Saturday, 23 August 2014

St Luke 14:1-35

1 Et factum est cum intraret Jesus in domum cujusdam principis pharisæorum sabbato manducare panem, et ipsi observabant eum. 2 Et ecce homo quidam hydropicus erat ante illum. 3 Et respondens Jesus dixit ad legisperitos et pharisæos, dicens: Si licet sabbato curare? 4 At illi tacuerunt. Ipse vero apprehensum sanavit eum, ac dimisit. 5 Et respondens ad illos dixit: Cujus vestrum asinus, aut bos in puteum cadet, et non continuo extrahet illum die sabbati? 6 Et non poterant ad hæc respondere illi. 7 Dicebat autem et ad invitatos parabolam, intendens quomodo primos accubitus eligerent, dicens ad illos: 8 Cum invitatus fueris ad nuptias, non discumbas in primo loco, ne forte honoratior te sit invitatus ab illo. 9 Et veniens is, qui te et illum vocavit, dicat tibi: Da huic locum: et tunc incipias cum rubore novissimum locum tenere. 10 Sed cum vocatus fueris, vade, recumbe in novissimo loco: ut, cum venerit qui te invitavit, dicat tibi: Amice, ascende superius. Tunc erit tibi gloria coram simul discumbentibus: 11 quia omnis, qui se exaltat, humiliabitur: et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur. 12 Dicebat autem et ei, qui invitaverat: Cum facis prandium, aut cœnam, noli vocare amicos tuos, neque fratres tuos, neque cognatos, neque vicinos divites: ne forte te et ipsi reinvitent, et fiat tibi retributio; 13 sed cum facis convivium, voca pauperes, debiles, claudos, et cæcos: 14 et beatus eris, quia non habent retribuere tibi: retribuetur enim tibi in resurrectione justorum.15 Hæc cum audisset quidam de simul discumbentibus, dixit illi: Beatus qui manducabit panem in regno Dei. 16 At ipse dixit ei: Homo quidam fecit cœnam magnam, et vocavit multos. 17 Et misit servum suum hora cœnæ dicere invitatis ut venirent, quia jam parata sunt omnia. 18 Et cœperunt simul omnes excusare. Primus dixit ei: Villam emi, et necesse habeo exire, et videre illam: rogo te, habe me excusatum. 19 Et alter dixit: Juga boum emi quinque, et eo probare illa: rogo te, habe me excusatum. 20 Et alius dixit: Uxorem duxi, et ideo non possum venire. 21 Et reversus servus nuntiavit hæc domino suo. Tunc iratus paterfamilias, dixit servo suo: Exi cito in plateas et vicos civitatis: et pauperes, ac debiles, et cæcos, et claudos introduc huc. 22 Et ait servus: Domine, factum est ut imperasti, et adhuc locus est. 23 Et ait dominus servo: Exi in vias, et sæpes: et compelle intrare, ut impleatur domus mea. 24 Dico autem vobis quod nemo virorum illorum qui vocati sunt, gustabit cœnam meam.25 Ibant autem turbæ multæ cum eo: et conversus dixit ad illos: 26 Si quis venit ad me, et non odit patrem suum, et matrem, et uxorem, et filios, et fratres, et sorores, adhuc autem et animam suam, non potest meus esse discipulus. 27 Et qui non bajulat crucem suam, et venit post me, non potest meus esse discipulus. 28 Quis enim ex vobis volens turrim ædificare, non prius sedens computat sumptus, qui necessarii sunt, si habeat ad perficiendum, 29 ne, posteaquam posuerit fundamentum, et non potuerit perficere, omnes qui vident, incipiant illudere ei, 30 dicentes: Quia hic homo cœpit ædificare, et non potuit consummare? 31 Aut quis rex iturus committere bellum adversus alium regem, non sedens prius cogitat, si possit cum decem millibus occurrere ei, qui cum viginti millibus venit ad se? 32 Alioquin adhuc illo longe agente, legationem mittens rogat ea quæ pacis sunt. 33 Sic ergo omnis ex vobis, qui non renuntiat omnibus quæ possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus. 34 Bonum est sal: si autem sal evanuerit, in quo condietur? 35 Neque in terram, neque in sterquilinium utile est, sed foras mittetur. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.

