Wednesday, 3 September 2014

St Luke 19: 1-28

St Luke 19:

1 Et ingressus perambulabat Jericho. 2 Et ecce vir nomine Zachæus: et hic princeps erat publicanorum, et ipse dives: 3 et quærebat videre Jesum, quis esset: et non poterat præ turba, quia statura pusillus erat. 4 Et præcurrens ascendit in arborem sycomorum ut videret eum: quia inde erat transiturus. 5 Et cum venisset ad locum, suspiciens Jesus vidit illum, et dixit ad eum: Zachæe, festinans descende: quia hodie in domo tua oportet me manere. 6 Et festinans descendit, et excepit illum gaudens. 7 Et cum viderent omnes, murmurabant, dicentes quod ad hominem peccatorem divertisset. 8 Stans autem Zachæus, dixit ad Dominum: Ecce dimidium bonorum meorum, Domine, do pauperibus: et si quid aliquem defraudavi, reddo quadruplum. 9 Ait Jesus ad eum: Quia hodie salus domui huic facta est: eo quod et ipse filius sit Abrahæ. 10 Venit enim Filius hominis quærere, et salvum facere quod perierat.11 Hæc illis audientibus adjiciens, dixit parabolam, eo quod esset prope Jerusalem: et quia existimarent quod confestim regnum Dei manifestaretur. 12 Dixit ergo: Homo quidam nobilis abiit in regionem longinquam accipere sibi regnum, et reverti. 13 Vocatis autem decem servis suis, dedit eis decem mnas, et ait ad illos: Negotiamini dum venio. 14 Cives autem ejus oderant eum: et miserunt legationem post illum, dicentes: Nolumus hunc regnare super nos. 15 Et factum est ut rediret accepto regno: et jussit vocari servos, quibus dedit pecuniam, ut sciret quantum quisque negotiatus esset. 16 Venit autem primus dicens: Domine, mna tua decem mnas acquisivit. 17 Et ait illi: Euge bone serve, quia in modico fuisti fidelis, eris potestatem habens super decem civitates. 18 Et alter venit, dicens: Domine, mna tua fecit quinque mnas. 19 Et huic ait: Et tu esto super quinque civitates. 20 Et alter venit, dicens: Domine, ecce mna tua, quam habui repositam in sudario: 21 timui enim te, quia homo austerus es: tollis quod non posuisti, et metis quod non seminasti. 22 Dicit ei: De ore tuo te judico, serve nequam. Sciebas quod ego homo austerus sum, tollens quod non posui, et metens quod non seminavi: 23 et quare non dedisti pecuniam meam ad mensam, ut ego veniens cum usuris utique exegissem illam? 24 Et astantibus dixit: Auferte ab illo mnam, et date illi qui decem mnas habet. 25 Et dixerunt ei: Domine, habet decem mnas. 26 Dico autem vobis, quia omni habenti dabitur, et abundabit: ab eo autem qui non habet, et quod habet auferetur ab eo. 27 Verumtamen inimicos meos illos, qui noluerunt me regnare super se, adducite huc: et interficite ante me. 28 Et his dictis, præcedebat ascendens Jerosolymam.

And entering in, he walked through Jericho. [2] And behold, there was a man named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich. [3] And he sought to see Jesus who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature. [4] And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him; for he was to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide in thy house.[6] And he made haste and came down; and received him with joy. [7] And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner. [8] But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. [9] Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.[11] As they were hearing these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested. [12] He said therefore: A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. [13] And calling his ten servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them: Trade till I come. [14] But his citizens hated him: and they sent an embassage after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us. [15] And it came to pass, that he returned, having received the kingdom: and he commanded his servants to be called, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.[16] And the first came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. [17] And he said to him: Well done, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a little, thou shalt have power over ten cities. [18] And the second came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. [19] And he said to him: Be thou also over five cities. [20] And another came, saying: Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin;[21] For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and thou reapest that which thou didst not sow. [22] He saith to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping that which I did not sow: [23] And why then didst thou not give my money into the bank, that at my coming, I might have exacted it with usury? [24] And he said to them that stood by: Take the pound away from him, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. [25] And they said to him: Lord, he hath ten pounds.[26] But I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath, shall be taken from him. [27] But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither, and kill them before me. [28] And having said these things, he went before, going up to Jerusalem.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 1.—And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. S. Luke continues the account of the journey to Jerusalem. I have spoken of this in the preceding chapter, verse 35.

