Golden Chain MT-MK 6930
6930 Mc 9,30-37
(p. 180) Theophylact: It is after miracles that the Lord inserts a discourse concerning His Passion, lest it should be thought that He suffered because He could not help it.
Wherefore it is said, "And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and He would not that any man should know it. For He taught His disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him."
Bede, in Marc., 1, 39: He always mingles together sorrowful and joyful things, that sorrow should not by its suddenness frighten the Apostles, but be borne by them with prepared minds.
Theophylact: After, however, saying what was sorrowful, He adds what ought to rejoice them; wherefore it goes on: "And after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day;" in order that we may learn that joys come on after struggles.
There follows: "But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him."
Bede: This ignorance of the disciples proceeds not so much from slowness of intellect, as from love for the Saviour, for they were as yet carnal, and ignorant of the mystery of the cross, they could not therefore believe that He whom they had recognized as the true God, was about to die; being accustomed then to hear Him often talk in figures, and shrinking from the events of His death, they would have it that something was conveyed figuratively in those things, which He spoke openly concerning His betrayal and passion.
It goes on: "And they came to Capernaum."
Pseudo-Jerome: Capernaum means the city of consolation, and agrees with the former sentence, which He had spoken: "And after that He is killed, He shall arise the third day."
There follows: "And being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Matthew however says that the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in (p. 181) the kingdom of heaven?" (Mt 18,1)
The reason is, that He did not begin the narrative from its commencement, but omitted our Saviour's knowledge of the thoughts and words of His disciples; unless we understand Him to mean, that even what they thought and said, when away from Christ, was said unto Him, since it was as well known to Him as if it had been said to Him.
It goes on: "For by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest."
But Luke says (ed. note: Lc 9,46, Vulgate) that "the thought entered into the disciples which of them should be the greatest;" for the Lord laid open their thought and intention from their private discourse according to the Gospel narrative.
Pseudo-Jerome: It was fit also that they should dispute concerning the chief place by the way; the dispute is like the place where it is held; for lofty station is only entered upon to be quitted: as long as a man keeps it, it is slippery, and it is uncertain at what stage, that is, on what day, it will end.
Bede: The reason why the dispute concerning the chief place arose amongst the disciples seems to have been, that Peter, James and John, were led apart from the rest into the mountain, and that something secret was there entrusted to them, also that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were promised to Peter, according to Matthew.
Seeing however the thoughts of the disciples, the Lord takes care to heal the desire of glory by humility; for He first, by simply commanding humility, admonishes them that a high station was not to be aimed at.
Wherefore it goes on: "And He sat down, and called the twelve and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."
Jerome: Where it is to be observed, that the disciples disputed by the way concerning the chief place, but Christ Himself sat down to teach humility; for princes toil while the humble repose.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The disciples indeed wished to receive honour at the hands of the Lord; they also had a desire to be made great by Christ, for the great a man is, the more worthy of honour he becomes, for which reason He did not throw an obstacle in the way of that desire, but brought in humility.
Theophylact: For His wish is not that we should usurp for ourselves chief places, but that we should attain to lofty heights by lowliness.
He next admonishes them by the example of a child's innocence.
Wherefore there follows, "And He took (p. 182) a child, and set him in the midst of them."
Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 58: By the very sight, persuading them to humility and simplicity; for this little one was pure from envy and vain glory, and from a desire of superiority. But He does not only say, If ye become such, ye shall receive a great reward, but also, if ye will honour others, who are such for My sake.
Wherefore there follows: "And when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me."
Bede: By which, He either simply shews that those who would become greater must receive the poor of Christ in honour of Him, or He would persuade them to be in malice children, to keep simplicity without arrogance, charity without envy, devotedness without anger. Again, by taking the child into His arms, He implies that the lowly are worthy of his embrace and love.
He adds also, "In My name," that they might, with the fixed purpose of reason, follow for His name's sake that mould of virtue to which the child keeps, with nature for his guide. And because He taught that He Himself was received in children, lest it should be thought that there was nothing in Him but what was seen, He added, "And whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.;" thus wishing that we should believe Him to be of the same nature and of equal greatness with His Father.
Theophylact: See, how great is humility, for it wins for itself the indwelling of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Ghost.
