Golden Chain 3417
3417 (Mt 4,17)
Pseudo-Chrys.: Christ's Gospel should be preached by him who can control his appetites, who contemns the goods of this life, and desires not empty honours. "From this time began Jesus to preach," that is, after having been tempted, He had overcome hunger in the desert, despised covetousness on the mountain, rejected ambitious desires in the temple.
Or from the time that John was delivered up; for had He begun to preach while John was yet preaching, He would have made John be lightly accounted of, and John's preaching would have been though superfluous by the side of Christ's teaching; as when the sun rises at the same time with the morning star, the star's brightness is hid.
Chrys.: For another cause also He did not preach till John was in prison, that the multitude might not be split into two parties; or as John did no miracle, all men would have been drawn to Christ by His miracles.
Rabanus: In this He further teaches that none should despise the words of a person inferior to Him; as also the Apostle, "If any thing be revealed to him that sits, let the first hold his peace." (1Co 14,30)
Pseudo-Chrys.: He did wisely in making now the beginning of His preaching, that He should not trample upon John's teaching, but that He might the rather confirm it and demonstrate him to have been a true witness.
Jerome: Shewing also thereby that He was Son of that same God whose prophet John was; and therefore He says, "Repent ye."
Pseudo-Chrys.: He does not straightway preach righteousness which all knew, but repentance, which all needed. Who then dared to say, 'I desire to be good, but am not able?" (p. 135)
For repentance corrects the will; and if ye will not repent through fear of evil, at least ye may for the pleasure of good things; hence He says, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" that is, the blessings of the heavenly kingdom. As if He has said, Prepare yourselves by repentance, for the time of eternal reward is at hand.
Remig.: And note, He does not say the kingdom of the Canaanite, or the Jebusite, is at hand; the "the kingdom of heaven." The law promised worldly goods, but the Lord heavenly kingdoms.
Chrys.: Also observe how that in this His first address He says nothing of Himself openly; and that very suitably to the case, for they had yet no right opinion concerning Him. In this commencement moreover He speaks nothing severe, nothing burdensome, as John had concerning the axe laid to the root of the condemned tree, and the lie; but he puts first things merciful, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven.
Jerome: Mystically interpreted, Christ begins to preach as soon as John was delivered to prison, because when the Law ceased, the Gospel commenced.
3418 (Mt 4,18-22)
Pseudo-Chrys.: Before He spoke or did any thing, Christ called Apostles, that neither word nor deed of His should be (p. 136) hid from their knowledge, so that they may afterwards say with confidence, "What we have seen and heard, that we cannot but speak." (Ac 4,20)
Rabanus: The sea of Galilee, the lake of Gennesaret, the sea of Tiberias, and the salt lake, are one and the same.
Gloss. ord.: He rightly goes on fishing places, when about to fish for fishermen.
Remig.: "Saw," that is, not so much with the bodily eye, as spiritually viewing their hearts.
Chrys.: He calls them while actually working at their employment, to shew that to follow Him ought to be preferred to all occupations. They were just then "casting a net into the sea," which agreed with their future office.
Aug., Serm. 197, 2: He chose not kings, senators, philosophers, or orators, but he chose common, poor, and untaught fishermen.
Aug., Tract. in Joann. 8, 7: Had one learned been chosen, he might have attributed the choice to the merit of his learning. But our Lord Jesus Christ, willing to bow the necks of the proud, sought not to gain fishermen by orators, but gained an Emperor by a fisherman. Great was Cyprian the pleader, but Peter the fisherman was before him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The operations of their secular craft were a prophecy of their future dignity. As he who casts his net into the water knows not what fishes he shall take, so the teacher casts the net of the divine word upon the people, not knowing who among them will come to God. Those whom God shall stir abide in his doctrine.
