Golden Chain 10127
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BEDE; While the Scribes and Pharisees were tempting our Lord, and uttering blasphemies against Him, a certain woman with great boldness confessed His incarnation, as it follows, And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, &c. by which she refutes both the calumnies of the rulers present, and the unbelief of future heretics. For as then by blaspheming the works of the Holy Spirit, the Jews denied the true Son of God, so in after times the heretics, by denying that the Ever virgin Mary, by the cooperating power of the Holy Spirit, ministered of the substance of her flesh to the birth of the only-begotten Son, have said, that we ought not to confess Him who was the Son of man to be truly of the same substance with the Father. But if the flesh of the Word of God, who was born according to the flesh, is declared alien to the flesh of His Virgin Mother, what cause is there why the womb which bore Him and the paps which gave Him suck are pronounced blessed? By what reasoning do they suppose Him to be nourished by her milk, from whose seed they deny Him to be conceived? Whereas according to the physicians, from one and the same fountain both streams are proved to flow. But the woman pronounces blessed not only her who was thought worthy to give birth from her body to the Word of God, but those also who have desired by the hearing of faith spiritually to conceive the same Word, and by diligence in good works, either in their own or the hearts of their neighbors, to bring it forth and nourish it; for it follows, But he said, Yes rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
CHRYS. In this answer He sought not to disown His mother, but to show that His birth would have profited her nothing, had she not been really fruitful in works and faith. But if it Met profited Mary nothing that Christ derived His birth from her, without the inward virtue of her heart, much less will it avail us to have a virtuous father, brother, or son, while we ourselves are strangers to virtue.
BEDE; But she was the mother of God, and therefore indeed blessed, in that she was made the temporal minister of the Word becoming incarnate; yet therefore much more blessed that she remained the eternal keeper of the same ever to be beloved Word. But this expression startles the wise men of the Jews, who sought not to hear and keep the word of God, but to deny and blaspheme it.
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BEDE; Our Lord had been assailed with two kinds of questions, for some accused Him of casting out devils through Beelzebub, to whom up to this point His answer was addressed; and others tempting Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven, and these He now proceeds to answer. As it follows, And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation, &c.
AMBROSE; That you may know that the people of the Synagogue are treated with dishonor, while the blessedness of the Church is increased. But as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of man be to the Jews. Hence it is added, They seek a sign; and there shall no sign. be given them but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
BASIL; A sign is a thing brought openly to view, containing in itself the manifestation of something hidden, as the sign of Jonas represents the descent to hell, the ascension of Christ, and His resurrection from the dead. Hence it is added, For as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. He gives them a sign, not from heaven, because they were unworthy to see it, but from the lowest depths of hell; a sign, namely, of His incarnation, not of His divinity; of His passion, not of His glorification.
AMBROSE; Now as the sign of Jonas is a type of our Lord's passion, so also is it a testimony of the grievous sins which the Jews have committed. We may remark at once both the mighty voice of warning, and the declaration of mercy. For by the example of the Ninevites both a punishment is denounced, and a remedy promised. Hence even the Jews ought not to despair of pardon, if they will but practice repentance.
THEOPHYL. Now Jonas after he came forth from the whale's belly converts the men of Nineveh by his preaching, but when Christ; rose again, the Jewish nation believed not. So there was a sentence already passed upon them, of which there follows a second example, as it is said, The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them.
BEDE; Not certainly by any authority to judge, but by the contrast of a better deed. As it follows, For she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, greater than Solomon is here. Here in this place is not the pronoun, but the adverb of place, that is, "there is one present among you who is incomparably superior to Solomon." He said not, "I am greater than Solomon," that he might teach us to be humble, though fruitful in spiritual graces. As if he said, "The barbarian woman hastened to hear Solomon, taking so long a journey to be instructed in the knowledge of visible living creatures, and the virtues of herbs. But you when you stand by and hear Wisdom herself teaching you invisible and heavenly things, and confirming her words with signs and wonders, are strangers to the word, and senselessly disregard the miracles."
