Golden Chain 11041
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THEOPHYL. Although our Lord was shortly about to enter on His Passion, He proclaims His own Godhead, and that too neither incautiously nor boastfully, but with modesty. For He puts a question to them, and having thrown them into perplexity, leaves them to reason out the conclusion; as it follows, And he said to them, How say they that Christ is David's son?
AMBROSE; They are not blamed here because they acknowledge Him to be David's Son, for the blind man for so doing was thought worthy to be healed. And the children saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, rendered to God the glory of the highest praise; but they are blamed because they believe Him not to be the Son of God. Hence it is added, And David himself says in the book of Psalms, The Lord said to my Lord. Both the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, but there are not two Lords, but one Lord, for the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. He Himself sits at the right hand of the Father, for He is coequal with the Father, inferior to none; for it follows, Sit you at my right hand. He is not honored by sitting at the right hand, nor is He degraded by being sent. Degrees of dignity are not sought for, where is the fullness of divinity.
AUG. By the sitting we must not conceive a posture of the human limbs, as if the Father sat on the left and the Son on the right, but the right hand itself we must interpret to be the power which that Man received who was taken up into Himself by God, that He should come to judge, who at first came to be judged.
CYRIL; Or, that He sits on the Father's right hand proves His heavenly glory. For whose throne is equal, their Majesty is equal. But sitting when it is said of God signifies a universal kingdom and power. Therefore He sits at the right hand of the Father, because the Word proceeding from the substance of the Father, being made flesh, puts not off His divine glory.
THEOPHYL. He manifests then that He is not opposed to the Father, but agrees with Him, since the Father resists the Son's enemies, Until I make your enemies your footstool.
AMBROSE; We must believe then that Christ is both God and man, and that His enemies are made subject to Him by the Father, not through the weakness of His power, but through the unity of their nature, since in the one the other works. For the Son also subjects enemies to the Father, in that He glorifies the Father upon earth.
THEOPHYL. There fore He asks the question, and having excited their doubts, leaves them to deduce the consequence; as it follows, David therefore calls him Lord, how is he then his son?
CHRYS David in truth was both the Father and the servant of Christ, the former indeed according to the flesh, the latter in the Spirit.
CYRIL; We then likewise in answer to the new Pharisees who neither confess the Son of the holy Virgin to be the true Son of God, nor to be God, but divide one son into two, put the like objections: How then is the Son of David David's Lord, and that not by human lordship, but divine?
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CHRYS. Now nothing is more powerful than to argue from the Prophets. For this is even of more weight than miracles themselves. For when Christ worked miracles, He was often gainsaid. But when He cited the Prophets, men were at once silent, because they had nothing to say. But when they were silent, He warns against them, as it is said, Then in the audience of all the people he said to his disciples.
THEOPHYL. For as He was sending them to teach the world, He rightly warns them not to imitate the pride of the Pharisees. Beware of the Scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, that is, to go forth into public, dressed in fine clothes, which was one of the sins remarked in the rich man.
CYRIL; The passions of the Scribes were the love of vainglory and the love of gain. That the disciples should avoid these hateful crimes, He gives them this warning, and adds, And love greetings in the markets.
THEOPHYL. Which is the way of those who court and hunt after a good reputation, or they do it for the sake of collecting money.
It follows, And the chief seats in synagogues.
BEDE; He does not forbid those to sit first in the synagogue, or at the feast, to whom this dignity belongs by right, but He tells them to beware of those who love this unduly; denouncing not the distinction, but the love of it. Though the other also would not be free from blame, when the same men who wish to take part in the disputes in the market, desire also to be called masters in the synagogue. For two reasons we are bid to beware of those who seek after vain-glory, either lest we be led away by their presences, supposing those things to be good which they do, or be inflamed with jealousy, desiring in vain to be praised for the good deeds which they pretend to. But they seek not only for praise from men, but money; for it follows, Who devour widows' houses, and for a show make long prayers. For pretending to be righteous and of great merit before God, they do not fail to receive large sums of money from the sick and those whose consciences are disturbed with their sins, as though they would be their protectors in the judgment.
