St Luke 22:24-38

St Luke 22: 

24 Facta est autem et contentio inter eos, quis eorum videretur esse major. 25 Dixit autem eis: Reges gentium dominantur eorum: et qui potestatem habent super eos, benefici vocantur. 26 Vos autem non sic: sed qui major est in vobis, fiat sicut minor: et qui præcessor est, sicut ministrator. 27 Nam quis major est, qui recumbit, an qui ministrat? nonne qui recumbit? Ego autem in medio vestrum sum, sicut qui ministrat:28 vos autem estis, qui permansistis mecum in tentationibus meis. 29 Et ego dispono vobis sicut disposuit mihi Pater meus regnum, 30 ut edatis et bibatis super mensam meam in regno meo, et sedeatis super thronos judicantes duodecim tribus Israël. 31 Ait autem Dominus: Simon, Simon, ecce Satanas expetivit vos ut cribraret sicut triticum: 32 ego autem rogavi pro te ut non deficiat fides tua: et tu aliquando conversus, confirma fratres tuos. 33 Qui dixit ei: Domine, tecum paratus sum et in carcerem et in mortem ire. 34 At ille dixit: Dico tibi, Petre, non cantabit hodie gallus, donec ter abneges nosse me. Et dixit eis: 35 Quando misi vos sine sacculo, et pera, et calceamentis, numquid aliquid defuit vobis? 36 At illi dixerunt: Nihil. Dixit ergo eis: Sed nunc qui habet sacculum, tollat; similiter et peram: et qui non habet, vendat tunicam suam et emat gladium. 37 Dico enim vobis, quoniam adhuc hoc quod scriptum est, oportet impleri in me: Et cum iniquis deputatus est. Etenim ea quæ sunt de me finem habent. 38 At illi dixerunt: Domine, ecce duo gladii hic. At ille dixit eis: Satis est.

[24] And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. [25] And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent.[26] But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. [27] For which is greater, he that sitteth at table, or he that serveth? Is it not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth: [28] And you are they who have continued with me in my temptations: [29] And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom; [30] That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[31] And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: [32] But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. [33] Who said to him: Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. [34] And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest me. And he said to them: [35] When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything?
[36] But they said: Nothing. Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. [37] For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end. [38] But they said: Lord, behold here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 25.—And they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. Benefactor is a title of honour and praise which is bestowed upon princes because they are, or ought to be, good. The proper epithet of kings in former time was “good.” Virgil uses it of Acestes (Æn i. 195). Martial applies it to Trajan and Domitian, and Horace to Romulus. Homer thought nothing requisite in a king, but to be brave against the enemy, and good to the citizens. Paul calls Felix “Most Excellent.” Acts xxiv. 3.

Ver. 26.—But ye shall not be so. The Arabic has “Let the greater of you be as the least”—that is, let him among you who wishes to be the greatest, become the least. In this way he shall be the greatest.
Morally, let us learn this parable of Christ, incredible to the world, but in itself most true, and by experience most certain, namely, that the way to exaltation is abasement of self. Do we wish to become greater? Let us become less. God has sanctioned and fixed this way by His eternal law, and therefore Christ was the first-fruits to enter upon it, that we, by the same law, might follow Him, as in Phil. ii. 8, 9, 10, 11.

Hence S. Francis, a great follower and imitator of Christ, humbled himself to the lowest of all lowness, and wished to be the poorest and vilest of all men; and to a certain saint, a most lofty and splendid seat in heaven was shown, and when he asked whose it was, the answer was given, “It was the seat of one of the great ones among the fallen angels, but it is now reserved for the holy Francis.” S. Bonav., chap. vi., Life of St. Francis. The same S. Francis wished his followers to be called “Minores,” lest they should presume to become majores. His scribe, S. Francis de Paula, ordered the brethren of his order, to be called not Minores but Minimi. Hence the blessed Magdelena de Pazzi, who has been lately enrolled among the blessed by our holy father, Urban VIII., received the following order from God, “Be of the order of Minimæ, and the least of them, that thou mayest strive as zealously to be the least as men of this world do to be the greatest.” S. Elizabeth, wife of the Landgrave of Hesse, and the daughter of the king, of Hungary, personally, against the remonstrances of her friends, tended the sick and outcast, and said that if there were any position more humble still she would gladly fill it, the more closely to follow Christ, who from the first humbled Himself to be the lowest of men, as Isaiah describes, ch. liii.; for in this consists the crown of virtue and perfection. The like did Hedwig, Duchess of Polonia, and her granddaughter, S. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal. So S. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, sold himself for a slave, for the good of a son of a widow, that he might imitate Christ, and make himself one of the most humble of men. Peter Telonarius did the same, as is related in the Life of S. John Eleemosynarius. This is what the wise man teaches, Ecclus. iii. 20. See what I have commented thereon.

