Golden Chain 6724
6724 Mc 7,24-30
(p. 138) Theophylact: After that the Lord had finished His teaching concerning food, seeing that the Jews were incredulous, He enters into the country of the Gentiles, for the Jews being unfaithful, salvation turns itself to the Gentiles.
Wherefore it is said, "And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Tyre and Sidon were places of the Canaanites, therefore the Lord comes to them, not as to His own, but as to men, who had nothing in common with the fathers to whom the promise was made. And therefore He comes in such a way, that His coming should not be known to the Tyrians and Sidonians.
Wherefore it continues: "and entered into a house, and would have no man know it." For the time had not come for His dwelling with the Gentiles and bringing them to the faith, for this was not to be, till after His cross and resurrection.
Theophylact: Or else, His reason for coming in secret was that the Jews should not find occasion of blame against Him, as if He had passed over to the unclean Gentiles.
It goes on: "But He could not be hid."
Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest e Vet. et N. Test. 77: But if He wished to do so and could not, it appears (p. 139) as if His will was impotent; it is not possible however that our Saviour's will should not be fulfilled, nor can He will a thing, which He knows ought not be.
Therefore when a thing has taken place, it may be asserted that He has willed it. But we should observe that this happened amongst the Gentiles, to whom it was not time to preach; nevertheless not to receive them, when they came to the faith of their own accord, would have been to grudge them the faith.
So then it came to pass that the Lord was not made known by His disciples; others, however, who had seen Him entering the house, recognized Him, and it began to be known that He was there. His will therefore was that He should not be proclaimed by His own disciples, but that others should come to seek Him, and so it took place.
Bede, in Marc., 2, 30: Having entered also into the house, He commanded His disciples not to betray who He was to anyone in this unknown region, that they, on whom He had bestowed the grace of healing, might learn by His example, as far as they could, to shrink from the glory of human praise in the shewing forth of their miracles; yet they were not to cease from the pious work of virtue, when either the faith of the good justly deserved that miracles should be done, or the unfaithfulness of the wicked might necessarily compel them. For He Himself made known His entry into that place to the Gentile woman, and to whomsoever He would.
Pseudo-Aug.: Lastly, the Canaanitish woman came in to Him, on hearing of Him; if she had not first submitted herself to the God of the Jews, she would not have obtained their benefit. Concerning her it continues: "For a woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, as soon as she had heard of Him, came in and fell at His feet."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now by this the Lord wished to shew His disciples that He opened the door of faith even to the Gentiles, wherefore also the nation of the woman is described when it is added, "The woman was a Gentile, a Syrophenician by nation," that is, from Syria and Phaenice.
It goes on: "and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter."
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 49: It appears however that some question about a discrepancy may be raised, because it is said that the Lord was in the house when the woman came, asking about her daughter. When, however, Matthew says that His disciples had suggested to Him, (p. 140) "Send her away, for she crieth after us," (Mt 15,23) He appears to imply nothing less than that the woman uttered supplicating cries after the Lord, as He walked. How then do we infer that she was in the house, except by gathering it from Mark, who says that she came in to Jesus, after having before said that He was in the house? But Matthew in that he says, "He answered her not a word," gave us to understand that He went out, during that silence, from the house; thus too the other events are connected together, so that they now in no way disagree.
It continues: "But He said unto her, Let the children be first filled."
Bede: The time will come when even you who are Gentiles will obtain salvation; but it is right that first the Jews who deservedly are wont to be called by the name of children of God's ancient election, should be refreshed with heavenly bread, and that so at length, the food of life should be ministered to the Gentiles.
There follows: "For it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to the dogs."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: These words He uttered not that there is in Him a deficiency of virtue, to prevent His ministering to all, but because His benefit, if ministered to both Jews and Gentiles who had no communication with each other, might be a cause of jealousy.
