Golden Chain 4422
4422 (Mt 14,22-33)
(p. 538) Chrys.: Desiring to occasion a diligent examination of the things that had been done, He commanded those who had beheld the foregoing sign to be separated from Him; for even if He had continued present it would have been said that He had wrought the miracle fantastically, and not in verity; but it would never be urged against Him that He had done it in His absence; and therefore it is said, "And straightway Jesus compelled his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away."
Jerome: These words shew that they left the Lord unwillingly, not desiring through their love for their teacher to be separated from Him even for a moment
Chrys.: It should be observed, that when the Lord works a great miracle, He sends the multitudes away, teaching us thereby never to pursue the praise of the multitude, nor to attract them to us. Further, He teaches us that we should (p. 539) not be ever mixed with crowds, nor yet always shunning them; but that both may be done with profit; whence if, follows, "And when he had sent the multitude array, he went up into a mountain apart to pray;" shewing us that solitude is good, when we have need to pray to God.
For this also He goes into the desert, and there spends the night in prayer, to teach us that for prayer we should seek stillness both in time and place.
Jerome: That He withdraws to pray alone, you should refer not to Him who fed five thousand on five loaves, but to Him who on hearing of the death of John withdrew into the desert; not that we would separate the Lord's person into two parts, but that His actions are divided between the God and the man.
Aug., De Cons. Ev., ii, 47: This may seem contrary to that Matthew says, that having sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain that He might pray alone; and John again says, that it was on a mountain that He fed this same multitude. But since John himself says further, that after that miracle He retired to a mountain that He might not be held by the multitude, who sought to make Him a king, it is clear that He had come down from the mountain when He fed them. Nor do Matthew's words, "He went up into a mountain alone to pray," disagree with this, though John says, "When he knew that they would come to make him a king, he withdrew into a mountain himself alone." (Jn 6,15)
For the cause of His praying is not contrary to the cause of His retiring, for herein the Lord teaches us that we have great cause for prayer when we have cause for Right. Nor, again, is it contrary to this that Matthew says first, that He bade His disciples go into the boat, and then that He sent the multitudes away, and went into a mountain alone to pray; while John relates that He first withdrew to the mountain, and then, "when it was late, his disciples went down to the sea, and when they had entered into a boat, &c." for who does not see that John is relating as afterwards done by His disciples what Jesus had commanded before He retired into the mountain?
Jerome: Rightly had the Apostles departed from the Lord as unwilling, and slow to leave Him, lest they should suffer shipwreck whilst He was not with them. For it follows, "Now when it was evening he was there alone;" that is, in the mountain; "but the boat was in the middle of the (p. 540) sea tossed with the waves; for the wind was contrary."
Chrys.: Again, the disciples suffer shipwreck, as they had done before; but then they had Him in the boat, but now they are alone. Thus gradually He leads them to higher things, and instructs them to endure all manfully.
Jerome: While the Lord tarries in the top of the mountain, straightway a wind arises contrary to them, and stirs up the sea, and the disciples are in imminent peril of shipwreck, which continues till Jesus comes.
Chrys.: But He suffers them to be tossed the whole night, exciting their hearts by fear, and inspiring them with greater desire and more lasting recollection of Him; for this reason He did not stand by them immediately, but as it follows, "in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking upon the sea."
Jerome: The military guards and watches are divided into portions of three hours each. When then he says that the Lord came to them in the fourth watch, this shews that they had been in danger the whole night.
Chrys.: Teaching them not to seek a speedy riddance of coming evil, but to bear manfully such things as befal them. But when they thought that they were delivered, then was their fear increased, whence it follows, "And seeing him walking upon the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a vision, and through fear they cried out." For this the Lord ever does; when He is to rescue from any evil, He brings in things terrible and difficult. For since it is impossible that our temptation should continue a long time, when the warfare of the righteous is to be finished, then He increases their conflicts, desiring to make greater gain of them; which He did also in Abraham, making his conflict his trial of the loss of his son.
Jerome: A confused noise and uncertain sound is the mark of great fear. But if, according to Marcion and Manichaeus, our Lord was not born of a virgin, but was seen in a phantasm, how is it that the Apostles now fear that they have seen a phantasm (or vision)?
