Thursday, 7 August 2014

St Luke 9:37-62

The final section of St Luke chapter 9:

37 Factum est autem in sequenti die, descendentibus illis de monte, occurrit illis turba multa. 38 Et ecce vir de turba exclamavit, dicens: Magister, obsecro te, respice in filium meum quia unicus est mihi: 39 et ecce spiritus apprehendit eum, et subito clamat, et elidit, et dissipat eum cum spuma, et vix discedit dilanians eum: 40 et rogavi discipulos tuos ut ejicerent illum, et non potuerunt. 41 Respondens autem Jesus, dixit: O generatio infidelis, et perversa, usquequo ero apud vos, et patiar vos? adduc huc filium tuum. 42 Et cum accederet, elisit illum dæmonium, et dissipavit. 43 Et increpavit Jesus spiritum immundum, et sanavit puerum, et reddidit illum patri ejus. 44 Stupebant autem omnes in magnitudine Dei: omnibusque mirantibus in omnibus quæ faciebat, dixit ad discipulos suos: Ponite vos in cordibus vestris sermones istos: Filius enim hominis futurum est ut tradatur in manus hominum. 45 At illi ignorabant verbum istud, et erat velatum ante eos ut non sentirent illud: et timebant eum interrogare de hoc verbo.46 Intravit autem cogitatio in eos quis eorum major esset. 47 At Jesus videns cogitationes cordis illorum, apprehendit puerum, et statuit illum secus se, 48 et ait illis: Quicumque susceperit puerum istum in nomine meo, me recipit: et quicumque me receperit, recipit eum qui me misit. Nam qui minor est inter vos omnes, hic major est. 49 Respondens autem Joannes dixit: Præceptor, vidimus quemdam in nomine tuo ejicientem dæmonia, et prohibuimus eum: quia non sequitur nobiscum. 50 Et ait ad illum Jesus: Nolite prohibere: qui enim non est adversum vos, pro vobis est.51 Factum est autem dum complerentur dies assumptionis ejus, et ipse faciem suam firmavit ut iret in Jerusalem. 52 Et misit nuntios ante conspectum suum: et euntes intraverunt in civitatem Samaritanorum ut parerent illi. 53 Et non receperunt eum, quia facies ejus erat euntis in Jerusalem. 54 Cum vidissent autem discipuli ejus Jacobus et Joannes, dixerunt: Domine, vis dicimus ut ignis descendat de cælo, et consumat illos? 55 Et conversus increpavit illos, dicens: Nescitis cujus spiritus estis. 56 Filius hominis non venit animas perdere, sed salvare. Et abierunt in aliud castellum.57 Factum est autem: ambulantibus illis in via, dixit quidam ad illum: Sequar te quocumque ieris. 58 Dixit illi Jesus: Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres cæli nidos: Filius autem hominis non habet ubi caput reclinet. 59 Ait autem ad alterum: Sequere me: ille autem dixit: Domine, permitte mihi primum ire, et sepelire patrem meum. 60 Dixitque ei Jesus: Sine ut mortui sepeliant mortuos suos: tu autem vade, et annuntia regnum Dei. 61 Et ait alter: Sequar te Domine, sed permitte mihi primum renuntiare his quæ domi sunt. 62 Ait ad illum Jesus: Nemo mittens manum suam ad aratrum, et respiciens retro, aptus est regno Dei.