CHRYS. Thrusting themselves also into the possessions of widows, they grind down their poverty, not content to eat as it may be afforded them, but greedily devouring; using prayer also to an evil end, they thus expose themselves to a heavier condemnation; as it follows, These shall receive the greater damnation.
THEOPHYL. Because they not only do what is evil, but make a presence of prayer, so making virtue an excuse for their sin. They also impoverish widows whom they were bound to pity, by their presence driving them to great expenses.
BEDE; Or because they seek from men praise and money, they are punished with the greater damnation.
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GLOSS. Our Lord having rebuked the covetousness of the Scribes who devoured widows' houses, commends the almsgiving of a widow; as it is said, And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting into the treasury, &c.
BEDE; In the Greek language, signifies to keep, and gaza in Persian means riches, hence gazophylacium is used for the name of the place in which money is kept. Now there was a chest with an opening at the top placed near the altar, on the right hand of those entering the house of God, into which the Priests cast all the money, which was given for the Lord's temple. But our Lord as He overthrows those who trade in His house, so also He remarks those who bring gifts, giving praise to the deserving, but condemning the bad. Hence it follows, And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in there two mites.
CYRIL; She offered two oboli, which with the sweat of her brow she had earned for her daily living, or what she daily begs for at the hands of others she gives to God, showing that her poverty is fruitful to her. Therefore does she surpass the others, and by a just award receives a crown from God; as it follows, Of a truth I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more, &c.
BEDE; For whatever we offer with an honest heart is well pleasing to God, who has respect to the heart, not the substance, nor does He weigh the amount of that which is given in sacrifice, but of that from which it is taken as it follows, For all these have cast in of their abundance, but she all that she had.
CHRYS. For God regarded not the scantiness of the offering, but the overflowing of the affection. Almsgiving is not the bestowing a few at things out of many, but it is that of the widow emptying herself of her whole substance. But if you cannot offer as much as the widow, at least give all that remains over.
BEDE; Now mystically, the rich men who cast their gifts into the treasury signify the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow, the simplicity of the Church which is called poor, because it has either cast away the spirit of pride, or its sins, as if they were worldly riches. But the Church is a widow, because her Husband endured death for her. She cast two mites into the treasury, because in God's sight, in whose keeping are all the offerings of our works, she presents her gifts, whether of love to God and her neighbor, or of faith and prayer. And these excel all the works of the proud Jews, for they of their abundance cast into the offerings of God, in that they presume on their righteousness, but the Church casts in all her living, for every thing that has life she believes to be the gift of God.
THEOPHYL. Or the widow may be taken to mean any soul bereft as it were of her first husband, the ancient law, and not worthy to be united to the Word of God. Who brings to God instead of a dowry faith and a good conscience, and so seems to offer more than those who are rich in words, and abound in the moral virtues of the Gentiles.
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EUSEB. How beautiful was every thing relating to the structure of the temple, history informs us, and there are yet preserved remains of it, enough to instruct us in what was once the character of the buildings. But our Lord proclaimed to those that were wondering at the building of the temple, that there should not be left in it one stone upon another. For it was meet that that place, because of the presumption of its worshippers, should suffer every kind of desolation.
BEDE; For it was ordained by the dispensation of God that the city itself and the temple should be overthrown, lest perhaps some one yet a child in the faith, while rapt in astonishment at the rites of the sacrifices, should be carried away by the mere sight of the various beauties.
AMBROSE; It was spoken then of the temple made with hands, that it should be overthrown. For there is nothing made with hands which age does not impair, or violence throw down, or fire burn. Yet there is also another temple, that is, the synagogue, whose ancient building falls to pieces as the Church rises. There is also a temple in every one, which falls when faith is lacking, and above all when any one falsely shields himself under the name of Christ, that so he may rebel against his inward inclinations.
CYRIL; Now His disciples did not at all perceive the force of His words, but supposed they were spoken of the end of the world. Therefore asked they Him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign, &c.
AMBROSE; Matthew adds a third question, that both the time of the destruction of the temple, and the sign of His coming, and the end of the world, might be inquired into by the disciples. But our Lord being asked when the destruction of the temple should be, and what the sign of His coming, instructs them as to the signs, but does not mind to inform them as to the time. It follows, Take heed that you be not deceived.
