Saturday, 16 August 2014

St Luke 11: 37-54

The final section of St Luke's Gospel:

37 Et cum loqueretur, rogavit illum quidam pharisæus ut pranderet apud se. Et ingressus recubuit. 38 Pharisæus autem cœpit intra se reputans dicere, quare non baptizatus esset ante prandium. 39 Et ait Dominus ad illum: Nunc vos pharisæi, quod deforis est calicis et catini, mundatis: quod autem intus est vestrum, plenum est rapina et iniquitate. 40 Stulti! nonne qui fecit quod deforis est, etiam id quod deintus est fecit? 41 Verumtamen quod superest, date eleemosynam: et ecce omnia munda sunt vobis.2 Sed væ vobis, pharisæis, quia decimatis mentham, et rutam, et omne olus, et præteritis judicium et caritatem Dei: hæc autem oportuit facere, et illa non omittere. 43 Væ vobis, pharisæis, quia diligitis primas cathedras in synagogis, et salutationes in foro. 44 Væ vobis, quia estis ut monumenta, quæ non apparent, et homines ambulantes supra, nesciunt.45 Respondens autem quidam ex legisperitis, ait illi: Magister, hæc dicens etiam contumeliam nobis facis. 46 At ille ait: Et vobis legisperitis væ: quia oneratis homines oneribus, quæ portare non possunt, et ipsi uno digito vestro non tangitis sarcinas. 47 Væ vobis, qui ædificatis monumenta prophetarum: patres autem vestri occiderunt illos. 48 Profecto testificamini quod consentitis operibus patrum vestrorum: quoniam ipsi quidem eos occiderunt, vos autem ædificatis eorum sepulchra. 49 Propterea et sapientia Dei dixit: Mittam ad illos prophetas, et apostolos, et ex illis occident, et persequentur: 50 ut inquiratur sanguis omnium prophetarum, qui effusus est a constitutione mundi a generatione ista, 51 a sanguine Abel, usque ad sanguinem Zachariæ, qui periit inter altare et ædem. Ita dico vobis, requiretur ab hac generatione. 52 Væ vobis, legisperitis, quia tulistis clavem scientiæ: ipsi non introistis, et eos qui introibant, prohibuistis.53 Cum autem hæc ad illos diceret, cœperunt pharisæi et legisperiti graviter insistere, et os ejus opprimere de multis, 54 insidiantes ei, et quærentes aliquid capere de ore ejus, ut accusarent eum.

[37] And as he was speaking, a certain Pharisee prayed him, that he would dine with him. And he going in, sat down to eat. [38] And the Pharisee began to say, thinking within himself, why he was not washed before dinner. [39] And the Lord said to him: Now you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inside is full of rapine and iniquity. [40] Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without, make also that which is within?[41] But yet that which remaineth, give alms; and behold, all things are clean unto you. [42] But woe to you, Pharisees, because you tithe mint and rue and every herb; and pass over judgment, and the charity of God. Now these things you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [43] Woe to you, Pharisees, because you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplace. [44] Woe to you, because you are as sepulchres that appear not, and men that walk over are not aware. [45] And one of the lawyers answering, saith to him: Master, in saying these things, thou reproachest us also.[46] But he said: Woe to you lawyers also, because you load men with burdens which they cannot bear, and you yourselves touch not the packs with one of your fingers. [47] Woe to you who build the monuments of the prophets: and your fathers killed them. [48] Truly you bear witness that you consent to the doings of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and you build their sepulchres. [49] For this cause also the wisdom of God said: I will send to them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will kill and persecute. [50] That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation,[51] From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the alter and the temple: Yea I say to you, It shall be required of this generation. [52] Woe to you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you yourselves have not entered in, and those that were entering in, you have hindered. [53] And as he was saying these things to them, the Pharisees and the lawyers began violently to urge him, and to oppress his mouth about many things, [54] Lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 37.—And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat. “As he spake,” As He was on a certain occasion teaching the people, say St. Augustine and others; but Maldonatus considers that reference is here made to the preceding verses. The Pharisee therefore, having heard what our Lord had previously said, asked Him, from no good motive, but, as we learn from the two last verses of the chapter, in order to find some accusation against Him.

