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AMBROSE; Neither indignation at their treatment, nor displeasure at their wickedness, caused our Lord to abandon Judea, but unmindful of His injuries, and remembering mercy, at one time by teaching, at another by healing, He softens the hearts of this unbelieving people, as it is said, And he went down to Capernaum.
CYRIL; For although He knew that they were disobedient and hard of heart, He nevertheless visits them, as a good Physician tries to heal those who are suffering from a mortal disease. But He taught them boldly in the synagogues, as Esaias said, I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. On the sabbath day also He disputed with them, because they were at leisure. They wondered therefore at the mightiness of His teaching, His virtue, and His power, as it follows, And they were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. That is, not soothing, but urging and exciting them to seek salvation. Now the Jews supposed Christ to be one of the saints or prophets. But in order that they might esteem Him higher, He passes beyond the prophetic limits. For he said not, "Thus said the Lord," but being the Master of the Law, He uttered things which were above the Law, changing the letter to the truth, and the figures to the spiritual meaning.
THEOPHYL; The word of the teacher is with power, when he performs that which he teaches. But he who by his actions belies what he preaches is despised.
CYRIL; But He generally intermingles with His teaching the performance of mighty works. For those whose reason does not incline to knowledge, are roused by the manifestation of miracles. Hence it follows, And there was in the synagogue a man which had a devil.
AMBROSE; The work of divine healing commenced on the sabbath, signifying thereby that he began anew where the old creation ceased, in order that He might declare at the very beginning that the Son of God was not under the Law, but above the Law. Rightly also He began on the sabbath, that He might show Himself the Creator, who interweaves His works one within another, and follows up that which He had before begun; just as a builder determining to reconstruct a house, begins to pull down the old one, not from the foundation, but from the top, so as to apply his hand first to that part, where he had before left off.: Holy men may through the word of God deliver from evil spirits, but to bid the dead rise again, is the work of Divine power alone.
CYRIL; But the Jews spoke falsely of the glory of Christ, saying, He casts out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. To remove this charge, when the devils came beneath His invincible power, and endured not the Divine Presence, they sent forth a savage cry, as it follows: And he cried with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with you, &c.
THEOPHYL; As if he said, Abstain a while from troubling me, you who have no fellowship with our designs.
AMBROSE; It ought not to shock any one that the devil is mentioned in this book as the first to have spoken the name of Jesus of Nazareth. For Christ received not from him that name which an Angel brought down from heaven to the Virgin. The devil is of such effrontery, that he is the first to use a thing among men and bring it as something new to them, that he may strike people with terror at his power. Hence it follows: For I know you who you are, the Holy One of God.
ATHAN. He spoke of Him not as a Holy One of God, as if He were like to the other saints, but as being in a remarkable manner the Holy One, with the addition of the article. For He is by nature holy by partaking of whom all others are called holy. Nor again did He speak this as if He knew it, but He pretended to know it.
CYRIL; For the devils thought by praises of this sort to make Him a lover of vainglory, that He might be induced to abstain from opposing or destroying them by way of grateful return.
CHRYS. The devil wished also to disturb the order of things, and to deprive the Apostles of their dignity, and to incline the many to obey Him.
ATHAN. Although he confessed the truth he controlled his tongue, lest with the truth he should also publish his own disgrace, which should teach us not to care for such, although they speak the truth, for we who know the divine Scripture, must not be taught by the devil, as it follows: And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, &c.
THEOPHYL; But by the permission of God, the man who was to be delivered from the devil is thrown into the midst, that the power of the Savior being manifested might bring over many to the way of salvation. As it follows: And when he had thrown him in the midst. But this seems to be opposed to Mark, who says, And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying with a loud voice, went out of him, unless we understand that Mark meant by tearing him the same as Luke by these words, And when he had thrown him in the midst, so that what follows, and hurt him not, might be understood to mean, that that twisting of limbs, and sore troubling, did not weaken him, as is often the case when devils depart from a man, leaving him with limbs cut and torn off. Well then do they wonder at such complete restoration of health.
For it follows: And fear came upon all.
THEOPHYL. As if they said, What is this word by which he commands, Go out, and he went out?
THEOPHYL; Holy men were able by the word of God to cast out devils, but the Word Himself does mighty works by His own power.
