Golden Chain 9517
9517 Lc 5,17-26
CYRIL; The Scribes and Pharisees who had become spectators of Christ's miracles, heard Him also teaching. Hence it is said, And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees sitting by, &c. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Not as though He borrowed the power of another, but as God and the Lord He healed by His own inherent power. Now men often become worthy of spiritual gifts, but generally depart from the rule which the giver of the gifts knew. It was not so with Christ, for the divine power went on abounding in giving remedies. But because it was necessary where so great a number of Scribes and Pharisees had come together, that something should be done to attest His power before those men who slighted Him, He performed the miracle on the man with the palsy, who since medical art seemed to fail, was carried by his kinsfolk to a higher and heavenly Physician.
As it follows, And behold men brought in a man that was stricken . . .
CHRYS. But they are to be admired who brought in the paralytic, since on finding that they could not enter in at the door, they attempted a new and untried way. As it follows, And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, they went upon the housetop, &c. But unroofing the house they let down the couch, and place the paralytic in the midst, as it follows, And they let him down through the tilings. Some one may say, that the place was let down, from which they lowered the couch of the palsied man through the tilings.
THEOPHYL; The Lord about to cure the man of his palsy, first loosens the chains of his sins, that He may show him, that on account of the bonds of his sins, he is punished with the loosening of his joints, and that unless the former are set free, he cannot be healed to the recovery of his limbs. Hence it follows, And when he saw their faith, &c.
AMBROSE; Mighty is the Lord who pardons one man for the good deed of another, and while he approves of the one, forgives the other his sins. Why, O man, with you does not your fellowman prevail, when with God a servant has both the liberty to intercede in your behalf, and the power of obtaining what he asks? If you despair of the pardon of heavy sins, bring the prayers of others, bring the Church to pray for you, and at sight of this the Lord may pardon what man denies to you.
CHRYS. But there was combined in this the faith also of the sufferer himself. For he would not have submitted to be let down, had he not believed.
AUG. But our Lord's saying, Man, your sins are forgiven, conveys the meaning that the man had his sins forgiven him, because in that he was man, he could not say, "I have not sinned," but at the same time also, that He who forgave sins might be known to be God.
CHRYS. Now if we suffer bodily, we are enough concerned to get rid of the hurtful thing; but when there has harm happened to the soul, we delay, and so are neither cured of our bodily ailments. Let us then remove the fountain of evil, and the waters of sickness will cease to flow. But from fear of the multitude, the Pharisees durst not openly expose their designs, but only meditated them in their hearts. Hence it follows, And they began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies?
CYRIL; By this they hasten the sentence of death, for it was commanded in the law, that whoever blasphemed God should be punished with death.
AMBROSE; From His very works therefore the Son of God receives testimony. For it is both more powerful evidence when men confess unwillingly, and a more fatal error when they who deny are left to the consequence of their own assertions. Hence it follows, Who can forgive sins, but God only? Great is the madness of an unbelieving people, who though they have confessed that it is of God alone to forgive sins, believe not God when He forgives sins.
THEOPHYL; For they say true, that no one can forgive sins but God, who yet forgives through those to whom He gives the power of forgiving. And therefore Christ is proved to be truly God, for He is able to forgive sins as God.
AMBROSE; The Lord wishing to save sinners shows Himself to be God, by His knowledge of the secret thoughts; as it follows, But that you may know.
CYRIL; As if to say, O Pharisees' since you say, Who can forgive sins, but God alone? I answer you, Who can search the secrets of the heart, but God alone, Who says by His prophet, I am the Lord. that searchs the hearts, and tries the reins.
CHRYS. If then you disbelieve the first, (i. e. the forgiveness of sins,) behold, I add another, seeing that I lay open your inmost thoughts. Again, another that I make whole the body of the palsied man. Hence He adds, Whether is it easier? It is very plain that it is easier to restore the body to health. For as the soul is far nobler than the body, so is the forgiveness of sins more excellent than the healing of the body. But since you believe not the former, because it is hid; I will add that which is inferior, yet more open, in order that thereby that which is secret may be made manifest. And indeed in addressing the sick man, He said not, I forgive you your sins, expressing His own power, but, Your sins are forgiven you.
