the disciples, &c.”

For these words shew, that the guests who were there came to Jesus, and had said this same thing to the disciples, so that in the words which he uses, “they came,” he speaks not of those same persons, of whom he had said, “And the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting.” But as they were fasting, those persons who remembered it, come to Him. Matthew then says this, “And there came to Him the disciples of John, saying,” because the Apostles also were there, and all eagerly, as each could, objected these things.

Chrys.: The disciples of John, therefore, and of the Pharisees, being jealous of Christ, ask Him, whether He alone of all men with His disciples could, without abstinence and toil, conquer in the fight of the passions.

Bede: But John [p. 48] did not drink wine and strong drink, because he who has no power by nature, obtains more merit by abstinence. But why should the Lord, to whom it naturally belonged to forgive sins, shun those whom he could make more pure, than those who fast? But Christ also fasted, lest He should break the precept, “He ate with sinners,” that thou mightest see His grace, and acknowledge His power.

It goes on; “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children, &c.”

Augustine: Mark here calls them children of the nuptials, whom Matthew calls children of the bridegroom; for we understand the children of the nuptials to be not only those of the bridegroom, but also of the bride.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He then calls Himself a bridegroom, as if about to be betrothed to the Church. For the betrothal is giving an earnest, namely, that the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which the world believed.

Theophylact: He also calls Himself a bridegroom, not only as betrothing to Himself virgin minds, but because the time of His first coming is not a time of sorrow, nor of sadness to believers, neither does it bring with it toil, but rest.

For it is without any works of the law, giving rest by baptism, by which we easily obtain salvation without toil. But the sons of the nuptials or of the Bridegroom are the Apostles; because they, by the grace of God, are made worthy of every heavenly blessing, by the grace of God, and partakers of every joy.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But intercourse with Him, He says, is far removed from all sorrow, when He adds, “As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.” He is said, from whom some good is far removed; but he who has it present with him rejoices, and is not sad. But that He might destroy their elation of heart, and shew that He intended not His own disciples to be licentious, He adds, “But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken, &c.” as if He said, The time will come, when they will shew their firmness; for when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, they will fast as longing for His coming, and in order to unite to Him their spirits, cleansed by bodily suffering.

He shews also that there is no necessity for His disciples to fast, as having present with them the Bridegroom of human nature, Who every where executes the words of God, and Who gives the seed [p. 49] of life.

The sons of the Bridegroom also cannot, because they are infants, be entirely conformed to their Father, the Bridegroom, Who, considering their infancy, deigns to allow them not to fast: but when the Bridegroom is gone, they will fast, through desire of Him; when they have been made perfect, they will be united to the Bridegroom in marriage, and will always feast at the king’s banquet.

Theophylact: We must also understand that every man whose works are good is the son of the Bridegroom; he has the Bridegroom with him, even Christ, and fasts not, that is, does no works of repentance, because he does not sin: but when the Bridegroom is taken away by the man’s falling into sin, then he fasts and is penitent, that he may cure his sin.

Bede: But in a mystical sense, it may thus be expressed; that the disciples of John and the Pharisees fast, because every man who boasts of the works of the law without faith, who follows the traditions of men, and receives the preaching of Christ with his bodily ear, and not by the faith of the heart, keeps aloof from spiritual goods, and wastes away with a fasting soul. But he who is incorporated into the members of Christ by a faithful love cannot fast, because he feasts upon His Body and Blood.

It goes on, “No one seweth a piece of” rough, that is, “new, cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filleth it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: As if He said, because these are preachers of the New Testament, it is not possible that they should serve old laws; but ye who follow old customs, fitly observe the fasts of Moses. But for these, who are about to hand down to men new and wonderful observances, it is not necessary to observe the old traditions, but to be virtuous in mind; some time or other however they will observe fasting with other virtues. But this fasting is different from the fasting of the law, for that was one of restraint, this of goodwill; on account of the fervour of the Spirit, Whom they cannot yet receive.

Wherefore it goes on, “And no one putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put in new bottles.”

Bede: For He compares His disciples to old bottles, who would burst at spiritual precepts, rather than be held in [p. 50] restraint by them. But they will be new bottles, when after the ascension of the Lord, they are renewed by desiring His consolation, and then new wine will come to the new bottles, that is, the fervour of the Holy Ghost will fill the hearts of spiritual men. A teacher must also take heed not to commit the hidden things of the new mysteries to a soul, hardened in old wickedness.

Theophylact: Or else the disciples are likened to old garments on account of the infirmity of their minds, on which it was not fitting to impose the heavy command of fasting.

Bede: Neither was it fitting to sew on a new piece; that is, a portion of doctrine which teaches a general fast from all the joy of temporal delights; for if this be done, the teaching is rent, and agrees not with the old part. But by a new garment is intended good works, which are done externally, and by the new wine, is expressed the fervour of faith, hope, and charity, by which we are reformed in our minds.

23. And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

24. And the Pharisees said unto Him, “Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?”

25. And He said unto them, “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

26. How he went into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the High Priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?”

27. And He said unto them, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

28. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The disciples of Christ, freed from the figure, and united to the truth, do not keep the figurative feast of the sabbath.

Wherefore it is said, “And it came to pass, [p. 51] that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 13: We read also in the following part, that they who came and went away were many, and that they had not time enough to take their food, wherefore, according to man’s nature, they were hungry.

Chrys., see Hom. in Matt., 39: But being hungry, they ate simple food, not for pleasure, but on account of the necessity of nature. The Pharisees however, serving the figure and the shadow, accused the disciples of doing wrong.

Wherefore there follows, “But the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful.”

Augustine, de Op. Monach., 23: For it was a precept in Israel, delivered by a written law, that no one should detain a thief found in his fields, unless he tried to take something away with him. For the man who had touched nothing else but what he had eaten they were commanded to allow to go away free and unpunished. Wherefore the Jews accused our Lord’s disciples, who were plucking the ears of corn, of breaking the sabbath, rather than of theft.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But our Lord brings forward David, to whom it once happened to eat though it was forbidden by the law, when he touched the Priest’s food, that by his example, He might do away with their accusation of the disciples.

For there follows, “Have ye never read, &c.”

Theophylact: For David, when flying from the face of Saul [1 Sam 21] went to the Chief Priest, and ate the shew-bread, and took away the sword of Goliath, which things had been offered to the Lord. But a question has been raised how the Evangelist called Abiathar at this time High Priest, when the Book of Kings calls him Abimelech.

Bede: There is, however, no discrepancy, for both were there, when David came to ask for bread, and received it: that is to say, Abimelech, the High Priest, and Abiathar his son; but Abimelech having been slain by Saul, Abiathar fled to David, and became the companion of all his exile afterwards. When he came to the throne, he himself also received the rank of High Priest, and the son became of much greater excellence than the father, and therefore was worthy to be mentioned as the High Priest, [p. 52] even during his father’s life-time.

It goes on: “And He said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

For greater is the care to be taken of the health and life of a man, than the keeping of the sabbath. Therefore the sabbath was ordered to be observed in such a way, that, if there were a neccesity, he should not be guilty, who broke the sabbath-day; therefore it was not forbidden to circumcise on the sabbath, because that was a necessary work. And the Maccabees, when necessity pressed on them, fought on the sabbath-day.

Wherefore, His disciples being hungry, what was not allowed in the law became lawful through their necessity of hunger; as now, if a sick man break a fast, he is not held guilty in any way.

It goes on: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord, &c.” As if He said, David the king is to be excused for feeding on the food of the Priests, how much more the Son of man, the true King and Priest, and Lord of the sabbath, is free from fault, for pulling ears of corn on the sabbath-day.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He calls himself properly, Lord of the sabbath, and Son of man, since being the Son of God, He deigned to be called Son of man, for the sake of men. Now the law has no authority over the Lawgiver and Lord, for more is allowed the king, than is appointed by the law. The law is given to the weak indeed, but not to the perfect and to those who work above what the law enjoins.

Bede: But in a mystical sense the disciples pass through the corn fields, when the holy doctors look with the care of a pious solicitude upon those whom they have initiated in the faith, and who, it is implied, are hungering for the best of all things, the salvation of men.

But to pluck the ears of corn means to snatch men away from the eager desire of earthly things. And to rub with the hands is by example of virtue to put from the purity of their minds the concupiscence of the flesh, as men do husks. To eat the grains is when a man, cleansed from the filth of vice by the mouths of preachers, is incorporated amongst the members of the Church.

Again, fitly are the disciples related to have done this, walking before the face of the Lord, for it is necessary that the discourse of the doctor should come first, although the grace of visitation from on high, following it, must enlighten the heart of the hearer. As well, on the sabbath-day, for the doctors themselves in [p. 53] preaching labour for the hope of future rest, and teach their hearers to toil over their tasks for the sake of eternal repose.

Theophylact: Or else, because when they have rest from their passions, then are they made doctors to lead others to virtue, plucking away from them earthly things.

Bede: Again, they walk through the corn fields with the Lord, who rejoice in meditating upon His sacred words. They hunger, when they desire to find in them the bread of life; and they hunger on sabbath days, as soon as their minds are in a soothing rest, and they rejoice in freedom from troubled thoughts; they pluck the ears of corn, and by rubbing, cleanse them, till they come to what is fit to eat, when by meditation they take to themselves the witness of the Scriptures, to which they arrive by reading, and discuss them continually, until they find in them the marrow of love; this refreshment of the mind is truly unpleasing to fools, but is approved by the Lord.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 3

 

[p. 54]

1. And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

2. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.

3. And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, “Stand forth.”

4. And He saith unto them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” But they held their peace.

5. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.” And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Theophylact: After confounding the Jews, who had blamed His disciples, for pulling the ears of corn on the sabbath day, by the example of David, the Lord now further bringing them to the truth, works a miracle on the sabbath; shewing that, if it is a pious deed to work miracles on the sabbath for the health of men, it is not wrong to do on the sabbath thing necessary for the body.

He says therefore, “And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath-day; that they might accuse Him.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 14: For, since He had defended the breaking of the sabbath, which they objected to His disciples, by an approved example, now they wish, by watching Him, to [p. 55] calumniate Himself, that they might accuse Him of a transgression, if He cured on the sabbath, of cruelty or of folly, if He refused.

It goes on: “And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand in the midst.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys, Hom. in Matt., 40: He placed him in the midst, that they might be frightened at the sight, and on seeing Him compassionate him, and lay aside their malice.

Bede: And anticipating the calumny of the Jews, which they had prepared for Him, He accused them of violating the precepts of the law, by a wrong interpretation.

Wherefore there follows: “And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

And this He asks, because they thought that on the sabbath they were to rest even from good works, whilst the law commands to abstain from bad, saying, “Ye shall do no servile work therein;” [Lev 23:7] that is, sin: for “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” [John 8:34]

What He first says, “to do good on the sabbath-day or to do evil,” is the same as what He afterwards adds, “to save a life or to lose it;” that is, to cure a man or not. Not that God, Who is in the highest degree good, can be the author of perdition to us, but that His not saving is in the language of Scripture to destroy.

but if it be asked, wherefore the Lord, being about to cure the body, asked about the saving of the soul, let him understand either that in the common way of Scripture the soul is put for the man; as it is said, “All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob;” [Ex 1:5] or because He did those miracles for the saving of a soul, or because the healing itself of the hand signified the saving of the soul.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 35: But some one may wonder how Matthew could have said, that they themselves asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day; when Mark rather relates that they were asked by our Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

Therefore we must understand that they first asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day, then that understanding their thoughts, and that they were seeking an opportunity to accuse Him, He placed in the middle him whom He was about to cure, and put those questions, which Mark and Luke relate. We must then suppose, that when they were silent, He propounded the parable of the sheep, and concluded, that it was lawful to do good on the sabbath-day.

It goes on: “But they were silent.” [p. 56]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For they knew that He would certainly cure him.

It goes on: “And looking round about upon them with anger.”

His looking round upon them in anger, and being saddened at the blindness of their hearts, is fitting for His humanity, which He deigned to take upon Himself for us. He connects the working of the miracle with a word, which proves that the man is cured by His voice alone.

It follow therefore, “And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Answering by all these things for His disciples, and at the same time shewing that His life is above the law.

Bede: But mystically, the man with a withered hand shews the human race, dried up as to its fruitfulness in good works, but now cured by the mercy of the Lord; the hand of man, which in our first parent had been dried up when he plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree, through the grace of the Redeemer, Who stretched His guiltless hands on the tree of the cross, has been restored to health by the juices of good works.

Well too was it in the synagogue that the hand was withered; for where the gift of knowledge is greater, there also the danger of inexcusable guilt is greater.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else it means the avaricious, who, being able to give had rather receive, and love robbery rather than making gifts. And they are commanded to stretch forth their hands, that is, “let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hand the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]

Theophylact: Or, he had his right hand withered, who does not the works which belong to the right side; for from the time that our hand is employed in forbidden deeds, from that time it is withered to the working of good. But it will be restored whenever it stands firm in virtue; wherefore Christ saith, “Arise,” that is, from sin, “and stand in the midst;” that thus it may stretch itself forth neither too little nor too much.

6. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

7. But Jesus withdrew Himself with His disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judaea, [p. 57]

8. And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things He did, came unto Him.

9. And He spake to His disciples, that a small ship should wait on Him, because of the multitude, lest they should throng Him.

10. For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues.

11. And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, “Thou art the Son of God.”

12. And He straitly charged them that they should not make Him known.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 15: The Pharisees, thinking it a crime that at the word of the Lord the hand which was diseased was restored to a sound state, agreed to make a pretext of the words spoken by our Saviour.

Wherefore it is said, “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

As if every one amongst them did not greater things on the sabbath day, carrying food, reaching forth a cup, and whatever else is necessary for meals. Neither could He, Who said and it was done, be convicted of toiling on the sabbath day.

Theophylact: But the soldiers of Herod the king are called Herodians, because a certain new heresy had sprung up, which asserted that Herod was the Christ. For the prophecy of Jacob intimated that when the princes of Judah failed then Christ should come; because therefore in the time of Herod none of the Jewish princes remained, and he, an alien, was the sole ruler, some thought that he was the Christ, and set on foot this heresy. These, therefore, were with the Pharisees trying to kill Christ.

Bede: Or else he calls Herodians the servants of Herod the Tetrarch, who on account of the hatred which their lord had for John, pursued with treachery and hate the Saviour also, Whom John preached. [p. 58]

It goes on, “But Jesus withdrew Himself with His disciples to the sea;” He fled from their treachery, because the hour of His passion had not yet come, and no place away from Jerusalem was proper for His Passion. By which also He gave an example to His disciples, when they suffer persecution in one city, to flee to another.

Theophylact: At the same time again, He goes away, that by quitting the ungrateful He might do good to more, “for many followed Him, and He healed them.”

For there follows, “And a great multitude from Galilee, &c.” Syrians and Sidonians, being foreigners, receive benefit from Christ; but His kindred the Jews persecute Him: thus there is no profit in relationship, if there be not a similarity in goodness.

Bede: For the strangers followed Him, because they saw the works of His powers, and in order to hear the words of His teaching. But the Jews, induced solely by their opinion of His powers, in a vast multitude come to hear Him, and to beg for His aiding health.

Wherefore there follows, “And He spake to His disciples, that they should wait, &c.”

Theophylact: Consider then how He hid His glory, for He begs for a little ship, lest the crowd should hurt Him, so that entering into it, He might remain unharmed.

It follows, “As many as had scourges, &c.”

But he means by scourges, diseases, for God scourges us, as a father does His children.

Bede: Both therefore fell down before the Lord, those who had the plagues of bodily diseases, and those who were vexed by unclean spirits. The sick did this simply with the intention of obtaining health, but the demoniacs, or rather the devils within them, because under the mastery of a fear of God they were compelled not only to fall down before Him but also to praise His majesty.

Wherefore it goes on, “And they cried out, saying, Thou art the Son of God.”

And here we must wonder at the blindness of the Arians, who, after the glory of His resurrection, deny the Son of God, Whom the devils confess to be the Son of God, though still clothed with human flesh.

There follows, “And He straitly charged them, that they should not make Him known.”

For God said to the sinner, “Why does thou preach my laws?” [Ps 50:16] A sinner is forbidden to preach the Lord, lest any one listening to his preaching should follow him in his error, for the devil is an evil master, who always mingles false things [p. 59] with true, that the semblance of truth may cover the witness of fraud.

But not only devils, but persons healed by Christ, and even Apostles, are ordered to be silent concerning Him before the Passion, lest by the preaching of the majesty of His Divinity, the economy of His Passion should be retarded. But allegorically, in the Lord’s coming out of the synagogue, and then retiring to the sea, He prefigured the salvation of the Gentiles, to whom He deigned to come through their faith, having quitted the Jews on account of their perfidy.

For the nations, driven about in divers by-paths of error, are fitly compared to the unstable sea. [ed. note: see Cyprian, Ep. 63, also Augustine, City of God, Book 20, 16]

Again, a great crowd from various provinces followed Him, because He has received with kindness many nations, who came to Him through the preaching of the Apostles. But the ship waiting upon the Lord in the sea is the Church, collected from amongst the nations; and He goes into it lest the crowd should throng Him, because flying from the troubled minds of carnal persons, He delights to come to those who despise the glory of this world, and to dwell within them.

Further, there is a difference between thronging the Lord, and touching Him; for they throng Him, when by carnal thoughts and deeds they trouble peace, in which truth dwells; but he touches Him, who by faith and love has received Him into his heart; wherefore those who touched Him are said to have been saved.

Theophylact: Morally again, the Herodians, that is, persons who love the lusts of the flesh, wish to slay Christ. For the meaning of Herod is, ‘of skin’ [ed. note: pelliceus, see Hier. de Nom. Hebr.]. But those who quit their country, that is, a carnal mode of living, follow Christ, and their plagues are healed, that is, the sins which wound their conscience. But Jesus in us is our reason, which commands that our vessel, that is, our body, should serve Him, lest the troubles of worldly affairs should press upon our reason.

13. And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him.

14. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, [p. 60]

15. And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

16. And Simon He surnamed Peter;

17. And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

18. And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

19. And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed Him.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 16: After having forbidden the evil spirits to preach Him, He chose holy men, to cast out the unclean spirits, and to preach the Gospel.

Wherefore it is said, “And He went up into a mountain, &c.”

Theophylact: Luke, however, says that He went up to pray, for after the shewing forth of miracles He prays, teaching us that we should give thanks, when we obtain any thing good, and refer it to Divine grace.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He also instructs the Prelates of the Church to pass the night in prayer before they ordain, that their office be not impeded. When therefore, according to Luke, it was day, He called whom He would; for there were many who followed Him.

Bede: For it was not a matter of their choice and zeal, but of Divine condescension and grace, that they should be called to the Apostleship. The mount also in which the Lord chose His Apostles, shews the lofty righteousness in which they were to be instructed, and which they were about to preach to men.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or spiritually, Christ is the mount, from which living waters flow, and milk is procured for the health of infants; whence the spiritual feast of fat things is made known, and whatsoever is believed to be most highly good is established by the grace of that Mountain.

Those therefore who are highly exalted in merits and in words are called up into a mountain, that the place may correspond to the loftiness of their merits.

It goes on: “And they came unto Him, &c.”

For the Lord loved the beauty of Jacob, [Ps 46] that they might “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” [Matt 19:28] who also [p. 61] in bands of threes and fours watch around the tabernacle of the Lord, and carry the holy words of the Lord, bearing them forward on their actions, as men do burdens on their shoulders.

Bede: For as a sacrament of this the children of Israel once used to encamp about the Tabernacle, so that on each of the four sides of the square three tribes were stationed. Now three times four are twelve, and in three bands of four the Apostles were sent to preach, that through the four quarters of the whole world they might baptize the nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

It goes on: “And He gave them power, &c.”

that is, in order that the greatness of their deeds might bear witness to the greatness of their heavenly promises, and that they, who preached unheard-of things, might do unheard-of actions.

Theophylact: Further, He gives the names of the Apostles, that the true Apostles might be known, so that men might avoid the false.

And therefore it continues: “And Simon He surnamed Cephas.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan. ii, 17: But let no one suppose that Simon now received his name and was called Peter, for thus he would make Mark contrary to John, who relates that it had been long before said unto him, “Thou shalt be called Cephas.” [John 1:42]

But Mark gives this account by way of recapitulation; for as he wished to give the names of the twelve Apostles, and was obliged to call him, Peter, his object was to intimate briefly, that he was not called this originally, but that the Lord gave him that name.

Bede: And the reason that the Lord willed that he should at first be called otherwise, was that from the change itself of the name, a mystery might be conveyed to us. Peter then in Latin or in Greek means the same thing as Cephas in Hebrew, and in each language the name is drawn from, a stone.

Nor can it be doubted that is the rock of which Paul spoke, “And this rock was Christ.” [1 Cor 10:4] For as Christ was the true light, and allowed also that the Apostles should be called the light of the world, [Matt 5:14] so also to Simon, who believed on the rock Christ, He gave the name of Rock.

Pseudo-Jerome: Thus from obedience, which Simon signifies, the ascent is made to knowledge, which is meant by Peter.

It goes on: “And James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.”

Bede: We must connect this with what went before, “He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth.” [p. 62]

Pseudo-Jerome, Gen. 27:36 see Catena Aurea, Matt. 10:2: Namely, James who has supplanted all the desires of the flesh, and John, who received by grace what others held by labour.

There follows: “And He surnamed them, Boanerges.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He calls the sons of Zebedee by this name, because they were to spread over the world the mighty and illustrious decrees of the Godhead.

Pseudo-Jerome; Or by this the lofty merit of the three mentioned above is shewn, who merited to hear in the mountain the thunders of the Father, when he proclaimed in thunder through a could concerning the Son, “This is My beloved Son;” that they also through the cloud of the flesh and fire of the word, might as it were scatter the thunderbolts in rain on the earth, since the Lord turned the thunderbolts into rain, so that mercy extinguishes what judgment sets on fire.

It goes on: “And Andrew,” who manfully does violence to perdition, so that he had ever ready within him his own death, to give as an answer, [1 Pet 3:15] and his soul was ever in his hands. [Ps 119:109]

Bede: For Andrew is a Greek name, which means ‘manly,’ from (greek word), that is, man, for he manfully adhered to the Lord.

There follows, “And Philip.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Or, ‘the mouth of a lamp,’ that is, one who can throw light by his mouth upon what he has conceived in his heart, to whom the Lord gave the opening of a mouth, which diffused light. We know that this mode of speaking belongs to holy Scripture; for Hebrew names are put down in order to intimate a mystery.

There follows: “And Bartholomew,” which means, the son of him who suspends the waters; of him, that is, who said, “I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” [Isa 5:6]

But the name of son of God is obtained by peace and loving one’s enemy; for, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the sons of God. [Matt 5:9] And, Love your enemies, that ye may be the sons of God. [see Matt 5:44-45]

There follows: “And Matthew,” that is, ‘given,’ to whom it is given by the Lord, not only to obtain remission of sins, but to be enrolled in the number of the Apostles.

“And Thomas,” which means, ‘abyss,’ for men who have knowledge by the power of God, put forward many deep things.

It goes on: “And James the son of Alphaeus,” that is, of ‘the learned,’ or ‘the thousandth,’ beside whom a thousand will fall. [Ps 91:7] This other James is he, whose wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness. [Eph 6:12]

There follows, “And Thaddaeus,” that [p. 63] is, ‘corculum,’ which means, ‘he who guards the heart’ [ed. note: ‘cordis cultor’], one who keeps his heart in all watchfulness.

Bede: But Thaddaeus is the same person, as Luke calls in the Gospel and in the Acts, Jude of James, for he was the brother of James, the brother of the Lord, as he himself has written in his Epistle.

There follows, “And Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

He has added this by way of distinction from Simon Peter, and Jude the brother of James. Simon is called the Canaanite from Cana, a village in Galilee, and Judas, Scariotes, from the village from which he had his origin, or he is so called from the tribe of Issachar.

Theophylact: Whom he reckons amongst the Apostles, that we may learn that God does not repel any man for wickedness, which is future, but counts him worthy on account of his present virtue.

Pseudo-Jerome: But Simon in interpreted, ‘laying aside sorrow;’ for “blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” [Matt 5:4]

And he is called Canaanite, that is, Zealot, because the zeal of the Lord ate him up. But Judas Iscariot is one who does not do away his sins by repentance. For Judas means, ‘boaster,’ or vain-glorious. And Iscariot, ‘the memory of death.’ But many are the proud and vain-glorious confessors in the Church, as Simon Magus, and Arius, and other heretics, whose deathlike memory is celebrated in the Church, that it may be avoided.

19. ------- And they went into an house.

20. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21. And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, “He is beside himself.”

22. And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils.”

Bede: the Lord leads the Apostles, when they were elected, into a house, as if admonishing them, that after [p. 64] having received the Apostleship, they should retire to look on their own consciences.

Wherefore it is said, “And they came into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not eat bread.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Ungrateful indeed were the multitudes of princes, whom their pride hinders from knowledge, but the grateful multitude of the people came to Jesus.

Bede: And blessed indeed the concourse of the crowd, flocking together, whose anxiety to obtain salvation was so great, that they left not the Author of salvation even an hour free to take food. But Him, whom a crowd of strangers loves to follow, His relations hold in little esteem.

For it goes on, “And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold upon Him.”

For since they could not take in the depth of wisdom, which they heard, they thought that He was speaking in a senseless way.

Wherefore it continues, “for they said, He is beside Himself.”

Theophylact: That is, He has a devil and is mad, and therefore they wished to lay hold upon Him, that they might shut Him up as one who had a devil. And even His friends wished to do this, that is, His relations, perchance His countrymen, or His brethren. But it was a silly insanity in them, to conceive that the Worker of such great miracles of Divine Wisdom had become mad.

Bede: Now there is a great difference between those who do not understand the word of God from slowness of intellect, such as those who are here spoken of, and those who purposely blaspheme, of whom it is added, “And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem, &c.” For what they could not deny they endeavour to pervert by a malicious interpretation, as if they were not the works of God, but of a most unclean spirit, that is, of Beelzebub, who was the God of Ekrom.

For ‘Beel’ means Baal himself, and ‘zebub’ a fly; the meaning of Beelzebub therefore is, the man of flies, on account of the filth of the blood which was offered, from which most unclean rite, they call him prince of the devils, adding, “and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils.”

Pseudo-Jerome: But mystically, the house to which they came, is the early Church. The crowds which prevent their eating bread are sins and vices; for he who eateth unworthily, “eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” [1 Cor 11:29]

Bede: The Scribes also coming down from Jerusalem blaspheme. But the multitude from Jerusalem, and from other regions of Judaea, or of the [p. 65] Gentiles, followed the Lord, because so it was to be at the time of His Passion, that a crowd of the people of the Jews should lead Him to Jerusalem with palms and praises, and the Gentiles should desire to see Him; but the Scribes and Pharisees should plot together for His death.

23. And He called them unto Him, and said unto them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?

24. And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

28. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:”

30. Because they said, “He hath an unclean spirit.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The blasphemy of the Scribes having been detailed, our Lord shews that what they said was impossible, confirming His proof by an example.

Wherefore it says, “And having called them together unto Him, He said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?” As if He had said, A kingdom divided against itself by civil war must be desolated, which is exemplified both in a house and in a city. Wherefore also if Satan’s kingdom by divided against itself, so that Satan expels Satan from men, the desolation of the kingdom of the devils is at hand.

But their kingdom consists in keeping men under their dominion. If therefore they are driven away from men, it amounts to nothing less [p. 66] than the dissolution of their kingdom. But if they still hold their power over men, it is manifest that the kingdom of evil is still standing, and Satan is not divided against himself.

Gloss.: And because He has already shewn by an example that a devil cannot cast out a devil, He shews how he can be expelled, saying, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, &c.”

Theophylact: The meaning of the example is this: The devil is the strong man; his goods are the men into whom he is received; unless therefore a man first conquers the devil, how can he deprive him of his goods, that is, of the men whom he has possessed?

So also I who spoil his goods, that is, free men from suffering by his possession, first spoil the devils and vanquish them, and am their enemy. How then can ye say that I have Beelzebub and that being the friend of the devils, I cast them out?

Bede, in Marc., 1, 17: The Lord has also bound the strong man, that is, the devil: which means, He has restrained him from seducing the elect, and entering into his house, the world; He has spoiled his house, and his goods, that is men, because He has snatched them from the snares of the devil, and has united them to His Church.

Or, He has spoiled his house, because the four parts of the world, over which the old enemy had sway, He has distributed to the Apostles and their successors, that they may convert the people to the way of life.

But the Lord shews that they committed a great sin in crying out that which they knew to be of God, was of the devil, when He subjoins, “Verily, I say unto you, All sins are forgiven, &c.” All sins and blasphemies are not indeed remitted to all men, but to those who have gone through a repentance in this life sufficient for their sins; thus neither is Novatus right [ed. note: Novatus was a Carthaginian presbyter, who, after having abetted Felicissimus in his schism against St. Cyprian, came to Rome and joined Novatian against Pope Cornelius, A.D. 251. His error, which is here opposed to Origen’s, consisted in denying that Christ had left with His Church the power of absolving from certain sins, especially from apostasy.], who denied that any pardon should be granted to penitents, who had lapsed in time of martyrdom; nor Origen, who asserts that after the general judgment, after the revolution of ages, all sinners will receive pardon for their sins, which error the following words of the Lord condemn, when He adds, “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, &c.” [p. 67]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He says indeed, that blasphemy concerning Himself was pardonable, because He then seemed to be a man despised and of the most lowly birth, but, that contumely against God has no remission. Now blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is against God, for the operation of the Holy Ghost is the kingdom of God; and for this reason, He says, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost cannot be remitted. Instead, however, of what is here added, “But will be in danger of eternal damnation,” another Evangelist says, “Neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” By which is understood, the judgment which is according to the law, and that which is to come.

For the law orders one who blasphemes God to be slain, and in the judgment of the second law he has no remission. However, he who is baptized is taken out of this world; but the Jews were ignorant of the remission which takes place in baptism. [ed. note: A few words are left out in the Catena, which occur in Victor, and which do away with the obscurity of the passage. The missing of the whole is, that though there is no remission either in this world or in the next, yet that baptism is, as it were, a space between the two worlds, where remission can be obtained. The reason, therefore, why this blasphemy could not be remitted, was, because the Jews would not come to Christ’s baptism.]

He therefore who refers to the devil miracles, and the casting out of devils which belong to the Holy Ghost alone, has no room left him for remission of his blasphemy. Neither does it appear that such a blasphemy as this is remitted, since it is against the Holy Ghost.

Wherefore he adds, explaining it, “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”

Theophylact: We must however understand, that they will not obtain pardon unless they repent. But since it was at the flesh of Christ that they were offended, even though they did not repent, some excuse was allowed them, and they obtained some remission.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or this is meant; that he will not deserve to work out repentance, so as to be accepted, who, understanding who Christ was, declared that He was the prince of the devils.

Bede: Neither however are those, who do not believe the Holy Spirit to be God, guilty of an unpardonable blasphemy, because they were persuaded to do this by human ignorance, not by devilish malice.

Augustine, Serm., 71, 12, 22: Or else impenitence itself is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost which hath no remission. For either in his thought [p. 68] or by his tongue, he speaks a word against the Holy Ghost, the forgiver of sins, who treasures up for himself an impenitent heart.

But he subjoins, “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit,” that he might shew that His reason for saying it, was their declaring that He cast out a devil by Beelzebub, not because there is a blasphemy, which cannot be remitted, since even this might be remitted through a right repentance; but the cause why this sentence was put forth by the Lord, after mentioning the unclean spirit, (who as our Lord shews was divided against himself,) was, that the Holy Ghost even makes those whom He brings together undivided, by His remitting those sins, which divided them from Himself, which gift of remission is resisted by no one, but him who has the hardness of an impenitent heart.

For in another place, the Jews said of the Lord, that He had a devil [John 7:20], without however His saying any thing there about the blasphemy against the Spirit; and the reason is, that they did not there cast in His teeth the unclean spirit, in such a way, that spirit could by their own words be shewn to be divided against Himself, as Beelzebub was here shewn to be, by their saying, that it might be he who cast out devils. [ed. note: St. Augustine explains his meaning by going on to say, that as the Devil was proved by the words of the Jews to be the author of division, so the Holy Ghost was the author of unity, so that one form of blasphemy of the Holy Ghost was rending the unity of the Church, without which there is no remission. St. Ambrose, something in the same way, applies the text to the Arians, as dividing the Holy Trinity, de Fide, i, 1.]

31. There came then His brethren, and His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.

32. And the multitude sat about Him, and they said unto Him, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for Thee.”

33. And He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brethren?”

34. And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, “Behold My mother and My brethren!”

35. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.

[p. 69]

Theophylact: Because the relations of the Lord had come to seize upon Him, as if beside Himself, His mother, urged by the sympathy of her love, came to Him.

Wherefore it is said, “And there came unto Him His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.”

Chrys.: From this it is manifest that His brethren and His mother were not always with Him; but because He was beloved by them, they come from reverence and affection, waiting without.

Wherefore it goes on, “And the multitude sat about Him, &c.”

Bede: The brother of the Lord must not be thought to be the sons of the ever-virgin Mary, as Helvidius says [ed. note: The perpetual virginity of the Mother of God is reckoned by White, Bramhall, Patrick and Pearson, amongst the traditions which have ever been held in the Catholic Church. For an account of the heretics who denied it, see Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art, 3, p. 272, note x., also Catena Aurea in Matt., p 58, note c], nor the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, as some think, but rather they must be understood to be His relations.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But another Evangelist says, that His brethren did not believe on Him. [John 7:5] With which this agrees, which says, that they sought Him, waiting without, and with this meaning the Lord does not mention them as relations.

Wherefore it follows, “And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother or My brethren?”

But He does not here mention His mother and His brethren altogether with reproof, but to shew that a man must honour his own soul above all earthly kindred; wherefore this is fitly said to those who called Him to speak with His mother and relations, as if it were a more useful task than the teaching of salvation.

Bede; see Ambr. in Luc. 6, 36: Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body.

Wherefore it goes on, “And looking round about on them which sat about Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren.”

Chrys.: By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those [p. 70] who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Him [ed. note: Nearly the same idea occurs in St. Ambrose, in Luc. 2, 8]; for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers.

Pseudo-Jerome: But let us be assured that we are His brethren and His sisters, if we do the will of the Father; that we may be joint-heirs with Him, for He discerns us not by sex but by our deeds.

Wherefore it goes on: “Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.”

Theophylact: He does not therefore say this, as denying His mother, but as shewing that He is worthy of honour, not only because she bore Christ, but on account of her possessing every other virtue.

Bede: By mystically, the mother and brother of Jesus means the synagogue, (from which according to the flesh He sprung,) and the Jewish people who, while the Saviour is teaching within, come to Him, and are not able to enter, because they cannot understand spiritual things.

But the crowd eagerly enter, because when the Jews delayed, the Gentiles flocked to Christ; but His kindred, who stand without wishing to see the Lord, are the Jews who obstinately remained without, guarding the letter, and would rather compel the Lord to go forth to them to teach carnal things, than consent to enter in to learn spiritual things of Him.

If therefore not even His parents when standing without are acknowledged, how shall we be acknowledged, if we stand without? [ed. note: see Ambr. in Luc., 6, 37] For the word is within and the light within.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4

 

[p. 71]

1. And Jesus began to teach again by the sea-side: and there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

2. And He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in His doctrine:

3: “Hearken: Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

4. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

5. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

6. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

7. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

8. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.”

9. And He said unto them, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

10. And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable.

11. And He said unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

12. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; [p. 72] lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

13. And He said unto them, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

14. The sower soweth the word.

15. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

16. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17. And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

18. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19. And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

20. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”

Theophylact: Although the Lord appears in the transactions mentioned above to neglect His mother, nevertheless He honours her; since on her account He goes forth about the borders of the sea.

Wherefore it is said, “And Jesus began to teach again by the sea-side, &c.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 18: For if we look into the Gospel of Matthew, it appears that this same teaching of the Lord at the sea, was delivered on the same day as the former. For after the conclusion of the first sermon, Matthew immediately subjoins, saying, “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side.”

Pseudo-Jerome: But He began to teach at the sea, that the [p. 73] place of His teaching might point out the bitter feelings and instability of His hearers.

Bede: After leaving the house also, He began to teach at the sea, because, quitting the synagogue, He came to gather together the multitude of the Gentile people by the Apostles.

Wherefore it continues: “And there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 44: Which we must understand was not done without a purpose, but that He might not leave any one behind Him, but have all His hearers before His face.

Bede: Now this ship shewed in a figure the Church, to be built in the midst of the nations, in which the Lord consecrates for Himself a beloved dwelling-place.

It goes on: “And He taught them many things by parables.”

Pseudo-Jerome: A parable is a comparison made between things discordant by nature, under some similitude. For parable is the Greek for a similitude, when we point out by some comparisons what we would have understood. In this way we say an iron man, when we desire that he should be understood to be hardy and strong; when to be swift, we compare him to winds and birds. But He speaks to the multitudes in parables, with His usual providence, that those who could not take in heavenly things, might conceive what they heard by an earthly similitude.

Chrys.: For He rouses the minds of His hearers by a parable, pointing out objects to the sight, to make His discourse more manifest.

Theophylact: And in order to rouse the attention of those who heard, the first parable that He proposes is concerning the seed, which is the word of God.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He said to them in His doctrine.”

Not in that of Moses, nor of the Prophets, because He preaches His own Gospel.

“Hearken: behold, there went out a sower to sow.”

Now the Sower is Christ.

Chrys.: Not that He went out in space, Who is present in all space, and fills all, but in the form and economy by which He is made more near to us through the clothing of flesh. For since we were not able to go to Him, because sins impeded our path, He went out to us. But He went out, preaching in order to sow the word of piety, which He spake abundantly. Now He does not needlessly repeat the same word, when He says, “A sower went out to sow,” for sometimes a sower goes out that he may break up [p. 74] land for tillage, or to pull up weeds, or for some other work. But this one went out to sow.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 19: Or else, He went out to sow, when after calling to His faith the elect portion of the synagogue, He poured out the gifts of His grace in order to call the Gentiles also.

Chrys.: Further, as a sower does not make a distinction in the ground which is beneath him, but simply and without distinction puts in the seed, so also He Himself addresses all. And to signify this, He says, “And as he sowed, some fell by the way-side.”

Theophylact: Take notice, that He says not that He threw it in the way, but that it fell, for a sower, as far as he can, throws it into good ground, but if the ground be bad, it corrupts the seed. Now the way is Christ; but infidels are by the way-side, that is, out of Christ.

Bede: Or else, the way is a mind which is a path for bad thoughts, preventing the seed of the word from growing in it. And therefore whatsoever good seed comes in contact with such a way, perishes, and is carried off by devils.

Wherefore there follows, “And the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.”

And well are the devils called fowls of the air, either because they are of a heavenly and spiritual origin, or because they dwell in the air.

Or else, those who are about the way are negligent and slothful men.

It goes on: “And some fell on stony ground.”

He calls stone, the hardness of a wanton mind; He calls ground, the inconstancy of a soul in its obedience; and sun, the heat of a raging persecution.

Therefore the depth of earth, which ought to have received the seed of God, is the honesty of a mind trained in heavenly discipline, and regularly brought up in obedience to the Divine words. But the stony places, which have no strength for fixing the root firmly, are those breasts which are delighted only with the sweetness of the word which they hear, and for a time with the heavenly promises, but in a season of temptation fall away, for there is too little of healthful desire in them to conceive the seed of life.

Theophylact: Or, the stony persons are those who adhering a little to the rock, that is, to Christ, up to a short time, receive the word, and afterwards, falling back, cast it away.

It goes on: “And some fell among thorns;” by which are marked souls which care for many things. For thorns are cares. [p. 75]

Chrys.: But further He mentions good ground, saying, “And other fell on good ground.” For the difference of the fruits follows the quality of the ground. But great is the love of the Sower for men, for the first He commends, and rejects not the second, and gives a place to the third.

Theophylact: See also how the bad are the greatest number, and the few are those who are saved, for the fourth part of the ground is found to be saved.