[1] And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of one of the chief of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, to eat bread, that they watched him. [2] And behold, there was a certain man before him that had the dropsy. [3] And Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? [4] But they held their peace. But he taking him, healed him, and sent him away. [5] And answering them, he said: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath day?[6] And they could not answer him to these things. [7] And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: [8] When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: [9] And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. [11] Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. [12] And he said to him also that had invited him: When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy neighbours who are rich; lest perhaps they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made to thee. [13] But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind; [14] And thou shalt be blessed, because they have not wherewith to make thee recompense: for recompense shall be made thee at the resurrection of the just. [15] When one of them that sat at table with him, had heard these things, he said to him: Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.[16] But he said to him: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. [17] And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. [18] And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, hold me excused. [19] And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them: I pray thee, hold me excused. [20] And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.[21] And the servant returning, told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame. [22] And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. [23] And the Lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. [24] But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited, shall taste of my supper. [25] And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them:[26] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. [27] And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. [28] For which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it: [29] Lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him, [30] Saying: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.[31] Or what king, about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down, and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh against him? [32] Or else, whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace. [33] So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple. [34] Salt is good. But if the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? [35] It is neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Commentary

Ver. 1.—And it came to pass that He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees. “To do them service,” says Titus, “Christ makes Himself their friend, and, as it were, one of their household,” for “although He knew the malice of the Pharisees, yet He became their guest that He might benefit by His words and miracles those who were present, and teach them the lawfulness of healing on the Sabbath, and the respective duties of entertainers and guests.”

Ver. 2.—And behold there was a certain man before Him which had the dropsy. This man seems to have been a friend of the Pharisee, who perhaps had invited Jesus in order that He might heal him. Certainly, as S. Cyril and Euthymius say, the suiterer presented himself of his own accord to Jesus, silently pleading that he might be restored to health. But the Pharisees sought His presence for another purpose, in order that they might see whether Christ would heal him on the Sabbath day, and thus show that He was not in truth a prophet sent by that God who had sanctified the rigid observance of the seventh day.

Ver. 3.—And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees. Answering their thoughts and not their inquiry, for they had asked no question, but thought in their hearts that Christ would be acting unlawfully if He healed on the Sabbath day.

Ver. 4.—And He had took him, and touched him, and ley him go (ε̉πιλαβόμενος, “when he had ouched him.” apprehensum, Vulg.) He heals by His touch the dropsical man who, from fear of the Pharisees, did not ask to be healed on account of the Sabbath, but only stood up, that when Jesus beheld him He might have compassion on him and heal him. S. Cyril.

Mystically. S. Gregory (lib. xiv. Moral.) observes: “The sick of the dropsy is healed in the Pharisee’s presence, for by the bodily infirmity of the one is expressed the mental disease, i.e. the avarice and covetousness, of the other.” “For,” says Bede, “the dropsical man represents one who is weighed down by an overflowing stream of carnal pleasures.” S. Augustine adds, “We, lightly compare one sick of the dropsy to a covetous rich man, who, the more he abounds in riches, the more ardently desires them. Avarice and covetousness, then, are very similar to the dropsy, and as this dire disease is best remedied by abstaining from drinking, so the remedy for unlawful desire is mortification, abstinence, and continence, all of which wither and drive out virtuous habits.”

Ver. 5.—And He answered them, saying, Which of you, &c. “If,” says Bede, “ye hasten on the Sabbath to pull an ox or an ass out of the pit into which he has fallen, consulting not the good of the animal, but your own avarice, how much more ought I to deliver a man who is much better than a beast?” He adds also, “they were not to violate the Sabbath by a work of covetousness, who were arguing that He did so by a work of charity.” And again, in a mystical sense, the ox and the ass represent the wise and the foolish, or the Jew oppressed by the burden of the Law and the Gentile not subject to reason. For the Lord rescues from the pit of concupiscence all who are sunk therein.”