But they compelled Him to declare more plainly His own power to them, when He said, But that you may know.
THEOPHYL. Observe that on earth He forgives sins. For while we are on earth we can blot out our sins. But after that we are taken away from the earth, we shall not be able to confess, for the gate is shut.
CHRYS. He show the pardon of sins by the healing of the body. Hence it follows, He says to the sick of the palsy, I say to you, Rise. But He manifests the healing of the body by the carrying of the bed, that so that which took place might be accounted no shadow. Hence it follows, Take up your bed. As if He said, "I was willing through your suffering to cure those who think that they are in health, while their souls are sick, but since they are unwilling, go and correct your household."
AMBROSE; Nor is there any delay, health is present; there is but one moment both of words, and healing. Hence it follows, And immediately he rose. From this fact it is evident, that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins; He said this both for Himself and us. For He as God made man, as the Lord of the law, forgives sins, we also have been chosen to receive from Him the same marvelous grace. For it was said to the disciples, Whose sins your remit, they are remitted to them. But how does He not Himself forgive sins, Who has given to others the power of doing so? But the kings and princes of the earth when they acquit homicides, release them from their present punishment, but cannot expiate their crimes.
AMBROSE; They behold him rising up, still disbelieving, and marvel at his departing; as it follows, And they were all amazed.
CHRYS. The Jews creep on by degrees, glorifying God, yet thinking Him not God, for His flesh stood in their way. But still it was no slight thing to consider Him the chief of mortal men, and to have proceeded from God.
AMBROSE; But they had rather fear the miracles of divine working, than believe them. As it follows, And they were filled with fear. But if they had believed they had not surely feared, but loved; for perfect love casts out fear But this was no careless or trifling cure of the paralytic, since our Lord is said to have prayed first, not for the petition's sake, but for an example.
AUG. With respect to the sick of the palsy, we may understand that the soul relaxed in its limbs i.e. its operations, seeks Christ, i.e. the meaning of God's word, but is hindered by the crowds, that is to say, unless it discovers the secrets of the thoughts, i.e. the dark parts of the Scriptures, and thereby arrives at the knowledge of Christ
THEOPHYL; And the house where Jesus was is well described as covered with tiles, since beneath the beggarly covering of letters is found the spiritual power of grace.
AMBROSE; Now let every sick person have those that will pray for his salvation, by whom the loosened joints of our life and halting steps may be renewed by the remedy of the heavenly word. Let there be then certain monitors of the soul, to raise the mind of man, though grown dull through the weakness of the external body, to higher things, by the aid of which being able again easily to raise and humble itself, it may be placed before Jesus worthy to be presented in the Lord's sight. For the Lord beholds the humble.
AUG. The men then by whom he is let down may signify the doctors of the Church. But that he is let down with the couch, signifies that Christ ought to be known by man, while yet abiding in his flesh.
AMBROSE; But the Lord, pointing out the full hope of resurrection, pardons the sins of the soul, sets aside the weakness of the flesh. For this is the curing of the whole man. Although then it is a great thing to forgive the sins of men, it is yet much more divine to give resurrection to the bodies, since indeed God is the resurrection. But the bed which is ordered to be taken up is nothing else but the human body.
AUG. That the infirm soul may no more rest in carnal joys, as in a bed, but rather itself restrain the carnal affections, and tend toward its own home, i.e. the resting-place of the secrets of its heart.
AMBROSE; Or it may reseek its own home, i.e. return to Paradise, for that is its true home, which first received man, and was lost not fairly, but by treachery. Rightly then is the soul restored thither, since He has come Who will undo the treacherous knot, and reestablish righteousness.
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AUG. After the healing of the sick of the palsy, St. Luke goes on to mention the conversion of a publican, saying, And after these things, he went forth, and saw a publican of the name of Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom. This is Matthew, also called Levi.