Chrys.: Christ then did not reveal Himself to His disciples until they cried out; for the more intense their fear, the more did they rejoice in His presence; whence it follows, "And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid." This speech took away their fear, and prepared their confidence.
Jerome: Whereas He (p. 541) says, "It is I," without saying who, either they might be able to understand Him speaking through the darkness of night; or they might know that it was He who had spoken to Moses, "Say unto the children of Israel, He that is has sent me unto you." (Ex 3,14)
On every occasion Peter is found to be the one of the most ardent faith. And with the same zeal as ever, so now, while the others are silent, he believes that by the will of his Master he will be able to do that which by nature he cannot do; whence it follows, "Peter answered and said unto him, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the water." As much as to say, Do thou command, and straightway it will become solid; and that body which is in itself heavy will become light.
Aug., Serm., 76, 5: This I am not able by myself, but in Thee I am able. Peter confessed what he was in himself, and what he should receive from Him by whose will he believed he should be enabled to do that which no human infirmity was equal to.
Chrys.: See how great his warmth, how great his faith. He said not, Pray and entreat for me; but "Bid me;" he believes not only that Christ can Himself walk on the sea, but that He can lead others also thereon; also he wishes to come to Him speedily, and this, so great a thing, he asks not from ostentation, but from love. For he said not, Bid me walk upon the waters, but, "Bid me come unto thee."
And it seems that having shewn in the first miracle that He has power over the sea, He now leads them to a more powerful sign; "He saith unto him, Come. And Peter, going forth of the boat, walked on the sea, that he might go to Jesus."
Jerome: Let those who think that the Lords body was not real, because He walked upon the yielding waters as a light ethereal substance, answer here how Peter walked, whom they by no means deny to be man.
Raban.: Lastly, Theodorus wrote that the Lord had not bodily weight in respect of His flesh, but without weight walked on the sea. But the catholic faith preaches the contrary; for Dionysius says that He walked on the wave, without the feet being immersed, having bodily weight, and the burden of matter.
Chrys.: Peter overcame that which was greater, the waves, namely, of the sea, but is troubled by the lesser, the blowing wind, for it follows, "But seeing the wind boisterous, he was afraid." Such is human nature, in great trials ofttimes (p. 542) holding itself aright, and in lesser falling into fault. This fear of Peter shewed the difference between Master and disciple, and thereby appeased the other disciples. For if they had indignation when the two brothers prayed to sit on the right and left hand, much more had they now. For they were not yet made spiritual; afterwards when they had been made spiritual, they every where yield the first place to Peter, and appoint him to lead in harangues to the people.
Jerome: Moreover he is left to temptation for a short season, that his faith may be increased, and that he may understand that he is saved not by his ability to ask, but by the power of the Lord. For faith burned at his heart, but human frailty drew him into the deep.
Aug., Serm., 76, 8: Peter then presumed on the Lord, he tottered as man, but returned to the Lord, as it follows, "And when he began to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me." Does the Lord then desert him in his peril of failure whom he had hearkened to when he first called on Him? "Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him."
Chrys.: He bade not the winds to cease, but stretched forth His hand and caught him, because his faith was required. For when our own means fail, then those which are of God stand. Then to shew that not the strength of the tempest, but the smallness of his faith worked the danger, "He saith unto him, 0 thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?" which shews that not even the wind would have been able to hurt him, if his faith had been firm.
But as the mother bears on her wings and brings back to the nest her chick which has left the nest before its time and has fallen, so did Christ. "And when they were come into the boat, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the boat came and worshipped him, saying, Truly thou art the Son of God."
Raban.: This may be understood either of the sailors, or of the Apostles.
Chrys.: Observe how He leads all gradually to that which is above them; He had before rebuked the sea, now He shews forth His power yet more by walking upon the sea, by bidding another to do the same, and by saving him in his peril; therefore they said unto Him, "Truly thou art the Son of God," which they had not said above.
Jerome: If then upon this single miracle of stilling the sea, a thing which often happens by accident after even great tempests, the (p. 543) sailors and pilots confessed them to be truly the Son of God, how does Arrius preach in the Church itself that He is a creature?