AMBROSE; In a mystery, the man in the synagogue with the unclean spirit is the Jewish people, which being fast bound in the wiles of the devil, defiled its vaunted cleanliness of body by the pollution of the heart. And truly it had an unclean spirit, because it had lost the Holy Spirit. For the devil entered whence Christ had gone out.
THEOPHYL. We must know also that many now have devils, namely, such as fulfill the desires of devils, as the furious have the demon of anger; and so of the rest. But the Lord came into the synagogue when the thoughts of the man were collected, and then says to the demon that dwelt there, Hold your peace, and immediately throwing him into the middle he departs out of him. For it becomes not a man always to be angry, (that is, like the brutes,) nor always to be without anger, (for that is want of feeling,) but he must take the middle path, and have anger against what is evil; and so the man is thrown into the midst when the unclean spirit departs from him.
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AMBROSE; Luke having first introduced a man delivered from an evil spirit, goes on to relate the healing of a woman. For our Lord had come to heal each sex, and he ought first to be healed who was first created. Hence it is said, And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house.
CHRYS. For He honored His disciples by dwelling among them, and so making them the more zealous.
CYRIL; Now, see how Christ abides in the house of a poor man, suffering poverty of His own will for our sakes, that we might learn to visit the poor, and despise not the destitute and needy. It follows: And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever: and they besought him for her.
THEOPHYL; At one time at the request of others, at another of his own accord, our Savior cures the sick, showing that He is far aloof from the passions of sinners, and ever grants the prayer of the faithful, and what they in themselves little understand He either makes intelligible, or forgives their not understanding it. As, Who understands his errors? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults.
CHRYS. Because Matthew is silent on the point of asking Him, he does not differ from Luke, or it matters not, for one Gospel had brevity in view, the other accurate research. It follows: And he stood over her, &c.
ORIGEN; Here Luke speaks figuratively, as of a command given to a sensible being, saying, that the fever was commanded, and neglected not the work of Him who commanded it. Hence it follows: And she arose, and ministered to them.
CHRYS. For since the disease was curable, He shows His power by the manner of the cure, doing what ere could never do. For after the allaying of the fever, the patient needs much time ere he be restored to his former health, but at this time all took place at once.
AMBROSE; But if we weigh these things with deeper thoughts, we shall consider the health of the mind as well as the body; that the mind which was assailed by the wiles of the devil may be released first. Eve was not a hungered before the serpent beguiled her, and therefore against the author of evil himself ought the medicine of salvation first to operate. Perhaps also in that woman as in a type our flesh languished under the various fevers of crimes, nor should I say that the fever of love was less than that of bodily heat.
THEOPHYL; For if we say that a man released from the devil represents morally the mind cleansed from unclean thoughts, consequently a woman vexed by fever, but cured at our Lord's command, represents the flesh controlled by the rules of continence in the fury of its own lust.
CYRIL; Let us therefore receive Jesus. For when He has visited us, we carry Him in our heart and mind; He will then extinguish the flames of our unlicensed pleasures, and will make us whole, so that we minister to Him, that is, do things well-pleasing to Him.
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THEOPHYL. We must observe the zeal of the multitude, who after the sun had set bring their sick to Him, not deterred by the lateness of the day; as it is said, Now when the sun was setting, they brought their sick.
ORIGEN; It was ordered about sun-set, that is, when the day was gone, that they should bring them out, either because during the day they were employed about other things, or because they thought that it was not lawful to heal on the sabbath. But He healed them, as it follows, But he laid his hands upon every one of them.
CYRIL; But although as God He was able to drive away diseases by His word, He nevertheless touches them, showing that His flesh was powerful to apply remedies, since it was the flesh of God; for as fire, when applied to a brazen vessel, imprints on it the effect of its own heat, so the omnipotent Word of God, when He united to Himself in real assumption a living virgin temple, endued with understanding, implanted in it a participation of His own power. May He also touch us, nay rather may we touch Him, that He may deliver us from the infirmities of our souls as well as the assaults of the evil spirit and pride! For it follows, And devils also came out.
THEOPHYL; The devils confess the Son of God, and as it is afterwards said, they knew him to be Christ; for when the devil saw Him distressed by fasting, he perceived Him to be truly man, but when he prevailed not in his trial he doubted whether or not He were the Son of God, but now by the power of Christ's miracles he either perceived or suspected Him to be the Son of God. He did not then persuade the Jews to crucify Him because he thought Him not to be Christ or the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that by this death he himself would be condemned. Of this mystery hidden from the world the Apostle says, that none of the princes of this world knew, for if they had known they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.
