Golden Chain MT-MK 3504
3504 (Mt 5,4)
(p. 150) Ambrose: When you have done thus much, attained both poverty and meekness, remember that you are a sinner, mourn your sins, as He proceeds, "Blessed are they that mourn." And it is suitable that the third blessing should be of those that mourn for sin, for it is the Trinity that forgives sin.
Hilary: Those that mourn, that is, not loss of kindred, affronts, or losses, but who weep for past sins.
Pseudo-Chrys.: And they who weep for their own sins are blessed, but much more so who weep for others' sins; so should all teachers do.
Jerome: For the mourning here meant is not for the dead by common course of nature, but for the dead in sins, and vices. Thus Samuel mourned for Saul, thus the Apostle Paul mourned for those who had not performed penance after uncleanness.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The "comfort" of mourners is the ceasing of their mourning; they then who mourn their own sins shall be consoled when they have received remittance thereof.
Chrys.: And though it were enough for such to receive pardon, yet He rests not His mercy only there, but makes them partakers of many comforts both here and hereafter. God's mercies are always greater than our troubles.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But they also who mourn for others' sin shall be comforted, inasmuch as they shall own God's providence in that worldly generation, understanding that they who had perished were not of God, out of whose hand none can snatch. For these leaving to mourn, they shall be comforted in their own blessedness.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: Otherwise; mourning is sorrow for the loss of what is dear; but those that are turned to God lose the things that they held dear in this world; and as they have now no longer any joy in such things as before they had joy in, their sorrow may not be healed till there is formed within them a love of eternal things. They shall then be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who is therefore chiefly called, The Paraclete, that is, "Comforter;' so that for the loss of their temporal joys, they shall gain eternal joys.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Or, by mourning, two kinds of sorrow are intended; one for the miseries of this world, one for lack of heavenly things; so Caleb's (p. 151) daughter asked both "the upper and the lower springs." This kind of mourning none have but the poor and the meek, who as not loving the world acknowledge themselves miserable, and therefore desire heaven.
Suitably, therefore, consolation is promised to them that mourn, that he who has sorrow at this present may have joy hereafter. But the reward of the mourner is greater than that of the poor or the meek, for "to rejoice" in the kingdom is more than to have it, or to possess it; for many things we possess in sorrow.
Chrys.: We may remark that this blessing is given not simply, but with great force and emphasis; it is not simply, 'who have grief,' but "who mourn." And indeed this command is the sum of all philosophy. For if they who mourn for the death of children or kinsfolk, throughout all that season of their sorrow, are touched with no other desires, as of money, or honour, burn not with envy, feel not wrongs, nor are open to any other vicious passion, but are solely given up to their grief; much more ought they, who mourn their own sins in such manner as they ought to mourn for them, to shew this higher philosophy.
3506 (Mt 5,6)
Ambrose: As soon as I have wept for my sins, I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He who is afficted with any sort disease, hath ho hunger.
Jerome: It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.
Pseudo-Chrys.: All good which men do not from love of the good itself is unpleasing before God. He hungers after righteousness who desires to walk according to the righteousness of God; he thirsts after righteousness who desires to get the knowledge thereof.
Chrys.: He may mean either general righteousness, or that particular virtue which is the opposite of covetousness. As He was going on to speak of mercy, He shews before hand of what kind our mercy should be, that it should not be of the gains of plunder or covetousness, hence He ascribes to righteousness that (p. 152) which is peculiar to avarice, namely, to hunger and thirst.
Hilary: The blessedness which He appropriates to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shews that the deep longing of the saints for the doctrine of God shall receive perfect replenishment in heaven; then "they shall be filled."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Such is the bounty of a rewarding God, that His gifts are greater than the desires of the saints.
Aug.: Or He speaks of food with which they shall be filled at this present; to wit, that food of which the Lord spake, "My food is to do the will of my Father," that is, righteousness, and that water of which whoever drinks it shall be in him "a well of water springing up to life eternal."