Psuedo-Aug., App. Serm., 72, 1: Mystically; The mountain is loftiness. But what is higher than the heavens in the world? And Who it was that ascended into heaven, that our faith knows. Why did He ascend alone into heaven? Because no man has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven. For even when He shall come in the end, and shall have exalted us into heaven, He will yet ascend alone, inasmuch as the head with its body is One Christ, and now the head only is ascended. He went up to pray, because He is ascended to make intercession to His Father for us.
Hilary: Or, that He is alone in the evening, signifies His sorrow at the time of His passion, when the rest were scattered from Him in fear.
Jerome: Also He ascends into the mountain alone because the multitude cannot follow Him aloft, until He has instructed it by the shore of the sea.
Aug.: But while Christ prays on high, the boat is tossed with great waves in the deep; and forasmuch as the waves rise, that boat can be tossed; but because Christ prays, it cannot be sunk. Think of that boat as the Church, and the stormy sea as this world.
Hilary: That He commands His disciples to enter the ship and to go across the sea, while He sends the multitudes away, and after that He goes up into the mountain to pray; He therein bids us to be within the Church, and to be in peril until such time as returning in His splendour He shall give salvation to all the people that shall be remaining of Israel, and shall forgive their sins; and having dismissed them into His Father's kingdom, returning thanks to His Father, He shall sit down in His glory and majesty.
Meanwhile the disciples are tossed by the wind and the waves; struggling against all the storms of this world, raised by the opposition of the unclean spirit.
Aug.: For when any of a wicked will and of great power, proclaims a persecution of the Church, then it is that a mighty wave rises against the boat of Christ.
Raban.: Whence it is well said here, that the ship was in the middle of the sea, and He alone on the land, because the Church is sometimes oppressed with such persecution that her Lord may seem to have forsaken her for (p. 544) a season.
Aug.: The Lord came to visit His disciples who are tossed on the sea in the fourth watch of the night -- that is, at its close; for each watch consisting of three hours, the night has thus four watches.
Hilary: The first watch was therefore of the Law, the second of the Prophets, the third His coming in the flesh, the fourth His return in glory.
Aug.: Therefore in the fourth watch of the night, that is when the night is nearly ended, He shall come, in the end of the world, when the night of iniquity is past, to judge the quick and the dead.
But His coming was with a wonder. The waves swelled, but they were trodden upon. Thus howsoever the powers of this world shall swell themselves, our Head shall crush their head.
Hilary: But Christ coming in the end shall find His Church wearied, and tossed by the spirit of Anti-Christ, and by the troubles of the world. And because by their long experience of Anti-Christ they will be troubled at every novelty of trial, they shall have fear even at the approach of the Lord, suspecting deceitful appearances.
But the good Lord banishes their fear, saying, "It is I;" and by proof of His presence takes away their dread of impending shipwreck.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 15: Or; That the disciples here say, It is a phantasm, figures those who yielding to the Devil shall doubt of the coming of Christ. That Peter cries to the Lord for help that he should not be drowned, signifies that He shall purge His Church with certain trials even after the last persecution; as Paul also notes, saying, "He shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1Co 3,15)
Hilary: Or; That Peter alone out of all the number of those that were in the vessel has courage to answer, and to pray that the Lord would bid him come to Him upon the waters, figures the frowardness of his will in the Lord's passion, when following after the Lord's steps he endeavoured to attain to despise death. But his fearfulness shews his weakness in his after trial, when through fear of death, he was driven to the necessity of denial. His crying out here is the groaning of his repentance there.
Raban.: The Lord looked back upon him, and brought him to repentance; He stretched forth His hand, and forgave him, and thus the disciple found salvation, which "is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Rm 9,16)
Hilary: That when Peter was seized (p. 545) with fear, the Lord gave him not power of coming to Him, but held him by the hand and sustained him, this is the signification thereof; that He who alone was to suffer for all alone forgave the sins of a11; and no partner is admitted into that which was bestowed upon mankind by one.