CHRYS. But in what follows, And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak, mark the humility of Christ, who would not let the unclean spirits make Him manifest. For it was not fit that they should usurp the glory of the Apostolical office, nor did it become the mysteries of Christ to be made public by impure tongues.
THEOPHYL. Because, "praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner." Or, because He did not wish to inflame the envy of the Jews by being praised of all.
THEOPHYL; But the Apostles themselves are commanded to be silent concerning Him, lest by proclaiming His divine Majesty, the dispensation of His Passion should be delayed.
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CHRYS. When he had bestowed sufficient favor upon the people by miracles, it was necessary for Him to depart. For miracles are always thought greater when the worker is gone, since they themselves are then the more heeded, and have in their turn a voice; as it is said, But when it was as day, he departed, and went.
GREEK EX. He went also into the desert, as Mark says, and prayed; not that he needed prayer, but as an example to us of good works.
CHRYS. The Pharisees indeed, seeing how that the miracles themselves published His fame, were offended at His power. But the people hearing His words, assented and followed; as it is said, And the multitudes sought him, not indeed any of the chief priests, or scribes, but all those who had not been blackened with the dark stain of malice, and preserved their consciences unhurt.
GREEK EX. Now when Mark says that the Apostles came to him, saying, All seek you, but Luke, that the people came, there is no difference between them, for the people came to Him following in the footsteps of the Apostles. But the Lord rejoiced in being held back, yet bid them let Him go, that others also might partake of His teaching, as the time of His presence would not last long; as it follows, And he said to them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, &c. Mark says, to this I came, showing the loftiness of His divine nature, and His voluntary emptying Himself of it. But Luke says, to this am I sent, showing His incarnation, and calling also the decree of the Father, a sending Him forth; and one simply says, To preach, the other added, the kingdom of God, which is Christ Himself.
CHRYS. Observe also, that He might, by abiding in the same place, have drawn all men over to Himself. He did not however do so, giving us an example to go about and seek those who are perishing, as the shepherd his lost sheep, and as the physician the sick. For by recovering one soul, we may be able to blot out a thousand sins. Hence also it follows, And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. He frequently indeed went to the synagogues, to show them that He was no deceiver. For if He were constantly to dwell in the desolate places, they would spread abroad that He was concealing Himself.
THEOPHYL; But if the sun-setting mystically expresses the death of our Lord, the returning day denotes His resurrection, (the light of which being made manifest, He is sought for by the multitudes of believers, and being found in the desert of the Gentiles He is held back by them, lest He should depart;) especially as this took place on the first day of the week, on which day the Resurrection was celebrated.
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AMBROSE; When the Lord had performed many and various kinds of cures, the multitude began to heed neither time nor place in their desire to be healed. The evening came, they followed; a lake is before them, they still press on; as it is said, And it came to pass, as the people pressed upon him.
CHRYS. For they clung to Him with love and admiration, and longed to keep Him with them. For who would depart while He performed such miracles? who would not be content to see only His face, and the mouth that uttered such things? Nor as performing miracles only was He an object of admiration, but His whole appearance was overflowing with grace. Therefore when He speaks, they listen to Him in silence, interrupting not the chain of His discourse; for it is said, that they might hear the word of God, &c. It follows, And he stood near the lake of Gennesaret.
THEOPHYL; The lake of Gennesaret is said to be the same as the sea of Galilee or the sea of Tiberias; but it is called the sea of Galilee from the adjacent province, the sea of Tiberias from a neighboring city. Gennesaret, however, is the name given it from the nature of the lake itself, (which is thought from its crossing waves to raise a breeze upon itself,) being the Greek expression for "making a breeze to itself." For the water is not steady like that of a lake, but constantly agitated by the breezes blowing over it. It is sweet to the taste, and wholesome to drink. In the Hebrew tongue, any extent of water, whether it be sweet or salt, is called a sea.
THEOPHYL. But the Lord seeks to avoid glory the more it followed Him, and therefore separating Himself from the multitude, He entered into a ship, as it is said, And he saw two ships standing near the lake: but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
CHRYS. This was a sign of leisure, but according to Matthew He finds them mending their nets. For so great was their poverty, that they patched up their old nets, not being able to buy new ones. But our Lord was very desirous to collect the multitudes, that none might remain behind, but they might all behold Him face to face; He therefore enters into a ship, as it is said, And he entered into a ship, which was Simon's, and prayed him.