Remig.: Of these fishermen the Lord speaks by Jeremiah. "I will send my fishers among you, and they shall catch you." (Jr 16,16)
Gloss. interlin.: "Follow me," not so much with your feet as in your hearts and your life.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Fishers of men," that is, teachers, that with the net of God's word you may catch men out of this world of storm and danger, in which men do not walk but are rather borne along, the Devil by pleasure drawing them into sin where men devour one another as the stronger fishes do the weaker, withdrawn from hence they may live upon the land, being made members of Christ's body.
Greg., Hom. in Evan., v. 1: Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no miracle, had heard from him no word of the promise of the eternal reward, yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed to possess, and "straightway left their nets, and followed Him." In which deed we ought rather to consider their wills than (p. 137) the amount of their property. He leaves much who keeps nothing for himself, he parts with much, who with his possessions renounces his lusts.
Those who followed Christ gave up enough to be coveted by those who did not follow. Our outward goods, however small, are enough for the Lord; He does not weight the sacrifice by how much is offered, but out of how much it is offered. The kingdom of God is not to be valued at a certain price, but whatever a man has, much or little, is equally available.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These disciples did not follow Christ from desire of the honour of a doctor, but because they coveted the labour itself; they knew how precious is the soul of man, how pleasant to God is his salvation, and how great its reward.
Chrys.: To so great a promise they trusted, and believed that they should catch others by those same words by which themselves had been caught.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These were their desires, for which they "left all and followed;" teaching us thereby that none can possess earthly things and perfectly attain to heavenly things.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: These last disciples were an example to such as leave their property for the love of Christ; now follows an example of others who postponed earthly affection to God. Observe how He calls them two and two, and He afterwards sent them two and two to preach.
Greg., Hom. in Ex., 17, 1: Hereby we are also silently admonished, that he who wants affection towards others, ought not to take on him the office of preaching. The precepts of charity are two, and between less than two there can be no love.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Rightly did He thus build the foundations of the brotherhood of the Church on love, that from such roots a copious sap of love might flow to the branches; and that too on natural or human love, that nature as well as grace might bind their love more firmly. They were moreover "brothers;" and so did God in the Old Testament lay the foundations of His building on Moses and Aaron, brothers.
But as the grace of the New Testament is more abundant than that of the Old, therefore the first people were built upon one pair of brethren, but the new people upon two.
They were "washing their nets," a proof of the extremest indigence; they repaired the old because they had not whence they should buy new. And (p. 138) what shews their great filial piety, in this their great poverty they deserted not their father, but carried him with them in their vessel, not that he might aid in their labour, but have the enjoyment of his sons' presence.
Chrys.: It is no small sign of goodness, to bear poverty easily, to live by honest labour, to be bound together by virtue of affection, to keep their poor father with them, and to toil in his service.
Pseudo-Chrys.: We may not dare to consider the former disciples as more quick to preach, because they were "casting their nets;" and these latter as less active, because they were yet making ready only; for it is Christ alone that may know their differences.
But, perhaps we may say that the first were "casting their nets," because Peter preached the Gospel, but committed it not to paper - the others were making ready their nets, because John composed a Gospel.
He "called them" together, for by their abode they were fellow-townsmen, in affection attached, in profession agreed, and united by brotherly tenderness. He called them then at once, that united by so many common blessings they might not be separated by a separate call.
Chrys.: He made no promise to them when He called them, as He had to the former, for the obedience of the first had made the way plain for them. Besides, they had heard many things concerning Him, as being friends and townsmen of the others.
Pseudo-Chrys.: There are three things which we must leave who would come to Christ; carnal actions, which are signified in the fishing nets; worldly substance, in the ship; parents, which are signified in their father. They left their own vessel, that they might become governors of the vessel of the Church; they left their nets, as having no longer to draw out fishes on to the earthly shore, but men to the heavenly; they left their father, that they might become the spiritual fathers of all.
Hilary: By this that they left their occupation and their father's house we are taught, that when we would follow Christ we should not be holden of the cares of secular life, or of the society of the paternal mansion.