Aug., Serm. 76: For in one Apostle, namely Peter, first and chief in the order of Apostles in whom was figured the Church, both kinds were to be signified; that is, the strong, in his walking upon the waters; the weak, in that he doubted; for to each of us our lusts are as a tempest. Dost thou love God? Thou walkest on the sea; the fear of this world is under thy feet. Dost thou love the world? It swallows thee up. But when thy heart is tossed with desire, then that thou mayest overcome thy lust, call upon the divine person of Christ.
Remig.: And the Lord will be with thee to help thee, when lulling to rest the perils of thy trials, He restores the confidence of His protection, and this towards the break of day; for when human frailty beset with difficulties considers the weakness of its own powers, it looks upon itself as in darkness; when it raises its view to the protection of heaven, it straightway beholds the rise of the morning star, which gives its light through the whole of the morning watch.
Raban.: Nor should we wonder that the wind ceased when the Lord had entered into the boat; for in whatsoever heart the Lord is present by grace, there all wars cease.
Hilary: Also by this entrance of Christ into the boat, and the calm of the wind and sea thereupon, is pointed out the eternal peace of the Church, and that rest which shall be after His return in glory. And forasmuch as He shall then appear manifestly, rightly do they all cry out now in wonder, "Truly thou art the Son of God." For there shall then be a free and public confession of all men that the Son of God is come no longer in lowliness of body, but that He has given peace to the Church in heavenly glory.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 15: For it is here conveyed to us that His glory will then be made manifest, seeing that now they who walk by faith see it in a figure.
4434 (Mt 14,34-36)
Remig.: The Evangelist had related above that the Lord had commanded His disciples to enter the boat, and to go before Him across the strait; he now proceeds with the same intention to relate whither they arrived by their passage, "And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennezareth."
Raban.: The land of Gennezar, by the lake of Gennezareth, takes its name from a natural power which it is said to have of spontaneously modulating its waters so as to excite a breeze; the Greek words importing, 'creating for itself the breeze.'
Chrys.: But the Evangelist shews that it was now long time since Christ had come into these parts; for it follows, "And where the men of that place knew him, they sent into all that region."
Jerome: They knew Him by fame, not by sight; although indeed by reason of the greatness of the signs which He did among the people, He was known by face to great numbers. And note how great the faith of the men of the land of Gennezareth, that they were not content with the healing of the men of that country only, but sent to all the towns round about.
Chrys.: Nor do they now as before drag Him to their houses, and seek the touch of His hand, but they draw Him by their greater faith, for they brought unto him all them that were sick, and besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment. For the woman who suffered under the issue of blood had taught them all this wisdom, namely, that by touching the hem only of Christ's garment they might be saved.
Therefore it follows, "And as many as touched, were made whole."
Jerome: If we knew what the word Gennezareth would convey in our tongue, we might understand how under the type of the Apostles and the boat, Jesus guides to shore the Church when He has delivered it from the wreck of persecution, and makes it to rest in a most tranquil harbour.
Raban.: Genezar (p. 547) is interpreted, 'rise,' 'beginning.' For then will complete rest be given to us, when Christ shall have restored to us our inheritance of Paradise, and the joy of our first robe.
Hilary: Otherwise; When the times of the Law were ended, and five thousand out of Israel were entered within the Church, it was then that the people of believers met Him, then those that were saved out of the Law by faith set before the Lord the rest of their sick and weak; and they that were thus brought sought to touch the hem of His garment, because through their faith they would be healed. And as the virtue of the hem proceeded from the whole garment, so the virtue of the grace of the Holy Spirit went forth from our Lord Jesus Christ, and imparted to the Apostles, who proceeded as it were from the same body, administers salvation to such as desire to touch.
Jerome: Or, by the hem of the garment understand His least commandment, which whosoever transgresses, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; or, again, His assumption of the body, by which we come to the Word of God.
Chrys.: But we have not a hem or a garment only of Christ, but have even His body, that we may eat thereof. If then they who touched the hem of His garment derived so much virtue therefrom, much more they that shall receive Himself whole.
4501 (Mt 15,1-6)
(p. 548) Raban.: The men of Gennezareth and the less learned believe; but they who seem to be wise come to dispute with Him; according to that, "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Whence it is said, "Then, came to him from Jerusalem Scribes and Pharisee."
