Golden Chain 10734
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BEDE; Our Lord had just before said, that he who is in the field must not return back; and lest this should seem to have been spoken of those only who would openly return from the field, that is, who would publicly deny their Lord, He goes on to show, that there are some who, while seeming to turn their face forward, are yet in their heart looking behind.
AMBROSE; He rightly says, night, for Antichrist is the hour of darkness, because he pours a dark cloud over the minds of men while he declares himself to be Christ. But Christ as lightning shines brightly, that we may be able to see in that night the glory of the resurrection.
AUG. Or He says, in that night, meaning in that tribulation.
THEOPHYL. Or He teaches us the suddenness of Christ's coming, which we are told will be in the night. And having said that the rich can scarcely be saved, He shows that not all the rich perish, nor all the poor are saved.
CYRIL; For by the two men in one bed, He seems to denote the rich who repose themselves in worldly pleasures, for a bed is a sign of rest. But not all who abound in riches are wicked, but if one is good and elect in the faith, he will be taken, but another who is not so will be left. For when our Lord descends to judgment, He will send His Angels, who while they leave behind on the earth the rest to suffer punishment, will bring the holy and righteous men to Him; according to the Apostle's words, We shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet Christ in the air.
AMBROSE; Or out of the same bed of human infirmity, one is left, that is, rejected, another is taken up, that is, is caught to meet Christ in the air. By the two grinding together, he seems to imply the poor and the oppressed. To which belongs what follows. Two men shall be in the field, &c. For in these there is no slight difference. For some nobly bear up against the burden of poverty, leading a lowly but honest life, and these shall be taken up; but the others are very active in wickedness, and they shall be left. Or those grinding at the mill seem to represent such as seek nourishment from hidden sources, and from secret places draw forth things openly to view. And perhaps the world is a kind of corn mill, in which the soul is shut up as in a bodily prison. And in this corn mill either the synagogue or the soul exposed to sin, like the wheat, softened by grinding and spoilt by too great moisture, cannot separate the outward from the inner parts, and so is left because its flour dissatisfies. But the holy Church, or the soul which is not soiled by the stains of sin, which grinds such wheat as is ripened by the heat of the eternal sun, presents to God a good flour from the secret shrines of the heart. Who the two men in the field are we may discover if we consider, that there are two minds in us, one of the outer man which wastes away, the other of the inner man which is renewed by the Sacrament. These are then the laborers in the field, the one of which by diligence brings forth good fruit, the other by idleness loses that which he has. Or those who are compared we may interpret to be two nations, one of which being faithful is taken, the other being unfaithful is left.
AUG. Or there are three classes of men here represented. The first is composed of those who prefer their ease and quiet, and busy not themselves in secular or ecclesiastical concerns. And this quiet life of theirs is signified by the bed. The next class embraces those who being placed among the people are governed by teachers. And such he has described by the name of women, because it is best for them to be ruled by the advice of those who are set over them; and he has described these as grinding at the mill, because in their hands revolves the wheel and circle of temporal concerns. And with reference to these mattershe has represented them as grinding together, inasmuch as they give their services to the benefit of the Church. The third class are those who labor in the ministry of the Church as in the field of God. In each of these three classes then there are two sorts of men, of which the one abide in the Church and are taken up, the other fall away and are left.
AMBROSE; For God is not unjust that He should separate in His reward of their deserts men of like pursuits in life, and not differing in the quality of their actions. But the habit of living together does not equalize the merits of men, for not all accomplish what they attempt, but he only who shall persevere to the end shall be saved.
CYRIL; When He said that some should be taken up, the disciples not unprofitably inquire, 'Where, Lord?'
BEDE; Our Lord was asked two questions, where the good should be taken up, and where the bad left; He gave only one answer, and left the other to be understood, saying, Wherever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
CYRIL; As if He said, As when a dead body is thrown away, all the birds which feed on human flesh flock to it, so when the Son of man shall come, all the eagles, that is, the saints, shall haste to meet Him.
AMBROSE; For the souls of the righteous are likened to eagles, because they soar high and forsake the lower parts, and are said to live to a great age. Now concerning the body, we can have no doubt, and above all if we remember that Joseph received the body from Pilate. And do not you see the eagles around, the body are the women and Apostles gathered together around our Lord's sepulcher? Do not you see them then, When he shall come in the clouds, and every eye shall behold him? But the body is that of which it was said, My flesh is meat indeed; and around this body are the eagles which fly about on the wings of the Spirit, around it also eagles which believe that Christ has come in the flesh. And this body is the Church, in which by the grace of baptism we are renewed in the Spirit.