Ver. 29.—And I appoint unto you a kingdom. As My Father has decreed and prepared for Me, through humility and the cross: through so many labours and sufferings: a kingdom heavenly and eternal, so do I also appoint the same unto you: that is, I decree, prepare, and, going to death I now appoint, as by my will, that through the same humility, cross, and suffering, you shall possess a like, nay, the same kingdom with Me in heaven; dispute not then who among you shall be greatest, but who shall be less, that each may study to surpass the other in low estate and humility, for whoever does this, shall be first and greatest in my kingdom.

Ver. 30.—That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. As kings gave to their most intimate nobles a place at their own table, and made them companions of their banquets, but assigned to other and less famous nobles another table, so will I make you, My Apostles, the chief and foremost of My kingdom, and place you most nearly to Myself, and, as it were, at My table, and I will have you as the most intimate guests of My royal feasts. “In like manner,” say Euthymius, Titus, and Theophylact, “He shows that the Apostles, as the first and most illustrious of His followers, should enjoy the highest honours with their immortal king. It is by catachresis that the pleasures and honours of the kingdom of heaven are often compared in Holy Scripture to banquets, and feasts of meat and drink, and to the first seats at table with kings; because carnal men understand these things best, but are unable to estimate spiritual ones, and because, as meat and drink are incorporated into ourselves and made our own, so, in heaven by the beautiful vision and His other glorious gifts, God will be incorporated into us, as it were, and will be made our own.”

Ver. 31.—And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have You. Sift—that is vex, afflict, agitate, cast you down as wheat in a sieve that it may be cleared of chaff and dust. Satan in the same manner asked God to permit him to sift and afflict Job, and in some degree he obtained his end. He did the same again to Peter and the other Apostles, and again, in part succeeded, when he stirred up the Jews to seize Christ, for then the Apostles themselves fled in fear and were dispersed. The temptation is well compared to sifting and a sieve, because, as by means of the sieve the grains of wheat are separated from the chaff, and remain in the sieve, while the chaff is scattered to the wind, and dispersed in air, so the faithful and the saints in temptation remain constant, but the wicked fail and fly off.

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. For thee, because I destine thee to be the head and chief of the Apostles and of My Church, that thy faith fail not in believing Me to be the Christ and the Saviour of the world. Observe that Christ in this prayer asked and obtained for Peter two especial privileges before the other Apostles: the first was personal, that he should never fall from faith in Christ; for Christ looked back to the sifting in the former verse, that is the temptation of His own apprehension when the other Apostles flew off from Him like chaff and lost their faith, and were dispersed, and fled into all parts. But Peter, although he denied Christ with his lips, at the hour foretold, and lost his love for Him, yet retained his faith. So S. Chrysostom (Hom. xxxviii.) on S. Matthew; S. Augustine (de corrept. et Grat. chap. viii.); Theophylact and others. This is possible but not certain, for F. Lucas and others think that Peter then lost both his faith and his love, from excessive perturbation and fear; but only for a short time, and so that his faith afterwards sprang up anew, and was restored with fresh vitality. Hence it is thought not to have wholly failed, or to have been torn up by the roots, but rather to have been shaken and dead for a time.

Another and a certain privilege was common to Peter with all his successors, that he and all the other bishops of Rome (for Peter, as Christ willed, founded and confirmed the Pontifical Church at Rome), should never openly fall from this faith, so as to teach the Church heresy, or any error, contrary to the faith. So S. Leo (serm. xxii.), on Natalis of SS. Peter and Paul; S. Cyprian (Lib. i. ep 3), to Cornelius; Lucius I., Felix I., Agatho, Nicolas I., Leo IX., Innocent III., Bernard and others, whom Bellarmine cites and follows (Lib. i. de Pontif. Roman).