Theophylact: He calls the Gentiles dogs, as being thought wicked by the Jews; and He means by bread, the benefit which the Lord promised to the children, that is, to the Jews. The sense therefore is, that it is not right for the Gentiles first to be partakers of the benefit, promised principally to the Jews. The reason, therefore, why the Lord does not immediately hear, but delays His grace, is, that He may also shew that the faith of the woman was firm, and that we may learn not at once to grow weary in prayer, but to continue earnest till we obtain.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: In like manner also to shew the Jews that He did not confer healing on foreigners in the same degree as to them, and that by the discovery of the woman's faith, the unfaithfulness of the Jews might be the more laid bare. For the woman did not take it ill, but with much reverence assented to what the Lord had said.
Wherefore it goes on, "And she answered and said unto Him, Truth, Lord, but the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs."
Theophylact: As if she had said, The Jews have the whole of that bread which comes down from heaven, (p. 141) and Thy benefits also; I ask for the crumbs, that is, a small portion of the benefit.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Her placing herself therefore in the rank of dogs is a mark of her reverence; as if she said, I hold it as a favour to be even in the position of a dog, and to eat not from another table, but from that of the Master himself.
Theophylact: Because therefore the woman answered with much wisdom, she obtained what she wanted; wherefore there follows, "And He said unto her, &c."
He said not, My virtue hath made thee whole, but for this saying, that is, for thy faith, which is shewn by this saying, "go thy way, the devil is gone out of thy daughter."
It goes on: "And when she was come into her house, she found her daughter laid upon the bed, and the devil gone out."
Bede: On account then of the humble and faithful saying of her mother, the devil left the daughter; here is given a precedent for catechising and baptizing infants, seeing that by the faith and the confession of the parents, infants are freed in baptism from the devil, though they can neither have knowledge in themselves, or do either good or evil.
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically however the Gentile woman, who prays for her daughter, is our mother the Church of Rome. Her daughter afflicted with a devil, is the barbarian western race, which by faith hath been turned from a dog into a sheep. She desires to take the crumbs of spiritual understanding, not the unbroken bread of the letter.
Theophylact: The soul of each of us also, when he falls into sin, becomes a woman; and this soul has a daughter who is sick, that is, evil actions; this daughter again has a devil, for evil actions arise from devils. Again, sinners are called dogs, being filled with uncleanness. For which reason we are not worthy to receive the bread of God, or to be made partakers of the immaculate mysteries of God; if however in humility, knowing ourselves to be dogs, we confess our sins, then the daughter, that is, our evil life, shall be healed.
6731 Mc 7,31-37
(p. 142) Theophylact: The Lord did not wish to stay in the parts of the Gentiles, lest He should give the Jews occasion to say, that they esteemed Him a transgressor of the law, because He held communion with the Gentiles, and therefore He immediately returns.
Wherefore it is said, "And again departing from the coasts of Tyre, He came through Sidon, to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 31: Decapolis is a region of ten cities, across the Jordan, to the east, over against Galilee (ed. note: It appears, however, from Reland, Pales. v.1, p198, that a portion of Decapolis, including its metropolis, Scythopolis, was on this side Jordan, and therefore this text of St. Mark may be taken literally.) When therefore it is said that the Lord came to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis, it does not mean that He entered the confines of Decapolis themselves; for He is not said to have crossed the sea, but rather to have come to the borders of the sea, and to have reached quite up to the place, which was opposite to the midst of the coasts of Decapolis, which were situated at a distance across the sea.
It goes on, "And they bring Him one that was deaf and dumb, and they besought Him to lay hands upon him."
Theophylact: Which is rightly placed after the deliverance of one possessed with a (p. 143) devil, for such an instance of suffering came from the devil.
There follows, "And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He takes the deaf and dumb man who was brought to Him apart from the crowd, that He might not do His divine miracles openly; teaching us to cast away vain glory and swelling of heart, for no one can work miracles as he can, who loves humility and is lowly in his conduct. But He puts His fingers into his ears, when He might have cured him with a word, to shew that His body, being united to Deity, was consecrated by Divine virtue, with all that He did. For since on account of the transgression of Adam, human nature had incurred much suffering and hurt in its members and senses, Christ coming into the world shewed the perfection of human nature in Himself, and on this account opened ears, with His fingers, and gave the power of speech by His spittle.