EUSEB. Or by the eagles feeding on the dead animals, he has here described the rulers of the world, and those who shall at that time persecute the saints of God, in whose power are left all those who are unworthy of being taken up, who are called the body or carcass. Or by the eagles are meant the avenging powers which shall fly about to torment the wicked. AUG. Now these things which Luke has given us in a different place from Matthew, he either relates by anticipation, so as to mention beforehand what was afterwards spoken by our Lord, or he means us to understand that they were twice uttered by Him.
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THEOPHYL. Our Lord having spoken of the trials and dangers which were coming, adds immediately afterward their remedy, namely, constant and earnest prayer.
CHRYS. He who has redeemed you, has shown you what He would have you do. He would have you be instant in prayer, He would have you ponder in your heart the blessings you are praying for, He would have you ask and receive what His goodness is longing to impart. He never refuses His blessings to them that pray, but rather stirs men up by His mercy not to faint in praying. Gladly accept the Lord's encouragement: be willing to do what He commands, not to do what He forbids. Lastly, consider what a blessed privilege is granted you, to talk with God in your prayers, and make known to Him all your wants, while He though not in words, yet by His mercy, answers you, for He despises not petitions, He tires not but when you are silent.
BEDE; We should say that he is always praying, and faints not, who never fails to pray at the canonical hours. Or all things which the righteous man does and says towards God, are to be counted as praying.
AUG. Our Lord utters His parables, either for the sake of the comparison, as in the instance of the creditor, who when forgiving his two debtors all that they owed him was most loved by him who owed him most; or on account of the contrast, from which he draws his conclusion; as, for example, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. So also here when he brings forward the case of the unjust judge.
THEOPHYL. We may observe, that irreverence towards man is a token of a greater degree of wickedness. For as many as fear not God, yet are restrained by their shame before men, are so far the less sinful; but when a man becomes reckless also of other men, the burden of his sins is greatly increased.
It follows, And there was a widow in that city.
AUG. The widow may be said to resemble the Church, which appears desolate until the Lord shall come, who now secretly watches over her. But in the following words, And she came to him, saying, Avenge me, &c. we are told the reason why the elect of God pray that they may be avenged; which we find also said of the martyrs in the Revelations of St. John, though at the same time we are very plainly reminded to pray for our enemies and persecutors. This avenging of the righteous then we must understand to be, that the wicked may perish. And they perish in two ways, either by conversion to righteousness, or by punishment having lost the opportunity of conversion. Although, if all men were converted to God, there would still remain the devil to be condemned at the end of the world. And since the righteous are longing for this end to come, they are not unreasonably said to desire vengeance.
CYRIL; Or else; Whenever men inflict injury upon us, we must then think it a noble thing to be forgetful of the evil; but when they offend against the glory of God by taking up arms against the ministers of God's ordinance, we then approach God imploring His help, and loudly rebuking them who impugn His glory.
AUG. If then with the most unjust judge, the perseverance of the suppliant at length prevailed even to the fulfillment of her desire, how much more confident ought they to feel who cease not to pray to God, the Fountain of justice and mercy?
And so it follows. And the Lord said, Hear what, &c.
THEOPHYL. As if He said, If perseverance could melt a judge defiled with every sin, how much more shall our prayers incline to mercy God the Father of all mercies! But some have given a more subtle meaning to the parable, saying, that the widow is a soul that has put off the old man, (that is, the devil,) who is her adversary, because she approaches God, the righteous Judge, who neither fears (because He is God alone) nor regards man, for with God there is no respect of persons. Upon the widow then, or soul ever supplicating Him against the devil, God shows mercy, and is softened by her importunity.
After having taught us that we must in the last days resort to prayer because of the dangers that are coming, our Lord adds, Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?
AUG. Our Lord speaks this of perfect faith, which is seldom found on earth. See how full the Church of God is; were there no faith, who would enter it? Were there perfect faith, who would not move mountains?
BEDE; When the Almighty Creator shall appear in the form of the Son of man, so scarce will the elect be, that not so much the cries of the faithful as the torpor of the others will hasten the world's fall. Our Lord speaks then as it were doubtfully, not that He really is in doubt, but to reprove us; just as we sometimes, in a matter of certainty, might use the words of doubt, as, for instance, in chiding a servant, "Remember, am I not your master?"