Remig.: Mystically, by the sea is figured this world, because of its bitterness and its tossing waves. Galilee is interpreted, 'rolling,' or 'a wheel,' and shews the changeableness of the world. (p. 139) Jesus "walked by the sea" when He came to us by incarnation, for He took on Him of the Virgin not the flesh of sin, but the likeness of the flesh of sin.
By the two brothers, two people are signified born of one God their Father; He "saw" them when He looked on them in His mercy. In Peter, (which is interpreted 'owning,') who is called Simon, (i.e. obedient,) is signified the Jewish nation, who acknowledged God in the Law, and obeyed His commandments; Andrew, which is interpreted 'manly' or 'graceful,' signifies the Gentiles, who after they had come to the knowledge of God, manfully abode in the faith. He called us His people when He sent the preachers into the world, saying, "Follow me;" that is, leave the deceiver, follow your Creator. Of both people there were made fishers of men, that is, preachers. Leaving their ships, that is, carnal desires, and their nets, that is, love of the world, they followed Christ. By James is understood the Jewish nation, which through their knowledge of God overthrew the Devil; by John the Gentile world, which was saved of grace alone. Zebedee whom they leave, (the name is interpreted flying or falling,) signifies the world which passes away, and the Devil who fell from Heaven. By Peter and Andrew casting their net into the sea, are meant those who in their early youth are called by the Lord, while from the vessel of their body they cast the nets of carnal concupiscence into the sea of this world. By James and John mending their nets are signified those who after sin before adversity come to Christ recovering what they had lost.
Rabanus: The two vessels signify the two Churches; the one was called out of the circumcision, the other out of the uncircumcision. Any one who believes becomes Simon, i.e. obedient to God; Peter by acknowledging his sin, Andrew by enduring labours manfully, James by overcoming vices,
Gloss. ap. Anselm: and John that he may ascribe the whole to God's grace. The calling of four only is mentioned, as those preachers by whom God will call the four quarters of the world.
Hilary: Or, the number that was to be of the Evangelists is figured.
Remig.: Also, the four principal virtues are here designed; Prudence, in Peter, from his (p. 140) confession of God; Justice, we may refer to Andrew for his manful deeds; Fortitude, to James, for his overthrow of the Devil; Temperance, to John, for the working in him of divine grace.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: It might move enquiry, why John relates that near Jordan, not in Galilee, Andrew followed the Lord with another whose name he does not mention; and again, that Peter received that name from the Lord. Whereas the other three Evangelists write that they were called from their fishing, sufficiently agreeing with one another, especially Matthew and Mark; Luke not naming Andrew, who is however understood to have been in the same vessel with him.
There is a further seeming discrepancy, that in Luke it is to Peter only that it is said, "Henceforth thou shalt catch men;" Matthew and Mark write that is was said to both. As to the different account in John, it should be carefully considered, and it will be found that it is a different time, place, and calling that is there spoken of. For Peter and Andrew had not so seen Jesus at the Jordan that they adhered inseparably ever after, but so as only to have known who He was, and wondering at Him to have gone their way. Perhaps he is returning back to something he had omitted, for he proceeds without marking any difference of time, "As he walked by the sea of Galilee."
It may be further asked, how Matthew and Mark relate that He called them separately two and two, when Luke relates that James and John being partners of Peter were called as it were to aid him, and bringing their barks to land followed Christ. We may then understand that the narrative of Luke relates to a prior time, after which they returned to their fishing as usual. For it had not been said to Peter that he should no more catch fish, as he did do so again after the resurrection, but that he "should catch men." Again, at a time after this happened that call of which Matthew and Mark speak; for they draw their ships to land to follow Him, not as careful to return again, but only anxious to follow Him when He bids them.
3423 (Mt 4,23-25)
Pseudo-Chrys.: Kings, when about to go to war with their enemies, first gather an army, and so go out to battle; thus the Lord when about to war against the Devil, first collected Apostles, and then began to preach the Gospel.