THEOPHYL; Now Luke and Mark, for the honor of the Evangelist, are silent as to his common name, but Matthew is the first to accuse himself, and gives the name of Matthew and publican, that no one might despair of salvation because of the enormity of his sins, when he himself was changed from a publican to an Apostle.
CYRIL; For Levi had been a publican, a rapacious man, of unbridled desires after vain things, a lover of other men's goods, for this is the character of the publican, but snatched from the very worship of malice by Christ's call. Hence it follows, And he said to him, Follow me. He bids him follow Him, not with bodily step, but with the soul's affections. Matthew therefore, being called by the Word, left his own, who was wont to seize the things of others, as it follows, And having left all, he rose, and followed him.
CHRYS. Here mark both the power of the caller, and the obedience of him that was called. For he neither resisted nor wavered, but forthwith obeyed; and like the fishermen, he did not even wish to go into his own house that he might tell it to his friends.
BASIL; He not only gave up the profits of the customs, but also despised the dangers which might occur to himself and his family from leaving the accounts of the receipts uncompleted.
THEOPHYL. And so from him that received toll from the passers by, Christ received toll, not money, but entire devotion to His company.
CHRYS. But the Lord honored Levi, whom He had called, by immediately going to his feast. For this testified the greater confidence in him. Hence it follows, And Levi made him a great feast in his own house. Nor did He sit down to meat with him alone, but with many, as it follows, And there was a great company of Publicans and others that sat down with them. For the publicans came to Levi as to their colleague, and a man in the same line with themselves, and he too glorying in the presence of Christ, called them all together. For Christ displayed every sort of remedy, and not only by discoursing and displaying cures, or even by rebuking the envious, but also by eating with them, He corrected the faults of some, thereby giving us a lesson, that every time and occasion brings with it its own profit. But He shunned not the company of Publicans, for the sake of the advantage that might ensue, like a physician, who unless he touch the afflicted part cannot cure the disease.
AMBROSE; For by His eating with sinners, He prevents not us also from going to a banquet with the Gentiles.
CHRYS. But nevertheless the Lord was blamed by the Pharisees, who were envious, and wished to separate Christ and His disciples, as it follows, And the Pharisees murmured, saying, Why do you eat with Publicans, &c.
AMBROSE; This was the voice of the Devil. This was the first word the Serpent uttered to Eve, Yea has God said, You shall not eat. So they diffuse the poison of their father.
AUG. Now St. Luke seems to have related this somewhat different from the other Evangelists. For he does not say that to our Lord alone it was objected that He eat and drank with publicans and sinners, but to the disciples also, that the charge might be understood both of Him and them. But the reason that Matthew and Mark related the objection as made concerning Christ to His disciples, was, that seeing the disciples ate with publicans and sinners, it was the rather objected to their Master as Him whom they followed and imitated; the meaning therefore is the same, vet so much the better conveyed, as while still keeping to the truth, it differs in certain words.
CHRYS. But our Lord c refutes all their charges, showing, that so far from its being a fault to mix with sinners, it is but a part of His merciful design, as it follows, And Jesus answering said to them, They that are whole need not a physician; in which He reminds them of their common infirmities, and shows them that they are of the number of the sick, but adds, He is the Physician.
It follows, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. As if He should say, So far am I from hating sinners, that for their sakes only I came, not that they should remain sinners, but be converted and become righteous.
AUG. Hence He adds, to repentance, which serves well to explain the passage, that no one should suppose that sinners, because they are sinners, are loved by Christ, since that similitude of the sick plainly suggests what our Lord meant by calling sinners, as a Physician, the sick, in order that from iniquity as from sickness they should be saved.
AMBROSE; But how does God love righteousness, and David has never seen the righteous man forsaken, if the righteous are excluded, the sinner called; unless you understand that at He meant by the righteous those who boast of the law, and seek not the grace of the Gospel. Now no one is justified by the law, but redeemed by grace. He therefore calls not those who call themselves righteous, for the claimers to righteousness are not called to grace. For if grace is from repentance, surely he who despises repentance renounces grace.
AMBROSE; But He calls those sinners, who considering their guilt, and feeling that they cannot be justified by the law, submit themselves by repentance to the grace of Christ.