Chrys.: Or, this is again a promise of a temporal reward; for as covetousness is thought to make many rich, He affirms on the contrary that righteousness rather makes rich, for He who loves righteousness possesses all things in safety.
3507 (Mt 5,7)
Gloss.: Justice and mercy are so united, that the one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice, profusion - hence He goes on to the one from the other.
Remig.: The merciful is he who has a sad heart; he counts others' misery his own, and is sad at their grief as at his own.
Jerome: Mercy here is not said only of alms, but is in every sin of a brother, if we bear one another's burdens.
Aug.: He pronounces those blessed who succour the wretched, because they are rewarded in being themselves delivered from all misery; as it follows, "for they shall obtain mercy."
Hilary: So greatly is God pleased with our feelings of benevolence towards all men, that He will bestow His own mercy only on the merciful.
Chrys.: The reward here seems at first to be only an equal return; but indeed it is much more; for human mercy and divine mercy are not to be put on an equality.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Justly is mercy dealt out to the merciful, that they should receive more than they had deserved; and as he who has more than enough receives more than he who has (p. 153) only enough, so the glory of mercy is greater than of the things hitherto mentioned.
3508 (Mt 5,8)
Ambrose, in Luc., vi, 22: The merciful loses the benefit of his mercy, unless he shews it from a pure heart; for if he seeks to have whereof to boast, he loses the fruit of his deeds; the next that follows therefore is, "Blessed are the pure of heart."
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Purity of heart comes properly in the sixth place, because on the sixth day man was created in the image of God, which image was shrouded by sin, but is formed anew in pure hearts by grace. It follows rightly the beforementioned graces, because if they be not there, a clean heart is not created in a man.
Chrys.: By the pure are here meant those who possess a perfect goodness, conscious to themselves of no evil thoughts, or again those who live in such temperance as is mostly necessary to seeing God according to that of St. Paul, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God." For as there are many merciful, yet unchaste, to shew that mercy alone is not enough, he adds this concerning purity.
Jerome: The pure is known by purity of heart, for the temple of God cannot be impure.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He who in thought and deed fulfils all righteousness, "sees God" in his heart, for righteousness is an image of God, for God is righteousness. So far as any one has rescued himself from evil, and works things that are good, so far does he "see God," either hardly, or fully, or sometimes, or always, according to the capabilities of human nature. But in that world to come the pure in heart shall see God face to face, not in a glass, and in enigma as here.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: They are foolish who seek to see God with the bodily eye, seeing He is seen only by the heart, as it is elsewhere written, "In singleness of heart seek ye Him;" the single heart is the same as is here called the pure heart.
Aug., City of God, book 22, ch. 29: But if spiritual eyes in the spiritual body shall be able only to see so much as they we now have can see, undoubtedly God will not be able to be seen of them.
Aug., de Trin., i, 8: This seeing God is the reward of faith; to which end our (p. 154) hearts are made pure by faith, as it is written, "cleansing their hearts by faith;" (Ac 15,9) but the present verse proves this still more strongly.
Aug., de Genesi ad Literam. xii. 26: No one seeing God can be alive with the life men have on earth, or with these our bodily senses. Unless one die altogether out of this life, either by totally departing from the body, or so alienated from carnal lusts that he may truly say with the Apostle, "whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell," he is not translated that he should see this vision.
Gloss. non occ.: The reward of these is greater than the reward of the first; being not merely to dine in the King's court, but further to see His face.
3509 (Mt 5,9)
Ambrose: When you have made your inward parts clean from every spot of sin, that dissentions and contentions may not proceed from your temper, begin peace within yourself, that so you may extend it to others.
Aug., City of God, book 19, ch. 13: Peace is the fixedness of order; by order, I mean an arrangement of things like and unlike giving to each its own place. And as there is no man who would not willingly have joy, so is there no man who would not have peace; since even those who go to war desire nothing more than by war to come to a glorious peace.