Remig.: An example of life for doctors; that they should not be inactive, they are instructed in these words, "And Jesus went about."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Because they being weak could not come to their physician, He as a zealous Physician went about to visit those who had any grievous sickness. The Lord went round the several regions, and after His example the pastors of each region ought to go round to study the several dispositions of their people, that for the remedy of each disease some medicine may be found in the Church.
Remig.: That they should not be acceptors of persons the preachers are instructed in what follows, "the whole of Galilee." That they should not go about empty, by the word, "teaching." That they should seek to benefit not few but many, in what follows, "in their synagogues."
Chrys.: (ed. note: A passage is here inserted in Nicolai's edition which is not in the original. It is of no doctrinal importance.) By which too He shewed the Jews that He came not as an enemy of God, or a seducer of souls, but as consenting with his Father.
Remig.: That they should not preach error nor fable, but sound doctrine, is inculcated in the words, "preaching the Gospel of the kingdom." 'Teaching' and 'preaching' (p. 142) differ; teaching refers to things present, preaching to things to come; He taught present commandments and preached future promises.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, He taught natural righteousness, those things which natural reason teaches, as chastity, humility, and the like, which all men of themselves see to be goods. Such things are necessary to be taught not so much for the sake of making them known as for stirring the heart.
For beneath the prevalence of carnal delights the knowledge of natural righteousness sleeps forgotten. When then a teacher begins to denounce carnal sins, his teaching does not bring up a new knowledge, but recalls to memory one that had been forgotten. But He preached the Gospel, in telling of good things which the ancients had manifestly not heard of, as the happiness of heaven, the resurrection of the dead, and the like.
Or, He taught by interpreting the prophecies concerning Himself; He preached by declaring the benefits that were to come from Himself.
Remig.: That the teacher should study to commend his teaching by his own virtuous conduct is conveyed in those words, "healing every sort of disease and malady among the people;" maladies of the body, diseases of the soul.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by disease we may understand any passion of the mind, as avarice, lust, and such like, by malady unbelief, that is, weakness of faith.
Or, the diseases are the more grievous pains of the body, the maladies the slighter. As He cured the bodily pains by virtue of His divine power, so He cured the spiritual by the word of His mercy.
He first teaches, and then performs the cures, for two reasons. First, that what is needed most may come first; for it is the word of holy instruction, and not miracles, that edify the soul. Secondly, because teaching is commended by miracles, not the converse.
Chrys.: We must consider that when some great change is being wrought, as the introduction of a new polity, God is wont to work miracles, giving pledges of His power to those who are to receive His laws.
Thus when He would make man, He first created a world, and then at length gave man in paradise a law. When He would dispense a law to the holy Noah, he shewed truly great wonders; and again when He was about to ordain the Law for the Jews, He first shewed great prodigies, and then at (p. 143) length gave them the commandments. So now when about to introduce a sublime discipline of life, He first provided a sanction to His instructions by mighty signs, because the eternal kingdom He preached was not seen, by the things which did appear, He made sure that which as yet did not appear.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Because preachers should have good testimony from those who are without, lest if their life is open to censure, their preaching be contemned, he adds, "And the fame of him went abroad through all Syria."
Rabanus: Syria here is all the region from Euphrates to the Great sea, from Cappodocia to Egypt, in which is the country of Palestine, inhabited by Jews.
Chrys.: Observe the reserve of the Evangelist; he does not give an account of any one of the various cases of healing, but passes in one brief phrase an abundance of miracles, "they brought to him all their sick."
Remig.: By these he would have us understand various but slighter diseases; but when he says, "seized with divers sicknesses and torments," he would have those understood, of whom it is subjoined, "and who had daemons."
Gloss: 'Sickness' means a lasting ailment; 'torment' is an acute pain, as pleurisy, and such like; they "who had daemons" are they who were tormented by the daemons.