Chrys.: This, however, the greater portion of the seed is not lost through the fault of the owner, but of the earth, which received it, that is, of the soul, which hears. And indeed the real husbandman, if he sowed in this way, would be rightly blamed; for he is not ignorant that rock, or the road, or thorny ground, cannot become fertile. But in spiritual things it is not so; for there it is possible that stony ground may become fertile; and that the road should not be trodden down, and that the thorns may be destroyed, for if this could not take place, he would not have sown there. By this, therefore, He gives to us hope of repentance.

It goes on, “And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Bede: As often as this is inserted in the Gospel or in the Apocalypse of John, that which is spoken is mystical, and is pointed out as healthful to be heard and learnt. For the ears by which they are heard belong to the heart, and the ears by which men obey and do what is commanded are those of an interior sense.

There follows, “And when He was alone, the twelve that were with Him asked of Him the parable; and He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to them that are without all things are done in parables.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: As if He said unto them, You that are worthy to be taught all things which are fitted for teaching, shall learn the manifestation of parables; but I use parables with them who are unworthy to learn, because of their wickedness. For it was right that they who did not hold fast their obedience to that law which they had received, should not have any share in a new teaching, but should be estranged from both; for He shewed by the obedience of His disciples, that, on the other hand, the others were become unworthy of mystical doctrine. But afterwards, by bringing in a voice from prophecy, He confounds [p. 76] their wickedness, as having been long before reproved.

Wherefore it goes on, “that seeing they might see, and not perceive, &c.” [see Isa 6:9] as if He said that they prophecy might be fulfilled which foretells these things.

Theophylact: For it was God Who made them to see, that is, to understand what is good. But they themselves see not, of their own will making themselves not to see, lest they should be converted and correct themselves, as if they were displeased at their own salvation.

It goes on, “Lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Thus, therefore, they see and they do not see, they hear and do not understand, for their seeing and hearing comes to them from God’s grace, but their seeing and not understanding comes to them from their unwillingness to receive grace, and closing their eyes, and pretending that they could not see; neither do they acquiesce in what was said, and so are not changed as to their sins by hearing and seeing, but rather are made worse.

Theophylact: Or we may understand in a different way His speaking to the rest in parables, that seeing they might not perceive, and hearing, not understand. For God gives sight and understanding to men who seek for them, but the rest He blinds, lest it become a greater accusation against them, that though they understood, they did not choose to do what they ought.

Wherefore it goes on, “Lest at any times they should be, &c.”

Augustine, Quaest, 14, in Matt.: Or else they deserved this, their not understanding, and yet this in itself was done in mercy to them, that they might know their sins, and, being converted, merit pardon.

Bede: To those then who are without, all things are done in parables, that is, both the actions and the words of the Saviour, because neither in those miracles which He was working, nor in those mysteries which He preached, were they able to acknowledge Him as God. Therefore they are not able to attain to the remission of their sins.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But His speaking to them only in parables, and yet not leaving off speaking to them entirely, shews that to those who are placed near to what is good, though they may have no good in themselves, still good is shewn disguised.

But when a man approaches it with reverence and a right heart, he wins for himself an abundant revelation of mysteries; when on the contrary his thoughts are not sound, [p. 77] he will be neither made worthy of those things which are easy to many men, nor even of hearing them.

There follows, “And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable, how then shall ye know all parables?”

Pseudo-Jerome: For it was necessary that they to whom He spoke in parables should ask for what they did not understand, and learn by the Apostle whom they despised, the mystery of the kingdom which they themselves had not.

Gloss.: And for this reason, the Lord in saying these things, shews that they ought to understand both this first, and all following miracles.

Wherefore explaining it, He goes on, “The sower soweth the word.”

Chrys., in Matt., Hom. 44: And indeed the prophet has compared the teaching of the people to the planting of a vine; [Isa 5] in this place however it is compared to sowing, to shew that obedience is now shorter and more easy, and will sooner yield fruit.

Bede: But in this exposition of the Lord there is embraced the whole range of those who might hear the words of truth, but are unable to attain to salvation. For there are some to whom no faith, no intellect, nay no opportunity of trying its usefulness, can give a perception of the word which they hear; of whom He says, “And these are by the wayside.” For unclean spirits take away at once the word committed to their hearts, as birds carry away the seed of the trodden way. There are some who both experience its usefulness and feel a desire for it, but some of them the calamities of this world frighten, and others its prosperity allures, so that they do not attain to that which they approve. Of the first of whom He says, “And these are they who fell on stony ground;” of the latter, “And these are they which are sown among thorns.” But riches are called thorns, because they tear the soul with the piercing of its own thoughts, and after bringing it to sin, they, as one may say, make it bleed by inflicting a wound.

Again He says, “And the toil of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches;” for the man who is deceived by an empty desire of riches must soon be afflicted by the toils of continual cares.

He adds, “And the lusts of other things;” because, whosoever despises the commandments of God, and wanders away lustfully seeking other things, is unable to attain to the joy of beatitude. And concupiscences of this sort choke the word, because they do not allow a good desire to enter into the heart, and, as it were, stifle the [p. 78] entrance of vital breath.

There are, however, excepted from these different classes of men, the Gentiles who do not even have grace to hear the words of life.

Theophylact: Further, of those who receive the seed as they ought there are three degrees.

Wherefore it goes on, “And these are they who are sown on good ground.”

Those who bear fruit an hundred-fold are those who lead a perfect and an obedient life, as virgins and hermits. Those who bear fruit sixty-fold are those who are in the mean as continent persons [ed. note: The word translated continentes . . . means ascetics, who mix in the affairs of the world; whereas hermits lived quite out of them, and gave themselves up to contemplation; caenobites came between the two, living together in convents, and combined both the practical and contemplative life, see Greg. Naz. Or. 43, 62] and those who are living in convents.

Those who bear thirty-fold are those who though weak indeed, bear fruit according to their own virtue, as laymen and married persons.

Bede: Or he bears thirty-fold, who instills into the minds of the elect faith in the Holy Trinity; sixty-fold, who teaches the perfection of good works; a hundred-fold, who shews the rewards of the heavenly kingdom.

For in counting a hundred, we pass on to the right hand [ed. note: “He alludes to the mode of counting among the ancients. All numbers were signified by fingers of the left hand, either straight or variously bent, up to a hundred; and then they changed to the right. Consult Caelius Rhodiginus, Lectionum Antiq. lib. 23, cap. 11, 12.” Benedictine note on Greg. Hom. in Ezec. lib. 2, Hom., 5]; therefore that number is fitly made to signify everlasting happiness.

But the good ground is the conscience of the elect, which does the contrary to all the former three, which both receives with willingness the seed of the word committed to it, and keeps it when received up to the season of fruit.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else the fruits of the earth are contained in thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold, that is, in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel.

21. And He said unto them, “Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

22. For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

23. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” [p. 79]

24. And He saith unto them, “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

25. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”

Chrys.: After the question of the disciples concerning the parable, and its explanation, He well subjoins, “And He said unto them, Is a candle brought, &c.” As if He said, A parable is given, not that it should remain obscure, and hidden as if under a bed or a bushel, but that it should be manifested to those who are worthy. The candle within us is that of our intellectual nature, and it shines either clearly or obscurely according to the proportion of our illumination. For if meditations which feed the light, and the recollection with which such a light is kindled, are neglected, it is presently extinguished.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else the candle is the discourse concerning the three sorts of seed. The bushel or the bed is the hearing of the disobedient. The Apostles are the candlestick, whom the word of the Lord hath enlightened.

Wherefore it goes on, “For there is nothing hidden, &c.”

The hidden and secret thing is the parable of the seed, which comes forth to light, when it is spoken of by the Lord.

Theophylact: Or else the Lord warns His disciples to be as light, in their life and conversation; as if He said, As a candle is put so as to give light, so all will look to your life. Therefore be diligent to lead a good life; sit not in corners, but be ye a candle. For a candle gives light, not when placed under a bed, but on a candlestick; this light indeed must be placed on a candlestick, that is, on the eminence of a godly life, that it may be able to give light to others. Not under a bushel, that is, in things pertaining to the palate, nor under a bed, that is, in idleness. For no one who seeks after the delights of his palate and loves rest can be a light shining over all.

Bede, in Marc., 1, 20: Or, because the time of our life is contained under a certain measurement of Divine Providence, it is rightly compared to a bushel. But the bed of the soul is the body, in which it dwells and reposes for a time. He therefore who [p. 80] hides the word of God under the love of this transitory life, and of carnal allurements, covers his candle with a bushel or a bed.

But he puts his light on a candlestick who employs his body in the ministry of the word of God; therefore under these words He typically teaches them a figure of preaching.

Wherefore it goes on, “For there is nothing hidden, which shall not be revealed, nor is there any thing made secret, which shall not come abroad.”

As if He said, Be not ashamed of the Gospel, but amidst the darkness of persecution raise the light of the word of God upon the candlestick of your body, keeping fixedly in your mind that day, when the Lord will throw light upon the hidden places of darkness, for then everlasting praise awaits you, and everlasting punishment your adversaries.

Chrys., in Matt., Hom. 15: Or else, “There is nothing hid;” as if He said, If ye conduct your life with care, accusation will not be able to obscure your light.

Theophylact: For each of us, whether he have done good or evil, is brought to light in this life, much more in that which is to come. For what can be more hidden than God, nevertheless He Himself is manifested in the flesh.

It continues, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

Bede: That is, if any man have a sense for understanding the word of God, let him not withdraw himself, let him not turn his ear to fables, but let him lend his ear to search those things which truth hath spoken, his hands for fulfilling them, his tongue for preaching them.

There follows, “And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear.”

Theophylact: That is, that none of those things which are said to you by me should escape you.

“With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you,” that is, whatsoever degree of application ye bring, in that degree ye will receive profit.

Bede: Or else, If ye diligently endeavor to do all the good which ye can, and to teach it to your neighbours, the mercy of God will come in, to give you both in the present life a sense to take in higher things, and a will to do better things, and will add for the future an everlasting reward. And therefore it is subjoined, “And to you shall more be given.”

Pseudo-Jerome: According to the measure of his faith the understanding of mysteries is divided to every man, and the virtues of knowledge will also be added to them.

It goes on: [p. 81] “For he that hath, to him shall be given;” that is, he who hath faith shall have virtue, and he who hath obedience to the word, shall also have the understanding of the mystery. Again, he who, on the other hand, has not faith, fails in virtue; and he who has not obedience to the word, shall not have the understanding of it; and if he does not understand, he might as well not have heard.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, He who has the desire and wish to hear and to seek, to him shall be given. But he who has not the desire of hearing divine things, even what he happens to have of the written law is taken from him.

Bede: For sometimes a clever reader by neglecting his mind, deprives himself of wisdom, of which he tastes the sweetness, who, though slow in intellect, works more diligently.

Chrys.: Again it may be said, that he “hath not,” who has not truth. But our Lord says that “he hath,” because he has a lie, for every one whose understanding believes a lie, thinks that he has something.

26. And He said, “So is the kingdom of god, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

27. And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

28. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

29. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: A parable occurred, a little above, about the three seeds which perished in various ways, and the one which was saved; in which last He also shews three differences, according to the proportion of faith and practice.

Here, however, He puts forth a parable concerning those only who are saved.

Wherefore it is said, “And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, &c.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The kingdom of God is the Church, which is ruled by God, and herself rules over men, and treads down [p. 82] the powers which are contrary to her, and all wickedness.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else He calls by the name of kingdom of God, faith in Him, and in the economy of His Incarnation; which kingdom indeed is as if a man should throw seed. For He Himself being God and the Son of God, having without change been made man, has cast seed upon the earth, that is, He has enlightened the whole world by the word of divine knowledge.

Pseudo-Jerome: For the seed is the word of life, the ground is the human heart, and the sleep of the man means the death of the Saviour. The seed springs up night and day, because after the sleep of Christ, the number of Christians, through calamity and prosperity, continued to flourish more and more in faith, and to wax greater in deed.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or Christ Himself is the man who rises, for He sat waiting with patience, that they who received seed should bear fruit. He rises, that is, by the word of His love, He makes us grow to the bringing forth fruit, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, [2 Cor 6:7] by which is meant the day, and on the left, by which is meant the night of persecution; for by these the seed springs up, and does not wither.

Theophylact: Or else Christ sleeps, that is, ascends into heaven, where, though He seem to sleep, yet He rises by night, when through temptations He raises us up to the knowledge of Himself; and in the day time, when on account of our prayers, He sets in order our salvation.

Pseudo-Jerome: But when He says, “He knoweth not how,” He is speaking in a figure; that is, He does not make known to us, who amongst us will produce fruit unto the end.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else He says, “He knoweth not,” that He may shew the free-will of those who receive the word, for He commits a work to our will, and does not work the whole Himself alone, lest the good should seem involuntary. For the earth brings forth fruits of its own accord, that is, she is brought to bear fruit without being compelled by a necessity contrary to her will. “First the blade.”

Pseudo-Jerome: That is, fear. For “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Then the full corn in the ear;” [Ps 111:10] that is, charity, for charity is the fulfilling of the Law. [see Rom 13:8]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Cat. e Cat. in Marc.: Or, first it produces the blade, in the law of nature, by degrees growing up to advancement; afterwards it brings forth the ears, which are to be collected into a bundle, and to be offered on an altar to the Lord, that is, in the law [p. 83] of Moses; afterwards the full-fruit, in the Gospel.

Or because we must not only put forth leaves by obedience, but also learn prudence, and, like the stalk of corn, remain upright without minding the winds which blow us about. We must also take heed to our soul by a diligent recollection, that, like the ears, we may bear fruit, that is, shew forth the perfect operation of virtue.

Theophylact: for we put forth the blade when we shew a principle of good; then the ear, when we can resist temptations; then comes the fruit, when a man works something perfect.

It goes on: “and when it has brought forth the fruit, immediately he sendeth the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The sickle is death or the judgment, which cuts down all things; the harvest is the end of the world.

Gregory, in Ezech, 2, Hom. 3: Or else, Man casts seed into the ground, when he places a good intention in his heart; and he sleeps, when he already rests in the hope which attends on a good work. But he rises night and day, because he advances amidst prosperity and adversity, though he knows it not, for he is as yet unable to measure his increase, and yet virtue, once conceived, goes on increasing.

When therefore we conceive good desires, we put seed into the ground; when we begin to work rightly, we are the blade. When we increase to the perfection of good works, we arrive at the ear; when we are firmly fixed in the perfection of the same working, we already put forth the full corn in the ear.

30. And He said, “Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

31. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

32. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”

33. And with many such parable spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. [p. 84]

34. But without a parable spake He not unto them: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples.

Gloss.: After having narrated the parable concerning the coming forth of the fruit from the seed of the Gospel, he here subjoins another parable, to shew the excellence of the doctrine of the Gospel before all other doctrines.

Wherefore it is said, “And He said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?”

Theophylact: Most brief indeed is the word of faith; Believe in God, and thou shalt be saved. But the preaching of it has been spread far and wide over the earth, and increased so, that the birds of heaven, that is, contemplative men, sublime in understanding and knowledge, dwell under it. For how many wise men among the Gentiles, quitting their wisdom, have found rest in the preaching of the Gospel! Its preaching then is greater than all.

Chrys.: And also because the wisdom spoken amongst the perfect expands, to an extent greater than all other sayings, that which was told to men in short discourses, for there is nothing greater than this truth.

Theophylact: Again, it put forth great boughs, for the Apostles were divided off as the boughs of a tree, some to Rome, some to India, some to other parts of the world.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, that seed is very small in fear, but great when it has grown into charity, which is greater than all herbs: for “God is love,” [1 John 4:16] whilst “all flesh is grass.” [Isa 40:6] But the boughs which it puts forth are those of mercy and compassion, since under its shade the poor of Christ, who are meant by the living creatures of the heavens, delight to dwell.

Bede: Again, the man who sows is by many taken to mean the Saviour Himself, by others, man himself sowing in his own heart.

Chrys.: Then after this, Mark, who delights in brevity, to shew the nature of the parables, subjoins, “And with many such parables spake He the word unto them as they could hear Him.”

Theophylact: For since the multitude was unlearned, He instructs them from objects of food and familiar names, and for this reason he adds, “But without a parable spake He not unto them,” that is, in order that they might be induced to approach and to ask Him.

It goes on, [p. 85] “And when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples,” that is, all things about which they were ignorant and asked Him, not simply all, whether obscure or not.

Pseudo-Jerome: For they were worthy to hear mysteries apart, in the most secret haunt of wisdom, for they were men, who, removed from the crowds of evil thoughts, remained in the solitude of virtue; and wisdom is received in a time of quiet.

35. And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, “Let us pass over unto the other side.”

36. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships.

37. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

39. And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40. And He said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”

41. And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Pseudo-Jerome: After His teaching, they come from that place to the sea, and are tossed by the waves.

Wherefore it is said, “And the same day, when the even was come, &c.”

Remig.: For the Lord is said to have had three places of refuge, namely, the ship, the mountain, and the desert. As often as He was pressed upon by the multitude, He used to fly to one of these. When therefore the Lord saw many crowds about Him, as man, He wished to avoid their importunity, and ordered His disciples to go over to the other side.

There follows: “And sending away the multitudes, they took Him, &c.” [p. 86]

Chrys., Hom. in Matt. 28: The Lord took the disciples indeed, that they might be spectators of the miracle which was coming, but He took them alone, that no others might see that they were of such little faith.

Wherefore, to shew that others went across separately, it is said, “And there were also with Him other ships.”

Lest again the disciples might be proud of being alone taken, He permits them to be in danger; and besides this, in order that they might learn to bear temptations manfully.

Wherefore it goes on, “And there arose a great storm of wind;” and that He might impress upon them a greater sense of the miracle which was to be done, He gives time for their fear, by sleeping.

Wherefore there follows, “And He was Himself in the hinder part of the ship, &c.”

For if He had been awake, they would either not have feared, not have asked Him to save them when the storm arose, or they would not have thought that He could do any such things.

Theophylact: Therefore He allowed them to fall into the fear of danger, that they might experience His power in themselves, who saw others benefitted by Him. But He was sleeping upon the pillow of the ship, that is, on a wooden one.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt. 28: Shewing His humility, and thus teaching us many lessons of wisdom. But not yet did the disciples who remained about Him know His glory; they thought indeed that if He arose He could command the winds, but could by no means do so reposing or asleep.

And therefore there follows, “And they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

Theophylact: But He arising, rebukes first the wind, which was raising the tempest of the sea, and causing the waves to swell, and this is expressed in what follows, “And He arose, and rebuked the wind;” then He commands the sea.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He said to the sea, Peace, be still.”

Gloss.: For from the troubling of the sea there arises a certain sound, which appears to be its voice threatening danger, and therefore, by a sort of metaphor, He fitly commands tranquility by a word signifying silence: just as in the restraining of the winds, which trouble the sea with their violence, He uses a rebuke.

For men who are in power are accustomed to curb those, who rudely disturb the peace of mankind, by threatening to punish them; by this, therefore, we are given to understand, that, as a king can repress violent [p. 87] men by threats, and by his edicts sooth the murmurs of his people, so Christ, the King of all creatures, by His threats restrained the violence of the winds, and compelled the sea to be silent.

And immediately the effect followed, for it continues, “And the wind ceased,” when He had threatened, “and there arose a great calm,” that is, in the sea, to which He had commanded silence.

Theophylact: He rebuked His disciples for not having faith; for it goes on, “And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?” How is it that ye have not faith? For if they had faith, they would have believed that even when sleeping, He could preserve them safe.

There follows, “And they feared with a great fear, and said one to another, &c.”

For they were in doubt about Him, for since He stilled the sea, not with a rod like Moses, nor with prayers as Elisha at the Jordan, nor with the ark as Joshua, the son of Nun, on this account they thought Him truly God, but since He was asleep, they thought Him a man.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, the hinder part of the ship is the beginning of the Church, in which the Lord sleeps in the body only, for He never sleepeth who keepeth Israel; for the ship with its skins of dead animals keeps in the living, and keeps out the waves, and is bound together by wood, that is, by the cross and the death of the Lord the Church is saved.

The pillow is the body of the Lord, on which His Divinity, which is as His head, has come down.

But the wind and the sea are devils and persecutors, to whom He says Peace, when He restrains the edicts of impious kings, as He will.

The great calm is the peace of the Church after oppression, or a contemplative after an active life.

Bede: Or else the ship into which He embarked, is taken to mean the tree of His passion, by which the faithful attain to the security of the safe shore. The other ships which are said to have been with the Lord signify those who are imbued with faith in the cross of Christ, and are not beaten about by the whirlwind of tribulation; or who, after the storms of temptation, are enjoying the serenity of peace.

And whilst His disciples are sailing on, Christ is asleep, because the time of our Lord’s Passion came on His faithful ones when they were meditating on the rest of His future reign.

Wherefore it is related, that it took place late, that not only the sleep of our Lord, but the hour itself of departing [p. 88] light might signify the setting of the true Sun.

Again, when He ascended the cross, of which the stern of the ship was a type, His blaspheming persecutors rose like the waves against Him, driven on by the storms of the devils, by which, however, His own patience is not disturbed, but His foolish disciples are stuck with amazement. The disciples awake the Lord, because they sought, with most earnest wishes, the resurrection of Him whom they had seen die. Rising up, He threatened the wind, because when He had triumphed in His resurrection, He prostrated the pride of the devil.

He ordered the sea to be still, that is, in rising again, He cast down the rage of the Jews. The disciples are blamed, because after His resurrection, He chided them for their unbelief. And we also when being marked with the sign of the Lord’s cross, we determine to quit the world, embark in the ship with Christ; we attempt to cross the sea; but, He goes to sleep, as we are sailing amidst the roaring of the waters, when amidst the strivings of our virtues, or amidst the attacks of evil spirits, of wicked men, or of our own thoughts, the flame of our love grows cold.

Amongst storms of this sort, let us diligently strive to awake Him; He will soon restrain the tempest, pour down peace upon us, give us the harbour of salvation.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5

 

[p. 89]

1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

2. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him.

7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.”

8. For He said unto him, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”

9. And He asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”

10. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country. [p. 90]

11. Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.

12. And all the devils besought Him, saying, “Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”

13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

17. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts.

18. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him.

19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”

20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Theophylact: Those who were in the ship enquired among themselves, “What manner of man is this?” and now it is made known Who He is by the testimony of His enemies. For the demoniac came up confessing that He was the Son of God. [p. 91] Proceeding to which circumstance the Evangelist says, “And they came over unto the other side, &c.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 21: Geraza is a noted town of Arabia, across the Jordan, near mount Galaad, which the tribe of Manasseh held, not far from the lake of Tiberias, into which the swine were precipitated.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Nevertheless the exact reading contains neither Gadarenes, nor Gerasines, but Gergesenes. For Gadara is a city of Judaea, which has no sea at all about it; and Geraza is a city of Arabia, having neither lake nor sea near it. And that the Evangelists may not be thought to have spoken so manifest a falsehood, well acquainted as they were with the parts around Judaea, Gergese, from which come the Gergesenes, was an ancient city, now called Tiberias, around which is situated a considerable lake. [ed. note: Reland seems to feel the same difficulty about Gadara as the author of this comment; but he reconciles it by saying that the whole region might have been so called from the town of Gadara in Peroea, though the town itself was not on the lake. Reland, Palace., v2, p774, also Lightfoot, Horae Hebr. in locum.]

It continues, “And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him, &c.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 24: Though Matthew says that there were two, Mark and Luke mention one, that you may understand that one of them was a more illustrious person, concerning whose state that country was much afflicted.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matthew, 28: Or else, Mark and Luke relate what was most worthy of compassion, and for this reason they put down more at length what had happened to this man; for there follows, “no man could bind him, no, not with chains.”

They therefore simply said, a “man possessed of a devil,” without taking heed to the number; or else, that he might shew the greater virtue in the Worker; for He who had cured one such, might cure many others. Nor is there any discrepancy shewn here, for they did not say that there was one alone, for then they would have contradicted Matthew.

Now devils dwelt in tombs, wishing to convey a false opinion to many, that the souls of the dead were changed to devils.

Greg. Nyss.: Now the assembly of the devils had prepared itself to resist the Divine power. But when He was approaching Who had power over all things, they proclaim aloud His eminent virtue.

Wherefore there follows, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, saying, &c.”

Cyril: See how the devil is divided between to passions, fear and audacity; he hangs back and prays, as [p. 92] if meditating a question; he wishes to know what he had to do with Jesus, as though he would say, “Do you cast me out from men, who are mine?”

Bede: And how great is the impiety of the Jews, to say that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils, when the very devils confess that they have nothing in common with Him.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., and Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 28: Then praying to Him, he subjoins, “I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.” For he considered being cast out to be a torment, or else he was also invisibly tortured. For however bad the devils are, they know that there awaits them at last a punishment for their sins; but that the time of their last punishment was not yet come, they full well knew, especially as they were permitted to mix among men. But because Christ had come upon them as they were doing such dreadful deeds, they thought that such was the heinousness of their crimes, He would not wait for the last times, to punish them; for this reason they beg that they may not be tormented.

Bede: For it is a great torment for a devil to cease to hurt a man, and the more severely he possesses him, the more reluctantly he lets him go.

For it goes on, “For He said unto Him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”

Cyril: Consider the unconquerable power of Christ; He makes Satan shake, for to him the words of Christ are fire and flame: as the Psalmist says, “The mountains melted at the presence of the Lord, [Ps 97:5] that is, great and proud powers.

There follows, “And He asked him, What is thy name?”

Theophylact: The Lord indeed asks, not that He Himself required to know, but that the rest might know that there was a multitude of devils dwelling in him.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Lest he should not be believed, if He affirmed there were many, He wishes that they themselves should confess it; wherefore there follows, “And he saith unto Him, Legion, for we are many.” He gives not a fixed number, but a multitude, for such accuracy in the number would not help us to understand it.

Bede: But by the public declaration of the scourge which the madman suffered the virtue of the Healer appears more gracious. And even the priests of our time, who know how to cast out devils by the grace of exorcism, are wont to say that the sufferers cannot be cured at all, unless they in confession openly declare, as far as they are able to know, what they have suffered from the unclean spirits in sight, in hearing, in taste, in touch, or [p. 93] any other sense of body or soul, whether awake or asleep.

It goes on, “And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Luke, however, says, “into the abyss.” [Luke 8:3] For the abyss is the separation of this world, for devils deserve to be sent into outer darkness, prepared for the devil and his angels. This Christ might have done, but He allowed them to remain in this world, lest the absence of a tempter should deprive men of the crown of victory.

Theophylact: Also that by fighting with us, they may make us more expert.

It goes on, “Now there was there about the mountain a great herd of swine feeding.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 24: What Mark here says, that the herd was about the mountain, and what Luke calls on the mountain, are by no means inconsistent. For the herd of swine was so large, that some part were on the mountain, the rest around it.

It goes on: “And the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”

Remig., see Aurea Catena in Matt., p.327: The devils entered not into the swine of their own will, but their asking for this concession was that is might be shewn that they cannot hurt men without Divine permission. They did not ask to be sent into men, because they saw that He, by whose power they were tortured, bore a human form. Nor did they desire to be sent into the flocks, for they are clean animals offered up in the temple of God. But they desired to be sent into the swine, because no animal is more unclean than a hog, and devils always delight in filthiness.

It goes on: “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.”

Bede: And He gave them leave, that by the killing of the swine, the salvation of men might be furthered.

Pseudo-Chyrs., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He wished to shew publicly the fury which devils entertain against men, and that they would inflict much worse things upon men, if they were not hindered by Divine power; because, again, His compassion would not allow this to be shewn on men, He permitted them to enter into the swine, that on them the fury and power of the devils might be made known.

There follows: “And the unclean spirits went out.”

Titus: But the herdsmen also took to flight, lest they should perish with the swine, and spread the same fear amongst the inhabitants of the town.

Wherefore there follows: “And they that fed them, &c.”

The necessity of their loss, however, brought these men to the Saviour; for [p. 94] frequently when God makes men suffer loss in their possessions, He confers a benefit on their souls.

Wherefore it goes on: “And they came to Jesus, and see him that was tormented by the devil, &c.” that is, at the feet of Him from whom he had obtained health; a man, whom before, not even chains could bind, clothed and in his right mind, though he used to be continually naked; and they were amazed.

Wherefore it says, “And they were afraid.”

This miracle then they find out partly by sight, partly by words.

Wherefore there follows: “And they that saw it told them.”

Theophylact: But amazed at the miracle, which they had heard, they were afraid, and for this reason they beseech Him to depart out of their borders; which is expressed in what follows: “And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts;” for they feared lest some time or other they should suffer a like thing: for, saddened at the loss of their swine, they reject the presence of the Saviour.

Bede: Or else, conscious of their own frailty, they judged themselves unworthy of the presence of the Lord.

It goes on: “And when He was going to the ship, he that had been tormented, &c.”

Theophylact: For he feared lest some time or other the devils should find him, and enter into him a second time. But the Lord sends him back to his house, intimating to him, that though He Himself was not present, yet His power would keep him; at the same time also that he might be of use in the healing of others.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He did not suffer him, and saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, &c.”

See the humility of the Saviour. He said not, ‘Proclaim all things which I have done to you,’ but, all that the Lord hath done; do thou also, when thou hast done any good thing, take it not to thyself, but refer it to God.

Chrys.: But although He bade others, whom He healed, to tell it to no one, He nevertheless fitly bids this one proclaim it, since all that region, being possessed by devils, remained without God.

Theophylact: He therefore began to proclaim it, and all wonder, which, is that which follows: “And he began to publish.”

Bede: Mystically, however, Gerasa or Gergese, as some read it, is interpreted casting out a dweller or a stranger approaching, because the people of the Gentiles both expelled the enemy from the heart, and he who was afar off is made near.

Pseudo-Jerome: Here again the demoniac is the people of the Gentiles, in a most hopeless case, bound neither by the [p. 95] law of nature, nor of God, nor by human fear.

Bede: Who dwelt in the tombs, because they delighted in dead works, that is, in sins; who were ever raging night and day, because whether in prosperity or in adversity, they were never free from the service of malignant spirits: again, by the foulness of their works, they lay as it were in the tombs, in their lofty pride, they wandered over the mountains, by words of most hardened infidelity, they as it were cut themselves with stones.

But he said, “My name is Legion,” because the Gentile people were enslaved to divers idolatrous forms of worship. Again, that the unclean spirits going out from man enter into swine, which they cast headlong into the sea, implies that now that the people of the Gentiles are freed from the empire of demons, they who have not chosen to believe in Christ, work sacrilegious rites in hidden places.

Theophylact: Or by this it is signified that devils enter into those men who live like swine, rolling themselves in the slough of pleasure; they drive them headlong into the sea down the precipice of perdition, into the sea of an evil life where they are choked.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or they are choked in hell without any touch of mercy by the rushing on of an early death; which evils many persons thus avoid, for by the scourging of the fool, the wise is made more prudent.

Bede: But that the Lord did not admit him, though he wished to be with Him, signifies, that every one after the remission of his sins should remember that he must work to obtain a good conscience, and serve the Gospel for the salvation of others, that at last he may rest in Christ.

Greg., Mor., 37: For when we have perceived ever so little of the Divine knowledge, we are at once unwilling to return to human affairs, and seek for the quiet of contemplation; but the Lord commands that the mind should first toil hard at its work, and afterwards should refresh itself with contemplation.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the man who is healed preached in Decapolis, where the Jews, who hang on the letter of the Decalogue, are being turned away from the Roman rule.

21. And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh unto the sea. [p. 96]

22. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet,

23. And besought Him greatly, saying, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

24. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed Him, and thronged Him.

25. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

26. And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

27. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment.

28. For she said, “If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole.”

29. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

30. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31. And His disciples said unto Him, “Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and saying Thou, ‘Who touched Me?’ “

32. And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

33. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth.

34. And He said unto her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

[p. 97]

Theophylact: After the miracle of the demoniac, the Lord works another miracle, namely, in raising up the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue; the Evangelist, before narrating this miracle, says, “And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 28: But we must understand, that what is added of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, took place when Jesus had again crossed the sea in a ship, though how long after does not appear; for if there were not an interval, there could be no time for the taking place of that which Matthew relates, concerning the feast at his own house; after which event, nothing follows immediately, except this concerning the daughter of the chief of the synagogue. For he has so put it together, that the transition itself shews that the narrative follows the order of time.

It goes on, “There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, &c.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He has recorded the name on account of the Jews of that time, that it might mark the miracle.

It goes on, “And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, &c.”

Matthew indeed relates that the chief of the synagogue reported that his daughter was dead, but Mark says that she was very sick, and that afterwards it was told to the ruler of the synagogue, when our Lord was about to go with him, that she was dead. The fact then, which Matthew implies, is the same, namely, that He raised her from the dead; and it is for the sake of brevity, that he says that she was dead, which was evident from her being raised.

Augustine: For he attaches himself not to the words of the father, but to what is of most importance, his wishes; for he was in such despair, that his wish was that she should return to life, not thinking that she could be found alive, whom he had left dying.

Theophylact: Now this man was faithful in part, inasmuch as he fell at the feet of Jesus, but in that he begged of Him to come, he did not shew as much faith as he ought. For he ought to have said, ‘Speak the word only, and my daughter shall be healed.’

There follows, “And He went away with him, and much people followed Him, and thronged Him; and a woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, &c.”

Chrys., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: This woman, who was celebrated and known to all, did not dare to approach the Saviour openly, nor to [p. 98] come to Him, because, according to the law, she was unclean; for this reason she touched Him behind, and not in front, for that she durst not do, but only ventured to touch the hem of His garment. It was not however the hem of the garment, but her frame of mind that made her whole.

There follows, “For she said, “If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole.”

Theophylact: Most faithful indeed is this woman, who hoped for healing from His garments. For which reason she obtains health.

Wherefore it goes on, “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now the virtues of Christ are by His own will imparted to those men, who touch Him by faith.

Wherefore there follows, “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched My clothes?” The virtues indeed of the Saviour do not go out of Him locally or corporally, nor in any respect pass away from Him. For being incorporeal, they go forth to others and are given to others; they are not however separated from Him, from whom they are said to go forth, in the same way as sciences are given by the teacher to his pupils.

Therefore it says, “Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue which had gone out of Him,” to shew that with His knowledge, and not without His being aware of it, the woman was healed. But He asked, “Who touched me?” although He knew her who touched Him, that He might bring to light the woman, by her coming forward, and proclaim her faith, and lest the virtue of His miraculous work should be consigned to oblivion.

It goes on, “And His disciples said unto Him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched Me?”

But the Lord asked, “Who touched Me,” that is in thought and faith, for the crowds who throng Me cannot be said to touch Me, for they do not come near to Me in thought and in faith.

There follows, “And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.”

Theophylact: For the Lord wished to declare the woman, first to give His approbation to her faith, secondly to urge the chief of the synagogue to a confident hope that He could thus cure his child, and also to free the woman from fear. For the woman feared because she had stolen health.

Wherefore there follows, “But the woman fearing [p. 99] and trembling, &c.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 22: Observe that the object of His question was that the woman should confess the truth of her long want of faith, of her sudden belief and healing, and so herself be confirmed in faith, and afford an example to others.

“But He said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

He said not, Thy faith is about to make thee whole, but has made thee whole, that is, in that thou hast believed, thou hast already been made whole.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: He calls her “daughter” because she was saved by her faith; for faith in Christ makes us His children.

Theophylact: But He saith to her, “Go in peace,” that is, in rest, which means, go and have rest, for up to this time thou hast been in pains and torture.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else He says, “Go in peace,” sending her away into that which is the final good, for God dwells in peace, that thou mayest know, that she was not only healed in body, but also from the causes of bodily pain, that is, from her sins.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, Jairus comes after the healing of the woman, because when the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, then shall Israel be saved. [Romans 11] Jairus means either illuminating, or illuminated, that is, the Jewish people, having cast off the shadow of the letter, enlightened by the Spirit, and enlightening others, falling at the feet of the Word, that is, humbling itself before the Incarnation of Christ, prays for her daughter, for when a man lives himself, he makes others live also. Thus Abraham, and Moses, and Samuel, intercede for the people who are dead, and Jesus comes upon their prayers.

Bede: Again, the Lord going to the child, who is to be healed, is thronged by the crowd, because though He gave healthful advice to the Jewish nation, He is oppressed by the wicked habits of that carnal people; but the woman with an issue of blood, cured by the Lord, is the Church gathered together from the nations, for the issue of blood may be either understood of the pollution of idolatry, or of those deeds, which are accompanied by pleasure to flesh and blood. But whilst the word of the Lord decreed salvation to Judaea, the people of the Gentiles by an assured hope seized upon the health, promised and prepared for others.

Theophylact: Or else, by the woman, who had a bloody flux, understand human nature; for sin rushed in upon it, which [p. 100] since it killed the soul, might be said to spill its blood. It could not be cured by many physicians, that is, by the wise men of this world, and of the Law and the Prophets; but the moment that it touched the hem of Christ’s garment, that is, His flesh, it was healed, for whosoever believes the Son of man to be Incarnate is he who touches the hem of His garment.

Bede: Wherefore one believing woman touches the Lord, whilst the crowd throngs Him, because He, who is grieved by divers heresies, or by wicked habits, is worshipped faithfully with the heart of the Catholic Church alone. But the Church of the Gentiles came behind Him; because though it did not see the Lord present in the flesh, for the mysteries of His Incarnation had been gone through, yet it attained to the grace of His faith, and so when by partaking of His sacraments, it merited salvation from its sins, as it were the fountain of its blood was dried up by the touch of His garments. And the Lord looked round about to see her who had done this, because He judges that all who deserve to be saved are worthy of His look and of His pity.

35. While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?”

36. As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

37. And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

38. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

39. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, “Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.”

40. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. [p. 101]

41. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, “Talitha cumi;” which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

42. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

43. And He charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Theophylact: Those who were about the ruler of the synagogue, thought that Christ was one of the prophets, and for this reason they thought that they should beg of Him to come and pray over the damsel. But because she had already expired, they thought that He ought not to be asked to do so.

Therefore it is said, “While He yet spake, there came messengers to the ruler of the synagogue, which said, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?”

But the Lord Himself persuades the father to have confidence.

For it goes on, “As soon as Jesus heard the word which was spoken, He saith to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid; only believe.”

Augustine: It is not said that he assented to his friends who brought the tidings and wished to prevent the Master from coming, so that our Lord’s saying, “Fear not, only believe,” is not a rebuke for his want of faith, but was intended to strengthen the belief which he had already. But if the Evangelist had related, that the ruler of the synagogue joined the friends who came from his house, in saying that Jesus should not be troubled, the words which Matthew relates him to have said, namely, that the damsel was dead, would then have been contrary to what was in his mind.

It goes on, “And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.”

Theophylact: For Christ in His lowliness would not do any thing for display.

It goes on, “And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He Himself commands them not to wail, as if the damsel was not dead, [p. 102] but sleeping.

Wherefore it says, “And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.”

Pseudo-Jerome: It was told the ruler of the synagogue, Thy daughter is dead. But Jesus said to him, She is not dead, but sleepeth. Bother are true, for the meaning is, She is dead to you, but to Me she is asleep.

Bede: For to men she was dead, who were unable to raise her up; but to God she was asleep, in whose purpose both the soul was living, and the flesh was resting, to rise again. Whence it became a custom amongst Christians, that the dead, who, they doubt not, will rise again, should be said to sleep.

It goes on, “And they laughed Him to scorn.”

Theophylact: But they laugh at Him, as if unable to do any thing farther; and in this He convicts them of bearing witness involuntarily, that she was really dead whom He raised up, and therefore, that it would be a miracle if He raised her.

Bede: Because they chose rather to laugh at than to believe in this saying concerning her resurrection, they are deservedly excluded from the place, as unworthy to witness His power in raising her, and the mystery of her rising.

Wherefore it goes on, “But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.”

Chrys.: Or else, to take away all display, He suffered not all to be with Him; that, however, He might leave behind Him witnesses of His divine power, He chose His three chief disciples and the father and mother of the damsel, as being necessary above all. And He restores life to the damsel both by His hand, and by word of mouth.

Wherefore it says, “And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise.”

For the hand of Jesus, having a quickening power, quickens the dead body, and His voice raises her as she is lying.

Wherefore it follows, “And straightway the damsel arose and walked.”

Jerome, Hier. ad Pam., Ep. 57: Some one may accuse the Evangelist of a falsehood in his explanation, in that he had added, “I say unto thee,” when in Hebrew, “Talitha cumi” only means, “Damsel, arise;” but He adds, “I say unto thee, Arise,” to express that His meaning was to call and command her.

