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

Archive for March 11th, 2011

Father MacEvilly Commentary on Matthew 9:14-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2011

Mat 9:14  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees, fast often, but thy disciples do not fast?

The disciples of John. St. Luke says 5:33, it was the Scribes and Pharisees. Mark 2:18 says, it was the disciples of John and the Pharisees. Probably, St. Mark s is the accurate account, and St. Matthew speaks only of the disciples of John, as they were the spokesmen put forward by the Pharisees on the occasion. A feeling of low jealousy animated the disciples of John, who was at this time in prison. Not unlikely, on the very day our Lord was entertained at the house of Matthew, they observed a fast, as is insinuated in the context of St. Mark, although the words may also mean, that they were in the habit of fasting. Why do we and the Pharisees fast often? They speak of fasts of supererogation, as the word, often, implies, besides those prescribed by the law. For, with these, no doubt, our Redeemer and His disciples strictly complied, as He wished to fulfil all justice. This question was meant to be a rejoinder to His explanation of the reason which induced Him to associate with sinners, viz., for the purpose of converting them. They wish in this question to insinuate, that self-indulgence was His motive, the question was also insidiously meant by His enemies, as a snare for our Redeemer. They hoped He might censure John, which would not serve His own influence, as John was so much respected; or, if He approved of John’s fasting, then, He would be censuring the line of conduct pursued in this respect by Himself and His disciples.

Mat 9:15  And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.

Can the children of the bridegroom mourn?  Mourn, denotes the particular kind of mourning, consisting in fasting. Children by a Hebrew idiom, signifies, near friends, the associates and companions of the bridegroom. Although our Redeemer knew well the malevolence and vain ostentation which dictated these remarks, at least on the part of the Pharisees, still, He answers them gently; and in the mildest form, justifies Himself and His disciples. For, it was against Himself chiefly the charge was made. He rests His defence on the grounds 1st. That the time was unsuited for fasting (ver. 15). 2ndly. That the persons were unsuited for fasting or sorrow (verses. 16, 17). It would be unseemly for the friends of the bridegroom to fast or indulge in mourning, while celebrating his nuptials. Now, those who heard John the Baptist, must have heard him point to our Lord as the spouse (John 3:29). Hence, while our Lord was celebrating His nuptials with His Church (Eph 5; 2 Cor 11:12), it should be for His friends a season of joy and jubilee, to which the austerities of fasting would be quite unsuited. Christ is the spouse; because He espoused human nature, and through it the Church, in His Incarnation, by an indissoluble bond. These espousals He commenced by grace in this life (Matt 22:2), and will consummate by glory in heaven, when the perpetual nuptials of the Lamb with His Elect shall be for ever celebrated. (Rev 19) On this account it was that John called himself the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29), and his disciples, who heard him, must, therefore, have known that Christ was called the Bridegroom. Hence, there is nothing in the above example against fasting. Our Redeemer only points out the incongruity, on the part of His disciples, to fast during His life-time. The example goes no farther. In this verse, it is implied, however, that in future ages the Church will impose the wholesome rigours of fasting. And from Apostolical institution and tradition, she has instituted, besides other fasts, the solemn fast of Lent, to prepare for the commemoration of the bitter Passion of her heavenly Spouse and dispose us to share in the spiritual joys of His glorious resurrection.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

March 11: Meditation for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2011

The following is taken from Aquinas’ unfinished exposition of the Canticle of Canticles (Song of Songs). The translation is from Father Philip Hughes and is in the public domain.

Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon
in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him
in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of
his heart~Cant 3:11.

This is the voice of the Church inviting the souls of the faithful to behold the marvellous beauty of her spouse. For the daughters of Sion, who are they but the daughters of Jerusalem, holy souls, the citizens of that city which is above, who with the angels enjoy the peace that knows no end, and, in consequence, look upon the glory of the Lord?

1. Go forth, shake off the disturbing commerce of this world so that, with minds set free, you may be able to contemplate him whom you love. And see king Solomon, the true peacemaker, that is to say, Christ Our Lord.

