Golden Chain 5409
5409 (Mt 24,9-14)
Raban.: For what desert so many evils are to be brought (p. 806) upon Jerusalem, and the whole Jewish province the Lord shews, when He adds, "Then shall they deliver you up,&c."
Chrys.: Or otherwise; The disciples when they heard these things which were spoken of Jerusalem might suppose that they should be beyond reach of harm, as though what they now heard was the sufferings of others, while they themselves should meet with nothing but prosperous times, He therefore announces the grievous things which should befal them, putting them in fear for themselves.
First He had bid them be on their guard against the arts of false teachers, He now foretels to them the violence of tyrants. In good season He thus introduces their own woes, as here they will receive consolation from the common calamities; and He held out to them not this comfort only, but also that of the cause for which they should suffer, shewing that it was for His name's sake, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake."
Origen: But how should the people of Christ be hated by the nations who dwelt in the uttermost parts of the earth? But one may perhaps say, that in this place all is put hyperbolically for many. But this that He says, "Then shall they deliver you," presents some difficulty; for before these things the Christians were delivered to tribulation. To this it may be answered, that at that time the Christians shall be more delivered to tribulation than ever.
And persons in any misfortune love to examine into the origin of them, and to talk about them. Hence when the worship of the Gods shall be almost deserted by reason of the multitude of Christians, it will be said that that is the cause of the wars, and famines, and pestilences; and of the earthquakes also they will say that the Christians are the cause, whence the persecution of the Churches.
Chrys.: Having named two sources of opposition, that from seducers, and that from enemies, He adds a third, that from false brethren; "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." See Paul bewailing these same things, "Without were fightings, within were fears;" (2Co 7,5) and in another place; "In perils among false brethren," (2Co 11,26) of whom he says, "Such are false Apostles, deceitful workers." (2Co 11,13)
Remig.: As the capture of Jerusalem approached, many rose up, calling themselves Christians, and deceived many, such (p. 807) Paul calls "false brethren," John "Antichrists."
Hilary: Such Was Nicolaus, one of the seven deacons, who led astray many by his pretences. And Simon Magus who, armed with diabolic works and words, perverted many by false miracles.
Chrys.: And He adds, what is still more cruel, that such false Prophets shall have no alleviation in charity; "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
Remig.: That is, true love towards God and our neighbour, in proportion as each surrenders himself to iniquity, in that proportion will the flame of charity in his heart be extinguished.
Jerome: Observe, He says, "the love of many," not 'of all,' for in the Apostles, and those like them, love would continue, as Paul speaks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rm 8,35)
Remig.: "Whoso shall endure unto the end," i.e. to the end of his life; for whoso to the end of his life shall persevere in the confession of the name of Christ, and in love, he shall be saved.
Chrys.: Then that they should not say, How then shall we live among so many evils? He promises not only that they should live, but that they should teach every where. "And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world."
Remig.: For the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be made sad by the destruction of Jerusalem, and overthrow of their nation, and He therefore comforts them with a promise that more of the Gentiles should believe than of the Jews should perish.
Chrys.: That before the taking of Jerusalem the Gospel was preached every where, hear what Paul says, "Their sound is gone out into all the earth;" (Rm 10,18) and see himself travelling from Jerusalem into Spain. And if one had so large a province, think how much all must have done. Whence writing to certain, he says of the Gospel, "It bears fruit, and increases in every creature under heaven." (Col 1,6).
And this is the strongest proof of Christ's power, that in thirty years or a little more, the word of the Gospel filled the ends of the world. Though the Gospel was preached every where, yet all did not believe, whence He adds, "For a witness unto all nations," in accusation, that is, of such as believe not, they who have believed bearing witness against them that believed not, and condemning them.
And in fit season did Jerusalem fall, namely, after the Gospel had been preached throughout the world; as it follows, "And then (p. 808) shalt the consummation come," i.e. the end of Jerusalem. For they who have seen Christ's power shining forth every where, and in brief space spread over the whole world, what mercy did they deserve when they continued still in ingratitude?