It goes on, “For she was of the age of twelve years.”

Gloss.: The Evangelist added this, [p. 103] to shew that she was of an age to walk. By her walking, she is shewn to have been not only raised up, but also perfectly cured.

It continues, “And they were astonished with a great astonishment.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 81: To shew that He had raised her really, and not only to the eye of fancy.

Bede: Mystically; the woman was cured of a bloody flux, and immediately after the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue is reported to be dead, because as soon as the Church of the Gentiles is washed from the stain of vice, and called daughter by the merits of her faith, at once the synagogue is broken up on account of its zealous treachery and envy; treachery, because it did not choose to believe in Christ; envy, because it was vexed at the faith of the Church.

What the messengers told the ruler of the synagogue, “Why troublest thou the Master any more,” is said by those in this day who, seeing the state of the synagogue, deserted by God, believe that it cannot be restored, and therefore think that we are not to pray that it should be restored. But if the ruler of the synagogue, that is, the assembly of the teachers of the Law, determine to believe, the synagogue also, which is subjected to them, will be saved.

Further, because the synagogue lost the joy of having Christ to dwell in it, as its faithlessness deserved, it lies dead as it were, amongst persons weeping and wailing. Again, our Lord raised the damsel by taking hold of her hand, because the hands of the Jews, which are full of blood, must first be cleansed, else the synagogue, which is dead, cannot rise again. But in the woman with the bloody flux, and the raising of the damsel, is shewn the salvation of the human race, which was so ordered by the Lord, that first some from Judaea, then the fulness of the Gentiles, might come in, and so all Israel might be saved. Again, the damsel was twelve years old, and the woman had suffered for twelve years, because the sinning of unbelievers was contemporary with the beginning of the faith of believers.

Wherefore it is said, “Abraham believed on God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” [Gen 15:6]

[ed. note: Bede’s own words are rather more clear than those in the Catena: “That is, the woman began to be afflicted at the same time as the damsel was born; for nearly at the same period of the world the synagogue began to arise amongst the patriarchs, and the race of Gentiles throughout the world to be polluted with idolatry.”]

[p. 104]

Greg., Mor. 4, 27: Morally again, our Redeemer raised the damsel in the house, the young man without the gate, Lazarus in the tomb; he still lies dead in the house, whose sin is concealed; he is carried without the gate, whose sin has broken forth into the madness of an open deed; he lies crushed under the mound of the tomb, who in the commission of sin, lies powerless beneath the weight of habit.

Bede: And we may remark, that lighter and daily errors may be cured by the remedy of a lighter penance. Wherefore the Lord raises the damsel, lying in the inner chamber with a very easy cry, saying, “Damsel, arise;” but that he who had been four days dead might quit the prison of the tomb, He groaned in spirit, He was troubled, He shed tears. In proportion, then, as the death of the soul presses the more heavily, so much the more ardently must the fervour of the penitent press forward.

But this too must be observed, that a public crime requires a public reparation; wherefore Lazarus, when called from the sepulchre, was placed before the eyes of the people: but slight sins require to be washed out by a secret penance, wherefore the damsel lying in the house is raised up before few witnesses, and those are desired to tell no man.

The crowd also is cast out before the damsel is raised; for if a crowd of worldly thoughts be not first cast out from the hidden parts of the heart, the soul, which lies dead within, cannot rise.

Well too did she arise and walk, for the soul, raised from sin, ought not only to rise from the filth of its crimes, but also to make advances in good works, and soon it is necessary that it should be filled with heavenly bread, that is, made partaker of the Divine Word, and of the Altar.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6

 

[p. 105]

1. And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him.

2. And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him.

4. But Jesus said unto them, “A prophet is not without honour but in his own country, and among his own kind, and in his own house.”

5. And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

6. And He marvelled because of their unbelief.

Theophylact: After the miracles which have been related, the Lord returns into His own country, not that He was ignorant that they would despise Him, but that they might have no reason to say, If Thou hadst come, we had believed Thee.

Wherefore it is said, “And He went out from thence, and came into His own country.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 23: He means by His country, Nazareth, in which He was brought up. But how great the blindness of the Nazarenes! they despise Him, Who [p. 106] by His words and deeds they might know to be the Christ, solely on account of His kindred.

It goes on: “And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”

By wisdom is meant His doctrine, by powers, the cures and miracles which He did.

It goes on: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 42: Matthew indeed says that He was called the son of a carpenter; nor are we to wonder, since both might have been said, for they believed Him to be a carpenter, because He was the son of a carpenter.

Pseudo-Jerome: Jesus is called the son of a workman, of that one, however, whose work was the morning and the sun, that is, the first and second Church, as a figure of which the woman and the damsel are healed.

Bede: For although human things are not to be compared with divine, still the type is complete, because the Father of Christ works by fire and spirit.

It goes on: “The brother of James, and Joses, of Jude, and of Simon. And are not his sisters here with us?”

They bear witness that His brothers and sisters were with Him, who nevertheless are not to be taken for the sons of Joseph or of Mary, as heretics say, but rather, as is usual in Scripture, we must understand them to be His relations, as Abraham and Lot are called brothers, though Lot was brother’s son to Abraham.

“And they were offended at Him.” The stumbling and the error of the Jews is our salvation, and the condemnation of heretics. For so much did they despise the Lord Jesus Christ, as to call Him a carpenter, and son of a carpenter.

It goes on: “And Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country.”

Even Moses bears witness that the Lord is called a Prophet in the Scripture, for predicting His future Incarnation to the sons of Israel, he says, “A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren.” [Acts 7:37] But not only He Himself, Who is Lord of prophets, but also Elias, Jeremiah, and the remaining lesser prophets, were worse received in their own country than in strange cities, for it is almost natural for men to envy their fellow-townsmen; for they do not consider the present works of the man, but they remember the weakness of Him [p. 107] infancy.

Pseudo-Jerome: Oftentimes also the origin of a man brings him contempt, as it is written, “Who is the son of Jesse?” [1 Sam 25:10] for the Lord “hath respect unto the lowly; as to the proud, He beholdeth them afar off.”

Theophylact: Or again, if the prophet has noble relations, his countrymen hate them, and on that account do not honour the prophet.

There follows, “And He could there do no mighty work, &c.” What, however, is here expressed by He could not, we must take to mean, He did not choose, because it was not that He was weak, but that they were faithless; He does not therefore work any miracles there, for He spared them, lest they should be worthy of greater blame, if they believed not, even with miracles before their eyes.

Or else, for the working of miracles, not only the power of the Worker is necessary, but the faith of the recipient, which was wanting in this case: therefore Jesus did not choose to work any signs there.

There follows: “And He marvelled at their unbelief.”

Bede: Not as if He Who knows all things before they are done, wonders at what He did not expect or look forward to, but knowing the hidden things of the heart, and wishing to intimate to men that it was wonderful, He openly shews that He wonders. And indeed the blindness of the Jews is wonderful, for they neither believed what their prophets said of Christ, nor would in their own persons believe on Christ, Who was born amongst them. Mystically again; Christ is despised in His own house and country, that is, amongst the people of the Jews, and therefore He worked few miracles there, lest they should become altogether inexcusable. But He performs greater miracles every day amongst the Gentiles, not so much in the healing of their bodies, as in the salvation of their souls.

6. ----- And He went round about the villages, teaching.

7. And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

8. And commanded them that they should take [p. 108] nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

9. But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

10. And He said unto them, “In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

11. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”

12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Theophylact: The Lord not only preached in the cities, but also in villages, that we may learn not to despise little things, nor always to seek for great cities, but to sow the word of the Lord in abandoned and lowly villages.

Wherefore it is said, “And He went round about the villages, teaching.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 24: Now our kind and merciful Lord and Master did not grudge His servants and their disciples His own virtues, and as He Himself had healed every sickness and every infirmity, so also He gave the same power to His disciples.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.”

Great is the difference between giving and receiving. Whatsoever He does, is done in His own power, as Lord; if they do any thing, they confess their own weakness and the power of the Lord, saying in the name of Jesus, “Arise, and walk.”

Theophylact: Again He sends the Apostles two and two that they might become more active; for, as says the Preacher, “Two are better than one.” [Eccles 4:9] But if He had sent more than two, there would not have been a sufficient number to allow of their being [p. 109] sent to many villages.

Greg., Hom. in Evan., 17: Further, the Lord sent the disciples to preach, two and two, because there are two precepts of charity, namely, the love of God, and of our neighbour; and charity cannot be between less than two; by this therefore He implies to us, that he who has not charity towards his neighbour, ought in no way to take upon himself the office of preaching.

There follows: “And He commanded them, that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.”

Bede: For such should be the preacher’s trust in God, that, though he takes no thought for supplying his own wants in this present world, yet he should feel most certain that these will not be left unsatisfied, lest whilst his mind is taken up with temporal things, he should provide less of eternal things to others.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The Lord also gives them this command, that they might shew by their mode of life, how far removed they were from the desire of riches.

Theophylact: Instructing them also by this means not to be fond of receiving gifts, in order too that those, who saw them proclaim poverty, might be reconciled to it, when they saw that the Apostles themselves possessed nothing.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 30: Or else; according to Matthew, the Lord immediately subjoined, “The workman is worthy of his meat,” [Matt 10:19] which sufficiently proves why He forbade their carrying or possessing such things; not because they were not necessary, but because He sent them in such a way as to shew, that they were due to them from the faithful, to whom they preached the Gospel.

From this it is evident that the Lord did not mean by this precept that the Evangelists ought to live only on the gifts of those to whom they preach the Gospel, else the Apostle transgressed this precept when he procured his livelihood by the labour of his own hands, but He meant that He had given them a power, in virtue of which, they might be assured these things were due to them.

It is also often asked, how it comes that Matthew and Luke have related that the Lord commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff, whilst Mark says, “And He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only.” Which question is solved, by supposing that the word ‘staff’ has a meaning in [p. 110] Mark, who says that it ought to be carried, different from that which it bears in Matthew and Luke, who affirm the contrary. For in a concise way one might say, Take none of the necessaries of life with you, nay, not a staff, save a staff only; so that the saying, nay not a staff, may mean, nay not the smallest thing; but that which is added, “save a staff only,” may mean that, through the power received by them from the Lord, of which a rod is the ensign, nothing, even of those things which they do not carry, will be wanting to them.

The Lord, therefore, said both, but because one Evangelist has not given both, men suppose, that he who has said that the staff, in one sense, should be taken, is contrary to him who again has declared, that, in another sense, it should be left behind: now however that a reason has been given, let no one think so.

So also when Matthew declares that shoes are not to be worn on the journey, he forbids anxiety about them, for the reason why men are anxious about carrying them, is that they may not be without them. This is also to be understood of the two coats, that no man should be troubled about having only that with which he is clad from anxiety lest he should need another, when he could always obtain one from the power given by the Lord.

In like manner Mark, by saying that they are to be shod with sandals or soles, warns us that this mode of protecting the feet has a mystical signification, that the foot should neither be covered above nor be naked on the ground, that is, that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor rest upon earthly comforts; and in that He forbids their possessing or taking with them, or more expressly their wearing, two coats, He bids them walk simply, not with duplicity. But whosoever thinks that the Lord could not in the same discourse say some things figuratively, others in a literal sense, let him look into His other discourses, and he shall see, how rash and ignorant is his judgment.

Bede: Again, by the two tunics He seems to me to mean two sets of clothes; not that in places like Scythia, covered with the ice and snow, a man should be content with only one garment, but by coat, I think a suit of clothing is implied, that being clad with one, we should not keep another through anxiety as to what may happen.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else, Matthew and Luke neither allow shoes nor [p. 111] staff, which is meant to point out the highest perfection. But Mark bids them take a staff and be shod with sandals, which is spoken by permission. [see 1 Cor 7:6]

Bede: Again, allegorically; under the figure of a scrip is pointed out the burdens of this world, by bread is meant temporal delights, by money in the purse, the hiding of wisdom; because he who receives the office of a doctor, should neither be weighed down by the burden of worldly affairs, nor be made soft by carnal desires, nor hide the talent of the word committed to him under the case of an inactive body.

It goes on, “And He said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.”

Where He gives a general precept of constancy, that they should look to what is due to the tie of hospitality, adding, that it is inconsistent with the preaching of the kingdom of heaven to run about from house to house.

Theophylact: That is, lest they should be accused of gluttony in passing from one to another. It goes on, “And whoever shall not receive you, &c.” This the Lord commanded them, that they might shew that they had walked a long way for their sakes, and to no purpose. Or, because they received nothing from them, not even dust, which they shake off, that it might be a testimony against them, that is, by way of convicting them.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else, that it might be a witness of the toil of the way, which they sustained for them; or as if the dust of the sins of the preachers was turned against themselves.

It goes on: “And they went and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”

Mark alone mentions their anointing with oil. James however, in his canonical Epistle, says a thing similar. For oil both refreshes our labours, and gives us light and joy; but again, oil signifies the mercy of the unction of God, the healing of infirmity, and the enlightening of the heart, the whole of which is worked by prayer.

Theophylact: It also means, the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which we are eased from our labours, and receive light and spiritual joy.

Bede: Where it is evident from the Apostles themselves, that it [p. 112] is an ancient custom of the holy Church that persons possessed or afflicted with any disease whatever, should be anointed with oil consecrated by priestly blessing.

14. And king Herod heard of Him; (for His name was spread abroad:) and he said, “That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.”

15. Others said, “That it is Elias.” And others said, “That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.”

16. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, “It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.”

Gloss.: After the preaching of the disciples of Christ, and the working of miracles, the Evangelist fitly subjoins an account of the report, which arose amongst the people.

Wherefore he says, “And king Herod heard of Him.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Aut. e Cat. in Marc.: This Herod is the son of the first Herod, under whom Joseph had led Jesus into Egypt. But Matthew calls him Tetrarch, and Luke mentions him as ruling over one fourth of his father’s kingdom; for the Romans after the death of his father divided his kingdom into four parts. But Mark calls him a king, either after the title of his father, or because it was consonant to his own wish.

Pseudo-Jerome: It goes on, “For His name was spread abroad.”

For it is not right that a candle should be placed under a bushel. “And they said,” that is, some of the multitude, “that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew themselves forth in him.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 25: Here we are taught how great was the envy of the Jews. For, lo, they believe that John, of whom it was said that he did no miracle, could rise from the dead, and that, without the witness of any one. But Jesus, approved of God by miracles and signs, whose resurrection, Angles and Apostles, men and women, preached, they chose to believe was carried away by stealth, rather than suppose that He had risen again.

And these men, in saying that John was risen from the dead, and that therefore mighty works were wrought in him, had just thoughts of the power of [p. 113] the resurrection, for men, when they shall have risen from the dead, shall have much greater power than they possessed when still weighed down by the weakness of the flesh.

There follows: “But others said, that it is Elias.”

Theophylact: For John confuted many men, when he said, “Ye generation of vipers.”

It goes on: “But others said, that it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Is seems to me that this prophet means that one of whom Moses said, “God will raise up a prophet unto thee of thy brethren.” [Deut 18:15] They were right indeed, but because they feared to say openly, This is the Christ, they used the voice of Moses, veiling their own surmise through fear of their rules.

There follows: “But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.” Herod expressly says this in irony.

Theophylact: Or else, Herod, knowing that he without a cause had slain John, who was a just man, thought that he had risen from the dead, and had received through his resurrection the power of working miracles.

Augustine, de Con. Even., ii, 43: But in these words Luke bears witness to Mark, to this point at least, that others and not Herod said that John had risen; but Luke had represented Herod as hesitating and has put down his words as if he said, “John have I beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” [Luke 9:7]

We must, however, suppose that after this hesitation he had confirmed in his own mind what others had said, for he says to his children, as Matthew relates, “This is John the Baptist, he has risen from the dead.” [Matt 14:2] Or else these words are to be spoken, so as to indicate that he is still hesitating, particularly as Mark who had said above that others had declared that John had risen from the dead, afterwards however is not silent as to Herod’s plainly saying, “It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.” Which words also may be spoken in two ways, either they may be understood as those of a man affirming or doubting.

17. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. [p.114]

18. For John had said unto Herod, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.”

19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not;

20. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

22. And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, “Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.”

23. And he sware unto her, “Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.”

24. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”

25. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, “I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.”

26. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

27. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,

28. And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

29. And when the disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

[p. 115]

Theophylact: The Evangelist Mark, taking occasion from what went before, here relates the death of the Forerunner, saying, “For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.”

Bede: Ancient history relates, that Philip, the son of Herod the great, under whom the Lord fled into Egypt, the brother of this Herod, under whom Christ suffered, married Herodias, the daughter of king Aretas; but afterwards, that his father-in-law, after certain disagreements had arisen with his son-in-law, had taken his daughter away, and, to the grief of her former husband, had given her in marriage to his enemy; therefore John the Baptist rebukes Herod and Herodias for contracting an unlawful union, and because it was not allowed for a man to marry his brother’s wife during his lifetime.

Theophylact: The law also commanded a brother to marry his brother’s wife, if he died without children; but in this case there was a daughter, which made the marriage criminal.

There follows: “Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not.”

Bede: For Herodias was afraid, lest Herod should repent at some time, or be reconciled to his brother Philip, and so the unlawful marriage be divorced.

It goes on: “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man, and a holy.”

Gloss.: He feared him, I say, because he revered him, for he knew him to be just in his dealings with men, and holy towards God, and he took care that Herodias should not slay him. “And when he heard him, he did many things,” for he thought that he spake by the Spirit of God, “and heard him gladly,” because he considered that what he said was profitable.

Theophylact: But see how great is the fury of lust, for though Herod had such an awe and fear of John, he forgets it all, that he may minister to his fornication.

Remig.: For his lustful will drove him to lay hands on a man whom he knew to be just and holy. And by this, we may see how a less fault became the cause to him of a greater; as it is said, “He which is filthy, let him be filthy still.” [Rev 22:11]

It goes on: “And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee.”

Bede: The only men [p. 116] whom we read of, as celebrating their birthdays with festive joys are Herod and Pharaoh, but each, with an evil presage, stained his birthday with blood; Herod, however, with so much the greater wickedness, as he slew the holy and guiltless teacher of truth, and that by the wish, and at the instance of a female dancer.

For there follows: “And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.”

Theophylact: For during the banquet, Satan danced in the person of the damsel, and the wicked oath is completed.

For it goes on: “And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.”

Bede: His oath does not excuse his murder, for perchance his reason for swearing was, that he might find an opportunity for slaying, and if she had demanded the death of his father and mother, he surely would not have granted it.

It goes on: “And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.”

Worthy is blood to be asked as the reward of such a deed as dancing.

It goes on: “And she came in straightway with haste, &c.”

Theophylact: The malignant woman begs that the head of John be given to her immediately, that is, at once, in that very hour, for she feared lest Herod should repent.

There follows: “And the king was exceeding sorry.”

Bede: It is usual with Scripture, that the historian should relate events as they were then believed by all, thus Joseph is called the father of Jesus by Mary herself. So now also Herod is said to be “exceeding sorry,” for so the guests thought, since the hypocrite bore sadness on his face, when he had joy in his heart; and he excuses the wickedness by his oath, that he might be impious under pretence of piety.

Wherefore there follows: “For his oath’s sake, and for their sakes who sat with him, he would not reject her.”

Theophylact: Herod not being his own master, but full of lust, fulfilled his oath, and slew the just man; it would have been better however to break his oath, than to commit so great a sin.

Bede: In that again which is added, “And for their sakes who sat with him,” he wishes to make all partakers in [p. 117] his guilt, that a bloody feast might be set before luxurious and impure guests.

Wherefore it goes on: “But sending an executioner, he commanded his head to be brought in a charger.”

Theophylact: ‘Spiculator’ is the name for the public servant commissioned to put men to death.

Bede: Now Herod was not ashamed to bring before his guests the head of a murdered man; but we do not read of such an act of madness in Pharaoh. From both examples, however, it is proved to be more useful, often to call to mind the coming day of our death, by fear and by living chastely, than to celebrate the day of our birth with luxury. For man is born in the world to toil, but the elect pass by death out of the world to repose.

It goes on: “And he beheaded him in prison, &c.”

Greg., Mor., 3, 7: I cannot, without the greatest wonder, reflect that he, who was filled even in his mother’s womb with the spirit of prophecy, and who was the greatest that had arisen amongst those born of women, is sent into prison by wicked men, is beheaded for the dancing of a girl, and though a man of so great austerity, meets death through such a foul instrument. Are we to suppose that there was something evil in his life, to be wiped away by so ignominious a death? When, however, could he commit a sin even in his eating, whose food was only locusts, and wild honey? How could he offend in his conversation, who never quitted the wilderness? How is it that Almighty God so despises in this life those whom He has so sublimely chosen before all ages, if it be not for the reason, which is plain to the piety of the faithful, that He thus sinks them into the lowest place, because He sees how He is rewarding them in the highest, and outwardly He throws them down amongst things despised, because inwardly He draws them up even to incomprehensible things. Let each then infer from this what they shall suffer, whom He rejects, if He so grieves those whom He loves.

There follows: “And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”

Bede: Josephus relates, that John was brought bound into the castle of Macheron, and there slain; and ecclesiastical history says [Theodoret, Hist., Eccles., 3, 3] that he was buried in Sebaste, a city of Palestine, once called Samaria. But the beheading of John the Baptist signifies the lessening of that fame, by which he was thought to be Christ [p. 118] by the people, as the raising of our Saviour on the cross typifies the advance of the faith, in that He Himself, who was first looked upon as a prophet by the multitude, was recognized as the Son of God by all the faithful; wherefore John, who was destined to decrease, was born when the daylight begins to wax short; but the Lord at that season of the year in which the day begins to lengthen.

Theophylact: In a mystical way, however, Herod, whose name means, ‘of skin,’ is the people of the Jews, and the wife to whom he was wedded means vain glory, whose daughter even now encircles the Jews with her dance, namely, a false understanding of the Scriptures; they indeed beheaded John, that is, the word of prophecy, and hold to him without Christ, his head.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the head of the law, which is Christ, is cut off from His own body, that is, the Jewish people, and is given to a Gentile damsel, that is, the Roman Church, and the damsel gives it to her adulterous mother, that is, to the synagogue, who in the end will believe. The body of John is buried, his head is put in a dish; thus the human Letter is covered over, the Spirit is honoured, and received on the altar.

30. And the Apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

31. And He said unto them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:” for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

33. And the people saw them departing, and many knew Him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto Him.

34. And Jesus, when He came out, saw many people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things.

[p. 119]

Gloss.: The Evangelist, after relating the death of John, gives an account of those things which Christ did with His disciples after the death of John, saying, “And the Apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.”

Pseudo-Jerome: For they return to the fountain-head whence the streams flow; those who are sent by God, always offer up thanks for those things which they have received.

Theophylact: Let us also learn, when we are sent on any mission, not to go far away, and not to overstep the bounds of the office committed, but to go often to him, who sends us, and report all that we have done and taught; for we must not only teach but act.

Bede: Not only do the Apostles tell the Lord what they themselves had done and taught, but also His own and John’s disciples together tell Him what John had suffered, during the time that they were occupied in teaching, as Matthew relates.

It goes on: “And He said to them, Come ye yourselves apart, &c.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 45: This is said to have taken place, after the passion of John, therefore what is first related took place last, for it was by these events that Herod was moved to say, “This is John the Baptist, whom I beheaded.”

Theophylact: Again, He goes into a desert place from His humility. But Christ makes His disciples rest, that men who are set over others may learn, that they who labour in any work or in the word deserve rest, and ought not to labour continually.

Bede: How arose the necessity for giving rest to His disciples, He shews, when He adds, “For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat;” we may then see how great was the happiness of that time, both from the toil of the teachers, and from the diligence of the learners.

It goes on: “And embarking in a ship, they departed into a desert place privately.”

The disciples did not enter into the ship alone, but taking up the Lord with them, they went to a desert place, as Matthew shews. [Matt 14] Here He tries the faith of the multitude, and by seeking a desert place He would see whether they care to follow Him. And they follow Him, and not on horseback, nor in carriages, but laboriously coming on foot, they shew how great is their anxiety for their salvation.

There follows: “And the people saw them departing, and many knew Him, and ran afoot [p. 120] thither out of all cities, and outwent them.”

In saying that they outwent them on foot, it is proved that the disciples with the Lord did not reach the other bank of the sea, or of the Jordan, but they went to the nearest places of the same country, where the people of those parts could come to them on foot.

Theophylact: So do thou not wait for Christ till He Himself call you, but outrun Him, and come before Him.

There follows: “And Jesus when He came out saw many people, and was moved with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep having no shepherd.”

The Pharisees being ravening wolves did not feed the sheep, but devoured them; for which reason they gather themselves to Christ, the true Shepherd, who gave them spiritual food, that is, the word of God.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He began to teach them many things.”

For seeing that those who followed Him on account of His miracles were tired from the length of the way, He pitied them, and wished to satisfy their wish by teaching them.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 26: Matthew says that He healed their sick, for the real way of pitying the poor is to open to them the way of truth by teaching them, and to take away their bodily pains.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, the Lord took apart those whom He chose, that though living amongst evil men, they might not apply their minds to evil things, as Lot in Sodom, Job in the land of Uz, and Obadiah in the house of Ahab.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 25: Leaving also Judaea, the holy preachers, in the desert of the Church, overwhelmed by the burden of their tribulations amongst the Jews, obtained rest by the imparting of the grace of faith to the Gentiles.

Pseudo-Jerome: Little indeed is the rest of the saints here on earth, long is their labour, but afterwards, they are bidden to rest from their labours. But as in the ark of Noah, the animals that were within were sent forth, and they that were without rushed in, so is it in the Church, Judas went, the thief came to Christ. But as long as men go back from the faith, the Church can have no refuge from grief; for Rachel weeping for her children would not be comforted. Moreover, this world is not the banquet, in which the new wine is drank, when the new song will be sung by men made anew, when this mortal shall have put on immortality.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 26: But when Christ [p. 121] goes to the deserts of the Gentiles, many bands of the faithful leaving the walls of their cities, that is their old manner of living, follow Him.

35. And when the day was now far spent, His disciples came unto Him, and said, “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

36. Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.”

37. He answered and said unto them, “Give ye them to eat.” And they said unto Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?”

38. He saith unto them, “How many loaves have ye? go and see.” And when they knew, they say, “Five, and two fishes.”

39. And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

40. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

41. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided He among them all.

42. And they did all eat, and were filled.

43. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

44. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

Theophylact: The Lord, placing before them, first, what is most profitable, that is, the food of the word of God, afterwards also gave the multitude food for their bodies; in beginning to relate which, the Evangelist say, “And when the [p. 122] day was now far spent, His disciples came unto Him, and said, This is a desert place.

Bede: The time being far spent, points out that it was evening. Wherefore Luke says, “But the day had begun to decline.”

Theophylact: See now, how those who are disciples of Christ grow in love to man, for they pity the multitudes, and come to Christ to intercede for them. But the Lord tried them, to see whether they would know that His power was great enough to feed them.

Wherefore it goes on: “He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.”

Bede: By these words He calls on His Apostles, to break bread for the people, that they might be able to testify that they had no bread, and thus the greatness of the miracle might become more known.

Theophylact: But the disciples thought that He did not know what was necessary for the feeding of so large a multitude, for their answer shews that they were troubled.

For it goes on, “And they said unto Him, Let us go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 46: This in the Gospel of John is the answer to Philip, but Mark gives it as the answer of the disciples, wishing it to be understood that Philip made this answer as a mouthpiece of the others; although he might put the plural number for the singular, as is usual.

It goes on: “And He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see.”

The other Evangelists pass over this being done by the Lord.

It goes on: “And when they knew, they say, “Five, and two fishes.”

This, which was suggested by Andrew, as we learn from John, the other Evangelists, using the plural for the singular, have put into the mouth of the disciples.

It goes on, “And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass, and they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties.”

But we need not be perplexed, though Luke says that they were ordered to sit down by fifties, and Mark by hundreds and fifties, for one has mentioned a part, the other the whole. Mark, who mentions the hundreds, fills up what the other has left out.

Theophylact: We are given to understand that they lay down in parties, separate from one another, for what is translated by companies, is repeated twice over in the Greek, as though it were by companies and companies.

It goes on, “And when He had taken the five loaves and the [p. 123] two fishes, He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them: and the two fishes divided He among them all.”

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Hom. in Matt., 49: Now it was with fitness that He looked up to heaven, for the Jews, when receiving manna in the desert, presumed to say of God, “Can he give bread?” [Ps 78:20] To prevent this, therefore, before He performed the miracle, He referred to His Father when He was about to do.

Theophylact: He also looks up to heaven, that He may teach us to seek our food from God, and not from the devil, as they do who unjustly feed on other men’s labours. By this also He intimated to the crowd, that He could not be opposed to God, since He called upon God. And He gives the bread to His disciples to set before the multitude, that by handling the bread, they might see that it was an undoubted miracle.

It goes on: “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments.”

Twelve baskets of fragments remained over and above, that each of the Apostles, carrying a basket on his shoulder, might recognise the unspeakable wonder of the miracle. For it was a proof of overflowing power not only to feed so many men, but also to leave such a superabundance of fragments. Even though Moses gave manna, yet what was given to each was measured by his necessity, and what was over and above was overrun with worms. Elias also fed the woman, but gave her just what was enough for her; but Jesus, being the Lord, makes His gifts with superabundant profusion.

Bede: Again, in a mystical sense, the Saviour refreshes the hungry crowds at the day’s decline, because, either now that the end of the world approaches, or now that the Son of justice has set in death for us, we are saved from wasting away in spiritual hunger. He calls the Apostles to Him at the breaking of bread, intimating that daily by them our hungry souls are fed, that is, by their letters and examples. By the five loaves are figured the Five Books of Moses, by the two fishes, the Psalms and Prophets.

Theophylact: Or the two fishes are the discourses of fishermen, that is, their Epistles and Gospel.

Bede: [ed. note: The same application to the five senses is found in Origen in Matt. 14, 17, and St. Ambrose in Luc., 6, 80. The latter, probably, was the source from which Bede borrowed it, as in both it forms a portion of a comparison between this miracle and that of the four thousand being fed with seven loaves, in which the latter are said to be a type of the Christian, who has given up external things. Origen, Hom. 3 in Leviticus lays it down as a principle, that the number five is almost always taken for the five sense in Scripture.] There are five senses in the outward man [p. 124] which shews that by the five thousand men are meant those who, living in the world, know how to make a good use of external things.

Greg., Mor. 16, 55: The different ranks in which those who ate lie down, mark out the divers churches which make up the one Catholic. [ed. note: The number fifty is connected with rest from sin, or remission, with an allusion to the Jubilee and to Pentecost by Origen in Matt. Tom. xi. 3, and by St. Ambrose Ap. David 8. On number a hundred, as the recognized symbol of perfection, see Benedictine Note] But the Jubilee rest is contained in the mystery of the number fifty, and fifty must be doubled before it reaches up to a hundred. As then the first step is to rest from doing evil, that afterwards the soul may rest more fully from evil thoughts, some lie down in parties of fifty, others of a hundred.

Bede: Again, those men lie down on grass and are fed by the food of the Lord, who have trodden under foot their concupiscences by continence, and apply themselves diligently to hear and fulfil the words of God. [ed. note: see Aurea Catena in Matthew, p. 537] The Saviour, however, does not create a new sort of food; for when He came in the flesh He preached no other things than were predicted, but shewed how pregnant with mysteries of grace were the writings of the Law and the Prophets.

He looks up to heaven, that He may teach us that there we must look for grace. He breaks and distributes to the disciples that they may place the bread before the multitudes, because He has opened the mysteries of prophecy to holy doctors, who are to preach them to the whole world. What is left by the crowd is taken up by the disciples, because the more sacred mysteries, which cannot be received by the foolish, are not to be passed by with negligence, but to be inquired into by the perfect. For by the twelve baskets, the Apostles and the following Doctors are typified, externally indeed despised by men, but inwardly full of healthful food. For all know that carrying baskets is a part of the work of slaves.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or, in the gathering of the twelve baskets full of fragments, is signified the time, when they shall sit on thrones, judging all who are left of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, when the remnant of Israel shall be saved.

[p. 125]

45. And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people.

46. And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray.

47. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land.

48. And He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

49. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:

50. For they all saw Him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and saith unto them, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”

51. And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.

52. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

Gloss.: The Lord indeed by the miracle of the loaves shewed that He is the Creator of the world: but now by walking on the waves He proved that He had a body free from the weight of all sin, and by appeasing the winds and by calming the rage of the waves, He declared Himself to be the Master of the elements.

Wherefore it is said, “And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He dismisses indeed the people with His blessing and with some cures. But He constrained His disciples, because they could not without pain separate themselves from Him, and that, not only on account of the very great affection which they had for Him, but also because they were at a loss how He would join them.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 27: But it [p. 126] is with reason that we wonder how Mark says, that after the miracle of the loaves the disciples crossed the sea of Bethsaida, when Luke relates that the miracle was done in the parts of Bethsaida [Luke 9:10], unless we understand that Luke means by the desert which is Bethsaida not the country immediately around the town, but the desert places belonging to it. But when Mark says that they should “go before unto Bethsaida,” the town itself is meant.

It goes on: “And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: This we must understand of Christ, in that He is man; He does it also to teach us to be constant in prayer.

Theophylact: But when He had dismissed the crowd, He goes up to pray, for prayer requires rest and silence.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 28: Not every man, however, who prays goes up into a mountain, but he alone prays well, who seeks God in prayer. But he who prays for riches or worldly labour, or for the death of his enemy, sends up from the lowest depths his vile prayers to God.

John says, “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force and make Him a king, He departed against into a mountain Himself, alone.” [John 6:15]

It goes on: “And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land.”

Theophylact: Now the Lord permitted His disciples to be in danger, that they might learn patience; wherefore He did not immediately come to their aid, but allowed them to remain in danger all night, that He might teach them to wait patiently, and not to hope at once for help in tribulations.

For there follows: “And He saw them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night, He cometh unto them walking upon the sea.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Holy Scripture reckons four watches in the night, making each division three hours; wherefore by the fourth watch it means that which is after the ninth hour, that is, in the tenth or some following hour.

There follows: “And would have passed them.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 47: But how could they understand this, except from His going a different way, wishing to pass them as strangers; for they were so far from recognizing Him, as to take Him for a spirit.

For it goes on: “But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out.”

Theophylact: See again how Christ, though He was about to put and end to [p. 127] their dangers, puts them in greater fear. But He immediately reassured them by His voice, for it continues, “And immediately He talked with them, and said unto them, It is I, be not afraid.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 50: As soon then as they knew Him by His voice, their fear left them.

Augustine: How then could He wish to pass them, whose fears He so reassures, if it were not that His wish to pass them would wring from them that cry, which called for His help?

Bede: [ed. note: This opinion with which Theodorus is charged was one held by the Phantasiasts, a sect of the Monophysites. The denial of the human body to our Lord, was a natural consequence of denying Him a human soul, for how could a human body inclose, so to speak, His Divinity? Theodoras was Bishop of Pharan, in Arabia, and was condemned as the author of the Monothelite heresy in the Lateran Council under Pope Martin I, AD 649. The passage from Dionysius is quoted in Actio 3 of the Council, and occurs de Div. Nom, c. 1] But Theodorus, who was Bishop of Phanara, wrote that the Lord had no bodily weight in His flesh, and walked on the sea without weight; but the Catholic faith declares that He had weight according to the flesh. For Dionysius says, We know not how without plunging in His feet, which had bodily weight and the gravity of matter, He could walk on the wet and unstable substance.

Theophylact: Then by entering into the ship, the Lord restrained the tempest. For it continues, “And He went up unto them into the ship, and the wind ceased.” Great indeed is the miracle of our Lord’s walking on the sea, but the tempest and the contrary wind were there as well, to make the miracle greater. For the Apostles, not understanding from the miracle of the five loaves the power of Christ, now more fully knew it from the miracle of the sea.

Wherefore it goes on, “And they were sore amazed in themselves.” For they understood not concerning the loaves.

Bede: The disciples indeed, who were still carnal, were amazed at the greatness of His virtue, they could not yet however recognise in Him the truth of the Divine Majesty. Wherefore it goes on, “For their hearts were hardened.”

But mystically, the toil of the disciples in rowing, and the contrary wind, mark out the labours of the Holy Church, who amidst the beating waves of the world, and the blasts of unclean spirits, strives to reach the repose of her celestial country. And well is it said that the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on land, for sometimes the Church is afflicted by a pressure from the [p. 128] Gentiles so overwhelming, that her Redeemer seems to have entirely deserted her. But the Lord sees His own, toiling on the sea, for, lest they faint in tribulations, He strengthens them by the look of His love, and sometimes frees them by a visible assistance. Further, in the fourth watch He came to them as daylight approached, for when man lifts up his mind to the light of guidance from on high, the Lord will be with him, and the dangers of temptations will be laid asleep.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, the first watch means the time up to the deluge; the second, up to Moses; the third, up to the coming of the Lord; in the fourth the Lord came and spoke to His disciples.

Bede: Often then does the love of heaven seem to have deserted the faithful in tribulation, so that it may be thought that Jesus wishes to pass by His disciples, as it were, toiling in the sea. And still do heretics suppose that the Lord was a phantom, and did not take upon Him real flesh from the Virgin.

Pseudo-Jerome: And He says to them, “Be of good cheer, it is I,” because we shall see Him as He is. But the wind and the storm ceased when Jesus sat down, that is, reigned in the ship, which is the Catholic Church.

Bede: In whatsoever heart, also, He is present by the grace of His love, there soon all the strivings of vices, and of the adverse world, or of evil spirits, are kept under and put to rest.

53. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.

54. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him,

55. And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was.

56. And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole.

Gloss.: The Evangelist, having shewn the danger which [p. 129] the disciples had sustained in their passage, and their deliverance from it, now shews the place to which they sailed, saying, “And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.”

Theophylact: The Lord remained at the above-mentioned place for some time. Therefore the Evangelist subjoins, “And when they had come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him,” That is, the inhabitants of the country.

Bede: But they knew Him by report, not by His features; or through the greatness of His miracles, even His person was known to some. See too how great was the faith of the men of the land of Gennesaret, so that they were not content with the healing of those who were present, but sent to other towns round about, that all might hasten to the Physician; wherefore there follows, “And ran through the whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was.”

Theophylact: For they did not call Him to their houses that He might heal them, but rather the sick themselves were brought to Him.

Wherefore it also follows: “And whithersoever He entered into villages, or cities, or country, &c.”

For the miracle which had been wrought on the woman with an issue of blood, had reached the ears of many, and caused in them that great faith, by which they were healed.

It goes on: “And as many as touched Him were made whole.”

Again, in a mystical sense, do thou understand by the hem of His garment the slightest of His commandments, for whosoever shall transgress it “shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven,” [Matt. 5:19] or else His assumption of our flesh, by which we have come to the Word of God, and afterwards, shall have the enjoyment of His majesty.

Pseudo-Jerome: Furthermore that which is said, “And as many as touched Him were made whole,” shall be fulfilled, when grief and mourning shall fly away.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 7

 

[p. 130]

1. Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the Scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

2. And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, the unwashen, hands, they found fault.

3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

4. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

5. Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked Him, “Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

6. He answered and said unto them, “Well hath Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’

8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [p. 131]

9. And He said unto them, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10. For Moses said, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother;’ and, ‘Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:’

11. But ye say, ‘If a man shall say to his father or mother - It is Corban - that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.’

12. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 29: The people of the land of Gennesareth, who seemed to be unlearned men, not only come themselves, but also bring their sick to the Lord, that they may but succeed in touching the hem of His garment. But the Pharisees and Scribes, who ought to have been the teachers of the people, run together to the Lord, not to seek for healing, but to move captious questions.

Wherefore it is said, “Then there came together unto Him the Pharisees and certain of the Scribes, coming from Jerusalem; and when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with common, that is, with unwashen hands, they found fault.”

Theophylact: For the disciples of the Lord, who were taught only the practice of virtue, used to eat in a simple way, without washing their hands; but the Pharisees, wishing to find an occasion of blame against them, took it up; they did not indeed blame them as transgressors of the law, but for transgressing the traditions of the elders.

Wherefore it goes on: “For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.”

