Golden Chain 10025
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THEOPHYL; Our Lord had told His disciples above that their names were written in Heaven; from this it seems to me the lawyer took occasion of tempting our Lord, as it is said, And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him.
CYRIL; For there were in fact certain men who then went about the whole country of the Jews bringing charges against Christ, and saying that He spoke of the commands of Moses as useless, and Himself introduced certain strange doctrines. A lawyer then, wishing to entrap Christ into saying something against Moses, comes and tempts Him, calling Him Master, though not bearing to be His disciple.
And because our Lord was as wont to speak to those who came to Him concerning eternal life, the lawyer adopts this kind of language. And since he tempted Him subtly, he receives no other answer than the command given by Moses; for it follows, He said to him, What is written in the law? how read you?
AMBROSE; For he was one of those who think themselves skilled in the law, and who keep the letter of the law, while they know nothing of its spirit. From a part of the law itself our Lord proves them to be ignorant of the law, showing that at the very first the law preached the Father and the Son, and announced the sacraments of the Lord's Incarnation; for it follows, And he answering said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and, with all your mind.
BASIL; By saying, with all your mind, he does not admit of any division of love to other things, for whatever love you cast on lower things necessarily takes away from the whole. For as a vessel full of liquid, whatever flows therefrom must so much diminish its fullness; so also the soul, whatever love it has wasted upon things unlawful, has so much lessened its love to God.
GREG. NYSS. Now the soul is divided into three faculties; one merely of growth and vegetation, such as is found in plants; another which relates to the senses, which is preserved in the nature of irrational animals; but the perfect faculty of the soul is that of reason, which is seen in human nature. By saying then the heart, He signified the bodily substance, that is, the vegetative; by the soul the middle, or the sensitive; but by saying the mind, the higher nature, that is, the intellectual or reflective faculty.
THEOPHYL. We must hereby understand that it becomes us to submit every power of the soul to the divine love, and that resolutely, not slackly. Hence it is added, And with all your strength.
MAXIM. To this end then the law commanded a threefold love to God, that it might pluck us away from the threefold fashion of the world, as touching possessions, glory, and pleasure, wherein also Christ was tempted.
BASIL; But if any one ask how the love of God is to be obtained, we are sure that the love of God cannot be taught. For neither did we learn to rejoice in the presence of light, or to embrace life, or to love our parents and children; much less were we taught the love of God, but a certain seminal principle was implanted in us, which has within itself the cause, that man clings to God; which principle the teaching of the divine commands is wont to cultivate diligently, to foster watchfully, and to carry on to the perfection of divine grace. For naturally we love good; we love also what is our own, and akin to us; we likewise of our own accord pour forth all our affections on our benefactors.
If then God is good, but all things desire that good, which is wrought voluntarily, He is by nature inherent in us, and although from His goodness we are far from knowing Him, yet from the very fact that we proceeded forth from Him, we are bound to love Him with exceeding, love, as in truth akin to us; He is likewise also a greater benefactor than all whom by nature we love here. And again. The love of God then is the first and chief command, but the second, as filling up the first and filled up by it, bids us to love our neighbor. Hence it follows, And your neighbor as yourself. But we have an instinct given us by God to perform this command, as who does not know that man is a kind and social animal? For nothing belongs so much to our nature as to communicate with one another, and mutually to need and love our relations. Of those things then of which in the first place He gave us the seed, He afterwards requires the fruits.
CHRYS. Yet observe how, almost to the same extent of obedience he requires the performance of each command. For of God he says, with all your heart. Of our neighbor, as yourself: Which if it were diligently kept, there would be neither slave nor free man, neither conqueror nor conquered, (or rasher, neither prince nor subject,) rich nor poor, nor would the devil be even known, for the chaff would rather stand the touch of fire than the devil the fervor of love; so surpassing all things is the constancy of love.
GREG. But since it is said, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, how is he merciful in taking compassion upon another, who still, by unrighteous living, is unmerciful to himself?
CYRIL; When the lawyer had answered the things contained in the law, Christ, to whom all things were known, cuts to pieces his crafty nets. For it follows, And he said to him, you have answered right: this do, and you shall live.
ORIGEN; From these words it is undoubtingly gathered, that the life which is preached according to God the Creator of the world, and the Scriptures given by Him, is life everlasting. For the Lord Himself bears testimony to the passage from Deuteronomy, You shall love the Lord your God; and from Leviticus, You shall love your neighbor as yourself: But these things were spoken against the flowers of Valentinus, Basil, and Marcion. For what else did he wish us to do in seeking eternal life, but what is contained in the Law and the Prophets?