THEOPHYL. Behold the gentleness of Christ; He asks Peter; and the willingness of Peter, who was obedient in all things.
CHRYS. After having performed many miracles, He again commences His teaching, and being on the sea, He fishes for those who were on the shore. Hence it follows, And he sat down and taught the people out of the ship.
GREG. NAZ. Condescending to all, in order that He might draw forth a fish from the deep, i.e. man swimming in Or the ever changing scenes and bitter storms of this life.
THEOPHYL; Now mystically, the two ships represent circumcision and uncircumcision. The Lord sees these, because in each people He knows who are His, and by seeing, i.e. by a merciful visitation, He brings them nearer the tranquillity of the life to come. The fishermen are the doctors of the Church, because by the net of faith they catch us, and bring us as it were ashore to the land of the living. But these nets are at one time spread out for catching fish, at another washed and folded up. For every time is not fitted for teaching, but at one time the teacher must speak with the tongue, and at another time we must discipline ourselves. The ship of Simon is the primitive Church, of which St. Paul says, He that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of circumcision. The ship is well called one, for in the multitude of believers there was one heart and one soul.
AUG. From which ship He taught the multitude, for by the authority of the Church He teaches the Gentiles. But the Lord entering the ship, and asking Peter to put off a little from the land, signifies that we must be moderate in our words to the multitude, that they may be neither taught earthly things, nor from earthly things rush into the depths of the sacraments. Or, the Gospel must first be preached to the neighboring countries of the Gentiles, that (as He afterwards says, Launch out into the deep) He might command it to be preached afterwards to the more distant nations.
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CYRIL; Having sufficiently taught the people, He returns again to His mighty works, and by the employment of fishing fishes for His disciples. Hence it follows, When he had left off speaking, he said to Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
CHRYS. For in His condescension to men, He called the wise men by a star, the fishermen by their art of fishing.
THEOPHYL. Peter did not refuse to comply, as it follows, And Simon answering said to him, Master, we have toiled all night and have taken nothing. He did not go on to say, "I will not hearken to you, nor expose myself to additional labor," but rather adds, Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net. But our Lord, since he had taught the people out of the ship, left not the master of the ship without reward, but conferred on him a double kindness, giving him first a multitude of fishes, and next making him His disciple:
as it follows, And when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes. They took so many fishes that they could not pull them out, but sought the assistance of their companions;
as it follows, But their net broke, and they beckoned to their partners who were in the other ship to come, &c. Peter summons them by a sign, being unable to speak from astonishment at the draught of fishes. We next hear of their assistance, And they came and filled both the ships.
AUG. John seems indeed to speak of a similar miracle, but this is very different from the one he mentions. That took place after our Lord's resurrection at the lake of Tiberias, and not only the time, but the miracle itself is very different. For in the latter the nets being let down on the right side took one hundred and fifty-three fishes, and these of large size, which it was necessary for the Evangelist to mention, because though so large the nets were not broken, and this would seem to have reference to the event which Luke relates, when from the multitude of the fishes the nets were broken.
AMBROSE; Now in a mystery, the ship of Peter, according to Matthew, is beaten about by the waves, according to Luke, is filled with fishes, in order that you might understand the Church at first wavering, at last abounding. The ship is not shaken which holds Peter; that is which holds Judas. In each was Peter; but he who trusts in his own merits is disquieted by another's. Let us beware then of a traitor, lest through one we should many of us be tossed about. Trouble is found there where faith is weak, safety here where love is perfect. Lastly, though to others it is commanded, Let down your nets, to Peter alone it is said, Launch out into the deep, i.e. into deep researches. What is so deep, as the knowledge of the Son of God! But what are the nets of the Apostles which are ordered to be let down, but the interweaving of words and certain folds, as it were, of speech, and intricacies of argument, which never let those escape whom they have once caught. And rightly are nets the Apostolical instruments for fishing, which kill not the fish that are caught, but keep them safe, and bring up those that are tossing about in the waves from the depths below to the regions above. But he says, Master, we have toiled the whole night and have caught nothing; for this is not the work of human eloquence but the gift of divine calling. But they who had before caught nothing, at the word of the Lord enclosed a great multitude of fishes.
