March 21: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 6:36-38)
Posted by Dim Bulb on March 20, 2011
Although today’s Gospel is on Luke 6:36-38 this post includes commentary on verses 32-35 as well.
Ver 32. For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.33. And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.34. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.35. But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.36. Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
CHRYS. The Lord had said that we must love our enemies, but that you might not think this an exaggerated expression, regarding it solely as spoken to alarm them, he adds the reason, saying, For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? There are indeed several causes which produce love; but spiritual love exceeds them all. For nothing earthly engenders it, neither gain, nor kindness, nor nature, nor time, but it descends from heaven. But why wonder that it needs not kindness to excite it, when it is not even overcome of malice? A father indeed suffering wrong bursts the bands of love. A wife after a quarrel leaves her husband A son, if he sees his father come to a great age, is troubled. But Paul went to those who stoned him to do them good. Moses is stoned by the Jews, and prays for them. Let us then reverence spiritual love, for it is indissoluble. Reproving therefore those who were inclined to wax cold, he adds, For sinners even love those which love them. As if he said, Because I wish you to possess more than these, I do not advise you only to love your friends, but also your enemies. It is common to all to do good to those who do good to them. But he shows that he seeks something more than is the custom of sinners, who do good to their friends.
Hence it follows, And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have you?
THEOPHYL; But he not only condemns as unprofitable the love and kindness of sinners, but also the lending. As it follows, And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
AMBROSE; Now philosophy seems to divide justice into three parts; one towards God, which is called piety; another towards our parents, or the rest of mankind; a third to the dead, that the proper rites may be performed. But the Lord Jesus passing beyond the oracle of the law, and the heights of prophecy, extended the duties of piety to those also who have injured us, adding, But love your enemies.
CHRYS. Whereby you will confer more upon yourself than him. For he is beloved by a fellow servant, but you are made like to God. But it is a mark of the greatest virtue when we embrace with kindness those who wish to do us harm. Hence it follows, And do good. For as water, when cast upon a lighted furnace, extinguishes it, so also reason joined with gentleness. But what water is to fire, such is lowliness and meekness to wrath; and as fire is not extinguished by fire, so neither is anger soothed by anger.
GREG. NYSS. But man ought to shun that baneful anxiety with which he seeks from the poor man increase of his money and gold, exacting a profit of barren metals. Hence he adds, And lend, hoping for nothing again; &c. If a man should call the harsh calculation of interest, theft, or homicide, he will not err. For what is the difference, whether a man by digging under a wall become possessed of property, or possess it unlawfully by the compulsory rate of interest?
BASIL; Now this mode of avarice is rightly called in the Greek, from producing, because of the fruitfulness of the evil. Animals in course of time grow up and produce, but interest as soon as it is born begins to bring forth. Animals which bring forth most rapidly cease soonest from breeding, but the money of the avaricious goes on increasing with time. Animals when they transfer their bringing forth to their own young, themselves cease to breed, but the money of the covetous both produces an increase, and renews the capital. Touch not then the destructive monster. For what advantage that the poverty of today is escaped, if it falls upon us repeatedly, and is increased? Reflect then how can you restore yourself? Whence shall your money be so multiplied as that it will partly relieve your want, partly refresh your capital, , and besides bring forth interest? But you say, How shall I get my living? I answer, work, serve, last of all, beg; any thing is more tolerable than borrowing upon interest. But you say, what is that lending to which the hope of repayment is not attached? Consider the excellence of the words, and you wilt admire the mercifulness of the author. When you are about to give to a poor man from regard to divine charity, it is both a lending and a gift; a gift indeed, because no return is hoped for; lending, because of the beneficence of God, who restores it in its turn. Hence it follows, And great shall be your reward. Do you not wish the Almighty to be bound to restore to you? Or, should He make some rich citizen your security, do you accept him, but reject God standing as security for the poor?
CHRYS. Observe the wonderful nature of lending, one receives and another binds himself for his debts, giving a hundred fold at the present time, and in the future eternal life.
AMBROSE; How great the reward of mercy which is received into the privilege of divine adoption! For it follows, And you shall be the sons of the Highest. Follow then mercy, that you may obtain grace. Widely spread is the mercy of God; He pours His rain upon the unthankful, the fruitful earth refuses not its increase to the evil. Hence it follows, For he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.
THEOPHYL; Either by giving them temporal gifts, or by inspiring His heavenly gifts with a wonderful grace.
CYRIL; Great then is the praise of mercy. For this virtue makes us like to God, and imprints upon our souls certain signs as it were of a heavenly nature. Hence it follows, Be you then merciful, as your heavenly Father also is merciful.
ATHAN; That is to say, that we beholding His mercies, what good things we do should do them not with regard to men, but to Him, that we may obtain our rewards from God, not from men.
Ver 37. Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:38. Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
AMBROSE; The Lord added, that we must not readily judge others, lest when conscious of guilt yourself, you should be compelled to pass sentence upon another.
CHRYS. Judge not your superior, that is, you a disciple must not judge your master; nor a sinner the innocent. You must not blame them, but advise and correct with love; neither must we pass judgment in doubtful and indifferent matters, which bear no resemblance to sin, or which are not serious or forbidden.
CYRIL; He here expresses that worst inclination of our thoughts or hearts, which is the first beginning and origin of a proud disdain. For although it becomes men to look into themselves and walk after God, this they do not, but look into the things of others, and while they forget their own passions, behold the infirmities of some, and make them a subject of reproach.
CHRYS. You will not easily find any one, whether a father of a family or an inhabitant of the cloister, free from this error. But these are the wiles of the tempter. For he who severely sifts the fault of others, will never obtain acquittal for his own. Hence it follows And you shall not be judged. For as the merciful and meek man dispels the rage of sinners, so the harsh and cruel adds to his own crimes.
GREG. NYSS. Be not then rash to judge harshly of your servants, lest you suffer the like. For passing judgment calls down a heavier condemnation; as it follows, Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. For he does not forbid judgment with pardon.
THEOPHYL; Now in a short sentence he concisely sums up all that he had enjoined with respect to our conduct towards our enemies, saying, Forgive, and you shall be forgiven, wherein he bids us forgive injuries, and show kindness, and our sins shall be forgiven us, and we shall receive eternal life.
CYRIL; But that we shall receive more abundant recompense from God, who gives bountifully to those who love him, he explains as follows, Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom.
THEOPHYL. As if he says, As when you wish to measure meal without sparing, you press it down, shake it together, and let it pour over abundantly; so the Lord will give a large and overflowing measure into your bosom.
AUG. But he says, shall they give, because through the merits of those to whom they have given even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall they be thought worthy to receive a heavenly reward. It follows, For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
BASIL; For according to the same measure with which each one of you metes, that is, in doing good works or sinning, will he receive reward or punishment.
THEOPHYL. But some one will put the subtle question, “If the return is made over abundantly, how is it the same measure?” to which we answer, that He said not, “In just as great a measure shall it be measured to you again, but in the same measure.” “For he who has shown mercy, shall have mercy shown to him, and this is measuring again with the same measure; but our Lord spoke of the measure running over, because to such a one He will show mercy a thousand times. So also in judging; for he that judges and afterwards is judged receives the same measure. But as far as he was judged the more severely that he judged one like to himself, was the measure running over.
CYRIL; But the Apostle explains this when he says, He who sows sparingly, (that is, scantily, and with a niggardly hand,) shall also reap sparingly, (that is, not abundantly,) and he who sows blessings, shall reap also blessings, that is, bountifully. But if a man has not, and performs not, he is not guilty. For a man is accepted in that which he has, not in that which he has not.