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CYRIL; The lawyer, when praised by our Savior for having answered right, breaks forth into pride, thinking that he had no neighbor, as though there was no one to be compared to him in righteousness. Hence it is said, But he willing to justify himself said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? For somehow first one sin and then another takes him captive. From the cunning with which he sought to tempt Christ, he falls into pride. But here when asking, who is my neighbor, he proves himself to be devoid of love for his neighbor, since he did not consider any one to be his neighbor, and consequently of the love of God; for he who loves not his brother whom he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see.
AMBROSE; He answered that he knew not his neighbor, because he believed not on Christ, and he who knows not Christ knows not the law, for being ignorant of the truth, how can he know the law which makes known the truth?
THEOPHYL. Now our Savior defines a neighbor not in respect of actions or honor, but of nature; as if He says, Think not that because you are righteous you have no neighbor, for all who partake of the same nature are your neighbors. Be you also their neighbor, not in place, but in affection and solicitude for them. And in addition to this, he brings forward the Samaritan as an example. As it follows, And Jesus answering him said, A certain man went down, &c.
GREEK EX. He has well used the general term. For He says not, "a certain one went down," but, a certain man, for his discourse was of the whole human race.
AUG. For that man is taken for Adam himself, representing the race of man; Jerusalem, the city of peace, that heavenly country, from the bliss of which he fell. Jericho is interpreted to be the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it rises, increases, wanes, and sets.
PSEUDO-AUG. Or by Jerusalem, which is by interpretation "the sight of peace," we mean Paradise, for before man sinned he was in sight of peace, that is, in paradise; whatever he saw was peace, and going thence he descended (as if brought low and made wretched by sin) into Jericho, that is, the world, in which all things that are born die as the moon.
THEOPHYL Now he says not "descended," but "was descending." For human nature was ever tending downwards, and not for a time only, but throughout busied about a life liable to suffering.
BASIL; This interpretation corresponds to the places, if any one will examine them. For Jericho lies in the low parts of Palestine, Jerusalem is seated on an eminence, occupying the crest of a mountain. The man then came from the high parts to the low, to fall into the hands of the robbers who infested the desert. As it follows, And he fell among thieves.
CHRYS. First, we must needs pity the ill fortune of the man who fell unarmed and helpless among robbers, and who was so rash and unwise as to choose the road in which he could not escape the attack of robbers. For the unarmed can never escape the armed, the heedless the villain, the unwary the malicious. Since malice is ever armed with guile, fenced round with cruelty, fortified with deceit, and ready for fierce attack.
AMBROSE; But who are those robbers but the Angels of night and darkness, among whom he had not fallen, unless by deviating from the divine command he had placed himself in their way.
CHRYS. At the beginning of the world then the devil accomplished his treacherous attack upon man, against whom he practiced the poison of deceit, and directed all the deadliness of his malice.
AUG. He fell then among robbers, that is, the devil and his angels, who through the disobedience of the first man, stripped the race of mankind of the ornaments of virtue, and wounded him, that is, by ruining the gift of the power of free will. Hence it follows, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, for to that man sinning he gave a wound, but to us many wounds since to one sin which we contract we add many.
AUG. Or they stripped man of his immortality, and wounding him (by persuading to sin) left him half dead; for wherein he is able to understand and know God, man is alive, but wherein he is corrupted and pressed down by sins, he is dead. And this is what is added, leaving him half dead.
PSEUDO-AUG. For the half dead has his vital function (that is, free will) wounded, in that he is not able to return to the eternal life which he has lost. And therefore he lay, because he had not strength of his own sufficient to rise and seek a physician, that is, God, to heal him.
THEOPHYL. Or man after sin is said to be half dead, because his soul is immortal, but his body mortal, so that the half of man is under death. Or, because his human nature hoped to obtain salvation in Christ, so as not altogether to lie under death. But in that Adam had sinned death entered in the world, in the righteousness of Christ death was to be destroyed.
AMBROSE; Or they stripped us of the garments which we have received of spiritual grace, and so are wont to inflict wounds. For if we keep the unspotted garments we have put on, we can not feel the wounds of robbers.
BASIL; Or it may be understood that they stripped us after first inflicting wounds; or wounds precede nakedness, as sin precedes the absence of grace.
THEOPHYL; But sins are called wounds, because the perfectness of human nature is violated by them. And they departed, not by ceasing to lie in wait, but by hiding the craft of their devices.