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 49: The Evangelist thus constructs the order of his narrative, "Then came unto him," that, as appeared in the passage over the lake, the order of the events that followed that might be shewn.
Chrys.: For this reason also the Evangelist marks the time that He may shew their (p. 549) iniquity overcome by nothing; for they came to Him at a time when He had wrought many miracles, when He had healed the sick by the touch of His hem. That the Scribes and Pharisees are here said to have come from Jerusalem, it should be known that they were dispersed through all the tribes, but those that dwelt in the Metropolis were worse than the others, their higher dignity inspiring them with a greater degree of pride.
Remig.: They were faulty for two reasons; because they had come from Jerusalem, from the holy city; and because they were elders of the people, and doctors of the Law, and had not come to learn but to reprove the Lord; for it is added, "Saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?"
Jerome: wonderful infatuation of the Pharisees and Scribes! They accuse the Son of God that He does not keep the traditions and commandments of men.
Chrys.: Observe, how they are taken in their own question. They say not, 'Why do they transgress the Law of Moses?' but, "the tradition of the elders;" whence it is manifest that the Priests had introduced many new things, although Moses had said, "Ye shall not add ought to the word which I set before you this day, neither shall ye take ought away from it;" (Dt 4,2) and when they ought to have been set free from observances, then they bound themselves by many more; fearing lest any should take away their rule and power, they sought to increase the awe in which they were held, by setting themselves forth as legislators.
Remig.: Of what kind these traditions were, Mark shews when he says, "The Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not." (Mc 7,3) Here then also they find fault with the disciples, saying, "For they wash not their hands when they eat bread."
Bede, in Marc., 7, 1: Taking carnally those words of the Prophets, in which it is said, "Wash, and be ye clean," (Is 1,16) they observed it only in washing the body; hence they had laid it down that we ought not to eat with unwashen hands.
Jerome: But the hands that are to he washed are the acts not of the body, but of the mind; that the word of God may be done in them.
Chrys.: But the disciples now did not eat, with washen hands, because they already despised all things superfluous, and attended only to such as were necessary; thus they accepted neither washing nor not washing as a (p. 550) rule, but did either as it happened. For how should they who even neglected the food that was necessary for them, have any care about this rite?
Remig.: Or the Pharisees found fault with the Lord's disciples, not concerning that washing which we do from ordinary habit, and of necessity, but of that superfluous washing which was invented by the tradition of the elders.
Chrys.: Christ made no excuse for them, but immediately brought a counter charge, shewing that he that sins in great things ought not to take offence at the slight sins of others.
"He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"
He says not that they do well to transgress that He may not give room for calumny; nor on the other hand does He condemn what the Apostles had done, that He may not sanction their traditions; nor again does He bring any charge directly against them of old, that they might not put Him from them as a calumniator; but He points His reproof against those who had come to Him; thus at the same time touching the elders who had laid down such a tradition; saying,
Jerome: Since ye because of the tradition of men neglect the commandment of God, why do ye take upon you to reprove my disciples, for bestowing little regard upon the precepts of the elders, that they may observe the commands of God?
"For God hath said, Honour thy father and thy mother." Honour in the Scriptures is shewn not so much in salutations and courtesies as in alms and gifts. "Honour," says the Apostle, "the widows who are widows indeed;" (1Tm 5,3) here 'honour' signifies a gift.
The Lord then having thought for the infirmity, the age, or the poverty of parents, commanded that sons should honour their parents in providing them with necessaries of life.
Chrys.: He desired to shew the great honour that ought to be paid to parents, and therefore attached both a reward and a penalty. But in this occasion the Lord passes over the reward promised to such as did honour their parents, namely, that they should live long upon the earth, and brings forward the terrible part only, namely, the punishment, that He might strike these dumb and attract others; "And he that, curseth father and mother, let him die the death;" thus He shews that they deserved even death. For if he who dishonours his parent (p. 551) even in word is worthy of death, much more ye who dishonour him in deed; and ye not only dishonour your parents, but teach others to do so likewise. Ye then who do not deserve even to live, how accuse ye my disciples? But how they transgress the commandment of God is clear when He adds, "But ye say, Whoso shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me."