CYRIL; Now this was a figure of the future. For they will not labor in vain who let down the net of evangelical doctrine, but will gather together the shoals of the Gentiles.
AUG. Now the circumstance of the nets breaking, and the ships being filled with the multitude of fishes that they began to sink, signifies that there will be in the Church so great a multitude of carnal men, that unity will be broken up, and it will be split into heresies and schisms.
THEOPHYL; The net is broken, but the fish escape not, for the Lord preserves His own amid the violence of persecutors.
AMBROSE; But the other ship is Judea, out of which James and John are chosen. These then came from the synagogue to the ship of Peter in the Church, that they might fill both ships. For at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, whether Jew or Greek.
THEOPHYL; Or the other ship is the Church of the Gentiles, which itself also (one ship being not sufficient) is filled with chosen fishes. For the Lord knows who are His, and with Him the number of His elect is sure. And when He finds not in Judea so many believers as He knows are destined to eternal life, He seeks as it were another ship to receive His fishes, and fills the hearts of the Gentiles also with the grace of faith. And well when the net brake did they call to their assistance the ship of their companions, since the traitor Judas, Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, and many of the disciples, went back. And then Barnabas and Paul were separated for the Apostleship of the Gentiles.
AMBROSE; We may understand also by the other ship another Church, since from one Church several are derived.
CYRIL; But Peter beckons to his companions to help them. For many follow the labors of the Apostles, and first those who brought out the writings of the Gospels, next to whom are the other heads and shepherds of the Gospel, and those skilled in the teaching of the truth.
THEOPHYL; But the filling of these ships goes on until the end of the world. But the fact that the ships, when filled, begin to sink, i.e. become weighed low down in the water; (for they are not sunk, but are in great danger,) the Apostle explains when he says, In the last days perilous times shall come; men shall be lovers of their own selves, &c. For the sinking of the ships is when men, by vicious habits, fall back into that world from which they have been elected by faith.
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THEOPHYL; Peter was astonished at the divine gift, and the more he feared, the less did he now presume; as it is said, When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
CYRIL; For calling back to his consciousness the crimes he had committed, he is alarmed and trembles, and as being unclean, he believes it impossible he can receive Him who is clean, for he had learnt from the law to distinguish between what is defiled and holy.
GREG. NYSS. When Christ commanded to let down the nets, the multitude of the fishes taken was just as great as the Lord of the sea and land willed. For the voice of the Word is the voice of power, at whose bidding at the beginning of the world light and the other creatures came forth. At these things Peter wonders, for he was astonished, and all that were with him, &c.
AUG. He does not mention Andrew by name, who however is thought to have been in that ship, according to the accounts of Matthew and Mark. It follows, And Jesus said to Simon, Fear not.
AMBROSE; Say you also, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord, that God may answer, Fear not. Confess your sin, and the Lord will pardon you. See how good the Lord is, who gives so much to men, that they have the power of making alive. As it follows, From henceforth you shall catch men.
THEOPHYL; This especially belongs to Peter himself, for the Lord explains to him what this taking of fish means; that in fact as now he takes fishes by the net, so hereafter he will catch men by words. And the whole order of this event shows what is daily going on in the Church, of which Peter is the type.
CHRYS. But mark their faith and obedience. For though they were eagerly engaged in the employment of fishing, yet when they heard the command of Jesus, they delayed not, but forsook all and followed Him. Such is the obedience which Christ demands of us; we must not forego it, even though some great necessity urges us. Hence it follows, And having brought their ships to land.
AUG. Matthew and Mark here briefly state the matter, and how it was done. Luke explains it more at large. There seems however to be this difference, that he makes our Lord to have said to Peter only, From henceforth you shall catch men, whereas they related it as having been spoken to both the others. But surely it might have been said at first to Peter, when he marveled at the immense draught of fishes, as Luke suggests, and afterwards to both, as the other two have related it. Or we must understand the event to have taken place as Luke relates, and that the others were not then called by the Lord, but only it was foretold to Peter that he should catch men, not that he should no more be employed in fishing; and hence there is room for supposing that they returned to their fishing, so that afterwards that might happen which Matthew and Mark speak of. For then the ships were not brought to land, as if with the intention of returning, but they followed Him as calling or commanding them to come. But if according to John, Peter and Andrew followed Him close by Jordan, how do the other Evangelists say that He found them fishing in Galilee, and called them to the discipleship? Except we understand that they did not see the Lord near Jordan so as to join Him inseparably, but knew only who He was, and marveling at Him returned to their own.
