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 Matthew 10:7-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 3, 2011

Note: Verse 7 was also included in yesterday’s Gospel reading and so, as a consequence, a small portion of today’s commentary is a repetition of yesterday’s post.

7. And as ye go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’8. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

Gloss., non occ.: Having told them to whom they should go, He now introduces what they should preach; “Go and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Rabanus: The kingdom of heaven is here said to draw nigh by the faith in the unseen Creator which is bestowed upon us, not by any movement of the visible elements. The saints are rightly denoted by the heavens, because they contain God by faith, and love Him with affection.

Chrys.: Behold the greatness of their ministry, behold the dignity of the Apostles. They are not to preach of any thing that can be an object of sense, as Moses and the Prophets did; but things new and unlooked for; those preached earthly goods, but these the kingdom of heaven and all the goods that are there.

Greg.: Miracles also were granted to the holy preachers, that the power they should shew might be a pledge of the truth of their words, and they who preached new things should also do new things; wherefore it follows, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out daemons.”

Jerome: Lest peasants untaught and illiterate, without the graces of speech, should obtain credit with none when they announced the kingdom of heaven, He gives them power to do the things above mentioned, that the greatness of the miracles might approve the greatness of their promises.

Hilary: The exercise of the Lord’s power is wholly entrusted to the Apostles, that they who were formed in the image of Adam, and the likeness of God, should now obtain the perfect image of Christ; and whatever evil Satan had introduced into the body of Adam, this they should now repair by communion with the Lord’s power.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxix, 4: These signs were necessary in the beginning of the Church; the faith of the believers must be fed with miracles, that it might grow.

Chrys.: But afterwards they ceased when a reverence for the faith was universally established. Or, if they were continued at all, they were few and seldom; for it is usual with God to do such things when evil is increased, then He shews forth His power.

Greg.: The Holy Church daily doth spiritually, what it then did materially by the Apostles; yea, things far greater, inasmuch as she raises and cures souls and not bodies.

Remig.: “The sick” are the slothful who have not strength to live well; “the lepers” are the unclean in sin and carnal delights; the daemoniacs are they that are given up under the power of the Devil.

Jerome: And because spiritual gifts are more lightly esteemed, when money is made the means of obtaining them, He adds a condemnation of avarice; “Freely ye have received, freely give;” I your Master and Lord have imparted these to you without price, do you therefore give them to others in like manner, that the free grace of the Gospel be not corrupted.

Gloss., non occ.: This He says, that Judas who had the bag might not use the above power for getting money; a plain condemnation of the abomination of the simoniacal heresy.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., iv, 4: For He knew before that there would be some that would turn the gift of the Spirit which they had received into merchandize, and pervert the power of miracles into an instrument of their covetousness.

Chrys.: Observe how He is as careful that they should be upright in moral virtue, as that they should have the miraculous powers, shewing that miracles without these are nought. “Freely ye have received,” seems a check upon their pride; “freely give,” a command to keep themselves pure from filthy lucre. Or, that what they should do might not be thought to be their own benevolence, He says, “Freely ye have received;” as much as to say; Ye bestow nothing of your own on these ye relieve; for ye have not received these things for money, nor for wages of labour; as ye have received them, so give to others; for indeed it is not possible to receive a price equal to their value.

Ver 9. “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,10. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”

Chrys.: The Lord having forbidden to make merchandize of spiritual things, proceeds to pull up the root of all evil, saying, “Possess neither gold, nor silver.”

Jerome: For if they preach without receiving reward for it, the possession of gold and silver and wealth was unnecessary. For had they had such, they would have been thought to be preaching, not for the sake of men’s salvation, but their own gain.

Chrys.: This precept then first frees the Apostles from all suspicions; secondly, from all care, so that they may give up their whole time to preaching the word; thirdly, teaches there their excellence. This is what He said to them afterwards, “Was any thing lacking to you, when I sent you without bag or scrip?”

Jerome: As He had cut off riches, which are meant by gold and silver, He now almost cuts off necessaries of life; that the Apostles, teachers of the true religion, who taught men that all things are directed by God’s providence, might shew themselves to be without thought for the morrow.

Gloss., non occ.: Whence He adds, “Neither money in your purses.” For there are two kinds of things necessary; one is the means of buying necessaries, which is signified by the money in their purses; the other the necessaries themselves, which are signified by the scrip.

Jerome: In forbidding the scrip, “neither scrip for your journey,” He aimed at those philosophers commonly called Bactroperatae, who being despisers of this world, and esteeming all things as nothing, yet carry a bag about with them.