BEDE; But if the queen of the South, who doubtless is of the elect, shall rise up in judgment together with the wicked, we have a proof of the one resurrection of all men, good as well as bad, and that not according to Jewish fables to happen a thousand years before the judgment, but at the judgment itself.
AMBROSE; Herein also while condemning the Jewish people, He strongly expresses the mystery of the Church, which in the queen of the South, through the desire of obtaining wisdom is gathered together from the uttermost parts of the whole earth, to hear the words of the Peacemaking Solomon; a queen plainly whose kingdom is undivided rising up from different and distant nations into one body.
GREG. NYSS.. Now as she was queen of the Ethiopians' and in a far distant country, so in the beginning the Church of the Gentiles was in darkness, and far off from the knowledge of God. But when Christ the Prince of peace shone forth, the Jews being still in darkness, thither came the Gentiles, and offered to Christ the frankincense of piety, the gold of divine knowledge, and precious stones, that is, obedience to His commands.
THEOPHYL. Or because the South is praised in Scripture as warm and life-giving, therefore the soul reigning in the south, that is, in all spiritual conversation, comes to hear the wisdom of Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Lord our God, (i.e. is raised up to contemplate Him,) to whom no one shall come except he reign in a good life. But He brings next an example from the Ninevites, saying, The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it.
CHRYS. The judgment of condemnation comes from men like or unlike to those who are condemned. From like, for instance, as in the parable of the ten virgins, but from unlike, when the Ninevites condemn those who lived at the time of Christ, that so their condemnation might be the more remarkable. For the Ninevites indeed were barbarians, but these Jews. The one enjoying the prophetic teaching, the other having never received the divine word. To the former came a servant, to the latter the Master, of whom the one foretold destruction, the other preached the kingdom of heaven. To all men then was it known that the Jews ought rather to have believed, but the contrary happened; therefore he adds, For they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
AMBROSE; Now in a mystery, the Church consists of two things, either ignorance of sin, which has reference mainly to the queen of the South, or ceasing to sin, which relates indeed to the repentant Ninevites. For repentance blots out the offense, wisdom guards against it.
AUG. Luke indeed relates this in the same place as Matthew, but in a somewhat different order. But who does not see that it is an idle question, in what order our Lord said those things, seeing that we ought to learn by the most precious authority of the Evangelist, that there is no falsehood. But not every man will repeat another's words in the same order in which they proceeded from his mouth, seeing that the order itself makes no difference with respect to the fact, whether it be so or not.
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CYRIL; The Jews said, that our Lord performed His miracles not for faith, i.e. that they might believe in Him, but to gain the applause of the spectators, i.e. that He might have more followers. He refutes therefore this calumny, saying, No man, when he has lighted a candle, puts it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick.
BEDE; Our Lord here speaks of Himself, showing that although He had said above that no sign should be given to this wicked generation but the sign of Jonas, yet the brightness of His light should by no means be hid from the faithful. He Himself indeed lights the candle, who filled the vessel of our nature with the fire of His divinity; and this candle surely He wished neither to hide from believers, nor to place under a bushel, that is, enclose it in the measure of the law, or confine it within the limits of the single nation of the Jews. But He placed it upon a candlestick, that is, the Church, for He has imprinted on our foreheads the faith of His incarnation, that they who with a true faith wish to enter the Church, might be able to see clearly the light of the truth. Lastly, He bids them remember to cleanse and purify not only their v works, but their thoughts, and the intentions of the heart. For it follows, The light of the body its the eye.
AMBROSE; Either faith is the light, as it is written, Your word. O Lord, is a lantern to my feet. For the word of God is our faith. But a lantern cannot shine except it has received its quality from something else. Hence also the powers of our mind senses are enlightened piece of money which had been lost may be found. Let no one then place faith under the law, for the law is bound by certain limits, grace is unlimited; the law obscures, grace makes clear.