In the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him, as though the Church said, “Look on Christ garbed with flesh for us, the flesh He took from the flesh
of his mother.” For it is his flesh that is here called a diadem, the flesh which Christ assumed for us, the flesh in which he died and destroyed the reign of death, the flesh in which, rising once again, he brought to us the hope of resurrection.

This is the diadem of which St. Paul speaks, We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour (Heb 2:9). His mother is spoken of as crowning him because Mary the Virgin it was who from her own flesh gave him flesh.

In the day of his espousals, that is, in the hour of his Incarnation, when he took to himself the Church not having spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27), the hour again when God was joined with man. And in the day of the joy of his heart. For the joy and the gaiety of Christ is for the human race salvation and redemption. And coming home, he calls together his friends and neighbours saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost (Luke 15:6).

2. We can however refer the whole of this text simply and literally to the Passion of Christ. For Solomon, foreseeing through the centuries the Passion of Christ, was uttering a warning for the daughters of Sion, that is, for the Jewish people.

Go forth and see king Solomon, that is, Christ, in his diadem, that is to say, the crown of thorns with which his mother the Synagogue has crowned him; in the day of his espousals, the day when he joined to himself the Church; and in the day of the joy of his heart, the day in which he rejoiced that by his Passion he was delivering the world from the power of the devil. Go forth, therefore, and leave behind the darkness of unbelief, and see, understand with your minds that he who suffers as man is really God.

Go forth, beyond the gates of your city, that you may see him, on Mount Calvary, crucified.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Meditations, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Cornelius a Lapide Commentary on Matthew 9:14-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2011

Mat 9:14  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees, fast often, but thy disciples do not fast?

Then came to him the disciples of John, &c. Then, signifies that it was shortly afterwards. The Pharisees being, therefore, upon just grounds, refuted by Christ, here frame another accusation against Him. They suborn the disciples of John, that by the occasion of fasting, practised by them in common with themselves, they might bring it as a charge against Christ, that neither He, nor His disciples fasted. Now this particular fast to which they refer was not prescribed by the Law, for Christ and His disciples observed the fasts as well as all the other requirements of the Law: but it was a fast, either appointed by the Jewish doctors, or else voluntarily taken up by their disciples at the exhortation of the doctors. Wherefore S. Luke relates that they said, Why do the disciples of John fast oft, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees, but Thine eat and drink? It is as much as to say, “Thou wishest to be our Reformer, and a master of perfection. Why then do we fast, when Thou and Thine lead a genial life?” S. Mark speaks of the disciples of John, in connection with those of the Pharisees. This was because the Pharisees instigated John’s disciples to propose this question to Christ. And this is the reason why S. Matthew in this place makes mention only of John’s disciples. They therefore press Christ with the authority of John the Baptist, which was very great among the Jews, but they do it in an unwarrantable and presumptuous manner. “This was a haughty interrogation,” says the Interlinear, “and full of Pharisaic pride.” “Therefore,” says S. Jerome, “John’s disciples are to be blamed, because of their boasting about their fasting, as because of their uniting themselves to the Pharisees, whom John had condemned; also because they were calumniating Him of whom John had preached.” Moreover, the disciples of John said these things out of zeal for their master, and out of envy of Christ, preferring John to Him. This may be gathered from S. John iii. 26. We may perceive a like jealousy in certain good men, even now, who busy themselves in extolling their own founder or patron above everybody else: but in this they are carnal and childish, and betray their own secret vanity and arrogance. For in thus extolling their master above others, they are really seeking to exalt themselves. Such were the Corinthians, who said, “I am of Paul, I of Cephas.” Such the Apostle sharply rebukes, saying, “When there is envy and contention among you, are ye not carnal and walk as men?” (1 Cor 3:3.)

Mat 9:15  And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.

And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bridegroom, &c. The Bridegroom is Christ, because He hath betrothed human nature, and by it the Church, unto Himself, in the Incarnation, and hath united them unto Himself by a perpetual bond of marriage. This marriage Christ hath begun by grace on earth (Matt 22:2), but He will consummate it in glory with His elect in heaven, where there shall be celebrated the endless marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev 9:7). Hence John the Baptist calls himself the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). And Christ’s disciples, hearing this, knew that He was the Bridegroom.