Remig.: But the whole passage might be referred to the end of the world. For then "shall many be offended," and depart from the faith, when they see the numbers and wealth of the wicked, and the miracles of Antichrist, and they shall persecute their brethren; and Antichrist shall send "false Prophets, who shall deceive many; iniquity shall abound," because the number of the wicked shall be increased; and "love shall wax cold," because the number of the good shall diminish.
Jerome: And the sign of the Lord's second coming is, that the Gospel shall be preached in all the world, so that all may be without excuse.
Origen: And that, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," might be then applied thus; That indeed at this time all nations are conspired together against the Christians, but that when the things foretold by Christ shall have come to pass, then there shall be persecutions, not as before in places, but everywhere against the people of God.
Aug., Ep. 199, 46: But that this preaching "the Gospel of the kingdom in all the world" was accomplished by the Apostles, we have not any certain evidence, to prove. There are numberless barbarous nations in Africa, among whom the Gospel is not even yet preached, as it is easy to learn from the prisoners who are brought from thence. But it cannot be said that these have no part in the promise of God. For God promised with an oath not the Romans only, but all nations to the seed of Abraham.
But in whatever nation there is yet no Church established, it must needs be that there should be one, not that all the people should believe; for how then should that be fulfilled, "Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake," unless there be in all nations those who hate and those who are hated? That preaching therefore was not accomplished by the Apostles, while as yet there were nations among whom it had not begun to be fulfilled. The words of the Apostle also, "Their sound hath gone out into all the world," though expressed as of time past, are meant to apply to something future, not yet completed; as the Prophet (marg. note: Ps 19,4), whose words he quotes, said that the Gospel bore fruit and grew in the whole world, (p. 809) to shew thereby to what extent its growth should come. If then we know not when it shall be that the whole world shall be filled with the Gospel, undoubtedly we know not when the end shall be; but it shall not be before such time.
Origen: When every nation shall have heard the preaching of the Gospel, then shall come the end of the world. For at this time there are many nations, not of barbarians only, but of our own, who have not yet heard the word of Christianity.
Gloss., non occ. (ed. note: This Gloss appears to be a note of S. Thomas, in confirmation of the view of S. Chrysostom, which refers this to the taking of Jerusalem. cf. Iren Haeres. i. 2 and 3.): But it is possible to maintain both applications of the passage, if only we will take this diffusion of Gospel preaching in a double sense. If we understand it of fruit produced by the preaching, and the foundation in every nation of a Church of believers in Christ, as Augustine (in the passage above quoted) expounds it, then it is a sign which ought to precede the end of the world, and which did not precede the destruction of Jerusalem. But if we understand it of the fame of their preaching, then it was accomplished before the destruction of Jerusalem, when Christ's disciples had been dispersed over the four quarters of the earth.
Whence Jerome says, I do not suppose that there remained any nation which knew not the name of Christ; for where preacher had never been, some notion of the faith must have been communicated by neighbouring nations. (marg. note: Hieron. in loc.)
Origen: Morally; He who shall see that glorious second coming of the word of God into his soul, must needs suffer in proportion to the measure of his proficiency assaults of opposing influences, and Christ in him must be hated by all, not only by the nations literally understood, but by the nations of spiritual vices.
And in such enquiries there will be few who shall reach the truth with any fulness, the more part shall be offended and fall therefrom, betraying and accusing one another because of their disagreement respecting doctrines, which shall give rise to a mutual hatred. Also there shall be many setting forth unsound words concerning things to come, and interpreting the Prophets in a manner in which they ought not; these are the false Prophets who shall deceive many, and who shall cause to wax cold that fervour of love which was before in the simplicity of the (p. 810) faith.
But he who can abide firmly in the Apostolic tradition, he shall be saved; and the Gospel being preached to the minds of all shall be for a testimony to all nations, that is, to all the unbelieving thoughts of the soul.
5415 (Mt 24,15-22)
Chrys.: As above He had obscurely intimated the end of Jerusalem; He now proceeds to a more plain announcement of it, citing a prophecy which should make them believe it.