Wherefore it goes on, "And spit, and touched his tongue."
Theophylact: That He might shew that all the members of His sacred body are divine and holy, even the spittle which loosed the string of the tongue. For the spittle is only the superflous moisture of the body, but in the Lord, all things are divine.
It goes on, "And looking up to heaven, He groaned, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened."
Bede: He looked up to heaven, that He might teach us that thence is to be procured speech for the dumb, hearing for the deaf, health for all who are sick. And He sighed, not that it was necessary for Him to be any thing from His Father with groaning, for He, together with the Father, gives all things to them who ask, but that He might give us an example of sighing, when for our own errors and those of our neighbours, we invoke the guardianship of the Divine mercy.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He at the same time also groaned, as taking our cause upon Himself and pitying human nature, seeing the misery into which it had fallen.
Bede: But that which He says, "Ephphatha, that is, Be opened," belong properly to the ears, for the ears are to be opened for hearing, but the tongue to be loosed from the bonds of its impediment, that is may be able to speak.
Wherefore it goes on, "And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain."
Where each nature of one and the same Christ (p. 144) is manifestly distinct, looking up indeed into Heaven as man, praying unto God, He groaned, but presently with one word, as being strong in the Divine Majesty, He healed.
It goes on, "And He charged them that they should tell no man."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: By which He has taught us not to boast in our powers, but in the cross and humiliation. He also bade them conceal the miracle, lest He should excite the Jews by envy to kill Him before the time.
Pseudo-Jerome: A city, however, placed on a hill cannot be hid, and lowliness always comes before glory.
Wherefore it goes on, "but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it."
Theophylact: By this we are taught, when we confer benefits on any, by no means to seek for applause and praise; but when we have received benefits, to proclaim and praise our benefactors, even though they be unwilling.
Augustine: If however He, as one Who knew the present and the future wills of men, knew that they would proclaim Him the more in proportion as He forbade them, why did He give them this command? If it were not that He wished to prove to men who are idle, how much more joyfully, with how much greater obedience, they whom He commands to proclaim Him should preach, when they who were forbidden could not hold their peace.
Gloss.: From the preaching however of those who were healed by Christ, the wonder of the multitude, and their praise of the benefits of Christ, increased.
Wherefore it goes on, "And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, Tyre is interpreted, narrowness, and signifies Judaea, to which the Lord said, "For the bed is grown too narrow," (Is 28,20) and from which He turns Himself to the Gentiles. Sidon means, hunting, for our race is like an untamed beast, and "sea", which means a wavering inconstancy. Again, the Saviour comes to save the Gentiles in the midst of the coasts of Decapolis, which may be interpreted, as the commands of the Decalogue.
Further, the human race throughout its many members is reckoned as one man, eaten up by varying pestilence, in the first created man; it is blinded, that is, its eye is evil; it becomes deaf, when it listens to, and dumb when it speaks, evil. And they prayed Him to lay His hand upon him, because many just men, and (p. 145) patriarchs, wished and longed for the time when the Lord should come in the flesh.
Bede: Or he is deaf and dumb, who neither has ears to hear the words of God, nor opens his mouth to speak them, and such must be presented to the Lord for healing, by men who have already learned to hear and speak the divine oracles.
Pseudo-Jerome: Further, he who obtains healing is always drawn aside from turbulent thoughts, disorderly actions, and incoherent speeches. And the fingers which are put into the ears are the words and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, "This is the finger of God." (Ex 8,19 Lc 11,20)
The spittle is heavenly wisdom, which loosens the sealed lips of the human race, so that it can say, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, and the rest of the Creed. "And looking up to heaven, he groaned," that is, He taught us to groan, and to raise up the treasures of our hearts to the heavens; because by the groaning of hearty compunction, the silly joy of the flesh is purged away. But the ears are opened to hymns, and songs, and psalms; and He looses the tongue, that it may pour forth the good word, which neither threats nor stripes can restrain.