Jerome: For the Scribes and Pharisees desiring to overturn this foregoing most provident law of God, that they might bring in their impiety under the mask of piety, taught bad sons, that should any desire to devote to God, who is the true parent, those things which ought to be offered to parents, the offering to the Lord should be preferred to the offering them to parents.
Gloss, ap. Anselm: In this interpretation the sense will be, What I offer to God will profit both you and myself; and therefore you ought not to take of my goods for your own needs, but to suffer that I offer them to God.
Jerome: And thus the parents refusing what they saw thus dedicated to God, that they might not incur the guilt of sacrilege, perished of want, and so it came to pass that what the children offered for the needs of the temple and the service of God, went to the gain of the Priests.
Gloss, ap. Anselm: Or the sense may be, "Whosoever," that is, of you young men, "shall say," that is, shall either be able to say, or shall say, "to his father or mother," O father, the gift that is of me devoted to God, shall it profit thee? as it were an exclamation of surprise; you ought not to take it that you may not incur the guilt of sacrilege.
Or, we may read it with this ellipsis, "Whosoever shall say to his father, &c." he shall do the commandment of God, or shall fulfil the Law, or shall be worthy of life eternal.
Jerome: Or it may briefly have the following sense; Ye compel children to say to their parents, What gift soever I was purposing to offer to God, you take and consume upon your living, and so it profits you; as much as to say. Do not so.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: And thus through these arguments of your avarice, this youth shall "Honour not his father or his mother." As if He had said; Ye have led sons into most evil deeds; so that it will come to pass that afterwards they shall not even honour their father and mother. And thus ye have made the commandment of God concerning the (p. 552) support of parents by their children vain through your traditions, obeying the dictates of avarice.
Aug., cont. Adv. Leg. et Proph., ii, 1: Christ here clearly shews both that that law which the heretic blasphemes is God's law, and that the Jews had their traditions foreign to the prophetical and canonical books; such as the Apostle calls "profane and vain fables."
Aug., cont. Faust., xvi, 24: The Lord here teaches us many things; That it was not He that turned the Jews from their God; that not only did He not infringe the commandments, but convicts them of infringing them; and that He had ordained no more than those by the hand of Moses.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 16: Otherwise; "The gift whatsoever thou offerest on my account, shall profit thee;" that is to say, Whatsoever gift thou offerest on my account, shall henceforth remain with thee; the son signifying by these words that there is no longer need that parents should offer for him, as he is of age to offer for himself. And those who were of age to be able to say thus to their parents, the Pharisees denied that they were guilty, if they did not shew honour to their parents.
4507 (Mt 15,7-11)
Chrys.: The Lord had shewn that the Pharisees were not worthy to accuse those who transgressed the commands of the elders, seeing they overthrew the law of God themselves; and He again proves this by the testimony of the Prophet; "Hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This (p. 553) people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far frost me."
Remig.: Hypocrite signifies dissembler, one who feigns one thing in his outward act, and bears another thing in his heart. These then are well called hypocrites because under cover of God's honour they sought to heap up for themselves earthly gain.
Raban.: Esaias saw before the hypocrisy of the Jews, that they would craftily oppose the Gospel, and therefore he said in the person of the Lord, "This people honoureth me with their lips, &c."
Remig.: For the Jewish nation seemed to draw near to God with their lips and mouth, inasmuch as they boasted that they held the worship of the One God; but in their hearts they departed from Him, because after they had seen His signs and miracles, they would neither acknowledge His divinity, nor receive Him.
Raban.: Also, they honoured Him with their lips when they said, "Master, we know that thou art true," (Mt 22,16) but their heart was far from Him when they sent spies to entangle Him in His talk.
Gloss, ap. Anselm: Or, They honoured Him in commending outward purity; but in that they lacked the inward which is the true purity, their heart was far from God, and such honour was of no avail to them; as it follows, "But without reason do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men."
Raban.: Therefore they shall not have their reward with the true worshippers, because they teach doctrines and commandments of men to the contempt of the law of God.