Remig.: 'Lunatics' are so called from the moon; for as it waxes in its monthly seasons they are tormented.
Jerome: Not really smitten by the moon, but who were believed to be so through the subtlety of the daemons, who by observing the seasons of the moon, sought to bring an evil report against the creature, that is might redound to the blasphemy of the Creator.
Aug., City of God, book 21, ch. 6: Daemons are enticed to take up their abode in many creatures, (created not by themselves but God,) by delights adapted to their various natures; not that they are animals, drawn by meats; but spirits attracted by signs which agree with each one's taste.
Rabanus: Paralytics are those whose bodies have their nerves slackened or resolved from a Greek word, signifying this.
Pseudo-Chrys.: In some places it is, "He cured many;" but here, "He cured them," meaning, 'all;' as a new physician first entering a town cures all who come to him to beget a good opinion concerning himself.
Chrys.: He requires no direct profession of faith from them, both because He had not yet given them any proofs of His miraculous (p. 144) power, and because in bringing their sick from far they had shewn no small faith.
Rabanus: The crowds that followed Him consisted of four sorts of men. Some followed for the heavenly teaching as disciples, some for the curing of their diseases, some from the reports concerning Him alone, and curiosity to find whether they were true; others from envy, wishing to catch Him in some matter that they might accuse Him.
Mystically, Syria is interpreted 'lofty,' Galilee, 'turning:' or 'a wheel;' that is, the Devil and the world; the Devil is both proud and always turned round to the bottom; the world in which the fame of Christ went abroad through preaching: the daemoniacs are the idolaters; the lunatics, the unstable; the paralytics, the slow and careless.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: The crowds that follow the Lord, are they of the Church, which is spiritually designated by Galilee, passing to virtuousness; Decapolis is he who keeps the Ten Commandments; Jerusalem and Judaea, he who is enlightened by the vision of peace and confession; and beyond Jordan, he who having passed the waters of Baptism enters the land of promise.
Remig.: Or, they follow the Lord "from Galilee," that is, from the unstable world; from Decapolis, (the country of ten towns,) signifying those who break the Ten Commandments; "and from Jerusalem," because before it was preserved unhurt in peace; "and from Jordan," that is, from the confession of the Devil; "and from beyond Jordan," they who were first planted in paganism, but passing the water of Baptism came to Christ.
3501 (Mt 5,1-3)
(p. 145) Pseudo-Chrys.: Every man in his own trade or profession rejoices when he sees an opportunity of exercising it; the carpenter if he sees a goodly tree desires to have it to cut down to employ his skill on, and the Priest when he sees a full Church, his heart rejoices, he is glad of the occasion to teach. So the Lord seeing a great congregation of people was stirred to teach them.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 19: Or He may be thought to have sought to shun the thickest crowd, and to have ascended the mountain that He might speak to His disciples alone.
Chrys., Hom. 4: By not choosing His seat in the city, and the market place, but on a mountain in a desert, He has taught us to do nothing with ostentation, and to depart from crowds, above all when we are to be employed in philosophy, or in speaking of serious things.
Remig.: This should be known, that the Lord had three places of retirement that we read of, the ship, the mountain, and the desert; to one of these He was wont to withdraw whenever He was pressed by the multitude.
Jerome: Some of the less learned brethren suppose the Lord to have spoken what follows from the Mount of Olives, which is by no means the case; what went before and what follows fixes the place in Galilee - Mount Tabor, (ed. note: Mount Tabor is asserted by the Fathers and by tradition coming down to the present day to be the scene of the Transfiguration. But S. Jerome seems to be the only author who speaks of it as the scene of the Sermon on the Mount. The mount of the Beatitudes according to modern travellers lies near to Capernaum, and ten miles north of Mount Tabor. See Grewell Diss. vol. ii. 294. Pococke's Descrip. of the East, vol. ii. 67) (p. 146) we may suppose, or any other high mountain.
