Wednesday, 23 July 2014

St Luke 5:17-39

The second half of St Luke 5, which includes the calling of St Matthew (Levi):

17 Et factum est in una dierum, et ipse sedebat docens. Et erant pharisæi sedentes, et legis doctores, qui venerant ex omni castello Galilææ, et Judææ, et Jerusalem: et virtus Domini erat ad sanandum eos. 18 Et ecce viri portantes in lecto hominem, qui erat paralyticus: et quærebant eum inferre, et ponere ante eum. 19 Et non invenientes qua parte illum inferrent præ turba, ascenderunt supra tectum, et per tegulas summiserunt eum cum lecto in medium ante Jesum. 20 Quorum fidem ut vidit, dixit: Homo, remittuntur tibi peccata tua. 21 Et cœperunt cogitare scribæ et pharisæi, dicentes: Quis est hic, qui loquitur blasphemias? quis potest dimittere peccata, nisi solus Deus? 22 Ut cognovit autem Jesus cogitationes eorum, respondens, dixit ad illos: Quid cogitatis in cordibus vestris? 23 Quid est facilius dicere: Dimittuntur tibi peccata: an dicere: Surge, et ambula? 24 Ut autem sciatis quia Filius hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, (ait paralytico) tibi dico, surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. 25 Et confestim consurgens coram illis, tulit lectum in quo jacebat: et abiit in domum suam, magnificans Deum. 26 Et stupor apprehendit omnes, et magnificabant Deum. Et repleti sunt timore, dicentes: Quia vidimus mirabilia hodie.27 Et post hæc exiit, et vidit publicanum nomine Levi, sedentem ad telonium, et ait illi: Sequere me. 28 Et relictis omnibus, surgens secutus est eum. 29 Et fecit ei convivium magnum Levi in domo sua: et erat turba multa publicanorum, et aliorum qui cum illis erant discumbentes. 30 Et murmurabant pharisæi et scribæ eorum, dicentes ad discipulos ejus: Quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducatis et bibitis? 31 Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illos: Non egent qui sani sunt medico, sed qui male habent. 32 Non veni vocare justos, sed peccatores ad pœnitentiam.33 At illi dixerunt ad eum: Quare discipuli Joannis jejunant frequenter, et obsecrationes faciunt, similiter et pharisæorum: tui autem edunt et bibunt? 34 Quibus ipse ait: Numquid potestis filios sponsi, dum cum illis est sponsus, facere jejunare? 35 Venient autem dies, cum ablatus fuerit ab illis sponsus: tunc jejunabunt in illis diebus. 36 Dicebat autem et similitudinem ad illos: Quia nemo commissuram a novo vestimento immittit in vestimentum vetus: alioquin et novum rumpit, et veteri non convenit commissura a novo. 37 Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres: alioquin rumpet vinum novum utres, et ipsum effundetur, et utres peribunt: 38 sed vinum novum in utres novos mittendum est, et utraque conservantur. 39 Et nemo bibens vetus, statim vult novum: dicit enim: Vetus melius est.

[17] And it came to pass on a certain day, as he sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was to heal them. [18] And behold, men brought in a bed a man, who had the palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. [19] And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, because of the multitude, they went up upon the roof, and let him down through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus. [20] Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. [21] And the scribes and Pharisees began to think, saying: Who is this who speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? [22] And when Jesus knew their thoughts, answering, he said to them: What is it you think in your hearts? [23] Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? [24] But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. [25] And immediately rising up before them, he took up the bed on which he lay; and he went away to his own house, glorifying God. [26] And all were astonished; and they glorified God. And they were filled with fear, saying: We have seen wonderful things today. [27] And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said to him: Follow me. [28] And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him. [29] And Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of publicans, and of others, that were at table with them. [30] But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? [31] And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole, need not the physician: but they that are sick. [32] I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance. [33] And they said to him: Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees in like manner; but thine eat and drink? [34] To whom he said: Can you make the children of the bridegroom fast, whilst the bridegroom is with them? [35] But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days. [36] And he spoke also a similitude to them: That no man putteth a piece from a new garment upon an old garment; otherwise he both rendeth the new, and the piece taken from the new agreeth not with the old. [37] And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the new wine will break the bottles, and it will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost. [38] But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. [39] And no man drinking old, hath presently a mind to new: for he saith, The old is better.

Commentary

de Lapide:
Ver. 32.—I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance i.e., to call them by means of repentance to grace and future glory. Hence as S. Ambrose acutely remarks, “If grace flows from repentance, he who thinks little of repentance forfeits grace.”

Catena Aurea:

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. 

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