Saturday, 27 September 2014

St Luke 24: 46-53

St Luke:

et dixit eis: Quoniam sic scriptum est, et sic oportebat Christum pati, et resurgere a mortuis tertia die: 47 et prædicari in nomine ejus pœnitentiam, et remissionem peccatorum in omnes gentes, incipientibus ab Jerosolyma. 48 Vos autem testes estis horum. 49 Et ego mitto promissum Patris mei in vos; vos autem sedete in civitate, quoadusque induamini virtute ex alto.50 Eduxit autem eos foras in Bethaniam, et elevatis manibus suis benedixit eis. 51 Et factum est, dum benediceret illis, recessit ab eis, et ferebatur in cælum. 52 Et ipsi adorantes regressi sunt in Jerusalem cum gaudio magno: 53 et erant semper in templo, laudantes et benedicentes Deum. Amen.

[46] And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: [47] And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [48] And you are witnesses of these things. [49] And I send the promise of my Father upon you: but stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high. [50] And he led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.[51] And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up to heaven. [52] And they adoring went back into Jerusalem with great joy. [53] And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

Commentary

Ver. 46.—And said unto them, Thus it is written (Isa. liii., Ps. xxii et alib.) and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, &c. See how by these articles of faith Christ opened the understanding of the Apostles, to the acknowledging the Scriptures, which foretold these events.

Ver. 47.—And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name, i.e.—1. By His authority. 2. At His command. 3. In His stead. That the Apostles should continue the teaching of Christ, and spread the doctrine of repentance and remission of sins throughout the world. 4. In His name, i.e., in virtue of His meritorious death upon the cross, whereby alone God gives the spirit of repentance and remission of sin.

Beginning at Jerusalem. A command to the Apostles to commence their preaching at Jerusalem, and from thence to go unto all nations. “Beginning” (α̉ζξάμενον, incipientibus, Vulgate). The Apostles were to begin their preaching at Jerusalem: 1. Because there the Synagogue was flourishing, and there the Church had its origin, for the old Jewish dispensation was transformed into the Christian Church by the preaching of Christ, according to the words of the prophet: “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Isaiah ii. 3. And again, “Arise, shine; for thy light has come.” Ibid. lx. (Vulgate). 2. Because Christ, with all the blessings He came to bestow, was promised to the Jews by the prophets, and Jerusalem was their chief city; and 3. Because David and Solomon had reigned there, and Christ, the son of David, had come to restore their kingdom, but in a higher and a spiritual sense (see Acts i. 4).

Ver. 48.—And ye are witnesses of these things. (See commentary on Acts i.)

Ver. 49.—And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you, i.e., after a few days, when the Feast of Pentecost is come, I will send you the Holy Spirit, who will teach you clearly many things besides these, and enable you to preach the gospel to all nations.

But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. δυνάμιν, i.e., with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for “as a general does not permit his soldiers who are about to meet a large number, to go out until they are armed, so also the Lord did not permit His disciples to go forth to the conflict before the descent of the Spirit.”  S. Chrysostom in Catena.

Tropologically. S. Gregory (Past. iii 26) says, “We abide in a city when we keep ourselves close within the gates of our minds, lest by speaking we wander beyong them; that when we are perfectly endued with divine power we may then as it were go out beyond ourselves to instruct others.”
Ver. 50.—And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and from thence to the mount of Olives. Bethany was about fifteen furlongs [stadia] from Jerusalem, and close by the mount of Olives. Christ went to Bethany to say farewell to Lazarus and his sister, and to bring them with Him to mount Olivet, in order that they might witness His ascension, and share in His triumph.

And He lifted up his hands towards heaven, as if seeking a special blessing for his disciples.
And blessed them, signing them with the sign of the Cross, as Dionysius the Carthusian and others think. Indeed, S. Jerome, commenting on the words, “I will set a sign upon them,” Isa. lxvi. 19, says, Our ascending Lord left us this sign, or rather placed it on our foreheads, so that we may freely say, “The light of Thy countenance is lifted up upon us, O Lord.” For the Cross is the sign of Christ, which is the fountain of all benediction and grace. Hence the tradition which has come down from the time of Christ and the Apostles that in giving a blessing the hands should always form the sign of the Cross.

Therefore, says Theophylact, we should learn when about to leave our dependents or friends, to give them our blessing, and, signing them with the sigh of the Cross, commit them to the keeping of God.
Ver. 52.—And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. They rejoiced greatly because they had seen their Master triumphantly ascend into heaven, because they eagerly and without doubting looked for the promised gift of the Comforter, and because they had good hope that Christ would, in like manner, after they had laboured in the gospel cause, receive them to Himself, according to His gracious promise. S. John.

Ver. 53.—And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. “Continually.” We may either take this word to refer to the time of the descent of the Holy Spirit, for before His coming they remained at home for fear of the Jews, or we may take it absolutely, for the upper room in which they dwelt was near the temple, so that they could easily go to and fro. Acts i. 13.

In midst of prayers and praises, with eager preparation of heart, they waited for the promise of the Spirit, says Bede, who also observes “that S. Luke, who commenced his Gospel with the ministry of Zacharias, the priest in the temple, very fitly concludes it with the devotion of the Apostles in the same holy place. For he has placed them there, about to be the ministers of a new priesthood, not in the blood of sacrifices, but in the praises of God, and in blessing.”

Morally, the Apostles and the disciples teach us by their example to make the Christian life a perpetual round of praise to God and Christ. For thus we enter upon the life of the blessed, to whom the ceaseless praise of God is, as I have often shown, for everlasting their labour and their rest. “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be alway praising Thee.”

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