S. Augustine also (Lib. ii., Quæst. Evang.) says, “He has aptly compared the dropsical man to an animal which has fallen into a ditch (for he is troubled by water), as He compared that woman whom He loosed, to a beast which is let loose to be led to water.”

Ver. 6.—And they could not answer Him again to these things. Because they were convinced by the truth of His reasoning. Yet privately they murmured amongst themselves, and afterwards openly clamoured amongst the people. “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day,” S. John, ix. 16. Although Jesus knew this, He healed the man, and permitted their malice and obstinacy to gather force, so that the cross ordained for Him by God might be prepared for the salvation of men. “Caring nought,” says Theophylact, “for the offence given to the Pharisees” For when a great good is the result, we must not care if the foolish are offended.

Ver. 7.—And He put forth a parable to those which were bidden, i.e. He taught, under the similitude of a man seeking the highest place at a feast, that we must beware of every kind of ambition. For sin continues to be sin, although the manner of sinning be changed.

“When He marked how they chose out the chief rooms.” For as teachers of the Law, they considered themselves entitled to the highest honour, and fought for precedence as eagerly as now-a-days ladies of rank and men of small brains.

This is a kind of introduction to the parable, and indicates the occasion on which it was spoken, and the persons against whom it was directed.

Ver. 8.—When thou art bidden . . . sit not down in the highest room. For when the master of the house takes your place from you to give it to a more honourable guest, those who sit next in order will not give way to your ambition, and you will begin with shame to go down from the highest to the lowest room. Do not unduly exalt thyself, lest some one, offended by thy insolence, humble it and lay it low.

Ver. 10.—Go and sit down in the lowest room. The master of the house usually assigned to each guest his place at the table, a duty formerly discharged by the “ruler of the feast,” regard being had to each one’s age and social standing. Thus Joseph’s brethren “sat before him, the first-born according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth” Gen. xliii. 33. In this verse, Christ makes evident allusion to the saying of Solomon, “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king,” &c. (Prov. xxv. 6, 7). Titus very justly remarks, that “a wise man, however deserving he may be of the highest place, so little affects it, as to give it up to others of his own accord. Wherefore a mind modest and content with its own lot is a great and a glorious gift.”

Then shalt thou have worship. Christ teaches that if we would acquire glory and greatness, we must fly from them and be humble; for men hate the proud and seek to humiliate them, but make much of the modest and meek; the true glory is that which is given, not that which is sought: furthermore, God has decreed by an eternal law that the humble should be exalted, but that the mighty should be put down from their seat. Wherefore, the proud, if they are wise, will humble themselves, that they may have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with them. Knowing that if they seek the most honourable places, they will excite envy, and men will strive, whether rightly or wrongly, to humiliate them.

Hear what the wise man says, “The greater thou art, the more humble thyself, and thou shalt find favour before the Lord.” (Ecclus. iii. 20.)
This precept of Christ, or rather this wi
se dogma, was recognised and taught by the Gentile philosophers. So Plutarch introduces Thales thus sharply rebuking the pride of Alexidemus, who, because he was the son of Thrasybulus had rushed from the banqueting hall at seeing others seated above him: “Fearest thou lest thy place at table shall bring thee glory or obscurity after the manner of the stars, which, as the Egyptians say, wax and wane according to the places wherein they rise or set? Thou art not so wise as the man, who, when the leader assigned him the lowest place in a chorus, said, Thou hast done well in having discovered a means of making even a position such as this honourable. For he was of opinion that a man is not distinguished by his position, but rather the position by the man.”

Honour, like the shadow cast by the body, follows him that flee from it, but flees from him that follows it.