Jerome: That, "Let him that readeth understand," is said to call us to the mystic understanding of the place. What we read in Daniel is this; "And in the midst of the week the sacrifice and the oblation shall be taken away, and in the temple shall be the abomination of desolations until the consummation of the time, and consummation shall be given upon the desolate." (Da 9,27, septuagint)
Aug., Ep. 199, 31: Luke, in order to shew that the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel had reference to the time of the siege of Jerusalem, repeats these words (p. 811) of our Lord, "When ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed by armies, then know ye that its desolation draweth nigh." (Lc 21,20)
Pseudo-Chrys.: Whence I think that by the abomination of desolation, He means the army by which the city of the holy Jerusalem was desolated.
Jerome: Or it may be understood of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate set up in the temple; or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which stood to the present time in the very Holy of Holies. For, according to the Old Scripture, an idol is called 'abomination;' "of desolation" is added, because the idol was set up in the desolated and deserted temple.
Chrys.: Or because he who desolated the city and the temple placed his statue there. He says, "When ye shall see," because these things were to happen while some of them were yet alive. Wherein admire Christ's power, and the courage of the disciples, who preached through those times in which all things Jewish were the object of attack. The Apostles, being Jews, introduced new laws in opposition to the Roman authority. The Romans conquered countless thousands of Jews, but could not overcome twelve unarmed unprotected men. (marg. note: Chrys., Hom. lxxvi)
But because it had often happened to the Jews to be recovered in very desperate circumstances, as in the times of Sennacherib and Antiochus, that no man might look for any such event now, He gave command to His disciples to fly, saying, "Then let them which, are in Judaea flee to the mountains."
Remig.: And this we know was so done when the fall of Jerusalem drew near; for on the approach of the Roman army, all the Christians in the province, warned, as ecclesiastical history tells us, (marg. note: Euseb., H. E., iii. 5) miraculously from heaven, withdrew, and passing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella; and under the protection of that King Agrippa, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, they continued some time; but Agrippa himself, with the Jews whom he governed, was subjected to the dominion of the Romans.
Chrys.: Then to shew how inevitable the evils that should come upon the Jews, and how infinite their calamity, He adds, "And let him which is on the housetop, not come down to take any thing out of his house," for it was better to be saved, and to lose his clothes, than to put on a garment and perish; and of him who is in the field He says the same. For if those who are in the (p. 812) city fly from it, little need is there for those who are abroad to return to the city.
But it is easy to despise money, and not hard to provide other raiment; but how can one avoid natural circumstances? How can a woman with child be made active for flight, or how can she that gives suck desert the child she has brought forth?
"Woe," therefore, "to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days;" to the one, because they are encumbered, and cannot easily fly, bearing about the burden of the womb; to the other, because they are held by compassion for their children, and cannot save with them those whom they are suckling.
Origen: Or because that will not be a time of shewing pity, neither upon them who are with child, nor upon them who are suckling, nor upon their infants. And as speaking to Jews who thought they might travel no more upon the sabbath than a sabbath-day's journey, He adds, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath."
Jerome: Because in the one the severity of the cold prevents your flight to the deserts, and your lurking in mountains and wilds; in the other, you must either transgress the Law, if you will fly, or encounter instant death if you will stay.
Chrys.:. Note how this speech is directed against the Jews; for when these things were done by Vespasian, the Apostles could neither observe the Sabbath nor fly, seeing most of them were already dead, and those who survived were living in distant countries. And why they should pray for this He adds a reason, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall be."
Aug., Ep. 199. 30: In Luke it is thus read, "There shall be great distress upon the earth, and wrath upon this people, and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations." (Lc 21,23)
And so Josephus (marg. note: B. J. vii), who wrote the Jewish History, relates evils so great happening to this people as to seem hardly credible. Whence it was not unreasonably said, that such tribulation had never been from the beginning of creation, nor should be; for though in the time of Antichrist shall be such, or perhaps greater; yet to the Jews, of whom we must understand this, such shall never more befal. For if they shall be the first and the chief to receive Antichrist, they will then (p. 813) rather inflict than suffer tribulation.