CHRYS. Here then was man (that is, Adam) lying destitute of the aid of salvation, pierced with the wounds of his sins, whom neither Aaron the high priest passing by could advantage by his sacrifice; for it follows, And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
Nor again could his brother Moses the assist him by the Law, as it follows, And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
AUG. Or by the Priest and the Levite, two times are represented, namely, of the Law and the Prophets. By the Priest the Law is signified, by which the priesthood and sacrifices were appointed; by the Levites the prophecies of the Prophets, in whose times the law of mankind could not heal, because by the Law came the knowledge not the doing away of sin.
THEOPHYL. But He says, passed by, because the Law came and stood till its time foreordained, then, not being able to cure, departed. Mark also that the Law was not given with this previous intention that it should cure man, for man could not from the beginning receive the mystery of Christ. And therefore it is said, And by chance there came a certain priest, which expression we use with respect to those things which happen without forethought.
AUG. Or it is said, passed by, because the man who came down from Jerusalem to Jericho is believed to have been an Israelite, and the priest who came down, certainly his neighbor by birth, passed him by lying on the ground. And a Levite also came by, likewise his neighbor by birth; and he also despised him as he lay.
THEOPHYL. They pitied him, I say, when they thought about him, but afterwards, overcome by selfishness, they went away again. For this is signified by the word, passed him by.
AUG. A Samaritan coming by, far removed by birth, very near in compassion, acted as follows, But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was, &c. In whom our Lord Jesus Christ would have Himself typified. For Samaritan is interpreted to be keeper and it is said of him, He shall-not slumber nor sleep who keeps Israel; since being raised from the dead he dies no more. Lastly, when it was said to him, You are a Samaritan, and have a devil, He said He had not a devil, for He knew Himself to be the caster out of devils, He did not deny that He was the keeper of the weak.
GREEK EX. Now Christ here fully calls Himself a Samaritan. For in addressing the lawyer who was glorying in the Law, He wished to express that neither Priest nor Levite, nor all they who were conversant with the Law, fulfilled the requirements of the Law, but He came to accomplish the ordinances of the Law.
AMBROSE; Now this Samaritan was also coming down. For who is he that ascended upon into heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven.
THEOPHYL. But He says, journeying, as though He purposely determined this in order to cure us.
AUG. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, therefore near to him, as it were, in likeness.
GREEK EX. Or He came by the way. For He was a true traveler, not a wanderer; and came down to the earth for our sakes.
AMBROSE; Now when He came He was made very near to us by His taking upon Himself our infirmities, He became a neighbor by bestowing compassion. Hence it follows, And when he saw him he was moved with compassion.
PSEUDO-AUG. Seeing him lying down weak and motionless. And therefore was He moved with compassion, because He saw in him nothing to merit a cure, but He Himself for sin condemned sin in the flesh. Hence it follows, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.
AUG. For what so distant, what so far removed, as God from man, the immortal from the mortal, the just from sinners, not in distance of place, but of likeness. Since then He had in Him two good things, righteousness and immortality, and we two evils, that is unrighteousness, and mortality, if He had taken upon Him both our evils He would have been our equal, and with us have had need of a deliverer. That He might be then not what we are, but near us, He was made not a sinner, as you are, but mortal like to you. By taking upon Himself punishment, not taking upon Himself guilt, He destroyed both the punishment and the guilt.
AUG. The binding up of wounds is the checking of sins; oil is the consolation of a good hope, by the pardon given for the reconciliation of man; wine is the incitement to work fervently in spirit.
AMBROSE; Or, he binds up our wounds by a stricter commandment, as by oil he soothes by the remission of sin, as by wine he pricks to the heart by the denunciation of judgment.
GREG. Or in the wine he applies the sharpness of constraint, in the oil the softness of mercy. By wine let the corrupt parts be washed, by oil let the healing parts be assuaged; we must then mix gentleness with severity, and we must so combine the two, that those who are put under us be neither exasperated by our excessive harshness, nor be relaxed by too much kindness.
THEOPHYL. Or else, intercourse with man is the oil, and intercourse with God is the wine which signifies divinity, which no one can endure unmixed unless oil be added, that is, human intercourse. Hence he worked some things humanly, some divinely. He poured then in oil and wine, as having saved us both by His human and His divine nature.
CHRYS. Or, he poured in wine, that is, the blood of His passion, and oil, that is, the anointing of the chrism, that pardon might be granted by His blood, sanctification be conferred by the chrism.
The wounded parts are bound up by the heavenly Physician, and containing a salve within themselves, are by the working of the remedy restored to their former soundness Having poured in wine and oil, he placed him upon His beast, as it follows, and placing him upon his beast, &c.