AUG. Our Lord adds this to show, that when faith fails, prayer dies. In order to pray then, we must have faith, and that our faith fail not, we must pray. Faith pours forth prayer, and the pouring forth of the heart in prayer gives steadfastness to faith.
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AUG. Since faith is not a gift of the proud but of the humble, our Lord proceeds to add a parable concerning humility and against pride.
THEOPHYL. Pride also beyond all other passions disturbs the mind of man. And hence the very frequent warnings against it. It is moreover a contempt of God; for when a man ascribes the good he does to himself and not to God, what else is this but to deny God? For the sake then of those that so trust in themselves, that they will not ascribe the whole to God, and therefore despise others, He puts forth a parable, to show that righteousness, although it may bring man up to God, yet if he is clothed with pride, casts him down to hell.
GREEK EX. To be diligent in prayer was the lesson taught by our Lord in the parable of the widow and the judge, He now instructs us how we should direct our prayers to Him, in order that our prayers may not be fruitless. The Pharisee was condemned because he prayed heedlessly. As it follows, The Pharisee stood and prayed with himself.
THEOPHYL. It is said "standing," to denote his haughty temper. For his very posture betokens his extreme pride.
BASIL; "He prayed with himself," that is, not with God, his sin of pride sent him back into himself. It follows, God, I thank you.
AUG. His fault was not that he gave God thanks, but that he asked for nothing further. Because you are full and abounds, you have no need to say, Forgive us our debts. What then must be his guilt who impiously fights against grace, when he is condemned who proudly gives thanks? Let those hear who say, "God has made me man, I made myself righteous. O worse and more hateful than the Pharisee, who proudly called himself righteous, yet gave thanks to God that he was so.
THEOPHYL. Observe the order of the Pharisee's prayer. He first speaks of that which he had not, and then of that which he had. As it follows, That I am not as other men are.
AUG. He might at least have said, "as many men;" for what does he mean by "other men," but all besides himself? "I am righteous, he says, the rest are sinners."
GREG. There are different shapes in which the pride of self-confident men presents itself; when they imagine that either the good in them is of themselves; or when believing it is given them from above, that they have received it for their own merits; or at any rate when they boast that they have that which they have not. Or lastly, when despising others they aim at appearing singular in the possession of that which they have. And in this respect the Pharisee awards to himself especially the merit of good works.
AUG. See how he; derives from the Publican near him a fresh occasion for pride. It follows, Or even as this Publican; as if he says, "I stand alone, he is one of the others."
CHRYS. To despise the whole race of man was not enough for him; he must yet attack the Publican. He would have sinned, yet far less if he had spared the Publican, but now in one word he both assails the absent, and inflicts a wound on him who was present. To give thanks is not to heap reproaches on others. When you returns thanks to God, let Him be all in all to you. Turn not your thoughts to men, nor condemn your neighbor.
BASIL; The difference between the proud man and the scorner is in the outward form alone. The one is engaged in reviling others, the other in presumptuously extolling: himself.
CHRYS. He who rails at others does much harm both to himself and others. First, those who hear him are rendered worse, for if sinners they are made glad in finding one as guilty as themselves, if righteous, they are exalted, being led by the sins of others to think more highly of themselves. Secondly, the body of the Church suffers; for those who hear him are not all content to blame the guilty only, but to fasten the reproach also on the Christian religion. Thirdly, the glory of God is evil spoken of for as our well-doing makes the name of God to be glorified, so our sins cause it to be blasphemed. Fourthly, the object of reproach is confounded and becomes more reckless and immovable. Fifthly, the ruler is himself made liable to punishment for uttering things which are not seemly.
THEOPHYL. It becomes us not only to shun evil, but also to do good; and so after having said, I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, he adds something by way of contrast, I fast twice in a week. They called the week the Sabbath, from the last day of rest. The Pharisees fasted upon the second and fifth day. He therefore set fasting against the passion of adultery, for lust is born of luxury; but to the extortioners and usurists he opposed the payment of tithes; as it follows, I give tithes of all I possess; as if he says, So far am I from indulging in extortion or injuring, that I even give up what is my own.
GREG. So it was pride that laid bare to his wily enemies the citadel of his heart, which prayer and fasting had in vain kept closed. Of no use are all the other fortifications, as long as there is one place which the enemy has left defenseless.
AUG. If you look into his words, you will find that he asked nothing of God. He goes up indeed to pray, but instead of asking God, praises himself; and even insults him that asked. The Publican, on the other hand, driven by his stricken conscience afar off, is by his piety brought near.