Symbolically. Members of religious orders, according to the words of Christ, “sit down in the lowest room.” For they who have kept nothing, but given up all, even their very will, have no lower place to which they can betake themselves. Here they are at rest, for their humility is not limited, like that of other men, to this or that action, but is life-long; for it is a part of their profession which embraces their whole life.

Ver. 11.—For whosoever exalleth himself shall be abased, &c., both by God and man, often in this life, always in the life to come. This verse explains the meaning and scope of the parable. See S. Matt. xxiii. 12.

Ver. 12.—Then said He also unto him that bade Him, i.e. to the chief Pharisee mentioned in the first verse, whose hospitality Christ recompensed by the spiritual banquet of ghostly counsel and advice. This man, says the Gloss, seems to have invited his guests in order that he in turn might be entertained by them.

“Call not thy friends.” Christ counselled this as the more perfect way. He did not command it as of necessity. For it is lawful, nay, meritorious, for us to invite our friends, if it be done out of friendship and kindness. Whence Bede says, “Brethren then, and friends, and the rich are not forbidden, as though it were a crime, to entertain one another, but this, like all the other necessary intercourse among men, is shown to fail in meriting the reward of ever lasting life,” unless, as I have said, such entertainment springs from a higher motive of brotherly love or charity.

“Lest they also bid thee again.” Like worldly men are wont to do from gratitude or else avarice, for “to be hospitable to those who will make a return, is,” says S. Ambrose, “but a form of avarice.”
“And a recompence be made thee” by man, and this prove worthless and transient. If you regard this alone, you exclude the spiritual recompense from God and deprive yourself of it; if you look for both you will receive both, but both lessened, for the one lessens and as it were interferes with the other; but if you regard the divine alone, and only admit or rather bear with the human recompence because it is offered you, you will receive the divine whole and undiminished.

Ver. 13.—But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. “The maimed,” α̉ναπήζους, the cripple, the mutilated, i.e. those wanting in body or mind.  S. Chrysostom assigns the reason. “If ye invite the poor, God will be your debtor. For the humbler the brother is, so much the more does Christ come through him and visit us. For he who entertains a great man does it often from an interested motive or from vainglory. But thou sayest, the poor man is unclean and filthy. Wash him and make him sit with thee at table. If he has dirty garments, give him clean ones. If thou will not receive him in a quiet chamber, at least admit him where thy servants are. If thou art not willing that he should sit at meat with thee, send him a dish from thy table.”

Following this counsel, S. Gregory had often twelve beggars at his table, and therefore was rewarded by receiving Christ. Himself in the guise of a poor man.  S. Louis of France also, not content with entertaining 120 beggars at his table daily, and on feast days 200, frequently waited upon them himself, and even washed their feet. In like manner acted S. Louis the Minorite, Bishop of Toulouse, following the example of his uncle S. Louis; S. Hedwig, Duchess of Poland, and her niece S. Elizabeth, the daughter of Andrew king of Hungary, who fed 900 poor every day, receiving a rich reward in divine favour and grace.

Mystically. Origen says, “He who shuns vainglory calls to a spiritual banquet the poor, that is, the ignorant, that he may enrich them; the weak, that is, those with offended consciences, that he may heal them; the lame, that is, those who have wandered from reason, that he may make their paths straight; the blind, that they may discern the truth.”

Ver. 14.—And thou shalt be blessed, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just, when, says the Interlinear, the entertainers of the poor will enter into blessedness.
The neediness of the guests purifies the intention of the host, who expects no return from them, but acts solely out of love to God. Wherefore God, who considers that what is done to the poor is done unto Him, will grant him a bounteous reward, even the everlasting delights of the heavenly banquet, according to the promise, “and I appoint unto you . . . that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” S. Luke xxii. 29. Hence S. Chrysostom says, “Let us be troubled not when we receive no return of a kindness, but when we do; for if we have received it, we shall receive nothing more; but if man does not repay us, God, out of love for whom we have acted, will be our recompense.”