AUG. His beast is our flesh, in which He has condescended to come to us. To be placed on the beast is to believe in the incarnation of Christ.
AMBROSE; Or, He places us on His beast in that He bears our sins, and is afflicted for us, for man has been made like to the beasts, therefore He placed us on His beast, that we might not be as horse and mule, in order that by taking upon Him our body, He might abolish the weakness of our flesh.
THEOPHYL. Or He placed us on His beast, that is, on His body. For He has made us His members, and partakers of His body. The Law indeed did not take in all the Moabites, and the Ammonites shall not enter into the Church of God; but now in every nation he that fears the Lord is accepted by Him, who is willing to believe and to become part of the Church. Wherefore He says, that he brought him to an inn.
CHRYS. For the Inn is the Church, which receives travelers, who are tired with their journey through the world, and oppressed with the load of their sins; where the wearied traveler casting down the burden of his sins is relieved, and after being refreshed is restored with wholesome food. And this is what is here said, and took care of him. For without is every thing that is conflicting, hurtful and evil, while within the Inn is contained all rest and health.
THEOPHYL; And lightly He brought him placed on His beast, since no one, except he be united to Christ's body by Baptism, shall enter the Church.
AMBROSE; But as the Samaritan had not time to stay longer on the earth, he must needs return to the place whence he descended, as it follows, And on the morrow he took out two pence, &c. What is that morrow, but perchance the day of our Lord's resurrection? of which it was said, This is the day the Lord has made. But the two pence are the two covenants, which bear stamped on them the image of the eternal King, by the price of which our wounds are healed.
AUG. Or the two pence are the two commandments of love, which the Apostles received from the Holy Spirit to preach to others; or the promise of the present life, and that which is to come.
ORIGEN; Or the two pence seem to me to be the knowledge of the sacrament, in what manner the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, which is given as a reward by the Angel to the Church that she may take more diligent care of the man entrusted to her whom in the shortness of the time He Himself had also cured. And it is promised that whatever she should spend on the cure of the half dead man, should be restored to her again, And whatsoever you spend more, when I come again I will repay you.
AUG. The inn-keeper was the Apostle, who spent more; either in giving counsel, as he says, Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment, or, in working even with his own hands, that he might not trouble any of the weak in the newness of the Gospel, though it was lawful for him to be fed from the Gospel. Much more also did the Apostles spend, but those teachers also in their time have spent more who have interpreted both the Old and New Testament, for which they shall receive their reward.
AMBROSE; Blessed then is that inn-keeper who is able to cure the wounds of another; blessed is he to whom Jesus says, Whatsoever you have spent more, when I come again I will repay you. But when will you return, O Lord, save on the Judgment day? For though you are ever every where, and though standing in the midst of us, are not perceived by us, yet the time will be in which all flesh shall behold You coming again. You will then restore what you owe to the blessed, whose debtor you are. Would that we were confident debtors, that we could pay what we had received!
CYRIL; After what has gone before, our Lord fitly questions the lawyer; Which of these three think you was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?
But he said, He that shows mercy on him. For neither Priest nor Levite became neighbor to the sufferer, but he only who had compassion on him. For vain is the dignity of the Priesthood, and the knowledge of the Law, unless they are confirmed by good works. Hence it follows, And Jesus said to him, Go and do you likewise.
CHRYS. As if He said, If you see any one oppressed, say not, Surely he is wicked; but be he Gentile or Jew and need help, dispute not, he has a claim to your assistance, into whatever evil he has fallen.
AUG. Hereby we understand that he is our neighbor, to whomsoever we must show the duty of compassion if he need it, or would have shown if he had needed it. From which it follows, that even he who must in his turn show us this duty, is out neighbor. For the name of neighbor has relation to something else, nor can any one be a neighbor, save to a neighbor; but that no one is excluded to whom the office of mercy is to be denied, is plain to all; as our Lord says, Do good to them that hate you. Hence it is clear, that in this command by which we are bid to love our neighbor, the holy angels are included, by whom such great offices of mercy are bestowed upon us. Therefore our Lord Himself wished also to be called our neighbor, representing Himself to have assisted the half dead man who lay in the way.
AMBROSE; For relationship does not make a neighbor, but compassion, for compassion is according to nature. For nothing is so natural as to assist one who shares our nature.
THEOPHYL; The love of God and our neighbor, which was contained above in words and parables, is here set forth in very deed and reality; for it is said, Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village.