ATHAN. For since we have received, delivered to us by God, graces and doctrines which ere above man, (as, for example, the rule of a heavenly life, power against evil spirits, the adoption and the knowledge of the Father and the Word, the gift of the Holy Spirit,) our adversary the devil goes about seeking to steal from us the seed of the word which has been sown. But the Lord, shutting up in us His teaching as His own precious gift, warns us, lest we be deceived. And one very great gift He gives us, the word of God, that not only we be not led away by what appears, but even if there is ought lying concealed, by the grace of God we may discern it. For seeing that the devil is the hateful inventor of evil, what he himself is he conceals, but craftily assumes a name desirable to all; just as if a man wishing to get into his power some children not His own, should in the absence of the parents counterfeit their looks, and lead away the children who were longing for them. In every heresy then the devil says in disguise, "I am Christ, and with me there is truth." And so it follows, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near.
CYRIL; For before His descent from heaven, there shall come some to whom we must not give place. For the Only-begotten Son of God, when He came to save the world, wished to be in secret, that He might bear the cross for us. But His second coming shall not be in secret, but terrible and open. For He shall descend in the glory of God the Father, with the Angels attending Him, to judge the world in righteousness. Therefore He concludes, Go you not therefore after them.
TIT BOST. Or perhaps He does not speak of false Christs coming before the end of the world, but of those who existed in the Apostles' time.
BEDE; For there were many leaders when the destruction of Jerusalem was at hand, who declared themselves to be Christ, and that the time of deliverance was drawing nigh. Many heresiarchs also in the Church have preached that the day of the Lord is at hand, whom the Apostles condemn. Many Antichrists also came in Christ's name, of whom the first was Simon Magus, who said, This man is the great power of God.
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GREG. God denounces the woes that shall forerun the destruction of the world, that so they may the less disturb when they come, as having been foreknown. For darts strike the less which are foreseen. And so He says, But when you shall hear of wars and commotions, &c. Wars refer to the enemy, commotions to citizens. To show us then that we shall be troubled from within and without, He asserts that the one we suffer from the enemy, the other from our own brethren.
AMBROSE; But of the heavenly words none are greater witnesses than we, upon whom the ends of the world have come. What wars and what rumors of wars have we received!
GREG. But that the end will not immediately follow these evils which come first, it is added, These things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet, &c. For the last tribulation is preceded by many tribulations, because many evils must come first, that they may await that evil which has no end.
It follows, Then said he to them, Nation shall rise against nation, &c. For it must needs be that we should suffer some things from heaven, some from earth, some from the elements, and some from men. Here then are signified the confusions of men.
It follows, And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places. This relates to the wrath from above.
CHRYS. For an earthquake is at one time a sign of wrath, as when our Lord was crucified the earth shook; but at another time it is a token of God's providence, as when the Apostles were praying, the place was moved where they were assembled. It follows, and pestilence.
GREG. Look at the vicissitudes of bodies. And famine. Observe the barrenness of the ground. And fearful sights and great signs there shall be from heaven. Behold the variableness of the climate, which must be ascribed to those storms which by no means regard the order of the seasons. For the things which come in fixed order are not signs. For every thing that we receive for the use of life we pervert to the service of sin, but all those things which we have bent to a wicked use, are turned to the instruments of our punishment.
AMBROSE; The ruin of the world then is preceded by certain of the world's calamities, such as famine, pestilence, and persecution.
THEOPHYL. Now some have wished to place the fulfillment of these things not only at the future consummation of all things, but at the time also of the taking of Jerusalem. For when the Author of peace was killed, then justly arose among the Jews wars and sedition. But from wars proceed pestilence and famine, the former indeed produced by the air infected with dead bodies, the latter through the lands remaining uncultivated. Josephus also relates the most intolerable distresses to have occurred from famine; and at the time of Claudius Caesar there was a severe famine, as we read in the Acts, and many terrible events happened, A forboding, as Josephus says, the destruction of Jerusalem.
CHRYS. But He says, that the end of the city shall not come immediately, that is, the taking of Jerusalem, but there shall be many battles first.