CHRYS. Now He speaks of the righteous ironically, as when He says, Behold Adam is become as one of us. But that there was none righteous upon the earth St. Paul shows, saying, All have sinned, and need the grace of God.
GREG. NYSS. Or, He means that the sound and righteous need no physician, i.e. the angels, but the corrupt and sinners, i. e. ourselves do; since we catch the disease of sin, which is not in heaven.
THEOPHYL; Now by the election of Matthew is signified the faith of the Gentiles, who formerly gasped after worldly pleasures, but now refresh the body of Christ with zealous devotion.
THEOPHYL. Or the publican is he who serves the prince of this world, and is debtor to the flesh, to which the glutton gives his food, the adulterer his pleasure, and another something else. But when the Lord saw him sitting at the receipt of custom, and not stirring himself to greater wickedness, He calls him that he might be snatched from the evil, and follow Jesus, and receive the Lord into the house of his soul.
AMBROSE; But he who receives Christ into his inner chamber, is fed with the greatest delights of overflowing pleasures. The Lord therefore willingly enters, and reposes in his affection; but again the envy of the treacherous is kindled, and the form of their future punishment is prefigured; for while all the faithful are feasting in the kingdom of heaven, the faithless will be cast out hungry. Or, by this is denoted the envy of the Jews, who are afflicted at the salvation of the Gentiles.
AMBROSE; At the same time also is shown the difference between those who are zealous for the law and those who are for grace, that they who follow the law shall suffer eternal hunger of soul, while they who have received the word into the inmost soul, refreshed with abundance of heavenly meat and drink, can neither hunger nor thirst. And so they who fasted in soul murmured.
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CYRIL; As soon as they have received the first answer from Christ, they proceed from one thing to another, with the intent to show that the holy disciples, and Jesus Himself with them, cared very little for the law. Hence it follows, Why do the disciples of John fast, but you eat, &c. As if they said, You eat with publicans and sinners, whereas the law forbids to have any fellowship with the unclean, but compassion comes in as an excuse for your transgression; why then do you not fast, as they are wont to do who ho wish to live according to the law? But holy men indeed fast, that by the mortification of their body they may quell its passions. Christ needed not fasting for the perfecting of virtue, since as God He was free from every yoke of passion. Nor again did His companions need fasting, but being made partakers of His grace without fasting they were ere strengthened in all holy and godly living. For when Christ fasted for forty days, it was not to mortify His passions, but to manifest to carnal men the rule of abstinence.
AUG. Now Luke evidently relates that this was spoken not by men of themselves, but by others concerning them. How then does Matthew say, Then came to him the disciple of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast; unless that they themselves also came, and were all eager, as far as they were able, to put the question to Him?
AUG. Now there are two fasts, one is in tribulation, to propitiate God for our sins; another in joy, when as carnal things delight us less, we feed the more on things spiritual. The Lord therefore being asked why His disciples did not fast, answered as to each fast. And first of the fast of tribulation; for it follows, And he said to them, Can you make the children of the bridegroom fast when the bridegroom is with them?
CHRYS. As if He should say, The present time is one of joy and gladness, sorrow must not then be mixed up with it.
CYRIL; For the showing forth of our Savior in this world was nothing else but a great festival, spiritually uniting our nature to Him as His bride, that she who was formerly barren might become fruitful. The children of the Bridegroom then are found to be those who have been called by Him through a new and evangelical discipline, but not the Scribes and Pharisees, who observe only the shadow of the law.
AUG. Now this which Luke alone mentions, You cannot make the children of the bridegroom fast, is understood to refer to those very men who said that they would make the children of the Bridegroom mourn and fast, since they were about to kill the Bridegroom.
CYRIL; Having granted to the children of the Bridegroom that it was not fitting that they should be troubled, as they were keeping a spiritual feast, but that fasting should be abolished among them, He adds as a direction, But the days shall come when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
AUG. As if He said, Then shall they be desolate, and in sorrow and lamentation, until the joy of consolation shall be restored to them by the Holy Spirit.