Mourn, by catachresis, for fast, because in mourning, men fast, and fasting makes men sad; just as, on the contrary, food and wine make men jovial and cheerful. The meaning is, “It is not wonderful that My disciples do not mourn and fast whilst they are enjoying Me and My nuptials. For at a wedding, modest banquets are becoming, fasting is unbecoming. But the sons of the Servant—that is, My servant John Baptist, who leads an austere life to bring men to repentance, and imposes the burdensome law of Moses upon his followers because it is still binding—grief and fasting, I say, become them; for they, by means of sorrow and austere deeds of penance, are preparing the way for sinners to the joyful marriage supper of the Bridegroom, Christ. But Christ shall die, and be taken from them, and then shall His disciples mourn and fast. He alludes to the ancient custom of mourning for the dead, accompanied by fasting. Thus the Hebrews mourned for Saul, fasting seven days.

Christ here intimates that novices in the faith and in religious orders must be gently and blandly treated, as being tender and but children in spirit, until they become matured in virtue, lest they should despair, or forsake the path of virtue on which they have entered. Thus S. Pachomius, who received the rule of his Order from an angel, directed novices to be instructed in it for three years, even as Christ fed His Apostles with milk, and instructed them in His school for three years.

We are here reminded of that ancient good Abbot, who used to receive his guests to dine before the canonical hour for refection. When asked the reason, he said, “Fasting, my brethren, is always with me, but since I am about to send you away, I cannot have you with me always. Since, therefore, I receive Christ in you, I ought to refresh you; and when I shall have set you on your way, I shall be able, by myself, to make up for deferring my fasting.” So Cassian and Sulpitius relate.

Moreover, after Christ’s death, the Apostles often fasted, and suffered from hunger and thirst, as S. Paul relates at length, 2 Cor. xi. So in the Life of S. Peter we read that he did severe penance, and ate only bread with olives.

Hence, also, in the Eastern Church, says S. Epiphanius (Hæres. 75), Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. So they still do in Greece, Poland, and Holland. In other parts of the Western Church they abstain from flesh on Fridays and Saturdays. These customs arose because on Wednesday the Bridegroom was betrayed to the Jews by Judas, on Friday He was crucified, and on Saturday He lay in the tomb. Epiphanius adds that formerly on fasting days Christians ate nothing but bread and salt, with water, and that this was enjoined by a decree of the Apostles.

Tropologically, S. Jerome says, “When Christ the Bridegroom departed from us on account of sins, then especially must grief and fasting be undergone.”

But SS. Hilary and Ambrose say, we have Christ the Bridegroom with us, and we continually feed on His Body in the Eucharist. But those to whom the Bridegroom is not present, present, that is, by grace, such as those who are living in deadly sin, keep a perpetual fast, because they lack the Bread of Life. S. Ambrose, explaining the words of Christ, When the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, says, “No one can take Christ from thee, unless thou takest thyself away from Him.”


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 9:14-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2011

Note: This post includes commentary on verse 16 & 17 as well.

Ver 14. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?”15. And Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.16. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.17. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

Gloss., ap. Anselm: When He had replied to them respecting eating and converse with sinners, they next assault Him on the matter of food; “Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples fast not?”

Jerome: O boastful enquiry and ostentation of fasting much to be blamed, nor can John’s disciples be excused for their taking part with the Pharisees who they knew had been condemned by John, and for bringing a false accusation against Him whom they knew their master had preached.

Chrys.: What they say come to this, Be it that you do this as Physician of souls, but why do your disciples neglect fasting and approach such tables? And to augment the weight of their charge by comparison, they put themselves first, and then the Pharisees. They fasted as they learnt out of the Law, as the Pharisee spoke, “I fast twice in the week;” [Luk_18:12] the others learnt it of John.

Rabanus: For John drank neither wine, nor strong drink, increasing his merit by abstinence, because he had no power over nature. But the Lord who has power to forgive sins, why should He shun sinners that eat, since He has power to make them more righteous than those that cannot? Yet doth Christ fast, that you should not avoid the command; but He eats with sinners that you may know His grace and power.