THEOPHYL. Or else, because the Jews, seeing the miracles, accused them out of the malice of their heart, therefore our Lord tells them, that, receiving the light, that is, their understanding, from God, they were so darkened with envy, as not to recognize His miracles and mercies. But to this end received we our understanding from God, that we should place it upon a candlestick, that others also who are entering in may see the light. The wise man indeed has already entered, but the learner is still walking. As if He said to the Pharisees, You ought to use your understanding to know the miracles and declare them to others, seeing that what you see are the works not of Beelzebub, but the Son of God. Therefore keeping up the meaning, He adds, The light of the body is the eye.
ORIGEN; For He gives the name of the eye especially to our understanding, but the whole soul, although not corporeal, He metaphorically calls the body. For the whole soul is enlightened by the understanding.
THEOPHYL. But as if the eye of the body be light the body will be light, but if dark the body will be dark also, so is it with the understanding in relation to the soul. Hence it follows, If your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light; but if evil, your whole body will be full of darkness.
ORIGEN; For the understanding from its very beginning desires only singleness, containing no dissimulation or guile, or division in itself.
CHRYS. If then we have corrupted the understanding which is able to let loose the passions, we have done violence to the whole soul, and suffer dreadful darkness, being blinded by the perversion of our understanding. Therefore adds he, Take heed, therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness. He speaks of a darkness which may be perceived, but which has its origin within itself, and which we every where carry about with us, the eye of the soul being put out. Concerning the power of this light He goes on to say, If your whole body therefore be full of light, &c. &c.
ORIGEN; That is, If your material body, when the light of a candle shines upon it, is made full of light, so that not one of your members is any longer in darkness; much more when you sin not, shall your whole spiritual body be so full of light, that its brightness may be compared to the shining of a candle, while the light which was in the body, and which used to be darkness, is directed whithersoever the understanding may command.
GREG. NAZ. Or else; The light and eye of the Church is the Bishop. It is necessary then that as the body is rightly directed as long as the eye keeps itself pure, but goes wrong when it becomes corrupt, so also with respect to the Prelate, according to what his state may be, must the Church in like manner suffer shipwreck, or be saved.
GREG. Or else; By the name body each particular action is understood which follows its own intention, as it were the eye of the spectators. Therefore it is said, The light of the body is the eye, because by the ray of a good intention the deserving parts of an action receive light. If then your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light, for if we intend rightly in singleness of heart, we accomplish a good work, even though it seem not to be good. And if your eye be evil, your whole body will be full of darkness, because when with a crooked intention even a right thing is done, although it appears to glitter in men's sight, yet before the bar of the internal judge it is covered with darkness. Hence too it is rightly added, Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness. For if what we think we do well we cloud by a bad intention, how many are the evils themselves which even when we do them we know to be evil?
BEDE; Now when He adds, If your whole body therefore, &c. by the whole of our body He means all our works. If then you have done a good work with a good intention, having in your conscience nothing approaching to a dark thought, though it chance that your neighbor is injured by your good actions, nevertheless for your singleness of heart shall you be rewarded with grace here, and with glorious light hereafter; which he signifies, adding, And as the bright shining of a candle shall it give you light. These words were especially directed against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who sought for signs that they might catch him.
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CYRIL; The Pharisee, while our Lord still continued on speaking, invites Him to his own house. As it is said And while he was speaking, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him.
BEDE; Luke expressly says, And he spoke these things, to show that He had not quite finished what He had purposed to say, but was somewhat interrupted by the Pharisee asking Him to dine.
AUG. For in order to relate this, Luke has made a variation from Matthew, at that place where both had mentioned what out Lord said concerning the sign of Jonah, and the queen of the south, and the unclean spirit; after which discourse Matthew says, While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without desiring to speak to him, but Luke having also in that discourse of our Lord related some of our Lord's sayings which Matthew omitted, now departs from the order which he had hitherto kept with Matthew.