AMBROSE; Or, That fast is not given up whereby the flesh is mortified, and the desires of the body chastened. (For this fast commends us to God.) But we cannot fast who have Christ, and banquet on the flesh and blood of Christ.
BASIL; The children of the Bridegroom also cannot fast, i.e. refuse nourishment to the soul, but live on every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God.
AMBROSE; But when are those days, in which Christ shall be taken away from us, since He has said, I will be with you always, even to the end of the world? But no one can take Christ away from you, unless you take yourself away from Him.
THEOPHYL; For as long as the Bridegroom is with us we both rejoice, and can neither fast nor mourn. But when He has gone away through our sins, then a fast must be declared and mourning be enjoined.
AMBROSE; Lastly, it is spoken of the fast of the soul, as the context shows, for it follows, But be said, No man puts a piece of a new garment upon an old. He calls fasting an old garment, which the Apostle thought should be taken off, saying, Put off the old man with his deeds. In the same manner we have a series of precepts not to mix up the actions of the old and new man.
AUG. Or else, The gift of the Holy Spirit being received, there is a kind of fast, which is of joy, which they who are already renewed to a spiritual life most seasonably celebrate. Before they receive this gift, He says they are as old garments, to which a new piece of cloth is most unsuitably sewed on, i.e. any part of the doctrine which relates to the soberness of the new life; for if this takes place, the very doctrine itself also is in a measure divided, for it teaches a general fast not from pleasant food only, but from all delight in temporal pleasures, the part of which that appertains to food He said ought not to be given to men still devoted to their old habits, for therein seems to be a rent, and it agrees not with the old. He says also, that they are like to old skins, as it follows, And no one puts wine into old skins.
AMBROSE; The weakness of man's condition is exposed when our bodies are compared to the skins of dead animals.
AUG. But the Apostles are compared to old skins, who are more easily burst with new wine, i.e. with spiritual precepts, than contain them. Hence it follows, Else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine will be spilled. But they were new skins at that time, when after the ascension of the Lord they received the Holy Spirit, when from desire of His consolation they were renewed by prayer and hope.
Hence it follows, But the new wine must be put into new bottles, and both are preserved.
THEOPHYL; Inasmuch as wine refreshes us within, but garments cover us without, the garments are the good works which we do abroad, by which we shine before men; wine, the fervor of faith, hope, and charity. Or, The old skins are the Scribes and Pharisees, the new piece and the new wine the precepts of the Gospel.
GREG. NYSS. For wine newly drawn forth, evaporates on account of the natural heat in the liquor, throwing off from itself the scum by natural action. Such wine is the new covenant, which the old skins because of their unbelief contain not, and are therefore burst by the excellence of the doctrine, and cause the grace of the Spirit to flow in vain; because into an evil soul wisdom will not enter.
THEOPHYL; But to every soul which is not yet renewed, but goes on still in the old way of wickedness, the sacraments of new mysteries ought not to be given. They also who wish to mix the precepts of the Law with the Gospel, as the Galatians did, put new wine into old bottles. It follows, No man also having drank old wine straightway desires new, for he said, the old is better. For the Jews, imbued with the taste of their old life, despised the precepts of the new grace, and being defiled with the traditions of their ancestors, were not able to perceive the sweetness of spiritual words.
AMBROSE; Not only in the form of expression but in His very practice and mode of action, did the Lord begin to absolve man from the observance of the old law. Hence it is said, And it came to pass that he went through the corn fields, &c.
THEOPHYL; For His disciples having no opportunity for eating because the multitudes thronged so, were naturally hungry, but by plucking the ears of corn they relieved their hunger, which is a mark of a strict habit of life, not seeking for prepared meats, but mere simple food.
THEOPHYL. Now He says, on the second sabbath after the first, because the Jews called every feast a sabbath. For sabbath means rest. Frequently therefore was there feasting at the preparation, and they called the preparation a sabbath because of the feast, and hence they gave to the principal sabbath the name of the second-first, as being the second in consequence of the festival of the day preceding.
CHRYS. For there was a double feast; one on the principal sabbath, another on the next solemn day succeeding, which was also called a sabbath.