Jerome: The peacemakers (margin note: pacifici) are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: The peacemakers within themselves are they who having stilled all disturbances of their spirits, having subjected them to reason, have overcome their carnal desires, and become the kingdom of God. There all things are so disposed, that that which is most chief and excellent in man, governs those parts which we have in common with the brutes, though they struggle against it; nay even that in man which is excellent is subjected to a yet greater, namely, the very Truth, the Son of God. For it would not be able to govern what is inferior to it, if it were not subject to what is above (p. 155) it. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of good will.
Aug., Retract., i, 19: No man can attain in this life that there be not in his members a law resisting the law of his mind. But the peacemakers attain thus far by overcoming the lusts of the flesh, that in time they come to a most perfect peace.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The peacemakers with others are not only those who reconcile enemies, but those who unmindful of wrongs cultivate peace. That peace only is blessed which is lodged in the heart, and does not consist only in words. And they who love peace, they are the sons of peace.
Hilary: The blessedness of the peacemakers is the reward of adoption, "they shall be called the sons of God." For God is our common parent, and no other way can we pass into His family than by living in brotherly love together.
Chrys.: Or, if the peacemakers are they who do not contend one with another, but reconcile those that are at strife, they are rightly called the sons of God, seeing this was the chief employment of the Only-begotten Son, to reconcile things separated, to give peace to things at war.
Aug.: Or, because peace is then perfect when there is no where any opposition, the peacemakers are called the sons of God, because nothing resists God, and the children ought to bear the likeness of their Father.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: The peacemakers have thus the place of highest honour, inasmuch as he who is called the king's son, is the highest in the king's house. This beatitude is placed the seventh in order, because in the sabbath shall be given the repose of true peace, the six ages being passed away.
3510 (Mt 5,10)
Chrys.: "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake," that is for virtue, for defending others, for piety, for all these things are spoken of under the title of righteousness. This follows the beatitude upon the peacemakers, that we may not be led to suppose that it is good to seek peace at all times.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: When peace is once firmly established within, (p. 156) whatever persecutions he who has been cast without raises, or carries on, he increases that glory which is in the sight of God.
Jerome: "For righteousness' sake" He adds expressly, for many suffer persecution for their sins, and are not therefore righteous. Likewise consider how the eighth beatitude of the true circumcision is terminated by martyrdom. (margin note: vid. Ph 3,2-3)
Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, Blessed are they who suffer persecution of the Gentiles; that we may not suppose the blessing pronounced on those only who are persecuted for refusing to sacrifice to idols; yea, whoever suffers persecution of heretics because he will not forsake the truth is likewise blessed, seeing he suffers for righteousness.
Moreover, if any of the great ones, who seem to be Christians, being corrected by you on account of his sins, shall persecute you, you are blessed with John the Baptist. For if the Prophets are truly martyrs when they are killed by their own countrymen, without doubt he who suffers in the cause of God has the reward of martyrdom though he suffers from his own people.
Scripture therefore does not mention the persons of the persecutors, but only the cause of persecution, that you may learn to look, not by whom, but why you suffer.
Hilary: Thus, lastly, He includes those in the beatitude whose will is ready to suffer all things for Christ, who is our righteousness. For these then also is the kingdom preserved, for they are in the contempt of this world poor in spirit.
Aug.: Or, the eighth beatitude, as it were, returns to the commencement, because it shews the perfect complete character. In the first then and the eighth, the kingdom of heaven is named, for the seven go to make the perfect man, the eighth manifests and proves his perfectness, that all may be conducted to perfection by these steps.
Ambrose, in Luc., vi. 23: Otherwise; the first kingdom of heaven was promised to the Saints, in deliverance from the body; the second, that after the resurrection they should be with Christ. For after your resurrection you shall begin to possess the earth delivered from death, and in that possession shall find comfort.
