Monday, 25 August 2014

St Luke 15:1-32

1 Erant autem appropinquantes ei publicani, et peccatores ut audirent illum. 2 Et murmurabant pharisæi, et scribæ, dicentes: Quia hic peccatores recipit, et manducat cum illis. 3 Et ait ad illos parabolam istam dicens: 4 Quis ex vobis homo, qui habet centum oves, et si perdiderit unam ex illis, nonne dimittit nonaginta novem in deserto, et vadit ad illam quæ perierat, donec inveniat eam? 5 Et cum invenerit eam, imponit in humeros suos gaudens: 6 et veniens domum convocat amicos et vicinos, dicens illis: Congratulamini mihi, quia inveni ovem meam, quæ perierat. 7 Dico vobis quod ita gaudium erit in cælo super uno peccatore pœnitentiam agente, quam super nonaginta novem justis, qui non indigent pœnitentia. 8 Aut quæ mulier habens drachmas decem, si perdiderit drachmam unam, nonne accendit lucernam, et everrit domum, et quærit diligenter, donec inveniat? 9 Et cum invenerit convocat amicas et vicinas, dicens: Congratulamini mihi, quia inveni drachmam quam perdideram. 10 Ita, dico vobis, gaudium erit coram angelis Dei super uno peccatore pœnitentiam agente.11 Ait autem: Homo quidam habuit duos filios: 12 et dixit adolescentior ex illis patri: Pater, da mihi portionem substantiæ, quæ me contingit. Et divisit illis substantiam. 13 Et non post multos dies, congregatis omnibus, adolescentior filius peregre profectus est in regionem longinquam, et ibi dissipavit substantiam suam vivendo luxuriose. 14 Et postquam omnia consummasset, facta est fames valida in regione illa, et ipse cœpit egere. 15 Et abiit, et adhæsit uni civium regionis illius: et misit illum in villam suam ut pasceret porcos. 16 Et cupiebat implere ventrem suum de siliquis, quas porci manducabant: et nemo illi dabat. 17 In se autem reversus, dixit: Quanti mercenarii in domo patris mei abundant panibus, ego autem hic fame pereo! 18 surgam, et ibo ad patrem meum, et dicam ei: Pater, peccavi in cælum, et coram te: 19 jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus: fac me sicut unum de mercenariis tuis. 20 Et surgens venit ad patrem suum. Cum autem adhuc longe esset, vidit illum pater ipsius, et misericordia motus est, et accurrens cecidit super collum ejus, et osculatus est eum. 21 Dixitque ei filius: Pater, peccavi in cælum, et coram te: jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus. 22 Dixit autem pater ad servos suos: Cito proferte stolam primam, et induite illum, et date annulum in manum ejus, et calceamenta in pedes ejus: 23 et adducite vitulum saginatum, et occidite, et manducemus, et epulemur: 24 quia hic filius meus mortuus erat, et revixit: perierat, et inventus est. Et cœperunt epulari. 25 Erat autem filius ejus senior in agro: et cum veniret, et appropinquaret domui, audivit symphoniam et chorum: 26 et vocavit unum de servis, et interrogavit quid hæc essent. 27 Isque dixit illi: Frater tuus venit, et occidit pater tuus vitulum saginatum, quia salvum illum recepit. 28 Indignatus est autem, et nolebat introire. Pater ergo illius egressus, cœpit rogare illum. 29 At ille respondens, dixit patri suo: Ecce tot annis servio tibi, et numquam mandatum tuum præterivi: et numquam dedisti mihi hædum ut cum amicis meis epularer. 30 Sed postquam filius tuus hic, qui devoravit substantiam suam cum meretricibus, venit, occidisti illi vitulum saginatum. 31 At ipse dixit illi: Fili, tu semper mecum es, et omnia mea tua sunt: 32 epulari autem, et gaudere oportebat, quia frater tuus hic mortuus erat, et revixit; perierat, et inventus est.

Now the publicans and sinners drew near unto him to hear him. [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying: This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. [3] And he spoke to them this parable, saying: [4] What man of you that hath an hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it? [5] And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders, rejoicing:[6] And coming home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost? [7] I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance. [8] Or what woman having ten groats; if she lose one groat, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? [9] And when she hath found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying: Rejoice with me, because I have found the groat which I had lost. [10] So I say to you, there shall be joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance.[10] Before the angels: By this it is plain that the spirits in heaven have a concern for us below, and a joy at our repentance and consequently a knowledge of it.[11] And he said: A certain man had two sons: [12] And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his substance. [13] And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously. [14] And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. [15] And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine.[16] And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. [17] And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father' s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger? [18] I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: [19] I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. [20] And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him.[21] And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. [22] And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: [23] And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: [24] Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. [25] Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing:[26] And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. [27] And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. [28] And he was angry, and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. [29] And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends: [30] But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.[31] But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. [32] But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 1.—Then drew near under Him all the publicans and sinners. πάντες, all, that is, many came together to hear Christ, attracted by His sanctity and by the loving-kindness with which He called sinners to Himself, and promised pardon and salvation to the penitent. For His preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” S. Matt. iv. 17.