ISIDORE; He says, On the second-first, because it was the second day of the Passover, but the first of unleavened bread. Having killed the passover, on the very next day they kept the feast of unleavened bread. And it is plain that this was so from the fact, that the Apostles plucked ears of corn and ate them, for at that time the ears are weighed down by the fruit.
EPIPH. On the sabbath day then they were seen passing through the corn fields, and eating the corn, showing that the bonds of the sabbath were loosened, when the great Sabbath was come in Christ, Who made us to rest from the working of our iniquities.
CYRIL; But the Pharisees and Scribes not knowing the Holy Scriptures agreed together to find fault with Christ's disciples, as it follows, And certain of the Pharisees said to them, Why do you, &c. Tell me now, when a table is set before you on the sabbath day; do you not break bread? Why then do you blame others?
THEOPHYL; But some say that these things were objected to our Lord Himself; they might indeed have been objected by different persons, both to our Lord Himself and His disciples, but to whomsoever the objection is made, it chiefly refers to Him.
AMBROSE; But the Lord proves the defenders of the law to be ignorant of what belongs to the law, bringing the example of David; as it follows, And Jesus answering said to them, Have you not read so much as this, &c.
CYRIL; As if He said, Whereas the law of Moses expressly says, Give a righteous judgment and you shall not respect persons in judgment, how now do you blame My disciples, who even to this day extol David as a saint and prophet, though he kept not the commandment of Moses?
CHRYS. And mark, that whenever the Lord speaks for His servants, (i.e. His disciples,) He brings forward servants, as for example David and the Priests; but when for Himself; He introduces His Father; as in that place, My Father works hitherto, and I work.
THEOPHYL. But he reproves them in another way, as it is added, And he said to them, that the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. As if he said, I am the Lord of the sabbath, as being He who ordained it, and as the Legislator I have power to loose the sabbath; for Christ was called the Son of man, who being the Son of God yet condescended in a miraculous manner to be made and called for man's sake the Son of man.
CHRYS. But Mark declares that He uttered this of our common nature, for He said, The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. It is therefore more fitting that the sabbath should be subject to man, than that man should bow his neck to the sabbath.
AMBROSE; But herein is a great mystery. For the field is the whole world, the corn is the abundant harvest of the saints in the seed of the human race, the ears of corn are the fruits of the Church, which the Apostles shaking off by their works fed upon, nourishing themselves with our increase, and by their mighty miracles, as it were out of the bodily husks, plucking forth the fruits of the mind to the light of faith.
THEOPHYL; For they bruise the ears in their hands, because when they wish to bring others over into the body of Christ, they mortify their old man with its acts drawing them away from worldly thoughts.
AMBROSE; Now the Jews thought this unlawful on the Sabbath, but Christ by the gift of new grace represented hereby the rest of the law, the work of grace. Wonderfully has He called it the second-first sabbath, not the first-second, because that was loosed from the law which was first, and this is made first which was ordained second. It is therefore called the second sabbath according to number, the first according to the grace of the wolf. For that sabbath is better where there is no penalty, than that where there is a penalty prescribed. Or this perhaps was first in the foreknowledge of wisdom, and second in the sanction of the ordinance.
Now in David escaping with his companions, there was a foreshadowing of Christ in the law, who with His Apostles escaped the prince of the world. But how was it that the Observer and Defender of the law Himself both eat the bread, and gave it to those that were with Him, which no one was allowed to eat but the priests, except that He might show by that figure that the priests' bread was to come over to the use of the people, or that we ought to imitate the priests' life, or that all the children of the Church are priests, for we are anointed into a holy priesthood, offering ourselves a spiritual sacrifice to God. But if the sabbath was made for men, and the benefit of men required that a man when hungry (having been long without the fruits of the earth) should forsake the abstinence of the old fast, the law is surely not broken but fulfilled.
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AMBROSE; The Lord now proceeds to another work. For He who had determined to make the whole man safe, was able to cure each member. Hence it is said, And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught.