BEDE; Accordingly, after that it was told Him that His mother and brethren stood without, and He said, For he that does the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother, we are given to understand that He by the request of the Pharisee went to the dinner.
CYRIL; For Christ, knowing the wickedness of those Pharisees, Himself purposely condescends to be occupied in admonishing them, after the manner of the best physicians, who bring remedies of their own making to those who are dangerously ill. Hence it follows, And he went in and sat down to meat. But what gave occasion for the words of Christ was, that the ignorant Pharisees were offended, that while men thought Him to be a great man and a prophet, He conformed not to their unreasonable customs. Therefore it is added, But the Pharisee began to think and say within himself, Why had he not first washed before dinner?
AUG. For every day before dinner the Pharisees washed themselves with water, as if a daily washing could be a cleansing of the heart. But the Pharisee thought within himself, yet did not give utterance to a word; nevertheless, He heard who perceived the secrets of the heart. Hence it follows, And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
CYRIL; Now our Lord might also have used other words to admonish the foolish Pharisee, but he seizes the opportunity and framed his reproof from the things that were ready before him. At the hour, namely, of meals He takes for His example the cup and the platter, pointing out that it became the sincere servants of God to be washed and clean, not only from bodily impurity, but also from that which lies concealed within the power of the soul, just as any of the vessels which are used for the table ought to be free from all inward defilement.
AMBROSE; Now mark that our bodies are signified by the mention of earthly and fragile things, which when let fall a short distance are broken to pieces, and those things which the mind meditates within, it easily expresses through the senses and actions of the body, just as those things which the cup contains within make a glitter without. Hence also hereafter, by the word cup doubtless the passion of the body is spoken of. You perceive then, that not the outside of the cup and platter defiles us, but the inner parts. For he said, But your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
AUG. But how was it that He spared not the man by whom He was as invited? Yes rather, He spared him by reproof, that when corrected He might spare him in the judgment. Further, He shows us that baptism also which is once given cleanses by faith; but faith is something within, not without. The Pharisees despised faith, and used washings which were without; while within they remained full of pollution. The Lord condemns this, saying, You fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
BEDE; As if He says, He who made both natures of man, will have each to be cleansed. This is against the Manicheans, who think the soul only was created by God, but the flesh by the devil. It is also against those who abominate the sins of the flesh, such as fornication, theft, and the like; while those of the Spirit, which are no less condemned by the Apostle, they disregard as trifling.
AMBROSE; Now our Lord as a good Master taught us how we ought to purify our bodies from defilement, saying, But rather give alms of such things as you have over: and behold, all things are clean to you. You see what the remedies are; almsgiving cleanses us, the word of God cleanses us according to that which is written, Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.
CYPRIAN; The Merciful bids us to show mercy; and because He seeks to save those whom He has redeemed at a great price, He teaches that they who have been defiled after the grace of baptism may again be made clean.
CHRYS. Now He says, give alms, not injury. For almsgiving is that which is free from all injury. It makes all things clean, and is more excellent than fasting; which though it be the more painful, the other is the more profitable. It enlightens the soul, enriches it, and makes it good and beautiful. He who resolves to have compassion on the needy, will sooner cease from sin. For as the physician who is in the habit of healing the diseased is easily grieved by the misfortunes of others; so we, if we have devoted ourselves to the relief of others, shall easily despise things present, and be raised up to heaven. The unction of almsgiving then is no slight good, since it is capable of being applied to every wound.
BEDE; He speaks of "what is over and above" our necessary food and clothing. For you are not commended to give alms so as to consume yourself by want, but that after satisfying your wants, you should supply the poor to the utmost of your power. Or it must be taken in this way. Do that which remains within your power, that is, which is the only remedy remaining to those who have been hitherto engaged in so much wickedness; give alms. Which word applies to every thing which is done with profitable compassion. For not he alone gives alms who gives food to the hungry and things of that kind, but he also who gives pardon to the sinner, and prays for him, and reproves him, visiting him with some correcting punishment.
