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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 19:11-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 17, 2010

Luk 19:11  And while they are hearing these things, having added he spake a simile, because of his being nigh to Jerusalem, and of their thinking that the reign of God is about presently to be made manifest.

And while they are hearing these things. Christ had made frequent mention of His kingdom, and had promised it to His followers. The Apostles hoped, therefore, that it would be brought to pass now, as He was going to Jerusalem, and that they as His friends would share in it, and reign with Him among the first. The fame and glory of Christ, which had shone forth with so much brightness and brilliance from His recent miracles, and especially, the stupendous conversion of Zacchæus, increased this hope, from which, as Jesus was entering Jerusalem a little after, the Apostles set Him upon an ass, and cried to the same multitude, as if He were the Messiah and the King, about to be inaugurated in Jerusalem, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David which cometh”—”Blessed be the King who cometh in the name of the Lord.” Ver. 38. Christ, therefore, to disabuse them of this opinion, spoke the following parable, by which He signified that He must first be put to death by the Jews, and rule by faith throughout the whole world.

Luk 19:12  He said therefore, A certain man of birth went on to a far country, to take to himself a kingdom, and to return,

He said therefore, A certain man of birth. Syriac, “The son of a great stock.” This nobleman is Christ in His human nature. For as S. Basil says in the Catena, Christ is noble not only in His Godhead, but also in His human nature, for He is of the seed of David, according to that which Daniel saw and heard. “He gave to Him power, and honour, and a kingdom.” Eusebius adds, on this, “He does not call Himself a king as yet, because in His first coming He did not discharge the duties of a king.” For although this kingdom was due to Christ from the beginning, because of His Hypostatical Union with the Word, yet He willed to merit it only by His passion and death on the Cross, and not to enter upon the possession of it till after His resurrection, according to the words in chap. xxiv. 26. Christ therefore went into a far country when, on the fortieth day from His death and resurrection, He went up into heaven, where He entered upon His kingdom, that He might thus be the King of the whole world; and rule alike upon earth and in heaven. So Theophylact, Titus, Euthymius, and others. Christ therefore shall return from heaven to earth on the day of judgment, firstly, to show His kingdom visibly to all men; secondly, to take final judgment, as well on His elect as on the reprobate, and those who are unbelieving and disobedient; thirdly, to bring His elect into His heavenly kingdom, and make them partakers of His glory, as the Angels on His ascension declared to the Apostles, Acts i. II. Christ shall then return, that He may unite the kingdom of earth to the kingdom of heaven, and show Himself the Lord of earth and heaven, and remove His faithful from earth to His kingdom in heaven.

Luk 19:13  and having called ten servants of his own, he gave to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Do business–till I come;

And having called ten servants, &c. That you may increase my gain and your own. “Ten,” that is all his servants, for he gave to each man a μνα (mina) as appears from what follows. (μνα = mna, Latin, mina, “a weight”. The word was used in reference to money or other things of value. In Jesus’ day it usually denoted a coin equal to 100 drachmas or denarii. The Matthean parallel uses the word τάλαντον = talanton, whence our word talent). Christ would have us continually traffic with the “mnas,” that is His talents, gifts, graces, which He has given us, that we may assiduously increase our gain of works and merits. He forbids us therefore to be idle; so that our whole life ought not to be one of ease, but of continual trading in spiritual gain, which, says S. Gregory to Dominicus (lib. 1 Ep.39), “we truly carry on, if by our lives and words we bring profit to the souls of our neighbours; if by preaching the joys of heaven we strengthen the feeble in the love of things heavenly; if we bow down the bold and haughty by inflexibly proclaiming the punishments of Gehenna: if we spare no man for Truth’s sake: if, given up to heavenly friendships, we fear no human enmity.” He adds, “But I fear the burthen of my weakness for this work. I see Him when He has received His kingdom, returning and bringing me to account, and with what heart shall I endure His presence, to whom, in return for the work I have undertaken, I bring no gain of souls, or almost none?” This he says. As much more humble, so much greater.

Luk 19:14  But his citizens hated him and they sent an embassage after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us.

But his citizens hated him, and sent and embassage after him. The Syriac, “The sons of his state:” The scribes and Jews, that is, hated Jesus, because He taxed them with their vices, and they sent an embassage after Him, saying, “we will not have this man (Jesus, who was poor, of small account, and the son of a carpenter) to rule over us.” This was fulfilled after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven when they sent Saul to Damascus to take all who believed in Christ, and root out His faith, name, and kingdom. The same took place when the same men shut up S. Peter and the Apostles in prison, and scourged them, and when they stoned S. Stephen, and slew S. James, and persecuted the rest of the Christians, and still persecute them.