BEDE; The Apostles are also exhorted not to be alarmed by these forerunners, nor to desert Jerusalem and Judea. But the kingdom against kingdom, and the pestilence of those whose word creeps as a cancer, and the famine of hearing the word of God, and the shaking of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may be explained also in the heretics, who contending one with another bring victory to the Church.
AMBROSE; There are also other wars which the Christian wages, the struggles of different lusts, and the conflicts of the will; and domestic foes are far more dangerous than all foreign.
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GREG. Because the things which have been prophesied of arise not from the injustice of the inflictor of them, but from the deserts of the world which suffers them, the deeds of wicked men are foretold; as it is said, But before all these things, they shall lay their hands upon you: as if He says First the hearts of men, afterwards the elements, shall be disturbed, that when the order of things is thrown into confusion, it may be plain from what retribution it arises. For although the end of the world depends upon its own appointed course, yet finding some more corrupt than others who shall rightly be overwhelmed in its fall, our Lord makes them known.
CYRIL; Or He says this, because before that Jerusalem should be taken by the Romans, the disciples, having suffered persecution from the Jews, were imprisoned and brought before rulers; Paul was sent to Rome to Caesar, and stood before Festus and Agrippa.
It follows, And it shall turn to you for a testimony. In the Greek it is, for the glory of martyrdom.
GREG. Or, for a testimony, that is, against those who by persecuting you bring death upon themselves, or living do not imitate you, or themselves becoming hardened perish without excuse from whom the elect take example that they may live. But as hearing so many terrible things the hearts of men may be troubled He therefore adds for their consolation, Settle it therefore in your hearts, &c.
THEOPHYL. For because they were foolish and inexperienced, the Lord tells them this, that they might not be confounded when about to give account to the wise. And He adds the cause, For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. As if He said, you shall forthwith receive of me eloquence and wisdom, so that all your adversaries, were they gathered together in one, shall not be able to resist you, neither in wisdom, that is, the power of the understanding, nor in eloquence, that is, excellence of speech, for many men have often wisdom in their mind, but being easily provoked to their great disturbance, mar the whole when their time of speaking comes. But not such were the Apostles, for in both these gifts they were highly favored.
GREG. As if the Lord said to His disciples, "Be not afraid, go forward to the battle, it is I that fight; you utter the words, I am He that speaks."
AMBROSE; Now in one place Christ speaks in His disciples, as here; in another, the Father; in another the Spirit of the Father speaks. These do not differ but agree together. In that one speaks, three speak, for the voice of the Trinity is one.
THEOPHYL. Having in what has gone before dispelled the fear of inexperience, He goes on to warn them of another very certain event, which might agitate their minds, lest falling suddenly upon them, it should dismay them; for it follows, And you shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
GREG We are the more galled by the persecutions we suffer from those of whose dispositions we made sure, because together with the bodily pain, we are tormented by the bitter pangs of lost affection.
GREG. NYSS. But let us consider the state of things at that time. While all men were suspected, kinsfolk were divided against one another, each differing from the other in religion; the gentile son stood up the betrayer of his believing parents, and of his believing son the unbelieving father became the determined accuser; no age was spared in the persecution of the faith; women were unprotected even by the natural weakness of their sex.
THEOPHYL. To all this He adds the hatred which they shall met with from men.
GREG. But because of the hard things foretold concerning the affliction of death, there immediately follows a consolation, concerning the joy of the resurrection, when it is said, But there shall not an hair of your head perish. As though He said to the martyrs Why fear you for the perishing of that which when cut, pains when that can not perish in you, which when cut gives no pain?
BEDE; Or else, There shall not perish a hair of the head of our Lord's Apostles, because not only the noble deeds and words of the Saints, but e en the slightest thought shall meet with its deserving reward.
GREG. He who preserves patience in adversity, is thereby rendered proof against all affliction, and so by conquering himself, he gains the government of himself; as it follows, In your patience shall you possess your souls. For what is it to possess your souls, but to live perfectly in all things, and sitting it upon the citadel of virtue to hold in subjection every motion of the mind?
GREG. By patience then we possess our souls, because when we are said to govern; ourselves, we begin to possess you very thing which we are. But for this reason, the possession of the soul is laid in the virtue of patience, because patience is the root and guardian which are inflicted by others, and also to have no feeling of indignation against him who inflicts them.
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BEDE, Hitherto our Lord had been speaking of those things which were to come to pass for forty years, the end not yet coming. He now describes the very end itself of the desolation, which was accomplished by the Roman army; as it is said, And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed, &c.
EUSEB. By the desolation of Jerusalem, He means that it was never again to be set up, or its legal rites to be reestablished, so that no one should expect, after the coming siege and desolation, any restoration to take place, as there was in the time of the Persian king, Antiochus the Great, and Pompey.
AUG. These words of our Lord, Luke has here related to show, that the abomination of desolation which was prophesied by Daniel, and of which Matthew and Mark had spoken, was fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem.
AMBROSE; For the Jews thought that the abomination of desolation took place when the Romans, in mockery of a Jewish observance, cast a pig's head into the temple.
EUSEB. Now our Lord, foreseeing that there would be a famine in the city, warned His disciples in the siege that was coming, not to betake themselves to the city as a place of refuge, and under God's protection, but rather to depart from thence, and flee to the mountains.
BEDE; The ecclesiastical history relates, that all the Christians who were in Judea, when the destruction of Jerusalem was approaching, being warned of the Lord, departed from that place, and dwelt beyond the Jordan in a city called Pella, until the desolation of Judea was ended.
AUG And before this, Matthew and Mark said, And let him that is on the housetop not come down into his house; and Mark added, neither enter therein to take any thing out of his house; in place of which Luke subjoins, And let them which are in the midst of it depart out.
BEDE; But how, while the city was already compassed with an army, were they to depart out? except that the preceding word "then" is to be referred, not to the actual time of the siege, but the period just before, when first the armed soldiers began to disperse themselves through the parts of Galilee and Samaria.
AUG. But where Matthew and Mark have written, Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes, Luke adds more clearly, And let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto, for these be the days of vengeance, that all the things which are written may be fulfilled.
BEDE; And these are the days of vengeance, that is, the days exacting vengeance for our Lord's blood.
AUG. Then Luke follows in words similar to those of the other two; But woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck in those days; and thus has made plain what might otherwise have been doubtful, namely, that what was said of the abomination of desolation belonged not to the end of the world, but the taking of Jerusalem.
BEDE; He says then, Woe to them that nurse, or give suck, as some interpret it, whose womb or arms now heavy with the burden of children, cause no slight obstacle to the speed of flight.
THEOPHYL. But some say that the Lord hereby signified the devouring of children, which Josephus also relates.
CHRYS. He next assigns the cause of what he had just now said, For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. For the miseries that took hold of them were such as, in the words of Josephus, no calamity can henceforth compare to them.
EUSEB. For so in truth it was, that when the Romans came and were taking the city, many multitudes of the Jewish people perished in the mouth of the sword; as it follows, And they shall fall by the edge of the sword. But still more were cut off by famine. And these things happened at first indeed under Titus and Vespasian, but after them in the time of Hadrian the Roman general, when the land of their birth was forbidden to the Jews Hence it follows, And they shall be led away captive into all nations. For the Jews filled the whole land, reaching even to the ends of the earth, and when their land was inhabited by strangers, they alone could not enter it; as it follows, And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
BEDE; Which indeed the Apostle makes mention of when he says, Blindness in part is happened to Israel, and so all Israel shall be saved. Which when it shall have gained the promised salvation, hopes not rashly to return to the land of its fathers.