ORIGEN. The name of which village Luke indeed here omits, but John mentions, calling it Bethany.
AUG. But the Lord, who came to his own, and his own received him not, was received as a guest, for it follows, And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house, &c. as strangers are accustomed to be received. But still a servant received her Lord, the sick her Savior, the creature her Creator. But if any should say, "O blessed are they who have been thought worthy to receive Christ into their houses," grieve not you, for He says, For inasmuch as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me. But taking the form of a servant, He wished therein to be fed by servants, by reason of His condescension, not His condition. He had a body in which He was hungry and thirsty, but when He was hungry in the desert, Angels ministered to Him. In wishing therefore to be led, He came Himself to the feeder.
Martha then, setting about and preparing to feed our Lord, was occupied in serving, but Mary her sister chose rather to be fed by the Lord, for it follows, And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
CHRYS. It is not said of Mary simply that she sat near Jesus, but at His feet, to show her diligence, steadfastness, and zeal, in hearing, and the great reverence which she had for our Lord.
AUG. Now as was her humility in sitting at His feet, so much the more did she receive from him. For the waters pour down to the lowest part of the valley, but flow away from the rising of the hill.
BASIL; Now every work and word of our Savior is a rule of piety and virtue For to this end did He put on our body, that as much as we can we might imitate His conversation.
CYRIL; By His own example then He teaches His disciples how they ought to behave in the houses of those who receive them, namely, when they come to a house, they should not remain idle, but rather fill the minds of those who receive them with sacred and divine teaching. But let those who make ready the house, go to meet their guests gladly and earnestly, for two reasons. First, indeed, they will be edified by the teaching of those whom they receive; nest also they will receive the reward of charity. And hence it follows here, But Martha was cumbered about much serving, &c.
AUG. Martha was as well engaged in ministering to the bodily wants or wishes of our Lord, as of one who was mortal, but He who was clothed in mortal flesh, in the beginning was the Word. Behold then what Mary heard, The Word was made flesh. Behold then Him to whom Martha ministered. The one was laboring, the other at rest. But yet Martha, when much troubled in her occupation and business of serving, interrupted our Lord, and complained of her sister. For it follows, And said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? For Mary was absorbed in the sweetness of our Lord's words; Martha was as preparing a feast for our Lord, in whose feast Mary was now rejoicing. While then she was listening with delight to those sweet words, and was feeding on them with the deepest affection, our Lord was interrupted by her sister. What must we suppose was her alarm, lest the Lord should say to her, "Rise, and help your sister?"
Our Lord therefore, who was not at a loss, for He had shown He was the Lord, answered as follows, And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha. The repetition of the name is a mark of love, or perhaps of drawing the attention, that she should listen more earnestly. When twice called, she hears, You are troubled about many things. that is, you art busied about many things. For man wishes to meet with something when he is serving, and can not; and thus between seeking what is wanting and preparing what is at hand, the mind is distracted. For if Martha had been sufficient of herself, she would not have required the aid of her sister.
There are many, there are diverse things, which are carnal, temporal, but one is preferred to many. For one is not from many, but many from one. Hence it follows, But one thing is needful. Mary wished to be occupied about one, according to that, It is good for me to cling close to the Lord. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, are one. To this one he does not bring us, unless we being many have one heart.
CYRIL; Or else, when certain brethren have received God, they will not be anxious about much service, nor ask for those things which are not in their hands, and are beyond their needs. For every where and in every thing that which is superfluous is burdensome. For it begets weariness in those who are wishing to bestow it, while the guests feel that they are the cause of trouble.
BASIL; It is foolish also to take food for the support of the body, and thereby in return to hurt the body, and to hinder it in the performance of the divine command. If then a poor man come, let him receive a model and example of moderation in food, and let us not prepare our own tables for their sakes, who wish to live luxuriously. For the life of the Christian is uniform, ever tending to one object, namely, the glory of God. But the life of those who are without is manifold and vacillating, changed about at will. And how in truth can you, when you set your table before your brother with profusion of meats, and for the pleasure of feasting sake, accuse him of luxury, and revile him as a glutton, censuring his indulgence in that which you yourself afford him? Our Lord did not commend Martha when busied about much serving.
AUG. What then? Must we think that blame was cast upon the service of Martha, who was engaged in the cares of hospitality, and rejoiced in having so great a guest? If this be true, let men give up ministering to the needy; in a word, let them be at leisure, intent only upon getting wholesome knowledge, taking no care what stranger is in the village in want of bread; let works of mercy be unheeded, knowledge only be cultivated.