Chrys.: I ask the Jews, whence came upon them so grievous wrath from heaven more woeful than all that had come upon them before? Plainly it was because of the desperate crime () and the denial of the Cross. But He shews that they deserved still heavier punishment than they received, when He adds, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved;" that is, If the siege by the Romans should be continued longer, all the Jews would perish; for by "all flesh," He means all the Jewish nation, those within and those without; for the Romans were at war not only with those in Judaea, but with the whole race wherever dispersed.
Aug.: Indeed some persons seem to me not unfitly to understand by "these days" the evils themselves, as in other places of divine Scripture evil days are spoken of; not that the days themselves are evil, but the things that are done on them. And they are said to be shortened, because they are less felt, God giving us endurance; so that even though grievous, they are felt as short.
Chrys.: But that the Jews should not say that these evils came because of the preaching and the disciples of Christ, He shews them that had it not been for His disciples, they would have totally perished, "but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Aug.: For we ought not to doubt that when Jerusalem was overthrown, there were among that people elect of God who had believed out of the circumcision, or would have believed, elect before the foundation of the world, for whose sake those days should be shortened, and their evils made endurable. Some there are who suppose that the days will be shortened by a more rapid motion of the sun, as the day was made longer on the prayer of Jesus Name. (?)
Jerome: Not remembering that which is written. "The day continues according to thy ordinances." (Ps 119,91) We must understand it of their being shortened not in measure, but in number, lest the faith of believers should be shaken by lengthened affliction.
Aug.: For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel's weeks was interfered with by this shortening of those days, or that they were not already at that time complete, but had to be completed afterwards in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testifies that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when (p. 814) Jerusalem was overthrown.
Chrys.: Observe this economy of the Holy Spirit in this, that John wrote nothing of all this, that he might not seem to be writing a history after the event; for he survived sometime the taking of Jerusalem. But these who died before it, and saw nothing of it, these write it, that the power of prophecy may shine manifestly forth.
Hilary: Or otherwise; It is a sign of His future coming that the Lord gives, when He says, "When ye shall see the abomination." For the Prophet spoke this of the times of Antichrist; and he calls abomination that which coming against God claims to itself the honour of God. It is "the abomination of desolation," because it will desolate the earth with wars and slaughter; and it is admitted by the Jews, and set up in the holy place, that where God had been invoked by the prayers of the saints, into that same place admitted by the unbelievers it might be adored with the worship of God. And because this error will be peculiar to the Jews, that having rejected the truth they should adopt a lie, He warns them to leave Judaea, and flee to the mountains, that no pollution or infection might be gathered by admixture with a people who should believe on Antichrist.
That He says, "Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house," is thus understood. The roof is the highest part of the house, the summit and perfection of the whole building. He then who stands on the top of his house, i.e. in the perfection of his heart, aloft in the regeneration of a new spirit, ought not to come down to the lower desire of things of the world.
"Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his coat;" i.e. He that has attained to obedience to the command, let him not return back to his former cares, to take on him again the coat of his former sins in which be once was clothed.
Aug.: For in tribulations we must beware of coming down from the spiritual heights, and yielding ourselves to the carnal life; or of failing and looking behind us, after having made some progress forwards.
Hilary: That which is said, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck," is not to be taken literally as an admonition to women pregnant, but as a description of souls burdened with the weight of sin, that neither in the house, nor in the field, may escape the (p. 815) storm of the wrath that is in store for them.
Woe also to those that are being suckled; the weak souls, that is, who are being brought to the knowledge of God as by milk, to whom it shall be woe, because they are too laden to fly, and too inexperienced to resist Antichrist, having neither escaped sin, nor partaken of the food of true bread.
Pseudo-Aug., Serm. App. 75, 2: Or, "They that are with child," are they who covet what belongs to others; "they that give suck," are they who have already forcibly taken that which they coveted; to them shall be "woe" in the day of judgment. "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath day;" that is,
Aug., Quaest. Ev., I, 37: that no one be found in that day in either joy or sorrow for temporal things.