THEOPHYL; He chiefly heals and teaches on the sabbaths, not only to convey the meaning of a spiritual sabbath, but because of the more numerous assembly of the people.
CYRIL; But He taught things far beyond their comprehension, and opened to his hearers the way to future salvation by Him; and then after having first taught them, He suddenly showed His divine power, as it follows, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
THEOPHYL; But since the Master had excused by an undeniable example the breach of the sabbath, with which they charged His disciples, their object is now by watching to bring a false accusation against the Master Himself. As it follows, And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, if he would heal on the sabbath, that if He did not, they might accuse Him of cruelty or impotence; if He did, of violation of the sabbath. Hence it follows, that they might find an accusation against him.
CYRIL; For this is the way of the envious man, he feeds in himself his pang of grief with the praises of others. But the Lord knew all things, and searches the hearts; as it follows, But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand. And he arose, and stood forth, that perchance he might stir up the cruel Pharisees to pity, and allay the flames of their passion.
THEOPHYL; But the Lord anticipating the false charge which they were preparing against Him, reproves those who by wrongly interpreting the law thought that they must rest on the sabbath-day even from good works; whereas the law commands us to abstain from servile works, i.e. from evil, on the sabbath. Hence it follows, Then said Jesus to them, I ask you, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath, &c.
CYRIL; This is a very useful question, for if it is lawful to do good on the sabbath, and there is no reason why those who work should not obtain mercy from God, cease to gather up accusation against Christ. But if it be not lawful to do good on the sabbath, and the law prohibits the safety of life, you are become the accuser of the law. For if we examine the very institution of the sabbath, we shall find it was introduced for an object of mercy, for God commanded to keep holy the sabbath, that may rest your man servant and your maid servant, and all your cattle. But he who has mercy on his ox, and the rest of his cattle, how much rather will he not have mercy on man troubled with a severe disease?
AMBROSE; But the law by things present prefigured the form of things future, among which surely the days of rest to come are to be not from good works but from evil. For although secular works may be given up, yet it is no idle act of a good work to rest in the praise of God.
AUG. But though our Lord was healing the body, He asked this question, "is it lawful to save the soul or to lose it?" either because He performed His miracles on account of faith in which is the salvation of the soul; or, because the cure of the right hand signified the salvation of the soul, which ceasing to do good works, seemed in some measure to have a withered right hand, i.e. He placed the soul for the man, as men are wont to say, "So many souls were there."
AUG. But it may be questioned how Matthew came to say, that they asked the Lord, whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, when Luke in this place states that they rather were asked of the Lord. We must therefore believe that they first asked the Lord, and that then He understanding by their thoughts that they sought an opportunity to accuse Him, placed the man in the midst whom He was going to heal, and asked the question which Mark and Luke relate Him to have asked. It follows, And looking round about upon them all.
TITUS BOS. When the eyes of all were, as it were riveted together, and their minds also fixed upon the consideration of the matter, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand; I command you, Who created man. But he who had the withered hand hears, and is made whole hole, as it follows, And be stretched it, and it was restored.
But they who should have been astonished at the miracle, increased in malice; as it follows, But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they should do to Jesus.
CHRYS. And as Matthew relates, they go out to take counsel, that they should kill him.
CYRIL; You perceive, O Pharisee, a divine Worker, and Him Who delivers the sick by His heavenly power, and out of envy you breath forth death.
THEOPHYL; The man represents the human race, withered by the unfruitfulness of good works, because of the hand in our first parent stretched forth to take the apple, which was healed by the innocent hand stretched forth on the cross. And rightly was the withered hand in the synagogue, because where there is the greater gift of knowledge, there the transgressor lies under the greater blame.
AMBROSE; You have heard then the words of Him who says, Stretch forth your hand. That is a frequent and common cure, and you that think your hand is whole, beware lest it be contracted by avarice or sacrilege. Stretch it forth oftener to help your neighbor, to protect the widow, to save from injury him whom you see the victim of unjust attack; stretch it forth to the poor man who beseeches you; stretch it forth to the Lord, to ask pardon of your sins; as the hand is stretched forth so is it healed.
Golden Chain 9517