Ver. 2.—And behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans. Christ gave sight to the blind man near Jericho; soon after, in Jericho itself, He converted Zacchæus, for no place, no road, no moment of time was idle to Christ, but all were made notable by divine mercies, benefits, and miracles, that He might teach us to do the same. “Zacchmus.” This name is as it were an omen of his future righteousness and purification, for Zacchæus in Hebrew is the same as just, pure, clear. The chiefs of the publicans had many publicans, that is collectors of the taxes, under them. These taxes the Romans and Tiberius had imposed on the Jews against their will. Hence the publicans were hated by the Jews and accounted infamous, being called Parisim, that is, robbers. The chief was called Gabba; whence the word Gabella, the publicans being called Gabbaim. Angelus Caninus on Hebrew words in New Testament.

And he was rich. The chiefs of the publicans were not appointed unless they were rich, that they might advance money to the Roman ruler when he wanted it, and supply, in a great degree, the deficiencies of the publicans under him. S. Luke adds this to show better the grace of Christ and the virtue of Zacchæus, since he left his great wealth for the calling and love of Christ, and distributed it among the poor.

Ver. 3.—And he sought to see. He took pains to see Jesus in person as he had heard of His reputation, from the fame of His virtues and miracles. For we wish to see great men and to know them in person. But Zacchæus, beside his natural wish, was impelled by one above nature, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He desired to see Jesus that he might be absolved of his sins by Him, and be justified and made holy. “He wished,” says S. Chrysostom in his Homily on Zacchaeus, “to know by sight one whom he had known before in imagination, to see the face of Him whom he had seen before in mind, to look upon Him as present whom he had never seen do any works; that the love of Christ which he had conceived in his heart might be gratified to the full by the sight of his eyes.”

Ver. 3.—And he could not. But he was exalted in mind. Many of the heroes and saints were men of small stature, as I have shown in Zech. iv. 10 and Ecclus. xi. 3, on the words, “The bee is small among flying things, but her fruit is the chief of sweetest things.” It is in minimis that the supreme majesty of God, His glory, strength, and greatness, most clearly shine forth. “The crowd,” says S. Cyril, “is the confusion of a multitude, which we must climb above, if we wish to see Christ.”

Ver. 6.—And he ran. Mystically, the sycamore is the cross of Christ and His doctrine, which to the Gentiles and men of this world is mere folly, but to Zacchæus and the faithful is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. 1 Cor. i. 24. S. Gregory, lib. xxvii. Moral.: in fine, “Let us leave the wisdom that is hurtful, that we may gain that which is to our profit, &c. The dwarf Zacchæus submitted himself to the sycamore tree and saw the Lord; for they who choose humbly the folly of the world, these wisely contemplate the wisdom of God. A multitude hinders our slowness to see God, for the tumults of worldly cares so press upon the infirmity of the human mind that it cannot contemplate the light of truth. We are wise to ascend the sycamore if we retain in our minds, with forethought, that foolishness which is received from God.”

Theophylact speaks as follows: “We climb the fig-tree; that is, we ascend above the allurements of pleasure, which is signified by the fig-tree—we mount up by Penitence, but we come down through Humility.”

Ver. 5.—And when Jesus came to the place. Christ compensates the zeal of Zacchæus to see Him by His full Exhibition and Presence. Christ inspired Zacchæus with this ardour that He might perfect him by entering his house. Christ indeed went thither that He might arouse this feeling, and by it be received by Zacchæus as his guest, and bring blessing and salvation to his whole house. For, although the Saviour of the world, He came to sanctify sinners. “Jesus had not heard the voice of Zacchæus inviting him,” said S. Ambrose, “but He had seen his feeling.”