Pleasure follows comfort, and Divine mercy pleasure. But on whom God has mercy, him He calls, and he whom He calls, beholds Him that called him. He who beholds God is adopted into the rights of divine birth, and then at length (p. 157) as the son of God is delighted with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The first then begins, the last is perfected.
Chrys.: Wonder not if you do not hear 'the kingdom' mentioned under each beatitude; for in saying "shall be comforted, shall find mercy," and the rest, in all these the kingdom of heaven is tacitly understood, so that you must not look for any of the things of sense. For indeed he would not be blessed who was to be crowned with those things which depart with this life.
Aug.: The number of these sentences should be carefully attended to; to these seven degrees of blessedness agree the operation of that seven-form Holy Spirit which Isaiah described. But as He began from the highest, so here He begins from the lowest; for there we are taught that the Son of God will descend to the lowest; here that man will ascend from the lowest to the likeness of God.
Here the first place is given to fear, which is suitable for the humble, of whom it is said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," that is, those who think not high things, but who fear.
The second is piety, which belongs to the meek; for he who seeks piously, reverences, does not find fault, does not resist; and this is to become meek.
The third is knowledge, which belongs to those that mourn, who have learned to what evils they are enslaved which they once pursued as goods.
The fourth, which is fortitude, rightly belongs to those who hunger and thirst, who seeking joy in true goods, labour to turn away from earthly lusts.
The fifth, counsel, is appropriate for the merciful, for there is one remedy to deliver from so great evils, viz. to give and to distribute to others.
The sixth is understanding, and belongs to the pure in heart, who with purged eye can see what eye seeth not.
The seventh is wisdom, and may be assigned to the peacemakers, in whom is no rebellious motion, but they obey the Spirit.
Thus the one reward, the kingdom of heaven, is put forth under various names. In the first, as was right, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the beginning of perfect wisdom; as if it should be said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." To the meek, an inheritance, as to those who with piety seek the execution of a father's will. To those that mourn, comfort, as to persons who know what they had lost, and in what they were immersed. To the hungry, (p. 158) plenty, as a refreshment to those who labour for salvation. To the merciful, mercy, that to those who have followed the best counsel, that may be shewed which they have shewed to others. To the pure in heart the faculty of seeing God, as to men bearing a pure eye to understand the things of eternity. To the peacemakers, the likeness of God. And all these things we believe may be attained in this life, as we believe they were fulfilled in the Apostles; for as to the things after this life they cannot be expressed in any words.
3511 (Mt 5,11-12)
Rabanus: The preceding blessings were general; He now begins to address His discourse to them that were present, foretelling them the persecutions which they should suffer for His name.
Aug.: It may be asked, what difference there is between 'they shall revile you,' and 'shall speak all manner of evil of you;' to revile, it may be said, being but to speak evil of. But a reproach thrown with insult in the face of one present is a different thing from a slander cast on the character of the absent. To persecute includes both open violence and secret snares.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But if it be true that he who offers a cup of water does not lose his reward, consequently he who has been wronged but by a single word of calumny, shall not be without a reward. But that the reviled may have a claim to this blessing, two things are necessary, it must be false, and it must be for God's sake; otherwise he has not the reward of this blessing; therefore He adds, "falsely for my sake."
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 5: This I suppose was added because of those who wish to boast of persecutions and evil reports of their shame, and therefore claim to belong to Christ because many evil things are said of them; but either these (p. 159) are true, or when false yet they are not for Christ's sake.
Greg., Hom. in Ezech. i. 9, 17: What hurt can you receive when men detract from you, though you have no defence but only your own conscience? But as we ought not to stir up wilfully the tongues of slanderers, lest they perish for their slander, yet when their own malice has instigated them, we should endure it with equanimity, that our merit may be added to.
"Rejoice," He says, "and exult, for your reward is abundant in heaven."
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Rejoice, that is, in mind, exult with the body, for your reward is not great only but "abundant in heaven."