Hilary: Or; That we be not taken in the frost of sins., or in discontinuance of good works, because of the soreness of the affliction; notwithstanding that for the sake of God's elect, those days shall be shortened, that the abridgment of the time may disarm the force of the calamities.
Origen: Mystically; In the holy place of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, Antichrist, that is, false word, has often stood; let those who see this flee from the Judaea of the letter to the high mountains of truth. And whoso has been found to have gone up to the house-top of the word, and to be standing upon its summit, let him not come down thence as though he would fetch any thing out of his house. And if he be in the field in which the treasure is hid, and return thence to his house, he will run into the temptation of a false word; but especially if he have stripped off his old garment, that is, the old man, and should have returned again to take it up. Then the soul, as it were with child by the word, not having yet brought forth, is liable to a woe; for it casts that which it had conceived, and loses that hope which is in the acts of truth; and the same also if the word has been brought forth perfect and entire, but not having yet attained sufficient growth.
Let them that flee to the mountains pray that their flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath-day, because in the serenity of a settled spirit they may reach the way of salvation, but if the winter overtake them they fall amongst those whom they would fly from. And there be some who rest from evil works, but do not good works; be your flight then not on such sabbath (p.816) when a man rests from good works, for no man is easily overcome in times of peril from false doctrines, except he is unprovided with good works.
But what sorer affliction is there than to see our brethren deceived, and to feel one's self shaken and terrified? Those days mean the precepts and dogmas of truth; and all interpretations coming of "science falsely so called" (1Tm 6,20) are so many additions to those days, which God shortens by those whom He wills.
5423 (Mt 24,23-28)
Chrys.: When the Lord had finished all that related to Jerusalem, He came in the rest to His own coming, and gives them signs thereof, useful not for them only, but for us and for all who shall be after us.
As above, the Evangelist said, "In those days came John the Baptist," (Mt 3,1) not implying immediately after what had gone before, but thirty years after; so here, when He says, "Then," He passes over the whole interval of time between the taking of Jerusalem and the beginnings of the consummation of the world.
Among the signs which He gives of His second coming He certifies them concerning the place, and the deceivers. For it shall not be then as at His former coming, when He appeared in Bethlehem, in a corner of the world, unknown of any; but (p. 817) He shall come openly so as not to need any to announce His approach.
Wherefore, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe not."
Jerome: Wherein He shews that His second coming shall be not in lowliness as His first, but in glory; and therefore it is folly to seek in places little and obscure for Him who is the Light of the whole world. (marg note: Jn 8,12)
Hilary: Notwithstanding, by reason of the great tribulation in which men shall be cast, false prophets promising to shew aid present from Christ, will falsely affirm that Christ is present in divers places, that they may draw into the service of Antichrist men discouraged and distracted.
Chrys.: He speaks here of Antichrist, and of certain his ministers, whom He calls false Christs and false prophets, such as were many in the time of the Apostles; but before Christ's second coming there shall come others more bitter than the former, "And they shall shew great signs and wonders." (2Th 2,9)
Aug., Lib. 83, Quaest., Q79: Here the Lord forewarns us that even wicked men shall do some miracles which the saints cannot do, yet are they not therefore to be thought to have a higher place in the sight of God. For the Egyptian magi were not more acceptable to God than the people of Israel, because they could do what the Israelites could not; yet did Moses, by the power of God, work greater things. This gift is not bestowed on all the saints, lest the weak should be led astray by a most destructive error, supposing such powers to be higher gifts than those works of righteousness by which eternal life is secured. And though magi do the same miracles that the saints do, yet are they done with a different end, and through a different authority; for the one do them seeking the glory of God, the others seeking their own glory; these do them by some special compact or privilege (marg. note: al. veneficia) granted to the Powers, within their sphere, those by the public dispensation and the command of Him to whom all creation is subject (ed. note: see above on chap. vii, 22).