THEOPHYL. Our Lord does not then forbid hospitality, but the troubling about many things, that is to say, hurry and anxiety. And mark the wisdom of our Lord, in that at first He said nothing to Martha, but when she sought to tear away her sister from hearing, then the Lord took occasion to reprove her. For hospitality is ever honored as long as it keeps us to necessary things. But when it begins to hinder us from attending to what is of more importance, then it is plain that the hearing of the divine word is the more honorable.
AUG. Our Lord then does not blame the actions, but distinguishes between the duties. For it follows, Mary has chosen that good part, &c. Not yours a bad one, but hers a better. Why a better? because it shall not be taken away from her. From you the necessary burden of business shall one time be taken away. For when you come into that country, you will find no stranger to receive with hospitality. But for your good it shall be taken away, that what is better may be given you. Trouble shall be taken away, that rest may be given. You are yet at sea; she is in port. For the sweetness of truth is eternal, yet in this life it is increased, and in the next it will be made perfect, never to be taken away.
AMBROSE; May you then like Mary be influenced by the desire of wisdom. For this is the greater, this the more perfect work. Nor let the care of ministering to others turn your mind from the knowledge of the heavenly word, nor reprove or think indolent those whom you see seeking after wisdom.
AUG. Now mystically, by Martha's receiving our Lord into her house is represented the Church which now receives the Lord into her heart. Mary her sister, who sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word, signifies the same Church, but in a future life, where ceasing from labor, and the ministering to her wants, she shall delight in Wisdom alone. But by her complaining that her sister did not help her, occasion is given for that sentence of our Lord, in which he shows that Church to be anxious and troubled about much service, when there is but one thing needful, which is yet attained through the merits of her service; but He says that Mary has chosen the good part, for through the one the other is reached, which shall not be taken away.
GREG. Or by Mary who sat and heard our Lord's words, is signified the contemplative life; by Martha engaged in more outward services, the active life. Now Martha's care is not blamed, but Mary is praised, for great are the rewards of an active life, but those of a contemplative are far better. Hence Mary's part it is said will never be taken away from her, for the works of an active life pass away with the body, but the joys of the contemplative life the rather begin to increase from the end.
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BEDE; After the account of the sisters, who signified the two lives of the Church, our Lord is not without reason related to have both Himself prayed, and taught His disciples to pray, seeing that the prayer which He taught contains in itself the mystery of each life, and the perfection of the lives themselves is to be obtained not by our own strength, but by prayer. Hence it is said, And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place.
CYRIL; Now whereas He possesses every good in abundance, why does He pray, since He is full, and has altogether need of nothing? To this we answer, that it befits Him, according to the manner of His dispensation in the flesh, to follow human observances at the time convenient for them. For if He eats and drinks, He rightly was used to pray, that He might teach us not to be lukewarm in this duty, but to be the more diligent and earnest in our prayers.
TIT. BOST. The disciples having seen a new way of life, desire a new form of prayer, since there were several prayers to be found in the Old Testament. Hence it follows, When he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, in order that we might not sin against God in asking for one thing instead of another, or by approaching God in prayer in a manner that we ought not.
ORIGEN; And that he might point out the kind of teaching, the disciple proceeds, as John also taught his disciples. Of whom in truth you have told us, that among them that are born of women there had arisen none greater than he. And because you have commanded us to seek things that are great and eternal, whence shall we arrive at the knowledge of these but from You, our God and Savior?
GREG. NYSS.. He unfolds the teaching of prayer to His disciples, who wisely desire the knowledge of prayer, directing them how they ought to beseech God to hear them.
BASIL; There are two kinds of prayer, one composed of praise with humiliation, the other of petitions, and more subdued. Whenever then you pray, do not first break forth into petition; but if you condemn your inclination, supplicate God as if of necessity forced thereto. And when you begin to pray, forget all visible and invisible creatures, but commence with the praise of Him who created all things. Hence it is added, And he says to them, When you pray, say, Our Father.
PSEUDO-AUG. The first word, how gracious is it? You durst not raise your face to heaven, and suddenly you receive the grace of Christ. From an evil servant you are made a good son. Boast not then of your working, but of the grace of Christ; for therein is no arrogance, but faith. To proclaim what you have received is not pride, but devotion. Therefore raise your eyes to your Father, who begot you by Baptism, redeemed you by His Son. Say Father as a son, but claim no especial favor to t yourself. Of Christ alone is He the especial Father, of us the common Father. For Christ alone He begot, but us he created. And therefore according to Matthew when it is said, Our Father, it is added, which art in heaven, that is, in those heavens of which it was said, The heavens declare the glory of God. Heaven is where sin has ceased, and where there is no sting of death.