6801 Mc 8,1-9
(p. 146) Theophylact: After the Lord had performed the former miracle concerning the multiplication of the loaves, now again, a fitting occasion presents itself, and He takes the opportunity of working a similar miracle.
Wherefore it is said, (p. 147) "In those days, the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat."
For He did not always work miracles concerning the feeding of the multitude, lest they should follow Him for the sake of food; now therefore He would not have performed this miracle, if He had not seen that the multitude was in danger.
Wherefore it goes on: "And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 32: Why they who came from afar hold out for three days, Matthew says more fully: "And He went up into a mountain, and sat down there, and great multitudes came unto Him, having with them many sick persons, and cast them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them." (Mt 15,29-30)
Theophylact: The disciples did not yet understand, nor did they believe in His virtue, notwithstanding former miracles; wherefore it continues, "And His disciples said unto Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?"
But the Lord Himself does not blame them, teaching us that we should not be grievously angry with ignorant men and those who do not understand, but bear with their ignorance.
After this it continues, "And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? and they answered, Seven.
Remig.: Ignorance was not His reason for asking them, but that from their answering, "seven," the miracle might be noised abroad, and become more known in proportion to the smallness of the number.
It goes on: "And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground."
In the former feeding they lay down on grass, in this one on the ground.
It continues, "And He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake."
In giving thanks, He has left us an example, that for all gifts conferred on us from heaven we should return thanks to Him. And it is to be remarked, that our Lord did not give the bread to the people, but to His disciples, and the disciples to the people.
For it goes on, "and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people."
And not only the bread, but the fish also He blessed, and ordered to be set before them.
For there comes after, "And they had a few small fishes: (p. 148) and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them."
Bede: In this passage then we should notice, in one and the same, our Redeemer, a distinct operation of Divinity and of Manhood; thus the error of Eutyches (ed. note: i.e. the Monothelites), who presumes to lay down the doctrine of one only operation in Christ, is to be cast out far from the Christian pale. For who does not here see that the pity of our Lord for the multitude is the feeling and sympathy of humanity; and that at the same time His satisfying four thousand men with seven loaves and a few fishes, is a work of Divine virtue?
It goes on, "And they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets."
Theophylact: The multitudes who ate and were filled did not take with them the remains of the loaves, but the disciples took them up, and they did before the baskets. In which we learn according to the narration, that we should be content with what is sufficient, and not look for any thing beyond. The number of those who ate is put down, when it is said, "And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away;" where we may see that Christ sends no one away fasting, for He wishes all to be nourished by His grace.
Bede: The typical difference between this feeding and the other of the five loaves and two fishes, is, that there the letter of the Old Testament, full of spiritual grace, is signified, but here the truth and grace of the New Testament, which is to be ministered to all the faithful, is pointed out.
Now the multitude remains three days, waiting for the Lord to heal their sick, as Matthew relates, when the elect, in the faith of the Holy Trinity, supplicate for sins, with persevering earnestness; or because they turn themselves to the Lord in deed, in word, and in thought.
Theophylact: Or by those who wait for three days, He means the baptized; for baptism is called illumination, and is performed by true immersion.
Greg., Mor. 1, 19: He does not however wish to dismiss them fasting, lest they should faint by the way; for it is necessary that men should find in what is preached the word of consolation, lest hungering through want of the food of truth, they sink under the toil of this life.
Ambrose, in Luc., 6, 73: The good Lord indeed whilst He requires diligence, gives strength; nor will He dismiss them fasting, "lest they faint by the way," that is, either in the course of this life, or before they have reached the fountainhead (p. 149) of life, that is, the Father, and have learnt that Christ is of the Father, lest haply, after receiving that He is born of a virgin, they begin to esteem His virtue not that of God, but of a man.
Therefore the Lord Jesus divides the food, and His will indeed is to give to all, to deny none; He is the Dispenser of all things, but if thou refusest to stretch forth thy hand to receive the food, thou wilt faint by the way; nor canst thou find fault with Him, who pities and divides.
