The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:46-50)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2010

Ver 46. Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.47. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,48. And said to them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receives me: and whosoever shall receive me receives him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.49. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name; and we forbade him, because he follows not with us.50. And Jesus said to him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

CYRIL; The devil lays plots of various kinds for them that love the best way of life. And if indeed by carnal allurements he can gain possession of a man’s heart, He sharpens his love of pleasure; but if a man has escaped these snares, he excites in him a desire of glory, and this passion for vain-glory had seized some one of His apostles. Hence it is said, Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest. For to have such thoughts, belongs to him who desires to be superior to the rest; but I think it improbable that all the disciples gave way to this weakness; and therefore suppose that the Evangelist, not to seem to lay the charge to any individual, expresses himself indefinitely, seeing, that there arose a reasoning among them.

THEOPHYL. Now it seems that this feeling was excited by the circumstance of their not being able to cure the demoniac. And while they were disputing thereupon, one said, It was not owing to my weakness, but another’s, that he could not be cured; and so thereby was kindled a strife among them, which was the greatest.

THEOPHYL; Or, because they saw Peter, James, and John, taken apart to the mount, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven promised to Peter, they were angry that these three, or Peter, should have precedence over all; or because in the payment of the tribute they saw Peter made equal to the Lord, they supposed he was to be placed before the rest. But the attentive reader will find that the question was raised among them before the payment of the penny. For in truth Matthew relates that this took place at Capernaum; but Mark says, And he came to Capernaum, and being; the house, he asked them, What was it that you disputed among yourselves in the way? But they held their peace, for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest.

CYRIL; But our Lord, Who knew how to save, seeing in the hearts of the disciples the thought that had risen up thereupon as it were a certain root of bitterness, plucks it up by the roots before it received growth. For when passions first begin in us, they are easily subdued; but having gained strength, they are with difficulty eradicated. Hence it follows, And Jesus perceiving the thought of their heart &c. Let him who thinks Jesus to be mere man, know that he has erred, for the Word, although made flesh, remained God. For it is God alone Who is able to search into the heart and reins. But in taking a child, and placing it beside Him, He did it for the Apostles’ sake and ours.

For the disease of vain-glory feeds generally on those who have the preeminence among other men. But a child has a pure mind and unspotted heart, and abides in simplicity of thought; he courts not honors, nor knows the limits each one’s power, nor shuns seeming to be inferior to others, bearing no moroseness in his mind or heart. Such the Lord embraces and loves, and thinks them worthy to be near Him, as those who had chosen to taste of the things which are His; for He says, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. Hence it follows, And he says to them, Whosoever shall receive a child in my name, receives me. As if He were to say, Seeing that there is one and the same reward to those that honor the saints, whether perchance such an one be the least, or one distinguished for honors and glory, for in him is Christ received, how vain is it to see to have the preeminence;

THEOPHYL; Now herein He either teaches, that the poor of Christ are to be received by those who wish to be greater simply for His honor, or He persuades men that they are children in malice. Hence when He said, Whoever shall receive that child, he adds, in my name; that in truth they may pursue with diligence and reason for Christ’s name that form of virtue which the child observes, with only nature for its guide. But because He also teaches that He is received in the child, and He Himself was born to us a child; lest it should be thought that this was all which was seen, He subjoined, And whoever shall receive me, receives him that sent me; wishing verily to be believed, that as was the Father, such and so great was He.

AMBROSE; For he who receives the followers of Christ, receives Christ; and he who receives the image of God, receives God; but because we cannot see the image of God, it has been made present to us by the incarnation of the Word, that the divine nature which is above us, may be reconciled to us.

CYRIL; Now He still more plainly conveys the meaning of the preceding words, saying, For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great; in which He speaks of the modest man who from honesty thinks nothing high of himself.

THEOPHYL. Because then our Lord had said, He who is least among you all, the same shall be great, John feared, lest perhaps they had done wrong in hindering a certain man by their own power. For a prohibition does not show the probitor to be inferior, but to be one who thinks himself somewhat superior. Hence it is added, And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, and we forbade him. Not indeed from envy, but to distinguish the working of miracles, for he had not received the power of working miracles with them, nor had the Lord sent him as He did them; nor did he follow Jesus in all things. Hence he adds, because he follows not with us.

AMBROSE; For John loving much, and therefore much beloved, thinks that they should be excluded from the privilege who did not practice obedience.

CYRIL; But we ought to consider not so much the worker of the miracles, as the grace which was in him, who, by the power of Christ, performed miracles. But what if there should be both those which be numbered together with the Apostles, and those who are crowned with the grace of Christ; there are many diversities in Christ’s gifts. But because the Savior had given the Apostles power to cast out evil spirits, they thought no one else but themselves alone was permitted to have this privilege granted to him, and therefore they come to inquire if it were lawful for others also to do this.

AMBROSE; Now John is not blamed, because he did this from love, but he is taught to know the difference between the strong and the weak. And therefore our Lord though He rewards the stronger, yet does not exclude the weak; as it follows, And Jesus said to him, Forbid him not, for he that is not against you is for you. True, O Lord. For both Joseph and Nicodemus, through fear Your secret disciples, when the time came, did not refuse their offices. But still since you said elsewhere, He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathers not with me scatters, explain to us lest the two seem contrary to one another. And it seems to me, if any one considers the Searcher of hearts, he cannot doubt that every man’s action is distinguished by the motive of his heart.

CHRYS. For in the other place when He said, He that is not with me is against me, He shows the Devil and the Jews to be opposed to Him; but here He shows that he who in Christ’s name cast out devils, is partly on their side.

CYRIL; As if He said, On the side of you who love Christ, are all they who wish to follow those things which conduce to His glory, being crowned with His grace.

THEOPHYL. Marvel then at the power of Christ, how His grace works by means of the unworthy and those who are not His disciples: as also men are sanctified through the priests, although the priests be not holy.

AMBROSE; Now why does He in this place say that they are not to be hindered, who by the imposition of hands can subdue the unclean spirits, when according to Matthew, He says to these, I never knew you? But we ought to perceive that there is no difference of opinion, but that the decision is this, that not only the official works but works of virtue are required in a priest, and that the name of Christ is so great, that even to the unholy it serves to give defense, but not grace. Let no one then claim to himself the grace of cleansing a man, because in him the power of the eternal Name has worked. For not by your merits, but by his own hatred, the devil is conquered.

THEOPHYL; Therefore in heretics and false Catholics, it becomes us to abhor, and forbid not the common sacraments in which they are with us, and not against us, but the divisions contrary to peace and truth, wherein they are against us as following not the Lord.

4 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:46-50)”

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