“He sat down to meat,” without having first washed His hands, after the manner of the Pharisees.

Ver. 38.—And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed. For the Pharisees were accustomed, before they sat down to meat, to wash not their hands only, but their arms as far as the elbow. See St. Matt., xv. I.

Ver. 39.—And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and platter. Ye take care to wash the body, but are careless as to the cleansing of the heart. The word “now” gives point to the rebuke.

Ver. 41.—But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. τὰ ὲνόντα, quod superest. Vulgate. These words are omitted by many of the fathers, but retained in the Roman versions.

By these words we may therefore understand:

1. Such things as we possess. So Tertullian (lib. iv. 27 Contra Marc.). But St. Basil and Euthymius explain them as meaning “what we have in store,” or what we have at hand, what we have not consumed. Vatablus. Others think that the words mean “what we have not acquired wrongfully, for such things must be restored, and not given in charity.” Others, again, such things as we have in our power and at our disposal, that by giving of these we may make amends for our many misdeeds, may break off our iniquities, by showing mercy to the poor. Dan. iv. 24.

2. Toletus thinks, from a consideration of v. 39, that by τὰ ενόντα, we must understand the things within. “Ye, 0 Pharisees, make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness, for ye have obtained what ye eat and what ye drink by robbery and injustice. Cleanse yourselves therefore of your sins. Restore what you have gained unjustly and give alms of such things as ye lawfully possess.” Thus, Zaccheus said, “The half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. St. Luke xix. 8.

3. Theophylact considers that our Lord here goes to the root of the evil, and would have the Pharisees cast out of their hearts τὰ ὲνόντα, ie. their inordinate love of riches.

4. But we may interpret the passage more forcibly as meaning, There is but one remedy for your past sins and extortions: give alms; this is a duty which comes before all others, this is the sum and substance of the whole matter. Bede.

5. Lastly, some would read the verse thus: Give alms of such things as you may lawfully dispose of, τὸ ε̉νὸν, what is lawful, i.e. of such things as are your own, and not the property of others. Give freely, and not because you are under any obligation to give.

And behold all things are clean unto you. Some think that these words were spoken in irony; but the general opinion of the fathers is that we must understand them seriously; but how—

1. Certain are of opinion that the sins of robbery and violence are pardoned through the giving of alms, even although no previous restitution has been made. But this is a manifest error, for S. Augustine says, “no sin is remitted, unless restitution is made,” for restitution of that which has been wrongfully acquired is due under every law, natural, human, or divine.

2. S. Augustine understands by “almsgiving” every good work, including even penitence itself, for “How,” he asks, “can you be merciful to another, if you are unmerciful to yourself? To have compassion on your own soul is to be pleasing, to God.” He therefore who repents of his sins, has compassion on his own soul; for almsgiving, is whatever is done by a profitable compassion. To “give alms” means “devote thyself to good works, to works of charity and of penitence, for these will make you clean.”

3. But we may take the words really in this sense. “All things, whether external, as the body, or internal, as the soul, are made clean, not by ceremonial washings, as ye think, but by alms given out of τὰ ὲνόντα, “that which is thine own.” See preceding section 5.

For by almsgiving we obtain the pardon of our venial offences, and are placed in the way of obtaining the remission of even mortal sin, if, that is to say, our almsgiving, is the fruit of true contrition which includes within itself the perfect love of God.

We must therefore understand that the giving of alms makes all things clean, if it be accompanied by faith, hope, contrition, and such other things as are required by scripture for the remission of sin, and if the almsgiver does not again return to his evil ways. Hence, according to the teaching of Christ and His apostles, we are saved by faith, and that not alone, but accompanied by penitence and love.

Origen, SS. Cyprian, Ambrose and others, explain that almsgiving is a remedy for every sin, but chiefly for extortion and robbery and such sins as are contrary to itself. For it is a remedy against avarice, which is the root of the evil. Because he who is liberal and compassionate neither envies, robs, nor wrongs any one. Hence Theophylact calls almsgiving “the daughter of godlike love and charity;” and S. Cyril, on Dan. iv., declares the giving of alms to be better than fasting, for that which can be applied to all wounds is no valueless medicament. See also S. Matt. xxii.