THEOPHYL. But He says not, which art in heaven, as though He were confined to that place, but to raise the hearer up to heaven, and draw him away from earthly things.
GREG. NYSS.. See how great a preparation you need, to be able to say boldly to God, O Father, for if you have your eyes fixed on worldly things, or court the praise of men, or are a slave to your passions, and utter this prayer, I seem to hear God saying, 'Whereas you that are of a corrupt life call the Author of the incorruptible your Father, you pollute with your defiled lips an incorruptible name. For He who commanded you to call Him Father, gave you not leave to utter lies. But the highest of e all good things is to glorify God's name in our lives. Hence He adds, Hallowed be thy name. For who is there so debased, as when He sees the pure life of those who believe, does not glorify the name invoked in such a life. He then who says in his prayer, Be thy name, which I call upon, hallowed in me, prays this, "May I through Your concurring aid be made just, abstaining from all evil."
CHRYS. For as when a man gazes upon the beauty of the heavens, he says, Glory be you, O God; so likewise when He beholds a man's virtuous actions, seeing that the virtue of man glorifies God much more than the heavens.
PSEUDO-AUG. Or it is said, Hallowed be thy name; that is, let Your holiness be known to all the world, and let it worthily praise You. For praise becomes the upright, and therefore He bids them pray for the cleansing of the whole world.
CYRIL; Since among those to whom the faith has not yet come, the name of God is still despised. But when the rays of truth shall have shined upon them, they will confess the Holy of Holies.
TIT. BOST. And because in the name of Jesus is the glory of God the Father, the name of the Father will be hallowed whenever Christ shall be known.
ORIGEN; Or, because the name of God is given by idolaters, and those who are in error, to idols and creatures, it has not as yet been so made holy, as to be separated from those things from which it ought to be. He teaches us therefore to pray that the name of God may be appropriated to the only true God; to whom alone belongs what follow, Thy kingdom come, to the end that may be put down all the rule, authority, and power, and kingdom of the world, together with sin which reigns in our mortal bodies.
GREG. NYSS.. We beseech also to be delivered by the Lord from corruption, to be taken out of death. Or, according to some, Thy kingdom come, that is, May Your Holy Spirit come upon us to purify us.
PSEUDO-AUG. For then comes the kingdom of God, when we have obtained His grace. For He Himself says, The kingdom of God is within you.
CYRIL; Or they who say this seem to wish to have the Savior of all again illuminating the world. But He has commanded us to desire in prayer that truly awful time, in order that men might know that it behoves them to live not in sloth and backwardness, lest that time bring upon them the fiery punishment, but rather honestly and according to His will, that that time may weave crowns for them. Hence it follows, according to Matthew, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
CHRYS. As if He says, Enable us, O Lord, to follow the heavenly life, that whatever You will, we may will in also.
GREG. NYSS.. For sin since He says that the life of man after the resurrection will be like to that of Angels, it follows, that our life in this world should be so ordered with respect to that which we hope for hereafter, that living in the flesh we may not live according to the flesh. But hereby the true Physician of the souls destroys the nature of the disease, that those who have been seized with sickness, whereby they have departed from the Divine will, may forthwith be released from the disease by being joined to the Divine will. For the health of the soul is the due fulfillment of the will of God.
AUG. It seems according to the Evangelist Matthew, that the Lord's prayer contains seven petitions, but Luke has comprehended it in five. Nor in truth does the one disagree from the other, but the latter has suggested by his brevity how those seven are to be understood. For the name of God is hallowed in the spirit, but the kingdom of God is about to come at the resurrection of the body. Luke then, showing that the third petition is in a manner a repetition of the two former, wished to make it so understood by omitting it. He then added three others. And first, of daily bread, saying, Give us day by day our daily bread.
PSEUDO-AUG. In the Greek the word is that is, something added to the substance. It is not that bread which goes into the body, but that bread of everlasting life, which supports the substance of our soul. But the Latins call this "daily" bread, which the Greeks call "coming to." If it is daily bread, why is it eaten a year old, as is the custom with the Greeks in the east? Take daily what profits you for the day; so live that you may daily be thought worthy to receive. The death of our Lord is signified thereby, and the remission of sins, and cost you not daily partake of that bread of life? He who has a wound seeks to be cured; the wound is that we are under sin, the cure is the heavenly and dreadful Sacrament. If you receive daily, daily does "Today" come to you. Christ is to you Today; Christ rises to thee daily.