Ver. 15.—Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God; i.e., in the resurrection of the just, of which Christ had made mention in the preceding verse.  S. Cyril in the Catena, says, “This man was carnal, for he thought the reward of the saints was to be bodily.” He must therefore have been one of the Pharisees, for they believe in the resurrection, which the Sadducces deny. Acts xxiii. 8. For in heaven God feeds, satisfies, and fills (inebriat) the blessed with all delights. So the Psalmist: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.” Ps. xvii. 15. And again, “They shall be satisfied with the plenteousness of Thy house, and Thou shalt give them drink of Thy pleasures as out of the river.” Ps. xxxvi. 8. This joy S. Augustine describes at length in his Soliloquies and Meditations.

Mystically. “He was sighing for something which was afar off, and the bread itself was lying before him. For who is that Bread of the kingdom of God but He who says, I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” S. John vi 51.

Ver. 16.—Then He said unto him, A certain man made a great supper. This parable is very similar to that recorded by S. Matthew. See commentary on S. Matt. xxii. 2.

But you will ask, What was this supper? 1.Some understand by it, the incarnation of the Word of God, the preaching of His Gospel, and the redemption wrought by Him. For this is the great supper to which Christ, when He became incarnate, invited us.  S. Matthew calls it a dinner. It is a dinner as regards the Church Militant; a supper with respect to the Church Triumphant. In this sense Leonidas addressed his comrades before the battle. “Let us dine, fellow-soldiers, for we shall sup in the nether (or rather the upper) world.” For the Church Militant here on earth is striving eagerly to attain the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

2. S. Cyril, in the Catena, understands the Eucharist by the supper. “The man,” he says, “is God the Father, who has prepared for us a great supper in Christ, for He has given us His own body to eat. Whence the Church makes choice of this parable for the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.”
3. But in its literal sense, the supper is the happiness and glory of heaven. It is called a supper, because it will be given in the evening, i.e. at the end of the world, when life and its troubles are over: because, also, it will be our only and everlasting refreshment.

The great supper, says S. Gregory (Hom. 36), is the full enjoyment of eternal sweetness; for after it no guest is cast out.

A great. For nothing greater than it can be imagined, since God Himself will be our food and feast. Hence, Euthymius says, “Hereby is signified the unspeakable fruition of God, who will fulfil the utmost expectations of the blessed. For ‘eye hath not seen, nor car heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’” 1 Cor. ii. 9.
And bade many: e.g., the whole nation of the Jews, who were the Church and the chosen people of God, and specially their rulers, who were bidden to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” S. Matt. iii 2.

Ver. 17.—And sent his servants, &c., i.e., sent the Apostles after the resurrection to say that all things were ready for the heavenly feast.

Ver. 18.—And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, &c. The Scribes and Pharisees, and the chief Priests are here clearly indicated; for they, invited by Christ to the Gospel feast, made light of it, because they were so intent on their farms, i.e. their worldly possessions, that they had neither time nor inclination to think about the salvation of their souls. “God,” says S. Gregory (Hom. 36 in Evang.), “offers what ought to have been asked. Unasked, He is ready to give, what we could scarcely dare hope for. He announces that the delights of the eternal feast are ready, and with one consent they make excuse.” “They say, I pray thee, and then disdain to come. The word sounds of humility, but the action is pride.” S. Bernard rightly calls men who seek wealth, pleasure, honour and the like, lunatics. “I once” says he, “saw five men: why should I not look on them as lunatics? For the first, with swollen cheeks, was chewing the sand of the sea-shore. The second, standing by a lake of sulphur, was endeavouring to inhale the foul and noxious vapour which arose therefrom. The third, leaning over a blazing furnace, was enjoying the burning sparks which he received within his gaping jaws. The fourth, seated on a pinnacle of a temple, was drawing in with open mouth the light breezes, and if they seemed to flow less freely he fanned himself, as if in hope of inhaling the whole atmosphere. The fifth, standing aside, was laughing at the others, although himself the most deserving of ridicule, for he was busily engaged in sucking his own flesh, applying now his hands, now his arms, now one part of his body, now another to his mouth.” By these figures S. Bernard pictures the various kinds of sin. The first represents the greedy, the second the lustful, the third those prone to anger, the fourth the ambitious, and the fifth those who boast themselves over much of their possessions and are self-satisfied, who are never content, but ever thirsting for the good things of this world.

