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 5:27-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 12, 2011

Ver  27. And after these things he went forth, and saw a Publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him, Follow me.28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of Publicans and of others that sat down with them.30. But their Scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with Publicans and sinners?31. And Jesus answering said to them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.32. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

AUG. After the healing of the sick of the palsy, St. Luke goes on to mention the conversion of a publican, saying, And after these things, he went forth, and saw a publican of the name of Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom. This is Matthew, also called Levi.

THEOPHYL; Now Luke and Mark, for the honor of the Evangelist, are silent as to his common name, but Matthew is the first to accuse himself, and gives the name of Matthew and publican, that no one might despair of salvation because of the enormity of his sins, when he himself was changed from a publican to an Apostle.

CYRIL; For Levi had been a publican, a rapacious man, of unbridled desires after vain things, a lover of other men’s goods, for this is the character of the publican, but snatched from the very worship of malice by Christ’s call. Hence it follows, And he said to him, Follow me. He bids him follow Him, not with bodily step, but with the soul’s affections. Matthew therefore, being called by the Word, left his own, who was wont to seize the things of others, as it follows, And having left all, he rose, and followed him.

CHRYS. Here mark both the power of the caller, and the obedience of him that was called. For he neither resisted nor wavered, but forthwith obeyed; and like the fishermen, he did not even wish to go into his own house that he might tell it to his friends.

BASIL; He not only gave up the profits of the customs, but also despised the dangers which might occur to himself and his family from leaving the accounts of the receipts uncompleted.

THEOPHYL. And so from him that received toll from the passers by, Christ received toll, not money, but entire devotion to His company.

CHRYS. But the Lord honored Levi, whom He had called, by immediately going to his feast. For this testified the greater confidence in him. Hence it follows, And Levi made him a great feast in his own house. Nor did He sit down to meat with him alone, but with many, as it follows, And there was a great company of Publicans and others that sat down with them. For the publicans came to Levi as to their colleague, and a man in the same line with themselves, and he too glorying in the presence of Christ, called them all together. For Christ displayed every sort of remedy, and not only by discoursing and displaying cures, or even by rebuking the envious, but also by eating with them, He corrected the faults of some, thereby giving us a lesson, that every time and occasion brings with it its own profit. But He shunned not the company of Publicans, for the sake of the advantage that might ensue, like a physician, who unless he touch the afflicted part cannot cure the disease.

AMBROSE; For by His eating with sinners, He prevents not us also from going to a banquet with the Gentiles.

CHRYS. But nevertheless the Lord was blamed by the Pharisees, who were envious, and wished to separate Christ and His disciples, as it follows, And the Pharisees murmured, saying, Why do you eat with Publicans, &c.

AMBROSE; This was the voice of the Devil. This was the first word the Serpent uttered to Eve, Yea has God said, You shall not eat. So they diffuse the poison of their father.

AUG. Now St. Luke seems to have related this somewhat different from the other Evangelists. For he does not say that to our Lord alone it was objected that He eat and drank with publicans and sinners, but to the disciples also, that the charge might be understood both of Him and them. But the reason that Matthew and Mark related the objection as made concerning Christ to His disciples, was, that seeing the disciples ate with publicans and sinners, it was the rather objected to their Master as Him whom they followed and imitated; the meaning therefore is the same, vet so much the better conveyed, as while still keeping to the truth, it differs in certain words.

CHRYS. But our Lord c refutes all their charges, showing, that so far from its being a fault to mix with sinners, it is but a part of His merciful design, as it follows, And Jesus answering said to them, They that are whole need not a physician; in which He reminds them of their common infirmities, and shows them that they are of the number of the sick, but adds, He is the Physician.

It follows, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. As if He should say, So far am I from hating sinners, that for their sakes only I came, not that they should remain sinners, but be converted and become righteous.

AUG. Hence He adds, to repentance, which serves well to explain the passage, that no one should suppose that sinners, because they are sinners, are loved by Christ, since that similitude of the sick plainly suggests what our Lord meant by calling sinners, as a Physician, the sick, in order that from iniquity as from sickness they should be saved.

AMBROSE; But how does God love righteousness, and David has never seen the righteous man forsaken, if the righteous are excluded, the sinner called; unless you understand that at He meant by the righteous those who boast of the law, and seek not the grace of the Gospel. Now no one is justified by the law, but redeemed by grace. He therefore calls not those who call themselves righteous, for the claimers to righteousness are not called to grace. For if grace is from repentance, surely he who despises repentance renounces grace.

AMBROSE; But He calls those sinners, who considering their guilt, and feeling that they cannot be justified by the law, submit themselves by repentance to the grace of Christ.

CHRYS. Now He speaks of the righteous ironically, as when He says, Behold Adam is become as one of us. But that there was none righteous upon the earth St. Paul shows, saying, All have sinned, and need the grace of God.

GREG. NYSS. Or, He means that the sound and righteous need no physician, i.e. the angels, but the corrupt and sinners, i. e. ourselves do; since we catch the disease of sin, which is not in heaven.

THEOPHYL; Now by the election of Matthew is signified the faith of the Gentiles, who formerly gasped after worldly pleasures, but now refresh the body of Christ with zealous devotion.

THEOPHYL. Or the publican is he who serves the prince of this world, and is debtor to the flesh, to which the glutton gives his food, the adulterer his pleasure, and another something else. But when the Lord saw him sitting at the receipt of custom, and not stirring himself to greater wickedness, He calls him that he might be snatched from the evil, and follow Jesus, and receive the Lord into the house of his soul.

AMBROSE; But he who receives Christ into his inner chamber, is fed with the greatest delights of overflowing pleasures. The Lord therefore willingly enters, and reposes in his affection; but again the envy of the treacherous is kindled, and the form of their future punishment is prefigured; for while all the faithful are feasting in the kingdom of heaven, the faithless will be cast out hungry. Or, by this is denoted the envy of the Jews, who are afflicted at the salvation of the Gentiles.

AMBROSE; At the same time also is shown the difference between those who are zealous for the law and those who are for grace, that they who follow the law shall suffer eternal hunger of soul, while they who have received the word into the inmost soul, refreshed with abundance of heavenly meat and drink, can neither hunger nor thirst. And so they who fasted in soul murmured.

2 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 5:27-32”

  1. […] Maldonado on Today's Gospel (Matt 9:14-15)March 11: Meditation for the Friday after Ash WednesdayMarch 12: Aquinas' Catena Aurea on Today's Gospel (Luke 5:27-32) « March 12: Pope John Paul II on Today’s […]

  2. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 5:33-39). […]

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