Bede: But they who return to repentance after the crimes of the flesh, after thefts, violence, and murders, come to the Lord from afar; for in proportion as a man has wandered farther in evil working, so he has wandered farther from Almighty God. The believers amongst the Gentiles came from afar to Christ, but the Jews from near, for they had been taught concerning Him by the letter of the law and the prophets. In the former case, however, of the feeding with five loaves, the multitude lay upon the green grass: here, however, upon the ground, because by the writing of the law, we are ordered to keep under the desires of the flesh, but in the New Testament we are ordered to leave even the earth itself and our temporal goods.
Theophylact: Further, the seven loaves are spiritual discourses, for seven is the number, which points out the Holy Ghost, who perfects all things; for our life is perfected in the number of seven days. (ed. note: The number seven seems to be taken in the Fathers to mean a whole, from the world having been completed in seven days; and St. Ambrose lays it down as a principle of interpretation, in Lc 7,95 Lc 7, here alludes to the seven ages of man's life; very similar passage is found in St. Ambrose's 44th Letter, where the whole subject is discussed. )
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the seven loaves are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the fragments of the loaves are the mystical understanding of the first week.
Bede: For our Lord's breaking the bread means the opening of mysteries; His giving of thanks shews how great a joy He feels in the salvation of the human race; His giving the loaves to His disciples that they might set them before the people, signifies that He assigns the spiritual gifts of knowledge to the Apostles, and that it was His will that by their ministry the food of life should be distributed to the Church.
Pseudo-Jerome: The small fishes blessed are the books of the New Testament, for our Lord when risen asks for a piece of broiled fish.
Or else, in these (p. 150) little fishes, we receive the saints, seeing that in the Scriptures of the New Testament are contained the faith, life, and sufferings of them who, snatched away from the troubled waves of this world, have given us by their example spiritual refreshment.
Bede: Again, what was over and above, after the multitude was refreshed, the Apostles take up, because the higher precepts of perfection, to which the multitude cannot attain, belong to those whose life transcends that of the generality of the people of God; nevertheless, the multitude is said to have been satisfied, because though they cannot leave all that they possess, nor come up to that which is spoken of virgins, yet by listening to the commands of the law of God, they attain to everlasting life.
Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the seven baskets are the seven Churches. By the four thousand is meant the year of the new dispensation, with its four seasons. Fitly also are there four thousand, that in the number itself it might be taught us that they were filled with the food of the Gospel.
Theophylact: Or there are four thousand, that is, men perfect in the four virtues; and for this reason, as being more advanced, they ate more, and left fewer fragments. For in this miracle, seven baskets full remain, but in the miracle of the five loaves, twelve, for there were five thousand men, which means men enslaved to the five senses, and for this reason they could not eat, but were satisfied with little, and many remains of the fragments were over and above.
6810 Mc 8,10-21
(p. 151) Theophylact: After that our Lord had worked the miracle of the loaves, He immediately retires into another spot, lest on account of the miracle, the multitudes should take Him to make Him a king.
Wherefore it is said, "And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha."
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 51: Now in Matthew we read that He entered into the parts of Magdala (ed. note: Magedam). But we cannot doubt that it is the same place under another name; for several manuscripts even of St. Mark have only Magdala.
It goes on, "And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 33: The Pharisees, then, seek a sign from heaven, that He, Who had for the second time fed many thousands of men with a few loaves of bread, should now, after the example of Moses, refresh the whole nation in the last time with manna (p. 152) sent down from heaven, and dispersed amongst them all.
Theophylact: Or they seek for a sign from heaven, that is, they wish Him to make the sun and moon stand still, to bring down hail, and change the atmosphere; for they thought that He could not perform miracles from heaven, but could only in Beelzebub perform a sign on earth.
Bede: When, as related above, He was about to refresh the believing multitude, He gave thanks, so now, on account of the foolish petition of the Pharisees, He groans; because, bearing about with Him the feelings of human nature, as He rejoices over the salvation of men, so He grieves over their errors.