TIT. BOST. Or the bread of souls is the Divine power, bringing the everlasting life which is to come, as the bread which comes out of the earth preserves the temporal life. But by saying "daily," He signifies the Divine bread which comes and is to come, which we seek to be given to us daily, requiring a certain earnest and taste of it, seeing that the Spirit which dwells in us has wrought a virtue surpassing all human virtues, as chastity, humility, and the rest.
CYRIL; Now perhaps some think it unfit for saints to seek from God bodily goods, and for this reason assign to these words a spiritual sense. But granting that the chief concern of the saints should be to obtain spiritual gifts, still it becomes them to see that they seek without blame, according to our Lord's command, their common bread. For from the fact that He bids them ask for bread, that is daily food, it seems that He implies that they should possess nothing, but rather practice an honorable poverty. For it is not the part of those who have bread to seek it, but rather of those who are oppressed with want.
BASIL; As if He said, For your daily bread, namely, that which serves for our daily wants, trust not to yourself, but fly to God for it, making known to Him the necessities of your nature.
CHRYS. We must then require of God the necessities of life; not varieties of meats, and spiced wines, and the other things which please the palate, while they load your stomach and disturb your mind, but bread which is able to support the bodily substance, that is to say, which is sufficient only for the day, that we may take no thought of the morrow. But we make only one petition about things of sense, that the present life may not trouble us.
GREG. NYSS.. Having taught us to take confidence through good works, He next teaches us to implore the remission of our offenses, for it follows, And forgive us our sins.
TIT. BOST. This also was necessarily added, for no one is found without sin, that we should not be hindered from the holy participation on account of man's guilt. For whereas we are bound to render to Christ all manner of holiness, who makes His Spirit to dwell in us, we are to be blamed if we keep not our temples clean for Him. But this defect is supplied by the goodness of God, remitting to human frailty the severe punishment of sin. And this act is done justly by the just God, when we forgive as it were our debtors, those, namely, who have injured us, and have not restored what was due. Hence it follows, For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
CYRIL; For He wishes, if I may so speak, to make God the imitator of the patience which men practice, that the kindness which they have shown to their fellow servants, they should in like manner seek to receive in equal balance from God, who recompenses to each man justly, and knows how to have mercy upon all men.
CHRYS. Considering then these things, we ought to show mercy to our debtors. For they are to us if we are wise the cause of our greatest pardon; and though we perform only a few things, we shall find many. For we owe many and great debts to the Lord, of which if the least part should be exacted from us, we should soon perish.
PSEUDO-AUG. But what is the debt except sin? If you had not received, you would not owe money to another. And therefore sin is imputed to you. For you had money with which you were born rich, and made after the likeness and image of God, but you have lost what you then had. As when you put on pride you lose the gold of humility, you have receipted the devil's debt which was not necessary; the enemy held the bond, but the Lord crucified it, and canceled it with His blood. But the Lord is able, who has taken away our sins and forgiven our debts, to guard us against the snares of the devil, who is wont to produce sin in us. Hence it follows, And lead us not into temptation, such as we are not able to bear, but like the wrestler we wish only such temptation as the condition of man can sustain.
TIT. BOST. For it is impossible not to be tempted by the devil, but we make this prayer that we may not be abandoned to our temptations. Now that which happens by Divine permission, God is sometimes in Scripture said to do. And in this way by hindering not the increase of temptation which is above our strength, he leads us into temptation.
MAX. Or, the Lord commands us to pray, Lead us not into temptation, that is, let us not have experience of lustful and self-induced temptations. But James teaches those who contend only for the truth, not to be unnerved by involuntary and troublesome temptations, saying, lily brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.
BASIL; It does not however become us to seek by our prayers bodily afflictions. For Christ has universally commanded men every where to pray that they enter not into temptation. But when one has already entered, it is fitting to ask from the Lord the power of enduring, that we may have fulfilled in us those words, He that endures to the end shall be saved.
AUG. But what Matthew has placed at the end, But deliver us from evil, Luke has not mentioned, that we might understand it belongs to the former, which was spoken of temptation. He therefore says, But deliver us, not, "And deliver us," clearly proving this to be but one petition, "Do not this, but this." But let every one know that he is therein delivered from evil, when he is not brought into temptation.
PSEUDO-AUG. For each man seeks to be delivered from evil, that is, from his enemies and sin, but he who gives himself up to God, fears not the devil, for if God is for us, who he can be against us?
Golden Chain 10025