Ver. 45.—Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto Him, Master, thus saying Thou reproachest us also. ύβζίζεις, blamest or dishonourest. Thou accusest us, and that openly, of much wickedness. But Christ exposed the wickedness of the Scribes, not to disgrace them, but to lead them to amend their lives; or, if that were impossible, to prevent others from following their evil example. So S. Cyril says, “To be convicted of error is to the proud intolerable, but to the humble a great means of advancement.” Bede: How wretched is that conscience which thinks itself insulted whenever it may happen to hear the word of God.” Yet even now the wicked, when a preacher attacks vices which they are conscious of committing, think themselves aggrieved and persecute the man who warns them of their sin.

Ver. 47.—Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets. Christ does not rebuke the Scribes for building these sepulchres, but because they sought to persecute and slay Him and His apostles, who were as the prophets of old. See S. Matt. xxiii.2

“Ye act, 0 ye Scribes, in accordance with the example of your fathers. They killed the prophets and ye bury them, as robbers bury those whom they have plundered and slain. Ye act thus out of pretended reverence and zeal, yet ye are but imitations of your fathers, for ye seek to kill Me and My disciples, and by so doing fill up the measure of their iniquity.” But Suarez explains these verses thus, “Inasmuch as ye imitate your fathers in your persecution of Christ and His apostles, ye seem to build these sepulchres more to commemorate the act of the slayer, than out of any desire to honour the slain.”

Ver. 52.—Woe unto you, lawyers! Ye have usurped, as S. Ambrose renders the Greek ήζατε, the key of knowledge, i.e., the teaching of the law and the interpretation of scripture. Ye have used this knowledge for your own evil purposes, and have prejudiced the people against Me and the salvation which I came to bestow. Thus ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in, S. Matt. xxiii. 13.

Thus S. Ambrose and Tertullian; and S. Cyril, who understands the key of knowledge to mean the law, the sign of the justice of Christ, and adds, Faith also is the key, because by means of it we retain the knowledge and the truth, for “unless ye believe ye will not understand.” These men therefore shut up the kingdom of heaven, for they neither explained the law as testifying to Christ, nor did they suffer men to believe on Him.

Figurativly, S. Augustine (lib. ii. Quæst. Evang.), alluding to Isa. xxii. 22, and Rev. iii. 7, says, The key of knowledge is humility, which these lawyers themselves understood not, and were unwilling that others should understand.

Ver. 53.—And the Scribes and the Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently. “To urge Him vehemently,” δεινω̃ς συνέχειν; but the Vulgate has “to insist,” as if ε̉ιέχειν “and to provoke Him to speak of many things,” α̉ποστοματίζειν, i.e. to catch something out of His mouth that they might accuse Him—to seek an immediate answer to their crafty questionings, and to confuse Him in His talk. Euthymius and Theophylact. But Maldonatus thinks that α̉ποστοματίζειν should be rendered “to shut His mouth,” i.e. to put Him to silence. But the Scribes did not wish to silence Christ, but on the contrary to provoke Him to say something against the law or against Caesar, whereof they might accuse Him.
They said therefore, Thou hast derided our ceremonies, and broken the tradition of our fathers, v. 38. Thou hast rebuked us because we tithe mint and rue, v. 42. Thou hast charged us with loving the uppermost seats, and therefore Thou hast blamed Moses who assigned them to us, v. 43. Thou hast forbidden us to honour the prophets, v. 47. Thou hast deprived us of the key of knowledge, which the whole synagogue has committed to our care, v. 52. Thou desirest therefore to be wiser than Moses, and to overthrow the law, and the ordinances of God.

Ver. 54.—Laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth. θηζευ̃σαί, “to hunt for,” that they might accuse Him to Caiaphas or Pilate. For Euthymius says, “They thought by their rapid questionings to lead Him to commit Himself to some rash statement; but He answered them in all things wisely, for He answered nothing but what had been well thought out aforehand, and He spake unmoved by any human passion.”

They trusted that in anger, or in excitement, he would have said something with which they could find fault, for men in the heat of argument oftentimes make statements which they regret and are compelled to retract. Not so with Christ; calm and unmoved, His words were truth.

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