Wherefore it goes on, "And He groaned in spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, If a sign shall be given to this generation."
That is, no sign shall be given; as it is written in the Psalms, "I have sworn once by my holiness, if I shall fail David," (Ps 80,36) that is, I will not fail David.
Augustine: Let no one, however, be perplexed that the answer which Mark says was given to them, when they sought a sign from heaven, is not the same as that which Matthew relates, namely, that concerning Jonah. He says that the Lord's answer was, that no sign should be given to it; by which we must understand such an one as they asked for, that is, one from heaven; but he has omitted to say, what Matthew has related.
Theophylact: Now, the reason why the Lord did not listen to them was, that the time of signs from heaven had not arrived, that is, the time of the second Advent, when the powers of the heaven shall be shaken, and the moon shall not give her light. But in the time of the first Advent, all things are full of mercy, and such things do not take place.
Bede: For a sign from heaven was not to be given to a generation of men, who tempted the Lord; but to a generation of men seeking the Lord, He shews a sign from heaven, when in the sight of the Apostles He ascended into heaven.
It goes on, "And He left them, and entering into a ship again, He departed to the other side."
Theophylact: The Lord indeed quits the Pharisees, as men uncorrected; for where there is a hope of correction, there it is right to remain; but where the evil is incorrigible, we should go away.
There follows: "Now they had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf."
Bede: (p. 153) Some may ask, how they had no bread, when they had filled seven baskets just before they embarked in the ship. But Scripture relates that they had forgotten to take them with them, which is a proof how little care they had for the flesh in other things, since in their eagerness to follow the Lord, even the necessity of refreshing their bodies had escaped from their mind.
Theophylact: By a special providence also the disciples forgot to take bread, that they might be blamed by Christ, and thus become better, and arrive at a knowledge of Christ's power.
For it goes on, "And He charged them, saying, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Matthew says, "of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;" Luke, however, of the Pharisees only. All three, therefore, name the Pharisees, as being the most important of them, but Matthew and Mark have each mentioned one of the secondary sects; and fitly has Mark added "of Herod," as a supplement to Matthew's narrative, in which they were left out.
But in saying this, He by degrees brings the disciples to understanding and faith.
Theophylact: He means by leaven their hurtful and corrupt doctrine, full of the old malice, for the Herodians were the teachers, who said that Herod was the Christ.
Bede: Or, the leaven of the Pharisees is making the decrees of the divine law inferior to the traditions of men, preaching the law in word, attacking it in deed, tempting the Lord, and disbelieving His doctrine and His works; but the leaven of Herod is adultery, murder, rash swearing, a pretence of religion, hatred to Christ and His forerunner.
Theophylact: But the disciples themselves thought that the Lord spoke of the leaven of bread.
Wherefore it goes on, "And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, it is because we have no bread;" and this they said, as not understanding the power of Christ, who could make bread out of nothing; wherefore the Lord reproves them.
For there follows: "And when Jesus knew it, He said unto them, Why reason ye because ye have no bread?"
Bede: Taking occasion then from the precept, which He had commanded, saying, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod," our Saviour teaches them what was the meaning of the five and the seven loaves, concerning which He adds, "And do ye not remember, when I brake the five (p. 154) loaves amongst five thousand, and how many baskets full of fragments ye took up?"
For if the leaven mentioned above means perverse traditions, of course the food, with which the people of God was nourished, means the true doctrine.
6822 Mc 8,22-26
Gloss.: After the feeding of the multitude, the Evangelist proceeds to the giving sight to the blind, saying, "And they came to Bethsaida, and they bring a blind man to Him, and besought Him to touch him."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 34: Knowing that the touch of the Lord could give sight to a blind man as well as cleanse a leper.
It goes on, "And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town."
Theophylact: For Bethsaida appears to have been infected with much infidelity, wherefore the Lord reproaches it, "Woe to thee, Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." (Mt 11,21) He then takes out of the town the blind man, who had been brought to Him, for the faith of those who brought him was not true faith.