Chrys.: "He ascended a mountain," first, that He might fulfil the prophecy of Esaias, "Get thee up into a mountain;" (Is 40,9) secondly, to shew that as well he who teaches, as he who hears the righteousness of God should stand on a high ground of spiritual virtues; for none can abide in the valley and speak from a mountain. If thou stand on the earth, speak of the earth; if thou speak of heaven, stand in heaven.
Or, He ascended into the mountain to shew that all who would learn the mysteries of the truth should go up into the Mount of the Church of which the Prophet speaks, "The hill of God is a hill of fatness." (Ps 68,15)
Hilary: Or, He ascends the mountain, because it is placed in the loftiness of His Father's Majesty that He gives the commands of heavenly life.
Aug., de Serm. Dom. in Mont. i. 1: Or, He ascends the mountain to shew that the precepts of righteousness given by God through the Prophets to the Jews, who were yet under the bondage of fear, were the lesser commandments; but that by His own Son were given the greater commandments to a people which He had determined to deliver by love.
Jerome: He spoke to them sitting and not standing, for they could not have understood Him had He appeared in His own Majesty.
Aug.: Or, to teach sitting is the prerogative of the Master. "His disciples came to him," that they who is spirit approached more nearly to keeping His commandments, should also approach Him nearest with their bodily presence.
Rabanus: Mystically, this sitting down of Christ is His incarnation; had He not taken flesh on Him, mankind could not have come unto Him.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 19: It cause a thought how it is that Matthew relates this sermon to have been delivered by the Lord sitting on the mountain; Luke, as He stood in the plain. This diversity in their accounts would lead us to think that the occasions were different. Why should not Christ repeat once more what He said before, or do once more what He had done before? Although another method of reconciling the two may occur to us; namely, that our Lord was first with His disciples alone on some more lofty peak of the mountain when He chose the twelve; that He then descended with them not from the mountain entirely, but from the top to some expanse of level ground in the side, capable of holding (p. 147) a great number of people; that He stood there while the crowd was gathering around Him, and after when He had sat down, then His disciples came near to Him, and so to them and in the presence of the rest of the multitude He spoke the same sermon which Matthew and Luke give, in a different manner, but with equal truth of facts.
Greg., Moral., iv, 1: When the Lord on the mountain is about to utter His sublime precepts, it is said, "Opening his mouth he taught them," He who had before opened the mouth of the Prophets.
Remig.: Wherever it is said that the Lord opened His mouth, we may know how great things are to follow.
Aug., de Serm. in Mount. i, 1: Or, the phrase is introductory of an address longer than ordinary.
Chrys.: Or, that we may understand that He sometimes teaches by opening His mouth in speech, sometimes by that voice which resounds from His works.
Aug.: Whoever will take the trouble to examine with a pious and sober spirit, will find in this sermon a perfect code of the Christian life as far as relates to the conduct of daily life. Accordingly the Lord concludes it with the words, "Every man who heareth these words of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, &c."
Aug., City of God, book 19, ch. 1: The chief good is the only motive of philosophical enquiry; but whatever confers blessedness, that is the chief good; therefore He begins, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
Aug., de Serm. in Mont., i, 1: Augmentation of 'spirit' generally implies insolence and pride. For in common speech the proud are said to have a great spirit, and rightly - for wind is a spirit, and who does not know that we say of proud men that they are 'swollen,' 'puffed up.' Here therefore by "poor in spirit" are rightly understood 'lowly,' 'fearing God,' not having a puffed up spirit.