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(p. 183) Bede: John, loving the Lord with eminent devotion, thought that He who performed an office to which He had no right was to be excluded from the benefit of it.
Wherefore it is said, "And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For many believers received gifts, and yet were not with Christ, such was this man who cast out devils; for there were many of them deficient in some way; some were pure in life, but were not so perfect in faith; others again, contrariwise.
Theophylact: Or again, some unbelievers, seeing that the name of Jesus was full of virtue, themselves used it, and performed signs, though they were unworthy of Divine grace; for the Lord wished to extend His name even by the unworthy.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: It was not from jealousy or envy, however, that John wished to forbid him who cast out devils, but because he wished that all who called on the name of the Lord should follow Christ and be one body with His disciples. But the Lord, however unworthy they who perform the miracles may be, incites others by their means to believe on Him, and induces themselves by this unspeakable grace to become better.
Wherefore there follows: "But Jesus said, Forbid him not."
Bede: By which He shews that no one is to be driven away from that partial goodness which he possesses already, but rather to be stirred up to that which he has not as yet obtained.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: In conformity to this, He shews that he is not to be forbidden, adding immediately after, "For there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me." He says "lightly" to meet the case of those who fell into heresy, such as were Simon and Menander, and Cerinthus (ed. note: Irenaeus, cont. Haer. 2, 31, seems to imply that the early heretics actually worked wonders, but that these differed from Christian miracles in that they were done by magic through the aid of the devil, and were not works of mercy; he contrasts with these the ecclesiastical miracles of his day.); not that they did miracles in the name of Christ, but by their deceptions had the appearance of doing them.
But these others, though they do (p. 184) not follow us, cannot however set themselves to say any thing against us, because they honour My name by working miracles.
Theophylact: For how can he speak evil of Me, who draws glory from My name, and works miracles by the invocation of this very name.
There follows, "For he that is not against you is on your part."
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 4, 5: We must take care that this saying of the Lord appear not to be contrary to that where He says, "He who is not with Me is against Me." (Lc 11,23) Or will any one say that the difference lies in that here He says to His disciples, "For he that is not against you is on your part," but in the other He speaks of Himself, "He who is not with Me is against Me?" As if indeed it were possible (ed. note: St. Augustine has here quasi vero, instead of quasi non, which hardly makes sense; the latter reading has also been found in an old edition of the Catena Aurea, A.D. 1417.) that he who is joined to Christ's disciples, who are as His members, should not be with Him.
How if it were so, could it be true that "he that receiveth you receiveth Me?" (Mt 10,40) Or how is he not against Him who is against His disciples? Where then will be that saying, "He who despiseth you, despiseth Me? (Lc 10,16) But surely what is implied is that a man is not with Him in as far as he is against Him, and is not against Him in as far as he is with Him.
For instance, he who worked miracles in the name of Christ, and yet did not join himself to the body of His disciples, in as far as he worked the miracles in His name, was with them, and was not against them; again, in that he did not join their society, he was not with them, and was against them.
Be because they forbade his doing that in which he was with them, the Lord said unto them, "Forbid him not:" for they ought to have forbidden his being without their society, and thus to have persuaded him of the unity of the Church, but they should not have forbidden that in which he was with them, that is, his commendation of the name of their Lord and Master by the expulsion of devils.
Thus the Church Catholic does not disapprove in heretics the sacraments, which are common, but she blames their division, or some opinion of theirs adverse to peace and to truth; for in this they are against us.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else, this is said of those who believe on Him, but nevertheless do not follow Him from the looseness of their lives. Again, it is said of devils, who try to separate all from God, and to disperse His (p. 185) congregation.
There follows, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of cold water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."
Theophylact: Not only will I not forbid him who works miracles in My name, but also whosoever shall give you the smallest thing for My name's sake, and shall receive you, not on account of human and worldly favour, but from love to Me, shall not lose his reward.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 4, 6: By which He shews, that he of whom John had spoken was not so far separated from the fellowship of the disciples, as to reject it, as a heretic, but as men are wont to hang back from receiving the Sacraments of Christ, and yet favour the Christian name, so as even to succour Christians, and do them service only because they are Christians. Of these He says they shall not lose their reward; not that they ought already to think themselves secure on account of this good will which they have towards Christians, without being washed with His baptism, and incorporated in His unity, but that they are already so guided by the mercy of God, as also to attain to these, and thus to go away from this life in security.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And that no man may allege poverty, He mentions that of which none can be destitute, that is, a cup of cold water, for which also he will obtain a reward; for it is not the value of the gift, but the dignity of those who receive it, and the feelings of the giver, which makes a work worthy of reward.
