Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 17:11-19 for Sunday Mass August 22 (Extraordinary Form)
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 18, 2010
11. And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God,
16. And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Ambrose. After speaking the foregoing parable, our Lord censures the ungrateful. Tit. Bost. Saying, And it came to pass, shewing that the Samaritans were indeed well disposed towards the mercies above mentioned, but the Jews not so. For there was enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans, and He to allay this, passed into the midst of both nations, that He might cement both into one new man.
Cyril. The Saviour next manifests His glory by drawing over Israel to the faith. As it follows, And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, men who were banished from the towns and cities, and counted unclean, according to the rites of the Mosaic law.
Tit. Bost. They associated together from the sympathy they felt as partakers of the same calamity, and were waiting till Jesus passed, anxiously looking out to see Him approach. As it is said, Which stood afar off, for the Jewish law esteems leprosy unclean, whereas the law of the Gospel calls unclean not the outward, but the inward leprosy.
Theophyl. They therefore stand afar off as if ashamed of the uncleanness which was imputed to them, thinking that Christ would loathe them as others did. Thus they stood afar off, but were made nigh unto Him by their prayers. For the Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him in truth (Ps. 145,18). Therefore it follows, And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us.
Tit. Bost. They pronounce the name of Jesus, and gain to themselves the reality. For Jesus is by interpretation Saviour. They say, Have mercy upon us, because they were sensible of His power, and sought neither for gold and silver, but that their bodies might put on again a healthful appearance. Theophyl. They do not merely supplicate or entreat Him as if He were a man, but they call Him Master or Lord, as if almost they looked upon Him as God. But He bids them shew themselves to the priests, as it follows, And when He saw them, He said, Go, shew yourselves unto the priests. For they were examined whether they were cleansed from their leprosy or not.
Cyril. The law also ordered, that those who were cleansed from leprosy should offer sacrifice for the sake of their purification. Theophyl. Therefore in bidding them go to the priests, He meant nothing more than that they were just about to be healed; and so it follows, And it came to pass that as they went they were healed. Cyril. Whereby the Jewish priests who were jealous of His glory might know that it was by Christ granting them health that they were suddenly and miraculously healed.
Theophyl. But out of the ten, the nine Israelites were ungrateful, whereas the Samaritan stranger returned and lifted up his voice in thanksgiving, as it follows, And one of them turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. Tit. Bost. When he found that he was cleansed, he had boldness to draw near, as it follows, And fell down on his face at His feet giving Him thanks. Thus by his prostration and prayers shewing at once both his faith and his gratitude.
It follows, And he was a Samaritan. Theophyl. We may gather from this that a man is not one whit hindered from pleasing God because he comes from a cursed race, only let him bear in his heart an honest purpose. Further, let not him that is born of saints boast himself, for the nine who were Israelites were ungrateful ; and hence it follows, And Jesus answering him said, Were there not ten cleansed? Tit. Bost. Wherein it is shewn, that strangers were more ready to receive the faith, but Israel was slow to believe; and so it follows, And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole.
Aug. The lepers may be taken mystically for those who, having no knowledge of the true faith, profess various erroneous doctrines. For they do not conceal their ignorance, but blazen it forth as the highest wisdom, making a vain show of it with boasting words. But since leprosy is a blemish in colour, when true things appear clumsily mixed up with false in a single discourse or narration, as in the colour of a single body, they represent a leprosy streaking and disfiguring as it were with true and false dyes the colour of the human form. Now these lepers must be so put away from the Church, that being as far removed as possible, they may with loud shouts call upon Christ. But by their calling Him Teacher, I think it is plainly implied that leprosy is truly the false doctrine which the good teacher may wash away. Now we find that of those upon whom our Lord bestowed bodily mercies, not one did He send to the priests, save the lepers, for the Jewish priesthood was a figure of that priesthood which is in the Church. All vices our Lord corrects and heals by His own power working inwardly in the conscience, but the teaching of infusion by means of the Sacrament, or of catechizing by word of mouth, was assigned to the Church. And as they went, they were cleansed; just as the Gentiles to whom Peter came, having not yet received the sacrament of Baptism, whereby we come spiritually to the priests, are declared cleansed by the infusion of the Holy Spirit. “Whoever then follows true and sound doctrine in the fellowship of the Church, proclaiming himself to be free from the confusion of lies, as it were a leprosy, yet still ungrateful to his Cleanser does not prostrate himself with pious humility of thanksgiving, is like to those of whom the Apostle says, that when they knew God they glorified Him not as God, nor were thankful (Rom 1:21). Such then will remain in the ninth number as imperfect. For the nine need one, that by a certain form of unity they may be cemented together, in order to become ten. But he who gave thanks was approved of as a type of the one only Church. And since these were Jews, they are declared to have lost through pride the kingdom of heaven, wherein most of all unity is preserved. But the man who was a Samaritan, which is by interpretation ” guardian,” giving back to Him who gave it that which he had received, according to the Psalm, My strength will preserve for thee (Ps 59:9), has kept the unity of the kingdom with humble devotion. Bede. He fell upon his face, because he blushes with shame when he remembers the evils he had committed. And he is commanded to rise and walk, because he who, knowing his own weakness, lies lowly on the ground, is led to advance by the consolation of the divine word to mighty deeds. But if faith made him whole, who hurried himself back to give thanks, therefore does unbelief destroy those who have neglected to give glory to God for mercies received. Wherefore that we ought to increase our faith by humility, as it is declared in the former parable, so in this iHs exemplified in the actions themselves.