Bede: For taking the spiritual words of the Prophets in a carnal sense, they observed, by washing the body alone, commandments which concerned the chastening of the heart and deeds, saying, “Wash [p. 132] you, make you clean;” [Isa 1:16] and again, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isa 52.11]

It is therefore a superstitious human tradition, that men who are clean already, should wash oftener because they eat bread, and that they should not eat on leaving the market, without washing. But it is necessary for those who desire to partake of the bread which comes down from heaven, often to cleanse their evil deeds by alms, by tears, and the other fruits of righteousness. It is also necessary for a man to wash thoroughly away the pollutions which he has contracted from the cares of temporal business, by being afterwards intent on good thoughts and works.

In vain, however, do the Jews wash their hands, and cleanse themselves after the market, so long as they refuse to be washed in the font of the Saviour; in vain do they observe the washing of their vessels, who neglect to wash away the filthy sins of their bodies and of their hearts.

It goes on: “Then the Scribes and Pharisees asked Him, Why walk not thy disciples after the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with common hands?”

Jerome, Hier. in Matt., 15: Wonderful is the folly of the Pharisees and Scribes; they accuse the Son of God, because He keeps not the traditions and precepts of men. But “common” is here put for unclean; for the people of the Jews, boasting that they were the portion of God, called those meats common, which all made use of.

Pseudo-Jerome: He beats back the vain words of the Pharisees with His arguments, as men drive back dogs with weapons, by interpreting Moses and Isaiah, that we too by the word of Scripture may conquer the heretics, who oppose us.

Wherefore it goes on: “Well hath Esaia prophesied of you hypocrites; as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” [Isa 29:13]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For since they unjustly accused the disciples not of trangressing the law, but the commands of the elders, He sharply confounds them, calling them hypocrites, as looking with reverence upon what was not worthy of it. He adds, however, the words of Isaiah the prophet, as spoken to them; as though He would say, As those men, of whom it is said, “that they honour God with their lips, whilst their heart is far from Him,” in vain pretend to observe the dictates of piety, whilst they honour the doctrines of men, so ye also neglect your soul, of which you [p. 133] should take care, and blame those who live justly.

Pseudo-Jerome: But Pharisaical tradition, as to tables and vessels, is to be cut off, and cast away. For they often make the commands of God yield to the traditions of men.

Wherefore it continues, “For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold to the traditions of men, as the washing of pots and cups.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Moreover, to convict them of neglecting the reverence due to God, for the sake of the tradition of the elders, which was opposed to the Holy Scriptures, He subjoins, “For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”

Bede: The sense of the word honour in Scripture is not so much the saluting and paying court to men, as alms-giving, and bestowing gifts; “honour,” says the Apostle, “widows who are widows indeed.” [1 Tim 5:3]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Notwithstanding the existence of such a divine law, and the threats against such as break it, ye lightly transgress the commandment of God, observing the traditions of the Elders.

Wherefore there follows: “But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;” understand, he will be freed from the observation of the foregoing command.

Wherefore it continues, “And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother.”

Theophylact: For the Pharisees, wishing to devour the offerings, instructed sons, when their parents asked for some of their property, to answer them, what thou hast asked of me is corban, that is, a gift, I have already offered it up to the Lord; thus the parents would not require it, as being offered up to the Lord, (and in that way profitable for their own salvation). [ed. note: the words in the parenthesis are not in Theophylact]

Thus they deceived the sons into neglecting their parents, whilst they themselves devoured the offerings; with this therefore the Lord reproaches them, as transgressing the law of God for the sake of gain. Wherefore it goes on, “Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye;” transgressing, that is, the commands of God, that ye may observe the traditions of men.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else it may be said, that the Pharisees taught young persons, that if a man offered a gift in expiation of the injury done to his [p. 134] father or mother, he was free from sin, as having given to God the gifts which are owed to a parent; and in saying this, they did not allow parents to be honoured.

Bede: The passage may in a few words have this sense, Every gift which I have to make, will go to do you good; for ye compel children, it is meant, to say to their parents, that gift which I was going to offer to God, I expend on feeding you, and does you good, oh father and mother, speaking this ironically. Thus they would be afraid to accept what had been given into the hands of God, and might prefer a life of poverty to living on consecrated property.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, again, the disciples eating with unwashed hands signifies the future fellowship of the Gentiles with the Apostles. The cleaning and washing of the Pharisees is barren; but the fellowship of the Apostles, though without washing, has stretched out its branches as far as the sea.

14. And when he had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, “Hearken unto Me every one of you, and understand:

15. There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

16. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

17. And when He was entered into the house from the people, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.

18. And He saith unto them, “Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19. Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?”

20. And He said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [p. 135]

21. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22. Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The Jews regard and murmur about only the bodily purification of the law; our Lord wishes to bring in the contrary.

Wherefore it is said, “And when He had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, Hearken unto Me every one, and understand: there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him, but the things which come out of a man, those are they which defile a man;” that is, which make him unclean.

The things of Christ have relation to the inner man, but those which are of the law are visible and external, to which, as being bodily, the cross of Christ was shortly to put an end.

Theophylact: But the intention of the Lord in saying this was to teach men, that the observing of meats, which the law commands, should not be taken in a carnal sense, and from this He began to unfold to them the intent of the law.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Again He subjoins, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” For He had not clearly shewn them, what those things are which proceed out of a man, and defile a man; and on account of this saying, the Apostles thought that the foregoing discourse of the Lord implied some other deep thing.

Wherefore there follows: “And when He was entered into the house from the people, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable;” they called it parable, because it was not clear.

Theophylact: The Lord begins by chiding them, wherefore there follows, “Are ye so without understanding also?”

Bede: For that man is a faulty hearer who considers what is obscure to be a clear speech, or what is clear to be obscurely spoken.

Theophylact: Then the Lord shews them what was hidden, saying, “Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot make him common?”

Bede: [p. 136] For the Jews, boasting themselves to be the portion of God, call common those meals which all men use, as shellfish, hares, and animals of that sort. Not even however what is offered to idols is unclean, in as far as it is food and God’s creature; it is the invocation of devils which makes it unclean; and He adds the cause of it, saying, “Because it entereth not into his heart.”

The principal seat of the soul according to Plato is the brain, but according to Christ, it is in the heart.

Gloss [ed. note: It is probable that most, if not all the Glosses which cannot be found, are from St. Thomas himself, and this one is especially like his language, as may be seen by referring to Summa, 2, 2, Q148, Art 1, and 1, Q119, Art 1, in both of which places also he quotes the passages in St. Matthew parallel to this part of St. Mark.] It says therefore into his heart, that is, into his mind, which is the principal part of his soul, on which his whole life depends; wherefore it is necessary, that according to the state of his heart a man should be called clean or unclean, and thus whatsoever does not reach the soul, cannot bring pollution to the man.

Meats therefore, since they do not reach the soul, cannot in their own nature defile a man; but an inordinate use of meats, which proceeds from a want of order in the mind, makes men unclean.

But that meats cannot reach the mind, He shews by that which He adds, saying, “But into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats.” This however He says, without referring to what remains from the food in the body, for that which is necessary for the nourishment and growth of the body remains. But that which is superfluous goes out, and thus as it were purges the nourishment, which remains.

Augustine: For some things are joined to others in such a way as both to change and be changed, just as food, losing its former appearance, is both itself turned into our body, and we too are changed, and our strength is refreshed by it.

[ed. note: The last words of this comment are not in St. Augustine, but in Bede, who took them originally from St. Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew, from whence most of Bede’s remarks on this passage are taken word for word. As the sentence marked Bede is not found in him, it probably belongs to the Gloss, and his name has been transferred from the former sentence.] Further, a most subtle liquid, after the food has been prepared and digested in our veins, and other arteries, by some hidden channels, called from a Greek word, pores, passes through us, and goes into the draught.

Bede: Thus then it is not meat that makes men unclean, but wickedness, which works in us [p. 137] the passions which come from within.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He said, That which cometh out of a man, that defileth a man.”

Gloss.: The meaning of which He points out, when He subjoins, “for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.”

And thus it appears that evil thoughts belong to the mind, which is here called the heart, and according to which a man is called good or bad, clean or unclean.

Bede: From this passage are condemned those men who suppose that thoughts are put into them by the devil, and do not arise from their own evil will. The devil may excite and help on evil thoughts, he cannot be their author.

Gloss.: From evil thoughts, however, evil actions proceed to greater lengths, concerning which it is added, adulteries, that is, acts which consist in the violation of another man’s bed; fornications, which are unlawful connexions between persons, not bound by marriage; murders, by which hurt is inflicted on the person of one’s neighbour; thefts, by which his goods are taken from him; covetousness, by which things are unjustly kept; wickedness, which consists in calumniating others; deceit, in overreaching them; lasciviousness, to which belongs any corruption of mind or body.

Theophylact: An evil eye, that is, hatred and flattery, for he who hates turns an evil and envious eye on him whom he hates, and a flatterer, looking askance at his neighbour’s goods, leads him into evil; blasphemies, that is, faults committed against God; pride, that is, contempt of God, when a man ascribes the good, which he does, not to God, but to his own virtue; foolishness, that is, an injury against one’s neighbour.

Gloss. [ed. note: see Summa 2, 2, Q46, 1, and 1, 2, Q1, 1]: Or, foolishness consists in wrong thoughts concerning God; for it is opposed to wisdom, which is the knowledge of divine things. It goes on: “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” For whatsoever is in the power of a man, is imputed to him as a fault, because all such things proceed from the interior will, by which man is master of his own actions.

24. And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it; but He could not be hid. [p. 138]

25. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet:

26. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

27. But Jesus said unto her, “Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.”

28. And she answered and said unto Him, “Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.”

29. And He said unto her, “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.”

30. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Theophylact: After that the Lord had finished His teaching concerning food, seeing that the Jews were incredulous, He enters into the country of the Gentiles, for the Jews being unfaithful, salvation turns itself to the Gentiles.

Wherefore it is said, “And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Tyre and Sidon were places of the Canaanites, therefore the Lord comes to them, not as to His own, but as to men, who had nothing in common with the fathers to whom the promise was made. And therefore He comes in such a way, that His coming should not be known to the Tyrians and Sidonians.

Wherefore it continues: “and entered into a house, and would have no man know it.” For the time had not come for His dwelling with the Gentiles and bringing them to the faith, for this was not to be, till after His cross and resurrection.

Theophylact: Or else, His reason for coming in secret was that the Jews should not find occasion of blame against Him, as if He had passed over to the unclean Gentiles.

It goes on: “But He could not be hid.”

Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest e Vet. et N. Test. 77: But if He wished to do so and could not, it appears [p. 139] as if His will was impotent; it is not possible however that our Saviour’s will should not be fulfilled, nor can He will a thing, which He knows ought not be.

Therefore when a thing has taken place, it may be asserted that He has willed it. But we should observe that this happened amongst the Gentiles, to whom it was not time to preach; nevertheless not to receive them, when they came to the faith of their own accord, would have been to grudge them the faith.

So then it came to pass that the Lord was not made known by His disciples; others, however, who had seen Him entering the house, recognized Him, and it began to be known that He was there. His will therefore was that He should not be proclaimed by His own disciples, but that others should come to seek Him, and so it took place.

Bede, in Marc., 2, 30: Having entered also into the house, He commanded His disciples not to betray who He was to anyone in this unknown region, that they, on whom He had bestowed the grace of healing, might learn by His example, as far as they could, to shrink from the glory of human praise in the shewing forth of their miracles; yet they were not to cease from the pious work of virtue, when either the faith of the good justly deserved that miracles should be done, or the unfaithfulness of the wicked might necessarily compel them. For He Himself made known His entry into that place to the Gentile woman, and to whomsoever He would.

Pseudo-Aug.: Lastly, the Canaanitish woman came in to Him, on hearing of Him; if she had not first submitted herself to the God of the Jews, she would not have obtained their benefit. Concerning her it continues: “For a woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, as soon as she had heard of Him, came in and fell at His feet.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now by this the Lord wished to shew His disciples that He opened the door of faith even to the Gentiles, wherefore also the nation of the woman is described when it is added, “The woman was a Gentile, a Syrophenician by nation,” that is, from Syria and Phaenice.

It goes on: “and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 49: It appears however that some question about a discrepancy may be raised, because it is said that the Lord was in the house when the woman came, asking about her daughter. When, however, Matthew says that His disciples had suggested to Him, [p. 140] “Send her away, for she crieth after us,” [Matt 15:23] He appears to imply nothing less than that the woman uttered supplicating cries after the Lord, as He walked. How then do we infer that she was in the house, except by gathering it from Mark, who says that she came in to Jesus, after having before said that He was in the house? But Matthew in that he says, “He answered her not a word,” gave us to understand that He went out, during that silence, from the house; thus too the other events are connected together, so that they now in no way disagree.

It continues: “But He said unto her, Let the children be first filled.”

Bede: The time will come when even you who are Gentiles will obtain salvation; but it is right that first the Jews who deservedly are wont to be called by the name of children of God’s ancient election, should be refreshed with heavenly bread, and that so at length, the food of life should be ministered to the Gentiles.

There follows: “For it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: These words He uttered not that there is in Him a deficiency of virtue, to prevent His ministering to all, but because His benefit, if ministered to both Jews and Gentiles who had no communication with each other, might be a cause of jealousy.

Theophylact: He calls the Gentiles dogs, as being thought wicked by the Jews; and He means by bread, the benefit which the Lord promised to the children, that is, to the Jews. The sense therefore is, that it is not right for the Gentiles first to be partakers of the benefit, promised principally to the Jews. The reason, therefore, why the Lord does not immediately hear, but delays His grace, is, that He may also shew that the faith of the woman was firm, and that we may learn not at once to grow weary in prayer, but to continue earnest till we obtain.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: In like manner also to shew the Jews that He did not confer healing on foreigners in the same degree as to them, and that by the discovery of the woman’s faith, the unfaithfulness of the Jews might be the more laid bare. For the woman did not take it ill, but with much reverence assented to what the Lord had said.

Wherefore it goes on, “And she answered and said unto Him, Truth, Lord, but the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.”

Theophylact: As if she had said, The Jews have the whole of that bread which comes down from heaven, [p. 141] and Thy benefits also; I ask for the crumbs, that is, a small portion of the benefit.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Her placing herself therefore in the rank of dogs is a mark of her reverence; as if she said, I hold it as a favour to be even in the position of a dog, and to eat not from another table, but from that of the Master himself.

Theophylact: Because therefore the woman answered with much wisdom, she obtained what she wanted; wherefore there follows, “And He said unto her, &c.” He said not, My virtue hath made thee whole, but for this saying, that is, for thy faith, which is shewn by this saying, “go thy way, the devil is gone out of thy daughter.”

It goes on: “And when she was come into her house, she found her daughter laid upon the bed, and the devil gone out.”

Bede: On account then of the humble and faithful saying of her mother, the devil left the daughter; here is given a precedent for catechising and baptizing infants, seeing that by the faith and the confession of the parents, infants are freed in baptism from the devil, though they can neither have knowledge in themselves, or do either good or evil.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically however the Gentile woman, who prays for her daughter, is our mother the Church of Rome. Her daughter afflicted with a devil, is the barbarian western race, which by faith hath been turned from a dog into a sheep. She desires to take the crumbs of spiritual understanding, not the unbroken bread of the letter.

Theophylact: The soul of each of us also, when he falls into sin, becomes a woman; and this soul has a daughter who is sick, that is, evil actions; this daughter again has a devil, for evil actions arise from devils. Again, sinners are called dogs, being filled with uncleanness. For which reason we are not worthy to receive the bread of God, or to be made partakers of the immaculate mysteries of God; if however in humility, knowing ourselves to be dogs, we confess our sins, then the daughter, that is, our evil life, shall be healed.

31. And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.

32. And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, [p. 142] and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put His hand upon him.

33. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched His tongue;

34. And looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

35. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

36. And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;

37. And were beyond measure astonished, saying, “He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”

Theophylact: The Lord did not wish to stay in the parts of the Gentiles, lest He should give the Jews occasion to say, that they esteemed Him a transgressor of the law, because He held communion with the Gentiles, and therefore He immediately returns.

Wherefore it is said, “And again departing from the coasts of Tyre, He came through Sidon, to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 31: Decapolis is a region of ten cities, across the Jordan, to the east, over against Galilee [ed. note: It appears, however, from Reland, Pales. v.1, p198, that a portion of Decapolis, including its metropolis, Scythopolis, was on this side Jordan, and therefore this text of St. Mark may be taken literally.] When therefore it is said that the Lord came to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis, it does not mean that He entered the confines of Decapolis themselves; for He is not said to have crossed the sea, but rather to have come to the borders of the sea, and to have reached quite up to the place, which was opposite to the midst of the coasts of Decapolis, which were situated at a distance across the sea.

It goes on, “And they bring Him one that was deaf and dumb, and they besought Him to lay hands upon him.”

Theophylact: Which is rightly placed after the deliverance of one possessed with a [p. 143] devil, for such an instance of suffering came from the devil.

There follows, “And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He takes the deaf and dumb man who was brought to Him apart from the crowd, that He might not do His divine miracles openly; teaching us to cast away vain glory and swelling of heart, for no one can work miracles as he can, who loves humility and is lowly in his conduct. But He puts His fingers into his ears, when He might have cured him with a word, to shew that His body, being united to Deity, was consecrated by Divine virtue, with all that He did. For since on account of the transgression of Adam, human nature had incurred much suffering and hurt in its members and senses, Christ coming into the world shewed the perfection of human nature in Himself, and on this account opened ears, with His fingers, and gave the power of speech by His spittle.

Wherefore it goes on, “And spit, and touched his tongue.”

Theophylact: That He might shew that all the members of His sacred body are divine and holy, even the spittle which loosed the string of the tongue. For the spittle is only the superflous moisture of the body, but in the Lord, all things are divine.

It goes on, “And looking up to heaven, He groaned, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.”

Bede: He looked up to heaven, that He might teach us that thence is to be procured speech for the dumb, hearing for the deaf, health for all who are sick. And He sighed, not that it was necessary for Him to be any thing from His Father with groaning, for He, together with the Father, gives all things to them who ask, but that He might give us an example of sighing, when for our own errors and those of our neighbours, we invoke the guardianship of the Divine mercy.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He at the same time also groaned, as taking our cause upon Himself and pitying human nature, seeing the misery into which it had fallen.

Bede: But that which He says, “Ephphatha, that is, Be opened,” belong properly to the ears, for the ears are to be opened for hearing, but the tongue to be loosed from the bonds of its impediment, that is may be able to speak.

Wherefore it goes on, “And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.”

Where each nature of one and the same Christ [p. 144] is manifestly distinct, looking up indeed into Heaven as man, praying unto God, He groaned, but presently with one word, as being strong in the Divine Majesty, He healed.

It goes on, “And He charged them that they should tell no man.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: By which He has taught us not to boast in our powers, but in the cross and humiliation. He also bade them conceal the miracle, lest He should excite the Jews by envy to kill Him before the time.

Pseudo-Jerome: A city, however, placed on a hill cannot be hid, and lowliness always comes before glory.

Wherefore it goes on, “but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.”

Theophylact: By this we are taught, when we confer benefits on any, by no means to seek for applause and praise; but when we have received benefits, to proclaim and praise our benefactors, even though they be unwilling.

Augustine: If however He, as one Who knew the present and the future wills of men, knew that they would proclaim Him the more in proportion as He forbade them, why did He give them this command? If it were not that He wished to prove to men who are idle, how much more joyfully, with how much greater obedience, they whom He commands to proclaim Him should preach, when they who were forbidden could not hold their peace.

Gloss.: From the preaching however of those who were healed by Christ, the wonder of the multitude, and their praise of the benefits of Christ, increased.

Wherefore it goes on, “And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, Tyre is interpreted, narrowness, and signifies Judaea, to which the Lord said, “For the bed is grown too narrow,” [Isa 28:20] and from which He turns Himself to the Gentiles. Sidon means, hunting, for our race is like an untamed beast, and “sea”, which means a wavering inconstancy. Again, the Saviour comes to save the Gentiles in the midst of the coasts of Decapolis, which may be interpreted, as the commands of the Decalogue.

Further, the human race throughout its many members is reckoned as one man, eaten up by varying pestilence, in the first created man; it is blinded, that is, its eye is evil; it becomes deaf, when it listens to, and dumb when it speaks, evil. And they prayed Him to lay His hand upon him, because many just men, and [p. 145] patriarchs, wished and longed for the time when the Lord should come in the flesh.

Bede: Or he is deaf and dumb, who neither has ears to hear the words of God, nor opens his mouth to speak them, and such must be presented to the Lord for healing, by men who have already learned to hear and speak the divine oracles.

Pseudo-Jerome: Further, he who obtains healing is always drawn aside from turbulent thoughts, disorderly actions, and incoherent speeches. And the fingers which are put into the ears are the words and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, “This is the finger of God.” [Ex 8:19; Luke 11:20]

The spittle is heavenly wisdom, which loosens the sealed lips of the human race, so that it can say, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, and the rest of the Creed. “And looking up to heaven, he groaned,” that is, He taught us to groan, and to raise up the treasures of our hearts to the heavens; because by the groaning of hearty compunction, the silly joy of the flesh is purged away. But the ears are opened to hymns, and songs, and psalms; and He looses the tongue, that it may pour forth the good word, which neither threats nor stripes can restrain.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 8

 

[p. 146]

1. In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them,

2. “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat:

3. And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.”

4. And His disciples answered Him, “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness.”

5. And He asked them, “How many loaves have ye?” And they said, “Seven.”

6. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

7. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

8. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

9. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away.

Theophylact: After the Lord had performed the former miracle concerning the multiplication of the loaves, now again, a fitting occasion presents itself, and He takes the opportunity of working a similar miracle.

Wherefore it is said, [p. 147] “In those days, the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat.”

For He did not always work miracles concerning the feeding of the multitude, lest they should follow Him for the sake of food; now therefore He would not have performed this miracle, if He had not seen that the multitude was in danger.

Wherefore it goes on: “And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 32: Why they who came from afar hold out for three days, Matthew says more fully: “And He went up into a mountain, and sat down there, and great multitudes came unto Him, having with them many sick persons, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.” [Matt. 15:29-30]

Theophylact: The disciples did not yet understand, nor did they believe in His virtue, notwithstanding former miracles; wherefore it continues, “And His disciples said unto Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?”

But the Lord Himself does not blame them, teaching us that we should not be grievously angry with ignorant men and those who do not understand, but bear with their ignorance.

After this it continues, “And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? and they answered, Seven.

Remig.: Ignorance was not His reason for asking them, but that from their answering, “seven,” the miracle might be noised abroad, and become more known in proportion to the smallness of the number.

It goes on: “And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground.”

In the former feeding they lay down on grass, in this one on the ground.

It continues, “And He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake.”

In giving thanks, He has left us an example, that for all gifts conferred on us from heaven we should return thanks to Him. And it is to be remarked, that our Lord did not give the bread to the people, but to His disciples, and the disciples to the people.

For it goes on, “and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.”

And not only the bread, but the fish also He blessed, and ordered to be set before them.

For there comes after, “And they had a few small fishes: [p. 148] and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.”

Bede: In this passage then we should notice, in one and the same, our Redeemer, a distinct operation of Divinity and of Manhood; thus the error of Eutyches [ed. note: i.e. the Monothelites], who presumes to lay down the doctrine of one only operation in Christ, is to be cast out far from the Christian pale. For who does not here see that the pity of our Lord for the multitude is the feeling and sympathy of humanity; and that at the same time His satisfying four thousand men with seven loaves and a few fishes, is a work of Divine virtue?

It goes on, “And they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.”

Theophylact: The multitudes who ate and were filled did not take with them the remains of the loaves, but the disciples took them up, and they did before the baskets. In which we learn according to the narration, that we should be content with what is sufficient, and not look for any thing beyond. The number of those who ate is put down, when it is said, “And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away;” where we may see that Christ sends no one away fasting, for He wishes all to be nourished by His grace.

Bede: The typical difference between this feeding and the other of the five loaves and two fishes, is, that there the letter of the Old Testament, full of spiritual grace, is signified, but here the truth and grace of the New Testament, which is to be ministered to all the faithful, is pointed out.

Now the multitude remains three days, waiting for the Lord to heal their sick, as Matthew relates, when the elect, in the faith of the Holy Trinity, supplicate for sins, with persevering earnestness; or because they turn themselves to the Lord in deed, in word, and in thought.

Theophylact: Or by those who wait for three days, He means the baptized; for baptism is called illumination, and is performed by true immersion.

Greg., Mor. 1, 19: He does not however wish to dismiss them fasting, lest they should faint by the way; for it is necessary that men should find in what is preached the word of consolation, lest hungering through want of the food of truth, they sink under the toil of this life.

Ambrose, in Luc., 6, 73: The good Lord indeed whilst He requires diligence, gives strength; nor will He dismiss them fasting, “lest they faint by the way,” that is, either in the course of this life, or before they have reached the fountainhead [p. 149] of life, that is, the Father, and have learnt that Christ is of the Father, lest haply, after receiving that He is born of a virgin, they begin to esteem His virtue not that of God, but of a man.

Therefore the Lord Jesus divides the food, and His will indeed is to give to all, to deny none; He is the Dispenser of all things, but if thou refusest to stretch forth thy hand to receive the food, thou wilt faint by the way; nor canst thou find fault with Him, who pities and divides.

Bede: But they who return to repentance after the crimes of the flesh, after thefts, violence, and murders, come to the Lord from afar; for in proportion as a man has wandered farther in evil working, so he has wandered farther from Almighty God. The believers amongst the Gentiles came from afar to Christ, but the Jews from near, for they had been taught concerning Him by the letter of the law and the prophets. In the former case, however, of the feeding with five loaves, the multitude lay upon the green grass: here, however, upon the ground, because by the writing of the law, we are ordered to keep under the desires of the flesh, but in the New Testament we are ordered to leave even the earth itself and our temporal goods.

Theophylact: Further, the seven loaves are spiritual discourses, for seven is the number, which points out the Holy Ghost, who perfects all things; for our life is perfected in the number of seven days. [ed. note: The number seven seems to be taken in the Fathers to mean a whole, from the world having been completed in seven days; and St. Ambrose lays it down as a principle of interpretation, in Luc. 7, 95. Theophylact here alludes to the seven ages of man’s life; a very similar passage is found in St. Ambrose’s 44th Letter, where the whole subject is discussed.]

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the seven loaves are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the fragments of the loaves are the mystical understanding of the first week.

Bede: For our Lord’s breaking the bread means the opening of mysteries; His giving of thanks shews how great a joy He feels in the salvation of the human race; His giving the loaves to His disciples that they might set them before the people, signifies that He assigns the spiritual gifts of knowledge to the Apostles, and that it was His will that by their ministry the food of life should be distributed to the Church.

Pseudo-Jerome: The small fishes blessed are the books of the New Testament, for our Lord when risen asks for a piece of broiled fish.

Or else, in these [p. 150] little fishes, we receive the saints, seeing that in the Scriptures of the New Testament are contained the faith, life, and sufferings of them who, snatched away from the troubled waves of this world, have given us by their example spiritual refreshment.

Bede: Again, what was over and above, after the multitude was refreshed, the Apostles take up, because the higher precepts of perfection, to which the multitude cannot attain, belong to those whose life transcends that of the generality of the people of God; nevertheless, the multitude is said to have been satisfied, because though they cannot leave all that they possess, nor come up to that which is spoken of virgins, yet by listening to the commands of the law of God, they attain to everlasting life.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the seven baskets are the seven Churches. By the four thousand is meant the year of the new dispensation, with its four seasons. Fitly also are there four thousand, that in the number itself it might be taught us that they were filled with the food of the Gospel.

Theophylact: Or there are four thousand, that is, men perfect in the four virtues; and for this reason, as being more advanced, they ate more, and left fewer fragments. For in this miracle, seven baskets full remain, but in the miracle of the five loaves, twelve, for there were five thousand men, which means men enslaved to the five senses, and for this reason they could not eat, but were satisfied with little, and many remains of the fragments were over and above.

10. And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

11. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him.

12. And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, “Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily, I say unto you, there shall be no sign given unto this generation.”

13. And He left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

14. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, [p. 151] neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

15. And He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”

16. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”

17. And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, “Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

18. Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

19. When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?” They say unto Him, “Twelve.”

20. “And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?” And they said, “Seven.”

21. And He said unto them, “How is it that ye do not understand?”

Theophylact: After that our Lord had worked the miracle of the loaves, He immediately retires into another spot, lest on account of the miracle, the multitudes should take Him to make Him a king.

Wherefore it is said, “And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 51: Now in Matthew we read that He entered into the parts of Magdala [ed. note: Magedam]. But we cannot doubt that it is the same place under another name; for several manuscripts even of St. Mark have only Magdala.

It goes on, “And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 33: The Pharisees, then, seek a sign from heaven, that He, Who had for the second time fed many thousands of men with a few loaves of bread, should now, after the example of Moses, refresh the whole nation in the last time with manna [p. 152] sent down from heaven, and dispersed amongst them all.

Theophylact: Or they seek for a sign from heaven, that is, they wish Him to make the sun and moon stand still, to bring down hail, and change the atmosphere; for they thought that He could not perform miracles from heaven, but could only in Beelzebub perform a sign on earth.

Bede: When, as related above, He was about to refresh the believing multitude, He gave thanks, so now, on account of the foolish petition of the Pharisees, He groans; because, bearing about with Him the feelings of human nature, as He rejoices over the salvation of men, so He grieves over their errors.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He groaned in spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, If a sign shall be given to this generation.”

That is, no sign shall be given; as it is written in the Psalms, “I have sworn once by my holiness, if I shall fail David,” [Ps 80:36] that is, I will not fail David.

Augustine: Let no one, however, be perplexed that the answer which Mark says was given to them, when they sought a sign from heaven, is not the same as that which Matthew relates, namely, that concerning Jonah. He says that the Lord’s answer was, that no sign should be given to it; by which we must understand such an one as they asked for, that is, one from heaven; but he has omitted to say, what Matthew has related.

Theophylact: Now, the reason why the Lord did not listen to them was, that the time of signs from heaven had not arrived, that is, the time of the second Advent, when the powers of the heaven shall be shaken, and the moon shall not give her light. But in the time of the first Advent, all things are full of mercy, and such things do not take place.

Bede: For a sign from heaven was not to be given to a generation of men, who tempted the Lord; but to a generation of men seeking the Lord, He shews a sign from heaven, when in the sight of the Apostles He ascended into heaven.

It goes on, “And He left them, and entering into a ship again, He departed to the other side.”

Theophylact: The Lord indeed quits the Pharisees, as men uncorrected; for where there is a hope of correction, there it is right to remain; but where the evil is incorrigible, we should go away.

There follows: “Now they had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.”

Bede: [p. 153] Some may ask, how they had no bread, when they had filled seven baskets just before they embarked in the ship. But Scripture relates that they had forgotten to take them with them, which is a proof how little care they had for the flesh in other things, since in their eagerness to follow the Lord, even the necessity of refreshing their bodies had escaped from their mind.

Theophylact: By a special providence also the disciples forgot to take bread, that they might be blamed by Christ, and thus become better, and arrive at a knowledge of Christ’s power.

For it goes on, “And He charged them, saying, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Matthew says, “of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;” Luke, however, of the Pharisees only. All three, therefore, name the Pharisees, as being the most important of them, but Matthew and Mark have each mentioned one of the secondary sects; and fitly has Mark added “of Herod,” as a supplement to Matthew’s narrative, in which they were left out.

But in saying this, He by degrees brings the disciples to understanding and faith.

Theophylact: He means by leaven their hurtful and corrupt doctrine, full of the old malice, for the Herodians were the teachers, who said that Herod was the Christ.

Bede: Or, the leaven of the Pharisees is making the decrees of the divine law inferior to the traditions of men, preaching the law in word, attacking it in deed, tempting the Lord, and disbelieving His doctrine and His works; but the leaven of Herod is adultery, murder, rash swearing, a pretence of religion, hatred to Christ and His forerunner.

Theophylact: But the disciples themselves thought that the Lord spoke of the leaven of bread.

Wherefore it goes on, “And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, it is because we have no bread;” and this they said, as not understanding the power of Christ, who could make bread out of nothing; wherefore the Lord reproves them.

For there follows: “And when Jesus knew it, He said unto them, Why reason ye because ye have no bread?”

Bede: Taking occasion then from the precept, which He had commanded, saying, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod,” our Saviour teaches them what was the meaning of the five and the seven loaves, concerning which He adds, “And do ye not remember, when I brake the five [p. 154] loaves amongst five thousand, and how many baskets full of fragments ye took up?”

For if the leaven mentioned above means perverse traditions, of course the food, with which the people of God was nourished, means the true doctrine.

22. And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him.

23. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought.

24. And he looked up and said, “I see men as trees, walking.”

25. After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

26. And He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”

Gloss.: After the feeding of the multitude, the Evangelist proceeds to the giving sight to the blind, saying, “And they came to Bethsaida, and they bring a blind man to Him, and besought Him to touch him.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 34: Knowing that the touch of the Lord could give sight to a blind man as well as cleanse a leper.

It goes on, “And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town.”

Theophylact: For Bethsaida appears to have been infected with much infidelity, wherefore the Lord reproaches it, “Woe to thee, Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” [Matt. 11, 21] He then takes out of the town the blind man, who had been brought to Him, for the faith of those who brought him was not true faith.

It goes on, “And when He had spit in his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He spat indeed, and put His hand [p. 155] upon the blind man, because He wished to shew that wonderful are the effects of the Divine word added to action; for the hand is the symbol of working, but the spittle, of the word proceeding out of the mouth. Again He asked him whether he could see any thing, which He had not done in the case of any whom He had healed, thus shewing that by the weak faith of those who brought him, and of the blind man himself, his eyes could not altogether be opened.

Wherefore there follows: “And He looked up, and said, I see men as trees walking;” because he was still under the influence of unfaithfulness, he said that he saw men obscurely.

Bede: Seeing indeed the shapes of bodies amongst the shadows, but unable to distinguish the outlines of the limbs, from the continued darkness of his sight; just as trees standing thick together are wont to appear to men who see them from afar, or by the dim light of the night, so that it cannot easily be known whether they be trees or men.

Theophylact: But the reason why he did not see at once perfectly, but in part, was, that he had not perfect faith; for healing is bestowed in proportion to faith.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: From the commencement, however, of the return of his senses, He leads him to apprehend things by faith, and thus makes him see perfectly; wherefore it goes on, “After that, He put His hands again upon his eyes, and he began to see,” and afterwards he adds, “And he was restored, and saw all things clearly,” that is, being perfectly healed in his senses and his intellect.

It goes on, “And He sent him away to his house, saying, Go into thy home, and if thou enter into the town, tell it not to any one.”

Theophylact: These precepts He gave him, because they were unfaithful, as has been said, lest perchance he should receive hurt in his soul from them, and they by their unbelief should run into a more grievous crime.

Bede: Or else, He leaves an example to His disciples that they should not seek for popular favour by the miracles which they did.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, Bethsaida is interpreted, ‘the house of the valley’, that is, the world, which is the vale of tears. Again, they bring to the Lord a blind man, that is, one who neither sees what he has been, what he is, nor what he is to be. They ask Him to touch him, for what is being touched, but feeling compunction?

Bede: For the Lord touches us, when He [p. 156] enlightens our minds with the breath of His Spirit, and He stirs us up that we may recognise our own infirmity, and be diligent in good actions. He takes the hand of the blind man, that He may strengthen him to the practice of good woks.

Pseudo-Jerome: And He brings him out of the town, that is, out of the neighborhood of the wicked; and He puts spittle into his eyes, that he may see the will of God, by the breath of the Holy Ghost; and putting His hands upon him, He asked him if he could see, because by the works of the Lord His majesty is seen.

Bede: Or else, putting spittle into the eyes of the blind man, He lays His hands upon him that he may see, because He has wiped away the blindness of the human race both by invisible gifts, and by the Sacrament of His assumed humanity; for the spittle, proceeding from the Head, points out the grace of the Holy Ghost. But though by one word He could cure the man wholly and all at once, still He cures him by degrees, that He may shew the greatness of the blindness of man, which can hardly, and only as it were step by step, be restored to light; and He exhibits to us His grace, by which He furthers each step towards perfection.

Again, whoever is weighed down by a blindness of such long continuance, that he is unable to distinguish between good and evil, sees as it were men like trees walking, because he sees the deeds of the multitude without the light of discretion.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, he sees men as trees, because he thinks all men higher than himself. But He put His hands again upon his eyes, that he might see all things clearly, that is, understand invisible things by visible, and with the eye of a pure mind contemplate, what the eye hath not seen, the glorious state of his own soul after the rust of sin. He sent him to his home, that is, to his heart; that he might see in himself things which he had not seen before; for a man despairing of salvation does not think that he can do at all what, when enlightened, he can easily accomplish.

Theophylact: Or else, after He has healed him, He sends him to his home; for the home of every one of us is heaven, and the mansions which are there.

Pseudo-Jerome: And He says to him, “If thou enter into the town, tell it not to any one,” that is, relate continually to thy neighbours thy blindness, but never tell them of thy virtue.

[p. 157]

27. And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, “Whom do me say that I am?”

28. And they answered, “John the Baptist: but some say, ‘Elias;’ and others, ‘One of the prophets.’ “

29. And He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, “Thou art the Christ.”

30. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him.

31. And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

32. And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him.

33. But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”

Theophylact: After taking His disciples afar from the Jews, He then asks them concerning Himself, that they might speak the truth without fear of the Jews.

Wherefore it is said, “And Jesus entered, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 35: Philip was that brother of Herod, of whom we spoke above, who in honour of Tiberius Caesar called that town, which is now called Paneas, Caesarea Philippi.

It goes on, “And by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He asks the question with a purpose, for it was right that His disciples should praise Him better than the crowd.

Bede: Wherefore He first asks what is the opinion of men, in order to try the faith of the disciples, lest their confession should appear to be founded on the common opinion.

It goes on, “And they answered, saying, ‘Some [p. 158] say John the Baptist, some Elias, and others, One of the prophets.”

Theophylact: For many thought that John had risen from the dead, as even Herod believed, and that he had performed miracles after his resurrection. After however having enquired into the opinion of others, He asks them what was the belief of their own minds on this point.

Wherefore it continues, “And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 54: From the manner, however, itself of the question, He leads them to a higher feeling, and to higher thoughts, concerning Him, that they might not agree with the multitude. But the next words shew what the head of the disciples, the mouth of the Apostles, answered; when all were asked, “Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ.”

Theophylact: He confesses indeed that He is the Christ announced by the Prophets; but the Evangelist Mark passes over what the Lord answered to his confession, and how He blessed him, lest by this way of relating it, he should seem to be favouring his master Peter; Matthew plainly goes through the whole of it.

Origen, in Matt. Tom., 12, 15: Or else, Mark and Luke, as they wrote that Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ,” without adding what is put down in Matthew, “the Son of the living God,” so they omitted to relate the blessing which was conferred on this confession.

It goes on, “And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him.”

Theophylact: For He wished in the meantime to hide His glory, lest many should be offended because of Him, and so earn a worse punishment.

Chrys.: Or else, that He might wait to fix the pure faith in their minds, till the Crucifixion, which was an offence to them, was over, for after it was once perfected, about the time of His ascension, He said unto the Apostles, “Go ye and teach all nations.”

Theophylact: But after the Lord had accepted the confession of the disciples, who called Him the true God, He then reveals to them the mystery of the Cross.

Wherefore it goes on, “And He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again; and He spake that saying openly,” that is, concerning His future passion.

But His disciples did not understand the order of the truth, neither could they [p. 159] comprehend His resurrection, but thought it better that He should not suffer.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The reason, however, why the Lord told them this, was to shew, that after His cross and resurrection, Christ must be preached by His witnesses. Again, Peter alone, from the fervour of his disposition, had the boldness to dispute about these things.

Wherefore it goes on, “And Peter took Him up, and began to rebuke Him.”

Bede: This, however, he speaks with the feelings of a man who loves and desires; as if he said, This cannot be, neither can mind ears receive that the Son of God is to be slain.

Chrys.: But how is this, that Peter, gifted with a revelation from the Father, has so soon fallen, and become unstable? Surely, however, it was not wonderful that one who had received no revelation concerning the Passion should be ignorant of this. For that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, he had learnt by revelation; but the mystery of His cross and resurrection had not yet been revealed to him. He Himself, however, shewing that He must come to His Passion, rebuked Peter.

Wherefore there follows, “And when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, &c.”