Christ therefore not only offered Himself to be seen by Zacchæus, who wished to see Him, but He also gave Himself to be possessed by him, and therefore chose to remain in his house, rather than in the house of any one else.

Moraliter. Let us learn to desire Christ and His inner conversation and grace, for Christ will soon offer Himself to us, and fulfil our desire, and as much as is that desire will be His conversation; for Wisdom, that is Christ, will meet him who fears and longs for God. “As a mother shall she meet him, with the bread of understanding shall she feed him, and give him the water of wisdom to drink.” Ecclus. xv. 2, 3. And chap. xxiv., “Come unto me, all ye that be desirous of me, and fill yourselves with my fruits. For my memorial is sweeter than honey,” v. 19, 20; and John vii. 37, 38.

Zacchæus, then, saw Christ with the eyes and sight of his body, and still more with those of his mind, by which Christ enlightened his soul to discern that he was the Saviour who would forgive the sins of those who repent, and give them salvation, that is, righteousness, grace, and glory. The countenance of Jesus therefore is not fruitless, and of no effect, but efficacious and operative. For by this alone He attracts men to His love, changes them, and brings them to salvation. Hence, says S. Cyril, “Jesus saw the mind of Zacchæus striving very earnestly after a holy life.”

For to-day I must abide at thy house. “Zacchæus,” says Titus, wished only for the sight of Jesus, but He who knows how to do more than we ask, gave him what was beyond his expectation; for Christ of His great bounty exceeds the prayers and powers of the petitioners.” “Christ promised,” says S. Chrysostom in his homily on Zacchæus, “that He would come to his house, whose soul and its desires He already possessed.”

Ver. 6.—And He made haste, and came down—see the prompt obedience of Zacchæus, which deserved salvation—and received Him gladly. Zacchæus received Christ into his house, and Christ in return bestowed on him salvation. “Zacchæus rejoiced,” says Euthymius, “because he had not only seen Christ, according to his wish, but because he had also been called by Him, and had received Him as his guest, a thing he had never hoped for.”

Ver. 7.—And when they saw it, they all murmured. (“All”—the Pharisees, and the Jews their parasites, who hated the publicans.) They murmured, saying that he was gone, &c.

The publicans were held by the Jews to be impious, unjust, wicked, and they often were such. Some think that “sinner” here means that Zacchæus was a Gentile and idolater. Such is the opinion of Tertullian, SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Bede, and from them Maldonatus. And that Zacchæus speaks of a restitution of things exacted so unjustly, which was of a natural law, and not ordered by Moses.  S. Chrysostom, in his sermon on Zacchæus, says, “He was a son of Abraham by faith, not by birth; by merit, not by descent; by devotion, not by race.” But the contrary is equally probable, perhaps more so, namely, that Zacchæus was a Jew, not a Gentile. 1. Because, ver. 9, he is called a son of Abraham. 2. Because Christ only conversed with Jews, for He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Hence He is called by S. Paul “minister of the circumcision,” Rom. xv. 8. 3. Because Zacchæus is a Hebrew name. 4. Because the Jews would not have been silent on the matter but would have brought it against Jesus that he held communion with the Gentiles when the Messiah was promised to the Jews alone.

Ver. 8.—And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord. We cannot, doubt that Christ as soon as He entered the house of Zacchæus began, according to His custom, to teach and exhort both Zacchæus himself and those of his household, to faith and repentance, and, if they repented, to promise them grace, righteousness, and salvation. He would also urge upon them contempt of riches and the world, and the acceptance of poverty and evangelical perfection, by following Him and giving their goods to the poor, that they might receive treasure in heaven, and a hundredfold in this life.  S. Luke, for the sake of brevity, says nothing of this; but from what follows, and from what he had frequently said before, especially xviii. 22, of the custom of Christ to teach and preach, He leaves it to be understood. For by these words of Christ Zacchæus was plainly converted to faith, repentance, poverty, and contempt of riches and the world. He said,

Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I gave to the poor. He therefore did not keep one half for himself, but gave back to others what they had been unjustly defrauded of. For he adds, “If I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold.” “I give,” “I restore,” that is, I am resolved from this time, and firmly determine to give and restore according to Thy doctrine and exhortation. On account of this efficacious resolution of the penitent Zacchæus, Christ added as a reward, “This day is salvation come to this house.” So S. Ambrose, Bede, Euthymius, Tertullian in his fourth book against Marcion, Fulgentius in his epistle to Galla. It is a Hebraism, similar to that of Pharaoh, Exod. v. 10: “I give you not straw,” that is, I decree and command that straw is not given to you. Matt. xxvi. 18: “I will keep the Passover at thy house,” that is, I will, I determine to keep it. S. Cyprian, however, in his tract On Works and Almsgiving, has explained the words “give” and “restore,” by the perfect tense: “I have given, I have restored,” as if Zacchæus had been converted previously by other discourses of Christ which he had heard.

And if I have, &c. The Greek is ε̉συκοφάντησα, that is, accused falsely of fraud, calumny, or any other like offence. Zacchæus owns to the crime of defrauding, but in a slight degree: for when, for the sum defrauded he restored fourfold out of his own half of his property, it follows that he gained only an eighth part of his wealth by fraud; so that, if he had eight thousand gold pieces, only one thousand was gained thus, the other seven being his own, either by inheritance, or some other just manner.

Observe the sudden and miraculous conversion of Zacchæus, through the grace of Christ, so that he not only repented at once, but also resolved to put away all the wealth to which he had previously clung, for he set apart half for the poor and half for restitution. Thus he instantly embraced the precept of evangelical poverty, that he might forsake all things, and, as a poor man, follow the work of his hands. “Hear a wonderful thing,” says S. Chrysostom, in his Homily on Zacchæus, “He had not yet learnt, and he obeyed. The Saviour by the rays of His righteousness, put to flight the darkness of Zacchæus’ wickedness.” And Bede, “Behold, the camel has laid down his burden, and passed through the eye of the needle—that is, he gave up the love of riches, and received the blessing of the Lord’s adoption. This is the folly which is wisdom, and which the publican chose from the sycamore as the fruit of life; restoring what he had seized, giving up his own, despising things seen.” And Theophylact, “Behold his alacrity; he began to sow not sparingly, nor did he give a few things but his whole life.” And S. Bernard (Serm. x, on Festival of all Saints), addressing his own Religious: “Zacchæus, whose praise is in the Gospel, gave the half of his goods to the poor, but I see here many Zacchæuses, who have left themselves nothing of all their property. Who shall write a gospel of these Zacchæuses, nay, of these Peters—who shall say in faith, ‘Lord, behold, we have left all things and followed Thee?’ But it is written in the everlasting gospel; it is written and signed in the book of life, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’” “I restore,” that is, I determine and firmly resolve to restore; nor can we doubt that he acted at once upon this resolve, and carried it out into actual practice.

Fourfold. It was not by the law of nature, nor by that of Moses, that Zacchæus bound himself to restore fourfold; as both only oblige him to restore the original sum. He resolved to perform this great and superabundant act of restitution and justice of his fervent charity and repentance. This is in conformity with the law of Exodus xxii. 1, which orders that a man who has stolen a sheep, should be condemned by the judge to restore fourfold. Zacchæus said this, not from boasting and ostentation, but partly from the fervour with which he had been inspired by Christ and the Holy Ghost, partly to refute the calumny of the scribes, who objected to Christ, that He associated with a sinner. For he shows that he was now no longer a sinner, but repentant and just—nay, more just than the just and holy.

In trope, S. Chrysostom (Hom. lxxviii) teaches us that we must adorn the house of our souls with almsgiving and righteousness, like Zacchæus, if we desire to receive Christ as a guest.

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