THEOPHYL. Although reported to have stood, the Publican yet differed from the Pharisee, both in his manner and his words, as well as in his having a contrite heart. For he feared to lift up his eyes to heaven, thinking unworthy of the heavenly vision those which had loved to gaze upon and wander after earthly things. He also smote his breast, striking it as it were because of the evil thoughts, and moreover rousing it as if asleep. And thus he sought only that God would be reconciled to him, as it follows, saying, God, be merciful.
CHRYS. He heard the words, that I am not as the Publican. He was not angry, but pricked to the heart. The one uncovered the wound, the other seeks for its remedy. Let no one then ever put forth so cold an excuse as, I dare not, I am ashamed, I cannot open my mouth. The devils have that kind of fear. The devil would fain close against you every door of access to God.
AUG. Why then marvel you, whether God pardons, since He himself acknowledges it. The Publican stood afar off, yet drew near to God. And the Lord was nigh to him, and heard him, For the Lord is on high, yet has he regard to the lowly. He lifted not so much as his eyes to heaven; that he might be looked upon, he looked not himself. Conscience weighed him down, hope raised him up, he smote his own breast, he exacted judgment upon himself. Therefore did the Lord spare the penitent. You have heard the accusation of the proud, you have heard the humble confession of the accused Hear now the sentence of the Judge; Verily I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.
CHRYS This parable represents to us two chariots on the race course, each with two charioteers in it. In one of the chariots it places righteousness with pride, in the other sin and humility. You see the chariot of sin outstrip that of righteousness, not by its own strength but by the excellence of humility combined with it, but the other is defeated not by righteousness, but by the weight and swelling of pride. For as humility by its own elasticity rises above the weight of pride, and leaping up reaches to God, so pride by its great weight easily depresses righteousness. Although therefore you are earnest and constant in well doing, yet think you may boast yourself, you are altogether devoid of the fruits of prayer. But you that bears a thousand loads of guilt on your conscience, and only think this thing of yourself that you are the lowest of all men, shall gain much confidence before God. And He then goes on to assign the reason of His sentence. For every one who exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. The word humility has various meanings. There is the humility of virtue, as, A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. There is also a humility arising from sorrows, as, He has humbled my life upon the earth. There is a humility derived from sin, and the pride and insatiability of riches. For can any thing be more low and debased than those who grovel in riches and power, and count them great things?
BASIL; In like manner it is possible to be honorably elated when your thoughts indeed are not lowly, but your mind by greatness of soul is lifted up towards virtue. This loftiness of mind is seen in a cheerfulness amidst sorrow; or a kind of noble dauntlessness in trouble i a contempt of earthly things, and a conversation in heaven. And this loftiness of mind seems to differ from that elevation which is engendered of pride, just as the stoutness of a well-regulated body differs from the swelling of the flesh which proceeds from dropsy.
CHRYS. This inflation of pride can cast down even from heaven the man that takes not warning, but humility can raise a man up from the lowest depth of guilt. The one saved the Publican before the Pharisee, and brought the thief into Paradise before the Apostles; the other entered even into the spiritual powers. But if humility though added to sin has made such rapid advances, as to pass by pride united to righteousness, how much swifter will be its course when you add to it righteousness? It will stand by the judgment-seat of God in the midst of the angels with great boldness. Moreover if pride joined to righteousness had power to depress it, to what a hell will it thrust men when added to sin? This I say not that we should neglect righteousness, but that we should avoid pride.
THEOPHYL. But should any one perchance marvel that the Pharisee for uttering a few words in his own praise is condemned, while Job, though he poured forth many, is crowned, I answer, that the Pharisee spoke these at the same time that he groundlessly accused others; but Job was compelled by an urgent necessity to enumerate his own virtues for the glory of God, that men might not fall away from the path of virtue.
BEDE; Typically, the Pharisee is the Jewish people, who boast of their ornaments because of the righteousness of the law, but the Publican is the Gentiles, who being at a distance from God confess their sins. Of whom the one for His pride returned humbled, the other for his contrition was thought worthy to draw near and be exalted.
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THEOPHYL. After what He had said, our Lord teaches us a lesson of humility by His own example; He does not turn away the little children who are brought to Him, but graciously receives them.
AUG. To whom are they brought to be touched, but to the Savior? And as being the Savior they are presented to Him to be saved, who came to save that which was lost. But with regard to these innocents, when w ere they lost? The Apostle says, By one man sin entered into the world. Let then the little children come as the sick to a physician, the lost to their Redeemer.