For it is one thing for the owner of a horse to be compelled to give it up to a soldier, another for him to hand it over to a purchaser, or to give or lend it to a friend; and as those evil soldiers, who are condemned by the imperial discipline, employ the imperial ensigns to terrify the owners of any property, and to extort from them what is not required by (p. 818) the public service; so some evil Christians, by means of the name of Christ, or by words or sacraments Christian, compel somewhat from the Powers; yet these, when thus at the bidding of evil men, they depart from their purpose, they depart in order to deceive men in whose wanderings they rejoice.
It is one way then in which magi, another in which good Christians, another in which bad Christians, work miracles; the magi by a private compact, good Christians by the public righteousness, evil Christians by the signs of public righteousness. (marg. note: non occ.) And we ought not to wonder at this when we believe not unreasonably that all that we see happen is wrought by the agency of the inferior powers of this air.
Aug., de Trin., iii, 8: Yet are we not therefore to think that this visible material world attends the nod of the disobedient angels, but rather the power is given them of God. Nor are we to suppose that such evil angels have creative power, but by their spirituality they know the seeds of things which are bidden from us, and these they secretly scatter by suitable adaptations of the elements, and so they give occasion both to the whole being, and the more rapid increase of substances.
For so there are many men who know what sort of creatures use to be generated out of certain herbs, meats, juices and humours, bruised and mingled together in a certain fashion; save only that it is harder for men to do these things, inasmuch as they lack that subtlety of sense, and penetrativeness of body in their limbs dull and of earthly mould.
Greg., Mor. xv, 61: When then Antichrist shall have wrought wonderful prodigies before the eyes of the carnal, he shall draw men after him, all such as delight in present goods, surrendering themselves irrevocably to his sway, "Insomuch that if it were possible the very elect should be led astray."
Origen: That, "If it were possible," is spoken hyperbolically; not that the elect can be led astray, but He wishes to shew that the discourse of heretics is often so persuasive, as to have force to prevail even with those who act (marg. note: al. audiunt) wisely.
Greg., Mor., xxxiii, 36: Or, because the heart of the elect is assailed with fearful thoughts, yet their faithfulness is not shaken, the Lord comprehends both under the same sentence, for to waver in thought is to err. He adds, "If it were possible," because it is not possible that the elect should be taken in error. (p. 819)
Raban.: He says not this because it is possible for the divine election to be defeated, but because they, who to men's judgment seemed elect, shall be led into error.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxv, i: And as darts, when foreseen, are less likely to hit, He adds, "Lo, I have told you." Our Lord announces the woes which are to precede the destruction of the world, that when they come they may alarm the less from having been foreknown.
Hilary: The false prophets, of whom He had spoken above, shall say of Christ one while, "Lo, He is in the desert," in order that they may cause men to wander astray; another while, "Lo, He is in the secret chambers," that they may enthral men under the dominion of Antichrist. But the Lord declares Himself to be neither lurking in a remote corner, nor shut up to be visited singly, but that He shall be exhibited to the view of all, and in every place, "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."
Chrys.: As He had above described in what guise Antichrist should come, so here He describes how He Himself shall come. For as the lightning needeth none to herald or announce it, but is in an instant of time visible throughout the whole world, even to those that are sitting in their chambers, so the coming of Christ shall be seen every where at once, because of the brightness of His glory.
Another sign He adds of His coming, "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." The eagles denote the company of the Angels, Martyrs, and Saints.
Jerome: By an instance from nature, which we daily see, we are instructed in a sacrament of Christ. Eagles and vultures are said to scent dead bodies even beyond sea, and to flock to feed upon them. If then birds, not having the gift of reason, by instinct alone find out where lays a dead body, separated by so great space of country, how much more ought the whole multitude of believers to hasten to Christ, whose lightning goeth forth out of the east, and shines even to the west? We may understand by the carcase here, or corpse (), which in the Latin is more expressively 'cadaver,' an allusion to the passion of Christ's death.