THEOPHYL. Or He means, "That which is uppermost." For wealth rules the covetous man's heart.
AMBROSE; The whole then of this beautiful discourse is directed to this end, that while it invites us to the study of simplicity, it should condemn the luxury and worldliness of the Jews. And yet even they are promised the abolition of their sins if they will follow mercy.
AUG. But if they cannot be cleansed except they believe on Him who cleanses the heart by faith, what is this which He says, Give alms, and behold all things are clean to you? Let us give heed, and perhaps He Himself explains it to us. For the Jews withdrew a tenth part from all their produce, and gave it in alms, which rarely a Christian does. Therefore they mocked Him, for saying this to them as to men who did not give alms. God knowing this adds, But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God. This then is not giving alms. For to give alms is to show mercy. If you are wise, begin with yourself: for how are you merciful to another, if cruel to yourself? Hear the Scripture, which says to you, Have mercy on your own soul, and please God. Return to your conscience, you that live in evil or unbelief; and then you find your soul begging, or perhaps struck dumb with want. In judgment and love give alms to your soul. What is judgment? Do what is displeasing to yourself. What is charity? Love God, love your neighbor. If you neglect this alms, love as much you like, you do nothing, since you do it not to yourself.
CYRIL; Or He says it by way of censure upon the Pharisees, who ordered those precepts only to be strictly observed by their people, which were the cause of fruitful returns to themselves. Hence they omitted not even the smallest herbs, but despised the work of inspiring love to God, and the just awarding of judgment.
THEOPHYL. For because they despised God, treating sacred things with indifference, He commands them to have love to God; but by judgment He implies the love of our neighbor. For when a man judges his neighbor justly, it proceeds from his love to him.
AMBROSE; Or judgment, because they do not bring to examination every thing that they do; charity, because they love not God with their heart. But that He might not make us zealous of the faith, to the neglect of good works, He sums up the perfection of a good man in a few words, these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
CHRYS. Where indeed the subject treated was the Jewish cleansing, He altogether passed it by, but as the tithe is a kind of almsgiving, and the time was not yet come for absolutely destroying the customs of the law, therefore He says, these ought you to have done.
AMBROSE; He reproves also the arrogance of the boasting Jews in seeking the preeminence: for it follows, Woe to you, Pharisees, for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, &c.
CYRIL; By means of those things for which He blames us He makes us better. For He would have us be free from ambition, and not desire after vain show rather than the reality, which the Pharisees were then doing. For the greetings of men, and the rule over them, do not move us to be really useful, for these things fall to men though they be not good men. Therefore he adds, Woe to you, who are as graves which appear not. For in wishing to receive greetings from men and to exercise authority over them, that they might be accounted great, they differ not from hidden graves, which glitter indeed with outward ornaments, but within are full of all uncleanness.
AMBROSE; And like graves which appear not, they deceive by their outside beauty, and by their look impose upon the passers by; as it follows, And the men that walk over them are not aware of them; so much that in truth, though they give outward promise of what is beautiful, inwardly they enclose all manner of pollution.
CHRYS. But that the Pharisees were so, cannot be wondered at. But if we who are counted worthy to be the temples of God suddenly become graves full only of corruption, this is indeed the lowest wretchedness.
CYRIL; Now here the apostate Julian says, that we must avoid graves which Christ says are unclean; but he knew not the force of our Savior's words, for He did not command us to depart from the graves, but likened to them the hypocritical people of the Pharisees.
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CYRIL; A reproof which exalts the meek is generally hateful to the proud man. When therefore our Savior was blaming the Pharisees for transgressing from the right path, the body of Lawyers were struck with consternation. Hence it is said, Then answered one of the lawyers, and said to him, Master, thus saying you reproach us also.