AMBROSE; It may be thought strange by some that the disciples wished to prevent the little children from coming to our Lord, as it is said, when they saw it, they rebuked them. But we must understand in this either a mystery, or the effect of their love to Him. For they did it not from envy or harsh feeling towards the children, but they manifested a holy zeal in their Lord's service, that he might not be pressed by the crowds. Our own interest must be given up where an injury is threatened to God. But we may understand the mystery to be, that they desired the Jewish people to be first saved, of whom they were according to the flesh.
They knew indeed the mystery, that to both nations the call was to be made, (for they entreated for the Canaanitish woman,) but perhaps they were still ignorant of the order. It follows, But Jesus called them to him, and said, Suffer little children, &c. One age is not preferred to another, else it were hurtful to grow up. But why does He say that children are fitter for the kingdom of heaven? It is because they are ignorant of guile, are incapable of theft, dare not return a blow, are unconscious of lust, have no desire for wealth, honors, or ambition. But to be ignorant of these things is not virtue, we must also despise them. For virtue consists not in our inability to sin, but in our unwillingness. Childhood then is not meant here, but that goodness which rivals the simplicity of childhood.
BEDE; If Hence our Lord pointedly says, of such, not "of these," to show that to character, not to age, is the kingdom given, and to such as have a childlike innocence and simplicity is the promise of the reward.
AMBROSE; Lastly, our Savior expressed this when He said, Verily I say to you, Whoever will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, &c. What child were Christ's Apostles to imitate but Him of whom Esaias speaks, Unto us a Child is given? Who when He was reviled, reviled not again. So that there is in childhood a certain venerable antiquity, and in old age a childlike innocence.
BASIL; We shall receive the kingdom of God as a child if we are disposed towards our Lord's teaching as a child under instruction, never contradicting nor disputing with his masters, but trustfully and teachably imbibing learning.
THEOPHYL. The wise men of the Gentiles therefore who seek for wisdom in a mystery, which is the kingdom of God, and will not receive this without the evidence of logical proof, are rightly shut out from this kingdom.
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BEDE; A certain ruler having heard our Lord say, that only those who would be like little children should enter the kingdom of heaven, entreats Him to explain to him not by parable but openly by what works he may merit to obtain eternal life.
AMBROSE; That ruler tempting Him said, Good Master, he ought to have said, Good God. For although goodness exists in divinity and divinity in goodness, yet by adding Good Master, he uses good only in part, not in the whole. For God is good altogether, man partially.
CYRIL; Now he thought to detect Christ in blaming the law of Moses, while He introduced His own commands. He went then to the Master, and calling Him good, says that he wishes to be taught by Him, for he sought to tempt Him. But He who takes the wise in their craftiness answers him fitly as follows, Why call you me good? there is none good, save God alone.
AMBROSE; He does not deny that He is good, but points to God. None is good then except he be full of goodness. But should it strike any one that it is said, none is good, let this also strike him, save God, and if the Son is not excepted from God, surely neither is Christ excepted from good. For how is He not good who is born from good? A good tree brings forth good fruits. How is He not good, seeing that the substance of His goodness which He took to Him from the Father has not degenerated in the Son which did not degenerate in the Spirit. Your good spirit, he says, shall lead me into a land of uprightness. But if the Spirit is good who received from the Son, verily He also is good who gave It. Because then it was a lawyer who tempted Him, as is plainly strewn in another book, He therefore well said, None is good, save God, that He might remind him that it was written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God, but he the rather gives thanks to the Lord that He is good.
CHRYS. Or else; I shall not hesitate to call this ruler covetous, for with this Christ reproaches him, but I say not that he was a tempter.
TIT. BOST. When he says then, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? it is the same as if he says, You are good; vouchsafe me then an answer to my question. I am learned in the Old Testament, but I see in you something far more excellent. For you make no earthly promises, but preach the kingdom of heaven. Tell me then, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? The Savior then considering his meaning, because faith is the way to good works, passes over the question he asked, and leads him to the knowledge of faith; as if a man was to ask a physician, "What shall I eat?" and he was to show him what ought to go before his food. And then He sends him to His Father, saying, Why call you me good? not that He was not good, for He was the good branch from the good tree, or the good Son of the good Father.
AUG. It may seem that the account given in Matthew is different, where it is said, "Why ask you me of good?" which might apply better to the question which he asked, What good shall I do? In this place he both calls Him good, and asks the question about good. It will be best then to understand both to have been said, Why call you me good? and, Why ask you me of good? though the latter may rather be implied in the former.