Luk 19:15  And it came to pass that he returned, having received the kingdom: and he commanded his servants to be called, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading

And it came to pass. The Syriac and Arabic, “And when He had received the kingdom and returned.” “This part of the parable,” says Euthymius, “is about the second advent, when He shall return with great power and glory, and sit upon the throne of His glory, for He shall then take account and render to every man according to his work.” So S. Augustine, Theophylact, Bede, and others. I have explained the rest, Mat 24:19.

Luk 19:16  And the first came saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds

Thy pound hath gained ten pounds, &c. As one seed of wheat sown in a field, by its power sucks up juice from the earth, and converts it into itself, and produces ten, nay, thirty and sixty seeds and grains of wheat. The Arabic has, “Thy mina has gained ten.” He did not say, “I have gained,” but, “thy mina,” because, granted that the freedom and co-operation of our wills concur to a good work, still, the whole working is of divine grace, and not of our will, for the work only has it from our will that it is free; but it has it from grace, that it is supernatural, pleasing to God, and meritorious. Hence S. Paul, 1Cor 15:10.

Luk 19:17  And he said to him: Well done, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a little, thou shalt have power over ten cities

And he said to him: Well done. That is, for one mina thou shalt receive a thousand and a thousand, nay the government of one Province or Decapolis, ten cities or more. That is, for a little labour and care on earth thou shalt receive great, nay, the very greatest, ineffable rewards in heaven, and shalt especially precede those on whom thou hast expended the gifts of God on earth, and whom thou hast converted to Christ or hast moved to His faith and goodness. S. Ambrose gives the reason: “As the angels are preferred to be first, so are they also who have merited the life of angels.”

And Bede more concisely: “Be it so that thou receivest power over ten cities, that is, thou shalt have more abundant happiness and honour in the heavens, and shalt be glorified above, for all and by all to whom thou hast been a fellow-worker in their salvation. For even after the judgment there will an order of dignity, and fitting mutual honour among the blessed.” Hence the words of the Apostle, 1 Thess 2:19.

Luk 19:18  And the second came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.

And the second came, saying. Here is shown the use of free will, and how much is effected by its strenuous co-operation with grace. For the first servant by this means gained ten minas from one, but this one, by less diligence and labour from one, gained only five.

Luk 19:19  And he said to him: Be thou also over five cities.

And he said, &c. “According to the measure of each one’s diligence,” says Euthymius, “are honour and reward measured out to him.”

Luk 19:20  And another came, saying: Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin.

And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound “I give it back to thee, whole, but without gain or increase.” “To tie up money in a napkin,” says Bede, “is to hide our gifts under the idleness of a lifeless torpor.”

Luk 19:21  For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up what thou didst not lay down: and thou reapest that which thou didst not sow.
Luk 19:22  He saith to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down and reaping that which I did not sow.
Luk 19:23  And why then didst thou not give my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have exacted it with usury?
Luk 19:24  And he said to them that stood by: Take the pound away from him and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
Luk 19:25  And they said to him: Lord, he hath ten pounds.
Luk 19:26  But I say to you that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken from him.

Lapide offers no commentary on these verses. He does however offer some thoughts in his commentary on Matthew 25. Commenting on the servants excuse that he did nothing with the gift knowing the severity of his master (Luke 19:21= Matt 25:24) Lapide writes: There is an emblem here which only pertains to the embellishment of the parable. For this, says Frank Lucas, is the way in which lazy servants excuse their idleness, throwing it upon the severity of their masters. As if they said, “You are not willing to lose, but always want to gain. And if gain is not brought you, you take away the property of your poor servants for any reason, or none.”

Concerning the master’s words concerning what the servant should have done (Luke 19:22-23 = Matt 25:26-27), Lapide writes: This likewise is an emblem, and only signifies how we ought by all means to increase the grace of God. Observe that they are called money-changers, who make gain by exchange, and by lending and borrowing. This gain is lawful in the way of exchange and merchandise. It is unlawful in the way of lending upon interest, and is the sin of usury. Wherefore the Lord in this place does not speak so much according to the abstract right of the matter, as parabolically, partly because of the common practice of nations, partly as a deduction from the words of the slothful servant, who attributed to his master the avarice of extorting money, by fair means or foul, from himself or others. This passage may, however, be accommodated to what is signified by the parable in the following manner-that God requires of us interest, as it were, for His gifts and graces, but that He will render us far greater interest of glory in Heaven. Hence the saying, “If thou wilt lend, lend unto God.” Also it is said in Prov. (Prov 19:17), “He that hath mercy upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and what he layeth out it shall be paid him again”.

concerning the command to take the talent (mina, pound) from the slothful servant and give it to the one who earned most (Luke 19:24-25 = Matt 25:28), Lapide writes: This, too, is only an emblem. The Lord throws back the charge of avarice, with which the slothful servant accused him. It is as if he said, “Thou seest, 0 thou slothful servant, that I do not covetously seek this gain for myself, but for my servants. When I take back the talent which I gave to thee, I do not put it away in a chest for myself. I bestow it upon him who used his five talents so well, that he gained five other talents with them. He therefore deserves this talent of yours, or rather mine, as a recompense of his labour and merit.”

But besides the emblematic character of these words, they are also partly applicable to the thing signified by the parable. For, in the Day of Judgment, God will actually take away His graces from the reprobate, who have misused them. He often does the same thing even in this life. Indeed, He always takes away from a man the grace which makes him pleasing in the eyes of God, when that man sins mortally, as when, for instance, he, through sloth, neglects to perform some commandment of Gad, which is binding under the penalty of mortal sin. But this which is added, Give it to him that hath ten talents, is an emblem. It tacitly intimates,—1st That the Saints, who diligently use the grace of God, are worthy of greater grace; and that as to the grace which the unworthy and the slothful possess, it is not seldom, even in this life, transferred from them to the former. Thus it is said in Rev_3:11, “Hold fast that thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” 2d That the Saints in Heaven will rejoice, both on account of their own talents, as well as those of the reprobate. 3d Because God, in Heaven, will bestow all gifts, all endowments and graces, even those which the reprobate have possessed in this world, upon the Blessed. For Beatitude is a state which is perfect by reason of the aggregation of all good, as Boetius says. Understand that these gifts are here spoken of, not as to their number, but as to their kind.

Concerning Luke 19:26 = Matt 25:29 Lapide writes: To every one that hath. S. Chrysostom and S. Augustine explain this to mean, all who rightly use their talents. For he, in truth, possesses a talent who rightly uses it. For the idle person, who does not make use of it, does not appear really to have it.

But him who hath not, that is to say, the gain of the talents and the grace acquired by him; or, him who hath not, in the sense that he does not use his talent, as I have said, even that which he hath, that is, the talent which he has suffered to lie idle, so that he has not so much had it, as seemed to have it, shall be taken from him. After a like fashion saith the comic poet, “The covetous man lacks that which he hath as much as if he had it not.” He hides it in his chest, so that it is the chest which hath it, not himself. The covetous man does not so much possess his gold, as he is possessed and owned by his gold. He is its slave.

From this passage Theologians derive the maxim, that “God is never wanting to him who does his best.” Nor does He refuse to add even more and more grace to him who heartily co-operates with it, even to the final gift of perseverance and glory. How this is to be understood, see Suarez, Vasquez, Bellarmine, and others in their works on Grace.

Luk 19:27  But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither and kill them before me.

But as for those mine enemies (the citizens of his Kingdom who would not have him reign over them) bring them hither—to my Tribunal, in the valley of Jehosaphat and Jerusalem—and kill them before Me.” In the Greek, “Kill them before my face.” Our Lord alludes to those victorious kings who slew and destroyed their conquered rebels. By this destruction Christ signifies the extreme judgment His enemies, and their own condemnation to eternal death in Gehenna, and that a living and vital death, where they will be perpetually tormented by death-dealing flames, and yet will never die.

Luk 19:28  And having said these things, he went before, going up to Jerusalem

And having said these things, He went. From Jericho and the house of Zacchæus, going up to Jerusalem, that He might here begin to fulfil His own words as to His Passion, Cross, Death, consequent Resurrection, Kingdom, Glory, and judgment. He preceded the Apostles in this journey, which they abhorred, as their Leader and Captain, to show them that He could go cheerfully and bravely to death, nay even as if He were about to provoke death to a conflict: for He was about, through death, to go to a far distant country, namely to heaven, to possess a celestial and eternal kingdom

2 Responses to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 19:11-28”

  1. […] Mass, Nov 14Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 1:12-20 for Sunday Mass, Nov 21 (Christ the King)Nov 17: Cornelius a Lapide on Today's Gospel (Luke 19:11-28)Bishop MacEvily's Commentary on 2 Thes 3:7-12 for Sunday Mas, Nov 14This Weeks Posts: Sunday Nov […]

  2. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 19:11-28. […]

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