Chrys.: Or, He here calls all loftiness of soul and temper spirit; for as there are many humble against their will, constrained by their outward condition, they have no praise; the blessing is on those who humble themselves by their own choice. Thus He begins at once at the root, pulling up pride which is the root and source of all evil, setting up as its opposite humility as a firm foundation. If this be well laid, other virtues may be firmly built thereon; if that be sapped, whatever good you gather upon it perishes. (p. 148)
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Blessed are the poor in spirit," (ed. note, a: The Bened. ed. reads 'beati egeni' - and has this marginal note, 'Hinc sequitur hune Graece non scripsisse' - but S. Thos. reads 'beati ptochi;' it may be remarked moreover that the author follows the order of verses 4 and 5 according to the Greek; all the Latin Fathers (with the single exception of Hilary on Ps 118) following the order of the Vulgate.) or, according to the literal rendering of the Greek, 'they who beg,' that the humble may learn that they should be ever begging at God's almshouse. For there are many naturally humble and not of faith, who do not knock at God's almshouse; but they alone are humble who are so of faith.
Chrys.: Or, the poor in spirit may be those who fear and tremble at God's commandments, whom the Lord by the Prophet Isaiah commends. Though why more than simply humble? Of the humble there may be in this place but few, in that again an abundance.
Aug.: The proud seek an earthly kingdom, of the humble only is the kingdom of Heaven.
Pseudo-Chrys.: For as all other vices, but chiefly pride, casts down to hell; so all other virtues, but chiefly humility, conduct to Heaven; it is proper that he that humbles himself should be exalted.
Jerome: The "poor in spirit" are those who embrace a voluntary poverty for the sake of the Holy Spirit.
Ambrose, de Officiis, i, 16: In the eye of Heaven blessedness begins there where misery begins in human estimation.
Gloss. interlin.: The riches of Heaven are suitably promised to those who at this present are in poverty.
3505 (Mt 5,5)
Ambrose, in Luc. c. v. 20: When I have learned contentment in poverty, the next lesson is to govern my heart and temper. For what good is it to me to be without worldly things, unless I have besides a meek spirit? It suitably follows therefore, "Blessed are the meek."
Aug., Serm. in Mont. i, 2: The meek are they who resist not wrongs, and give way to evil; but overcome evil of good.
Ambrose: Soften therefore your temper that you be not angry, at least that you "be angry, and sin not." It is a noble thing to govern passion by reason; (p. 149) nor is it a less virtue to check anger, than to be entirely without anger, since one is esteemed the sign of a weak, the other of a strong, mind.
Aug.: Let the unyielding then wrangle and quarrel about earthly and temporal things, "the meek are blessed, for they shall inherit the earth," and not be rooted out of it; that earth of which it is said in the Psalms, "Thy lot is in the hand of the living," (Ps 142,5) meaning the fixedness of a perpetual inheritance, in which the soul that hath good dispositions rests as in its own place, as the body does in an earthly possession, it is fed by its own food, as the body by the earth; such is the rest and the life of the saints.
Pseudo-Chrys.: This earth as some interpret, so long as it is in its present condition is the land of the dead, seeing it is "subject to vanity;" but when it is freed from corruption it becomes the land of the living, that the mortal may inherit an immortal country.
I have read another exposition of it, as if the heaven in which the saints are to dwell is meant by "the land of the living," because compared with the regions of death it is heaven, compared with the heaven above it is earth. Others again say, that this body as long as it is subject to death is the land of the dead, when it shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body, it will be the land of the living.
Hilary: Or, the Lord promises the inheritance of the earth to the meek, meaning of that Body, which Himself took on Him as His tabernacle; and as by the gentleness of our minds Christ dwells in us, we also shall be clothed with the glory of His renewed body.
Chrys.: Otherwise; Christ here has mixed things sensible with things spiritual. Because it is commonly supposed that he who is meek loses all that he possesses, Christ here gives a contrary promise, that he who is not forward shall possess his own in security, but that he of a contrary disposition many times loses his soul and his paternal inheritance. But because the Prophet had said, "The meek shall inherit the earth," (Ps 36,11) He used these well known words in conveying His meaning.
Gloss. ord.: The meek, who have possessed themselves, shall possess hereafter the inheritance of the Father; to possess is more than to have, for we have many things which we lose immediately.
Golden Chain 3417