St Luke 20: 19-26

19 Et quærebant principes sacerdotum et scribæ mittere in illum manus illa hora, et timuerunt populum: cognoverunt enim quod ad ipsos dixerit similitudinem hanc. 20 Et observantes miserunt insidiatores, qui se justos simularent, ut caperent eum in sermone, ut traderent illum principatui, et potestati præsidis. 21 Et interrogaverunt eum, dicentes: Magister, scimus quia recte dicis et doces: et non accipis personam, sed viam Dei in veritate doces. 22 Licet nobis tributum dare Cæsari, an non? 23 Considerans autem dolum illorum, dixit ad eos: Quid me tentatis? 24 ostendite mihi denarium. Cujus habet imaginem et inscriptionem? Respondentes dixerunt ei: Cæsaris. 25 Et ait illis: Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris, Cæsari: et quæ sunt Dei, Deo. 26 Et non potuerunt verbum ejus reprehendere coram plebe: et mirati in responso ejus, tacuerunt.

 [19] And the chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him the same hour: but they feared the people, for they knew that he spoke this parable to them. [20] And being upon the watch, they sent spies, who should feign themselves just, that they might take hold of him in his words, that they might deliver him up to the authority and power of the governor.[21] And they asked him, saying: Master, we know that thou speakest and teachest rightly: and thou dost not respect any person, but teachest the way of God in truth. [22] Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or no? [23] But he considering their guile, said to them: Why tempt you me? [24] shew me a penny. Whose image and inscription hath it? They answering, said to him, Caesar' s. [25] And he said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar' s: and to God the things that are God' s.[26] And they could not reprehend his word before the people: and wondering at his answer, they held their peace.

Commentary (Catena Aurea)

CYRIL; It became indeed the rulers of the Jews, perceiving that the parable was spoken of them, to depart from evil, having been thus as it were warned concerning the future. But little mindful of this, they rather gather a fresh occasion for their crimes. The commandment of the Law restrained them not, which says, The innocent and righteous men you shall not slay, but the fear of the people checked their wicked purpose. For they set the fear of man before the reverence of God. The reason of this purpose is given, for they perceived that he spoke this parable against them. 

BEDE; And so by seeking to slay Him, they proved the truth of what He had said in the parable. For He Himself is the Heir, whose unjust death He said was to be punished They are the wicked husbandmen who sought to kill the Son of God. This also is daily committed in the Church when any one, only in name a brother, is ashamed or afraid, because of the many good men with whom he lives, to break into that unity of the Church's faith and peace which he abhors. And because the chief priests sought to lay hold of our Lord but could not by themselves, they tried to accomplish it by the hands of the governor; as it follows, And they watched him, &c. 

CYRIL; For they seemed to be trifling, yet were in earnest, forgetful of God, who says, Who is this that hides his counsel from me? For they come to Christ the Savior of all, as though He were a common man, as it follows, that they might take him in his speech.

THEOPHYL. They laid snares for our Lord, but got their own feet entangled in them. Listen to their cunning, And they asked Him, saying, Master, we know that you say and teach rightly. 

BEDE; This smooth and artful question was to entice the answerer to say that he fears God rather than Caesar, for it follows, Neither accept you the person of any, but teach the way of God truly. This they say, to entice Him to tell them that they ought not to pay tribute, in order that the servants of the guard, (who according to the other Evangelists are said to have been present,) might immediately upon bearing it seize Him as the leader of a sedition against the Romans. 

And so they proceed to ask, Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? For there was a great division among the people, some saying that for the sake of security and quiet, seeing that the Romans fought for all, they ought to pay tribute; while the Pharisees, on the contrary, declared, that the people of God who gave tithes and first fruits, ought not to be subject to the law of man. 

THEOPHYL. Therefore it was intended, in case He said they ought to give tribute to Caesar, that He should be accused by the people, as placing the nation under the yoke of slavery, but if He forbade them to pay the tax, that they should denounce Him as a stirrer up of divisions to the governor. 

But He escapes their snares, as it follows, Perceiving their craftiness, he said to them, Why tempt you me? Show me a penny. Whose image and superscription has it? 

AMBROSE; Our Lord here teaches us, how cautious we ought to be in our answers to heretics or Jews; as He has said elsewhere, Be you wise as serpents.

BEDE; Let those who impute the question of our Savior to ignorance, learn from this place that Jesus was well able to know whose image was on the money; but He asks the question, that He might give a fitting answer to their words; for it follows, They answered and said, Caesar's. We must not suppose Augustus is thereby meant, but Tiberius, for all the Roman kings were called Caesar, from the first Caius Caesar. But from their answer our Lord easily solves the question, for it follows, And he said to them, Render to Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and to God the things which be God's. 

TITUS; As if He said, With your words you tempt me, obey me in works. You have indeed Caesar's image, you have undertaken his offices, to him therefore give tribute, to God fear. For God requires not money, but faith. 

BEDE; Render also to God the things which be God's, that is to say, tithes, first fruits, offerings, and sacrifices. 

THEOPHYL. And observe that He said not, give, but return. For it is a debt. Your prince protects you from enemies, renders your life tranquil. Surely then you are bound to pay him tribute. Nay, this very piece of money which you bring you have from him. Return then to the king the king's money. God also has given you understanding and reason, make then a return of these to Him, that you may not be compared to the beasts, but in all things may walk wisely. 

AMBROSE; Be unwilling then, if you would not offend Caesar, to possess worldly goods. And you rightly teach, first to render the things which be Caesar's. For no one can be the Lord's unless he has first renounced the world. Oh most galling chain! To promise to God, and pay not. Far greater is the contract of faith than that of money.

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