It goes on, "And when He had spit in his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He spat indeed, and put His hand (p. 155) upon the blind man, because He wished to shew that wonderful are the effects of the Divine word added to action; for the hand is the symbol of working, but the spittle, of the word proceeding out of the mouth. Again He asked him whether he could see any thing, which He had not done in the case of any whom He had healed, thus shewing that by the weak faith of those who brought him, and of the blind man himself, his eyes could not altogether be opened.
Wherefore there follows: "And He looked up, and said, I see men as trees walking;" because he was still under the influence of unfaithfulness, he said that he saw men obscurely.
Bede: Seeing indeed the shapes of bodies amongst the shadows, but unable to distinguish the outlines of the limbs, from the continued darkness of his sight; just as trees standing thick together are wont to appear to men who see them from afar, or by the dim light of the night, so that it cannot easily be known whether they be trees or men.
Theophylact: But the reason why he did not see at once perfectly, but in part, was, that he had not perfect faith; for healing is bestowed in proportion to faith.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: From the commencement, however, of the return of his senses, He leads him to apprehend things by faith, and thus makes him see perfectly; wherefore it goes on, "After that, He put His hands again upon his eyes, and he began to see," and afterwards he adds, "And he was restored, and saw all things clearly," that is, being perfectly healed in his senses and his intellect.
It goes on, "And He sent him away to his house, saying, Go into thy home, and if thou enter into the town, tell it not to any one."
Theophylact: These precepts He gave him, because they were unfaithful, as has been said, lest perchance he should receive hurt in his soul from them, and they by their unbelief should run into a more grievous crime.
Bede: Or else, He leaves an example to His disciples that they should not seek for popular favour by the miracles which they did.
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, Bethsaida is interpreted, 'the house of the valley', that is, the world, which is the vale of tears. Again, they bring to the Lord a blind man, that is, one who neither sees what he has been, what he is, nor what he is to be. They ask Him to touch him, for what is being touched, but feeling compunction?
Bede: For the Lord touches us, when He (p. 156) enlightens our minds with the breath of His Spirit, and He stirs us up that we may recognise our own infirmity, and be diligent in good actions. He takes the hand of the blind man, that He may strengthen him to the practice of good woks.
Pseudo-Jerome: And He brings him out of the town, that is, out of the neighborhood of the wicked; and He puts spittle into his eyes, that he may see the will of God, by the breath of the Holy Ghost; and putting His hands upon him, He asked him if he could see, because by the works of the Lord His majesty is seen.
Bede: Or else, putting spittle into the eyes of the blind man, He lays His hands upon him that he may see, because He has wiped away the blindness of the human race both by invisible gifts, and by the Sacrament of His assumed humanity; for the spittle, proceeding from the Head, points out the grace of the Holy Ghost. But though by one word He could cure the man wholly and all at once, still He cures him by degrees, that He may shew the greatness of the blindness of man, which can hardly, and only as it were step by step, be restored to light; and He exhibits to us His grace, by which He furthers each step towards perfection.
Again, whoever is weighed down by a blindness of such long continuance, that he is unable to distinguish between good and evil, sees as it were men like trees walking, because he sees the deeds of the multitude without the light of discretion.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, he sees men as trees, because he thinks all men higher than himself. But He put His hands again upon his eyes, that he might see all things clearly, that is, understand invisible things by visible, and with the eye of a pure mind contemplate, what the eye hath not seen, the glorious state of his own soul after the rust of sin. He sent him to his home, that is, to his heart; that he might see in himself things which he had not seen before; for a man despairing of salvation does not think that he can do at all what, when enlightened, he can easily accomplish.
Theophylact: Or else, after He has healed him, He sends him to his home; for the home of every one of us is heaven, and the mansions which are there.
Pseudo-Jerome: And He says to him, "If thou enter into the town, tell it not to any one," that is, relate continually to thy neighbours thy blindness, but never tell them of thy virtue.
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