Aug.: Through Matthew mentions only the disciples of John as having made this enquiry, the words of Mark rather seem to imply that some other persons spoke of others, that is, the guests spoke concerning the disciples of John and the Pharisees – this is still more evident from Luke [ref. Luk_5:33]; why then does Matthew here say, “Then came unto him the disciples of John,” unless that they were there among other guests, all of whom with one consent put this objection to Him?

Chrys.: Or; Luke relates that the Pharisees, but Matthew that the disciples of John, said thus, because the Pharisees had taken them with them to ask the question, as they afterwards did the Herodians. Observe how when strangers, as before the Publicans, were to be defended, He accuses heavily those that blamed them; but when they brought a charge against His disciples, He makes answer with mildness. “And Jesus saith unto them, Can the children of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Before He had styled Himself Physician, now Bridegroom, calling to mind the words of John which he had said, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom.” [Joh_3:29]

Jerome: Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride. Of this spiritual union the Apostles were born; they cannot mourn so long as they see the Bridegroom in the chamber with the Bride. But when the nuptials are past, and the time of passion and resurrection is come, then shall the children of the Bridegroom fast.

“The days shall come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”

Chrys.: He means thus; The present is a time of joy and rejoicing; sorrow is therefore not to be now brought forward; and fasting is naturally grievous, and to all those that are yet weak; for to those that seek to contemplate wisdom, it is pleasant; He therefore speaks here according to the former opinion. He also shews that this they did was not of gluttony, but of a certain dispensation.

Jerome: Hence some think that a fast ought to follow the forty days of Passion, although the day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit immediately bring back our joy and festival. From this text accordingly, Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla enjoin a forty days abstinence after Pentecost, but it is the use of the Church to come to the Lord’s passion and resurrection through humiliation of the flesh, that by carnal abstinence we may better be prepared for spiritual fulness.

Chrys.: Here again He confirms what He has said by examples of common things; “No man putteth a patch of undressed cloth into an old garment; for it taketh away its wholeness from the garment, and the rent is made worse;” which is to say, My disciples are not yet become strong, but have need of much consideration; they are not yet renewed by the Spirit. On men in such a state it is not behoveful to lay a burden of precepts. Herein He establishes a rule for His disciples, that they should receive with leniency disciples from out of the whole world.

Remig.: By the old garment He means His disciples, who had not yet been renewed in all things. The patch of undressed, that is, of new cloth, means the new grace, that is, the Gospel doctrine, of which fasting is a portion; and it was not meet that the stricter ordinances of fasting should be entrusted to them, lest they should be broken down by their severity, and forfeit that faith which they had; as He adds, “It taketh its wholeness from the garment, and the rent is made worse.”Gloss., ap. Anselm: As much as to say, An undressed patch, that is, a new one, ought not to be put into an old garment, because it often takes away from the garment its wholeness, that is, its perfection, and then the rent is made worse. For a heavy burden laid on one that is untrained often destroys that good which was in him before.

Remig.: After two comparisons made, that of the wedding, and that of the undressed cloth, He adds a third concerning wine skins; “Neither do men put new wine into old skins.” By the old skins He means His disciples, who were not yet perfectly renewed. The new wine is the fulness of the Holy Spirit, and the depths of the heavenly mysteries, which His disciples could not then bear; but after the resurrection they became as new skins, and were filled with new wine when they received the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Whence also some said, “These men are full of new wine.” [Act_2:13]

Chrys.: Herein He also shews us the cause of those condescending words which He often addressed to them because of their weakness.

Jerome: Otherwise; By the “old garment,” and “old skins,” we must understand the Scribes and Pharisees; and by the “piece of new cloth,” and “new wine,” the Gospel precepts, which the Jews were not able to bear; so “the rent was made worse.” Something such the Galatians sought to do, to mix the precepts of the Law with the Gospel, and to put new wine into old skins. The word of the Gospel is therefore to be poured into the Apostles, rather than into the Scribes and Pharisees, who, corrupted by the traditions of the elders, were unable to preserve the purity of Christ’s precepts.

