Tuesday, 19 August 2014

St Luke 12:13-34

13 Ait autem ei quidam de turba: Magister, dic fratri meo ut dividat mecum hæreditatem. 14 At ille dixit illi: Homo, quis me constituit judicem, aut divisorem super vos?15 Dixitque ad illos: Videte, et cavete ab omni avaritia: quia non in abundantia cujusquam vita ejus est ex his quæ possidet. 16 Dixit autem similitudinem ad illos, dicens: Hominis cujusdam divitis uberes fructus ager attulit: 17 et cogitabat intra se dicens: Quid faciam, quia non habeo quo congregem fructus meos? 18 Et dixit: Hoc faciam: destruam horrea mea, et majora faciam: et illuc congregabo omnia quæ nata sunt mihi, et bona mea, 19 et dicam animæ meæ: Anima, habes multa bona posita in annos plurimos: requiesce, comede, bibe, epulare. 20 Dixit autem illi Deus: Stulte, hac nocte animam tuam repetunt a te: quæ autem parasti, cujus erunt? 21 Sic est qui sibi thesaurizat, et non est in Deum dives.22 Dixitque ad discipulos suos: Ideo dico vobis, nolite solliciti esse animæ vestræ quid manducetis, neque corpori quid induamini. 23 Anima plus est quam esca, et corpus plus quam vestimentum. 24 Considerate corvos, quia non seminant, neque metunt, quibus non est cellarium, neque horreum, et Deus pascit illos. Quanto magis vos pluris estis illis? 25 Quis autem vestrum cogitando potest adjicere ad staturam suam cubitum unum? 26 Si ergo neque quod minimum est potestis, quid de ceteris solliciti estis? 27 Considerate lilia quomodo crescunt: non laborant, neque nent: dico autem vobis, nec Salomon in omni gloria sua vestiebatur sicut unum ex istis. 28 Si autem fœnum, quod hodie est in agro, et cras in clibanum mittitur, Deus sic vestit: quanto magis vos pusillæ fidei? 29 Et vos nolite quærere quid manducetis, aut quid bibatis: et nolite in sublime tolli: 30 hæc enim omnia gentes mundi quærunt. Pater autem vester scit quoniam his indigetis. 31 Verumtamen quærite primum regnum Dei, et justitiam ejus: et hæc omnia adjicientur vobis.32 Nolite timere pusillus grex, quia complacuit Patri vestro dare vobis regnum. 33 Vendite quæ possidetis, et date eleemosynam. Facite vobis sacculos, qui non veterascunt, thesaurum non deficientem in cælis: quo fur non appropriat, neque tinea corrumpit. 34 Ubi enim thesaurus vester est, ibi et cor vestrum erit.

[13] And one of the multitude said to him: Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me. [14] But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you? [15] And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man' s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.[16] And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. [17] And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? [18] And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. [19] And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. [20] But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?[21] So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God. [22] And he said to his disciples: Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat; nor for your body, what you shall put on. [23] The life is more than the meat, and the body is more than the raiment. [24] Consider the ravens, for they sow not, neither do they reap, neither have they storehouse nor barn, and God feedeth them. How much are you more valuable than they? [25] And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit?[26] If then ye be not able to do so much as the least thing, why are you solicitous for the rest? [27] Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. [28] Now if God clothe in this manner the grass that is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more you, O ye of little faith? [29] And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: and be not lifted up on high. [30] For all these things do the nations of the world seek. But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things.[31] But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. [33] Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. [34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Commentary

Ver. 14.—But He said unto him, Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you? The word “man” is a Hebraism for an unknown person, as in chap. xxii. 58, Peter said, “Man, I am not,” and v. 60, “Man, I know not what thou sayest.” The meaning is, This is a matter of the courts which dispose of secular questions: it has no part in Me, who teach and dispense a heavenly heritage. Christ does not here deny that He has judicial power, for He was the King of kings and the Lord of lords; but He wished to use His power over a covetous man to cure him of his greed, and to teach him to prefer heavenly to earthly things, and to give way willingly to them, according to His own words, vi. 29, “From him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy coat also.” “He rightly sets aside earthly things,” says S. Ambrose, “who came down to us for heavenly ones. Hence this brother is rebuked not undeservedly, for he would fain have occupied the dispenser of heavenly things with those of earth.” At the same time He taught that ecclesiastics and spiritual persons ought not to meddle with secular things, but to employ themselves in divine ones, as S. Paul says, 2 Tim ii. 4, “No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life.” So S. Ambrose, Euthymius, Bede, and de Lyra from S. Augustine (serm. 196)—that is, unless the faithful have any suit; secular Bishops in former ages used to settle these, as S. Augustine says that he has done. Lib. de Opere Monachor, c. 29.