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 5: Do not suppose that by heaven here is meant the upper regions of the sky of this visible world, for your reward is not to be placed in things that are seen, but by "in heaven" understand the spiritual firmament, where everlasting righteousness dwells. Those then whose joy is in things spiritual will even here have some foretaste of that reward; but it will be made perfect in every part when this mortal shall have put on immortality.
Jerome: This it is in the power of any one of us to attain, that when our good character is injured by calumny, we rejoice in the Lord. He only who seeks after empty glory cannot attain this. Let us then rejoice and exult, that our reward may be prepared for us in heaven.
Pseudo-Chrys.: For by how much any is pleased with the praise of men, by so much is he grieved with their evil speaking. But if you seek your glory in heaven, you will not fear any slanders on earth.
Gregory, Hom. in Ezech., i, 9, 17: Yet ought we sometimes to check our defamers, lest by spreading evil reports of us, they corrupt the innocent hearts of those who might hear good from us.
Gloss. non occ.: He invites them to patience not only by the prospect of reward, but by example, when He adds, "for so persecuted they the Prophets who were before you."
Remig.: For a man in sorrow receives great comfort from the recollection of the sufferings of others, who are set before him as an example of patience; as if He had said, Remember that ye are His Apostles, of whom also they were Prophets.
Chrys.: At the same time He signifies His equality in honour with His Father, as if He had said, As they suffered for my Father, so shall ye suffer for me. And in saying, "The Prophets who were before you," He teaches that they themselves are already become Prophets. (p. 160)
Aug.: "Persecuted" He says generally, comprehending both reproaches and defamation of character.
3513 (Mt 5,13)
Chrys.: When He had delivered to His Apostles such sublime precepts, so much greater than the precepts of the Law, that they might not be dismayed and say, How shall we be able to fulfil these things? He sooths their fears by mingling praises with His instructions, saying, "Ye are the salt of the earth." This shews them how necessary were these precepts for them. Not for your own salvation merely, or for a single nation, but for the whole world is this doctrine committed to you. It is not for you then to flatter and deal smoothly with men, but, on the contrary, to be rough and biting as salt is. When for thus offending men by reproving them ye are reviled, rejoice; for this is the proper effect of salt to be harsh and grating to the depraved palate. Thus the evil-speaking of others will bring you no inconvenience, but will rather be a testimony of your firmness.
Hilary: There may be here seen a propriety in our Lord's language which may be gathered by considering the Apostle's office, and the nature of salt. This, used as it is by men for almost every purpose, preserves from decay those bodies which are sprinkled with it; and in this, as well as in every sense of its flavour as a condiment, the parallel is most exact.
The Apostles are preachers of heavenly things, and thus, as it were, salters with eternity; rightly called "the salt of the earth," as by the virtue of their teaching, they, as it were, salt and preserve bodies for eternity.
Remig.: Moreover, salt is changed into another kind of substance by three means, water, the heat of the sun, and the breath of the wind. Thus Apostolic men also were changed into spiritual regeneration by the water of baptism, the heat of love, and the breath of the Holy Spirit. That heavenly wisdom also, which the Apostles preached, dries (p. 161) up the humours of carnal works, removes the foulness and putrefaction of evil conversation, kills the work of lustful thoughts, and also that worm of which it is said "their worm dieth not." (Is 66,24)
Remig.: The Apostles are "the salt of the earth," that is, of worldly men who are called the earth, because they love this earth.
Jerome: Or, because by the Apostles the whole human race is seasoned.
Pseudo-Chrys.: A doctor when he is adorned with all the preceding virtues, then is like good salt, and his whole people are salted by seeing and hearing him.
Remig.: It should be known, that in the Old Testament no sacrifice was offered to God unless it were first sprinkled with salt, for none can present an acceptable sacrifice to God without the flavour of heavenly wisdom.
Hilary: And because man is ever liable to change, He therefore warns the Apostles, who have been entitled "the salt of the earth," to continue steadfast in the might of the power committed to them, when He adds, "If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?"
