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 Luke 11:37-46

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 12, 2010

Note: This post contains commentary on 11:37-46.

Ver 37. And as he spoke, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him, and he went in, and sat down to meat.38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.39. And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.40. You fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?41. But rather give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean to you.42. tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.43. Woe to you, Pharisees ! for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.44. Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

CYRIL; The Pharisee, while our Lord still continued on speaking, invites Him to his own house. As it is said And while he was speaking, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him.

BEDE; Luke expressly says, And he spoke these things, to show that He had not quite finished what He had purposed to say, but was somewhat interrupted by the Pharisee asking Him to dine.

AUG. For in order to relate this, Luke has made a variation from Matthew, at that place where both had mentioned what out Lord said concerning the sign of Jonah, and the queen of the south, and the unclean spirit; after which discourse Matthew says, While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without desiring to speak to him, but Luke having also in that discourse of our Lord related some of our Lord’s sayings which Matthew omitted, now departs from the order which he had hitherto kept with Matthew.BEDE; Accordingly, after that it was told Him that His mother and brethren stood without, and He said, For he that does the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother, we are given to understand that He by the request of the Pharisee went to the dinner.

CYRIL; For Christ, knowing the wickedness of those Pharisees, Himself purposely condescends to be occupied in admonishing them, after the manner of the best physicians, who bring remedies of their own making to those who are dangerously ill. Hence it follows, And he went in and sat down to meat. But what gave occasion for the words of Christ was, that the ignorant Pharisees were offended, that while men thought Him to be a great man and a prophet, He conformed not to their unreasonable customs. Therefore it is added, But the Pharisee began to think and say within himself, Why had he not first washed before dinner?

AUG. For every day before dinner the Pharisees washed themselves with water, as if a daily washing could be a cleansing of the heart. But the Pharisee thought within himself, yet did not give utterance to a word; nevertheless, He heard who perceived the secrets of the heart. Hence it follows, And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

CYRIL; Now our Lord might also have used other words to admonish the foolish Pharisee, but he seizes the opportunity and framed his reproof from the things that were ready before him. At the hour, namely, of meals He takes for His example the cup and the platter, pointing out that it became the sincere servants of God to be washed and clean, not only from bodily impurity, but also from that which lies concealed within the power of the soul, just as any of the vessels which are used for the table ought to be free from all inward defilement.

AMBROSE; Now mark that our bodies are signified by the mention of earthly and fragile things, which when let fall a short distance are broken to pieces, and those things which the mind meditates within, it easily expresses through the senses and actions of the body, just as those things which the cup contains within make a glitter without. Hence also hereafter, by the word cup doubtless the passion of the body is spoken of. You perceive then, that not the outside of the cup and platter defiles us, but the inner parts. For he said, But your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

AUG. But how was it that He spared not the man by whom He was as invited? Yes rather, He spared him by reproof, that when corrected He might spare him in the judgment. Further, He shows us that baptism also which is once given cleanses by faith; but faith is something within, not without. The Pharisees despised faith, and used washings which were without; while within they remained full of pollution. The Lord condemns this, saying, You fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

BEDE; As if He says, He who made both natures of man, will have each to be cleansed. This is against the Manicheans, who think the soul only was created by God, but the flesh by the devil. It is also against those who abominate the sins of the flesh, such as fornication, theft, and the like; while those of the Spirit, which are no less condemned by the Apostle, they disregard as trifling.

AMBROSE; Now our Lord as a good Master taught us how we ought to purify our bodies from defilement, saying, But rather give alms of such things as you have over: and behold, all things are clean to you. You see what the remedies are; almsgiving cleanses us, the word of God cleanses us according to that which is written, Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.

CYPRIAN; The Merciful bids us to show mercy; and because He seeks to save those whom He has redeemed at a great price, He teaches that they who have been defiled after the grace of baptism may again be made clean.

CHRYS. Now He says, give alms, not injury. For almsgiving is that which is free from all injury. It makes all things clean, and is more excellent than fasting; which though it be the more painful, the other is the more profitable. It enlightens the soul, enriches it, and makes it good and beautiful. He who resolves to have compassion on the needy, will sooner cease from sin. For as the physician who is in the habit of healing the diseased is easily grieved by the misfortunes of others; so we, if we have devoted ourselves to the relief of others, shall easily despise things present, and be raised up to heaven. The unction of almsgiving then is no slight good, since it is capable of being applied to every wound.

BEDE; He speaks of “what is over and above” our necessary food and clothing. For you are not commended to give alms so as to consume yourself by want, but that after satisfying your wants, you should supply the poor to the utmost of your power. Or it must be taken in this way. Do that which remains within your power, that is, which is the only remedy remaining to those who have been hitherto engaged in so much wickedness; give alms. Which word applies to every thing which is done with profitable compassion. For not he alone gives alms who gives food to the hungry and things of that kind, but he also who gives pardon to the sinner, and prays for him, and reproves him, visiting him with some correcting punishment.

THEOPHYL. Or He means, “That which is uppermost.” For wealth rules the covetous man’s heart.

AMBROSE; The whole then of this beautiful discourse is directed to this end, that while it invites us to the study of simplicity, it should condemn the luxury and worldliness of the Jews. And yet even they are promised the abolition of their sins if they will follow mercy.