“Nor two coats.” By the two coats He seems to mean a change of raiment; not to bid us be content with a single tunic in the snow and frosts of Scythia, but that they should not carry about a change with them, wearing one, and carrying about the other as provision for the future.

“Nor shoes.” It is a precept of Plato, that the two extremities of the body should be left unprotected, and that we should not accustom ourselves to tender care of the head and feet; for if these parts be hardy, it will follow that the rest of the body will be vigorous and healthy. “Nor staff;” for having the protection of the Lord, why need we seek the aid of a staff?

Remig.: The Lord shews by these words that the holy preachers were reinstated in the dignity of the first man, who as long as he possessed the heavenly treasures, did not desire other; but having lost those by sinning, he straightway began to desire the other.

Chrys.: A happy exchange! In place of gold and silver, and the like, they received power to heal the sick, to raise the dead. For He had not commanded them from the beginning, “Possess neither gold nor silver;” but only then when He said at the same time, “Cleanse the lepers, cast out daemons.” Whence it is clear that He made them Angels more than men, freeing them from all anxiety of this life, that they might have but one care, that of teaching; and even of that He in a manner takes away the burden, saying, “Be not careful what ye shall speak.” Thus what seemed hard and burdensome, He shews them to be light and easy. For nothing is so pleasant as to be delivered from all care and anxiety, more especially when it is possible, being delivered from this, to lack nothing, God being present, and being to us instead of all things.

Jerome: As He had sent the Apostles forth unprovided and unencumbered on their mission, and the condition of the teachers seemed a hard one, He tempered the severity of the rules by this maxim, “The labourer is worthy of his hire,” i.e. Receive what you need for your food and clothing. Whence the Apostle says, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.” [1Ti_6:8] And again, “Let him that is catechized communicate unto him that catechizeth in all good things;” that they whose disciples reap spiritual things, should make them partakers of their carnal things, not for the gratification of covetousness, but for the supply of wants.

Chrys.: It behoved the Apostles to be supported by their disciples, that neither they should be haughty towards those whom they taught, as though they gave all, and received nothing; and that the others, on their part, should not fall away, as overlooked by them. Also that the Apostles might not cry, He bids us lead the life of beggars, and should be ashamed thereat, He shews that this is their due, calling them “labourers,” and that which is given their “hire.” For they were not to suppose that because what they gave was only words, therefore they were to esteem it but a small benefit that they conferred; therefore He says, “The labourer is worthy of his meat.” This He said not to signify that the labours of the Apostles were only worth so much, but laying down a rule for the Apostles, and persuading those that gave, that what they gave was only what was due.

Aug., Serm., 46: The Gospel therefore is not for sale, that it should be preached for reward. For if they so sell it, they sell a great thing for a small price. Let preachers then receive their necessary support from the people, and from God the reward of their employment. For the people do not give pay to those that minister to them in the love of the Gospel, but as it were a stipend that may support them to enable them to work.

Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 30: Otherwise; When the Lord said to the Apostles, “Possess not gold,” He added immediately, “The labourer is worthy of his hire,” to shew why He would not have them possess and carry about these things; not that these things were not needed for the support of this life, but that He sent them in such a way as to shew that these things were due to them from those to whom they preached the Gospel, as pay to soldiers. It is clear that this precept of the Lord does not at all imply that they ought not according to the Gospel to live by any other means, than by the contributions of those to whom they preached; otherwise Paul transgressed this precept when he lived by the labour of his own hands. But He gave the Apostles authority that these things were due to them from the house in which they abode. But when the Lord has issued a command, if it be not performed, it is the sin of disobedience; when He bestows a privilege, it is in any one’s power not to use it, and as it were to refrain from claiming his right.

The Lord then having sanctioned this maxim, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel, He spoke these things to the Apostles, that being confident they should not possess nor carry about with them the necessaries of life, neither things great nor things small. Therefore He adds, “Nor a staff,” to shew that from His people all things are due to His ministers, and they require no superfluities. This authority He signifies by the staff, saying in Mark, “Take nothing but a staff only.” [Mar_6:18] And when He forbids them (in Matthew) to take with them shoes, He forbids that carefulness and thought which would be anxious to carry them lest they should be wanting.

Thus also we must understand concerning the two coats, that none should think it necessary to carry another besides that which he wore, supposing that he should have need of it; for it would be in his power to obtain one by this authority which the Lord gave. Further that we read in Mark that they should be shod with sandals, seems to imply that this kind of shoe has a mystic meaning in it, that the foot should neither be covered above, nor yet bare beneath, that is, that the Gospel should not be hid, nor yet rest itself on earthly advantage.