Jerome: That is, if the doctor have erred, by what other doctor shall he be corrected?
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 6: If you by whom the nations are to be salted shall lose the kingdom of heaven through fear of temporal persecution, who are they by whom your error shall be corrected? Another copy has, "If the salt have lost all sense," shewing that they must be esteemed to have lost their sense, who either pursuing abundance, or fearing lack of temporal goods, lose those which are eternal, and which men can neither give nor take away.
Hilary: But if the doctors having become senseless, and having lost all the savour they once enjoyed, are unable to restore soundness to things corrupt, they are become useless; and "are thenceforth fit only to be cast out and trodden by men."
Jerome: The illustration is taken from husbandry. Salt, though it be necessary for seasoning of meats and preserving flesh, has no further use. Indeed we read in Scripture of vanquished cities sown with salt by the victors, that nothing should thenceforth grow there.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: When then they who are the heads have fallen away, they are fit for no use but to be cast out from the office of teacher.
Hilary: Or even cast out from the Church's store rooms to be trodden under foot by those that walk.
Aug.: Not he that suffers persecution (p. 162) is trodden under foot of men, but he who through fear of persecution falls away. For we can tread only on what is below us; but he is no way below us, who however much he may suffer in the body, yet has his heart fixed in heaven.
3514 (Mt 5,14)
Gloss: As the doctors by their good conversation are the salt with which the people is salted; so by their word of doctrine they are the light by which the ignorant are enlightened.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But to live well must go before to teach well; hence after He had called the Apostles "the salt," He goes on to call them "the light of the world."
Or, for that salt preserves a thing in its present state that it should not change for the worse, but that light brings it into a better state by enlightening it; therefore the Apostles were first called salt with respect to the Jews and that Christian body which had the knowledge of God, and which they keep in that knowledge; and now light with respect to the Gentiles whom they bring to the light of that knowledge.
Aug.: By the world here we must not understand heaven and earth, but the men who are in the world; or those who love the world for whose enlightenment the Apostles were sent.
Hilary: It is the nature of a light to emit its rays whithersoever it is carried about, and when brought into a house to dispel the darkness of that house. Thus the world, placed beyond the pale of the knowledge of God, was held in the darkness of ignorance, till the light of knowledge was brought to it by the Apostles, and thenceforward the knowledge of God shone bright, and from their small bodies, whithersoever they went about, light is ministered to the darkness.
Remig.: For as the sun sends forth his beams, so the Lord, the Sun of righteousness, sent forth his Apostles to dispel the night of the human race.
Chrys.: Mark how great His promise to them, men who were scarce known in their own country that the fame of them should reach to the ends of the earth. The persecutions which He had foretold, were not able to dim their light, yea they made it but more conspicuous.
Jerome: He instructs them what should be the boldness of their preaching, that as (p. 163) Apostles they should not be hidden through fear, like lamps under a corn-measure, but should stand forth with all confidence, and what they have heard in the secret chambers, that declare upon the house tops.
Chrys.: Thus shewing them that they ought to be careful of their own walk and conversation, seeing they were set in the eyes of all, like a city on a hill, or a lamp on a stand.
Pseudo-Chrys.: This city is the Church of which it is said, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God." (Ps 87,3) Its citizens are all the faithful, of whom the Apostle speaks, "Ye are fellow-citizens of the saints." (Ep 2,19) It is built upon Christ the hill, of whom Daniel thus, "A stone hewed without hands" (Da 2,34) became a great mountain.
Aug.: Or, the mountain is the great righteousness, which is signified by the mountain from which the Lord is now teaching.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" though it would; the mountain which bears makes it to be seen of all men; so the Apostles and Priests who are founded on Christ cannot be hidden even though they would, because Christ makes them manifest.
Hilary: Or, the city signifies the flesh which He had taken on Him; because that in Him by this assumption of human nature, there was as it were a collection of the human race, and we by partaking in His flesh become inhabitants of that city. He cannot therefore be hid, because being set in the height of God's power, He is offered to be contemplated of all men in admiration of his works.