TIT. BOST. After instructing him in the knowledge of the faith, He adds, you know the commandments. As though He said, Know God first, and then will it be time to seek what you ask.
CYRIL; But the ruler expected to hear Christ say, Forsake the commandments of Moses, and listen to Mine. Whereas He sends him to the former; as it follows, You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery.
THEOPHYL. The law first forbids those things to which we are most prone, as adultery for instance, the incitement to which is within us, and of our nature; and murder, because rage is a great and savage monster. But theft and bearing false witness are sins which men seldom fall into. And besides, the former also are the more grievous sins, therefore He places theft and bearing false witness in the second place, as both less common, and of less weight than the other.
BASIL; Now we must not understand by thieves, only such as cut strips off hides, or commit robberies in the baths. But all such also as, when appointed leaders of legions, or installed governors of states or nations, are guilty of secret embezzlement, or violent and open exactions.
TIT. BOST. But you may observe that these commandments consist in not doing certain things; that if you have not committed adultery, you are chaste; if you steal not, honestly disposed; if you bear not false witness, truth-telling. Virtue then we see is rendered easy through the goodness of the Lawgiver. For He speaks of avoiding of evil, not practicing of good. And any cessation from action is easier than any actual work.
THEOPHYL. Because sin against parents, although a great crime, very rarely happens, He places it last of all, Honor your father and mother.
AMBROSE; Honor is concerned not only with paying respect, but also with giving bountifully. For it is honoring to reward deserts. Feed your father, feed your mother, and when you have fed them you have not requited all the pangs and agony your mother underwent for you. To the one you owe all you have, to the other all you are. What a condemnation, should the Church feed those whom you are able to feed! But it may be said, What was going to bestow upon my parents, I prefer to give to the Church. God seeks not a gift which will starve your parents, but the Scripture says as well that parents are to be fed, as that they are to be left for God's sake, should they check the love of a devout mind.
It follows, And he said, All these things have I kept from my youth up.
JEROME; The young man speaks false, for if he had fulfilled that which was afterwards placed among the commandments, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, how was it that when he heard, Go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, he went away sorrowful?
BEDE; Or we must not think him to have lied, but to have avowed that he had lived honestly, that is, at least in outward things, else Mark could never have said, And Jesus seeing him, loved him.
TIT. BOST. Our Lord next declares, that though a man has kept the old covenant, he is not perfect, since he lacks to follow Christ. You yet lack one thing, Sell all that you have, &c. As if He says, you ask how to possess eternal life; scatter your goods among the poor, and you shall obtain it. A little thing is that you spend, you receive great things.
ATHAN. For when we despise the world, we must not imagine we have resigned any thing great, for the whole earth in comparison of the heaven is but a span long; therefore even should they who renounce it be lords of the whole earth, yet still it would be nothing worth in comparison of the kingdom of heaven.
BEDE; Whoever then wishes to be perfect must sell all that he has, not a part only, as Ananias and Sapphira did, but the whole.
THEOPHYL. Hence when he says, All that you have, He inculcates the most complete poverty. For if there is any thing left over or remaining to you, you are its slave.
BASIL; He does not tell us to sell our goods, because they are by nature evil, for then they would not be God's creatures; He therefore does not bid us cast them away as if they were bad, but distribute them; nor is any one condemned for possessing them, but for abusing them. And thus it is, that to lay out our goods according to God's command both blots out sins, and bestows the kingdom.
CHRYS. God might indeed feed the poor without our taking compassion upon them, but He wishes the givers to be bound by the ties of love to the receivers.
BASIL; When our Lord says, Give to the poor, it becomes a man no longer to be careless, but diligently to dispose of all things, first of all by himself if in any measure he is able, if not, by those w ho are known to be faithful, and prudent in their management; for cursed is he who does the work of the Lord negligently.
CHRYS. But it is asked, how does Christ acknowledge the giving all things to the poor to be perfection, whereas St. Paul declares this very thing without charity to be imperfect. Their harmony is shown in the words which succeed, And come, follow me, which betokens it to be from love. For herein shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one toward another.
THEOPHYL. Together with poverty must exist all the other virtues, therefore He says, Come, follow me, that is, In all other things be My disciples, be always following Me.
CYRIL; The ruler was not able to contain the new word, but being like an old bottle, burst with sorrow.
BASIL; The merchant when he goes to the market, is not loath to part with all that he has, in order to obtain what he requires, but you are grieved at giving mere dust and ashes that you may gain everlasting bliss.
Golden Chain 10734