[37] And it came to pass the day following, when they came down from the mountain, there met him a great multitude. [38] And behold a man among the crowd cried out, saying: Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son, because he is my only one. [39] And lo, a spirit seizeth him, and he suddenly crieth out, and he throweth him down and teareth him, so that he foameth; and bruising him, he hardly departeth from him. [40] And I desired thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. [41] And Jesus answering, said: O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring hither thy son. [42] And as he was coming to him, the devil threw him down, and tore him. [43] And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and cured the boy, and restored him to his father. [44] And all were astonished at the mighty power of God. But while all wondered at all the things he did, he said to his disciples: Lay you up in your hearts these words, for it shall come to pass, that the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. [45] But they understood not this word; and it was hid from them, so that they perceived it not. And they were afraid to ask him concerning this word. [46] And there entered a thought into them, which of them should be greater. [47] But Jesus seeing the thoughts of their heart, took a child and set him by him, [48] And said to them: Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me. For he that is the lesser among you all, he is the greater. [49] And John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you. [51] And it came to pass, when the days of his assumption were accomplishing, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. [52] And he sent messengers before his face; and going, they entered into a city of the Samaritans, to prepare for him. [53] And they received him not, because his face was of one going to Jerusalem. [54] And when his disciples James and John had seen this, they said: Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? [55] And turning, he rebuked them, saying: You know not of what spirit you are. [56] The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save. And they went into another town. [57] And it came to pass, as they walked in the way, that a certain man said to him: I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. [58] Jesus said to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. [59] But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go, and to bury my father. [60] And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God. [61] And another said: I will follow thee, Lord; but let me first take my leave of them that are at my house. [62] Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 49.—And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting, out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followed not with us, i.e. because he was not Thy disciple. For he thought that only the Apostles, to whom that power was given, were permitted to do this. Cyril and S. Ambrose remark, “He thinks that he who does not render obedience, should not enjoy the benefit arising therefrom.” S. John asks the question, because from his love he was the more zealous for his Master’s honour.

Ver. 50.—And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. They were taught that no one was to be hindered from the exercise of such powers of doing good as he possessed, but rather to be encouraged to seek to increase them. Gloss. God rewards the strong, but does not reject the weak.  S. Ambrose. For, saith Theophylact, the grace of God operates even by means of the unworthy who are not disciples of Christ: like as men are made holy by priests who are not holy themselves. Hence Bede remarks, In the case of heretics, it is not their sacraments which they hold in common with us, but their divisions, so contrary to the truth and peace, which we ought to detest and strive to amend. See S. Mark ix. 37.

Ver. 51.—And it came to pass when the time was come (i.e. was drawing nigh) that He should be received up. The time when, after having fulfilled His earthly ministry, He was to return again to the Father. The day foreordained of God when He was to be taken up into heaven. Euthymius. Up to this time Christ had, for two years and a half, been preaching the Gospel everywhere, but chiefly in the towns and villages of Galilee. There yet remained to Him six months of life. He therefore now set forth to preach more particularly to the inhabitants of the holy city and Judæa, in order to prepare for His passion in Jerusalem and resurrection from the dead. S. Luke therefore implies that hitherto he had written of those things which Christ had done in Galilee, but was henceforward about to tell of what was done in Judæa.

He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. With a firm and undismayed mind. Bede. Christ turned not aside, as timid and hesitating people are wont to do, but went direct to Jerusalem, eager for the dread encounter. Titus, Theophylact, and others. “For,” says Jerome, “He who of His own will was hastening to His passion, needed both fortitude and firmness.”

Thus it behoves us also to nerve our hearts, after the example of the martyrs, to endure hardship, like the lions described by Pliny, who tells us that, “when a lioness fights for her young, she keeps her eyes fixed on the ground, that she may not be terrified by the sight of the hunters.”

S. Mark adds, x. 32, “and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed;” because they saw Him cheerfully and with a good courage going up to suffer and to die, and “as they followed, they were afraid” lest they might be called upon to die with Him.

It seems clear, as I have said in my chronological table, that this journey of Christ from Galilee to Judæa, is the same as that mentioned by S. Matt. xix. i; by S. Mark x. 32; and S. Jolin vii. 2 and 14.
From the latter Evangelist it is apparent that the journey was undertaken at the time of the feast of tabernacles, which falls in the September of our year, and since Christ suffered in the following March, it follows that the events here recorded happened about six months before the crucifixion. It is also evident, from what is recorded by S. Luke in the subsequent chapters, that during this period Christ often went to Jerusalem, and returned thence through Judæa, preaching and working miracles, as He had before done in Galilee; but we must bear in mind that S. Luke at times interrupts his narrative to recapitulate certain things which had happened before our Lord had come to Judæa. Jansenius, Francis Lucas, and others.