AMBROSE; Now mystically, the abomination of desolation is the coming of Antichrist, for with ill-omened sacrilege he pollutes the innermost recesses of the heart, sitting as it is literally in the temple, that he may claim to himself the throne of divine power. But according to the spiritual meaning, he is well brought in, because he desires to impress firmly on the affections the footstep of his unbelief, disputing from the Scriptures that he is Christ. Then shall come desolation, for very many falling away shall depart from the true religion. Then shall be the day of the Lord, since as His first coming was to redeem sin, so also His second shall be to subdue iniquity, lest more should be carried away by the error of unbelief. There is also another Antichrist, that is, the Devil, who is trying to besiege Jerusalem, i.e. the peaceful soul, with the hosts of his law. When then the Devil is in the midst of the temple, there is the desolation of abomination. But when upon any one in trouble the spiritual presence of Christ has shone, the unjust one is cast out, and righteousness begins her reign. There is also a third Antichrist, as Arius and Sabellius and all who with evil purpose lead us astray. But these are they who are with child, to whom woe is denounced, who enlarge the size of their flesh, and the step of whose inmost soul waxes slow, as those who are worn out in virtue, pregnant with vice. But neither do those with child escape condemnation, who though firm in the resolution of good acts, have not yet yielded any fruits of the work undertaken. These are those which conceive from fear of God, but do not all bring forth. For there are some which thrust forth the word abortive before their delivery. There are others too which have Christ in the womb, but have not yet formed Him. Therefore she who brings forth righteousness, brings forth Christ. Let us also hasten to nourish our children, lest the day of judgment or death find us as it were the parents of an imperfect offspring. And this you will do if you keep all the words of righteousness in your heart, and wait not the time of old age, but in your earliest years, without corruption of your body, quickly conceive wisdom, quickly nourish it. But at the end shall all Judea be made subject to the nations which shall believe, by the mouth of the spiritual sword, which is the two-edged word.
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BEDE; The events which were to follow the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles He explains in regular order, saying, There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.
AMBROSE; All which signs are more clearly described in Matthew, Then shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.
EUSEB. For at that time when the end of this perishing life shall be accomplished, and, as the Apostle says, The fashion of this world passes away, then shall succeed a new world in which instead of sensible light, Christ Himself shall shine as a sunbeam, and as the King of the new world, and so mighty and glorious will be His light, that the sun which now dazzles so brightly, and the moon and all the stars, shall be hidden by the coming of a far greater light.
CHRYS For as in this world the moon and the stars are soon dimmed by the rising of the sun, so at the glorious appearance of Christ shall the sun become dark, and the moon not shed her ray, and the stars shall fall from heaven, stripped of their former attire, that they may put on the robe of a better light.
EUSEB. What things shall befall the world after the darkening of the orbs of light, and whence shall arise the straitening of nations, He next explains as follows, And of the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea. Wherein He seems to teach, that the beginning of the universal change will be owing to the failing of the watery substance. For this being first absorbed or congealed, so that no longer is heard the roaring of the sea, nor do the waves reach the shore because of the exceeding drought, the other parts of the world, ceasing to obtain the usual vapor which came forth from the watery matter, shall undergo a revolution. Accordingly since the appearance of Christ must put down the prodigies which resist God, namely, those of Antichrist, the beginnings of wrath shall take their rise from droughts, such as that neither storm nor roaring of the sea be any more heard.
And this event shall be succeeded by the distress of the men who survive; as it follows, Men's hearts being dried up for fear, and looking after those things which shall come upon the whole world. But the things that shall then come upon the world He proceeds to declare, adding, For the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
THEOPHYL. Or else, When the higher world shall be changed, then also the lower elements shall suffer loss; whence it follows, And on the earth distress of nations, &c. As if He said, the sea shall roar terribly, and its shores shall be shaken with the tempest, so that of the people and nations of the earth there shall be distress, that is, a universal misery, so that they shall pine away from fear and expectation of the evils which are coming upon the world.
AUG. But you will say, your punishment compels you to confess that the end is now approaching, seeing the fulfillment of that which was foretold. For it is certain there is no country, no place in our time, which is not affected or troubled. But if those evils which mankind now suffer are sure signs that our Lord is now about to come, what means that which the Apostle says, For when they shall say peace and safety. Let us see then if it be not perhaps better to understand the words of prophecy to be not so fulfilled, but rather that they will come to pass when the tribulation of the whole world shall be such that it shall belong to the Church, which shall be troubled by the whole world, not to those who shall trouble it. For they are those who shall say, Peace and safety. But now these evils which are counted the greatest and most immoderate, we see to be common to both the kingdoms of Christ and the Devil. For the good and the evil are alike afflicted with them, and among these great evils is the yet universal resort to licentious feasts. Is not this the being dried up from fear, or rather the being burnt up from lust?