Theophylact: For the Lord, wishing to shew that His Passion was to take place on account of the salvation of men, and that Satan alone was unwilling that Christ should suffer, and the race of man be saved, called Peter Satan, because he savoured the things that were of Satan, and, from unwillingness that Christ should suffer, became His adversary; for Satan is interpreted ‘the adversary.’

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He saith not to the devil, when tempting Him, “Get thee behind me,” but to Peter He saith, “Get thee behind me,” that is, follow Me, and resist not the design of My voluntary Passion.

There follows, “For thou savourest not the things which be of God, but which be of men.”

Theophylact: He says that Peter savours the things which be of men, in that he in some way savoured carnal affections, for Peter wished that Christ should spare Himself and not be crucified.

34. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. [p. 160]

35. For whosoever will save his life shall lost it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.

36. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lost his own soul?

37. Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

38. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Bede: After shewing to His disciples the mystery of His passion and resurrection, He exorts them, as well as the multitude, to follow the example of His passion.

Wherefore it goes on, “And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 55: As is He would say to Peter, Thou indeed dost rebuke Me, who am willing to undergo My passion, but I tell thee, that not only is it wrong to prevent Me from suffering, but neither canst thou be saved unless thou thyself diest.

Again He says, “Whosoever wishes to come after Me;” as if He said, I call you to those good things which a man should wish for, I do not force you to evil and burdensome things; for he who does violence to his hearer, often stands in his way; but he who leaves him free, rather draws him to himself. And a man denies himself when he cares not for his body, so that whether it be scourged, or whatever of like nature it may suffer, he bears it patiently.

Theophylact: For a man who denies another, be it brother or father, does not sympathize with him, nor grieve at his fate, though he be wounded and die; thus we ought to despise our body, so that if it should be wounded or hurt in any way, we should not mind its suffering.

Chrys.: But He says not, a man should not spare himself, but what is more, that he should deny himself, as if he had nothing in common with himself, but face danger, and look upon such things as if another were suffering; and this is [p. 161] really to spare himself; for parents then most truly act kindly to their children, when they give them up to their masters, with an injunction not to spare them. Again, He shews the degree to which a man should deny himself, when He says, “And take up his cross,” by which He means, even to the most shameful death.

Theophylact: For at that time the cross appeared shameful, because malefactors were fixed to it.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, as a skilful pilot, foreseeing a storm in a calm, wishes his sailors to be prepared; so also the Lord says, “If any one will follow me, &c.”

Bede: For we deny ourselves, when we avoid what we were of old, and strive to reach that point, whither we are newly called. And the cross is taken up by us, when either our body is pained by abstinence, or our soul afflicted by fellow-feeling for our neighbour.

Theophylact: But because after the cross we must have a new strength, He adds, “and follow me.”

Chrys.: And this He says, because it may happen that a man may suffer and yet not follow Christ, that is, when he does not suffer for Christ’s sake; for he follows Christ, who walks after Him, and conforms himself to His death, despising those principalities and powers under whose power, before the coming of Christ, he committed sin.

Then there follows, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.”

I give you these commands, as it were to spare you; for whosoever spares his son, brings him to destruction, but whosoever does not spare him, saves him. It is therefore right to be always prepared for death; for if in the battles of this world, he who is prepared for death fights better than others, though none can restore him to life after death, much more is this the case in spiritual battle, when so great a hope of resurrection is set before him, since he who gives up his soul unto death saves it.

Remig.: And life is to be taken in this place for the present life, and not for the substance itself of the soul.

Chrys.: And therefore He had said, “For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it,” lest any one should suppose this loss to be equivalent to that salvation, He adds, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, &c.” As if He said, Think not that he has saved his soul, who has shunned the perils [p. 162] of the cross; for when a man, at the cost of his soul, that is, his life, gains the whole world, what has he besides, now that his soul is perishing? Has he another soul to give for his soul? For a man can give the price of his house in exchange for the house; but in losing his soul, he has not another soul to give. And it is with a purpose that He says, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” for God, in exchange for our salvation, has given the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

Bede, in Marc. 2, 36: Or else He says this, because in time of persecution, our life is to be laid aside, but in time of peace, our earthly desires are to be broken, which He implies when He says, “For what shall it profit a man, &c.”

But we are often hindered by a habit of shamefacedness, from expressing with our voice the rectitude which we preserve in our hearts; and therefore it is added, “For whosoever shall confess Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, him also shall the Son of man confess, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Theophylact: For that faith which only remains in the mind is not sufficient, but the Lord requires also the confession of the mouth; for when the soul is sanctified by faith, the body ought also to be sanctified by confession.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He then who has learned this, is bound zealously to confess Christ without shame. And this generation is called adulterous, because it has left God the true Bridegroom of the soul, and has refused to follow the doctrine of Christ, but has prostrated itself to the devil and taken up the seeds of impiety, for which reason also it is called sinful. Whosoever therefore amongst them has denied the kingdom of Christ, and the words of God revealed in the Gospel, shall receive a reward befitting His impiety, when He hears in the second advent, “I know you not.” [Matt 7:23]

Theophylact: Him then who shall leave confessed that his God was crucified, Christ Himself also shall confess, not here, where He is esteemed poor and wretched, but in His glory and with a multitude of Angels.

Greg., Hom. in 32, in Evang.: There are however some, who confess Christ, because they see that all men are Christians; for if the name of Christ were not at this day in such great glory, the Holy Church would not have so many professors. The voice of the profession therefore is not sufficient for a trial of faith [p. 163] whilst the profession of the generality defends it from shame.

In the time of peace therefore there is another way, by which we may be known to ourselves. We are ever fearful of being despised by our neighbours, we think it shame to bear injurious words; if perchance we have quarrelled with our neighbour, we blush to be the first to give satisfaction; for our carnal heart, in seeking the glory of this life, disdains humility.

Theophylact: But because He had spoken of His glory, in order to shew that His promises were not vain, He subjoins, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here who shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

As if He said, Some, that is, Peter, James, and John, shall not taste of death, until I shew them, in my transfiguration, with what glory I am to come in my second advent; for the transfiguration was nothing else, but an announcement of the second coming of Christ, in which also Christ Himself and the Saints will shine.

Bede, in Marc., 3, 36: Truly it was done with a loving foresight, in order that they, having tasted for a brief moment the contemplation of everlasting joy, might with the greater strength bear up under adversity.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 56: And He did not declare the names of those who were about to go up, lest the other disciples should feel some touch of human frailty, and He tells it to them beforehand, that they might come with minds better prepared to be taught all that concerned that vision.

Bede: Or else the present Church is called the kingdom of God; and some of the disciples were to live in the body until they should see the Church built up, and raised against the glory of the world; for it was right to make some promises concerning this life to the disciples who were uninstructed, that they might be built up with greater strength for the time to come.

Pseudo-Chrys., Orig. in Matt. tom., 12, 33, 35: But in a mystical sense, Christ is life, and the devil is death, and he tastes of death, who dwells in sin; even now every one, according as he has good or evil doctrines, tastes the bread either of life or of death. And indeed, it is a less evil to see death, a greater to taste of it, still worse to follow it, worst of all to be subject to it.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9

 

[p. 164]

1. And He said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

2. And after six days Jesus taketh with Him, Peter and James and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them.

3. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

4. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

5. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”

6. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.

7. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him.”

8. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.

Pseudo-Jerome: After the consummation of the cross, the glory of the resurrection is shewn, that they, who were to see with their own eyes the glory of the resurrection to come, might not fear the shame of the cross.

Wherefore it is said, “And after six days Jesus taketh with Him, Peter and James and John, and led them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and He was transfigured before them.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt. 65: Luke in saying [p. 165], “After eight days,” does not contradict this; for he reckoned in both the day on which Christ had spoken what goes before, and the day on which He took them up. And the reason that He took them up after six days, was that they might be filled with a more eager desire during the space of these days, and with a watchful and anxious mind attend to what they saw.

Theophylact: And He takes with Him the three chief of the Apostles, Peter, as confessing and loving Him, John, as the beloved one, James, as being sublime in speech and as a divine; for so displeasing was he to the Jews, that Herod wishing to please the Jews slew him.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He does not however shew His glory in a house, but He takes them up into a high mountain, for the loftiness of the mountain was adapted to shewing forth the loftiness of His glory.

Theophylact: And He took them apart, because He was about to reveal mysteries to them. We must also understand by transfiguration not the change of His features, but that, whilst His features remained as before, there was added unto Him a certain ineffable brightness.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: It is not therefore fitting that in the kingdom of God any change of feature should take place, either in the Saviour Himself, or in those who are to be made like unto Him, but only an addition of brightness.

Bede, 3, 37: Our Saviour then when transfigured did not lose the substance of real flesh, but shewed forth the glory of His own or of our future resurrection; for such as He then appeared to the Apostles, He will after the judgment appear to all His elect.

It goes on, “And His raiment became shining.”

Greg., Mor. 32: Because, in the height of the brightness of heaven above, they who shine in righteousness of life, will cling to Him; for by the name of garments, He means the just whom He joins to Himself.

There follows, “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 56: He brings Moses and Elias before them; first, indeed, because the multitudes said that Christ was Elias, and one of the Prophets. He shews Himself to the Apostles with them, that they might see the difference between the Lord, and His servants.

And again because the Jews accused Christ of transgressing the law, and thought Him a blasphemer, as if He arrogated to Himself the glory of His Father, He brought before them those who shone [p. 166] conspicuous in both ways; for Moses gave the Law, and Elias was zealous for the glory of God; for which reason neither would have stood near Him, if He had been opposed to God and to His law.

And that they might know that He holds the power of life and of death, He brings before them both Moses who was dead, and Elias who had not yet suffered death. Furthermore He signified by this that the doctrine of the Prophets was the schoolmaster to the doctrine of Christ. He also signified the junction of the New and Old Testament, and that the Apostles shall be joined in the resurrection with the Prophets, and both together shall go forth to meet their common King.

It goes on, “And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”

Bede: If the transfigured humanity of Christ and the society of but two saints seen for a moment, could confer delight to such a degree that Peter would, even by serving them, stay their departure, how great a happiness will it be to enjoy the vision of Deity amidst choirs of Angels forever?

It goes on, “For he wist not what to say;” although, however, Peter from the stupor of human frailty knew not what to say, still he gives a proof of the feelings which were within him; for the cause of his not knowing what to say, was his forgetting that the kingdom was promised to the Saints by the Lord not in any earthly region, but in heaven; he did not remember that he and his fellow Apostles were still hemmed in by mortal flesh and could not bear the state of immortal life, to which his soul had already carried him away, because in our Father’s house in heaven, a house made with hands is not needed.

But again even up to this time he is pointed at, as an ignorant man, who wishes to make three tabernacles for the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, since they in no way can be separated from each other.

Chrys. [ed. note: This passage is found neither in St. Chrysostom, nor in Possious’ Catena, nor in Peitanus’ translation of Victor: it is however in the Catena of St. Mark, edited by Dr. Cramer. As it stands in the text, a part of it is so unintelligible, that recourse has been had to the Greek.]

Again, Peter neither comprehended that the Lord worked His transfiguration for the shewing forth of His true glory, nor that He did this in order to teach men, nor that it was impossible for them to leave the multitude [p. 167] and dwell in the mountain.

It goes on, “For they were sore afraid.”

But this fear of theirs was one by which they were raised from their usual state of mind to one higher, and they recognised that those who appeared to them were Moses and Elias. The soul also was drawn on to a state of heavenly feeling, as though carried away from human sense by the heavenly vision.

Theophylact: Or else, Peter, fearing to come down from the mount because he had now a presentiment that Christ must be crucified, said, “It is good for us to be here,” and not to go down there, that is, in the midst of the Jews; but if they who are furious against Thee come hither, we have Moses who beat down the Egyptians, we have also Elias, who brought fire down from heaven and destroyed the five hundred.

Origen, in Matt. tom. 12, 40: Mark says in his own person, “For he wist not what to say.” Where it is matter for consideration, whether perchance Peter spoke this in the confusion of his mind, by the motion of a spirit not his own; whether perchance that spirit himself who wished, as far as in him lay, to be a stumbling block to Christ, so that He might shrink from that Passion, which was the saving of all men, did not here work as a seducer and wish under the colour of good to prevent Christ from condescending to men, from coming to them, and taking death upon Himself for their sakes.

Bede: Now because Peter sought for a material tabernacle, he was covered with the shadow of the cloud, that he might learn that in the resurrection they are to be protected not by the covering of houses, but by the glory of the Holy Ghost.

Wherefore it goes on, “There was a cloud that overshadowed them.”

And the reason why they obtained no answer from the Lord was that they asked unadvisedly; but the Father answered for the Son.

Wherefore there follows, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 56: The voice proceeded from a cloud in which God is wont to appear, that they might believe that the voice was sent forth from God. But in that He says, “This is My beloved Son,” He declares that the will of the Father and the Son is one, and that, save in that He is the Son, He is in all things One with Him who begot Him.

Bede: He then whose preaching, as Moses foretold, every soul that wished to be saved should hear when He came in the [p. 168] flesh, He now come in the flesh is proclaimed by God the Father to the disciples as the one whom they were to hear.

There follows: “And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves;” for as soon as the Son was proclaimed, at once the servants disappeared, lest the voice of the Father should seem to have been sent forth to them.

Theophylact: Again, mystically; after the end of this world, which was made in six days, Jesus will take us up (if we be His disciples) into an high mountain, that is, into heaven, where we shall see His exceeding glory.

Bede: And by the garments of the Lord are meant His saints, who will shine with a new whiteness. By the fuller we must understand Him, to whom the Psalmist says, “Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin;” [Ps 51] for He cannot give to His faithful ones upon earth that glory which remains laid up for them in heaven.

Remig.: Or else, by the fuller are meant holy preachers and purifiers of the soul, none of whom in this life can so live as not to be stained with some spots of sin; but in the coming resurrection all the saints shall be purged from every stain of sin. Therefore the Lord will make them such as neither they themselves by taking vengeance on their own members, nor any preacher by his example and doctrine, can make.

Chrys.: Or else, white garments are the writings of Evangelists and Apostles, the like to which no interpreter can frame.

Origen, in Matt. tom. 12, 39: Or else, fullers upon earth may by a moral interpretation be considered to be the wise of this world, who are thought to adorn even their foul understandings and doctrines with a false whitening drawn from their own minds. But their skill as fullers cannot produce any thing like a discourse which shews forth the brightness of spiritual conceptions in the unpolished words of Scripture, which by many are despised.

Bede: Moses and Elias, of whom one, as we read, died, the other was carried away to heaven, signify the coming glory of all the Saints, that is, of all who in the judgment time are either to be found alive in the flesh, or to be raised up from that death of which they tasted, and who are all equally to reign with Him.

Theophylact: Or else it means, that we are to see in glory both the Law and the Prophets speaking with Him, that is, we shall then find that all those things which were [p. 169] spoken of Him by Moses and the other prophets agree with the reality; then too we shall hear the voice of the Father, revealing to us the Son of the Father, and saying, “This is My beloved Son,” and the cloud, that is, the Holy Ghost, the fount of truth, will overshadow us.

Bede: And we must observe, that, as when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, so on the mountain, covered with brightness, the whole mystery of the Holy Trinity is declared, because we shall see in the resurrection that glory of the Trinity which we believers confess in baptism, and shall praise it all together.

Nor is it without reason that the Holy Ghost appeared here in a bright cloud, there in the form of a dove; because he who now with a simple heart keeps the faith which he hath embraced, shall then contemplate what he had believed with the brightness of open vision. But when the voice had been heard over the Son, He was found Himself alone, because when He shall have manifested Himself to His elect, God shall be all in all, yea Christ with His own, as the Head with the body, shall shine through all things. [1 Cor 15:28]

9. And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.

10. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

11. And they asked Him, saying, “Why say the Scribes that Elias must first come?”

12. And He answered and told them, “Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things: and how it is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at nought.

13. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”

Origen, in Matt. tom. 12, 43: After the shewing of the mystery on the mount, the Lord commanded His disciples, as they were coming down from [p. 170] the mount, not to reveal His transfiguration, before the glory of His Passion and Resurrection.

Wherefore it is said, “And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 56: Where He not only orders them to be silent, but mentioning His Passion, He implies the cause why they were to be silent.

Theophylact: Which He did lest men should be offended, hearing such glorious things of Him Whom they were about to see crucified. It was not therefore fitting to say such things of Christ before He suffered, but after His resurrection they were likely to be believed.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But they, being ignorant of the mystery of the resurrection, took hold of that saying, and disputed one with another.

Wherefore there follows, “And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This, which is peculiar to Mark, means, that when death shall have been swallowed up in victory, we shall have no memory for the former things.

It goes on, “And they asked Him, saying, “Why say the Scribes that Elias must first come?”

Chrys.: The design of the disciples in asking this question seems to me to be this. We indeed have seen Elias with Thee, and have seen Thee before seeing Elias, but the Scribes say that Elias cometh first; we therefore believe that they have lied.

Bede: Or thus; the disciples thought that the change which they had seen in Him in the mount, was His transformation to glory; and they say, If Thou hast already come in glory, wherefore doth not Thy forerunner appear? chiefly because they had seen Elias go away.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt. 57: But what Christ answered to this, is seen by what follows, “And He answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things;” in which He shews that Elias will come before His second advent. For the Scriptures declare two advents of Christ, namely, one which has taken place, and another which is to come; but the Lord asserts that Elias is the forerunner of the second advent.

Bede: Again, He will restore all things, that is to say, those things which Malachi points out, saying, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children [p. 171] to their fathers;” [Mal 4:5-6] he will yield up also to death that debt, which by his prolonged life he has delayed to render.

Theophylact: Now the Lord puts this forward to oppose the notion of the Pharisees, who held that Elias was the forerunner of the first advent, shewing that it led them to a false conclusion; wherefore he subjoins, “And how it is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at nought.” As if He had said, When Elias the Tishbite cometh, he will pacify the Jews, and will bring them to the faith, and thus be the forerunner of the second advent.

If then Elias is the forerunner of the first advent, how is it written that the Son of man must suffer? One of these two things therefore will follow; either that Elias is not the forerunner of the first advent, and thus the Scripture will be true; or that he is the forerunner of the first advent, and then the Scripture will not be true, which say that Christ must suffer; for Elias must restore all things, in which case there will not be an unbelieving Jew, but all, whosoever hear him, must believe on his preaching.

Bede: Or this, “And how it is written;” that is, in the same way as the prophets have written many things in various places concerning the Passion of Christ, Elias also, when he comes, is to suffer many things, and to be despised by the wicked.

Chrys.: Now as the Lord asserted that Elias was to be the forerunner of the second advent, so consequently He asserted that John was the forerunner of the first.

Wherefore He subjoins, “But I say unto you, that Elias is indeed come.”

Gloss.: He calls John Elias, not because he was Elias in person, but because he fulfilled the ministry of Elias; for as the latter will be the forerunner of the second advent, so the former has been that of the first.

Theophylact: For again, John rebuked vice, and was a zealous man, and a hermit like Elias; but they heard him not, as they will hear Elias, but killed him in wicked sport, and cut off his head.

Wherefore there follows, “And they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, the disciples asked Jesus, how it was written that the Son of man must suffer? Now in answer to this, He says, As John came in the likeness of Elias, and they evil intreated him, so according to the Scriptures must the Son of man suffer. [p. 172]

14. And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude about them, and the Scribes questioning with them.

15. And straightway all the people, when they beheld Him, were greatly amazed, and running to Him saluted Him.

16. And He asked the Scribes, “What question ye with them?”

17. And one of the multitude answered and said, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

18. And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.”

19. He answereth him, and saith, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto Me.”

20. And they brought him unto Him: and when He saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

21. And He asked his father, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?” And he said, “Of a child.

22. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

23. Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.”

25. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” [p. 173]

26. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, “He is dead.”

27. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

28. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could not we cast him out?”

29. And He said unto them, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

Theophylact: After He had shewn His glory in the mount to the three disciples, He returns to the other disciples, who had not come up with Him into the mount; wherefore it is said, “And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude about them, and the Scribes questioning with them.”

For the Pharisees, catching the opportunity of the hour when Christ was not present, came up to them, to try to draw them over to themselves.

Pseudo-Jerome: But there is no peace for man under the sun; envy is ever slaying the little ones, and lightnings strike the tops of the great mountains. Of all those who run to the Church, some as the multitudes come in faith to learn, others, as the Scribes, with envy and pride.

It goes on, “And straightway all the people, when they beheld Jesus, were greatly amazed, and feared.”

Bede, in Marc., 3, 38: In all cases, the difference between the mind of the Scribes and of the people ought to be observed; for the Scribes are never said to have shewn any devotion, faith, humility, and reverence, but as soon as the Lord was come, the whole multitude was greatly amazed and feared, and ran up to Him, and saluted Him; wherefore there follows, “And running to Him, saluted Him.”

Theophylact: For the multitude was glad to see Him, so that they saluted Him from afar, as He was coming to them; but some suppose that His countenance had become more beautiful from His transfiguration, and that this induced the crowd to salute Him.

Pseudo-Jerome: Now it was the people, and not the disciples, who on seeing Him were amazed and feared, for there is no fear in love; fear belongs to servants, amazement to fools. [p. 174]

It goes on: “And He asked them, What question ye with them?”

Why does the Lord put this question? That confession may produce salvation, and the murmuring of our hearts may be appeased by religious works.

Bede: The question, indeed, which was raised may, if I am not deceived, have been this, wherefore they, who were the disciples of the Saviour, were unable to heal the demoniac, who was placed in the midst, which may be gathered from the following words; “And one of the multitude answered and said, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away.”

Chrys.: The Scriptures declare that this man was weak in faith, for Christ says, “O faithless generation:” and He adds, “If thou canst believe.”

But although his want of faith was the cause of their not casting out the devil, he nevertheless accuses the disciples.

Wherefore it is added, “And I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; but they could not.”

Now observe his folly; in praying to Jesus in the midst of the crowd, he accuses the disciples, wherefore the Lord before the multitude so much the more accuses him, and not only aims the accusation at himself, but also extends it to all the Jews; for it is probable that many of those present had been offended, and had held wrong thoughts concerning His disciples.

Wherefore there follows, “He answereth them and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” By which He shewed both that He desired death, and that it was a burden to Him to converse with them.

Bede: So far, however, is He from being angry with the person, though He reproved the sin, that He immediately added, “Bring him unto Me; and they brought him unto Him. And when He saw him, straightway the spirit tare him, and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”

Chrys.: But this the Lord permitted for the sake of the father of the boy, that when he saw the devil vexing his child, he might be brought on to believe that the miracle was to be wrought.

Theophylact: He also permits the child to be vexed, that in this way we might know the devil’s wickedness, who would have killed him, had he not been [p. 175] assisted by the Lord.

It goes on: “And He asked his father, How long is it ago since this come unto him? And he said, Of a child; and ofttimes it has cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him.”

Bede: Let Julian [ed. note: Julian was bishop of Eclanum in Campania; he was well known to St. Augustine, who before his fall speaks of him with great affection. On refusing however to agree to Pope Zosimus’ condemnation of Pelagius, he was deposed, and expelled from Italy. He wrote a great deal against St. Augustine, by whom he was refuted in works now extant. The opinion specially referred to in the text was, that Adam would have died, even though he had remained innocent, and therefore that death and sickness are not the consequences of original sin. He died in Sicily in great poverty, about A.D. 453.] blush, who dares to say that all men are born in the flesh without the infection of sin, as though they were innocent in all respects, just as Adam was when he was created.

For what was there in the boy, that he should be troubled from infancy with a cruel devil, if he were not held at all by the chain of original sin? since it is evident that he could not yet have had any sin of his own.

Gloss.: Now he expresses in the words of his petition his want of faith; for that is the reason why he adds, “But if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

For in that he says, “If thou canst do any thing,” he shews that he doubts His power, because he had seen that the disciples of Christ had failed in curing him; but he says, “have compassion on us,” to shew the misery of the sons, who suffered, and the father, who suffered with him.

It goes on: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This saying, “If thou canst,” is a proof of the freedom of the will. Again, all things are possible to him that believeth, which evidently means all those things which are prayed for with tears in the name of Jesus, that is, of salvation.

Bede: The answer of the Lord was suited to the petition; for the man said, “If thou canst do any thing, help us;” and to this the Lord answered, “If thou canst believe.” On the other hand, the leper who cried out, with faith, “Lord, if Thou will, Thou canst make me clean,” [Matt 8:2] received an answer according to his faith, “I will, be thou clean.”

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: His meaning is; such a plenitude of virtue is there in Me, that not only can I do this, but I will make others to have that power; wherefore if thou canst believe as thou oughtest to do, thou [p. 176] shalt be able to cure not only him, but many more. In this way then, He endeavoured to bring back to the faith, the man who as yet speaks unfaithfully.

There follows, “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

But if he had already believed, saying, “I believe,” how is it that he adds, “help thou mine unbelief?” We must say then that faith is manifold, that one sort of faith is elementary, another perfect; but this man, being but a beginner in believing, prayed the Saviour to add to his virtue what was wanting.

Bede: For no man at once reaches to the highest point, but in holy living a man begins with the least things that he may reach the great; for the beginning of virtue is different from the progress and the perfection of it. Because then faith mounts up through the secret inspiration of grace, by the steps of its own merits, [ed. note: This sentence of Bede may be considered to be an exposition of our Lord’s words: “for he that hath not from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” The connection between grace and merit, as used by the Fathers, may be illustrated from St. Thomas, their faithful disciple. He defines a meritorious operation to be one the reward of which is beyond the nature of the worker; so that merit implies the infusion of a supernatural habit, that is, of grace, not only as its efficient, but as its formal cause. Summa 1 Q62, Art 4] he who had not yet believed perfectly was at once a believer and an unbeliever.

Pseudo-Jerome: By this also we are taught that our faith is tottering, if it lean not on the stay of the help of God. But faith by its tears receives the accomplishment of its wishes.

Wherefore it continues, “When Jesus saw that the multitude came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee come out of him, and enter no more into him.”

Theophylact: The reason that He rebuked the foul spirit, when He saw the crowd running together, was that He did not wish to cure him before the multitude, that He might give us a lesson to avoid ostentation.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And His rebuking him, and saying, “I charge thee,” is a proof of Divine power. Again, in that He says not only, “come out of him,” but also “enter no more into him,” He shews that the evil spirit was ready to enter again, because the man was weak in faith, but was prevented by the commend of the Lord.

It goes on, “And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him; and he was as one dead, insomuch that [p. 177] many said, He is dead.”

For the devil was not able to inflict death upon him, because the true Life was come.

Bede: But him, whom the unholy spirit made like unto death, the holy Saviour saved by the touch of His hold hand; wherefore it goes on, “But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose.”

Thus as the Lord had shewn Himself to be very God by the power of healing, so He shewed that He had the very nature of our flesh, by the manner of His human touch. The Manichaean [ed. note: “Their fundamental maxim of the intrinsic evil of matter and the degraded state of mind, which their speculations on the birth after the flesh brought with it involved the denial of the Incarnation of our Lord and, as a consequence, of the reality of His whole life.” (Note a, upon St. Augustine’s Confessions, Oxf. Tr. p. 325)] indeed madly denies that He was truly clothed in flesh; He Himself, however, by raising, cleansing, enlightening so many afflicted persons by His touch, condemned his heresy before its birth.

It goes on: “And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out?”

Chrys.: They feared that perchance they had lost the grace conferred upon them; for they had already received power over unclean spirits.

It goes on: “And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.”

Theophylact: That is, the whole class of lunatics, or simply, of all persons possessed with devils. Both the man to be cured, and he who cures him, should fast; for a real prayer is offered up, when fasting is joined with prayer, when he who prays is sober and not heavy with food.

Bede: Again, in a mystical sense, on high the Lord unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to His disciples, but below He rebukes the multitude for their sins of unfaithfulness, and expels devils from those who are vexed by them. Those who are still carnal and foolish, He strengthens, teaches, punishes, whilst He more freely instructs the perfect concerning the things of eternity.

Theophylact: Again, this devil is deaf and dumb; deaf, because he does not choose to hear the words of God; dumb, because he is unable to teach others their duty.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, a sinner foameth forth folly, gnasheth with anger, pineth away in sloth. But the evil spirit tears him, when coming to salvation, and in like manner those whom he would drag into his maw [p. 178] he tears asunder by terrors and losses, as he did Job.

Bede: For oftentimes when we try to turn to God after sin, our old enemy attacks us with new and greater snares, which he does, either to instill into us a hatred of virtue, or to avenge the injury of his expulsion.

Greg., Mor. x., 30: But he who is freed from the power of the evil spirit is thought to be dead; for whosoever has already subdued earthly desires, puts to death within himself his carnal mode of life, and appears to the world as a dead man, and many look upon him as dead; for they who know not how to live after the Spirit, think that he who does not follow after carnal pleasures is altogether dead.

Pseudo-Jerome: Further, in his being vexed from his infancy, the Gentile people is signified, from the very birth of whom the vain worship of idols arose, so that they in their folly sacrificed their children to devils. And for this reason it is said that “it cast him into the fire and into the water;” for some of the Gentiles worshipped fire, others water.

Bede: Or by this demoniac are signified those who are bound by the guilt of original sin, and coming into the world as criminals, are to be saved by grace; and by fire is meant the heat of anger, by water, the pleasures of the flesh, which melt the soul by their sweetness.

But He did not rebuke the boy, who suffered violence, but the devil, who inflicted it, because he who desires to amend a sinner, ought, whilst he exterminates his vice by rebuking and cursing it, to love and cherish the man.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the Lord applies to the evil spirit what he had inflicted on the man, calling him a “deaf and dumb spirit,” because he never will hear and speak what the penitent sinner can speak and hear. But the devil, quitting a man, never returns, if the man keep his heart with the keys of humility and charity, and hold possession of the gate of freedom [ed. note: of “fastness”.]. The man who was healed became as one dead, for it is said to those who are healed, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Theophylact: Again, when Jesus, that is, the word of the Gospel, takes hold of the hand, that is, of our powers of action, then shall we be freed from the devil. And observe that God first helps us, then it is required of us that we do good; for which reason it is said that Jesus “raised him;” in which is shewn the aid of God, and that “he arose,” in which is declared the zeal of man.

Bede: Further, [p. 179] our Lord, while teaching the Apostles how the worst devil is to be expelled, gives all of us rules for our life; that is, He would have us know that all the more grievous attacks of evil spirits or of men are to be overcome by fastings and prayers; and again, that the anger of the Lord, when it is kindled for vengeance on our crimes, can be appeased by this remedy alone.

But fasting in general is not only abstinence from food, but also from all carnal delights, yea, from all vicious passions. In like manner, prayer taken generally consists not only in the words by which we call upon the Divine mercy, but also in all those things which we do with the devotedness of faith in obedience to our Maker, as the Apostle testifies, when he says, “Pray without ceasing.” [Thes 5:17]

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the folly which is connected with the softness of the flesh, is healed by fasting; anger and laziness are healed by prayer. Each would has its own medicine, which must be applied to it; that which is used for the heel will not cure the eye; by fasting, the passions of the body, by prayer, the plagues of the soul, are healed.

30. And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and He would not that any man should know it.

31. For He taught He disciples, and said unto them, “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day.”

32. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

33. And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?”

34. But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35. And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” [p. 180]

36. And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them,

37. “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.”

Theophylact: It is after miracles that the Lord inserts a discourse concerning His Passion, lest it should be thought that He suffered because He could not help it.

Wherefore it is said, “And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and He would not that any man should know it. For He taught His disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 39: He always mingles together sorrowful and joyful things, that sorrow should not by its suddenness frighten the Apostles, but be borne by them with prepared minds.

Theophylact: After, however, saying what was sorrowful, He adds what ought to rejoice them; wherefore it goes on: “And after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day;” in order that we may learn that joys come on after struggles.

There follows: “But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him.”

Bede: This ignorance of the disciples proceeds not so much from slowness of intellect, as from love for the Saviour, for they were as yet carnal, and ignorant of the mystery of the cross, they could not therefore believe that He whom they had recognized as the true God, was about to die; being accustomed then to hear Him often talk in figures, and shrinking from the events of His death, they would have it that something was conveyed figuratively in those things, which He spoke openly concerning His betrayal and passion.

It goes on: “And they came to Capernaum.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Capernaum means the city of consolation, and agrees with the former sentence, which He had spoken: “And after that He is killed, He shall arise the third day.”

There follows: “And being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Matthew however says that the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in [p. 181] the kingdom of heaven?” [Matt 18:1]

The reason is, that He did not begin the narrative from its commencement, but omitted our Saviour’s knowledge of the thoughts and words of His disciples; unless we understand Him to mean, that even what they thought and said, when away from Christ, was said unto Him, since it was as well known to Him as if it had been said to Him.

It goes on: “For by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.”

But Luke says [ed. note: Luke 9:46, Vulgate] that “the thought entered into the disciples which of them should be the greatest;” for the Lord laid open their thought and intention from their private discourse according to the Gospel narrative.

Pseudo-Jerome: It was fit also that they should dispute concerning the chief place by the way; the dispute is like the place where it is held; for lofty station is only entered upon to be quitted: as long as a man keeps it, it is slippery, and it is uncertain at what stage, that is, on what day, it will end.

Bede: The reason why the dispute concerning the chief place arose amongst the disciples seems to have been, that Peter, James and John, were led apart from the rest into the mountain, and that something secret was there entrusted to them, also that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were promised to Peter, according to Matthew.

Seeing however the thoughts of the disciples, the Lord takes care to heal the desire of glory by humility; for He first, by simply commanding humility, admonishes them that a high station was not to be aimed at.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He sat down, and called the twelve and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

Jerome: Where it is to be observed, that the disciples disputed by the way concerning the chief place, but Christ Himself sat down to teach humility; for princes toil while the humble repose.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The disciples indeed wished to receive honour at the hands of the Lord; they also had a desire to be made great by Christ, for the great a man is, the more worthy of honour he becomes, for which reason He did not throw an obstacle in the way of that desire, but brought in humility.

Theophylact: For His wish is not that we should usurp for ourselves chief places, but that we should attain to lofty heights by lowliness.

He next admonishes them by the example of a child’s innocence.

Wherefore there follows, “And He took [p. 182] a child, and set him in the midst of them.”

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 58: By the very sight, persuading them to humility and simplicity; for this little one was pure from envy and vain glory, and from a desire of superiority. But He does not only say, If ye become such, ye shall receive a great reward, but also, if ye will honour others, who are such for My sake.

Wherefore there follows: “And when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me.”

Bede: By which, He either simply shews that those who would become greater must receive the poor of Christ in honour of Him, or He would persuade them to be in malice children, to keep simplicity without arrogance, charity without envy, devotedness without anger. Again, by taking the child into His arms, He implies that the lowly are worthy of his embrace and love.

He adds also, “In My name,” that they might, with the fixed purpose of reason, follow for His name’s sake that mould of virtue to which the child keeps, with nature for his guide. And because He taught that He Himself was received in children, lest it should be thought that there was nothing in Him but what was seen, He added, “And whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.;” thus wishing that we should believe Him to be of the same nature and of equal greatness with His Father.

Theophylact: See, how great is humility, for it wins for itself the indwelling of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Ghost.

38. And John answered Him, saying, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.”

39. But Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.

40. For He that is not against us is on our part.

41. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. [p. 183]

42. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

Bede: John, loving the Lord with eminent devotion, thought that He who performed an office to which He had no right was to be excluded from the benefit of it.

Wherefore it is said, “And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For many believers received gifts, and yet were not with Christ, such was this man who cast out devils; for there were many of them deficient in some way; some were pure in life, but were not so perfect in faith; others again, contrariwise.

Theophylact: Or again, some unbelievers, seeing that the name of Jesus was full of virtue, themselves used it, and performed signs, though they were unworthy of Divine grace; for the Lord wished to extend His name even by the unworthy.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: It was not from jealousy or envy, however, that John wished to forbid him who cast out devils, but because he wished that all who called on the name of the Lord should follow Christ and be one body with His disciples. But the Lord, however unworthy they who perform the miracles may be, incites others by their means to believe on Him, and induces themselves by this unspeakable grace to become better.

Wherefore there follows: “But Jesus said, Forbid him not.”

Bede: By which He shews that no one is to be driven away from that partial goodness which he possesses already, but rather to be stirred up to that which he has not as yet obtained.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: In conformity to this, He shews that he is not to be forbidden, adding immediately after, “For there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.” He says “lightly” to meet the case of those who fell into heresy, such as were Simon and Menander, and Cerinthus [ed. note: Irenaeus, cont. Haer. 2, 31, seems to imply that the early heretics actually worked wonders, but that these differed from Christian miracles in that they were done by magic through the aid of the devil, and were not works of mercy; he contrasts with these the ecclesiastical miracles of his day.]; not that they did miracles in the name of Christ, but by their deceptions had the appearance of doing them.

But these others, though they do [p. 184] not follow us, cannot however set themselves to say any thing against us, because they honour My name by working miracles.

Theophylact: For how can he speak evil of Me, who draws glory from My name, and works miracles by the invocation of this very name.

There follows, “For he that is not against you is on your part.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 4, 5: We must take care that this saying of the Lord appear not to be contrary to that where He says, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” [Luke 11:23] Or will any one say that the difference lies in that here He says to His disciples, “For he that is not against you is on your part,” but in the other He speaks of Himself, “He who is not with Me is against Me?” As if indeed it were possible [ed. note: St. Augustine has here quasi vero, instead of quasi non, which hardly makes sense; the latter reading has also been found in an old edition of the Catena Aurea, A.D. 1417.] that he who is joined to Christ’s disciples, who are as His members, should not be with Him.

How if it were so, could it be true that “he that receiveth you receiveth Me?” [Matt. 10:40] Or how is he not against Him who is against His disciples? Where then will be that saying, “He who despiseth you, despiseth Me? [Luke 10:16] But surely what is implied is that a man is not with Him in as far as he is against Him, and is not against Him in as far as he is with Him.

For instance, he who worked miracles in the name of Christ, and yet did not join himself to the body of His disciples, in as far as he worked the miracles in His name, was with them, and was not against them; again, in that he did not join their society, he was not with them, and was against them.

Be because they forbade his doing that in which he was with them, the Lord said unto them, “Forbid him not:” for they ought to have forbidden his being without their society, and thus to have persuaded him of the unity of the Church, but they should not have forbidden that in which he was with them, that is, his commendation of the name of their Lord and Master by the expulsion of devils.

Thus the Church Catholic does not disapprove in heretics the sacraments, which are common, but she blames their division, or some opinion of theirs adverse to peace and to truth; for in this they are against us.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, this is said of those who believe on Him, but nevertheless do not follow Him from the looseness of their lives. Again, it is said of devils, who try to separate all from God, and to disperse His [p. 185] congregation.

There follows, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of cold water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Theophylact: Not only will I not forbid him who works miracles in My name, but also whosoever shall give you the smallest thing for My name’s sake, and shall receive you, not on account of human and worldly favour, but from love to Me, shall not lose his reward.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 4, 6: By which He shews, that he of whom John had spoken was not so far separated from the fellowship of the disciples, as to reject it, as a heretic, but as men are wont to hang back from receiving the Sacraments of Christ, and yet favour the Christian name, so as even to succour Christians, and do them service only because they are Christians. Of these He says they shall not lose their reward; not that they ought already to think themselves secure on account of this good will which they have towards Christians, without being washed with His baptism, and incorporated in His unity, but that they are already so guided by the mercy of God, as also to attain to these, and thus to go away from this life in security.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And that no man may allege poverty, He mentions that of which none can be destitute, that is, a cup of cold water, for which also he will obtain a reward; for it is not the value of the gift, but the dignity of those who receive it, and the feelings of the giver, which makes a work worthy of reward.

His words shew that His disciples are to be received, not only on account of the reward, which he who receives them obtains, but also, because he thus saves himself from punishment.

There follows: “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea:” as though He would say [ed. note: see Chrys., Hom. in Matt. 58], All who honour you for My sake have their reward, so also those who dishonour you, that is, offend you, shall receive the worst of vengeance.

Further, from things which are palpable to us, He describes an intolerable torment, making mention of a millstone, and of being drowned; and He says not, let a millstone be hanged about his neck, but, it is better for him to suffer this, shewing by this that some more heavy evil awaits him. But He means by “little ones that believe on Me,” not only those [p. 186] who follow Him, but those who call upon His name, those also who offer a cup of cold water, though they do not any greater works. Now He will have none of these offended or plucked away; for this is what is meant by forbidding them to call upon His name.

Bede: And fitly the man who if offended is called a little one, for he who is great, whatever he may suffer, departs not from the faith; but he who is little and weak in mind looks out for occasions of stumbling. For this reason we must most of all look to those who are little ones in the faith, lest by our fault they should be offended, and go back from the faith, and fall away from salvation.

Greg., in Faeceh., 1, Hom. 7: We must observe, however, that in our good works we must sometimes avoid the offence of our neighbour, sometimes look down upon it as of no moment. For in as far as we can do it without sin, we ought to avoid the offence of our neighbour; but if a stumblingblock is laid before men in what concerns the truth, it is better to allow the offence to arise, than that the truth should be abandoned.

Greg, de eura, past. p.i.v.2: Mystically by a millstone is expressed the tedious round and toil of a secular life, and by the depths of the sea, the worst damnation is pointed out. He who therefore, after having been brought to a profession of sanctity, destroys others, either by word or example, it had been indeed better for him that his worldly deeds should render him liable to death, under a secular garb, than that his holy office should hole him out as an example for others in his faults, because doubtless if he had fallen alone, his pain in hell would have been of a more endurable kind.

43. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: [p. 187]

46. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

49. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

50. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

Bede: Because the Lord had taught us not to offend those who believe on Him, He now as next in order warns us how much we should beware of those who offend us, that is, who by their words or conduct strive to drag us into the perdition of sin; wherefore He says, “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 59: He says not this of our limbs, but of our intimate friends, whom as being necessary to us we look upon as our limbs; for nothing is so hurtful as mischievous society.

Bede: That is, He calls by the name of hand, our intimate friend, of whose aid we daily stand in need; but if such an one should wish to do us a hurt in what concerns our soul, he is to be driven away from our society, lest by choosing a portion in this life with one who is lost, we should perish together with him in that which is to come.

Wherefore there follows, “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to enter into hell.”

Gloss.: By maimed He means, deprived of the help of some friend, for it is better to enter into life without a friend, than to go with him into hell.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed,” that is, without the chief place, for which you have wished, than having two hands to go into eternal fire. The two hands for high station are humility and pride; cut off pride, keeping to the estate of lowliness.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Then He introduces the witness of prophecy [p. 188] from the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” [Isa 65:24] He says not this of a visible worm, but He calls conscience, a worm, gnawing the soul for not having done any good thing; for each of us shall be made his own accuser, by calling to mind what he has done in this mortal life, and so their worm remains forever.

Bede: And as the worm is the pain which inwardly accuses, so the fire is a punishment which rages without us; or by the worm is meant the rottenness of hell, by the fire, its heat.

Augustine, de Civ. Dei, 21, 9: But those who hold that both of these, namely, the fire and the worm, belong to the pains of the soul, and not of the body, say also that those who are separated from the kingdom of God are tortured, as with fire, by the pangs of a soul repenting too late and hopelessly; and they not unfitly contend that fire may be put for that burning grief, as says the Apostle, “Who is offended, and I burn not?” [2 Cor 11:29]

They also think that by the worm must be understood the same grief, as is said: “As a moth destroys a garment, and a worm wood, so grief tortures the heart of man.” [Prov 25:20 Vulgate]

All those who hesitate not to affirm that there will be pain both of body and soul in that punishment affirm that the body is burnt by the fire. But although this is more credible, because it is absurd that there either the pains of body or of soul should be wanting, still I think that it is easier to say that both belong to the body than that neither: and therefore it seems to me that Holy Scripture in this place is silent about the pains of the soul, because it follows that the soul also is tortured in the pains of the body.

Let each man therefore choose which he will, either to refer the fire to the body, the worm to the soul, the one properly, the other in a figure, or else both properly to the body; for living things may exist even in fire, in burnings without being wasted, in pain without death, by the wondrous power of the Almighty Creator.

It goes on: “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Bede: A friend is called a foot, on account of its service in going about for us, since he is as it were ready for our use.

It goes on: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better [p. 189] for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

A friend who is useful, and anxious, and sharp in perception, is called an eye.

Augustine, de. Con. Evan., 4, 6: Here truly it appears that they who do acts of devotedness in the name of Christ, even before they have joined themselves to the company of Christians, and have been washed in the Christian Sacraments, are more useful than those who though already bearing the name of Christians, by their doctrine drag their followers with themselves into everlasting punishment; whom also under the name of members of the body, He orders, as an offending eye or hand, to be torn from the body, that is, from the fellowship itself of unity, that we may rather come to everlasting life without them, than with them go into hell.

But the separation of those who separate themselves from them consists in the very circumstance of their not yielding to them, when they would persuade them to evil, that is, offend them. If indeed their wickedness becomes known to all the good men with whom they are connected, they are altogether cut off from all fellowship, and even from partaking in the heavenly Sacraments.

If however they are thus known only to the smaller number, whilst their wickedness is unknown to the generality, they are to be tolerated in such a way that we should not consent to join in their iniquity, and that the communion of the good should not be deserted on their account.

Bede: But because the Lord had three times made mention of the worm and the fire, that we might be able to avoid this torment, He subjoins, “For every one shall be salted with fire.”

For the stink of worms always arises from the corruption of flesh and blood, and therefore fresh meat is seasoned with salt, that the moisture of the blood may be dried off, and so it may not breed worms. And if, indeed, that which is salted with salt, keeps off the putrefying worm, that which is salted with fire, that is, seasoned again with flames, on which salt is sprinkled, not only casts off worms, but also consumes the flesh itself.

Flesh and blood therefore breed worms, that is, carnal pleasure, if unopposed by the seasoning of continence, produces everlasting punishment for the luxurious; the stink of [p. 190] which if any man would avoid, let him take care to chasten his body with the salt of continence, and his mind with the seasoning of wisdom, from the stain of error and vice.

For salt means the sweetness of wisdom; and fire, the grace of the Holy Spirit.

He says, therefore, “Every one shall be salted with fire,” because all the elect ought to be purged by spiritual wisdom, from the corruption of carnal concupiscence.

Or else, the fire is the fire of tribulation, by which the patience of the faithful is proved, that it may have its perfect work.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Similar to this is that which the Apostle says, “And the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” [1 Cor 3:13]

Afterwards he brings in a witness from Leviticus: which says, “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt.” [Lev 2:13]

Pseudo-Jerome: The oblation of the Lord is the race of man, which is here salted by means of wisdom, whilst the corruption of blood, the nurse of rottenness, and the mother of worms, is being consumed, which there also shall be tried by the purgatorial fire. [ed. note: On the subject of the purgatorial fire, see Fluery’s Hist., xix, 31, p. 102, note i, and Chrysostom, de Statuis, vi, 10, p. 130, note c, Oxford trans.]

Bede: We may also understand the altar to be the heart of the elect, and the victims and sacrifices to be offered on the altar are good works. But in all sacrifices salt ought to be offered, for that is not a good work which is not purged by the salt of wisdom from all corruption of vain glory, and other evil and superfluous thoughts.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. in Cat.: Or else it is meant, that every gift of our victim, which is accompanied by prayer and the assisting of our neighbour, is salted with that divine fire, of which it is said, “I am come to send fire on earth.” [Luke 12:49] Concerning which it is added: “Salt is good;” that is, the fire of love.

“But if the salt have lost his saltness,” that is, is deprived of itself, and that peculiar quality, by which it is called, good, “where with will ye season it?” For there is salt, which has saltness, that is, which has the fulness of grace; and there is salt, which has no saltness, for that which is not peaceful is salt unseasoned.

Bede: Or the good salt is the frequent hearing of God’s word, and the seasoning the hidden parts of the heart with the salt of spiritual wisdom.

Theophylact: For as salt preserves flesh, and suffers it not to breed worms, so also the discourse of the teacher, if it can dry up what is evil, [p. 191] constrains carnal men, and suffers not the undying worm to grow up in them.

But if it be without saltness, that is, if its virtue of drying up and preserving be gone, with what shall it be salted?

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. in Cat.: Or, according to Matthew, the disciples of Christ are the salt, which preserves the whole world, resisting the rottenness which proceeds from idolatry and sinful fornication. For it may also be meant, that each of us has salt, in as far as he contains in himself the graces of God.

Wherefore also the Apostle joins together grace and salt, saying, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.: [Col 4:6]

For salt is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was able to preserve the whole earth, and made many to be salt in the earth: and if any of these be corrupted, (for it is possible for even the good to be changed into corruption,) they are worthy to be cast out.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or otherwise; That salt is saltless which loves the chief place, and dares not rebuke others.

Wherefore there follows, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

That is, let the love of your neighbour temper the saltness of rebuke, and the salt of justice season the love of your neighbour.

Greg., De cura past., iii, e.22: Or this is said against those whom greater knowledge, while it raises above their neighbours, cuts off from the fellowship of others; thus the more their learning increases, the more they unlearn the virtue of concord.

Greg., De cura past., ii, 4: He also who strives to speak with wisdom should be greatly afraid, lest by his eloquence the unity of his hearers be thrown into confusion, lest, while he would appear wise, he unwisely cut asunder the bonds of unity.

Theophylact: Or else, he who binds himself to his neighbour by the tie of love, has salt, and in this way peace with his neighbour.

Augustine, de. Con, iv. 6: Mark relates that the Lord said these things consecutively, and has put down some things omitted by every other Evangelist, some which Matthew has also related, others which both Matthew and Luke relate, but on other occasions, and in a different series of events. Wherefore it seems to me that our Lord repeated in this place discourses which He had used in other places, because they were pertinent enough to this saying of His, by which He prevented their forbidding miracles to be wrought in His name, even by him who followed Him not together with His disciples.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10

 

[p. 192]

1. And He arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto Him again; and, as He was wont, He taught them again.

2. And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?,” tempting Him.

3. And He answered and said unto them, “What did Moses command you?”

4. And they said, “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.”

5. And Jesus answered and said unto them, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”

6. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

10. And in the house, His disciples asked Him again of the same matter.

11. And He saith unto them, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. [p. 193]

12. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

Bede, In Marcum, 3, 40: Up to this time, Mark hath related what Our Lord said and did in Galilee; here he begins to relate what He did, taught, or suffered in Judaea, and first indeed across the Jordan on the east; and this is what is said in these words: “And He arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea, by the farther side of Jordan”; then also on this side Jordan, when He came to Jericho, Bethany, and Jerusalem. And though all the province of the Jews is generally called Judaea, to distinguish it from other nations, more especially, however, its southern portion was called Judaea, to distinguish it from Samaria, Galilee, Decapolis, and the other regions in the same province.

Theophylact: But He enters the region of Judaea, which the envy of the Jews had often caused Him to leave, because His Passion was to take place there. He did not, however, then go up to Jerusalem, but to the confines of Judaea, that He might do good to the multitudes, who were not evil; for Jerusalem was, from the malice of the Jews, the worker of all the wickedness.

Wherefore it goes on: “And the people resort unto Him again, and, as He was wont, He taught them again.”

Bede: Mark the difference of temper in the multitude and in the Pharisees. The former meet together, in order to be taught, and that their sick may be healed, as Matthew relates [Matt 19:2]; the latter come to Him, to try to deceive their Saviour by tempting Him.

Wherefore there follows: “And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him.”

Theophylact: They come to Him indeed, and do not quit Him, lest the multitudes should believe on Him; and by continually coming to Him, they thought to bring Him into difficulty, and to confuse Him by their questions. For they proposed to Him a question, which had on either side a precipice, so that whether He said that it was lawful for a man to put away his wife, or that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, and contradict what He said, out of the doctrines of Moses. Christ, therefore, being Very Wisdom, in answering their [p. 194] question, avoids their snares.

Chrys., Vict. Ant., Cat. in Marc., and see Chrys. Hom. 62 [note: the same sort of comment is to be found in Origin, in Matt. tom. 14, 17, IIii in Matt. 19, Ambr. in Luc. 8, 9. Auct. Op. Imperfecti in loc. Theophyl. in Matt. 19.]: For being asked, whether it is lawful, he does not immediately reply, it is not lawful, lest they should raise an outcry, but He first wished them to answer Him as to the sentence of the law, that they by their answer might furnish Him with what it was right to say.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?”

And afterwards, “And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.”

They put forward indeed this that Moses had said either on account of the question of our Saviour, or wishing to excite against Him a multitude of men. For divorce was an indifferent thing among the Jews, and all practised it, as though it were permitted by the law.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 62: It makes nothing, however, to the truth of the fact, whether, as Matthew says, they themselves addressed to the Lord the question concerning the bill of divorcement, allowed to them by Moses, on our Lord’s forbidding the separation, and confirming His sentence from the law, or whether it was in answer to a question of His, that they said this concerning the command of Moses, as Mark here says. For His wish was to give them no reason why Moses permitted it, before they themselves had mentioned the fact; since then the wish of the parties speaking, which is what the words ought to express, is in either way shewn, there is no discrepancy, though there be a difference in the way of relating it. It may also be meant that, as Mark expresses it, the question put to them by the Lord, What did Moses command?, was in answer to those who had previously asked His opinion concerning the putting away of a wife. And when they had replied that Moses permitted them to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away, His answer was concerning that same law, given by Moses, how God instituted the marriage of a male, and a female, saying those things which Matthew relates [Matt 19:4]; on hearing which they again rejoined what they had replied to Him when He first asked them, namely - Why then did Moses command?

Augustine, cont. Faust, XIX, 26: Moses, however, was against a man’s dismissing his wife, for he interposed this delay, that a person whose mind was bent on separation, might be deterred by the writing of the bill, and desist; particularly, since, as is related, among the Hebrews, no one was allowed to write Hebrew characters but the scribes. The [p. 195] law therefore wished to send him, whom it ordered to give a bill of divorcement, before he dismissed his wife, to them, who ought to be wise interpreters of the law, and just opponents of quarrel. For a bill could only be written for him by men, who by their good advice might overrule him, since his circumstances and necessity had put him into their hands, and so by treating between him and his wife they might persuade them to love and concord.

But if a hatred so great had arisen that it could not be extinguished and corrected, then indeed a bill was to be written, that he might not lightly put away her who was the object of his hate, in such a way as to prevent his being recalled to the love, which he owed her by marriage, through the persuasion of the wise. For this reason it is added, “For the hardness of your heart, he wrote this precept”; for great was the hardness of heart which could not be melted or bent to the taking back and recalling the love of marriage, even by the interposition of a bill in a way which gave room for the just and wise to dissuade them.

Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon: Or else, it is said, “For the hardness of your hearts,” because it is possible for a soul purged from desires and from anger to bear the worst of women; but if those passions have a redoubled force over the mind, many evils will arise from hatred in marriage.

Chrys.: Thus then, He saves Moses, who had given the law, from their accusation, and turns the whole upon their head. But since what He had said was grievous to them, He at once brings back the discourse to the old law, saying, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.”

Bede: He says not male and females, which the sense would have required had it referred to the divorce of former wives, but “male” and “female”, so that they might be bound by the tie of one wife.

Chrys.: If however he had wished one wife to be put away and another to be brought in, He would have created several women. Nor did God only join one woman to one man, but He also bade a man quit his parents and cleave to his wife.

Wherefore it goes on: “And he said, (that is, God, said by Adam) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.

From the very mode of speech, shewing the impossibility of severing marriage, because He said, “He shall cleave.”

Bede: [p. 196] And in like manner, because He says, he shall cleave to his wife, not wives.

It goes on: “And they twain shall be one flesh.”

Chrys.: Being framed out of one root, they will join into one body.

It goes on: “So then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

Bede: The reward then of marriage is of two to become one flesh. Virginity being joined to the Spirit, becomes of one spirit.

Chrys.: After this, bringing forward an awful argument, He said not, do not divide, but He concluded, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Augustine, cont. Faust, XIX, 29: Behold the Jews are convinced out of the books of Moses, that a wife is not to be put away, while they fancied that in putting her away, they were doing the will of Moses. In like manner from this place, from the witness of Christ Himself, we know this, that God made and joined male and female, for denying which the Manichees are condemned, resisting now not the books of Moses, but the Gospel of Christ.

Bede: What therefore God hath conjoined by making one flesh of a man and a woman, that man cannot separate, but God alone. Man separates, when we dismiss the first wife because we desire a second; but it is God who separates, when by common consent [1 Cor 7:5], for the sake of serving God, we so have wives as though we had none [1 Cor 7:29].

Chrys.: But if two persons, whom God has joined together, are not to be separated; much more is it wrong to separate from Christ, the Church, which God has joined to Him.

Theophylact: But the disciples were offended, as not being fully satisfied with what had been said; for this reason they again question Him.

Wherefore there follows: “And in the house, His disciples asked Him again of the same matter.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This second question is said to be asked “again” by the Apostles, because it is on the subject of which the Pharisees had asked Him, that is, concerning the state of marriage; and this is said by Mark in his own person.

Gloss: For a repetition of a saying of the Word, produces not weariness, but thirst and hunger.

Wherefore it is said, “They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be [p. 197] thirsty”; for the tasting of the honied words of wisdom yields all manner of savour to them who love her.

Wherefore the Lord instructs His disciples over again; for it goes on, “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery upon her.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant., e Cat. in Marc.: The Lord calls by the name of adultery cohabitation with her who is not a man’s wife; she is not, however, a wife, whom a man has taken to him, after quitting the first; and for this reason he commits adultery upon her, that is, upon the second, whom he brings in. And the same thing is true in the case of the woman; wherefore it goes on, “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery”; for she cannot be joined to another as her own husband, if she leave him who is really her own husband. The law indeed forbade what was plainly adultery; but the Saviour forbids this, which was neither plain, nor known to all, though it was contrary to nature.

Bede: In Matthew it is more fully expressed, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication.” [Matt 19:9] The only carnal cause then is fornication; the only spiritual cause is the fear of God, that a man should put away his wife to enter into religion [ed. note: Husbands and wives have never been allowed to take monastic vows without mutual consent, see Bingham, book 7, ch 3; where also are incidentally given many instances of married persons thus giving up the world.], as we read that many have done. But there is no cause allowed by the law of God for marrying another, during the lifetime of her who is quitted.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: There is no contrariety in Matthew’s relating that He spoke these words to the Pharisees, though Mark says that they were spoken to the disciples; for it is possible that He may have spoken them to both.

13. And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” [p. 198]

15. Verily I say unto you, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

16. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.

Theophylact: The wickedness of the Pharisees in tempting Christ, has been related above, and now is shewn the great faith of the multitude, who believed that Christ conferred a blessing on the children whom they brought to Him, by the mere laying on of His hands.

Wherefore it is said: “And they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them.”

Chrys.: But the disciples, out of regard for the dignity of Christ, forbade those who brought them. And this is what is added: “And His disciples rebuked those who brought them.” But our Saviour, in order to teach His disciples to be modest in their ideas, and to tread under foot worldly pride, takes the children to Him, and assigns to them the kingdom of God.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.”

Origin, in Matt., XV, 7: If any of those who profess to hold the office of teaching in the Church should see a person bringing to them some of the foolish of this world, and low born, and weak, who for this reason are called children and infants, let him not forbid the man who offers such an one to the Saviour, as though he were acting without judgment. After this He exhorts those of His disciples who are already grown to full stature to condescend to be useful to children, that they may become to children as children, that they may gain children [1 Cor 9:22]; for He Himself, when He was in the form of God, humbled Himself, and became a child.

One which He adds: “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Chrys.: For indeed the mind of a child is pure from all passions, for which reason, we ought by free choice to do those works, which children hate by nature.

Theophylact: Wherefore He says not, “for of” these, but “of such is the kingdom of God,” that is, of persons who have both in their intention and their work the harmlessness and simplicity which children have by nature. For a child does not hate, does nothing of evil [p. 199] intent, nor though beaten does he quit his mother; and though she clothe him in vile garments, prefers them to kingly apparel; in like manner he, who lives according to the good ways of his mother the Church, honours nothing before her, nay, not pleasure, which is the queen of many; wherefore also the Lord subjoins, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Bede: That is, if ye have not innocence and purity of mind like that of children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Or else, we are ordered to receive the kingdom of God, that is, the doctrine of the Gospel, as a little child, because as a child, when he is taught, does not contradict his teachers, nor put together reasonings and words against them, but receives with faith what they teach, and obeys them with awe, so we also are to receive the word of the Lord with simple obedience, and without any gainsaying.

It goes on: “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant, e Cat. in Marc.: Fitly does He take them up into His arms to bless them, as it were, lifting into His own bosom, and reconciling Himself to His creation, which in the beginning fell from Him, and was separated from Him. Again, He puts His hands upon the children, to teach us the working of his divine power; and indeed, He puts His hands upon them, as others are wont to do, though His operation is not as that of others, for though He was God, He kept to human ways of acting, as being very man.

Bede: Having embraced the children, He also blessed them, implying that the lowly in spirit are worthy of His blessing, grace and love.

17. And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

18. And Jesus said unto Him, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not [p. 200] bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”

20. And he answered and said unto Him, “Master, all these have I observed from My youth.”

21. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

22. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”

24. And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

25. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

26. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

27. And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Bede: A certain man had heard from the Lord that only they who are willing to be like little children are worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and therefore he desires to have explained to him, not in parables, but openly, by the merits of what works a man may attain everlasting life.

Wherefore it is said: “And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Theophylact: I wonder at this young man, who when all others come to Christ to be healed of their infirmities, [p. 201] begs of Him the possession of everlasting life, notwithstanding his love of money, the malignant passion which afterwards caused his sorrow.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 63: Because however he had come to Christ as he would to a man, and to one of the Jewish doctors, Christ answered him as Man.

Wherefore it goes on: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but the One God.”

In saying which He does not exclude men from goodness, but from a comparison with the goodness of God.

Bede: But by this one God, Who is good, we must not only understand the Father, but also the Son, who says, “I am the good Shepherd;” [John 10:11] and also the Holy Ghost, because it is said, “The Father which is in heaven will give the good Spirit to them that ask him.” [Luke 11:13] For the One and Undivided Trinity itself, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the Only and One good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is good Master, but He declares that no master is good but God.

Theophylact: Therefore the Lord intended by these words to raise the mind of the young man, so that he might know Him to be God. But He also implies another thing by these words, that when you have to converse with a man, you should not flatter him in your conversation, but look back upon God, the root and fount of goodness, and do honour to Him.

Bede: But observe that the righteousness of the law, when kept in its own time, conferred not only earthly goods, but also eternal life on those who chose it. Wherefore the Lord’s answer to one who enquires concerning everlasting life is, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill”; for this is the childlike blamelessness which is proposed to us, if we would enter the kingdom of heaven.

On which there follows, “And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”

We must not suppose that this man either asked the Lord, with a wish to tempt Him, as some have fancied, or lied in his account of his life; but we must believe that he confessed with simplicity how he had lived; which is evident, from what is subjoined, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him.” If however he had been guilty of lying or of dissimulation, by no means would Jesus, [p. 202] after looking on the secrets of his heart, have been said to love him.

Origen, in Evan. tom. xv, 14: For in that He loved, or kissed him [ed. note: osculaius, interpretation in Ed. Ben. (?)], He appears to affirm the truth of his profession, in saying that he had fulfilled all those things; for on applying His mind to him, He saw that the man answered with a good conscience.

Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: It is worthy of enquiry, however, how He loved a man, who, He knew, would not follow Him? But this is so much as to say, that since he was worthy of love in the first instance, because he observed the things of the law from his youth, so in the end, though he did not take upon himself perfection, he did not suffer a lessening of his former love. For although he did not pass the bounds of humanity, nor follow the perfection of Christ, still he was not guilty of any sin, since he kept the law according to the capability of a man, and in this mode of keeping it, Christ loved him [ed. note: The general meaning corresponds with the original, and is, that the young man is a type of those who keep the Gospel precepts, without going on to counsels of perfection; but the sense of the Greek has been missed by the Latin translator].

Bede: For God loves those who keep the commandments of the law, though they be inferior; nevertheless, He shews to those who would be perfect the deficiency of the law, for He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. [Matt 5:17]

Wherefore there follows: “And said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me;” for whosoever would be perfect ought to sell all that he has, not a part, like Ananias and Sapphira, but the whole. Theophylact: And when he has sold it, to give it to the poor, not to stage-players and luxurious persons.

Chrys.: Well too did He say, not eternal life, but “treasure”, saying, “And thou shalt have treasure in heaven”; for since the question was concerning wealth, and the renouncing of all things, He shews that He returns more things than He has bidden us leave, in proportion as heaven is greater than earth.

Theophylact: But because there are many poor who are not humble, but are drunkards or have some other vice, for this reason He says, “And come, follow me.”

Bede: For he follows the Lord, who imitates Him, and walks in His footsteps.

It goes on: “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved. [p. 203]

Chrys.: And the Evangelist adds the cause of his grief, saying, “For he had great possession.” The feelings of those who have little and those who have much are not the same, for the increase of acquired wealth lights up a greater flame of covetousness.

There follows: “And Jesus looked round about, and said unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.”

Theophylact: He says not here, that riches are bad, but that those are bad who only have them to watch them carefully; for He teaches us not to have them, that is, not to keep or preserve them, but to use them in necessary things.

Chrys.: But the Lord said this to His disciples, who were poor and possessed nothing, in order to teach them not to blush at their poverty, and as it were to make an excuse to them, and given them a reason, why He had not allowed them to possess any thing.

It goes on: “And the disciples were astonished at His words”; for it is plain, since they themselves were poor, that they were anxious for the salvation of others.

Bede: But there is a great difference between having riches, and loving them; wherefore also Solomon says not, He that hath silver, but, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver.” [Eccles 5:10] Therefore the Lord unfolds the words of His former saying to His astonished disciples, as follows: “But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard it is for them that trust in their riches to enter the kingdom of God.” Where we must observe that He says not, how impossible, but “how hard”; for what is impossible cannot in any way come to pass, what is difficult can be compassed, though with labour.

Chrys.: Or else, after saying, “difficult,” He then shews that it is impossible, and that not simply, but with a certain vehemence; and He shews this by an example, saying, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Theophylact: It may be that by camel, we should understand the animal itself, or else that thick cable, which is used for large vessels.

Bede: How then could either in the Gospel, Matthew and Joseph, or in the Old Testament, very many rich persons, enter into the kingdom of God, unless it be that they learned through the inspiration of God either to count their riches as nothing, or to quit them altogether. Or [p. 204] in a higher sense, it is easier for Christ to suffer for those who love Him, than for the lovers of this world to turn to Christ; for under the name of camel, He wished Himself to be understood, because He bore the burden of our weakness; and by the needle, He understands the prickings, that is, the pains of His Passion. By the eye of a needle, therefore, He means the straits of His Passion, by which He, as it were, deigned to mend the torn garments of our nature.

It goes on: “And they were astonished above measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”

Since the number of poor people is immeasurably the greater, and these might be saved, though the rich perished, they must have understood Him to mean that all who love riches, although they cannot obtain them, are reckoned in the number of the rich.

It goes on: “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God”; which we must not take to mean, that covetous and proud persons can enter into the kingdom of Heaven with their covetousness and pride, but that it is possible with God that they should be converted from covetousness and pride to charity and lowliness.

Chrys.: And the reason why He says that this is the work of God is, that He may shew that he who is put into this path by God, has much need of grace; from which it is proved, that great is the reward of those rich men, who are willing to follow the discipline [ed. note: philosophia] of Christ.

Theophylact: Or we must understand that by, “with men it is impossible, but not with God,” He means, that when we listen to God, it becomes possible, but as long as we keep our human notions, it is impossible. There follows, “For all things are possible with God”; when He says “all things”, you must understand, that have a being, which sin has not, for it is a thing without being and substance [ed. note: This is often urged by St. Augustine against the Manichees, who held that evil was a principle and a substance, coeternal with good. It also appears in the Pelagian controversy, for Pelagius argued that the Catholic doctrine of original sin implied that it was a substance; St. Augustine answers that though not a substance, it was a privation or disorganization of parts, just as darkness is a privation of light, and sickness a disordered state of body; which illustrates what Theophylact means by saying, that sin, though so great an evil, has no being or substance. see Aug. Conf. 7, 12, de Nat. et Grac. 21].

Or else: sin does not come under the notion of strength, but of weakness, therefore sin, like [p. 205] weakness, is impossible with God. But can God cause that not to have been done which has been done? To which we answer, that God is Truth, but to cause that what has been done should not have been done, is falsehood. How then can truth do what is false? He must first therefore quit His own nature, so that they who speak thus really say, Can God cease to be God? which is absurd.

28. Then Peter began to say unto him, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

29. And Jesus answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s,

30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”

Gloss.: Because the youth, on hearing the advice of our Saviour concerning the casting away of his goods, had gone away sorrowful, the disciples of Christ, who had already fulfilled the foregoing precept, began to question Him concerning their reward, thinking that they had done a great thing, since the young man, who had fulfilled the commandments of the law, had not been able to hear it without sadness.

Wherefore Peter questions the Lord for himself and the others, in these words, “Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

Theophylact: Although Peter had left but few things, still he calls these his all; for even a few things keep us by the bond of affection, so that he shall be beatified who leaves a few things.

Bede: And because it is not sufficient to have left all, he adds that which makes up perfection, “and have followed thee.” As if he said, We have done what Thou hast commanded. What reward therefore wilt Thou give us?

Theophylact: But [p. 206] while Peter asks only concerning the disciples, our Lord makes a general answer; wherefore it goes on: “Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands.” But in saying this, He does not mean that we should leave our fathers, without helping them, or that we should separate ourselves from our wives; but He instructs us to prefer the glory of God to the things of this world.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 64: But it seems to me that by these words He intended covertly to proclaim that there were to be persecutions, as it would come to pass that many fathers would allure their sons to impiety, and many wives their husbands.

Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: Again He delays not to say, “for my name’s sake and the Gospel’s” and Mark says, or “for the kingdom of God,” as Luke says; the name of Christ is the power of the Gospel, and of His kingdom; for the Gospel is received in the name of Jesus Christ, and the kingdom is made known, and comes by His name.

Bede: Some, however, taking occasion from this saying, in which it is announced that he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, teach that Jewish fable of a thousand years after the resurrection of the just, when all that we have left for the Lord’s sake is to be restored with manifold usury, besides which we are to receive the crown of everlasting life. These persons do no perceive, that although the promise in other respects be honourable, yet in the hundred wives, which the other Evangelists mention, its foulness is made manifest: particularly when the Lord testifies that there shall be not marriage in the resurrection, and asserts that those things which are put away from us for His sake are to be received again in this life with persecutions, which, as they affirm, will not take place in their thousand years. [ed. note: Certain early Fathers, as, for instance, St. Austin and Irenaeus, held the doctrine of the Millennium; Bede however mentions the Chilliasts (though their name is omitted in the Catena) and thus shews that he means the Corinthians, to whom that name was applied, on account of their shocking doctrine, that after the resurrection the Christians were to reign on earth for a thousand years in sensual pleasures, see Aug, de. Her. 8]

Pseudo-Chrys.: This hundredfold reward therefore must be in participation, not in possession, for the Lord fulfilled this to them not carnally, but spiritually.

Theophylact: For a wife is busied in a house about her husband’s food and raiment. See also how this is [p. 207] the case with the Apostles; for many women busied themselves about their food and their clothing, and ministered unto them. In like manner the Apostles had many fathers and mothers, that is, persons who loved them; as Peter, for instance, leaving one house, had afterwards the houses of all the disciples. And what is more wonderful, they are to be persecuted and oppressed, for it is “with persecutions” that the Saints are to possess all things, for which reason there follows, “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.” For the Pharisees who were first became the last; but those who left all and followed Christ were last in this world through tribulation and persecutions, but shall be first by the hope which is in God.

Bede: This which is here said, “shall receive an hundredfold,” may be understood in a higher sense. [see note, p. 78] For the number a hundred which is reckoned by changing from the left to the right hand, although it has the same appearance in the bending of the fingers as the ten had on the left, nevertheless is increased to a much greater quantity. This means, that all who have despised temporal things for the sake of the kingdom of heaven through undoubting faith, taste the joy of the same kingdom in this life which is full of persecutions, and in the expectation of the heavenly country, which is signified by the right hand, have a share in the happiness of all the elect. But because all do not accomplish a virtuous course of life with the same ardour as they began it, it is presently added, “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first”; for we daily see many persons who, remaining in a lay habit, are eminent for their meritorious life; but others, who from their youth have been ardent in a spiritual profession, at last wither away in the sloth of ease, and with a lazy folly finish in the flesh, what they had begun in the Spirit.

32. And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him,

33. Saying, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and [p. 208] the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles:

34. And they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again.”

Bede: The disciples remembered the discourse in which the Lord had foretold that He was about to suffer many things from the chief priests and scribes, and therefore in going up to Jerusalem, they were amazed. And this is what is meant, when it is said, “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them.”

Theophylact: To shew that He runs to meet His Passion, and that He does not refuse death, for the sake of our salvation; and they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid.

Bede: Either lest they themselves should perish with Him, or at all events lest He, whose life and ministry was their joy, should fall under the hand of His enemies. But the Lord, foreseeing that the minds of His disciples would be troubled by His Passion, foretells to them both the pain of His Passion, and the glory of His Resurrection.

Wherefore there follows: “And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him.”

Theophylact: He did this to confirm the hearts of the disciples, that from hearing these things beforehand, they might the better bear them afterwards, and might not be alarmed at their suddenness, and also in order to shew them that He suffered voluntarily; for he who foreknows a danger, and flies not, though flight is in his power, evidently of his own will gives himself up to suffering. But He takes His disciples apart, because it was fitting that He should reveal the mystery of His Passion to those who were more closely connected with Him.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. sed v. Chrys. Hom. 65: And He enumerates each thing that was to happen to Him; lest if He should pass any thing over, they should be troubled afterwards at suddenly seeing it.

Wherefore He adds, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man.”

Gloss.: That is, He to whom suffering belongs; for the Godhead cannot suffer. “Shall be delivered,” that is, by Judas, “unto the Chief [p. 209] Priests, and unto the Scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death”; judging Him to be guilty of death; “and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles,” that is, to Pilate the Gentile; and his soldiers “shall mock Him, and shall spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and put Him to death.”

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 65: But that when they were saddened on account of His Passion and death, they should then also look for His Resurrection, He adds, “And the third day He shall rise again”; for since He had not hid from them the sorrows and insults which happened, it was fitting that they should believe Him on other points.

35. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, “Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.”

36. And He said unto them, “What would ye that I should do for you?”

37. They said unto Him, “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.”

38. But Jesus said unto them, “Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

39. And they said unto Him, “We can.” And Jesus said unto them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

40. But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

Chrys.: The disciples hearing Christ oftentimes speaking of His kingdom, thought that this kingdom was to be before His death, and therefore now that His death was foretold to them, they came to Him, that they might immediately be made worthy of the honours of the kingdom.

Wherefore it is said, “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto [p. 210] Him, saying, Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.”

For ashamed of the human weakness which they felt, they came to Christ, taking Him apart from the disciples; but our Saviour, not from ignorance of what they wanted to ask, but from a wish of making them answer Him, puts this question to them; “And He said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?”

Theophylact: Now the abovementioned disciples thought that He was going up to Jerusalem, to reign there, and then to suffer what He had foretold. And with these thoughts, they desired to sit on the right hand and the left hand.

Wherefore there follows: “They said unto Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 64: Matthew has expressed that this was said not by themselves, but by their mother, since she brought their wishes to the Lord; wherefore Mark briefly implies rather that they themselves, rather than their mother, had used the words.

Chrys.: Or we may fitly say that both took place; for seeing themselves honoured above the rest, they thought that they could easily obtain the foregoing petition; and that they might the more easily succeed in their request, they took their mother with them, that they might pray unto Christ together with her.

Augustine: Then the Lord both according to Mark, and to Matthew, answered them rather than their mother.

For it goes on: “But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask.”

Theophylact: It will not be as ye think, that I am to reign as a temporal king in Jerusalem, but all these things, that is, these which belong to My kingdom, are beyond your understanding; for to site on My right hand is so great a thing that it surpasses the Angelic orders.

Bede: Or else, they know not what they ask, who seek from the Lord a seat of glory, which they do not yet merit.

Chrys.: Or else He says, “Ye know not what ye ask”; as if He said, Ye speak of honours, but I am discoursing of wrestlings and toil; for this is not a time of rewards, but of blood, of battles, and dangers.

Wherefore He adds, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized withal?”

He draws them on by way of question, that by communication with Himself, their eagerness might increase.

Theophylact: But [p. 211] by the cup and baptism, He means the cross; the cup, that is, as being a potion by Him sweetly received, but baptism as the cause of the cleansing of our sins. And they answer Him, without understanding what He had said; wherefore it goes on: “And they said unto Him, We can;” for they thought that He spoke of a visible cup, and of the baptism of which the Jews made use, that is, the washings before their meals.

Chrys.: And they answered thus quickly, because they expected that what they had asked would be listened to; it goes on: “And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized;” that is, ye shall be worthy of martyrdom, and suffer even as I.

Bede: A question is raised, however, how James and John drank the cup of martyrdom, or how they were baptized with the baptism of the Lord, when the Scripture relates, that only James the Apostle was beheaded by Herod whilst John finished his life by a natural death. But if we read ecclesiastical histories, in which it is related, that he also on account of the witness which he bore was cast into a cauldron of burning oil, and was immediately sent away to the island of Patmos, we shall then see that the spirit of martyrdom was in him, and that John drank the cup of confession, which the Three Children also drank in the furnace of fire, though the persecutor did not spill their blood.

It goes on: “But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

Chrys.: Where two questions are raised, one is, whether a seat on His right hand is prepared for any one; the other, whether the Lord of all has it not in His power to give it to those for whom it is prepared. To the first then we say, that no one sits on His right hand or on His left, for that throne is inaccessible to a creature.

How then did He say, “To sit on My right hand or on My left is not mine to give you,” as though it belonged to some who were to sit there? He however answers the thoughts of those who asked Him, condescending to their meaning; for they did not know that lofty throne and seat, which is on the right hand of the Father, but sought one thing alone, that is, to possess the chief place, and to be set over others. And since they had heard it said of the Apostles, that they were to sit on twelve [p. 212] thrones, they begged for a place higher than all the rest, not knowing what was said. To the second question we must say, that such a gift does not transcend the power of the Son of God, but what is said by Matthew, “it is prepared by My Father,” [Matt. 20:23] is the same as if it were said, “by Me,” wherefore also Mark did not say here, by My Father.

What therefore Christ says here is this, Ye shall die, He says, for Me, but this is not enough to enable you to obtain the highest place, for if another person comes possessing besides martyrdom all other virtues, he will possess much more than you; for the chief place is prepared for those, who by works are enabled to become the first. Thus then the Lord instructed them not to trouble themselves vainly and absurdly for high places; at the same time He would not have them made sad.

Bede: Or else, it is not mine to give to you, that is, to proud persons, for such as yet they were. It is prepared for other persons, and be ye other, that is, lowly, and it is prepared for you.

41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.

42. But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

43. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

44. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Theophylact: The other Apostles are indignant at seeing James and John seeking for honour; wherefore it is said, “And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.” For being influenced by human feelings, they were moved with envy; and their first [p. 213] displeasure arose from their seeing that they were not taken up by the Lord; before that time they were not displeased, because they saw that they themselves were honoured before other men. At this time the Apostles were thus imperfect, but afterwards they yielded the chief place one to another.

Christ however cures them; first indeed by drawing them to Himself in order to comfort them; and this is meant, when it is said, “But Jesus called them to Him”; then by shewing them that to usurp honour, and to desire the chief place, belongs to Gentiles.

Wherefore there follows: “And saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship; and their great ones exercise authority over them.”

The great ones of the Gentiles thrust themselves into the chief place tyrannically and as lords.

It goes on: “But so shall it not be among you.”

Bede: In which He teaches, that he is the greater, who is the less, and that he becomes the lord, who is servant of all: vain, therefore, was it both for the one party to seek for immoderate things, and the other to be annoyed at their desiring greater things, since we are to arrive at the height of virtue not by power but by humility.

Then He proposes an example, that if they lightly regarded His words, His deeds might make them ashamed, saying, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Theophylact: Which is a greater thing than to minister. For what can be greater or more wonderful than that a man should die for him to whom he ministers? Nevertheless, this serving and condescension of humility was His glory, and that of all; for before He was made man, He was known only to the Angels; but now that He has become man and has been crucified, He not only has glory Himself, but also has taken up others to a participation in His glory, and ruled by faith over the whole world.

Bede: He did not say, however, that He gave His life a ransom for all, but for many, that is, for those who would believe on Him.

46. And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of [p. 214] people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

48. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

49. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, “Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.”

50. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51. And Jesus answered and said unto him, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” The blind man said unto Him, “Lord, that I might receive my sight.”

52. And Jesus said unto him, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Jerome: The name of the city agrees with the approaching Passion of our Lord; for it is said, “And they came to Jericho.” Jericho means moon or anathema; but the failing of the flesh of Christ is the preparation of the heavenly Jerusalem.

It goes on: “And as He went out of Jericho with His disciples, and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the wayside begging.”

Bede: Matthew says, that there were two blind men sitting by the wayside, who cried to the Lord, and received their sight; but Luke relates that one blind man was enlightened by Him, with a like order of circumstances, as He was going into Jericho; where no one, at least no wise man, will suppose that the Evangelists wrote things contrary to one another, but that one wrote more fully, what another has left out.

We must therefore understand that one of them was the more important, which appears from this circumstance, that [p. 215] Mark has related his name and the name of his father.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 65: It is for this reason that Mark wished to relate his case alone, because his receiving his sight had gained for the miracle a fame, illustrious in proportion to the extent of the knowledge of his affliction. But although Luke relates a miracle done entirely in the same way, nevertheless we must understand that a similar miracle was wrought on another blind man, and a similar method of the same miracle.

It goes on: “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The blind man calls the Lord, the Son of David, hearing the way in which the passing multitude praised Him, and feeling sure that the expectation of the prophets was fulfilled.

There follows: “And many charged him that he should hold his peace.”

Origen, in Matt. tom. xvi, 13 [ed. note: these preceding words of Origen are necessary to make up the sense: “Next observe, that on the blind man’s crying out, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me, it was they who went before that charged him that he should hold his peace.” see Luke 18:39]: As if he said, Those who were foremost in believing rebuked him when he cried, “Thou Son of David,” that he might hold his peace, and cease to call Him by a contemptible name, when he ought to say, Son of God, have pity upon me. He however did not cease; wherefore it goes on: “But he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me;” and the Lord heard his cry; wherefore there follows: “And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called.”

But observe, that the blind man, of whom Luke speaks, is inferior to this one; for neither did Jesus call him, nor order him to be called, but He commanded him to be brought to Him, as though unable to come by himself; but this blind man by the command of our Lord is called to Him.

Wherefore it goes on: “And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise, He calleth thee;” but he casting away his garment, comes to Him. It goes on: “And he casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.”

Perchance, the garment of the blind man means the veil of blindness and poverty, with which he was surrounded, which he cast away and came to Jesus; and the Lord questions him, as he is approaching.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, What will thou that I [p. 216] should do unto thee.”

Bede: Could He who was able to restore sight be ignorant of what the blind man wanted? His reason then for asking is that prayer may be made to Him; He puts the question, to stir up the blind man’s heart to pray.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 56: Or He asks, lest men should think that what He granted the man was not what he wanted. For it was His practice to make the good disposition of those who were to be cured known to all men, and then to apply the remedy, in order to stir up others to emulation, and to shew that he who was to be cured was worthy to obtain the grace.

It goes on: “The blind man said unto Him, Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

Bede: For the blind man looks down upon every gift except light, because, whatever a blind man may possess, without light he cannot see what he possesses.

Pseudo-Jerome: But Jesus, considering his ready will, rewards him with the fulfilment of his desire.

Origen: Again, it is more worthy to say Rabboni, or, as it is in other places, Master, than to say Son of David; wherefore He given him health, not on his saying, Son of David, but when he said Rabboni.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him in the way.”

Theophylact: The mind of the blind man is grateful, for when he was made whole, he did not leave Jesus, but followed Him.

Bede: In a mystical sense, however, Jericho, which means the moon, points out the waning of our fleeting race. The Lord restored sight to the blind man, when drawing near to Jericho, because coming in the flesh and drawing near to His Passion, He brought many to the faith; for it was not in the first years of His Incarnation, but in the few years before He suffered, that He shewed the mystery of the Word to the world.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the blindness in part, brought upon the Jews [Rom 11:25], will in the end be enlightened when He sends unto them the Prophet Elias.

Bede: Now in that on approaching Jericho, He restored sight to one man, and on quitting it to two, He intimated, that before His Passion He preached only to one nation, the Jews, but after His Resurrection and Ascension, through His Apostles He opened the mysteries both of His Divinity and His Humanity to Jews and Gentiles. [p. 217] Mark indeed, in writing that one received his sight, refers to the saving of the Gentiles, that the figure might agree with the salvation of those, whom he instructed in the faith; but Matthew, who wrote his Gospel to the faithful among the Jews, because it was also to reach the knowledge of the Gentiles, fitly says that two received their sight, that He might teach us that the grace of faith belonged to each people.

Therefore, as the Lord was departing with His disciples and a great multitude from Jericho, the blind man was sitting, begging by the way-side; that is, when the Lord ascended into heaven, and many of the faithful followed Him, yea when all the elect from the beginning of the world entered together with Him the gate of heaven [ed. note: This refers to the opinion that by the descent of our Lord into hell, the Patriarchs were freed from the limbus Patrum, where they had been confined, and were carried by Him into a place of happiness; see authorities quoted in Pearson on the Creed, Art. 5], presently the Gentile people began to have hope of its own illumination; for it now sits begging by the wayside, because it has not entered upon and reached the path of truth.

Pseudo-Jerome: The people of the Jews also, because it kept the Scriptures and did not fulfill them, begs and starves by the wayside; but he cries out, “Son of David, have mercy upon me,” because the Jewish people are enlightened by the merits of the Prophets. Many rebuke him that he may hold his peace, that is, sins and devils restrain the cry of the poor; and he cried the more, because when the battle waxes great, hands are to be lifted up with crying to the Rock of help, that is, Jesus of Nazareth.

Bede: Again, the people of the Gentiles, having heard of the fame of the name of Christ, sought to be made a partaker of Him, but many spoke against Him, first the Jews, then also the Gentiles, lest the world which was to be enlightened should call upon Christ. The fury of those who attacked Him, however, could not deprive of salvation those who were fore-ordained to life. And He heard the blind man’s cry as He was passing, but stood when He restored his sight, because by His Humanity He pitied him, who by the power of His Divinity has driven away the darkness from our mind; for in that Jesus was born and suffered for our sakes, He as it were passed by, because this action is temporal; but when God is said to stand, it means, that, [p. 218] Himself without change, He sets in order all changeable things. But the Lord calls the blind man, who cries to Him, when He sends the word of faith to the people of the Gentiles by preachers; and they call on the blind man to be of good cheer and to rise, and bid him come to the Lord, when by preaching to the simple, they bid them have hope of salvation, and rise from the sloth of vice, and gird themselves for a life of virtue.

Again, he throws away his garment and leaps, who, throwing aside the bonds of the world, with unencumbered pace hastens to the Giver of eternal light.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the Jewish people comes leaping, stripped of the old man, as a hart [red stag, male deer] leaping on the mountains, that is, laying aside sloth, it meditates on Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles on high, and raises itself to heights of holiness. How consistent also is the order of salvation. First we heard by the Prophets, then we cry aloud by faith, next we are called by Apostles, we rise up by penitence, we are stripped of our old garment by baptism, and of our choice we are questioned. Again, the blind man when asked requires, that he may see the will of the Lord.

Bede: Therefore let us also imitate him, let us not seek for riches, earthly goods, or honours from the Lord, but for that Light, which we alone with the Angels can see, the way to which is faith; wherefore also Christ answers to the blind man, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” But he sees and follows who works what his understanding tells him is good; for he follow Jesus, who understands and executes what is good, who imitates Him, who had no wish to prosper in this world, and bore reproach and derision. And because we have fallen from inward joy, by delight in the things of the body, He shews us what bitter feelings the return thither will cost us.

Theophylact: Further, it says that he followed the Lord in the way, that is, in this life, because, after it, all are excluded who follow Him not here, by working His commandments.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or, this is the way of which He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This is the narrow way, which leads to the heights of Jerusalem, and Bethany, to the mount of Olives, which is the mount of light and consolation.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 11

 

[p. 219]

1. And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethpage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, He sendeth forth two of His disciples,

2. And saith unto them, “Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.

3. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”

4. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.

5. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, “What do ye, loosing the colt?”

6. And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.

7. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and He sat upon him.

8. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

10. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

[p. 220]

Chrys.: Now that the Lord had given sufficient proof of His virtue, and the cross was at hand, even at the door, He did those things which were about to excite them against Him with a greater openness; therefore although He had so often gone up to Jerusalem, He never however had done so in such a conspicuous manner as now.

Theophlyact: That thus, if they were willing, they might recognize His glory, and by the prophecies, which were fulfilled concerning Him, know that He is very God; and that if they would not, they might receive a greater judgment, for not having believed so many wonderful miracles. Describing therefore this illustrious entrance, the Evangelist say, “And when they came nigh unto Jerusalem, and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of His disciples.”

Bede, in Marc., 3, 41: Bethany is a little village or town by the side of mount Olivet, where Lazarus was raised from the dead. But in what way He sent His disciples and for what purpose is shewn in these words, “And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you.”

Theophylact: Now consider how many things the Lord foretold to His disciples, that they should find a colt; wherefore it goes on, “And as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat, loose him, and bring him;” and that they should be impeded in taking it, wherefore there follows, “And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him;” and that on saying this, they should be allowed to take him; wherefore there follows, “And straightway he will send him hither;” and as the Lord had said, so it was fulfilled. Thus it goes on: “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without, in a place where two ways meet; and they loose him.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 66: Matthew says, an ass and a colt, the rest however do not mention the ass. Where then both may be the case, there is no disagreement, though one Evangelist mentions one thing, and a second mentions another; how much less should a question be raised, when one mentions one, and another mentions that same one and another.

It goes on: “And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded, and they let them take it,” that is, the colt.

Theophylact: But they would not have allowed this, if the [p. 221] Divine power had not been upon them, to compel them, especially, as they were country people and farmers, and yet allowed them to take away the colt.

It goes on: “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and He sat upon him.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: Not indeed that He was compelled by necessity to ride on a colt from the mount of Olives to Jerusalem, for He had gone over Judaea and all Galilee on foot, but this action of His is typical.

It goes on: “And many spread their garments in the way;” that is, under the feet of the colt; “and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This, however, was rather done to honour Him, and as a Sacrament, than of necessity.

It goes on: “and they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Theophylact: For the multitude, until it was corrupted, knew what was its duty, for which reason each honoured Jesus according to his own strength. Wherefore they praised Him, and took up the hymns of the Levites, saying, Hosanna, which according to some is the same as “save me,” but according to others means a hymn. I however suppose the former to be more probable, for there is in the 117th Psalm, “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord,” which in the Hebrew is, “Hosanna” [Ps 117:25].

Bede: But “Hosanna” is a Hebrew word, made out of two, one imperfect the other perfect. For “save”, or “preserve”, is in their language, “hosy”; but “anna” is a supplicatory interjection, as in Latin, “heu”, is an exclamation of grief.

Pseudo-Jerome: They cry out Hosanna, that is, save us, that men might be saved by Him who was blessed, and was a conqueror and came in the name of the Lord, that is, of His Father, since the Father is so called because of the Son, and the Son, because of the Father.

Psuedo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: Thus then they give glory to God, saying, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” They also bless the kingdom of Christ, saying, “Blessed by the kingdom of our father, David, which cometh.”

Theophylact: But they called the kingdom of Christ, that of David, both because Christ was descended from the seed of David, and because David means a man of a strong hand. For whose hand is stronger than the Lord’s, by which so many and so great miracles were wrought.

Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: Wherefore also the prophets so often call [p. 222] Christ by the name of David, on account of the descent according to the flesh of Christ from David.

Bede: Now we read in the Gospel of John that He fled into a mountain, lest they should make Him their king. Now, however, when He comes to Jerusalem to suffer, He does not shun those who call Him king, that He might openly teach them that He was King over an empire not temporal and earthly, but everlasting in the heavens, and that the path to this kingdom was through contempt of death.

Observe, also, the agreement of the multitude with the saying of Gabriel, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David;” [Luke 1:32] that is, that He Himself may call by word and deed to a heavenly kingdom the nation to which David once furnished the government of a temporal rule.

Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: And further, they give glory to God, when they add, “Hosanna in the highest,” that is, praise and glory be to the God of all, Who is in the highest.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or Hosanna, that is, save “in the highest” as well as in the lowest, that is, that the just be built on the ruin of Angels, and also that both those on the earth and those under the earth should be saved. In a mystical sense, also, the Lord approaches Jerusalem, which is ‘the vision of peace,’ in which happiness remains fixed and unmoved, being, as the Apostle says, the mother of all believers. [Gal 4:26]

Bede: Bethany again means the house of obedience, because by teaching many before His Passion, he made for Himself a house of obedience; and it is said to be placed on the mount of Olives, because He cherishes His Church with the unction of spiritual gifts, and with the light of piety and knowledge. But He sent His disciples to a hold [ed. note: castellum], which was over against them, that is, He appointed doctors to penetrate into the ignorant parts of the whole world, into, as it were, the walls of the hold placed against them.

Pseudo-Jerome: The disciples of Christ are called two by two, and sent two by two, since charity implies more than one, as it is written, “Woe to him that is alone.” [Eccles 4:10] Two persons lead the Israelites out of Egypt: two bring down the bunch of grapes from the Holy Land, that men in authority might ever join together activity and knowledge, and bring forward two commandments from the Two Tables, and be washed from two fountains, and carry the ark of the Lord on two poles, and know the Lord between the two Cherubim, [p 223] and sing to Him with both mind and spirit.

Theophylact: The colt, however, was not necessary to Him, but He sent for it to shew that He would transfer Himself to the Gentiles.

Bede: For the colt of the ass, wanton and unshackled, denotes the people of the nations, on whom no man had yet sat, because no wise doctor had, by teaching them the things of salvation, put upon them the bridle of correction, to oblige them to restrain their tongues from evil, or to compel them into the narrow path of life.

Pseudo-Jerome: But “they found the colt tied by the door without,” because the Gentile people were bound by the chain of their sins before the door of faith, that is, without the Church.

Ambrose, in Luc. 9, 6: Or else, they found it bound before the door, because whosoever is not in Christ is without, in the way; but he who is in Christ, is not without. He has added “in the way,” or “in a place where two ways meet,” where there is no certain possession for any man, not stall, nor food, nor stable; miserable is his service, whose rights are unfixed; for he who has not the one Master, has many. Strangers bind him that they may possess him, Christ looses him in order to keep him, for He knows that gifts are stronger ties than bonds.

Bede: Or else, fitly did the colt stand in a place where two ways meet, because the Gentile people did not hold on in any certain road of life and faith, but followed in its error many doubtful paths of various sects.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or, in a place where two roads meet, that is, in the freedom of will, hesitating between life and death.

Theophylact: Or else, in a place where two roads meet, that is, in this life, but it was loosed by the disciples, through faith and baptism.

Pseudo-Jerome: “But some said, What do ye?” as if they would say, Who can remit sins?

Theophylact: Or else, those who prevent them are the devils, who were weaker than the Apostles.

Bede: Or else, the master of error, who resisted the teachers, when they came to save the Gentiles; but after that the power of the faith of the Lord appeared to believers, the faithful people were freed from the cavils of the adversaries, and were brought to the Lord, whom they bore in their hearts. But by the garments of the Apostles, which they put upon it, we may understand the teaching of virtues, or the interpretation of the Scriptures, or the various doctrines of the Church, by which they clothe the hearts of men, once naked and [p. 224] cold and fit them to become the seats of Christ.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, they put upon it their garments, that is, they bring to them the first robe of immortality by the Sacrament of Baptism. “And Jesus sat upon it,” that is, began to reign in them, so that sin should not reign in their wanton flesh, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Again, “many spread their garments in the way,” under the feet of the foal of the ass. What are feet, but those who carry, and the least esteemed, whom the Apostle has set to judge? [1 Cor 6:4] And these too, though they are not the back on which the Lord sat, yet are instructed by John with the soldiers.

Bede: Or else, many strew their garments in the way, because the holy martyrs put off from themselves the garment of their own flesh, and prepare a way for the more simple servants of God with their own blood. Many also strew their garments in the way, because they tame their bodies with abstinence, that they may prepare a way for God to the mount, or may give good examples to those who follow them.

And they cut down branches from the trees, who in the teaching of the truth cull the sentences of the Fathers from their words, and by their lowly preaching scatter them in the path of God, when He comes into the soul of the hearer.

Theophylact: Let us also strew the way of our life with branches which we cut from the trees, that is, imitate the saints, for these are holy trees, from which, he who imitates their virtues cuts down branches.

Pseudo-Jerome: “For the righteous shall flourish as a palm tree,” straitened in their roots, but spreading out wide with flowers and fruits; for they are a good odour unto Christ, and strew the way of the commandments of God with their good report. Those who went before are the prophets, and those who followed are the Apostles.

Bede: And because all the elect, whether those who were able to become such in Judaea, or those who now are such in the Church, believed and now believe on the Mediator between God and man, both those who go before and those who follow cried out Hosanna.

Theophylact: But both those of our deeds which go before and those which follow after must be done to the glory of God; for some in their past life make a good beginning, but their following life does not correspond with their former, neither does it end to the glory of God.

[p. 225]

11. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

12. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry:

13. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14. And Jesus answered and said unto it, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” And His disciples heard it.

Bede: As the time of His Passion approached, the Lord wished to approach to the place of His Passion, in order to intimate that He underwent death of His own accord: wherefore it is said, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple.” And by His going to the temple on first entering the city, He shews us beforehand a form of religion, which we are to follow, that if by chance we enter a place, where there is a house of prayer, we should first turn aside to it.

We should also understand from this, that such was the poverty of the Lord, and so far was He from flattering man, that in so large a city, He found no one to be His host, no abiding place, but lived in a small country place with Lazarus and his sisters; for Bethany is a hamlet of the Jews.

Wherefore there follows: “And when He had looked round about upon all things, (that is, to see whether any one would take Him in,) and now the eventide was come, He went out into Bethany with the twelve.”

Nor did He do this once only, but during all the five days, from the time that He came to Jerusalem, to the day of His Passion, He used always to do the same thing; during the day He taught in the temple, but at night, He went out and dwelt in the mount of Olives.

It goes on, “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry.”

Chrys., in Matt. Hom., 87: How is it that He was hungry in the morning, as Matthew says, if it were not that by an economy He permitted it to His flesh?

There follows, [p. 226] “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing theron.”

Now it is evident that this expresses a conjecture of the disciples, who thought that it was for this reason that Christ came to the fig tree, and that it was cursed, because He found no fruit upon it.

For it goes on: “And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.”

He therefore curses the fig tree for His disciples’ sake, that they might have faith in Him. For He everywhere distributed blessings, and punished no one, yet at the same time, it was right to give them a proof of His chastising power, that they might learn that He could even cause the persecuting Jews to wither away; He was however unwilling to give this proof on men, wherefore He shewed them on a plant a sign of His power of punishing. This proves that He came to the fig tree principally for this reason, and not on account of His hunger, for who is so silly as to suppose that in the morning He felt so greatly the pains of hunger, or what prevented the Lord from eating before He left Bethany? Nor can it be said that the sight of the figs excited His appetite to hunger, for it was not the season of figs; and if He were hungry, why did He not seek food elsewhere, rather than from a fig-tree which could not yield fruit before its time? What punishment also did a fig tree deserve for not having fruit before its time? From all this then we may infer, that He wished to shew His power, that their minds might not be broken by His Passion.

Theophylact: Wishing to shew His disciples that if He chose He could in a moment exterminate those who were about to crucify Him. In a mystical sense, however, the Lord entered into the temple, but came out of it again, to shew that He left it desolate, and open to the spoiler.

Bede: Farther, He looks round about upon the hearts of all, and when in those who opposed the truth, He found no place to lay His head, He retires to the faithful, and takes up His abode with those who obey Him. For Bethany means, the house of obedience.

Pseudo-Jerome: He went in the morning to the Jews, and visits us in the eventide of the world.

Bede: Just in the same way as He speaks parables, so also His deeds are parables; therefore He comes hungry to seek fruit off the [p. 227] fig tree, and though He knew the time of figs was not yet, He condemns it to perpetual barrenness, that He might shew that the Jewish people could not be saved through the leaves, that is, the words of righteousness which it had, without fruit, that is, good works, but should be cut down and cast into the fire.

Hungering therefore, that is, desiring the salvation of mankind, He saw the fig tree, which is, the Jewish people, having leaves, or, the words of the Law and the Prophets, and He sought upon it the fruit of good works, by teaching them, by rebuking them, by working miracles, and He found it not, and therefore condemned it. Do thou too, unless thou wouldest be condemned by Christ in the judgment, beware of being a barren tree, but rather offer to Christ the fruit of piety which He requires.

Chrys.: We may also say, in another sense, that the Lord sought for fruit on the fig tree before its time, and not finding it, cursed it, because all who fulfil the commandments of the Law, are said to bear fruit in their own time, as, for instance, that commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery;” but he who not only abstains from adultery but remains a virgin, which is a greater thing, excels them in virtue. But the Lord exacts from the perfect not only the observance of virtue, but also that they bear fruit over and above the commandments.

15. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

16. And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

17. And He taught, saying unto them, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

18. And the Scribes and Chief Priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished at His doctrine.

[p. 228]

Bede: What the Lord had done in figure, when He cursed the barren fig tree, He now shews more openly, by casting out the wicked from the temple. For the fig tree was not in fault, in not having fruit before its time, but the priests were blameable; wherefore it is said, “And they come to Jerusalem; and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple.” Nevertheless, it is probable that He found them buying and selling in the temple things which were necessary for its ministry. If then the Lord forbids men to carry on in the temple worldly matters, which they might freely do any where else, how much more do they deserve a greater portion of the anger of Heaven, who carry on in the temple consecrated to Him those things, which are unlawful wherever they may be done.

It goes on: “and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.”

Theophylact: He calls moneychangers, changers of a particular sort of money, for the word means a small brass coin.

Bede: Because the Holy Spirit appeared over the Lord in the shape of a dove, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are fitly pointed out under the name of doves. The Dove therefore is sold, when the laying on of hands by which the Holy Spirit is received is sold for a price. Again, He overturns the seats of them who sell doves, because they who sell spiritual grace, are deprived of their priesthood, either before men, or in the eyes of God.

Theophylact: But if a man by sinning gives up to the devil the grace and purity of baptism, he has sold his Dove, and for this reason is cast out of the temple.

There follows: “And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.”

Bede: He speaks of those vessels which were carried there for the purpose of merchandise. But God forbid that it should be taken to mean, that the Lord cast out of the temple, or forbade men to bring into it, the vessels consecrated to God; for here He shews a type of the judgment to come, for He thrusts away the wicked from the Church, and restrains them by His everlasting word from ever again coming in to trouble the Church. Furthermore, sorrow, sent into the heart from above, takes away from the souls of the faithful those sins which were in them, and Divine grace assists them so that they should never again commit them.

It goes on: “And He [p. 229] taught, saying unto them, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer.”

Pseudo-Jerome: [This] according to Isaiah [Isa 56:7]. “But ye have made it a den of thieves,” according to Jeremiah. [Jer 7:11]

Bede: He says, “to all nations,” not to the Jewish nation alone, nor in the city of Jerusalem alone, but over the whole world; and he does not say a house of bulls, goats, and rams, but of prayer.

Theophylact: Further, He calls the temple, “a den of thieves,” on account of the money gained there; for thieves always troop together for gain. Since then they sold those animals which were offered in sacrifice for the sake of gain, He called them thieves.

Bede: For they were in the temple for this purpose, either that they might persecute with corporal pains those who did not bring gifts, or spiritually kill those who did. The mind and conscience of the faithful is also the temple and the house of God, but if it puts forth perverse thoughts, to the hurt of any one, it may be said that thieves haunt it as a den; therefore the mind of the faithful becomes the den of a thief, when leaving the simplicity of holiness, it plans that which may hurt others.

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 67: John, however, relates this in a very different order, wherefore it is manifest that not once only, but twice, this was done by the Lord, and that the first time was related by John, the last, by all the other three.

Theophylact: Which also turns to the greater condemnation of the Jews, because though the Lord did this so many times, nevertheless they did not correct their conduct.

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 68: In this again, Mark does not keep the same order as Matthew; because however Matthew connects the facts together by this sentence, “And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany,” [Matt 21:17] returning from whence in the morning, according to his relation, Christ cursed the tree, therefore it is supposed with greater probability that he rather has kept to the order of time, as to the ejection from the temple of the buyers and sellers. Mark therefore passed over what was done the first day when He entered into the temple, and on remembering it inserted it, when he had said that He found nothing on the fig tree but leaves, which was done on the second day, as both testify.

Gloss: But the Evangelist shews what effect the correction of the Lord had on the ministers of the temple, when he adds: “and the Scribes and Chief Priests heard it, and sought how [p. 230] they might destroy him;” according to that saying of Amos: “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.” [Amos 5:10] From this wicked design, however, they were kept back for a time solely by fear.

Wherefore it is added, “For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine. For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes” and Pharisees, as is said elsewhere.

19. And when even was come, He went out of the city.

20. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

21. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, “Master, behold, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.”

22. And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Have faith in God.

23. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith.

24. Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

25. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

26. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The Lord, leaving darkness behind Him in the hearts of the Jews, went out, as the sun, from that city to another which is well-disposed and obedient. And this is what is meant, when it is said, “And when even was [p. 231] come, He went out of the city.”

But the sun sets in one place, rises in another, for the light, taken from the Scribes, shines in the Apostles; wherefore He returns into the city; on which account there is added, “And in the morning, as they passed by, (that is, going into the city,) they saw the fig tree dried up from the root.”

Theophylact: The greatness of the miracle appears in the drying up so juicy and green a tree. But though Matthew says that the fig tree was at once dried up, and that the disciples on seeing it wondered, there is no reason for perplexity, though Mark now says, that the disciples saw the fig tree dried up on the morrow; for what Matthew says must be understood to mean that they did not see it at once, but on the next day.

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 68: The meaning is not that it dried up at the time, when they saw it, but immediately after the word of the Lord; for they saw it, not beginning to dry up, but completely dried up; and they thus understood that it had withered immediately after our Lord spoke.

Pseudo-Jerome: Now the fig tree withered from the roots is the synagogue withered from Cain, and the rest, from whom all the blood from Abel up to Zechariah is required.

Bede: Further, the fig tree was dried up from the roots to shew that the nation was impious not only for a time and in part, and was to be smitten forever, not merely to be afflicted by the attacks of nations from without and then to be freed, as had often been done; or else it was dried up from the roots, to shew that is was stripped not only of the external favour of man, but altogether of the favour of heaven within it; for it lost both its life in heaven, and its country on earth.

Pseudo-Jerome: Peter perceives the dry root, which is cut off, and has been replaced by the beautiful and fruitful olive, called by the Lord.

Wherefore it goes on: “And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, Master, behold, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.”

Chrys.: The wonder of the disciples was the consequence of imperfect faith, for this was no great thing for God to do; since then they did not clearly know His power, their ignorance made them break out into wonder.

And therefore it is added, “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain,” &c. That [p. 232] is; Thou shalt not only be able to dry up a tree, but also to change a mountain by they command and order.

Theophylact: Consider the Divine mercy, how it confers on us, if we approach Him in faith, the power of miracles, which He Himself possesses by nature, so that we should be able even to change mountains.

Bede: The Gentiles, who have attacked the Church, are in the habit of objecting to us, that we have never had full faith in God, for we have never been able to change mountains. It could, however, be done, if necessity called for it, as once we read that it was done by the prayers of the blessed Father Gregory of Neocaesarea, Bishop of Pontus, by which a mountain left as much space of ground for the inhabitants of a city as they wanted.

Chrys.: Or else, as He did not dry up the fig tree for its own sake, but for a sign that Jerusalem should come to destruction, in order to shew His power, in the same way we must also understand the promise concerning the mountain, though a removal of this sort is not impossible with God.

Pseudo-Jerome: Christ then who is the mountain, which grew from the stone, cut out without hands, is taken up and cast into the sea, when the Apostles with justice say, Let us turn ourselves to other nations, [Acts 13:46] since ye judged yourselves unworthy of hearing the word of God.

Bede: Or else, because the devil is often on account of his pride called by the name of a mountain, this mountain, at the command of those who are strong in the faith, is taken up from the earth and cast into the sea, whenever, at the preaching of the word of God by the holy doctors, the unclean spirit is expelled from the hearts of those who are fore-ordained to life, and is allowed to exert the tyranny of his power over the troubled and embittered souls of the faithless. At which time, he rages the more fiercely, the more he grieves at being turned away from hurting the faithful.

It goes on: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Theophylact: For whosoever sincerely believes evidently lifts up his heart to God, and is joined to Him, and his burning heart feels sure that he has received what he asked for, which he who has experienced will understand; and those persons appear to me to experience this, who attend to the measure and the [p. 233] manner of their prayers. For this reason the Lord says, “Ye shall receive whatsoever ye ask in faith;” for he who believes that he is altogether in the hands of God, and interceding with tears, feels that he as it were has hold of the feet of the Lord in prayer, he shall receive what he has rightly asked for. Again, would you in another way receive what you ask for? Forgive your brother, if he has in any way sinned against you; this is also what is added: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Mark has, as he is wont, expressed seven verses of the Lord’s prayer in one prayer. But what can he, whose sins are all forgiven, require more, save that he may persevere in what has been granted unto him.

Bede: But we must observe that there is a difference in those who pray; he who has perfect faith, which worketh by love, can by his prayer or even his command remove spiritual mountains, as Paul did with Elymas the sorcerer. But let those who are unable to mount up to such a height of perfection pray that their sins should be forgiven them, and they shall obtain what they pray for, provided that they themselves first forgive those who have sinned against them.

If however they disdain to do this, not only shall they be unable to perform miracles by their prayers, but they shall not even be able to obtain pardon for their sins, which is implied in what follows; “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

27. And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,

28. And say unto Him, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?”

29. And Jesus answered and said unto them, “I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

30. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.” [p. 234]

31. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?

32. But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.

33. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Theophylact: They were angry with the Lord, for having cast out of the temple those who had made it a place of merchandize, and therefore they come up to Him, to question and tempt Him.

Wherefore it is said: “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders, and say unto Him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee authority to do these things?”

As if they had said, Who art thou that doest these things? Dost thou make thyself a doctor, and ordain thyself Chief Priest?

Bede: And, indeed, when they say, “By what authority doest thou these things,” they doubt its being the power of God, and wish it to be understood that what He did was the devil’s work. When they add also, “Who gave thee this authority,” they evidently deny that He is the Son of God, since they believe He works miracles, not by His own but by another’s power.

Theophylact: Further, they said this, thinking to bring Him to judgment, so that if He said, by mine own power, they might lay hold upon Him; but if He said, by the power of another, they might make the people leave Him, for they believed Him to be God. But the Lord asks them concerning John, not without a reason, nor in a sophisticated way, but because John had borne witness of Him.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of me? answer me.”

Bede: The Lord might indeed have [p. 235] confuted the cavils of his tempters by a direct answer, but prudently puts them a question, that they might be condemned either by their silence or their speaking, which is evident from what is added, “And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?”

As if He had said, He whom you confess to have had his prophecy from heaven bore testimony of Me, and ye have heard from him, by what authority I do these things.

It goes on: “But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people.”

They saw then that whatever they answered, they should fall into a snare; fearing to be stoned, they feared still more the confession of the truth.

Wherefore it goes on: “And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell.”

Pseudo-Jerome: They envied the Lamp, and were in the dark, wherefore it is said, “I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed; his enemies will I clothe with shame.” [Ps 131:17-18]

There follows: “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Bede: As if He had said, I will not tell you what I know, since ye will not confess what ye know. Further, we must observe that knowledge is hidden from those who seek it, principally for two reasons, namely, when he who seeks for it either has not sufficient capacity to understand what he seeks for, or when through contempt for the truth, or some other reason, he is unworthy of having that for which he seeks opened to him.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12

 

[p. 236]

1. And He began to speak unto them by parables. “A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dug a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

2. And at the season he sent to husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

3. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.

4. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
5. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

6. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, ‘They will reverence my son.’

7. But those husbandmen said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’

8. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

9. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. [p. 237]

10. And have ye not read this Scripture; ‘The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

11. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ “

12. And they sought to lay hold on Him, but feared the people: for they knew that He had spoken the parable against them: and they left Him, and went their way.

Gloss: After the Lord had closed the mouths of His tempters by a wise question, He next shews their wickedness in a parable.

Wherefore it is said: “And He began to speak unto them by parable. A certain man planted a vineyard.”

Pseudo-Jerome: God the Father is called a man by a human conception. The vineyard is the house of Israel; the hedge is the guardianship of Angels; the winefat is the law, the tower is the temple, and the husbandmen, the priests.

Bede, in Marc., 3, 42: Or else, the hedge is the wall of the city, the winefat is the altar, or those winefats, by which three psalms receive their name.

Theophylact: Or, the hedge is the law, which prohibited their mingling with strangers.

There follows: “And went into a far country.”

Bede: Not by any change of place, but He seemed to go away from the vineyard, that He might leave the husbandmen to act on their own freewill.

It goes on: “And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The servants who were sent were the prophets, the fruit of the vineyard is obedience; some of the prophets were beaten, others wounded, others slain.

Wherefore it goes on: “And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.”

Bede: By the servant who was first sent we must understand Moses, but they beat him, and sent him away empty, because “they angered Moses in the tents.” [Ps 106:6]

There follows: “And again he sent unto them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.”

This other servant means David and the other Psalmists, but they wounded Him in the head and shamefully handled him, because they despised the songs of the Psalmists, [p. 238] and rejected David himself, saying, “What portion have we in David?” [1 Kings 12,16]

It goes on: “And he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.”

By the third servant and his companions, understand the band of the prophets. But which of the prophets did they not persecute? In these three kinds of servants, as the Lord Himself elsewhere pronounces, may be included in a figure all the doctors under the law, when He says, “that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.” [Luke 24:44]

Theophylact: Or else, by the first servant, understand the prophets who lived about the time of Elias, for Zedekiah the false prophet beat Micaiah [2 Chron. 18:23]; and by the second servant whom they wounded in the head, that is, evil entreated, we may understand the prophets who lived about the time of Hosea and Isaiah; but by the third servant understand the prophets who flourished about the time of Daniel and Ezekiel.

It goes on: “Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, Perchance they will reverence my son.”

Pseudo-Jerome: The well-beloved son and the last is the Only-begotten; and in that He says, “They will reverence my son,” He speaks in irony.

Bede: Or else, this is not said in ignorance, but God is said to doubt, that freedom of will may be left to man.

Theophylact: Or else, He said this not as thought He were ignorant of what was to happen, but to shew what it was right and fitting that they should do.

“But those husbandmen said amongst themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”

Bede: The Lord proves most clearly that the chiefs of the Jews did not crucify the Son of God through ignorance, but through envy; for they understood that this was He to whom it was said, “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.” [Ps 2:8]

But these evil husbandmen strove to seize upon it by slaying Him, when the Jews crucifying Him tried to extinguish the faith which is by Him, and rather to bring forward their own righteousness which is by the Law, and to thrust it on the nations, and to imbue them with it.

There follows: “And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.”

Theophylact: That is, without Jerusalem, for the Lord was crucified out of the city.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, they case Him out of [p. 239] the vineyard, that is, out of the people, saying “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.” [John 8:48]

Bede: Or, as far as in them lay, they cast Him out of their own borders, and gave Him up to the Gentiles that they might receive Him.

There follows: “What then will the Lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy those husbandmen, and give the vineyard unto others.”

Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, 70: Matthew indeed subjoins that they answered and said, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” [Matt 21:41] which Mark here says was not their answer, but that the Lord after putting the question, as it were answered Himself. But we may easily understand either that their answer was subjoined without the insertion of, “they answered,” or “they said,” which at the same time was implied; or else, that their answer, being the truth, was attributed to the Lord, since He also Himself gave this answer concerning them, being the Truth.

Theophylact: The Lord of the vineyard then is the Father of the Son who was slain, and the Son Himself is He who was slain, who will destroy those husbandmen, by giving them up to the Romans, and who will give the people to other husbandmen, that is, to the Apostles.

Read the Acts of the Apostles, and you will find three thousand, and five thousand on a sudden believing and bearing fruit to God.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the vineyard is given to others, that is, to those who come from the east, and from the west, and from the south, and from the north, and who sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Bede: But that this was done by Divine interposition He affirms, by immediately afterwards adding, “And have ye not read this Scripture, The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone in the corner?”

As if He had said, how is this prophecy to be fulfilled, save in that Christ, being rejected and slain by you, is to be preached to the Gentiles, who will believe on Him? Thus then as a corner stone, He will found the two people on Himself, and of the two people will build for Himself a city of the faithful, one temple. For the masters of the synagogue, whom He had just called husbandmen, He now calls “builders”, because the same persons, who seemed to cultivate His people, that they might bear the fruits of life, like a vineyard, were also commanded to construct and adorn this people, to be, as it were, a house worthy to have God for its inhabitant.

Theophylact: The [p. 240] stone then which the builders refused, the same has become the head-stone of the corner, that is, of the Church. For the Church is, as it were, the corner, joining together Jews and Gentiles; and this corner has been made by the Lord, and is wonderful in our eyes, that is, in the eyes of the faithful; for miracles meet with detraction from the faithless.

The Church indeed is wonderful, as it were resting on wonders, for the Lord worked with the Apostles, and confirmed the word with signs. And this is what is meant, when it is said, “This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This rejected stone, which is borne by that corner where the lamb and the bread met in the supper, ending the Old and beginning the New Testament, does things marvellous in our eyes [Ps 118:23] as the topaz.

Bede: But the Chief Priests shewed that those things which the Lord had spoken were true; which is proved from what follows: “And they sought to lay hold on him;” for He Himself is the heir, whose unjust death He said was to be revenged by the Father. Again, in a moral sense, each of the faithful, when the Sacrament of Baptism is intrusted to him, receives on hire a vineyard, which he is to cultivate. But the servant sent to him is evil intreated, beaten, and cast out, when the word is heard by him and despised, or, what is worse, even blasphemed; further, he kills, as far as in him lies, the heir, who has trampled under foot the Son of God.

The evil husbandman is destroyed; and the vineyard given to another, when the humble shall be enriched with that gift of grace, which the proud man has scorned. And it happens daily in the Church, that the Chief Priests wishing to lay hands on Jesus, are held back by the multitude, when some on, who is a brother only in name, either blushes or fears to attack the unity of the faith of the Church, and of its peace, though he loves it not, on account of the number of good brethren who dwell together within it.

13. And they send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.

14. And when they were come, they say unto Him, “Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but [p. 241] teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

15. Shall we give, or shall we not give?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, “Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.”

16. And they brought it. And He saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?” And they said unto Him, “Caesar’s.”

17. And Jesus answering said unto them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marvelled at Him.

Bede: The Chief Priests though they sought to take Him, feared the multitude, and therefore they endeavored to effect what they could not do of themselves, by means of earthly powers, that they might themselves appear to be guiltless of His death.

And therefore it is said, “And they send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.”

Theophylact: We have said elsewhere of the Herodians, that they were a certain new heresy, who said that Herod was the Christ, because the succession of the kingdom of Judah had failed. Others however say that the Herodians were the soldiers of Herod, whom the Pharisees brought as witnesses of the words of Christ, that they might take Him, and lead Him away. But observe how in their wickedness they wished to deceive Christ by flattery; for it goes on: “Master, we know that thou art true.”

Pseudo-Jerome: For they questioned Him with honied words, and they surrounded Him as bees, who carry honey in their mouth, but a sting in their tail.

Bede: But this bland and crafty question was intended to induce Him in His answer rather to fear God than Caesar, and to say that tribute should not be paid, so that the Herodians immediately on hearing it might hold Him to be an author of sedition against the Romans.

And therefore they add, “And carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of any.”

Theophylact: So that thou wilt not honour Caesar, that is, against the truth.

Therefore they add, “But teachest the way of God in truth. Is it [p. 242] lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?”

For their whole plot was one which had a precipice on both sides, so that if He said that it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, they might provoke the people against Him, as though He wished to reduce the nation itself to slavery; but if He said, that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, as though He was stirring up the people against Caesar; the Fountain of wisdom escaped their snares.

Wherefore there follows: “But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it.”

Bede: A denarius was a piece of money, accounted equal to ten smaller coins, and bearing the image of Caesar; wherefore there follows: “And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto Him, Caesar’s.

Let those who think that our Saviour asked the question through ignorance and not by an economy, learn from this that He might have known whose image it was; but He puts the question, in order to return them a fitting answer.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Theophylact: As if He had said, Give what bears an image to him whose image it bears, that is, the penny to Caesar; for we can both pay Caesar his tribute, and offer to God what is His own.

Bede: That is, tithes, first-fruits, oblations, and victims. In the same way as He gave tribute both for Himself and Peter, He also gave to God the things that are God’s, doing the will of his Father.

Pseudo-Jerome: Render to Caesar the money bearing his image, which is collected for him, and render yourselves willingly up to God, for the light of thy countenance, O Lord [Ps 4:6], and not of Caesar’s, is stamped upon us.

Theophylact: The inevitable wants of our bodies is as Caesar unto each of us; the Lord therefore orders that there should be given to the body its own, that is, food and raiment, and to God the things that are God’s. It goes on: “And they marvelled at Him.” They who ought to have believed, wondered at such great wisdom, because they had found no place for their craftiness.

[p. 243]

18. Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying,

19. “Master, Moses wrote unto us, ‘If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

20. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.

21. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.

22. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.

23. In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.’ “

24. And Jesus answering, said unto them, “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?

25. For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

26. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’

27. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.”

Gloss.: After that our Lord has prudently escaped the crafty temptation of the Pharisees, it is shewn how He also confounds the Sadducees, who tempt Him.

Wherefore it is said: “Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection.”

Theophylact: A certain heretical sect of the Jews called Sadducees denied the resurrection, and said that there was neither angel nor spirit. These then [p. 244] coming to Jesus, craftily proposed to Him a certain tale, in order to shew that no resurrection should take place, or had taken place; and therefore there is added, “And they asked Him, saying, Master.” And in this tale they lay down that seven men had married one woman, in order to make men draw back from belief in the resurrection.

Bede: And fitly do they frame such a fable in order to prove the madness of those who assert the resurrection of the body. Such a thing however might really have happened at some time or other among them.

Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense: what can this woman, leaving no seed to seven brothers, and last of all dying, mean except the Jewish synagogue, deserted by the seven-fold Spirit, which filled those seven patriarchs, who did not leave to her the seed of Abraham, that is, Jesus Christ?

For although a Son was born to them, nevertheless He was given to us Gentiles. This woman was dead to Christ, nor shall she be joined in the resurrection to any patriarch of the seven; for by the number seven is meant the whole company of the faithful. Thus it is said contrariwise by Isaiah, “Seven women shall take hold of one man;” [Isa 4:1] that is, the seven Churches, which the Lord loves, reproves, and chastises, adore Him with one faith.

Wherefore it goes on: “And Jesus answering, said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, not knowing the Scripture, neither the power of God?”

Theophylact: As if He had said, Ye understand not what sort of a resurrection the Scriptures announce; for ye believe that there will be a restoration of our bodies, such as they are now, but it shall not be so. Thus then ye know not the Scriptures; neither again do ye know the power of God; for ye consider it as a difficult thing, saying, How can the limbs, which have been scattered, be united together and joined to the soul? But this in respect to the Divine power is as nothing.

There follows: “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven;” as if He had said, there will be a certain heavenly and angelic restoration to life, when there shall be no more decay, and we shall remain unchanged; and for this reason marriage shall cease. For marriage now exists on account of our decay, that we may be carried on by succession of our race, and not [p. 245] fail; but then we shall be as the Angels, who need no succession by marriage, and never come to an end.

Bede: We must here consider that the Latin custom does not answer to the Greek idiom. For properly different words are used for the marriage of men, and that of women; but here we may simply understand that, “marry,” is meant of men, and “given in marriage” of women.

Pseudo-Jerome: Thus then they do not understand the Scripture, in that in the resurrection, men shall be as the Angels of God, that is, no man there dies, no one is born, no infant is there, no old men.

Theophylact: In another way also they are deceived, not understanding the Scriptures; for if they had understood them, they should also have understood how by the Scriptures the resurrection of the dead may be proved.

Wherefore He adds, “And as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?”

Pseudo-Jerome: But I say, “in the bush,” which is an image of you; for in it the fire was kindled, but it did not consume its thorns; so my words set you on fire, but do not burn off your thorns, which have grown under the curse.

Theophylact: But I say, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

As if He had said, “The God of the living,” wherefore He adds, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living;” for He did not say, I have been, but “I am,” as if they had been present. But some one perhaps will say, that God spake this only of the soul of Abraham, not of his body; to which I answer, that Abraham implies both, that is, soul and body, so that He also is the God of the body, and the body lives with God, that is, in God’s ordinance.

Bede: Or else; because after proving that the soul remained after death, (for God could not be God of those who did not exist at all,) the resurrection of the body also might be inferred as a consequence, since it had done good and evil with the soul.

Pseudo-Jerome: But when He says, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;” by naming God thrice, He implied the Trinity. But when He says, “He is not the God of the dead,” by naming again the One God, He implies One Substance. But they live who make good the portion, which they [p. 246] had chosen; and they are dead, who have lost what they had made good. “Ye therefore do greatly err.”

Gloss.: That is, because they contradicted the Scriptures, and derogated from the power of God.

28. And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29. And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

30. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

32. And the scribe said unto Him, “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He:

33. And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” And no man after that durst ask Him any question.

Gloss.: After that the Lord confuted the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, who tempted Him, it is here shewn how He satisfied the Scribe who questioned Him.

Wherefore it is said, “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of [p. 247] all?”

Pseudo-Jerome: This question is only that which is a problem common to all skilled in the law, namely, that the commandments are differently set forth in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Wherefore He brought forward not one but two commandments, by which, as by two paps rising on the breast of the bride, our infancy is nourished.

And therefore there is added, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord thy God is one God.” He mentions the first and greatest commandment of all; this is that to which each of us must give the first place in his heart, as the only foundation of piety, that is, the knowledge and confession of the Divine Unity, with the practice of good works, which is perfected in the love of God and our neighbour.

Wherefore there is added, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

Theophylact: See how He has enumerated all the powers of the soul; for there is a living power in the soul, which He explains, when He says, “With all thy soul,” and to this belong anger and desire, all of which He will have us give to Divine love.

There is also another power, which is called natural, to which belong nutriment and growth, and this also is all to be given to God, for which reason He says, “With all thy heart.”

There is also another power, the rational, which He calls the mind, and that too is to be given whole to God.

Gloss.: The words which are added, “And with all thy strength,” may be referred to the bodily powers.

It goes on: “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Theophylact: He says that it is like, because these two commandments are harmonious one with the other, and mutually contain the other. For he who loves God, loves also His creature; but the chief of His creatures is man, wherefore he who loves God ought to love all men. But he who loves his neighbor, who so often offends him, ought much more to love Him, who is ever giving him benefits. And therefore on account of the connection between these commandments, He adds, “There is none other commandment greater than these.”

It goes on: “And the Scribe said unto Him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: [p. 248] for there is one God, and there is none other but He: and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Bede: He shews when he says, “this is greater than all sacrifices,” that a grave question was often debated between the scribes and Pharisees, which was the first commandment, or the greatest of the Divine law; that is, some praised offerings and sacrifices, others preferred acts of faith and love, because many of the fathers before the law pleased God by that faith only, which works by love. This scribe shews that he was of the latter opinion.

But it continues: “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”

Theophylact: By which He shews that he was not perfect, for He did not say, Thou art within the kingdom of heaven, but, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”

Bede: But the reason why he was not far from the kingdom of God was, that he proved himself to be a favourer of that opinion, which is proper to the New Testament and to Gospel perfection.

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 73: Nor let it trouble us that Matthew says, that he who addressed this question to the Lord tempted Him; for it may be that though he came as a tempter, yet he was corrected by the answer of the Lord. Or at all events, we must not look upon the temptation as evil, and done with the intention of deceiving an enemy, but rather as the caution of a man who wished to try a thing unknown to him.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, he is not far who comes with knowledge; for ignorance is farther from the kingdom of God than knowledge; wherefore He says above to the Sadducees, “Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, or the power of God.”

It goes on: “And no man after that durst ask Him any questions.”

Bede: For since they were confuted in argument, they ask Him no further questions, but take Him without any disguise, and give Him up to the Roman power. From which we understand that the venom of envy may be overcome, but can hardly lie quiet.

35. And Jesus answered and said, while He taught [p. 249] in the temple, “How say the Scribes that Christ is the Son of David?

36. For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, ‘The Lord said to my Lord - “Sit thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” ‘

37. David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.

Theophylact: Because Christ was coming to His Passion, He corrects a false opinion of the Jews, who said that Christ was the Son of David, not his Lord.

Wherefore it is said, “And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple.”

Pseudo-Jerome: That is, He openly speaks to them of Himself, that they may be inexcusable.

For it goes on: “How say the Scribes that Christ is the Son of David?”

Theophylact: But Christ shews Himself to be the Lord, by the words of David.

For it goes on: “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand;” as if He had said, Ye cannot say that David said this without the grace of the Holy Spirit, but he called Him Lord in the Holy Spirit; and that He is Lord, he shews, by this that is added, “Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;” for they themselves were His enemies, whom God put under the footstool of Christ.

Bede: But the putting down of His enemies by the Father, does not shew the weakness of the Son, but the unity of nature, by which One works in the Other; for the Son also subjects the Father’s enemies, because He glorifies His Father upon earth.

Gloss.: Thus then Lord concludes from what has gone before the doubtful questions. For from the foregoing words of David it is proved that Christ is the Lord of David, but according to the saying of the Scribes, it is proved that He is his Son. And this is what is added, “David himself then calls Him Lord, how is He then his Son?”

Bede: The question of Jesus is useful for us even now against the Jews; for they, acknowledging that Christ is to come, assert that He is a mere man, a holy Person descended from David. Let us then ask them, as our [p. 250] Lord has taught us, if He be a mere man, and only the son of David, how David in the Holy Spirit calls Him Lord. They are not however reproved for calling Him David’s son, but for not believing Him to be the Son of God.

It goes on: “And the common people heard Him gladly.”

Gloss.: Namely, because they saw that He answered and put questions wisely.

38. And He said unto them in His doctrine, “Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

39. And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

40. Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”

Pseudo-Jerome: After confuting the Scribes and Pharisees, He burns up as a fire their dry and withered examples.

Wherefore it is said, “And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing.”

Bede: To walk in long clothing is to go forth into public clad in garments too much ornamented, in which amongst other things, that rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, is said to have sinned.

Theophylact: But they used to walk in honourable garments, because they wished to be highly esteemed for it, and in like manner they desired other things, which lead to glory.

For it goes on: “And love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.”

Bede: We must observe that He does not forbid that those, to whom it falls by the rule of their office, should be saluted in the marketplace, or have chief seats and places at feasts, but He teaches that those who love those things unduly, whether they have them or no, are to be avoided by the faithful as wicked men: that is, He blames the intention and not the office; although this too is culpable, that the very men who wish to be called masters of the synagogue in Moses’ seat, should have to do with lawsuits in the marketplace. We are in two way ordered to beware of those who are desirous of vain [p. 251] glory; first, we should not be seduced by their hypocrisy into thinking that what they do is good; nor secondly, should we be excited to imitate them, through a vain rejoicing in being praised for those virtues which they affect.

Theophylact: He also especially teaches the Apostles, not to have any communication with the scribes, but to imitate Christ Himself; and in ordaining them to be masters in the duties of life, He places others under them. [ed. note: Theophylact’s words should be translated - He becomes their example in the duties of life.]

Bede: But they do not only seek for praise from men, but also for gain. Where there follows, “Which devour widows’ houses, under the pretence of long prayers.” For there are men who pretending to be just hesitate not to receive money from persons who are troubled in conscience, as though they would be their advocates in the judgment. A hand stretched out to the poor is always an accompaniment to prayer, but these men pass the night in prayer, that they may take away money from the poor.

Theophylact: But the Scribes used to come to women, who were left without the protection of their husbands, as though they were their protectors; and by a pretence of prayer, a reverend exterior and hypocrisy, they used to deceive widows, and thus also devour the houses of the rich.

It goes on: “These shall receive a greater damnation,” that is, than the other Jews, who sinned.

41. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

42. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

43. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, “Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

44. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

[p. 252]

Bede: The Lord, who had warned them to avoid the desire of high place and vain glory, now distinguishes by a sure test those who brought in gifts.

Wherefore it is said, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury.”

In the Greek language, “phylassein”, means to keep, and “gaza” is a Persian word for treasure; wherefore the word “gazophylacium” which is here used means a place where riches are kept, which name also was applied to the chest in which the offerings of the people were collected, for the necessary uses of the temple, and to the porch in which they were kept.

You have a notice of the porch in the Gospel, “These words spake Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple:” [John 8:20] and of the chest in the book of Kings, “But Jehoiada the priest took a chest.” [2 Kings 12:9]

Theophylact: Now there was a praiseworthy custom amongst the Jews, that those who were able and willing should put something into the treasury, for the maintenance of the priests, the poor, and the widows.

Wherefore there is added, “And many that were rich cast in much.”

But whilst many people were so engaged, a poor widow came up, and shewed her love by offering money according to her ability.

Wherefore it is said, “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”

Bede: Reckoners use the words “quadrans” for the fourth part of any thing, be it place, money, or time. Perhaps then in this place is meant the fourth part of a shekel, this is, five pence.

It goes on: “And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:” for God does not weigh the property but the conscience of those who offer; nor did He consider the smallness of the sum in her offering, but what was the store from which it came.

Wherefore He adds, “For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense, they are rich, who bring forth from the treasure of their heart things new and old, which are the obscure and hidden things of Divine wisdom in both testaments; but who is the poor woman, if it be not I and those like me, who cast in what I can, and have the will to explain to you, where I have, [p. 253] not the power. For God does not consider how much ye bear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word and deed. And in that it is said that “she cast in all her living,” it is implied that all that the body wants is that by which it lives. Wherefore it is said, “All the labour of man is for his mouth.” [Eccl 6:7]

Theophylact: Or else; that widow is the soul of man, which leaving Satan to which it had been joined, casts into the temple two mites, that is, the flesh and the mind, the flesh by abstinence, the mind by humility, that so it may be able to hear that it has cast away all its living, and has consecrated it, leaving nothing for the world of all that it possessed.

Bede: Again, in an allegorical way, the rich men, who cast gifts into the treasury, point out the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow is the simplicity of the Church: poor indeed, because she has cast away the spirit of pride and of the desires of worldly things; and a widow, because Jesus her husband has suffered death for her. She casts two mites into the treasury, because she brings the love of God and of her neighbour, or the gifts of faith and prayer; which are looked upon as mites in their own insignificance, but measured by the merit of a devout intention are superior to all the proud works of the Jews. The Jew sends of his abundance into the treasury, because he presumes on his own righteousness; but the Church sends her whole living into God’s treasury, because she understands that even her very living is not of her own desert, but of Divine grace.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 13

 

[p. 254]

1. And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”

2. And Jesus answering said unto him, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Bede, in Marc., iv, 42: Because after the founding of the Church of Christ, Judaea was to be punished for her treachery, the Lord fitly, after praising the devotedness of the Church in the person of the poor widow, goes out of the temple, and foretold its coming ruin, and the contempt in which the buildings now so wonderful were soon to be held.

Wherefore it is said, “And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”

Theophylact: For, since the Lord had spoken much concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His disciples wondered, that such numerous and beautiful buildings were to be destroyed; and this is the reason why they point out the beauty of the temple, and He answers not only that they were to be destroyed, but also that one stone should not be left upon another.

Wherefore it goes on: “And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Now some may endeavour to prove that Christ’s words were false, by saying that many ruins were left, but this is not at all the point; for though some ruins had been left, still at the consummation of all things one stone shall not be left upon another. Besides it is related, that Aelius Adrian overturned [p. 255] the city and the temple from the foundation, so that the word of the Lord here spoken was fulfilled.

Bede: But it was ordered by Divine power that after that the grace of the faith of the Gospel was made known through the world, the temple itself with its ceremonies should be taken away; lest perchance some one weak in the faith, if he saw that these things which had been instituted by God still remained, might by degrees drop from the sincerity of the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, into carnal Judaism.

Pseudo-Jerome: Here also the Lord enumerates to His disciples the destruction of the last time, that is of the temple, with the people, and its letter; of which one stone shall not be left upon another, that is, no testimony of the Prophets upon those, to whom the Jews perversely applied them, that is, on Ezra, Zerubbabel and the Maccabees.

Bede: Again, when the Lord left the temple, all the edifice of the law and the framework of the commandments were destroyed, so that nothing could be filled up by the Jews; and now that the head has been taken away, all the limbs fight one against the other.

3. And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately,

4. “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”

5. And Jesus answering them began to say, “Take heed lest any man deceive you:

6. For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ;’ and shall deceive many.

7. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

8. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.”

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Bede: Because the Lord, when some were praising the buildings of the temple, had plainly answered that all these were to be destroyed, the disciples privately enquired about the time and the signs of the destruction which was foretold.

Wherefore it is said: “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”

The Lord sits upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, when He discourses upon the ruin and destruction of the temple, so that even His bodily position may be in accordance with the words which He speaks, pointing out mystically that, abiding in peace with the saints, He hates the madness of the proud. For the mount of Olives marks the fruitful sublimity of the Holy Church.

Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem which occasioned their question, or His own coming through the Church, (in which He ever comes even unto the end, for we know that He comes in His own, when His members are born day by day,) or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead.

Theophylact: But before answering their question, He strengthens their minds that they may not be deceived.

Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you?”

And this He says, because when the sufferings of the Jews began, some arose professing to be teachers.

Wherefore there follows: “For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

Bede: For many came forward, when destruction was hanging over Jerusalem, saying that they were Christs, and that the time of freedom was now approaching. Many teachers of heresy also arose in the Church even in the time of the Apostles; and many Antichrists came in the name of Christ, the first of whom was Simon Magus, to whom the Samaritans, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, listened, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” [Acts 8:10]

Wherefore also it is added here, “And shall deceive many.”

Now from the time of the Passion of our Lord there ceased not amongst the [p. 257] Jewish people, who chose the seditious robber and rejected Christ the Saviour, either external wars or civil discord.

Wherefore it goes on: “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled.”

And when these come, the Apostles are warned not to be afraid, or to leave Jerusalem and Judaea, because the end was not to come at once, nay was to be put off for forty years.

And this is what is added: “for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet,” that is, the desolation of the province, and the last destruction of the city and temple.

It goes on: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

Theophylact: That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful, they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, “And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines.”

Bede: Now it is on record that this literally took place at the time of the Jewish rebellion. But “kingdom against kingdom,” the pestilence of those whose word spreads as a canker, dearth of the word of God, the commotion of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may all rather be understood of heretics who, by fighting one against the other, bring about the triumph of the Church.

9. “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.

10. And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.

11. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

12. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall [p. 258] rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

13. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Bede: The Lords shews how Jerusalem and the province of Judaea merited the infliction of such calamities, in the following words: “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.”

For the greatest cause of destruction to the Jewish people was, that after slaying the Saviour, they also tormented the heralds of His name and faith with wicked cruelty.

Theophylact: Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings.

There follows: “And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.”

He says “kings and rulers,” as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero and Herod. Again, His saying, “for My sake,” gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. “For a testimony against them,” means, as a judgment beforehand against them, that they might be inexcusable, in that though the Apostles were labouring for the truth, they would not join themselves to it. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: “And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 77: Matthew adds, “And then shall the end come.” [Matt 24:14]

Bede: Ecclesiastical historians testify that this was fulfilled, for they relate that all the Apostles long before the destruction of the province of Judaea were dispersed to preach the Gospel over the whole world, except James the son of Zebedee and James the brother of our Lord, who had before shed their blood in Judaea for the word of the Lord. Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, [p. 259] nay that many more were to be collected out of all mankind than perished in Judaea.

Gloss.: Another anxiety might also arise in the breasts of the disciples. Lest therefore after hearing that they were to be brought before kings and rulers, they should fear that their want of science and eloquence should render them unable to answer, our Lord consoles them by saying, “But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye.”

Bede: For when we are led before judges for Christ’s sake, all our duty is to offer up our will for Christ. As for the rest, Christ Himself who dwells in us speaks for us, and the grace of the Holy Ghost shall be given us, when we answer.

Wherefore it goes on: “For it is not ye that shall speak, but the Holy Ghost.”

Theophylact: He also foretells to them a worse evil, that they should suffer persecution from their relations.

Wherefore there follows: “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.”

Bede: This has often been seen in time of persecution, nor can there be any firm affection amongst men who differ in faith.

Theophylact: And this He says, that on hearing it, they might prepare themselves to bear persecutions and ills with greater patience. Then He brings them consolation, saying, “And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake;” for the being hated for Christ’s sake is a sufficient reason for suffering persecutions patiently, for it is not the punishment, but the cause, that makes the martyr. Again, that which follows is no small comfort amidst persecution: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

14. “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

15. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: [p. 260]

16. And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

17. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

18. And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

19. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

20. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days.”

Gloss.: After speaking of the things which were to happen before the destruction of the city, the Lord now foretells those which happened about the destruction itself of the city, saying, “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand).”

Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, 77: Matthew says, standing “in the holy place;” but with this verbal difference Mark has expressed the same meaning; for He says “where it ought not” to stand, because it ought not to stand in the holy place.

Bede: When we are challenged to understand what is said, we may conclude that it is mystical. But it may either be said simply of Antichrist, or of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate put into the temple, or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which for a long time stood in the holy of holies itself. An idol is also called abomination according to the Old Testament, and He has added “of desolation” because it was placed in the temple when desolate and deserted.

Theophylact: Or He means by “the abomination of desolation” the entrance of enemies into the city by violence.

Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: But Luke, in order to shew that the abomination of desolation happened when Jerusalem was taken, in this same place gives the words of our Lord, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” [Luke 21:20]

It goes on: “Then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains.”

Bede: [p. 261] It is on record that this was literally fulfilled, when on the approach of the war with Rome and the extermination of the Jewish people, all the Christians who were in that province, warned by the prophecy, fled far away, as Church history relates, and retiring beyond Jordan, remained for a time in the city of Pella under the protection of Agrippa, the king of the Jews, to whom mention is made in the Acts, and who with that part of the Jews, who chose to obey him, always continued subject to the Roman empire.

Theophylact: And well does He say, “Who are in Judaea,” for the Apostles were no longer in Judaea, but before the battle had been driven from Jerusalem.

Gloss.: [ed. note: Non in Gloss - sed ap. Theophylact] Or rather went out of their own accord, being led by the Holy Ghost.

It goes on: “And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house;” for it is a desirable thing to be saved even naked from such a destruction.

It goes on: “But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.”

Bede: That is, they whose wombs or whose hands, overladen with the burden of children, in no small measure impede their forced flight.

Theophylact: But it seems to me, that in these words He foretells the eating of children, for when afflicted by famine and pestilence, they laid hands on their children.

Gloss.: Again, after having mentioned this double impediment to flight, which might arise either from the desire of taking away property, or from having children to carry, He touches upon the third obstacle, namely, that coming from the season; saying, “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.”

Theophylact: That is, lest they who wish to fly should be impeded by the difficulties of the season. And He fitly gives the cause for so great a necessity for flight; saying, “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.”

Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: For Josephus, who has written the history of the Jews, relates that such things were suffered by this people, as are scarcely credible, wherefore it is said, not without cause, that there was not such tribulation from the beginning of the creation until now, nor shall ever be. But although in the time of Antichrist there shall be one similar or greater, we must understand that it is of that [p. 262] people, that it is said that there shall never happen such another. For if they are the first and foremost to receive Antichrist, that same people may rather be said to cause than to suffer tribulation.

Bede: The only refuge in such evils is, that God who gives strength to suffer, should abridge the power of inflicting.

Wherefore there follows: “And except that the Lord had shortened those days.”

Theophylact: That is, if the Roman war had not been soon finished, “no flesh should be saved;” that is, no Jew should have escaped; “but for the elect’s sake, whom He hath chosen,” that is, for the sake of the believing Jews, or who were hereafter to believe, “He hath shortened the days,” that is, the war was soon finished, for God foresaw that many Jews would believe after the destruction of the city; for which reason He would not suffer the whole race to be utterly destroyed.

Augustine: But some persons more fitly understand that the calamities themselves are signified by days, as evil days are spoken of in other parts of Holy Scripture; for the days themselves are not evil, but what is done in them. The woes themselves therefore are said to be abridged, because through the patience which God gave they felt them less, and then what was great in itself was abridged.

Bede: Or else; these words, “In those days shall be affliction,” properly agree with the times of Antichrist, when not only tortures more frequent, and more painful than before are to be heaped on the faithful, but also, what is more terrible, the working of miracles shall accompany those who inflict torments. But in proportion as this tribulation shall be greater than those which preceded, by so much shall it be shorter.

For it is believed, that during three years and a half, as far as may be conjectured from the prophecy of Daniel and the Revelations of John, the Church is to be attacked. In a spiritual sense, however, when we see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, that is, heresies and crimes reigning amongst them, who appear to be consecrated by the heavenly mysteries, then whosoever of us remain in Judaea, that is, in the confession of the true faith, ought to mount the higher in virtue, the more men we see following the broad paths of vice.

Pseudo-Jerome: For our flight is to the mountains, that he who has mounted to the heights of virtue may not go down to the depths of sin.

Bede: Then let him who is on [p. 263] the house-top, that is, whose mind rises above carnal deeds, and who lives spiritually, as it were in the free air, not come down to the base acts of his former conversation, nor seek again those things which he had left, the desires of the world or the flesh. For our house either means this world, or that in which we live, our own flesh.

Pseudo-Jerome: “Pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on the sabbath day,” that is, that the fruit of our work may not be ended with the end of time; for fruit comes to an end in the winter and time in the sabbath.

Bede: But if we are to understand it of the consummation of the world, He commands that our faith and love for Christ should not grow cold, and that we should not grow lazy and cold in the work of God, by taking a sabbath from virtue.

Theophylact: We must also avoid sin with fervour, and not coldly and quietly.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the tribulation shall be great, and the days short, for the sake of the elect, lest the evil of this time should change their understanding.

21. “And then if any man shall say to you, ‘Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there;’ believe him not.:

22. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

23. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

24. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

25. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

26. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

27. And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

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Theophylact: After that the Lord had finished all that concerned Jerusalem, He now speaks of the coming of Antichrist, saying, “Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, to, he is there; believe him not.” But when He says, “then,” think not that it means immediately after these things are fulfilled about Jerusalem; as Matthew also says after the birth of Christ, “In those days came John the Baptist;” [Matt 3:1] does he mean immediately after the birth of Christ? No, but he speaks indefinitely and without precision. So also here, “then” may be taken to mean not when Jerusalem shall be made desolate, but about the time of the coming of Antichrist.

It goes on: “For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”

For many shall take upon them the name of Christ, so as to seduce even the faithful.

Augustine, de Civ. Dei, xx, 19: For then shall Satan be unchained, and work through Antichrist in all his power, wonderfully indeed, but falsely. But a doubt is often raised whether the Apostle said “signs and lying wonders,” because he is to deceive mortal sense, by phantoms, so as to appear to do what he does not, or because those wonders themselves, even though true, are to turn men aside to lies, because they will not believe that any power but a Divine power could do them, being ignorant of the power of Satan, especially when he shall have received such power as he never had before. But for whichever reason it is said, they shall be deceived by those signs and wonders who deserve to be deceived.

Greg., Hom in Ezech. i, 9: Why however is it said with a doubt “if it were possible,” when the Lord knows beforehand what is to be? One of two things is implied; that if they are elect, it is not possible; and if it is possible, they are not elect. This doubt therefore in our Lord’s discourse expresses the trembling in the mind of the elect. And He calls them elect, because He sees that they will persevere in faith and good works; for those who are chosen to remain firm are to be tempted to fall by the signs of the preachers of Antichrist.

Bede: Some however refer this to the time of the Jewish captivity, where many, declaring themselves to be Christs, drew after them crowds of deluded persons; but during the siege of the city there was no Christian to whom the Divine exhortation, not to follow false [p. 265] teachers, could apply. Wherefore it is better to understand it of heretics, who, coming to oppose the Church, pretended to be Christs; the first of whom was Simon Magus, but that last one, greater than the rest, is Antichrist.

It goes on: “But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.”

Augustine, Epist., 78: For He did not only foretel to His disciples the good things which He would give to His saints and faithful ones, but also the woes in which this world was to abound, that we might look for our reward at the end of the world with more confidence, from feeling the woes in like manner announced as about to precede the end of the world.

Theophylact: But after the coming of Antichrist, the frame of the world shall be altered and changed, for the stars shall be obscured on account of the abundance of the brightness of Christ.

Wherefore it goes on: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall.”

Bede: For the stars in the day of judgment shall appear obscure, not by any lessening of their own light, but because of the brightness of the true light, that is, of the most high Judge coming upon them; although there is nothing to prevent its being taken to mean, that the sun and moon with all the other heavenly bodies then for a time are really to lose their light, just as we are told was the case with the sun at the time of our Lord’s Passion. But after the day of judgment, when there shall be a new sky and a new earth, then shall happen what Isaiah says: “Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold.” [Isa 30:26]

There follows: “And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

Theophylact: That is, the Angelic virtues shall be astonished, seeing that such great things are done, and that their fellow-servants are judged.

Bede: What wonder is it that men should be troubled at this judgment, the sight of which makes the very Angelic powers to tremble? What will the stories of the house do when the pillars shake? What does the shrub of the wilderness undergo, when the cedar of paradise is moved?

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the sun shall be darkened, at the coldness of their hearts, as in the winter time. And the moon shall not give her light with serenity, in this time of [p. 266] quarrel, and the stars of heaven shall fail in their light, when the seed of Abraham shall all but disappear, for to it they are likened [Gen 22:17]. And the powers of heaven shall be stirred up to the wrath of vengeance, when they shall be sent by the Son of Man at His coming, of whose Advent it is said, “And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory,” He, that is, who first came down like rain into the fleece of Gideon in all lowliness.

Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 11: For since it was said by the Angels to the Apostles, “He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven,” [Acts 1:11] rightly do we believe that He will come not only in the same body, but on a cloud, since He is to come as He went away, and a cloud received Him as He was going.

Theophylact: But they shall see the Lord as the Son of Man, that is, in the body, for that which is seen is body.

Augustine, de Trin., i, 13: For the vision of the Son of Man is shewn even to the bad, but the vision of the form of God to the pure in heart alone, “for they shall see God.” [Matt 5:8] And because the wicked cannot see the Son of God, as He is in the form of God, equal to the Father, and at the same time both just and wicked are to see Him as Judge of the quick and dead, before Whom they shall be judged, it was necessary that the Son of Man should receive power to judge. Concerning the execution of which power, there is immediately added, “And then shall He send He angels.”

Theophylact: Observe that Christ sends the Angels as well as the Father; where then are they who say that He is not equal to the Father? For the Angels go forth to gather together the faithful, who are chosen, that they may be carried into the air to meet Jesus Christ.

Wherefore it goes on: “And gather together His elect from the four winds.”

Pseudo-Jerome: As corn winnowed from the threshing-floor of the whole earth.

Bede: By “the four winds,” He means the four parts of the world, the east, the west, the north, and the south. And lest any one should think that the elect are to be gathered together only from the four edges of the world, and not from the midland regions as well as the borders, He has fitly added, “From the uttermost part of earth, to the uttermost part of heaven,” that is, from the extremities of the earth to its utmost bounds, where the circle of the heavens appears to those who look from [p. 267] afar to rest upon the boundaries of the earth. No one therefore shall be elect in that day who remains behind and does not meet the Lord in the air, when He comes to judgment. The reprobate also shall come to judgment, that when it is finished they may be scattered abroad and perish from before the face of God.

28. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29. So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.”

Bede: Under the example of a tree the Lord gave a pattern of the end, saying, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.”

Theophylact: As if He had said, As when the fig tree puts forth its leaves, summer follows at once, so also after the woes of Antichrist, at once, without an interval, shall be the coming of Christ, who will be to the just as summer after winter, but to sinners, winter after summer.

Augustine, Epist., 119, 11: All that is said by the three Evangelists concerning the Advent of our Lord, if diligently compared together and examined, will perchance be found to belong to His daily coming in His body, that is, the Church, except those places where that last coming is so promised, as if it were approaching; for instance in the last part of the discourse according to Matthew, the coming itself is clearly expressed, where it is said, “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory,” [Matt 25:31] For what does He refer to in the words, “when ye shall see these things come to pass,” but those things which He has mentioned above, amongst which it is said, “And then ye shall see [p. 268] the Son of Man coming in the clouds.” The end therefore shall not be then, but then it shall be near at hand.

Or are we to say, that not all those things which are mentioned above are to be taken in, but only some of them, that is, leaving out these words, “Then shall ye see the Son of Man coming;” for that shall be the end itself, and not its approach only. But Matthew has declared that it is to be received without exception, saying, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” That which is said above must therefore be taken thus; “And He shall send His angels, and gather together the elect from the four winds;” that is, He shall collect His elect from the four winds of heaven, which He does in the whole of the last hour, coming in His members as in clouds.

Bede: This fruitbearing of the fig tree may also be understood to mean the state of the synagogue, which was condemned to everlasting barrenness, because when the Lord came, it had no fruits of righteousness in those who were then unfaithful. But the Apostle has said that when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in [Rom 11:25], all Israel shall be saved. What means this, but that the tree, which has been long barren, shall then yield the fruit, which it had withheld? When this shall happen, doubt not that a summer of true peace is at hand.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the leaves which come forth are words now spoken, the summer at hand is the day of Judgment, in which every tree shall shew what it had within it, deadness for burning, or greenness to be planted with the tree of life.

There follows: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be done.”

Bede: By generation He either means the whole race of mankind, or specially the Jews.

Theophylact: Or else, “This generation shall not pass away,” that is, the generation of Christians, “until all things be fulfilled,” which were spoken concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Antichrist; for He does not mean the generation of the Apostles, for the greater part of the Apostles did not live up to the destruction of Jerusalem. But He says this of the generation of Christians, wishing to console His disciples, lest they should believe that the faith should fail at that time; for the immoveable elements shall first fail, before the words of Christ fail; wherefore it is added, “Heaven and earth [p. 269] shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”

Bede: The heaven which shall pass away is not the ethereal or starry heaven, but the heaven where is the air. For wheresoever the water of the judgment could reach, there also, according to the words of the blessed Peter, the fire of judgment shall reach [2 Pet 3:10-12]. But the heaven and the earth shall pass away in that form which they now have, but in their essence they shall last without end.

32. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is.

34. For the Son of Man is a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36. Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37. And what I say unto you I say unto all - Watch.”

Theophylact: The Lord wishing to prevent His disciples from asking about that day and hour, says, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

For if He had said, I know, but I will not reveal it to you, He would have saddened them not a little; but He acted more wisely, and prevents their asking such a question, lest they should importune Him, by saying, neither the Angels, nor I.

Hilary, de Trin., ix: This ignorance of the day and hour is urged against the Only-Begotten God, as if, God born of God had not the same perfection of nature as God. But first, let common sense decide whether it is credible that He, who [p. 270] is the cause that all things are, and are to be, should be ignorant of any out of all these things. For how can it be beyond the knowledge of that nature, by which and in which that which is to be done is contained? And can He be ignorant of that day, which is the day of His own Advent? Human substances foreknow as far as they can what they intend to do, and the knowledge of what is to be done, follows upon the will to act. How then can the Lord of glory, from ignorance of the day of His coming, be believed to be of that imperfect nature, which has on it a necessity of coming, and has not attained to the knowledge of its own advent?

But again, how much more room for blasphemy will there be, if a feeling of envy is ascribed to God the Father, in that He has withheld the knowledge of His beatitude from Him to whom He gave a foreknowledge of His death. But if there are in Him all the treasures of knowledge, He is not ignorant of this day; rather we ought to remember that the treasures of wisdom in Him are hidden; His ignorance therefore must be connected with the hiding of the treasures of wisdom, which are in Him.

For in all cases, in which God declares Himself ignorant, He is not under the power of ignorance, but either it is not a fit time for speaking, or it is an economy of not acting.

But if God is said then to have known that Abraham loved Him, when He did not hide that His knowledge from Abraham, it follows, that the Father is said to know the day, because He did not hide it from the Son. If therefore the Son knew not the day, it is a Sacrament of His being silent, as on the contrary the Father alone is said to know, because He is not silent. But God forbid that any new and bodily changes should be ascribed to the Father or the Son.

Lastly, lest He should be said to be ignorant from weakness, He has immediately added, “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.”

Pseudo-Jerome: For we must needs watch with our souls before the death of the body.

Theophylact: But He teach us two things, watching and prayer; for many of us watch, but watch only to pass the night in wickedness; He now follows this up with a parable, saying, “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave his servants power over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.” [p. 271]

Bede: The man who taking a far journey left his house is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the Resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.

Greg, Hom in Evan, 9: For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. “And he gave his servants power over every work,” when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work.

He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping.

Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.”

Pseudo-Jerome: For he who sleeps applies not his mind to real bodies, but to phantoms, and when he awakes, he possesses not what he had seen; so also are those, whom the love of this world seizes upon in this life; they quit after this life what they dreamed was real.

Theophylact: See again that He has not said, I know not when the time will be, but, “Ye know not.” For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we know not the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickedness even unto the end. Let us therefore attend to His words; for the end comes at even, when a man dies in old age; a midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us; for when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now all these ages must look out for the end; for even a child must be watched, lest he die unbaptized.

Pseudo-Jerome: He thus concludes His discourse, that the last should hear from those who come first this precept which is common to all; wherefore He adds, “But what I say unto you I [p. 272] say unto all, Watch.”

Augustine, Epist., 199, 3: For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spake, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. but shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, “Watch, lest when he cometh he find you sleeping?”

Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.

 

 

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 14

 

[p. 273]

1. After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the Chief Priests and the Scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death.

2. But they said, “Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.”

Pseudo-Jerome: Let us now sprinkle our book, and our thresholds, with blood, and put the scarlet thread around the house of our prayers, and bind scarlet on our hand, as was done to Zarah [Gen 38:30], that we may be able to say that the red heifer [Num 19:2] is slain in the valley [Deut 21:4]. For the Evangelist, being about to speak of the slaying of Christ, premises, “After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread.”

Bede, Marc., iv, 43: Pascha, which in Hebrew is, phase, is not called from Passion, as many think, but from passing over, because the destroyer, seeing the blood on the doors of the Israelites, passed by them, and did not smite them; or the Lord Himself, bringing aid unto His people, walked above them.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, phrase, is interpreted as a passing over, but Pascha means sacrifice. In the sacrifice of the lamb, and the passing of the people through the sea, or through Egypt, the Passion of Christ is prefigured, and the redemption of the people from hell, when He visits us after two days, that is, when the moon is most full, and the age of Christ is perfect, that when no part at all of it is dark, we may eat the flesh of the Lamb without spot, Who [p. 274] taketh away the sins of the world, in one house, that is, in the Catholic Church, shod with charity, and armed with virtue.

Bede: The difference according to the Old Testament between the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread was, that the day alone on which the lamb was slain in the evening, that is, the fourteenth moon of the first month, was called Passover. But on the fifteenth moon, when they came out of Egypt, the feast of unleavened bread came on, which solemn time was appointed for seven days, that is, up to the twenty-first day of the same month in the evening. But the Evangelists indifferently use the day of unleavened bread for the Passover, and the Passover for the days of unleavened bread. Wherefore Mark also here says, “After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread,” because the day of the Passover was also ordered to be celebrated on the days of unleavened bread, and we also, as it were, keeping a continual passover, ought always to be passing out of this world.

Pseudo-Jerome: But iniquity came forth in Babylon from the princes, who ought to have purified the temple and the vessels, and themselves according to the law, in order to eat the lamb.

Wherefore there follows: “And the Chief Priests and the Scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put him to death.”

Now when the head is slain, the whole body is rendered powerless, wherefore these wretched men slay the Head. But they avoid th