Hilary: That we might not be ignorant of the place in which He should come, He adds this, "Wheresoever (p. 820) the carcase, &c." He calls the Saints "eagles," from the spiritual flight of their bodies, and shews that their gathering shall be to the place of His passion, the Angels guiding them thither; and rightly should we look for His coming in glory there, where He wrought for us eternal glory by the suffering of His bodily humiliation.
Origen: And observe, He says not vultures or crows, but "eagles," shewing the lordliness and royalty of all who have believed in the Lord's passion.
Jerome: They are called eagles whose youth is renewed as the eagle's, and who take to themselves wings that they may come to Christ's passion. (marg. note: Ps 103,5 Is 40,31)
Greg., Mor. xxxi, 53: We may understand this, "Wheresoever the carcase is," as meaning, I who incarnate sit on the throne of heaven, as soon as I shall have loosed the souls of the elect from the flesh, will exalt them to heavenly places.
Jerome: Or otherwise ; This may be understood of the false prophets. At the time of the Jewish captivity, there were many leaders who declared themselves to be Christs, (marg. note: Josephus, B. J., v. 1) so that while the Romans were actually besieging them, there were three factions within. But it is better taken as we expounded it above, of the end of the world.
Thirdly, it may be understood of the warfare of the heretics against the Church, and of those Antichrists, who under pretext of false science, fight against Christ.
Origen: The genus of Antichrist is one, the species many, just as all lies are of one sort. As all the holy Prophets were Prophets of the true Christ, so understand that each false Christ shall have his own false Prophets, who shall preach as true the false teachings of some Antichrist. When then one shall say, "Lo, here is Christ, or lo, there," we need not look abroad out of the Scriptures, for out of the Law, the Prophets, and the Apostles, they bring the things which seem to favour their lie.
Or by this, "Lo, here is Christ, or lo, there," they shew that it was not Christ, but some impostor under the same title, such for example as Marcion, or Valentinus, or Basilides taught.
Jerome: If then any one assert to you that Christ tarries in "the desert" of the Gentiles, or in the teaching of the Philosophers, or in "the secret chambers" of the heretics, who promise the hidden things of God, believe Him not, but believe that the Catholic Faith shines from "east to west" in (p. 821) the Churches.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 38: By the "east" and "west," He signifies the whole world, throughout which the Church should be. In the same way as He said below, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man coming in the clouds, of heaven," (Mt 26,64) so now He likens His coming to lightning, which uses to flash out of the clouds. When then the authority of the Church is set up clear and manifest throughout the whole world, He suitably warns His disciples that they should not believe schismatics and heretics. Each schism and heresy holds its own place, either occupying some important position in the earth, or ensnaring men's curiosity in obscure and remote conventicles.
"Lo, here is Christ, or lo, there," refers to some district or province of the earth; "the secret chambers," or "the desert," signify the obscure and lurking conventicles of heretics.
Jerome: Or by this, "in the desert," or "in the secret chambers," He means that in times of persecution and distress, the false Prophets always find place for deceiving.
Origen: Or, when they allege secret and before unpublished Scriptures, in proof of their lie, they seem to say, Lo, the word of truth is in the desert. But when they produce canonical Scripture in which all Christians agree, they seem to say, Lo, the word of truth is in the chambers.
Or wishing to point out such discourses as are altogether without Scripture, He said, "If they shall say to you, Lo, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not." Truth is like the "lightning that cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west."
Or this may mean, that truth can be supported out of every passage of Scripture. The lightning of truth comes out of "the east," that is, from the first beginnings of Christ, and shines throughout even to His passion, which is His setting; or from the very beginning of creation, to the last Scripture of the Apostles.
Or, "the east" is the Law, "the west" is the end of the Law, and of John's prophecy. The Church alone neither takes away word or meaning from this lightning, nor adds aught to its prophecy.
Or He means that we should give no heed to those who say, "Lo, here is Christ," but shew Him not in the Church, in which alone is the coming or the Son of Man, who said, "Lo, I am with you, always even to the end of the world." (Mt 28,20)
Jerome: We are invited to flock to Christ's passion wheresoever in Scripture it (p. 822) read of, that through it we may be able to come to God's word.
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