Ver. 2.—And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured. For as they avoided the touch of unclean bodies, so did they avoid that of sinful souls. Hence they did not deign to speak to sinners, much less to eat with them. This constituted the proud spirit of the Pharisees, who thought themselves pure and holy in all things pertaining to the law, and therefore kept apart from the impure that they might not be defiled. To them the spirit of Christ was clearly opposed; for He came into the world to save sinners, and therefore sought opportunity to converse with them, and when invited was present at their feasts; for nothing is more pleasing to God than the conversion of the sinner. “From which we may gather,” says S. Gregory (Hom. 34), “that true justice, i.e. the justice of Christ, is full of compassion, but that the false justice of the Pharisees is scornful.” “Indeed, it is,” says S. Chrysostom, “the mark of the apostolic life, to think for the salvation of souls.”

Ver. 4.—What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he 1ose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? For a sheep is a simple and foolish animal, which, in search of pasture, easily loses its way and wanders from the fold, and when once astray is unable to return. So that there is need of a shepherd to go forth and seek it.

So we, by reason of our sinful lusts, were as wandering sheep, treading the path which led to perdition, without a thought of God or of heaven, or of the salvation of our souls. Wherefore Christ came down from heaven to seek us, and to lead us back from the way of destruction to that which leadeth to eternal life. So we read, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. liii. 6; and again, “Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” 1 S. Pet. ii. 25.

Ver. 5.—And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Or as the Arabic renders it, “He carries it on his shoulders joyfully,” that he may the more quickly return it to the flock.
In like manner on Christ “was laid,” as saith the prophet Isaiah, the iniquity of us all.” Hence Gregory of Nyssa, writes in the Catena, “When the shepherd had found the sheep, he did not punish it, he did not drive it to the fold, but placing it on his shoulder, and carrying it gently, he reunited it with the flock.” 

Oh how wondrous is the meekness, clemency, and love of Christ our Lord! It was to represent this love to the faithful that Christ is depicted in our temples with the lost sheep on His shoulders, carrying it back to the flock, and it is related of the son of Charlemagne, that laying aside his royal state, he became a monk, and when employed in keeping sheep, followed to the letter the example set by the Good Shepherd: for humility and the imitation of Christ is in truth the glory of Christian kings.

Ver. 6.—Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. Συγχάζητέ μοι, Let My joy be one with yours—partake of My joy. His joy is so great that he cannot confine it to Himself, His friends must rejoice also. He further indicates that the event is such a happy one, that it ought to afford matter for rejoicing to all. He says not, “Rejoice with the sheep that is found,” but, “with Me.” Because truly our life is His joy. S. Gregory.

Ver. 7.—I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven, &c., i.e. greater joy, for such is implied by the comparative particle ρ̀, “than.”

The angels then, and the saints in heaven rejoice with exceeding great joy when it is made known to them, by the revelation of God, that a sinner is converted; for when such an one by repentance passes from condemnation to life, it is a gain to the sinner—to the angels—and above all to God Himself.
The sinner passes from sin unto righteousness, from hell to heaven. The angels therefore rejoice at the blessedness of such an one, because, says Euthymius, they are kindly disposed towards men and because by repentance men become like them in purity and in holiness. They rejoice also on their own account because the ruin which was effected by Lucifer and his angels is remedied by the justification and sanctification of men, and because the places from which these angels fell are restored and filled up. It is a joy to God because He is φιλόψυχος, a lover of souls, and thirsts for the salvation of men.
Again the angels rejoice that the desire of God, whom they love above all things, is fulfilled, and that He is a partaker of this joy, as well as honoured by the penitence of the, sinner. Apposite to this matter is the vision of Carpus, to whom Christ made known that He so longed for the conversion of sinners, as to be ready again to suffer death upon the Cross, if thereby this object could be effected. And Palladius relates that a certain Anchorite, who had fallen into sin, repented in sackcloth and ashes with many tears; whereupon an angel appeared to him and said, “The Lord hath accepted thy penitence, and hath had compassion on thee. Take heed that thou art not again led astray.”

By this argument, Christ rebukes the Pharisees for murmuring against Him because He companied with sinners in order to convert them. For the conversion of sinners is a work most pleasing to God and His angels. The Pharisees ought therefore to take part in this work, and to share in the rejoicing. For “all the fruit” of the Incarnation, and of the death of Christ upon the Cross is “to take away sin,” Isa. xxvii. 9,—“to bring in everlasting righteousness,” and to extend the kingdom of God. S. Matt. vi. 10. The knowledge of this ought to excite in every follower of Christ a zealous love for the souls of men.
Hence S. Gregory, when he heard that the English had been converted by the preaching of Augustine, rejoiced in spirit, and wrote; “If there is great joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, what joy, think you, has there been over the conversion of so great a people; for by their repentance and faith they have condemned the sins which they aforetime had committed. Whilst heaven is thus rejoicing, let us repeat the angelic strain, and let us all with one accord exclaim, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.’”

More than over ninety and nine just persons. God and His holy angels, then, rejoice over one penitent more than over one righteous man, nay, more than over ninety and nine just persons; because from the conversion of the sinner there arises a new joy, which seems more perceptible, and is in reality felt more than that continuous and long-standing joy which attaches itself to the ninety and nine; a joy which, although actually the greater, seems to men to lose its freshness by reason of its long duration. For the novelty of a thing which we long for awakens in us a vast and a new joy, which is felt all the more on account of its novelty, as we find when we receive tidings of victories or conversions; and Christ often speaks after the manner of men, especially in His parables. The saying of S. Bernard, that “The tears of penitents are the wine of the angels,” applies here:—The joy over the conversion of a sinner, writes Emmanuel Sà, is sensibly greater. Although in other respects, a man undoubtedly rejoices more over ninety-nine sheep than over one, and God joys more over ninety and nine just persons than over one sinner that repenteth.

S. Gregory adds that God and His angels rejoice the more, because penitents are wont to be more fervent in their love than those who have not fallen away. And elsewhere he says, “The life of fervent devotion which follows after sins committed is often more pleasing to God than that innocence which grows sluggish in its security.” “Just as the leader in battle loves that soldier more who, having turned from flight, bravely pursues the enemy, than he who never turned his back and never did a brave act.” “And as again the husbandman loves that land more which, after bearing thorns, yields abundant fruit, than that which never had thorns, and never gave him a plentiful crop.” Finally (Hom. 34), he cites the example of Victorinus who, having fallen into carnal sin, entered a monastery, and there subjected himself to the severest penance, and so merited to be transfused with the light of heaven, and to hear the voice of God, “Thy sin is forgiven thee!”

If therefore penance be of such avail in a sinner, how great, infers S. Gregory, must be its power in a just man! For many, he says, are conscious of no evil, yet subject themselves to austerities as extreme as if they were beset by every kind of sin. They eschew all things, even such as are lawful, they gird themselves about with a lofty disdain of earth and earthly things, they consider every pleasure forbidden, they deprive themselves of such good things as are allowed them, things that are seen they despise, they yearn for the things which are invisible, they rejoice in mourning, in all things they humble themselves, and deplore sins of thought, as many mourn over sins actually committed.

Ver. 8.—Either that woman having ten pieces of silver, &c. “Sweep,” or as the Arabic renders it, “cleanse;” not “overturn,” as some read with S. Gregory.

The “piece of silver,” or drachma, was a coin weighing the eighth part of an ounce. Hence S. Cyril explains, that by the parable of the lost sheep we are to understand, mystically, that we are the creatures of God who made us, and the sheep of His pasture, but that by this second parable we are taught that we were created in the image and likeness of God, just as the coin bears the image of the king.

S. Gregory (Hom. 34), very fully explains the parable, and applies it in the following manner: “He who is signified by the shepherd, is signified also by the woman. For it is God Himself—God and the wisdom of God. And because there is an image impressed on the piece, the woman lost the piece of silver when man, who was created after the image of God, by sinning fell away from the likeness of his Creator. The woman lighted a candle, because the wisdom of God appeared in man. For the candle is a light in an earthen vessel, but the light in an earthen vessel is the Godhead in the flesh, and when the candle was lit she overturned (evertit) the house. Because as soon as His divinity shone forth through the flesh, all our consciences were appalled. But the word ‘overturn’ differs not from the ‘cleanse’ or ‘sweep’ of the other MSS. Because the corrupt mind, if it be not first overthrown through fear is not cleansed from its habitual faults. But when the house is overturned the piece of silver is found, for when the conscience of man is disturbed, the likeness of the Creator is restored in him.” And again, “Who are the friends and neighbours but those heavenly powers afore mentioned, who are near to the Divine Wisdom, inasmuch as they approach Him through the grace of continual vision?” Hence in conclusion he says, “The woman had ten pieces of silver, because there are nine orders of angels, but, that the number of the elect might be filled up, man, the tenth, was created, who even after his sin did not fall utterly away from his Maker, because the eternal Wisdom, shining through the flesh by His miracles, restored him by the light of the earthen vessel.”

Or, as Theophylact interprets it, “The friends are all the heavenly powers; but the neighbours, the thrones—cherubims and seraphims—which are most nigh unto God.”

Lastly, S. Gregory Nyssen, says, “The ten pieces of silver are so many virtues, of which we ought to lack none, for like the commandments they are complete in themselves (decem). The candle is the divine word or perhaps the torch of repentance; the neighbours, reason, desire, anger, and such like affections.”

No comments:

Post a Comment