And He said to them, “as well to His disciples,” the Syriac says, “as to the multitude,” especially to him who had spoken about his brother dividing the property, Take heed. In this contention of brothers how much ill was caused by avarice. Whilst one from avarice refused to divide the inheritance, the other, with too much cupidity and out of all season, urged the division. Strife and dissention arose among them. Not only should we guard against the lust of seizing what is another’s, but also from too great cupidity to get possession of what is our own, for they who are too eager for earthly riches, neglect heavenly ones. S. Augustine, in his 28th Sermo. De diversis: “Not only is he avaricious who seizes what is another’s, but he also who covetously keeps his own.” The Arabic has, “See and beware of all evil—for avarice is the cause of all evil,” as in 1 Tim. vi. 10, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

For a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. That is, it is not because a man abounds in riches that his life is abundant, so as to be longer and happier on that account, for it is shortened and made unhappy from the anxiety and luxury which attend upon great wealth. The Syriac version has, “Life is not in the abundance of riches;” the Arabic, “Man has not abundance in his much wealth”—that is, abundance does not prolong our lives, but rather shortens them. Theophylact says, “The measure of life is not contained in its abundance. For he who has great possessions does not live longer for them, nor does length of life attend upon the multitude of his riches;” and Euthymius, “Not because a man abounds in riches, does his life abound from such abundance. The measure of his life does not depend upon this.” The meaning is, Thou, 0 man, who greedily seekest a heritage from thy brother, seekest it that thou mayest live long and comfortably. But thou errest; for the rich, from their cares and the gluttony they indulge in, often pass short and miserable lives. If thou wouldest live long and profitably, despise money, be poor in spirit, entrust thy hopes and wealth to God alone, for He is the only giver of length of life and happiness. To show this Christ adds the following parable. S. Augustine, On Abel and Cain, i. 5, at the end: “If thou seek treasures, choose the unseen and hidden, those which are to be found in the highest heavens, not sought in the veins of the earth. Be poor in spirit and thou shalt be rich by every reckoning; for the life of man consists not in the abundance of his wealth, but in virtue and faith. These riches make us rich indeed, if we be rich in God....”

Ver. 33.—Sell what ye have, and give alms. This is a counsel, not a precept, as Pelagius would have it, who said that all Christians ought to be poor, from the precept of Christ. This is shewn by the words of Christ (Matt. xix. 21), “If thou wouldst be perfect, go sell that thou hast and give to the poor.” That you may study evangelical perfection, sell what you possess and give the price to the poor, that you may follow Me who am poor in spirit in a like poverty, and with me despise earthly riches, that so you may obtain heavenly ones. Do this with the end that you may show yourselves not anxious for food and raiment, but that you depend solely on God, and look to Him for all those needs of life which He Himself has promised to all who seek His kingdom. For this reason the first Christians, following the counsel of Christ, sold all that they had and laid the price at the feet of the apostles, that they might distribute them among the poor believers (Acts ii 3, 4). So Bede: “Fear not that you will lack the needful things of life, but rather sell what you possess for alms. This is done worthily when he who lives by the labour of his hands, despises all things, and gives alms.”

Provide yourselves bags which wax not old. Wax not old, and from which, therefore, the coin of spiritual alms cannot drop out and be lost, as the money of the world often falls from the old and worn-out purses of the rich. The purses that wax not old are the bosoms of the poor, and more especially the mind and memory of God, in which He keeps as in a purse your alms and good works, that He may return you the most ample rewards for them in the day of judgment. This He Himself explains, adding, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. From this Chrysologus rightly concludes, “What have they to do with the earth who possess heaven—what with human affairs who have gained divine ones—unless, perhaps, they find pleasure in lamentations, choose labours, delight in dangers, love the most cruel deaths, and find the evil things that are brought upon them more pleasing than the good ones?”


Ver. 34.—For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. This is a conclusion from the former, showing why our Lord said, “Sell that ye have,” namely, that you may show that your heart is not in your money but in heaven. If, therefore, you place your treasure gained by alms-giving in heaven, you will show that your heart is fixed in heaven, not on earth—in God, not in gold. For a man’s treasure is that which he loves—holds dear—values at a great price, on which he rests his hopes. See Matt. vi. 20.

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