Ver. 19.—And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them, &c. Another kind of avarice is here described, viz, the desire of possessing oxen, and animals for tillage, or food, or some other purpose; for the riches of the patriarchs lay in their herds. So think Theophylact and Titus. S. Gregory, however (Hom. 36), says, “What are we to understand by the five yoke of oxen but the five senses? which are rightly called yokes, because they are double in the two sexes.”

Ver. 20.—And another said, I have married a wife, &c. What, asks S. Gregory, are we to understand by a wife but carnal gratifications? The Pharisees, like many at the present time, were ensnared by avarice and luxury. These are the thorns which choke the word of God. S. Luke viii. 14.

Let us all then give heed to the warning of S. Paul, and remember that “the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Cor vii. 31). “For the ‘res temporalis’ consists in possession, and ‘res eterna’ in expectation,” S. Gregory (Hom. 36). Not that marriage is censured here (save so far as it interferes with the work of salvation), says S. Ambrose, but purity is held up to greater honour, for “the love of the things of this world is a fetter to (viscus est) the wings of the spirit.” Gloss.

In carnal things, desire begets satiety, and satiety disgust; but in spiritual things, satiety provokes desire. S. Gregory.

S. Augustine (serm. 33, De Verb. Domini) explains and applies somewhat differently the excuses of the invited guests:

“The piece of ground which was bought denotes government. Therefore pride is the first vice reproved.
“The five yoke of oxen are taken to be the five senses, by means of which earthly things are pursued. For the oxen till the ground; but men at a distance from faith, given up to earthly things, are occupied with carnal matters.

“‘Love not the world, therefore, neither the things that are in the world,’ for ‘the world passeth away, and the lust thereof’ 1 S. John ii. 15, 17. Away then with wicked and vain excuses, and let us come to the supper wherewith we may be inwardly nourished. Let not the lifting up of pride hinder us, neither let lawless curiosity fright us, and turn us away from God. Let not the pleasures of the flesh keep us from the pleasure of the heart. Let us come and be filled.”

Ver. 21.—So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things, &c. We are here taught that Christ chose the outcasts and poor in place of the Priests and Pharisees who had made light of His gospel. According to that which is written, “The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” S. Matt. xxi. 31. And again, “Many that are first shall be last: and the last shall be first.” S. Matt. xix 30.

For albeit that Christ preached from the commencement of His ministry both to the Pharisees and to the multitude, yet the Pharisees, as of higher rank, were the first invited; to preserve the unity of the parable; and also because Christ would have the scribes first, by reason of their position, acknowledge Him, and then be His witnesses amongst the people. But the contrary came to pass. “They,” says Euthymius, “who refused to acknowledge Him, were the chief Priests and rulers of the people, and these, who were chosen in their stead, were the humble and the outcasts of the nation.” For of a truth “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Cor. i. 27.
Symbolically. S. Augustine says (serm. 34 De Verb. Dom.): Who were those that came, but the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind? Those who absented themselves were those who thought themselves rich, and robust; who, as it were, could walk well, and see clearly, the hopelessness of whose state was proportionate to their pride.

Let the beggars come to the feast at the invitation of Him who made Himself poor that we might become rich.
Let the weak come, for the physician has no need of those that are whole, but of those that are sick.
Let the lame come and say, “Order my steps in Thy word.”
Let the blind come and say, “Lighten Thou mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.”

These poor and miserable creatures teach us:
1. That none are to be despised, but that salvation in Christ is to be offered to all.
2. That it is easier for the poor to obey the gospel precepts, and therefore to be saved, than for the rich.
3. That we must despair of no one’s salvation, however wretched, blind, or perverse he may be....

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