AMBROSE; But mystically, those whom Peter takes by his word, he claims not as his own booty or his own gift. Depart, he says, from me, O Lord. Fear not then also to ascribe what is your own to the Lord, for what was His He has given to us.
AUG. Or, Peter speaks in the character of A the Church full of carnal men, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man. As if the Church, crowded with carnal men, and almost sunk by their vices, throws off from it, as it were, the rule in spiritual things, wherein the character of Christ chiefly shines forth. For not with the tongue do men tell the good servants of God that they should depart from them, but with the utterance of their deeds and actions they persuade them to go away, that they may not be governed by the good. And yet all the more anxiously do they hasten to pay honors to them, just as Peter testified his respect by falling at the feet of our Lord, but his conduct in saying, Depart from me.
THEOPHYL; But the Lord allays the fears of carnal men, that no one trembling at the consciousness of his guilt, or astonished at the innocence of others, might be afraid to undertake the journey of holiness.
AUG. But the Lord did not depart from them, showing thereby that good and spiritual men, when they ere troubled by the wickedness of the many, ought not to wish to abandon their ecclesiastical duties, that they might live as it were a more secure and tranquil life. But the bringing their ships to land, and forsaking all to follow Jesus, may represent the end of time, when those who have clung to Christ shall altogether depart from the storms of this world.
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AMBROSE; The fourth miracle after Jesus came to Capernaum was the healing of a leprous man. But since He illumined the fourth day with the sun, and made it more glorious than the rest, we ought to think this work more glorious than those that went before; of which it is said, And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy. Rightly no definite place is mentioned where the leprous man was healed, to signify that not one people of any particular city, but all nations were healed.
ATHAN. Now the leper worshipped the Lord God in His bodily form, and thought not the Word of God to be a creature because of His flesh, nor because He was the Word did he think lightly of the flesh which He put on; nay rather in a created temple he adored the Creator of all things, falling down on his face, as it follows, And when he saw Jesus he fell on his face, and besought him.
AMBROSE; In falling upon his face he marked his humility and modesty, for every one should blush at the stains of his life, but his reverence kept not back his confession, he shows his wound, and asks for a remedy, saying, If you will, you can make me clean. Of the will of the Lord he doubted, not from distrust of His mercy, but checked by the consciousness of his own unworthiness. But the confession is one full of devotion and faith, placing all power in the will of the Lord.
CYRIL; For he knew that leprosy yields not to the skill of physicians, but he saw the devils cast out by the Divine authority, and multitudes cured of divers diseases, all which he conceived was the work of the Divine arm.
TITUS BOST. Let us learn from the words of the leper not to go about seeking the cure of our bodily infirmities, but to commit the whole to the will of God, Who knows what is best for us, and disposes all things as He will.
AMBROSE; He heals in the same manner in which He had been entreated to heal, as it follows, And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, &c. The law forbids to touch the leprous man, but He who is the Lord of the law submits not to the law, but makes the law; He did not touch because without touching He was unable to make him clean, but to show that he was neither subject to the law, nor feared the contagion as man; for He could not be contaminated Who delivered others from the pollution. On the other hand, He touched also, that the leprosy might be expelled by the touch of the Lord, which was wont to contaminate him that touched.
THEOPHYL. For His sacred flesh has a healing, and life-giving power, as being indeed the flesh of the Word of God.
AMBROSE; In the words which follow, I will, be you clean, you have the will, you have also the result of His mercy.
CYRIL; From majesty alone proceeds the royal command, how then is the Only-begotten counted among the servants, who by His mere will can do all things? We read of God the Father, that He has done all things whatsoever He pleased. But He who exercises the power of His Father, how can He differ from Him in nature? Besides, whatsoever things are of the same power, are wont to be of the same substance. Again; let us then admire in these things Christ working both divinely and bodily. For it is of God so to will that all things are done accordingly, but of man to stretch forth the hand. From two natures therefore is perfected one Christ, for that the Word was made flesh.
GREG. NYSS. And because the Deity is united with each portion of man, i.e. both soul and body, in each are evident the signs of a heavenly nature. For the body declared the Deity hidden in it, when hen by touching it afforded a remedy, but the soul, by the mighty power of its will, marked the Divine strength. For as the sense of touch is the property of the body, so the motion of the will of the soul. The soul wills, the body touches.