AUG. But if they cannot be cleansed except they believe on Him who cleanses the heart by faith, what is this which He says, Give alms, and behold all things are clean to you? Let us give heed, and perhaps He Himself explains it to us. For the Jews withdrew a tenth part from all their produce, and gave it in alms, which rarely a Christian does. Therefore they mocked Him, for saying this to them as to men who did not give alms. God knowing this adds, But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God. This then is not giving alms. For to give alms is to show mercy. If you are wise, begin with yourself: for how are you merciful to another, if cruel to yourself? Hear the Scripture, which says to you, Have mercy on your own soul, and please God. Return to your conscience, you that live in evil or unbelief; and then you find your soul begging, or perhaps struck dumb with want. In judgment and love give alms to your soul. What is judgment? Do what is displeasing to yourself. What is charity? Love God, love your neighbor. If you neglect this alms, love as much you like, you do nothing, since you do it not to yourself.

CYRIL; Or He says it by way of censure upon the Pharisees, who ordered those precepts only to be strictly observed by their people, which were the cause of fruitful returns to themselves. Hence they omitted not even the smallest herbs, but despised the work of inspiring love to God, and the just awarding of judgment.

THEOPHYL. For because they despised God, treating sacred things with indifference, He commands them to have love to God; but by judgment He implies the love of our neighbor. For when a man judges his neighbor justly, it proceeds from his love to him.

AMBROSE; Or judgment, because they do not bring to examination every thing that they do; charity, because they love not God with their heart. But that He might not make us zealous of the faith, to the neglect of good works, He sums up the perfection of a good man in a few words, these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

CHRYS. Where indeed the subject treated was the Jewish cleansing, He altogether passed it by, but as the tithe is a kind of almsgiving, and the time was not yet come for absolutely destroying the customs of the law, therefore He says, these ought you to have done.

AMBROSE; He reproves also the arrogance of the boasting Jews in seeking the preeminence: for it follows, Woe to you, Pharisees, for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, &c.

CYRIL; By means of those things for which He blames us He makes us better. For He would have us be free from ambition, and not desire after vain show rather than the reality, which the Pharisees were then doing. For the greetings of men, and the rule over them, do not move us to be really useful, for these things fall to men though they be not good men. Therefore he adds, Woe to you, who are as graves which appear not. For in wishing to receive greetings from men and to exercise authority over them, that they might be accounted great, they differ not from hidden graves, which glitter indeed with outward ornaments, but within are full of all uncleanness.

AMBROSE; And like graves which appear not, they deceive by their outside beauty, and by their look impose upon the passers by; as it follows, And the men that walk over them are not aware of them; so much that in truth, though they give outward promise of what is beautiful, inwardly they enclose all manner of pollution.

CHRYS. But that the Pharisees were so, cannot be wondered at. But if we who are counted worthy to be the temples of God suddenly become graves full only of corruption, this is indeed the lowest wretchedness.

CYRIL; Now here the apostate Julian says, that we must avoid graves which Christ says are unclean; but he knew not the force of our Savior’s words, for He did not command us to depart from the graves, but likened to them the hypocritical people of the Pharisees.

Ver 45. Then answered one of the Lawyers, and said to him, Master, thus saying you reproach us also.46. And he said, Woe to you also, you Lawyers! for you lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and you yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

CYRIL; A reproof which exalts the meek is generally hateful to the proud man. When therefore our Savior was blaming the Pharisees for transgressing from the right path, the body of Lawyers were struck with consternation. Hence it is said, Then answered one of the lawyers, and said to him, Master, thus saying you reproach us also.

BEDE; In what a grievous state is that conscience, which hearing the word of God thinks it a reproach against itself, and in the account of the punishment of the wicked perceives its own condemnation.

THEOPHYL. Now the Lawyers were different from the Pharisees. For the Pharisees being separated from the rest had the appearance of a religious sect; but those skilled in the Law were the Scribes and Doctors who solved legal questions.

CYRIL; But Christ brings a severe charge against the Lawyers, and subdues their foolish pride, as it follows, And he said, Woe to you also, you Lawyers, for you lade men, &c. He brings forward an obvious example for their direction. The Law was burdensome to the Jews as the disciples of Christ confess, but these Lawyers binding together legal burdens which could not be borne, placed them upon those under them, taking care themselves to have no toil whatever.

THEOPHYL. As often also as the teacher does what he teaches, he lightens the load, offering himself for an example. But when he does none of the things which he teaches others, the loads appear heavy to those who learn his teaching, as being what even their teacher is not able to bear.

BEDE; Now they are rightly told that they would not touch the burdens of the Law even with one of their fingers, that is, they fulfill not in the slightest point that law which they pretend to keep and transmit to the keeping of others, contrary to the practice of their fathers, without faith and the grace of Christ.

GREG. NYSS.. So also are there now many severe judges of sinners, yet weak combatants; burdensome imposers of laws, yet weak bearers of burdens; who wish neither to approach nor to touch strictness of life, though they sternly exact it from their subjects.

4 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:37-46”

  1. […] for Sunday Mass, August 1 (Extraordinary Form)Aquinas' Homily Notes on the Ten Lepers (Luke17:11-19)Oct 12: Aquinas' Catena Aurea on Today's Gospel (Luke 11:37-41)My Notes on Luke 13:22-30 for Sunday Mass, August 22Oct 11: Aquinas' Catena Aurea on Today's Gospel […]

  2. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:37-41). Please note that this post is on verses 37-46; it thus includes commentary on tomorrow’s Gospel (verses 42-46). […]

  3. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:37-41). Please note that this post is on verses 37-46; it thus includes commentary on tomorrow’s Gospel (verses 42-46). […]

  4. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 11:37-41. On 37-46. […]

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