For it was necessary that Christ, by His most wise providence, should provide for His Church, which is ever being sifted and tempted by the devil, and that not only in the time of Peter, but at all times henceforth, even to the end of the world, an oracle of the true faith which she might consult in every doubt and by which she might be taught and confirmed in the faith, otherwise the Church might err in faith, quod absit! For she is as S. Paul said to Timothy, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. iii 15). This oracle of the Church then is Peter, and all successive bishops of Rome. This promise made to Peter, and his successors, most especially applies to the time when Peter, as the successor of Christ, began to be the head of the Church, that is, after the death of Christ.

And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. “From the sifting of Satan, that is from his temptation and from the sin by which thou wilt deny Me; for by this thou wilt be turned aside from Me, and My grace and love.” So Euthymius, Theophylact, Jansen, F. Lucas, and others.
Some take this converted (conversus) as meaning “again” (iterum). So Bede, “Do thou, 0 Peter, again confirm the Apostles thy brethren, in the faith after My death, whom I now, while alive, strengthen by My words.” For the Hebrew often uses the verb for the adverb. So Ps. lxxxv. 6.

Strengthen thy brethren. Thy brethren, and therefore Mine. The condescension of Christ here is wonderful. He does not call the Apostles sons although He spiritually begot them to God, but brothers: as well because Christ as man, was the brother of all men, being a sharer of the same human nature, as because the Apostles in their apostleship and preaching of the Gospel, were the brothers and colleagues of Christ; for they did the same work as He. Hence the Fathers, whom I have cited, and the Doctors of the Church conclude that Peter was set over the other Apostles by Christ, and consequently was made the head and chief over the whole Church, that he might build up, perfect, and confirm the Church in the faith and religion of Christ.

Ver. 36.—But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip. A purse filled with money, a scrip with food, that they might have support in the impending persecution; for they will never find either, “because men will fly from Me, who am bound and accused, and consequently from My disciples as men wicked and condemned.”

And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Christ, in these words, did not command them to take a purse and a scrip, and to sell their garment and buy a sword, for He soon after forbade Peter to draw his sword; but they were a warning of the fierce persecution which was about to fall upon Himself and the apostles, and which was so heavy to those that regarded the difficulty of the case with the eyes of mere human wisdom, that food and weapons would appear things absolutely necessary for the preservation of life. The meaning therefore is this, “Everything, so far, has happened to you, 0 my Apostles, well and prosperously; for when I sent you to preach the Gospel without purse, or scrip, or sword, you were kindly received by most, fed, and sheltered, and had no need of these things. But now so grievous a persecution is impending over you, and so great is the danger to your lives, that in human prudence it may seem necessary to each to think of the preservation of his life, and therefore to take a scrip and purse for provision, and a weapon for defence, and to sell his cloak, and buy a sword. But to Me, who weigh circumstances by the design and decree of God the Father, there is no need of such things; for I go voluntarily to the cross, and to death, and I offer Myself of My own free will, to those who will persecute Me and crucify Me, so that I may conform Myself to the will of My Father.” So S. Chrysostom (Hom. 85 on S. Matt.), and from him Theophylact on this passage, Jansen, Maldonatus, and others. S. Ambrose says well, “0 Lord, why commandest Thou me to buy a sword, and forbiddest me to strike, unless that I may be prepared for my defence, and that Thou mayest appear able to avenge though Thou wouldst not?”

Ver. 38.—And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. They did not understand the mind and words of Christ clearly. He did not mean that they should buy swords, but He wished to show them the impending danger. Christ did not explain His meaning to the Apostles, but concealed it, saying, “It is enough,” meaning that Peter and the other Apostles might carry these swords, and even cut off Malchus’ ear, which He Himself afterwards restored and healed, showing that He was not compelled by force, but was urged by love, willingly and freely to suffer and die. Some think that they were not military swords, but rather large butchers’ knives, which the apostles used for the slaughtering, sacrificing, and disjointing of the Paschal Lamb. So S. Chrysostom, from whom I have said more on Matt. xxvii.

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