THEOPHYL. But not only shall men be tossed about when the world shall be changed, but angels even shall stand amazed at the terrible revolutions of the universe. Hence it follows, And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
GREG. For whom does He call the powers of heaven, but the angels, dominions, principalities, and powers? which at the coming of the strict Judge shall then appear visibly to our eyes, that they may strictly exact judgment of us, seeing that now our invisible Creator patiently bears with us.
EUSEB. When also the Son of God shall come in glory, and shall crush the proud empire of the son of sin, the angels of heaven attending Him, the doors of heaven which have been shut from the foundation of the world shall be opened, that the things that are on high may be witnessed.
CHRYS. Or the heavenly powers shall be shaken, although themselves know it not. For when they see the innumerable multitudes condemned, they shall not stand there without trembling.
BEDE; Thus it is said in Job, the pillars of heaven tremble and are afraid at his reproof. What then do the boards do, when the pillars tremble? what does the shrub of the desert suffer, when the cedar of Paradise is shaken?
EUSEB. Or the powers of heaven are those which preside over the sensible parts of the universe, which indeed shall then be shaken that they may attain to a better state. For they shall be discharged from the ministry with which they serve God toward the sensible bodies in their perishing condition.
AUG. But that the Lord may not seem to have foretold as extraordinary those things concerning His second coming, which were wont to happen to this world even before His first coming, and that we may not be laughed at by those who have read more and greater events than these in the history of nations, I think what has been said may be better understood to apply to the Church. For the Church is the sun, the moon, and the stars, to whom it was said, Fair as the moon, elect as the sun. And she will then not be seen for the unbounded rage of the persecutors.
AMBROSE; While many also fall away from religion, clear faith will be obscured by the cloud of unbelief, for to me that Sun of righteousness is either diminished or increased according to my faith; and as the moon in its monthly wanings, or when it is opposite the sun by the interposition of the earth, suffers eclipse, so also the holy Church when the sins of the flesh oppose the heavenly light, cannot borrow the brightness of divine light from Christ's rays. For in persecutions, the love of this world generally shuts out the light of the divine Sun; the stars also fall, that is, men who shine in glory fall when the bitterness of persecution waxes sharp and prevails. And this must be until the multitude of the Church be gathered in, for thus are the good tried and the weak made manifest.
AUG. But in the words, And upon the earth distress of nations, He would understand by nations, not those which shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham, but those which shall stand on the left hand.
AMBROSE; So severe then will be the manifold fires of our souls, that with consciences depraved through the multitude of crimes, by reason of our fear of the coming judgment, the dew of the sacred fountain will be dried upon us. But as the Lord's coming is looked for, in order that His presence may dwell in the whole circle of mankind or the world, which now dwells in each individual who has embraced Christ with his whole heart, so the powers of heaven shall at our Lord's coming obtain an increase of grace, and shall be moved by the fullness of the Divine nature more closely infusing itself. There are also heavenly powers which proclaim the glory of God, which shall be stirred by a fuller infusion of Christ, that they may see Christ.
AUG. Or the powers of heaven shall be stirred, because when the ungodly persecute, some of the most stout-hearted believers shall be troubled.
THEOPHYL. It follows, And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds. Both the believers and unbelievers shall see Him, for He Himself as well as His cross shall glisten brighter than the sun, and so shall be observed of all.
AUG. But the words, coming in the clouds, may be taken in two ways. Either coming in His Church as it were in a cloud, as He now ceases not to come. But then it shall be with great power and majesty, for far greater will His power and might appear to His saints, to whom He will give great virtue, that they may not be overcome in such a fearful persecution. Or in His body in which He sits at His Father's right hand He must rightly be supposed to come, and not only in His body, but also in a cloud, for He will come even as He went away, And a cloud received him out of their sight.
CHRYS. For God ever appears in a cloud, according to the Psalms, clouds and darkness are round about him. Therefore shall the Son of man come in the clouds as God, and the Lord, not secretly, but in glory worthy of God. Therefore He adds, with great power and majesty.
CYRIL; Great must be understood in like manner. For His first appearance He made in our weakness and lowliness, the second He shall celebrate in all His own power.
GREG. For in power and majesty will men see Him, whom in lowly stations they refused to hear, that so much the more acutely they may feel His power, as they are now the less willing to bow the necks of their hearts to His sufferings.
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