On the other hand, Maldonatus places this journey a year before the death of our Lord, and is of opinion that Christ returned again to Galilee, and only went up to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. But this explanation does not agree with the words of the fifty-first verse, “when the time was come that He should be received up”—words which would not have been written if the time had been a year distant.

Ver. 52.—And sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him, to prepare food and lodging for Him and His companions, the twelve Apostles and the holy women who had followed Him out of Galilee. See chap. viii. 2, xxiii. 49.
Christ sent them in order that they might become accustomed to act independently of Him, and to be despised of men. Theophylact, Euthymius, and Maldonatus are of opinion that these messengers were James and John. Maldonatus also thinks that by the Greek κώμην, we are to understand city, possibly Samaria itself; but other commentators agree that the disciples were sent to some small town or village of the Samaritans which lay on the road to Jerusalem.

Ver. 53.—And they (the Samaritans) did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. Because He appeared to be going up to Jerusalem (Syriac), for it was plain, from the bearing of Jesus and His messengers, that they were on their way to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, S. John vii. 2. The Samaritans, contrary to the Law, had erected a temple on Mount Gerizim for the worship of God, and therefore there was on this account a constant enmity between the Jews and them. S. John iv, 20, and Josephus. Hence they rejected Jesus, as despising their form of worship and favouring that of their enemies, the Jews.

“His face was as though,” a Hebraism for םיככּ, i.e. πζόσωπον, or face, is often used for the person himself.

Ver. 54.—And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? They show themselves to be indeed Boanerges, or sons of thunder, for with excess of zeal they would destroy these Samaritans, because of their inhospitality and refusal to receive Christ. They remembered how Elijah had destroyed those who had been sent by Ahaziah to apprehend him (2 Kings i. 10), and they knew that Jesus was mightier than that prophet; and if fire was sent from heaven to protect Elijah from harm, and to consume the Jews, who had come to take him, how much more deserving of punishment were these Samaritans, who had refused to receive the Son of God.

Wilt Thou that we command? For as S. Jerorne goes on to say (Epist. 151), “The command of the Apostles can effect nothing, unless by the permission and will of God.” They therefore seek from Christ, as from a judge, justice, and the punishment of the wicked, according to their deserts.

Ver. 55.—But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. By spirit we must understand “disposition of mind,” whether for virtue or vice. Ye know not what spirit worketh in you. Ye think ye are led by the spirit of God, when ye are prompted by impatience and the spirit of vengeance. Ye know not to what spirit ye are called. Ye know not that ye should be meek and lowly, as I your Lord and Master am. Ye would imitate the zeal of Elijah, and demand “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Exod. xxi. 24. But this is not my spirit, nor is it the teaching of the new and Gospel Law, for I say unto you “Love your enemies, and do good unto those that hate you.”  S. Matt. v. 44. Have ye not heard and learned this from Me, or are ye so soon forgetful of my doctrine and teaching? He who had come, not for judgment but to show mercy, not in power but in humility, not in the glory of His Father but in lowly fashion as a man, rebuked them because they were forgetful both of His teaching and of the merciful precepts of His Gospel.  S. Jerome.

Ver. 56.—For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. Act, therefore, saith Bede, according, to the spirit ye are of. Following the example of Christ, bear patiently as becometh saints. Titus.

And they went to another village, where they might meet with a better reception. By this He teaches His Apostles that hereafter, when they went throughout the world to preach the Gospel, if they were cast out of one city, they were patiently to go on to another. Hence He allowed Himself to be rejected by the Samaritans, that by His rebuke of James and John, He might teach the Apostles a life-long lesson. For, as saith S. Ambrose, mercy promoteth in thee patience, in the offender correction. Thus we find that these Samaritans who were spared punishment the sooner became believers. S. John iv.; Acts viii.
Perfect virtue desireth not vengeance, nor can anger exist where love aboundeth. The infirmities of our fellow men are to be borne with and remedied, not to be rejected as incapable of cure. Titus.
Ver. 61.—And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. This verse has been variously explained.