Pseudo-Chrys.: How Christ manifests His saints, suffering them not to be hid, He shews by another comparison, adding, "Neither do men light a lamp to put it under a corn-measure," but on a stand.
Chrys.: Or, in the illustration of the city, He signified His own power, by the lamp He exhorts the Apostles to preach with boldness; as though He said, 'I indeed have lighted the lamp, but that it continue to burn will be your care, not for your own sakes only, but both for others who shall receive its light and for God's glory.'
Pseudo-Chrys.: The lamp is the Divine word, of which it is said, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet." (Ps 119,105) They who light this lamp are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Aug.: With what meaning do we suppose the words, "to put it under a corn-measure," were said? To express concealment simply, or that the "corn-measure" has a special (p. 164) signification? The putting the lamp under the corn-measure means the preferring bodily ease and enjoyment to the duty of preaching the Gospel, and hiding the light of good teaching under temporal gratification. The corn-measure aptly denotes the things of the body, whether because our reward shall be measured out to us, (2Co 5,10) as each one shall receive the things done in the body; or because worldly goods which pertain to the body come and go within a certain measure of time, which is signified by the corn-measure, whereas things eternal and spiritual are contained within no such limit.
He places his lamp upon a stand, who subdues his body to the ministry of the word, setting the preaching of the truth highest, and subjecting the body beneath it. For the body itself serves to make doctrine shine more clear, while the voice and other motions of the body in good works serve to recommend it to them that learn.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, men of the world may be figured in the "corn-measure" as these are empty above, but full beneath, so worldly men are foolish in spiritual things, but wise in earthly things, and therefore like a corn-measure they keep the word of God hid, whenever for any worldly cause he had not dared to proclaim the word openly, and the truth of the faith. The stand for the lamp is the Church which bears the word of life, and all ecclesiastical persons. (margin note: Ph 2,15)
Hilary: Or, the Lord likened the Synagogue to a corn-measure, which only receiving within itself such fruit as was raised; contained a certain measure of limited obedience.
Ambrose. non occ.: And therefore let none shut up his faith within the measure of the Law, but have recourse to the Church in which the grace of the sevenfold Spirit shines forth.
Bede, in Loc. quoad sens.: Or, Christ Himself has lighted this lamp, when He filled the earthen vessel of human nature with the fire of His Divinity, which He would not either hide from them that believe, nor put under a bushel that is shut up under the measure of the Law, or confine within the limits of any one oration. The lampstand is the Church, on which He set the lamp, when He affixed to our foreheads the faith of His incarnation.
Hilary: Or, the lamp, i.e. Christ Himself, is set on its stand when He was suspended on the Cross in His passion, to give light for ever to those that dwell in the Church; "to give light," He says, "to all that are in the house."
Aug.: For it (p. 165) is not absurd if any one will understand "the house" to be the Church.
Or, "the house" may be the world itself, according to what He said above, "Ye are the light of the world."
Hilary: He instructs the Apostles to shine with such a light, that in the admiration of their work God may be praised, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works."
Pseudo-Chrys.: That is, teaching with so pure a light, that men may not only hear your words, but see your works, that those whom as lamps ye have enlightened by the word, as salt ye may season by your example. For by those teachers who do as well as teach, God is magnified; for the discipline of the master is seen in the behavior of the family.
And therefore it follows, "and they shall glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 7: Had He only said, "That they may see your good works," He would have seemed to have set up as an end to be sought the praised of men, which the hypocrites desire; but by adding, "and glorify your Father," he teaches that we should not seek as an end to please men with our good works, but referring all to the glory of God, therefore seek to please men, that in that God may be glorified.
Hilary: He means not that we should seek glory of men, but that though we conceal it, our work may shine forth in honour of God to those among whom we live.
Golden Chain MT-MK 3504