His words shew that His disciples are to be received, not only on account of the reward, which he who receives them obtains, but also, because he thus saves himself from punishment.
There follows: "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea:" as though He would say (ed. note: see Chrys., Hom. in Mt 58), All who honour you for My sake have their reward, so also those who dishonour you, that is, offend you, shall receive the worst of vengeance.
Further, from things which are palpable to us, He describes an intolerable torment, making mention of a millstone, and of being drowned; and He says not, let a millstone be hanged about his neck, but, it is better for him to suffer this, shewing by this that some more heavy evil awaits him. But He means by "little ones that believe on Me," not only those (p. 186) who follow Him, but those who call upon His name, those also who offer a cup of cold water, though they do not any greater works. Now He will have none of these offended or plucked away; for this is what is meant by forbidding them to call upon His name.
Bede: And fitly the man who if offended is called a little one, for he who is great, whatever he may suffer, departs not from the faith; but he who is little and weak in mind looks out for occasions of stumbling. For this reason we must most of all look to those who are little ones in the faith, lest by our fault they should be offended, and go back from the faith, and fall away from salvation.
Greg., in Faeceh., 1, Hom. 7: We must observe, however, that in our good works we must sometimes avoid the offence of our neighbour, sometimes look down upon it as of no moment. For in as far as we can do it without sin, we ought to avoid the offence of our neighbour; but if a stumblingblock is laid before men in what concerns the truth, it is better to allow the offence to arise, than that the truth should be abandoned.
Greg, de eura, past. p.i.v.2: Mystically by a millstone is expressed the tedious round and toil of a secular life, and by the depths of the sea, the worst damnation is pointed out. He who therefore, after having been brought to a profession of sanctity, destroys others, either by word or example, it had been indeed better for him that his worldly deeds should render him liable to death, under a secular garb, than that his holy office should hole him out as an example for others in his faults, because doubtless if he had fallen alone, his pain in hell would have been of a more endurable kind.
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(p. 187) Bede: Because the Lord had taught us not to offend those who believe on Him, He now as next in order warns us how much we should beware of those who offend us, that is, who by their words or conduct strive to drag us into the perdition of sin; wherefore He says, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off."
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 59: He says not this of our limbs, but of our intimate friends, whom as being necessary to us we look upon as our limbs; for nothing is so hurtful as mischievous society.
Bede: That is, He calls by the name of hand, our intimate friend, of whose aid we daily stand in need; but if such an one should wish to do us a hurt in what concerns our soul, he is to be driven away from our society, lest by choosing a portion in this life with one who is lost, we should perish together with him in that which is to come.
Wherefore there follows, "It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to enter into hell."
Gloss.: By maimed He means, deprived of the help of some friend, for it is better to enter into life without a friend, than to go with him into hell.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, "It is better for thee to enter into life maimed," that is, without the chief place, for which you have wished, than having two hands to go into eternal fire. The two hands for high station are humility and pride; cut off pride, keeping to the estate of lowliness.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Then He introduces the witness of prophecy (p. 188) from the prophet Isaiah, saying, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Is 65,24) He says not this of a visible worm, but He calls conscience, a worm, gnawing the soul for not having done any good thing; for each of us shall be made his own accuser, by calling to mind what he has done in this mortal life, and so their worm remains forever.
Bede: And as the worm is the pain which inwardly accuses, so the fire is a punishment which rages without us; or by the worm is meant the rottenness of hell, by the fire, its heat.