AMBROSE; He says then, I will, for Photinus, He commands, for Arius, He touches, for Manichaeus. But there is nothing intervening between God's work and His command, that we may see in the inclination of the healer the power of the work. Hence it follows, And immediately the leprosy departed from him. But lest leprosy should become rife among us, let each avoid boasting after the example of our Lord's humility.
For it follows, And he commanded him that he should tell it to no one, that in truth he might teach us that our good deeds are not to be made public, but to be rather concealed, that we should abstain not only from gaining money, but even favor. Or perhaps the cause of His commanding silence was that He thought those to be preferred, who had rather believed of their own accord than from the hope of benefit.
CYRIL; Though the leper was silent, the voice of the transaction itself was sufficient to publish it to all who acknowledged through him the power of the Curer.
CHRYS. And since frequently men, when they are sick, remember God, but when they recover, wax dull, He bids him to always keep God before his eyes, giving glory to God. Hence it follows, But go and show yourself to the Priest, in order that the leprous man being cleansed might submit himself to the inspection of the Priest, and so by his sanction be counted as healed.
AMBROSE; And that the Priest also should know that not by the order of the law but by the grace of God above the law, he was cured. And since a sacrifice is commanded by the regulation of Moses, the Lord shows that He does not abrogate the law, but fulfill it. As it follows, And offer for your cleansing according as Moses commanded.
AUG. He seems here to approve of the sacrifice which had been commanded through Moses though the Church does not require it. It may therefore be understood to have been commanded, because not as yet had commenced that most holy sacrifice which is His body. For it was not fitting that typical sacrifices should be taken away before that which was typified should be confirmed by the witness of the Apostles' preaching, and the faith of believers.
AMBROSE; Or because the law is spiritual He seems to have commanded a spiritual sacrifice. Hence he said, As Moses commanded. Lastly, he adds, for a testimony to them. The heretics understand this erroneously, saying, that it was meant as a reproach to the law. But how would he order an offering for cleansing, according to Moses' commandments, if he meant this against the law?
CYRIL; He says then, for a testimony to them, because this deed makes manifest that Christ in His incomparable excellence is far above Moses. For when Moses could not rid his sister of the leprosy, he prayed the Lord to deliver her. But the Savior, in His divine power, declared, I will, be you clean.
CHRYS. Or, for a testimony against them, i.e. as a reproof of them, and a testimony that I respect the law. For now too that I have cured you, I send you for the examination of the priests, that you should bear me witness that I have not played false to the law. And although the Lord in giving out remedies advised telling them to no one, instructing us to avoid pride; yet His fame flew about every where, instilling the miracle into the ears of every one, as it follows, But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him.
THEOPHYL; Now the perfect healing of one brings many multitudes to the Lord, as it follows, And great multitudes came together that they should be healed. For the leprous man that he might show both his outward and inward cure, even though forbid ceases not, as Mark says, to tell of the benefit he had received.
GREG. Our Redeemer performs His miracles by day, and passes the night in prayer, as it follows, And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed, hinting, as it were, to perfect preachers, that as neither they should entirely desert the active life from love of contemplation, so neither should they despise the joys of contemplation from an excess of activity, but in silent thought imbibe that which they might afterwards give back in words to their neighbors.
THEOPHYL; Now that He retired to pray, you would not ascribe to that nature which says, I will, be you clean, but to that which putting forth the hand touched the leprous man, not that according to Nestorius there is a double person of the Son, but of the same person, as there are two natures, so are there two operations.
GREG. NAZ. And His works He indeed performed among the people, but He prayed for the most part in the wilderness, sanctioning the liberty of resting a while from labor to hold converse with God with a pure heart. For He needed no change or retirement, since there was nothing which could be relaxed in Him, nor any place in which He might confine Himself, for He was God, but it was that we might clearly know that there is a time for action, a time for each higher occupation.
THEOPHYL; How typically the leprous man represents the whole race of man, languishing with sins full of leprosy, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; that so by the hand put forth, i.e. the word of God partaking of human nature, they might be cleansed from the vanity of their old errors, and offer for cleansing their bodies as a living sacrifice.
AMBROSE; But if the word is the healing of leprosy, the contempt of the word is the leprosy of the mind.
THEOPHYL. But mark, that after a man has been cleansed he is then worthy to offer this gift, namely, the body and blood of the Lord, which is united to the Divine nature.
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