Chrys.: Having added weight to His accusation of the Pharisees by the testimony of the Prophet, and not having amended them, He now ceases to speak to them, and turns to the multitudes, "And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand." Because He was about to set before them a high dogma, and full of much philosophy, He does not utter it nakedly, but so frames His speech that it should be received by them.
First, by exhibiting anxiety on their account, which the Evangelist expresses by the words, "And he called the multitude to him."
Secondly, the time He chooses recommends His speech; after the victory He has just gained over the Pharisees. And He not merely calls the multitude to Him, (p. 554) but rouses their attention by the words, "Hear and understand;" that is, Attend, and give your minds to what ye are to hear. But He said not unto them, The observance of meats is nought; nor, Moses bade you wrongly; but in the way of warning and advice, drawing His testimony from natural things; "Not what entereth in at the mouth defileth a man, but what goeth forth of the mouth that defileth a man."
Jerome: The word here (ed. note: Jerome reads 'communicat.' The Vulgate has, coinquinat) 'makes a man common' is peculiar to Scripture, and is not hackneyed in common parlance. The Jewish nation, boasting themselves to be a part of God, call those meats common, of which all men partake; for example, swine's flesh, shell fish, hares, and those species of animals that do not divide the hoof, and chew the cud, and among the fish such as have not scales. Hence in the Acts of the Apostles we read, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Ac 10,15) Common then in this sense is that which is free to the rest of mankind, and as though not in part of God, is therefore called unclean.
Aug., cont. Faust., vi, 6: This declaration of the Lord, "Not that which, entereth into the mouth defileth a man," is not contrary to the Old Testament. As the Apostle also speaks, "To the pure all things are pure;" (Tt 1,15) and "Every creature of God is good." (1Tm 4,4)
Let the Manichaeans understand, if they can, that the Apostle said this of the very natures and qualities of things; while that letter (of the ritual law) declared certain animals unclean, not in their nature but typically, for certain figures which were needed for a time. Therefore to take an instance in the swine and the lamb, by nature both are clean, because naturally every creature of God is good; but in a certain typical meaning the lamb is clean, and the swine unclean.
Take the two words, 'fool,' and 'wise,' in their own nature, as sounds, or letters, both of them are pure, but one of them because of the meaning attached to it, not because of any thing in its own nature, may be said to be impure. And perhaps what the swine are in typical representation, that among mankind is the fool; and the animal, and this word of two syllables (stultus) signify some (p. 555) one and the same thing. That animal is reckoned unclean in the law because it does not chew the cud; but this is not its fault but its nature. But the men of whom this animal is the emblem, are impure by their own fault, not by nature; they readily hear the words of wisdom, but never think upon them again.
Whatever of profit you may hear, to summon this up from the internal region of the memory through the sweetness of recollection into the mouth of thought, what is this but spiritually to chew the cud? They who do not this are represented by this species of animal. Such resemblances as these in speech, or in ceremonies, having figurative signification, profitably and pleasantly move the rational mind; but by the former people, many such things were not only to be heard, but to be kept as precepts. For that was a time when it behoved not in words only, but in deeds, to prophesy those things which hereafter were to be revealed. When these had been revealed through Christ, and in Christ, the burdens of observances were not imposed on the faith of the Gentiles; but the authority of the prophecy was yet confirmed.
But I ask of the Manichaeans, whether this declaration of the Lord, when He said that a man is not defiled by what enters into his mouth, is true or false? If false, why then does their doctor Adimantus bring it forward against the Old Testament? If true, why contrary to its tenor do they consider that they are thus defiled?
Jerome: The thoughtful reader may here object and say, If that which entereth into the mouth defileth not a man, why do we not feed on meats offered to idols? Be it known then that meats and every creature of God is in itself clean; but the invocation of idols and daemons makes them unclean with those at least who with conscience of the idol eat that which is offered to idols; and their conscience being weak is polluted, as the Apostle says.
Remig.: But if any one's faith be so strong that he understands that God's creature can in no way be defiled, let him eat what he will, after the food has been hallowed by the word of God and of prayer; yet so that this his liberty be not made an offence to the weak, as the Apostle speaks.
Golden Chain 4422