Augustine, de Civ. Dei, 21, 9: But those who hold that both of these, namely, the fire and the worm, belong to the pains of the soul, and not of the body, say also that those who are separated from the kingdom of God are tortured, as with fire, by the pangs of a soul repenting too late and hopelessly; and they not unfitly contend that fire may be put for that burning grief, as says the Apostle, "Who is offended, and I burn not?" (2Co 11,29)
They also think that by the worm must be understood the same grief, as is said: "As a moth destroys a garment, and a worm wood, so grief tortures the heart of man." (Pr 25,20 Vulgate)
All those who hesitate not to affirm that there will be pain both of body and soul in that punishment affirm that the body is burnt by the fire. But although this is more credible, because it is absurd that there either the pains of body or of soul should be wanting, still I think that it is easier to say that both belong to the body than that neither: and therefore it seems to me that Holy Scripture in this place is silent about the pains of the soul, because it follows that the soul also is tortured in the pains of the body.
Let each man therefore choose which he will, either to refer the fire to the body, the worm to the soul, the one properly, the other in a figure, or else both properly to the body; for living things may exist even in fire, in burnings without being wasted, in pain without death, by the wondrous power of the Almighty Creator.
It goes on: "And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Bede: A friend is called a foot, on account of its service in going about for us, since he is as it were ready for our use.
It goes on: "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better (p. 189) for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
A friend who is useful, and anxious, and sharp in perception, is called an eye.
Augustine, de. Con. Evan., 4, 6: Here truly it appears that they who do acts of devotedness in the name of Christ, even before they have joined themselves to the company of Christians, and have been washed in the Christian Sacraments, are more useful than those who though already bearing the name of Christians, by their doctrine drag their followers with themselves into everlasting punishment; whom also under the name of members of the body, He orders, as an offending eye or hand, to be torn from the body, that is, from the fellowship itself of unity, that we may rather come to everlasting life without them, than with them go into hell.
But the separation of those who separate themselves from them consists in the very circumstance of their not yielding to them, when they would persuade them to evil, that is, offend them. If indeed their wickedness becomes known to all the good men with whom they are connected, they are altogether cut off from all fellowship, and even from partaking in the heavenly Sacraments.
If however they are thus known only to the smaller number, whilst their wickedness is unknown to the generality, they are to be tolerated in such a way that we should not consent to join in their iniquity, and that the communion of the good should not be deserted on their account.
Bede: But because the Lord had three times made mention of the worm and the fire, that we might be able to avoid this torment, He subjoins, "For every one shall be salted with fire."
For the stink of worms always arises from the corruption of flesh and blood, and therefore fresh meat is seasoned with salt, that the moisture of the blood may be dried off, and so it may not breed worms. And if, indeed, that which is salted with salt, keeps off the putrefying worm, that which is salted with fire, that is, seasoned again with flames, on which salt is sprinkled, not only casts off worms, but also consumes the flesh itself.
Flesh and blood therefore breed worms, that is, carnal pleasure, if unopposed by the seasoning of continence, produces everlasting punishment for the luxurious; the stink of (p. 190) which if any man would avoid, let him take care to chasten his body with the salt of continence, and his mind with the seasoning of wisdom, from the stain of error and vice.
For salt means the sweetness of wisdom; and fire, the grace of the Holy Spirit.
He says, therefore, "Every one shall be salted with fire," because all the elect ought to be purged by spiritual wisdom, from the corruption of carnal concupiscence.
Or else, the fire is the fire of tribulation, by which the patience of the faithful is proved, that it may have its perfect work.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Similar to this is that which the Apostle says, "And the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1Co 3,13)
Afterwards he brings in a witness from Leviticus: which says, "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt." (Lv 2,13)
Pseudo-Jerome: The oblation of the Lord is the race of man, which is here salted by means of wisdom, whilst the corruption of blood, the nurse of rottenness, and the mother of worms, is being consumed, which there also shall be tried by the purgatorial fire. (ed. note: On the subject of the purgatorial fire, see Fluery's Hist., xix, 31, p. 102, note i, and Chrysostom, de Statuis, vi, 10, p. 130, note c, Oxford trans.)
Bede: We may also understand the altar to be the heart of the elect, and the victims and sacrifices to be offered on the altar are good works. But in all sacrifices salt ought to be offered, for that is not a good work which is not purged by the salt of wisdom from all corruption of vain glory, and other evil and superfluous thoughts.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. in Cat.: Or else it is meant, that every gift of our victim, which is accompanied by prayer and the assisting of our neighbour, is salted with that divine fire, of which it is said, "I am come to send fire on earth." (Lc 12,49) Concerning which it is added: "Salt is good;" that is, the fire of love.