BEDE; In what a grievous state is that conscience, which hearing the word of God thinks it a reproach against itself, and in the account of the punishment of the wicked perceives its own condemnation.
THEOPHYL. Now the Lawyers were different from the Pharisees. For the Pharisees being separated from the rest had the appearance of a religious sect; but those skilled in the Law were the Scribes and Doctors who solved legal questions.
CYRIL; But Christ brings a severe charge against the Lawyers, and subdues their foolish pride, as it follows, And he said, Woe to you also, you Lawyers, for you lade men, &c. He brings forward an obvious example for their direction. The Law was burdensome to the Jews as the disciples of Christ confess, but these Lawyers binding together legal burdens which could not be borne, placed them upon those under them, taking care themselves to have no toil whatever.
THEOPHYL. As often also as the teacher does what he teaches, he lightens the load, offering himself for an example. But when he does none of the things which he teaches others, the loads appear heavy to those who learn his teaching, as being what even their teacher is not able to bear.
BEDE; Now they are rightly told that they would not touch the burdens of the Law even with one of their fingers, that is, they fulfill not in the slightest point that law which they pretend to keep and transmit to the keeping of others, contrary to the practice of their fathers, without faith and the grace of Christ.
GREG. NYSS.. So also are there now many severe judges of sinners, yet weak combatants; burdensome imposers of laws, yet weak bearers of burdens; who wish neither to approach nor to touch strictness of life, though they sternly exact it from their subjects.
CYRIL; Having then condemned the burdensome dealing of the Lawyer, He brings a general charge against all the chief men of the Jews, saying, Woe to you who build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
AMBROSE; This is a good answer to the foolish superstition of the Jews, who in building the tombs of the prophets condemned the deeds of their fathers, but by rivaling their fathers' wickedness, throw back the sentence upon themselves. For not the building but the imitation of their deeds is looked upon as a crime. Therefore He adds, Truly you bear witness that you allow, &c.
BEDE; They pretended indeed, in order to win in the favor of the multitude, that they were shocked at the unbelief of their fathers, since by splendidly honoring the memories of the prophets who were slain by them they condemned their deeds. But in their very actions they testify how much they coincide with their fathers' wickedness, by treating with insult that Lord whom the prophets foretold. Hence it is added, Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute.
AMBROSE; The wisdom of God is Christ. The words indeed in Matthew are, Behold I send to you prophets and wise men.
BEDE; But if the same Wisdom of God sent prophets and Apostles, let heretics cease to assign to Christ a beginning from the Virgin; let them no longer declare one God of the Law and Prophets, another of the New Testament. For although the Apostolic Scripture often calls by the name of prophets not only those who foretell the coming Incarnation of Christ, but those also who foretell the future joys of the kingdom of heaven, yet I should never suppose that these were to be placed before the Apostles in the order of enumeration.
ATHAN. Now if they kill, the death of the slain will cry out the louder against them; if they pursue, they send forth memorials of their iniquity, for flight makes the pursuit of the sufferers to redound to the great disgrace of the pursuers. For no one flees from the merciful and gentle, but rather from the cruel and evil-minded man. And therefore it follows, That the blood of all the prophets who have been slain from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation.
BEDE; It is asked, How comes it that the blood of all the prophets and just men is required of the single generation of the Jews; whereas many of the saints, both before the Incarnation and after, have been slain by other nations? But it is the manner of the Scriptures frequently to reckon two generations of men, one of the good, and the other of the evil.
CYRIL; Although then He says pointedly of this generation, He expresses not merely those who were then standing by Him and listening, but every manslayer. For like is attributed to like.
CHRYS. But if He means that the Jews are about to suffer worse things, this will not be undeserved, for they have dared to do worse than all. And they have been corrected by none of their past calamities, but when they saw others sin, and punished, they were not made better, but did likewise; yet it will not be that one shall suffer punishment for the sins of others.