1. Suffer me to give notice to my parents and to consult with them; for he was doubtful what he should do. But Christ would not grant his request, because parents very often do not approve of the higher life, and sometimes dissuade their children from adopting it. Titus.

2. Suffer me to tell my parents of my intention, that knowing what is become of me, they may neither be anxious about me, nor come to seek me. S. Augustin (serm. vii. De verbis Domini) and, Toletus.

3. S. Basil (Constit. cap. xxi.) thinks that the man, like the one who preceded him, was a disciple, and that he only sought permission to say farewell to his friends, as about to return to them no more. The Syriac favours this interpretation, and translates, “Let me go to salute, i.e. to bid farewell to my family at home, and I will come again.”

4. The best rendering is that of the Vulgate, which for “them” substitutes “those things.” Let me go bid “those things” farewell. Give me time to dispose of my property at home, and divide it amongst my brethren and kinsmen; for this is the trite meaning of the Greek word ὰποτάξασθαι. Hence the Arabic has, “Suffer me to make division amongst my friends at home.” So also S. Augustin, Maldonatus, and others.

Ver. 62.—And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God, or, to carry on the metaphor, is fit to work in the vineyard of God. For as the ploughman who seeks to make his furrows straight ought to look forward and never back, so he who has determined to consecrate himself to God’s service, is unworthy to be Christ’s disciple and to be an heir of the heavenly kingdom, if he still has regard for the perishable possessions of this world which he has renounced and given up; and so Euthymius says, “He who follows Christ ought forthwith to give up all things, lest by averting his eyes from his leader and guide, he might again be entangled by the sight of those things which he has left.” So also Titus, Jansenius, Toletus, and others.

Christ in this very remarkable verse points out the way of perfection, and endeavours to withdraw the man from his own anxiety for his friends and possessions, in order that he might give himself up wholly to God. Especially as there was danger lest, delayed in the disposal of his property, or impressed with the value of his possessions, he might change his purpose, and like many others, lose the hope of his calling. And again, there was no need of his presence, for his brethren and kinsfolk could divide his property without him.

Thus James and John, when they were called, left their father and their nets, and straightway followed Christ, S. Matt. iv. 20. But on the other hand Elisha (1 Kings xix. 20) was permitted to bid farewell to his father and mother, apparently because there was in his case little danger of his being forgetful of his call. Hence S. Basil saith (serm. 1 De Baptism): He looks back who delays, however briefly, that obedience which is to be rendered at once and promptly to the call of God.

Hence of the cherubim we read (Ezek. i. 12), “They went every one straight forward: they turned not when they went.” Whereon S. Gregory says the winged creatures, i.e. holy preachers, turn not as they go, because they are passing through earthly things to heavenly; and therefore no more return to these things which they have left behind. For to seek in heart and mind after better things is, as it were, to advance or go along a certain road. Hence S, Paul, Phil. iii. 13, 14: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” And to the bride it is said, “Forget thine own people and thy father’s house,” Ps. xlv. 10.

Hence also S. Augustine (serm. 7 De verbis Domini) says, “The east calleth thee, and thou turnest to the west.”

Figuratively, says Bede, he putteth his hand to the plough, who by the Cross of Christ, as if by an instrument of remorse, wears away the hardness of his heart, and opens it to bear the fruit of good works. But he must not look back like Lot’s wife to the things which he has left, and if the follower of the Lord, who wishes to bid farewell to them which are at home, is worthy of reproach, what will become of them, who for no sufficient reason visit the houses of those whom they have left in the world? For the frequent looking back on the things which we have forsaken, by force of habit draws us again to our past way of life. For practice, by which habits are formed, is very powerful; and habits become a second nature, which it is difficult to do away with or change. For it rapidly returns to itself...

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