"But if the salt have lost his saltness," that is, is deprived of itself, and that peculiar quality, by which it is called, good, "where with will ye season it?" For there is salt, which has saltness, that is, which has the fulness of grace; and there is salt, which has no saltness, for that which is not peaceful is salt unseasoned.
Bede: Or the good salt is the frequent hearing of God's word, and the seasoning the hidden parts of the heart with the salt of spiritual wisdom.
Theophylact: For as salt preserves flesh, and suffers it not to breed worms, so also the discourse of the teacher, if it can dry up what is evil, (p. 191) constrains carnal men, and suffers not the undying worm to grow up in them.
But if it be without saltness, that is, if its virtue of drying up and preserving be gone, with what shall it be salted?
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. in Cat.: Or, according to Matthew, the disciples of Christ are the salt, which preserves the whole world, resisting the rottenness which proceeds from idolatry and sinful fornication. For it may also be meant, that each of us has salt, in as far as he contains in himself the graces of God.
Wherefore also the Apostle joins together grace and salt, saying, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.: (Col 4,6)
For salt is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was able to preserve the whole earth, and made many to be salt in the earth: and if any of these be corrupted, (for it is possible for even the good to be changed into corruption,) they are worthy to be cast out.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or otherwise; That salt is saltless which loves the chief place, and dares not rebuke others.
Wherefore there follows, "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."
That is, let the love of your neighbour temper the saltness of rebuke, and the salt of justice season the love of your neighbour.
Greg., De cura past., iii, e.22: Or this is said against those whom greater knowledge, while it raises above their neighbours, cuts off from the fellowship of others; thus the more their learning increases, the more they unlearn the virtue of concord.
Greg., De cura past., ii, 4: He also who strives to speak with wisdom should be greatly afraid, lest by his eloquence the unity of his hearers be thrown into confusion, lest, while he would appear wise, he unwisely cut asunder the bonds of unity.
Theophylact: Or else, he who binds himself to his neighbour by the tie of love, has salt, and in this way peace with his neighbour.
Augustine, de. Con, iv. 6: Mark relates that the Lord said these things consecutively, and has put down some things omitted by every other Evangelist, some which Matthew has also related, others which both Matthew and Luke relate, but on other occasions, and in a different series of events. Wherefore it seems to me that our Lord repeated in this place discourses which He had used in other places, because they were pertinent enough to this saying of His, by which He prevented their forbidding miracles to be wrought in His name, even by him who followed Him not together with His disciples.
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(p. 193) 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 (Mt 19,2); the latter come to Him, to try to deceive their Saviour by tempting Him.
Wherefore there follows: "And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him."
Theophylact: They come to Him indeed, and do not quit Him, lest the multitudes should believe on Him; and by continually coming to Him, they thought to bring Him into difficulty, and to confuse Him by their questions. For they proposed to Him a question, which had on either side a precipice, so that whether He said that it was lawful for a man to put away his wife, or that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, and contradict what He said, out of the doctrines of Moses. Christ, therefore, being Very Wisdom, in answering their (p. 194) question, avoids their snares.
Chrys., Vict. Ant., Cat. in Marc., and see Chrys. Hom. 62 (note: the same sort of comment is to be found in Origin, in Matt. tom. 14, 17, IIii in Mt 19, Ambr. in Lc 8,9 Lc 8, Op. Imperfecti in loc. Theophyl. in Mt 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 (Mt 19,4); on hearing which they again rejoined what they had replied to Him when He first asked them, namely - Why then did Moses command?
Augustine, cont. Faust, XIX, 26: Moses, however, was against a man's dismissing his wife, for he interposed this delay, that a person whose mind was bent on separation, might be deterred by the writing of the bill, and desist; particularly, since, as is related, among the Hebrews, no one was allowed to write Hebrew characters but the scribes. The (p. 195) law therefore wished to send him, whom it ordered to give a bill of divorcement, before he dismissed his wife, to them, who ought to be wise interpreters of the law, and just opponents of quarrel. For a bill could only be written for him by men, who by their good advice might overrule him, since his circumstances and necessity had put him into their hands, and so by treating between him and his wife they might persuade them to love and concord.