THEOPHYL. But our Lord shows that the Jews have inherited the malice of Cain, since he adds, From the blood of Abel, to the blood of Zacharias, &c. Abel, inasmuch as he was slain by Cain; but Zacharias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar, some say was the Zacharias of old time, the son of Jehoiadah the Priest.
BEDE; Why He begins from the blood of Abel, who was the first martyr, we need not wonder; but why, to the blood, of Zacharias, is a question, since many were slain after him even up to our Lord's birth, and soon after His birth the Innocents, unless perhaps it was because Abel was a shepherd, Zacharias a Priest. And the one was killed in the field, the other in the court of the temple, martyrs of each class, that is, under their names are shadowed both laymen, and those engaged in the office of the altar.
GREG. NYSS.. But some say that Zacharias, the father of John, by the spirit of prophecy forecasting the mystery of the immaculate virginity of the mother of God, in no wise separated her from the part of the temple set apart for virgins, wishing to show that it was in the power of the Creator of all things to manifest a new birth, while he did not deprive the mother of the glory of her virginity. Now this part was between the altar and the temple, in which was placed the brazen altar, where for this reason they slew him. It is said also, that when they heard the King of the world was about to come, form fear of subjection they designedly attacked him who bore witness to His coming, and slew the priest in the temple.
GREEK EX. But others give another reason for the destruction of Zacharias. For at the murder of the children the blessed John was to be slain with the rest of the same age, but Elizabeth, snatching up her son from the midst of the slaughter, sought the desert. And so when Herod's soldiers could not find Elisabeth and the child, they turn their wrath against Zacharias, killing him as he was ministering in the temple.
It follows, Woe to you, lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge.
BASIL; This word woe, which is uttered with pain intolerable, is suited to those who were shortly after to be cast out into grievous punishment
CYRIL; Now we say, the law itself is the key of knowledge. For it was both a shadow and a figure of the righteousness of Christ, therefore it became the Lawyers, as instructors of the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets, to reveal in a certain measure to the Jewish people the knowledge of Christ This they did not, but on the contrary detracted from the divine miracles, and spoke against His teaching, Why hear you him? So then they took away the key of knowledge. Hence it follows, You entered not in yourselves, and them that were entered in you hindered. But faith also is the key of knowledge. For by faith comes also the knowledge of truth according to that of Isaiah, Unless you have believed, you will not understand. The Lawyers then have taken away the key of knowledge, not permitting men to believe in Christ.
AUG. But the key of knowledge is also the humility of Christ, which they would neither themselves understand, nor let be understood by others.
AMBROSE; Those also are even now condemned under the name of Jews, and made subject to future punishment, who, while usurping to themselves the teaching of divine knowledge, both hinder others, and do not themselves acknowledge that which they profess.
AUG. Now all these things Matthew records to have been said after our Lord had come into Jerusalem. But Luke relates them here, when our Lord was yet on His journey to Jerusalem. From which they appear to me to be similar discourses, of which Matthew has given one, Luke the other.
BEDE; But how true were the charges of unbelief, hypocrisy, and impiety, brought against the Pharisees and Lawyers they themselves testify, striving not to repent, but to entrap the Teacher of truth; for it follows, And as he said these things to them, the Pharisees and Lawyers began to urge him vehemently.
CYRIL; Now this urging is taken to mean pressing upon Him, or threatening Him, or waxing furious against Him. But they began to interrupt His words in many ways, as it follows, And to force him to speak of many things.
THEOPHYL. For when several are questioning a man on different subjects, since he can not reply to all at once, foolish people think he is doubting. This also was part of their wicked design against Him; but they sought also in another way to control His power of speech, namely, by provoking Him to say something by which He might be condemned; whence it follows, Laying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. Having first spoken of "forcing," Luke now says to catch or seize something from His mouth; at one time indeed they asked Him concerning the Law, that they might convict as a blasphemer Him who accused Moses; but at another time concerning Caesar, that they might accuse Him as a traitor and rebel against the majesty of Caesar.
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