Gloss., non occ.: This shews that the Apostles being hereafter to be replenished with newness of grace, ought not now to be bound to the old observances.

Aug., Serm., 210, 3: Otherwise; Everyone who rightly fasts, either humbles his soul in the groaning of prayer, and bodily chastisement, or suspends the motion of carnal desire by the joys of spiritual meditation. And the Lord here makes answer respecting both kinds of fasting; concerning the first, which is in humiliation of soul, He says, “The children of the bridegroom cannot mourn.”

Of the other which has a feast of the Spirit, He next speaks, where He says, “No man putteth a patch of undressed cloth.” Then we must mourn because the Bridegroom is taken away from us. And we rightly mourn if we burn with desire of Him. Blessed they to whom it was granted before His passion to have Him present with them, to enquire of Him what they would, to hear what they ought to hear. Those days the fathers before His coming sought to see, and saw them not, because they were placed in another dispensation, one in which He was proclaimed as coming, not one in which He was heard as present. For in us was fulfilled that He speaks of, “The days shall come when ye shall desire to see one of these days, and shall not be able.” [Luk_17:22] Who then will not mourn this? Who will not say, “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?” [Psa_42:3] With reason then did the Apostle seek “to die and to be with Christ.”

Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 27: That Matthew writes here “mourn,” where Mark and Luke write “fast,” shews that the Lord spake of that kind of fasting which pertains to humbling one’s self in chastisement; as in the following comparisons He may be supposed to have spoken of the other kind which pertains to the joy of a mind wrapt in spiritual thoughts, and therefore averted from the food of the body; shewing that those who are occupied about the body, and owing to this retain their former desires, are not fit for this kind of fasting.

Hilary: Figuratively, this His answer, that while the Bridegroom was present with them, His disciples needed not to fast, teaches us the joy of His presence, and the sacrament of the holy food, which none shall lack, while He is present, that is, while one keeps Christ in the eye of the mind. He says, they shall fast when He is taken away from them, because all who do not believe that Christ is risen, shall not have the food of life. For in the faith of the resurrection the sacrament of the heavenly bread is received.

Jerome: Or, when He has departed from us for our sins, then is a fast to be proclaimed, then is mourning to be put on.

Hilary: By these examples He shews that neither our souls nor bodies, being so weakened by inveteracy of sin, are capable of the sacraments of the new grace.

Rabanus: The different comparisons all refer to the same thing, and yet are they different; the garment by which we are covered abroad signifies our good works, which we perform when we are abroad; the wine with which we are refreshed within is the fervor of faith and charity, which creates us anew within.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 9:14-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2011

Mat 9:14  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees, fast often, but thy disciples do not fast?

When the others had been answered. S. Luke (5:33) says that the Pharisees themselves came. S. Augustin (De Consens., 2. 27) harmonises this by saying that both came, but that S. Luke mentioned only the Pharisees, S. Matthew only the disciples of John. But S. Matthew seems to speak as if he wished to signify that the Pharisees did not venture to come to Christ; for they had said a little before (verse 11), not to Christ, but to His disciples, “Why doth your Master eat with publicans and sinners?”

It would seem more likely that the disciples of John were sent by the Pharisees secretly. They would do this perhaps the more readily because there would appear to have been some little emulation between the disciples of John and those of Christ (S. John 3:26). Besides, S. Luke says that the Pharisees came because, at their instigation, the disciples of John came.

But Thy disciples do not fast. (S. Luke 5:33). As if they wished to mark an immoderate use of food and drink. This is very probable, and is more in accordance with the spirit of the Pharisees; for, by the words “eat” and “drink,” they wished to notify the intemperance of the disciples, and through them to brand the Master Himself. Christ alludes to this (Matt 11:18, 19). They were blown up in their opinion and praised themselves: ” Why do we fast?” Lest they should appear to praise themselves, they take the disciples of John as their fellowpartners in the praise. They accuse Christ and His disciples, not only of the want of religion, but also of being intemperate and drunken. By their words, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often? ” (verse 14), they hint at more than they say. Wherefore we and not Thou? unless that we are holy and just and are of God, Thou a sinner and of men. When we fast, you meanwhile sit at table and  banquet and take your pleasure with men that are sinners.