But if a hatred so great had arisen that it could not be extinguished and corrected, then indeed a bill was to be written, that he might not lightly put away her who was the object of his hate, in such a way as to prevent his being recalled to the love, which he owed her by marriage, through the persuasion of the wise. For this reason it is added, "For the hardness of your heart, he wrote this precept"; for great was the hardness of heart which could not be melted or bent to the taking back and recalling the love of marriage, even by the interposition of a bill in a way which gave room for the just and wise to dissuade them.
Pseudo-Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon: Or else, it is said, "For the hardness of your hearts," because it is possible for a soul purged from desires and from anger to bear the worst of women; but if those passions have a redoubled force over the mind, many evils will arise from hatred in marriage.
Chrys.: Thus then, He saves Moses, who had given the law, from their accusation, and turns the whole upon their head. But since what He had said was grievous to them, He at once brings back the discourse to the old law, saying, "But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female."
Bede: He says not male and females, which the sense would have required had it referred to the divorce of former wives, but "male" and "female", so that they might be bound by the tie of one wife.
Chrys.: If however he had wished one wife to be put away and another to be brought in, He would have created several women. Nor did God only join one woman to one man, but He also bade a man quit his parents and cleave to his wife.
Wherefore it goes on: "And he said, (that is, God, said by Adam) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.
From the very mode of speech, shewing the impossibility of severing marriage, because He said, "He shall cleave."
Bede: (p. 196) And in like manner, because He says, he shall cleave to his wife, not wives.
It goes on: "And they twain shall be one flesh."
Chrys.: Being framed out of one root, they will join into one body.
It goes on: "So then they are no more twain, but one flesh."
Bede: The reward then of marriage is of two to become one flesh. Virginity being joined to the Spirit, becomes of one spirit.
Chrys.: After this, bringing forward an awful argument, He said not, do not divide, but He concluded, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Augustine, cont. Faust, XIX, 29: Behold the Jews are convinced out of the books of Moses, that a wife is not to be put away, while they fancied that in putting her away, they were doing the will of Moses. In like manner from this place, from the witness of Christ Himself, we know this, that God made and joined male and female, for denying which the Manichees are condemned, resisting now not the books of Moses, but the Gospel of Christ.
Bede: What therefore God hath conjoined by making one flesh of a man and a woman, that man cannot separate, but God alone. Man separates, when we dismiss the first wife because we desire a second; but it is God who separates, when by common consent (1Co 7,5), for the sake of serving God, we so have wives as though we had none (1Co 7,29).
Chrys.: But if two persons, whom God has joined together, are not to be separated; much more is it wrong to separate from Christ, the Church, which God has joined to Him.
Theophylact: But the disciples were offended, as not being fully satisfied with what had been said; for this reason they again question Him.
Wherefore there follows: "And in the house, His disciples asked Him again of the same matter."
Pseudo-Jerome: This second question is said to be asked "again" by the Apostles, because it is on the subject of which the Pharisees had asked Him, that is, concerning the state of marriage; and this is said by Mark in his own person.
Gloss: For a repetition of a saying of the Word, produces not weariness, but thirst and hunger.
Wherefore it is said, "They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be (p. 197) thirsty"; for the tasting of the honied words of wisdom yields all manner of savour to them who love her.
Wherefore the Lord instructs His disciples over again; for it goes on, "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery upon her."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant., e Cat. in Marc.: The Lord calls by the name of adultery cohabitation with her who is not a man's wife; she is not, however, a wife, whom a man has taken to him, after quitting the first; and for this reason he commits adultery upon her, that is, upon the second, whom he brings in. And the same thing is true in the case of the woman; wherefore it goes on, "And if a woman shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery"; for she cannot be joined to another as her own husband, if she leave him who is really her own husband. The law indeed forbade what was plainly adultery; but the Saviour forbids this, which was neither plain, nor known to all, though it was contrary to nature.
Bede: In Matthew it is more fully expressed, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication." (Mt 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.
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