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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.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 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 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: 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 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.”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 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 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, 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, 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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, 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.
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