Mat 9:15  And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.

Can the children of the bridegroom?  Greek: οι υιοι του νυμφωνο, or, as our version reads in Mark 2:19, the children of the marriage. It is plain who are meant by the children of the bridegroom or of the marriage, for Christ speaks of His disciples, of whom the question was proposed. But why they were so called has been matter of doubt. S. Ambrose (v., On S. Luke), S. Jerome, Bede (in his Commentary.), think that they were so called because they were spiritually born of Christ. They seem more correct who say that it is a Hebraism, by which the friends of the bridegroom are called the sons of the bridegroom, or of the marriage. They keep his marriage with various signs of joy, such as are celebrated in our corrupt times by feasts, dances, games; but then by feasts like that of the marriage of Cana of Galilee. Christ therefore said that they could not fast, because it was opposed to the celebration of marriage; for, as they who are of the kingdom are called the children of the kingdom, so they who celebrate the marriage are called the sons of the marriage, or friends of the bridegroom, as S. John Baptist calls himself (Jn 3:29); but Christ is the bridegroom, as is shown in the parable of the marriage (Matt 22:2; 25:1, 5, 6, 10; Rev 19:7, 9). His espousals, if we may so speak,
are celebrated here (S. Matt 22:2; 25:1), but the marriage in heaven, where He in a manner consummates it with the Church, His bride (Rev 19:7, 9), because He will then introduce her into His chamber, that is, into heaven, where she enjoys His perpetual embraces.

Mourn. Why did Christ not say fast, because there was no question of mourning, but of fasting only? This comprehends all other kinds of grief, and Christ answers more than His adversaries asked—so that from denial of the genus He might go on to that of the species with more force. For if one cannot be an animal, how can he be a man? If the sons of the bridegroom cannot mourn, how can they fast? To mourn here does not mean to shed tears or to lament, but to be sad, and, as the Latins say, to be in grief and disorder: as the dead are said to be mourned for a time, not because the living lament them continually, but because they wear a mourning garment for them.

It may be asked why S. John Baptist and his disciples fasted, if the sons of the bride-chamber cannot fast. For he also was a son, that is, a friend of the Bridegroom, who heard his voice and was glad (S. John 3:29). The answer may be that this was done necessarily that all men might by all means be enticed into salvation, and that, both by a singular mode of life, like S. John’s, and a general one, like Christ’s—as Christ Himself signifies (Matt 11:18, 19). Besides, though S. John was a friend of the Bridegroom, he was not properly a son, that is, a disciple. He prepared the way for others to come to the marriage, but he did not come himself. They who came would have to come by a rough way; when they had come they would have, not a rough, but a joyful and pleasant life, as long as they were with the bridegroom, as a festive celebration required. But why did not Christ Himself, if not His disciples, fast? For the same reason. He was the Bridegroom, and was celebrating His own marriage, but He Himself gives another reason (verse 16).

But the days will come. Christ says “days” by a Hebraism for time. They would have plenty of time to fast when the Bridegroom was taken from them. Christ does not say when He shall have departed from them, nor when He is dead, but “when He shall be taken from them,” signifying that He would be miserably taken away by those very Pharisees with whom He was now speaking. “Then,” He said, “they shall fast.” That is, then they shall mourn. For,
as He previously said mourn for fast, the genus for the species, so He now says fast for mourn, the species for the genus, as if He had said: “As they are now celebrating My marriage, and therefore do not fast, so then they shall mourn My death, and therefore they shall fast “. Christ alludes to the custom of mourning for the dead with fasting; for they who mourn generally abstain from food. The event not only proved this saying, but also made it clear. For
we know how continual the Apostles were after the Ascension of Christ in fasting and prayers (Acts 13:3; 2 Cor 6:5), in stripes, in imprisonment, in seditions, in labours, in watchings many, in hunger, in thirst, in fastings many.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: