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1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be thou clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4. And Jesus said unto him, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the Priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
Jerome: After the preaching and teaching, is offered an occasion of working miracles, that by mighty works following, the preceding doctrine might be confirmed.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Because He taught them as one having authority, that He might not thence be supposed to use this method of teaching from ostentation, He does the same in works, as one having power to cure; and therefore, “When Jesus descended from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.”
Pseudo-Origen, Hom. in Liv. 5: While the Lord taught on the mount, the disciples were with Him, for to them it was given to know the secret things of the heavenly doctrine; but now as He came down from the mount the crowds followed Him, who had been altogether unable to ascent into the mount. They that are bowed by the burden of sin cannot climb to the sublime mysteries. But when the Lord came down from the mount, that is, stooped to the infirmity, and helplessness of the rest, in pity to298 their imperfections, “great multitudes followed Him,” some for renown, most for His doctrine, some for cures, or having their wants administered to.
Haymo: Otherwise; By the mount on which the Lord sat is figured the Heaven, as it is written, “Heaven is my throne.” [Isa 66:1] But when the Lord sits on the mount, only the disciples come to Him; because before He took on Him the frailty of our human nature, God was known only in Judaea [margin note: Ps 76:1]; but when He came down from the height of his Divinity, and took upon Him the frailty of our human nature, a great multitude of the nations followed Him.
Herein it is shewn to them that teach that their speech should be so regulated, that as they see each man is able to receive, they should so speak the word of God. For the doctors ascend the mountain, when they shew the more excellent precepts to the perfect; they come down from the mount, in shewing the lesser precepts to the weak.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Among others who were not able to ascent into the mount was the leper, as bearing the burden of sin; for the sin of our souls is a leprosy. And the Lord came down from the height of heaven, as from a mountain, that He might purge the leprousness of our sin; and so the leper as already prepared meets Him as He came down.
Pseudo-Origen: He works the cures below, and does none in the mount; for there is a time for all things under heaven, a time for teaching, and a time for healing. On the mount He taught, He cured souls, He healed hearts; which being finished, as He came down from the heavenly heights to heal bodies, there came to Him a leper and made adoration to Him; before he made his suit, he began to adore, shewing his great reverence.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He did not ask it of Him as of a human physician, but adored Him as God. For faith and confession make a perfect prayer; so that the leprous man in adoring fulfilled the work of faith, and the work of confession in words, “he make adoration to him, saying;”
Pseudo-Origen: Lord, by Thee all things were made, Thou therefore, “if thou will, canst make me clean.” Thy will is the work, and all works are subject to Thy will. Thou of old cleansedst Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy by the hand of Elisha, and now, “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
Chrys.: He said not,299 If Thou wilt ask of God, or, If Thou wilt make adoration to God; but, “If thou wilt.” Nor did he say, Lord, cleanse me; but left all to Him, thereby making Him Lord and attributing to Him the power over all.
Pseudo-Chrys.: And thus he rewarded a spiritual Physician with a spiritual reward; for as physicians are gained by money, so He with prayer. We offer to God nothing more worthy than faithful prayer. In that he say, “If thou wilt,” there is no doubt that Christ’s will is ready to every good work; but only doubt whether that cure would be expedient for him, because soundness of body is not good for all. “If thou wilt” then is as much as to say, I believe that Thou willest whatever is good, but I know not if this that I desire for myself is good.
Chrys.: He was able to cleanse by a word, or even by mere will, but He put out His hand, “He stretched forth his hand and touched him,” to shew that He was not subject to the Law, and that to the pure nothing is impure. Elisha truly kept the Law in all strictness, and did not go out and touch Naaman, but sends him to wash in Jordan. But the Lord shews that He does not heal as a servant, but as Lord heals and touches; His hand was not made unclean by the leprosy, but the leprous body was made pure by the holy hand. For He came not only to heal bodies, but to lead a soul to the true wisdom. And then He did not forbid to eat with unwashen hands, so here He teaches us that it is the leprosy of the soul we ought only to dread, which is sin, but that the leprosy of the body is no impediment to virtue.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But though He transgressed the letter of the Law, He did not transgress its meaning. For the Law forbade to touch leprosy, because it could not hinder that the touch should not defile; therefore it meant not that lepers should not be healed, but that they that touched should not be polluted. So He was not polluted by touching the leprosy, but purified the leprosy by touching it.
Damascenus, De Fid. Orth. iii. 15: For He was not only God, but man also, whence He wrought Divine wonders by touch and word; for as by an instrument so by His body the Divine acts were done.
Chrys.: But for touching the leprous man there is none that accuses Him, because His hearers were not yet seized with envy against Him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Had He healed him without speaking, who would300 know by whose power he had been healed? So the will to heal was for the sake of the leprous man; the word was for the sake of them that beheld, therefore He said, “I will, be thou clean.”
Jerome: It is not to be read, as most of the Latins think, ‘I will cleanse thee;’ but separately, He first answers, “I will,” and then follows the command, “be thou clean.” The leper has said, “If thou wilt;” The Lord answers, “I will;” he first said, “Thou canst make me clean;” the Lord spake, “Be thou clean.”
Chrys.: No where else do we see Him using this word though He be working ever so signal a miracle; but He here adds, “I will,” to confirm the opinion of the people and the leprous man concerning His power. Nature obeyed the word of the Purifier with proper sped, whence it follows, “and straight his leprosy was cleansed.” But even this word, “straightway,” is too slow to express the speed with which the deed was done.
Pseudo-Origen: Because he was not slow to believe, his cure is not delayed; he did not linger in his confession, Christ did not linger in His cure.
Aug., De. Cons. Evan., ii, 19: Luke has mentioned the cleansing of this leper, though not in the same order of events, but as his manner is to recollect things omitted, and to put first things that were done later, as they were divinely suggested; so that what they had known before, they afterwards set down in writing when they were recalled to their minds.
Chrys.: Jesus when healing his body bids him tell no man; “Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man.” Some say that He gave this command that they might, not through malice distrust his cure. But this is said foolishly, for He did not so cure him as that his purity should be called in question: but He bids him “tell no man,” to teach that He does not love ostentation and glory.
How is it then that to another to whom He had healed He gives command to go and tell it? What He taught in that was only that we should have a thankful heart; for He does not command that it should be published abroad, but that glory should be given to God. He teaches us then through this leper not to be desirous of empty honour; by the other, not to be ungrateful, but to refer all things to the praise of God.
Jerome: And in truth what need was there that he should proclaim with his mouth what was evidently shewed in his body?
Hilary: Or that301 this healing might be sought rather than offered, therefore silence is enjoined.
Jerome: He sends him to the Priests, first, because of His humility that He may seem to defer to the Priests; secondly, that when they saw the leper cleansed they might be saved, if they would believe on the Saviour, or if not that they might be without excuse; and lastly, that He might not seem, as He was often charged, to be infringing the Law.
Chrys.: He neither every where broke, nor every where observed, the Law, but sometimes the one, sometimes the other. The one was preparing the way for the wisdom that was to come, the other was silencing the irreverent tongue of the Jews, and condescending to their weakness. Whence the Apostles also are seen sometimes observing, sometimes neglecting, the Law.
Pseudo-Origen: Or, He sends him to the Priests that they might know that he was not cleansed according to the manner of the Law, but by the operation of grace.
Jerome: It was ordained in the Law, that those that had been cleansed of a leprosy should offer gifts to the Priests; as it follows, “And offer thy gift as Moses commanded for a testimony to them.”
Pseudo-Chrys.: Which is not to be understood, “Moses commanded it for a testimony to them;” but, “Go thou and offer for a testimony.”
Chrys.: For Christ, knowing beforehand that they would not profit by this, said not, ‘for their amendment,’ but, “for a testimony to them;” that is, for an accusation of them, and in attestation that all things that should have been done by Me, have been done. But though He thus knew that they would not profit by it, yet He did not omit any thing that behoved to be done; but they remained in their former ill-will.
Also He said not, ‘The gift that I command,’ but, “that Moses commanded,” that in the meantime He might hand them over to the Law, and close the mouths of the unjust. That they might not say that He usurped the honour of the Priests, He fulfilled the work of the Law, and made a trial of them.
Pseudo-Origen: Or; “offer thy gift,” that all who see may believe the miracle.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or; He command the oblation, that should they afterwards seek to put him out, he might be able to say, You have received gifts on my cleansing, how do ye now cast me out as a leper?
Hilary: Or we may read, “Which Moses commanded for a testimony;” inasmuch as 302 what Moses commanded in the Law is a testimony, not an effect.
Bede, Hom. in Dom., 3 Epiph.: Should any be perplexed how, when the Lord seems here to approve Moses’ offering, the Church does not receive it, let him remember, that Christ had not yet offered His body for a holocaust. And it behoved that the typical sacrifices should not be taken away, before that which they typified was established by the testimony of the Apostles’ preaching, and by the faith of the people believing. By this man was figured the whole human race, for he was not only leprous, but, according to the Gospel of Luke, is described as full of leprosy. “For all have sinned, and need glory of God;” to wit, that glory, that the hand of the Saviour being stretched out, (that is, the Word being made flesh), and touching human nature, they might be cleansed from the vanity of their former ways; and that they that had been long abominable, and cast out from the camp of God’s people, might be restored to the temple and the priest, and be able to offer their bodies a living sacrifice to Him to whom it is said, “Thou art a Priest for ever.” [Ps 110:4]
Remig.: Morally; by the leper is signified the sinner; for sin makes an unclean and impure soul; he falls down before Christ when he is confounded concerning his former sins; yet he ought to confess, and to seek the remedy of penitence; so the leper shews his disease, and asks a cure. The Lord stretches out His hand when He affords the aid of Divine mercy; whereupon follows immediately remission of sin; nor ought the Church to be reconciled to the same, but on the sentence of the Priest.
5. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6. And saying, “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.”
7. And Jesus saith unto him, “I will come and heal him.”
8. The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed.303
9. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, ‘Go,’ and he goeth; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he cometh; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he doeth it.”
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord having taught His disciples on the mount, and healed the leper at the foot of the mount, came to Capharnaum. This is a mystery, signifying that after the purification of the Jews He went to the Gentiles.
Haymo: For Capharnaum, which is interpreted, The town of fatness, or, The field of consolation, signifies the Church, which was gathered out of the Gentiles, which is replenished with spiritual fatness, according to that, “That my soul may be filled with marrow and fatness,” [Ps 63:5] and under the troubles of the world is comforted concerning heavenly things, according to that, “Thy consolations have rejoiced my soul.” [Ps 94:19] Hence it is said, “When he had entered into Capharnaum the centurion came to him.”
Aug., Serm., 62, 4: This centurion was of the Gentiles, for Judaea had already soldiers of the Roman empire.
Pseudo-Chrys.: This centurion was the first-fruits of the Gentiles, and in comparison of his faith, all the faith of the Jews was unbelief; he neither heard Christ teaching, nor saw the leper when he was cleansed, but from hearing only that he had been healed, he believed more than he heard; and so he mystically typified the Gentiles that should come, who had neither read the Law nor the Prophets concerning Christ, nor had seen Christ Himself work His miracles. He came to Him and besought Him, saying, “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously afflicted.”
Mark the goodness of the centurion, who for the health of his servant was in so great haste and anxiety, as though by his death he should suffer loss, not of money, but of his well being. For he reckoned no difference between the servant and the master; their place in this world may be different, but their nature is one. Mark also his faith, in that he said not, Come and heal him, because that Christ who stood there was present in every place; and his wisdom, in that he said not, Heal him here on this spot, for he knew that He was mighty to do, wise to understand, and merciful to hearken, therefore he did but304 declare the sickness, leaving it to the Lord, by His merciful power to heal. “And he is grievously afflicted;” this shews how he loved him, for when any that we love is pained or tormented, thought it be but slightly, yet we think him more afflicted than he really is.
Rabanus: All these things he recounts with grief, that he is “sick,” that it is with “palsy;” that he is “grievously afflicted” therewith, the more to shew the sorrow of his own heart, and to move the Lord to have mercy. In like manner ought all to feel for their servants, and to take thought for them.
Chrys., Hom. xxvi: But some say that he says these things in excuse of himself, as reasons why he did not bring the sick man himself. For it was impossible to bring one in a palsy, in great torment, and at the point to die. But I rather think it a mark of his great faith; inasmuch as he knew that a word alone was enough to restore the sick man, he deemed it superfluous to bring him.
Hilary: Spiritually interpreted, the Gentiles are the sick in this world, and afflicted with the diseases of sin, all their limbs being altogether unnerved, and unfit for their duties of standing and walking. The sacrament of their salvation is fulfilled in this centurion’s servant, of whom it is sufficiently declared that he was the head of the Gentiles that should believe. What sort of head this is, the song of Moses in Deuteronomy teaches, “He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the Angels.” [Deut 32:8]
Remig.: Or, in the centurion are figured those of the Gentiles who first believed, and were perfect in virtue. For a centurion is one who commands a hundred soldiers; and a hundred is a perfect number. Rightly, therefore, the centurion prays for his servant, because the first-fruits of the Gentiles prayed to God for the salvation of the whole Gentile world.
Jerome: The Lord seeing the centurion’s faith, humbleness, and thoughtfulness, straightway promises to go and heal him; “Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.”
Chrys.: Jesus here does what He never did; He always follows the wish of the supplicant, but here He goes before it, and not only promises to heal him, but to go to his house. This He does, that we may learn the worthiness of the centurion.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Had not He said, “I will come and heal him,” the other would never have answered, “I am not worthy.” It was because it305 was a servant for whom he made petition, that Christ promised to go, in order to teach us not to have respect to the great, and overlook the little, but to honour poor and rich alike.
Jerome: As we commend the centurion’s faith in that he believed that the Saviour was able to heal the paralytic; so his humility is seen in his professing himself unworthy that the Lord should come under his roof; as it follows, “And the centurion answered and said unto him, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof.”
Rabanus: Conscious of his gentile life, he thought he should be more burdened than profited by this act of condescension from Him with whose faith he was indeed endued, but with whose sacraments he was not yet initiated.
Aug.: By declaring himself unworthy, he shewed himself worthy, not indeed into whose house, but into whose heart, Christ the Word of God should enter. Nor could he have said this with so much faith and humility, had he not borne in his heart Him whom he feared to have in his house. And indeed it would have been no great blessedness that Jesus should enter within his walls, if He had not already entered into his heart.
Chrysologus, Serm. 102: Mystically, his house was the body which contained his soul, which contains within it the freedom of the mind by a heavenly vision. But God disdains neither to inhabit flesh, nor to enter the roof of our body.
Pseudo-Origen, Hom. in div. 5: And now also when the heads of Churches, holy men and acceptable to God, enter your roof, then in them the Lord also enters, and do you think of yourself as receiving the Lord. And when you eat and drink the Lord’s Body [ed. note: “I am not worthy, Lord, that Thou shouldest come unto me; but as Thou didst vouchsafe to lodge in a den or stable of brute beasts, &c.” vid. Liturgy of St. John Chrys. also Bp. Andrew’s Devotions, and our Communion Service. “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table, &c.”], then the Lord enters under your roof, and you then should humble yourself, saying, “Lord, I am not worthy.” For where He enters unworthily, there He enters to the condemnation of him who receives Him.
Jerome: The thoughtfulness of the centurion appears herein, that he saw the Divinity hidden beneath the covering of body; wherefore he adds, “But speak the word only, and my servant will be healed.”
Pseudo-Chrys.: He knew that Angels stood by306 unseen to minister to Him, who turn every word of his into act; yea and should Angels fail, yet diseases are healed by His life-giving command.
Hilary: Also he therefore says that it needed only a word to heal his son, because all the salvation of the Gentiles is of faith, and the life of them all is in the precepts of the Lord.
Therefore he continues saying, “For I am a man set under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”
Pseudo-Chrys.: He has here developed the mystery of the Father and the Son, by the secret suggestion of the Holy Spirit; as much as to say, Though I am under the command of another, yet have I power to command those who are under me; so also Thou, though under the command of the Father, in so far as Thou art Man, yet hast Thou power over the Angels.
But Sabellius perhaps affirms, seeking to prove that the Son is the same as the Father, that it is to be understood thus; ‘If I who am set under authority have yet power to command, how much more Thou who are under the authority of none.’ But the words will not bear this exposition; for he said not, ‘If I being a man under authority,’ but, ‘For I also am a man set under authority;’ clearly not drawing a distinction, but pointing to a resemblance in this respect between himself and Christ.
Aug.: If I who am under command have yet power to command others, how much more Thou whom all powers serve!
Gloss. ord.: Thou are able without Thy bodily presence, by the ministry of Thy Angels, to say to this disease, Go, and it will leave him; and to say to health, Come, and it shall come to him.
Haymo: Or, we may understand by those that are set under the centurion, the natural virtues in which many of the Gentiles were mighty, or even thoughts good and bad. Let us say to the bad, Depart, and they will depart; let us call the good, and they shall come; and our servant, that is, our body, let us bid that it submit itself to the Divine will.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 20: What is here said seems to disagree with Luke’s account, “When the centurion heard concerning Jesus, he sent unto him elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.” [Luke 7:3] And again, “When he was come nigh to307 the house, the centurion sent friends unto him, saying, Lord, trouble not thyself, for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof.”
Chrys.: But some say that these are two different occurrences; an opinion which has much to support it. Of Him in Luke it is said, “He loveth our nation, and has built us a synagogue;” but of this one Jesus says, “I have not found so great faith in Israel;” whence it might seem that the other was a Jew. But in my opinion they are both the same person. What Luke relates that he sent to Jesus to come to him, betrays the friendly services of the Jews. We may suppose that when the centurion sought to go to Jesus, he was prevented by the Jews, who offered to go themselves for the purpose of bringing him. But as soon as he was delivered from their importunity, then be sent to say, Do not think that it was from want of respect that I did not come, but because I thought myself unworthy to receive you into my house. When then Matthew relates, that he spoke thus not through friends, but in his own person, it does not contradict Luke’s account; for both have only represented the centurion’s anxiety, and that he had a right opinion of Christ. And we may suppose that he first sent this message to Him by friends as He approached, and after, when He was come thither, repeated it Himself. But if they are relating different stories, then they do not contradict each other, but supply mutual deficiencies.
Aug.: Matthew therefore intended to state summarily all that passed between the centurion and the Lord, which was indeed done through others, with the view of commending his faith; as the Lord spoke, “I have not found so great faith in Israel.” Luke, on the other hand, has narrated the whole as it was done, that so we might be obliged to understand in what sense Matthew, who could not err, meant that the centurion himself came to Christ, namely, in a figurative sense through faith.
Chrys.: For indeed there is no necessary contradiction between Luke’s statement, that he had built a synagogue, and this, that he was not an Israelite; for it was quite possible, that one who was not a Jew should have built a synagogue, and should love the nation.
10. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven.
12. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13. And Jesus said unto the centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Chrys.: As what the leper had affirmed concerning Christ’s power, “If thou will, thou canst cleanse me,” was confirmed by the mouth of Christ, saying, “I will, be thou clean;” so here He did not blame the centurion for bearing testimony to Christ’s authority, but even commended him. Nay more; it is something greater than commendation that the Evangelist signifies in the words, “But Jesus hearing marvelled.”
Pseudo-Origen, Hom. in Div. 5: Observe how great and what that is at which God the Only-begotten marvels. Gold, riches, principalities, are in His sight as the shadow or the flower that fadeth; in the sight of God none of these things is wonderful, as though it were great or precious, but faith only; this He wonders at, and pays honour to, this He esteems acceptable to Himself.
Aug., super Gen. c. Man. i. 8: But who was He that had created this faith in him, but only He who now marvelled at it? But even had it come from any other, how should He marvel who know all things future? When the Lords marvels, it is only to teach us what we ought to wonder at; for all these emotions in Him are not signs of passion, but examples of a teacher.
Chrys.: Wherefore He is said to have thus wondered in the presence of all the people, giving them an example that they also should wonder at Him; for it follows, “And he said to them that followed, I have not found so great309 faith in Israel.”
Aug., cont. Faust. xxii, 74: He praises his faith, but gives no command to quit his profession of a soldier.
Jerome: This He speaks of the present generation, not of all the Patriarchs and Prophets of past ages.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Andrew believed, but it was after John had said, “Behold the Lamb of God;” [John 1:36] Peter believed, but it was by reading the Scriptures; and Nathanael first received a proof of His Divinity, and then spoke forth his confession of faith.
Pseudo-Origen: Jairus, a prince in Israel, making request for his daughter, said not, ‘Speak the word,’ but, ‘Come quickly.’ Nicodemus, hearing of the sacrament of faith, asks, “How can these things be?” [John 3:9] Mary and Martha say, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died;” [John 11:21] as though distrusting that God’s power could be in all places at the same time.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, if we would suppose [ed. note: The text of Pseudo-Chrys has ’si non sumus ausi putare.’] that his faith was greater than even that of the Apostles, Christ’s testimony to it must be understood as though every good in a man should be commended relatively to his character; as it were a great thing in a countryman to speak with wisdom, but in a philosopher the same would be nothing wonderful. In this way it may be said of the centurion, In none other have I found so great faith in Israel.
Chrys.: For it is a different thing for a Jew to believe and for a Gentile.
Jerome: Or perhaps in the person of the centurion the faith of the Gentiles is preferred to that of Israel; whence He proceeds, “But I say unto you, Many shall come from the east and from the west.”
Aug., Serm., 62, 4: He says, not ‘all,’ but many; yet these from the east and west; for by these two quarters the whole world is intended.
Haymo: Or; From the east shall come they, who pass into the kingdom as soon as they are enlightened; from the west they who have suffered persecution for the faith even unto death.
Or, he comes from the east who has served God from a child; he from the west who in decrepit age has turned to God.
Pseudo-Origen: How then does He say in another place, that “the chosen are few?” Because in each generation there are few that are chosen, but when all are gathered together in the day of visitation they shall be found many. “They shall sit down,” not the310 bodily posture, but the spiritual rest, not with human food, but with an eternal feast, “with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven,” where is light, joy, glory, and eternal length of days.
Jerome: Because the God of Abraham, the Maker of heaven, is the Father of Christ, therefore also is Abraham in the kingdom of heaven, and with him will sit down the nations who have believed in Christ the Son of the Creator.
Aug.: As we see Christians called to the heavenly feast, where is the bread of righteousness, the drink of wisdom; so we see the Jews in reprobation. “The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness,” that is, the Jews, who have received the Law, who observe the types of all things that were to be, yet did not acknowledge the realities when present.
Jerome: Or the Jews may be called “the children of the kingdom,” because God reigned among them heretofore.
Chrys.: Or, He calls them “the children of the kingdom,” because the kingdom was prepared for them, which was the greater grief to them.
Aug., cont. Faust., xvi. 24: Moses set before the people of Israel no other God than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Christ sets forth the very same God. So that so far was He from seeking to turn that people away from their own God, that He therefore threatened them with the outer darkness, because He saw them turned away from their own God. And in this kingdom He tells them the Gentiles shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for no other reason than that they held the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To these Fathers Christ gives His testimony, not as though they had been converted after death, or had received justification after His passion.
Jerome: It is called, “outer darkness,” because he whom the Lord casts out leaves the light.
Haymo: What they should suffer there, He shews when He adds, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Thus in metaphor He describes the sufferings of the tormented limbs; the eyes shed tears when filled with smoke, and the teeth chatter together from cold. This shews that the wicked in hell shall endure both extreme cold and extreme heat: according to that in Job, “They shall pass from rivers of snow to the scorching heat.” [Job 24:19]
Jerome: Weeping and gnashing of teeth are a proof of bones and body; truly then 311 is there a resurrection of the same limbs, that sank into the grave.
Rabanus: Or; The gnashing of teeth expresses the passion of remorse; repentance coming too late and self-accusation that he had sinned with such obstinate wickedness.
Remig.: Otherwise; By “other darkness,” He means foreign nations; for these words of the Lord are a historical prediction of the destruction of the Jews, that they were to be led into captivity for their unbelief, and to be scattered over the earth; for tears are usually caused by heat, gnashing of teeth by cold. “Weeping” then is ascribed to those who should be dispersed into the warmer climates of India and Ethiopia, “gnashing of teeth” to those who should dwell in the colder regions, as Hyrcania and Scythia.
Chrys.: But that none might suppose that these were nothing more than fair words, He makes them credible by the miracles following, “And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and be it done to thee as thou hast believed.”
Rabanus: As though He had said, According to the measure of thy faith, so be thy grace. For the merit of the Lord may be communicated even to servants not only through the merit of their faith, but through their obedience to rule. It follows, “And his servant was healed in the self-same hour.”
Chrys.: Wherein admire the speediness, shewing Christ’s power, not only to heal, but to do it in a moment of time.
Aug., Serm., 62. 3: As the Lord did not enter the centurion’s house with His body, but healed the servant, present in majesty, but absent in body; so He went among the Jews only in the body, but among other nations He was neither born of a Virgin, nor suffered, nor endured human sufferings, nor did divine wonders; and yet was fulfilled that which was spoken, “A people that I have not known hath served me, and hath obeyed me by the hearing of the ear.” [Ps 18:43] The Jews behold, yet crucified Him; the world heard, and believed.
14. And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.
15. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
Anselm: Matthew having in the leper shewn the healing312 of the whole human race, and in the centurion’s servant that of the Gentiles, now figures the healing of the synagogue in Peter’s mother-in-law. He relates the case of the servant, first, because it was the greater miracle, and the grace was greater in the conversion of the Gentile; or because the synagogue should not be fully converted till the end of the age when the fulness of the Gentiles should have entered in. Peter’s house was in Bethsaida.
Chrys., Hom. xxvii: Why did He enter into Peter’s house? I think to take food; for it follows, “And she arose, and ministered to them.” For He abode with His disciples to do them honour, and to make them more zealous. Observe Peter’s reverence towards Christ; though his mother-in-law lay at home sick of a fever, yet he did not force Him thither at once, but waited till His teaching should be completed, and others healed. For from the beginning he was instructed to prefer others to himself. Wherefore he did not even bring Him thither, but Christ went in of Himself; purposing, because the centurion had said, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,” to shew what He granted to a disciple. And He did not scorn to enter the humble hut of a fisherman, instructing us in every thing to trample upon human pride. Sometimes He heals by a word, sometimes He reaches forth His hand; as here, “He touched her hand, and the fever left her.”
For He would not always work miracles with display of surpassing power, but would sometimes be hid. By touching her body He not only banished the fever, but restored her to perfect health. Because her sickness was such as art could cure, He shewed his power to heal, in doing what medicine could not do, giving her back perfect health and strength at once; which is intimated in what the Evangelist adds, “And she arose, and ministered to them.”
Jerome: For naturally the greatest weakness follows fever, and the evils of sickness begin to be felt as the patient begins to recover; but that health which is given by the Lord’s power is complete at once.
Gloss., non occ.: And it is not enough that she is cured, but strength is given her besides, for “she arose and ministered unto them.”
Chrys.: This, “she arose and ministered unto them,” shews at once the Lord’s power, and the woman’s feeling towards Christ.
Bede: Figuratively, Peter’s house313 is the Law, or the circumcision, his mother-in-law the synagogue, which is at it were the mother of the Church committed to Peter. She is in a fever, that is, she is sick of zealous hate, and persecutes the Church. The Lord touches her hand, when He turns her carnal works to spiritual uses.
Remig.: Or by Peter’s mother-in-law may be understood the Law, which according to the Apostle was made weak through the flesh, i.e. the carnal understanding. But when the Lord through the mystery of the Incarnation appeared visibly in the synagogue, and fulfilled the Law in action, and taught that it was to be understood spiritually; straightway it thus allied with the grace of the Gospel received such strength, that what had been the minister of death and punishment, because the minister of life and glory.
Rabanus: Or, every soul that struggles with fleshly lusts is sick of a fever, but touched with the hand of Divine mercy, it recovers health, and restrains the concupiscence of the flesh by the bridle of continence, and with those limbs with which it had served uncleanness, it now ministers to righteousness.
Hilary: Or; In Peter’s wife’s mother is shewn the sickly condition of infidelity, to which freedom of will is near akin, being united by the bonds as it were of wedlock. By the Lord’s entrance into Peter’s house, that is into the body, unbelief is cured, which was before sick of the fever of sin, and ministers in duties of righteousness to the Saviour.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 21: When this miracle was done, that is, after what, or before what, Matthew has not said. For we need not understand that it took place just after that which it follows in the relation; he may be returning here to what he had omitted above. For Mark relates this after the cleansing of the leper, which should seem to follow the sermon on the mount, concerning which Mark is silent. Luke also follows the same order in relating this concerning Peter’s mother-in-law as Mark; also inserting it before that long sermon which seems to be the same with Matthew’s sermon on the mount.
But what matters it in what order the events are told, whether something omitted before is brought in after, or what was done after is told earlier, so long as in the same story he does not contradict either another or himself? For as it is in no man’s power to choose in what order he shall recollect the things he has once 314 known, it is likely enough that each of the Evangelists thought himself obliged to relate all in that order in which it pleased God to bring to his memory the various events. Therefore when the order of time is not clear, it cannot import to us what order of relation any one of them may have followed.
16. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Chrys.: Because the multitude of believers was now very great, they would not depart from Christ, though time pressed; but in the evening they bring unto Him the sick. “When it was evening, they brought unto him many that had daemons.”
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 22: The words, “Now when it was evening,” shew that the evening of the same day is meant. This would not have been implied, had it been only “when it was evening.”
Remig.: Christ the Son of God, the Author of human salvation, the fount and source of all goodness, furnished heavenly medicine, “He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick.” Daemons and diseases He sent away with a word, that by these signs, and mighty works, He might shew that He was come for the salvation of the human race.
Chrys.: Observe how great a multitude of cured the Evangelist here runs through, not relating the case of each, but in one word introducing an innumerable flood of miracles. That the greatness of the miracle should not raise unbelief that so many people and so various diseases could be healed in so short a space, he brings forward the Prophet to bear witness to the things that were done, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the Prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities.”
Rabanus: “Took” them not that He should have them Himself, but that He should take them away from us; “and bare our315 sicknesses,” in that what we were too weak to bear, He should bear for us.
Remig.: He took the infirmity of human nature so as to make us strong who had before been weak.
Hilary: And by the passion of His body, according to the words of the Prophet, He absorbed all the infirmities of human weakness.
Chrys.: The Prophet seems to have meant this of sins; how then does the Evangelist explain it of bodily diseases? It should be understood, that either he cites the text literally, or he intends to inculcate that most of our bodily diseases have their origin in sins of the soul; for death itself has its root in sin.
Jerome: It should be noted, that all the sick were healed not in the morning nor at noon, but rather about sunset; as a corn of wheat dies in the ground that it may bring forth much fruit.
Rabanus: Sunset shadows forth the passion and death of Him Who said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” [John 9:5] Who while He lived temporally in the flesh, taught only a few of the Jews; but having trodden under foot the kingdom of death, promised the gifts of faith to all the Gentiles throughout the world.
18. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
19. And a certain Scribe came, and said unto him, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
20. And Jesus saith unto him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
21. And another of his disciples said unto him, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.”
22. But Jesus said unto him, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”
Chrys.: Because Christ not only healed the body, but purified the soul also, He desired to shew forth true wisdom, not only by curing diseases, but by doing nothing316 with ostentation; and therefore it is said, “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he commanded his disciples to cross over to the other side.” This He did at once teaching us to be lowly, softening the ill-will of the Jews, and teaching us to do nothing with ostentation.
Remig.: Or; He did this as one desiring to shun the thronging of the multitude. But they hung upon Him in admiration, crowding to see Him. For who would depart from one who did such miracles? Who would not wish to look upon His open face, to see His mouth that spoke such things? For if Moses’ countenance was made glorious, and Stephen’s as that of an Angel, gather from this how it was to have been supposed that their common Lord must have then appeared; of whom the Prophet speaks, “Thy form is fair above the sons of men.” [Ps 45:2]
Hilary: The name “disciples” is not to be supposed to be confined to the twelve Apostles; for we read of many disciples besides the twelve.
Aug.: It is clear that this day on which they went over the lake was another day, and not that which followed the one on which Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, on which day Mark and Luke relate that He went out into the desert.
Chrys.: Observe that He does not dismiss the multitudes, that He may not offend them. He did say to them, Depart ye, but bade His disciples go away from thence, thus the crowds might hope to be able to follow.
Remig.: What happened between the command of the Lord given, and their crossing over, the Evangelist purposes to relate in what follows: “And one of the Scribes came to him and said, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Jerome: This Scribe of the Law who knew but the perishing letter, would not have been turned away had his address been, ‘Lord, I will follow Thee.’ But because he esteemed the Saviour only as one of many masters, and was a ‘man of the letter’ [margin note: literator] (which is better expressed in Greek, γραμματεὺς) not a spiritual hearer, therefore he had no place where Jesus might lay His head. It is suggested to us that he sought to follow the Lord, because of His great miracles, for the sake of the gain to be derived from them; and was therefore rejected; seeking the same thing as did Simon317 Magus when he would have given Peter money.
Chrys.: Observe also how great his pride; approaching and speaking as though he disdained to be considered as one of the multitude; desiring to shew that he was above the rest.
Hilary: Otherwise; This Scribe being one of the doctors of the Law, asks if he shall follow Him, as though it were not contained in the Law that this is He whom it were gain to follow. Therefore He discovers the feeling of unbelief under the diffidence of his enquiry. For the taking up of the faith is not by question but by following.
Chrys.: So Christ answers him not so much to what he had said, but to the obvious purpose of his mind. “Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head;” as though He had said;
Jerome: . . Why do you seek to follow Me for the sake of the riches and gain of this world, when My poverty is such that I have neither lodging nor home of My own?
Chrys.: This was not to send him away, but rather to convict him of evil intentions; at the same time permitting him if he would to follow Christ with the expectation of poverty.
Aug., Serm., 100, 1: Otherwise; “The Son of man hath not where to lay his head;” that is, in your faith. “The foxes have hole,” in your heart, because you are deceitful. “The birds of the air have nests,” in your heart, because you are proud. Deceitful and proud follow Me not; for how should guile follow sincerity?
Greg., Mor., xix. 1: Otherwise; The fox is a crafty animal, lying hid in ditches and dens, and when it comes abroad never going in a straight path, but in crooked windings; birds raise themselves in the air. By the foxes then are meant the subtle and deceitful daemons, by the birds the proud daemons; as though He had said; Deceitful and proud daemons have their abode in your heart; but my lowliness finds no rest in a proud spirit.
Aug., Quaest. in Matt., q. 5: He was moved to follow Christ because of the miracles; this vain desire of glory is signified by the birds; but he assumed the submissiveness of a disciple, which deceit is signified by the foxes.
Rabanus: Heretics confiding in their art are signified by the foxes, the evil spirits by the birds of the air, who have their holes and their nests, that is, their abodes in the heart of the Jewish people.318
“Another of his disciples saith unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.”
Jerome: In what one thing is this disciple like the Scribe? The one called Him Master, the other confesses Him as his Lord. The one from filial piety asks permission to go and bury his father; the other offers to follow, not seeking a master, but by means of his master seeking gain for himself.
Hilary: The disciple does not ask whether he shall follow Him; for he already believed that he ought to follow, but prays to be suffered first to bury his father.
Aug., Serm., 100, 1: The Lord when He prepares men for the Gospel will not have any excuse of this fleshly and temporal attachment to interfere, therefore it follows; “Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.”
Chrys.: This saying does not condemn natural affection to our parents, but shews that nothing ought to be more binding on us than the business of heaven; that to this we ought to apply ourselves with all our endeavours, and not to be slack, however necessary or urgent are the things that draw us aside. For what could be more necessary than to bury a father? What more easy? For it could not need much time. But in this the Lord rescued him from much evil, weeping, and mourning, and from the pains of expectation. For after the funeral there must come examination of the will, division of the inheritance, and other things of the same sort; and thus trouble following trouble, like the waves, would have borne him far from the port of truth. But if you are not yet satisfied, reflect further that oftentimes the weak are not permitted to know the time, or to follow to the grave; even though the dead be father, mother, or son; yet are they not charged with cruelty that hinder them; it is rather the reverse of cruelty. And it is a much greater evil to draw one away from spiritual discourse; especially when there were who should perform the rites; as here, “Leave the dead to bury their dead.”
Aug.: As much as to say; Thy father is dead; but there are also other dead who shall bury their dead, because they are in unbelief.
Chrys.: This moreover shews that this dead man was not his; for, I suppose, he that was dead was of the unbelieving. If you wonder at the young man, that in a matter so necessary he should have asked Jesus, and not have gone away of his own accord,319 wonder much more that he abode with Jesus after he was forbidden to depart; which was not from lack of affection, but that he might not interrupt a business yet more necessary.
Hilary: Also, because we are taught in the beginning of the Lord’s prayer, first to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven;” and since this disciple represents the believing people; he is here reminded that he has one only Father in heaven [margin note: Matt 23:9], and that between a believing son and an unbelieving father the filial relation does not hold good. We are also admonished that the unbelieving dead are not to be mingled with the memories of the saints; and that they are also dead who live out of God; and the dead are buried by the dead, because by the faith of God it behoves the living to cleave to the living (God).
Jerome: But if the dead shall bury the dead, we ought not to be careful for the dead but for the living, lest while we are anxious for the dead, we ourselves should be counted dead.
Greg., Mor., iv, 27: The dead also bury the dead, when sinners protect sinners. They who exalt sinners with their praises, hide the dead under a pile of words.
Rabanus: From this we may also take occasion to observe, that lesser goods are to be sometimes forfeited for the sake of securing greater.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 23: Matthew relates that this was done when He gave them commandment that they should go over the lake, Luke, that it happened as they walked by the way; which is no contradiction, for they must have walked by the way that they might come to the lake.
23. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
24. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
25. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, “Lord, save us: we perish.”
26. And he saith unto them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” The he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
27. But the men marvelled, saying, “What manner320 of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
Pseudo-Origen, Hom. in div. vii: Christ having performed many great and wonderful things on the land, passes to the sea, that there also He might shew forth His excellent power, presenting Himself before all men as the Lord of both earth and sea. “And when he was entered into a boat, his disciples followed him,” not being weak but strong and established in the faith. Thus they followed Him not so much treading in His footsteps, as accompanying Him in holiness of spirit.
Chrys., Hom., xxviii: He took His disciples with Him, and in a boat, that they might learn two lessons; first, not to be confounded in dangers, secondly, to think lowly of themselves in honour. That they should not think great things of themselves because He kept them while He sent the rest away, He suffers them to be tossed by the waves. Where miracles were to be shewn, He suffers the people to be present; where temptations and fears were to be stilled, there He takes with Him only the victors of the world, whom He would prepare for strife.
Pseudo-Origen: Therefore, having entered into the boat He cause the sea to rise; “And, to, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the boat was covered by the waves.” This tempest did not arise of itself, but in obedience to the power of Him Who gave commandment, “who brings the winds out of his treasures.” [Jer 10:13] There “arose a great tempest,” that a great work might be wrought; because by how much the more the waves rushed into the boat, so much the more were the disciples troubled, and sought to be delivered by the wonderful power of the Saviour.
Chrys.: They had seen others made partakers of Christ’s mercies, but forasmuch as no man has so strong a sense of those things that are done in the person of another as of what is done to himself, it behoved that in their own bodies they should feel Christ’s mercies. Therefore He willed that this tempest should arise, that in their deliverance they might have a more lively sense of His goodness. This tossing of the sea was a type of their future trials of which Paul speaks, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, how that we were troubled beyond our strength.” [2 Cor 1:8]
But that there might be time for their fear to arise, it follows, “But he was asleep.” For if321 the storm had arisen while He was awake, they would either not have feared, or not have prayed Him, or would not have believed that He had the power to still it.
Pseudo-Origen: Wonderful, stupendous event! He that never slumbereth nor sleepeth, is said to be asleep. He slept with His body, but was awake in His Deity, shewing that He bare a truly human body which He had taken on Him, corruptible. He slept with the body that He might cause the Apostles to watch, and that we all should never sleep with our mind. With so great fear were the disciples seized, and almost beside themselves, that they rushed to Him, and did not modestly or gently rouse Him, but violently awakened Him, “His disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish.”
Jerome: Of this miracle we have a type in Jonah, who while all are in danger is himself unconcerned, sleeps, and is awakened.
Pseudo-Origen: O ye true disciples! ye have the Saviour with you, and do ye fear danger? Life itself is among you, and are ye afraid of death? They would answer, We are yet children, and weak; and are therefore afraid; whence it follows, “Jesus saith unto them, Why are ye afraid, O ye of little faith?” As though He had said, If ye have known me mighty upon earth, why believe ye not that I am also mighty upon the sea? And even though death were threatening you, ought ye not to support it with constancy? He who believes a little will be reasoned with; he who believes not at all will be neglected.
Chrys.: If any should say, that this was a sign of no small faith to go and rouse Jesus; it is rather a sign that they had not a right opinion concerning Him. They knew that when wakened He could rebuke the waves, but they did not yet know that He could do it while sleeping. For this cause He did not do this wonder in the presence of the multitudes, that they should not be charged with their little faith; but He takes His disciples apart to correct them, and first stills the raging of the waters. “Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”
Jerome: From this passage we understand, that all creation is conscious of its Creator; for what may be rebuked and commanded is conscious of the mind commanding. I do not mean as some heretics hold, that the whole creation is322 animate [ed. note: Origen is accused of maintaining that the sun, moon, and stars had souls, (which had been originally created incorporeal, and for sinning had been united with the heavenly bodies,) that they were in consequence rational, that they knew, praised, and prayed to God through Christ, that they were liable to sin, and that they, and the elements also, would undergo the future judgment. vid. Jerom. ad. Avit. 4] - but by the power of the Maker things which to us have no consciousness have to Him.
Pseudo-Origen: Therefore He gave commandment to the winds and the sea, and from a great storm it because a great calm. For it behoves Him that is great to do great things; therefore He who first greatly stirred the depths of the sea, now again commands a great calm, that the disciples who had been too much troubled might have great rejoicing.
Chrys.: Observe also that the storm is stilled at once entirely, and no trace of disturbance appears; which is beyond nature; for when a storm ceases in the course of nature, yet the water is wont to be agitated for some time longer, but here all is tranquility at once. Thus what is said of the Father, “He spake, and the storm of wind ceases,” [Ps 107:25] this Christ fulfilled in deed; for by His word and bidding only He stayed and checked the waters. For from His appearance, from His sleeping, and His using a boat, they that were present supposed Him a man only, and on this account they fell into admiration of Him; “And the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?”
Gloss., non occ.: Chrysostom explains thus, “What manner of man is this?” His sleeping and His appearance shewed the man; the sea and the calm pointed out the God.
Pseudo-Origen: But who were the men that marvelled? You must not think that the Apostles are here meant, for we never find the Lord’s disciples mentioned with disrespect; they are always called either the Disciples or the Apostles. They marvelled then who sailed with Him, whose was the boat.
Jerome: But if any shall content that it was the disciples who wondered, we shall answer they are rightly spoken of as ‘the men,’ seeing they had not yet learnt the power of the Saviour.
Pseudo-Origen: This is not a question, “What manner of man is this?” but an affirmation that He is one whom the winds and the sea obey, “What manner of man then is this?” that is, how powerful, how mighty, how great! He commands every323 creature, and they transgress not His law; men alone disobey, and are therefore condemned by His judgment.
Figuratively; We are all embarked in the vessel of the Holy Church, and voyaging through this stormy world with the Lord. The Lord Himself sleeps a merciful sleep while we suffer, and awaits the repentance of the wicked.
Hilary: Or; He sleeps, because by our sloth He is cast asleep in us. This is done that we may hope aid from God in fear of danger; and that hope though late may be confident that it shall escape danger by the might of Christ watching within.
Pseudo-Origen: Let us therefore come to Him with joy, saying with the Prophet, “Arise, O Lord, why sleepest thou?” [Ps 44:23] And He will command the winds, that is, the daemons, who raise the waves, that is, the rulers of the world, to persecute the saints, and He shall make a great calm around both body and spirit, peace for the Church, stillness for the world.
Rabanus: Otherwise; The sea is the turmoil of the world; the boat in which Christ is embarked is to be understood the tree of the cross, by the aid of which the faithful having passed the waves of the world, arrive in their heavenly country, as on a safe shore, whither Christ goes with His own; whence He says below, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Matt 16:24]
When then Christ was fixed on the cross, a great commotion was raised, the minds of His disciples being troubled at His passion, and the boat was covered by the waves. For the whole strength of persecution was around the cross of Christ, on which He died; as it is here, “But he was asleep.” His sleep is death. The disciples awaken the Lord, when troubled at His death; they seek His resurrection with earnest prayers, saying, “Save us,” by rising again; “we perish,” by our trouble at Thy death. He rises again, and rebukes the hardness of their hearts, as we read in other places. “He commands the winds,” in that He overthrew the power of the Devil; “He commanded the sea,” in that He disappointed the malice of the Jews; “and there was a great calm,” because the minds of the disciples were calmed when they beheld His resurrection.
Bede: Or; The boat is the present Church, in which Christ passes over the sea of this world with His324 own, and stills the waves of persecution. Wherefore we may wonder, and give thanks.
28. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
29. And, behold, they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”
30. And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding.
31. So the devils besought him, saying, “If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.”
32. And he said unto them, “Go.” And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
33. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
34. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
Chrys.: Because there were who thought Christ to be a man, therefore the daemons came to proclaim His divinity, that they who had not seen the sea raging and again still, might hear the daemons crying; “And when he was come to the other side in the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two men having daemons.”
Rabanus: Gerasa is a town of Arabia beyond Jordan, close to Mount Gilead, which was in the possession325 of the tribe of Manasseh, not far from the lake of Tiberias, into which the swine were precipitated.
Aug., De. Cons. Evan., ii, 24: Whereas Matthew relates that there were two who were afflicted with daemons, but Mark and Luke mention only one, you must understand that one of them was a person of note, for whom all that country was in grief, and about whose recovery there was much care, whence the fame of this miracle was the more noised abroad.
Chrys.: Or; Luke and Mark chose to speak of one who was more grievously afflicted; whence also they add a further description of his calamity; Luke saying that he brake his bonds and was driven into the desert; Mark telling that he ofttimes cut himself with stones. But they neither of them say that there was only one, which would be to contradict Matthew. What is added respecting them that they “came from among the tombs,” alludes to a mischievous opinion, that the souls of the dead became daemons. Thus many soothsayers use to kill children, that they may have their souls to cooperate with them; and daemoniacs also often cry out, I am the spirit of such an one. But it is not the soul of the dead man that then cries out, the daemon assumes his voice to deceive the hearers. For if the soul of a dead man has power to enter the body of another, much more might it enter its own. And it is more unreasonable to suppose that a soul that has suffered cruelty should cooperate with him that injured it, or that a man should have power to change an incorporeal being into a different kind of substance, such as a human soul into the substance of a daemon. For even in a material body, this is beyond human power; as, for example, no man can change the body of a man into that of an ass.
And it is not reasonable to think that a disembodied spirit should wander to and for on the earth. “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God;” [Wis 3:1] therefore those of young children must be so, seeing they are not evil. And the souls of sinners are at once conveyed away from hence, as is clear from Lazarus, and the rich man.
Because none dared to bring them to Christ because of their fierceness, therefore Christ goes to them. This their fierceness is intimated when it is added, “Exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass that way.” So they who hindered all others from passing that326 way, found one now standing in their way. For they were tortured in an unseen manner, suffering intolerable things from the mere presence of Christ. “And, to, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of David?”
Jerome: This is no voluntary confession followed up by a reward to the utterer, but one extorted by the compulsion of necessity. A runaway slave, when after long time he first beholds his master, straight thinks only of deprecating the scourge; so the daemons, seeing the Lord suddenly moving upon the earth, thought He was come to judge them. Some absurdly suppose that these daemons knew the Son of God, while the Devil knew Him not, because their wickedness was less than his. But all the knowledge of the disciple must be supposed in the Master.
Aug., City of God, book 9, ch. 21: God was so far known to them as it was His pleasure to be known; and He pleased to be known so far as it was needful. He was known to them therefore not as He is Life eternal, and the Light which enlightens the good, but by certain temporal effects of His excellence, and signs of His hidden presence, which are visible to angelic spirits though evil, rather than to the infirmity of human nature.
Jerome: But both the Devil and the daemons may be said to have rather suspected, than known, Jesus to be the Son of God.
Pseudo-Aug., Quaest. V. et. N.T., 9, 55: When the daemons cry out, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” we must suppose them to have spoken from suspicion rather than knowledge. “For had they known him, they never would have suffered the Lord of glory to be crucified.” [1 Cor 2:8]
Remig.: But as often as they were tortured by His excellent power, and saw Him working signs and miracles, they supposed Him to be the Son of God; when they saw Him hungry and thirsty, and suffering such things, they doubted, and thought Him mere man. It should be considered that even the unbelieving Jews when they said that Christ cast out daemons in Beelzebub, and the Arians who said that He was a creature, deserve condemnation not only on God’s sentence, but on the confession of the daemons, who declare Christ to be the Son of God. Rightly do they say, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” that is, our malice and Thy grace have nothing in common, according to that the Apostle speaks,327 “There is no fellowship of light with darkness.” [2 Cor 6:14]
Chrys.: That this should not be thought to be flattery, they cry out what they were experiencing, “Art thou come to torment us before the time?”
Aug., City of God, book 8, ch. 23: Either because that came upon them unexpectedly, which they looked for indeed, but supposed more distant; or because they thought their perdition consisted in this, that when known they would be despised; or because this was before the day of judgment, when they should be punished with eternal damnation.
Jerome: For the presence of the Saviour is the torment of daemons.
Chrys.: They could not say they had not sinned, because Christ had found them doing evil, and marring the workmanship of God; whence they supposed that for their more abundant wickedness the time of the last punishment which shall be at the day of judgment should not be tarried for to punish them.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 24: Though the words of the daemons are variously reported by the three Evangelists, yet this is no difficulty; for they either all convey the same sense, or may be supposed to have been all spoken. Nor again because in Matthew they speak in the plural, in the others in the singular number; because even the other two Evangelists relate that when asked his name, he answered, Legion, shewing that the daemons were many.
“Now there was not far from thence a herd of many swine feeding; and the daemons prayed him, saying, If thou cast us out hence, send us into the swine.
Greg., Mor., ii, 10: For the Devil knows that of himself he has no power to do any thing, because it is not of himself that he exists as a spirit.
Remig.: They did not ask to be sent into men, because they saw Him by whose excellence they were tortured existing in human shape. Nor did they ask to be sent into sheep, because sheep are by God’s institution clean animals, and were then offered in the temple of God. But they requested to be sent into the swine rather than into any of the other unclean animals, because this is of all animals the most unclean; whence also it has its name ‘porcus,’ as being ‘spurens,’ filthy, and delighting in filthiness; and daemons also delight in the filthiness of sin. They did not pray that they might be sent into the air, because of their eager desire of hurting328 men.
“And he saith unto them, Go.”
Chrys.: Jesus did not say this, as though persuaded by the daemons, but with many designs therein. One, that He might shew the mighty power to hurt of these daemons, who were in possession of the two men; another, that all might see that they had no power against the swine unless by His sufferance; thirdly, to shew that they would have done more grievous hurt to the men, had they not even in their calamities been aided by Divine Providence, for they hate men more than irrational animals. By this it is manifest that there is no man who is not supported by Divine Providence; and if all are not equally supported by it, neither after one manner, this is the highest characteristic of Providence, that it is extended to each man according to his need.
Besides the above-mentioned things, we learn also that He cares not only for the whole together, but for each one in particular; which one may see clearly in these daemoniacs, who would have been long before choked in the deep, had not Divine care preserved them. He also permitted them to go into the herd of swine, that they that dwelt in those parts might know His power. For where He was known to none, there He makes His miracles to shine forth, that He may bring them to a confession of His divinity.
Jerome: The Saviour bade them go, not as yielding to their request, but that by the death of the swine, an occasion of man’s salvation might be offered.
“But they went out, (to wit, out of the men,) and went into the swine; and, lo, the whole herd rushed violently headlong into the sea, and perished in the waters.”
Let Manichaeans blush; if the souls of men and of beasts be of one substance, and one origin, how should two thousand swine have perished for the sake of the salvation of two men?
Chrys.: The daemons destroyed the swine because they are ever striving to bring men into distress, and rejoice in destruction. The greatness of the loss also added to the fame of that which was done; for it was published by many persons; namely, by the men that were healed, by the owners of the swine, and by those that fed them; as it follows, “But they that fed them fled, and went into the town, and told all, and329 concerning them that had the daemons; and, behold, the whole town went out to meet Jesus.” But when they should have adored Him, and wondered at His excellent power, they cast Him from them, as it follows, “And when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.”
Observe the clemency of Christ next in His excellent power; when those who had received favours from Him would drive Him away, He resisted not, but departed, and left those who thus pronounced themselves unworthy of His teaching, giving them as teachers those who had been delivered from the daemons, and the feeders of the swine.
Jerome: Otherwise; This request may have proceeded from humility as well as pride; like Peter, they may have held themselves unworthy of the Lord’s presence, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [Luke 5:8]
Rabanus: Gerasa is interpreted ‘casting out the dweller,’ or, ‘a stranger approaching;’ this is the Gentile world which cast out the Devil from it; and which was first far off, but now made near, after the resurrection being visited by Christ through His preachers.
Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, in Luc. 3. 30: The two daemoniacs are also a type of the Gentile world; for Noah having three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, Shem’s posterity alone was taken into the inheritance of God, while from the other two sprang the nations of the Gentiles.
Hilary: Thus the daemons held the two men among the tombs without the town, that is, without the synagogue of the Law and the Prophets; that is, they infested the original seats of the two nations, the abodes of the dead, making the way of this present life dangerous to the passers by.
Rabanus: It is not without cause that he speaks of them as dwelling among the tombs; for what else are the bodies of the faithless but sepulchres of the dead, in which the word of God dwells not, but there is enclosed the soul dead in sins. He says, “So that no man might pass through that way,” because before the coming of the Saviour the Gentile world was inaccessible.
Or, by the two, understand both Jews and Gentiles, who did not abide in the house, that is, did not rest in their conscience. But they abode in tombs, that is, delighted themselves in dead works, and suffered no man to pass by the way of faith, which way the Jews obstructed.330
Hilary: By their coming forth to meet Him is signified the willingness of men flocking to the faith. The daemons seeing that there is no longer any place left for them among the Gentiles, pray that they may be suffered to dwell among the heretics; these, seized by them, are drowned in the sea, that is, in worldly desires, by the instigations of the daemons, and perish in the unbelief of the rest of the Gentiles.
Bede, in Luc., 3: Or; The swine are they that delight in filthy manners; for unless one live as a swine, the devils do not receive power over him; or at most, only to try him, not to destroy him. That the swine were sent headlong into the lake, signifies, that when the people of the Gentiles are delivered from the condemnation of the daemons, yet still they who would not believe in Christ, perform their profane rites in secret, drowned in a blind and deep curiosity. That they that fed the swine, fled and told what was done, signifies that even the leaders of the wicked though they shun the law of Christianity, yet cease not to proclaim the wonderful power of Christ. When struck with terror, they entreat Him to depart from them, they signify a great number who, well satisfied with their ancient life, shew themselves willing to honour the Christian law, while they declare themselves unable to perform it.
Hilary: Or; the town is a type of the Jewish nation, which having heard of Christ’s works goes forth to meet its Lord, to forbid Him to approach their country and town; for they have not received the Gospel.
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