Also when He forbids them to carry two coats, He warned them not to walk deceitfully, but in simplicity. So we cannot doubt that all these things were said by the Lord, partly in a direct, partly in a figurative sense; and that of the two Evangelists one inserted some things, the other things, in his narrative. If any one should think that the Lord could not in one speech speak some things in a direct, and some things in a mystic sense, let him look at any other of His sayings, and he will see how hasty and unlearned his opinion is. When the Lord commands that the left hand should not know what the right hand doeth, does he think that almsgiving, and the rest of His precepts in that place are to be taken figuratively?

Jerome: Thus far we have expounded by the letter; but metaphorically, as we often find gold put for the sense, silver for the words, brass for the voice – all these we may say we are not to receive from others, but to have them given by the Lord. We are not to take up the teaching of heretics, of philosophers, and of corrupt doctrine.

Hilary: The “girdle” is the making ready for the ministry, the girding up that we may be active in duty; we may suppose that the forbidding money in the girdle is to warn us from suffering any thing in the ministry to be bought and sold. We are not to have “a scrip by the way,  that is, we are to leave all care of our worldly substance; for all treasure on earth in hurtful to the heart, which will be there where the treasure is.

“Not two coats,” for it is enough to have once put on Christ, nor after true knowledge of Him ought we to be clothed with any other garment of heresy or law.

“Not shoes,” because standing on holy ground as was said to Moses not covered with the thorns and prickles of sin, we are admonished to have no other preparation of our walk than that we have received from Christ.

Jerome: Or; The Lord herein teaches us that our feet are not to be bound with the chains of death, but to be bare as we tread on the holy ground. We are not to carry a staff which may be turned into a serpent, nor to trust in any arm of flesh; for all such is a reed on which if a man lean ever so lightly, it will break and go into his hand and pierce him.

Hilary: “Neither a staff;” that is, We are not to seek rights of extraneous power, having a rod from the root of Jesse.

Ver 11. “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.12. And when ye come into an house, salute it.13. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.15. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, then for that city.”

Chrys.: The Lord had said above, “The workman is worthy of his meat;” that they should not hence suppose that He would open all doors to them, He here commands them to use much circumspection in the choice of a host, saying, “Into what city or town ye enter, enquire who in it is worthy.”

Jerome: The Apostles, on entering a strange town, could not know of each inhabitant what sort of man he was; they were to choose their host therefore by the report of the people, and opinion of the neighbours, that the worthiness of the preacher might not be disgraced by the ill character of his entertainer.

Chrys.: How then did Christ Himself abide with the publican? Because he was made worthy by his conversion; for this command that he should be worthy, had respect not to their rank, but to their furnishing food. For if he be worthy he will provide them with food, especially when they need no more than bare necessaries. Observe how though He stripped them of all property, He supplied all their wants, suffering them to abide in the houses of those whom they taught. For so they were both themselves set free from care, and convinced men that it was for their salvation only that they had come, seeing they carried nothing about with them, and desired nothing beyond necessaries. And they did not lodge at all places indiscriminately, for He would not have them known only by their miracles, but much more by their virtues. But nothing is a greater mark of virtue, than to discard superfluities.

Jerome: One host is chosen who does not so much confer a favour upon him who is to abide with him, as receive one. For it is said, “Who in it is worthy,” that he may know that he rather receives than does a favour.

Chrys.: Also observe that He has not yet endowed them with all gifts; for He has not given them power to discern who is worthy, but bids them seek out; and not only to find out who is worthy, but also not to pass from house to house, saying, “And there remain until ye depart out of that city;” so they would neither make their entertainer sorrowful, nor themselves incur suspicion of lightness or gluttony.

Ambrose, Ambros., in Luc., 9. 5: The Apostles are not to choose carelessly the house into which they enter, that they may have no cause for changing their lodging; the same caution is not enforced upon the entertainer, lest in choosing his guests, his hospitality should be diminished.  “When ye enter a house, salute it, saying, Peace be to this house.”

Gloss., interlin.: As much as to say, Pray ye for peace upon the master of the house, that all resistance to the truth may be pacified.

Jerome: Here is a latent allusion to the form of salutation in Hebrew and Syriac; they say Salemalach, or Salamalach, for the Greek, or Latin, Ave; that is, ‘Peace be with you.’ The command then is, that on entering any house they should pray for peace for their host; and, as far as they may be able, to still all discords, so that if any quarrel should arise, they, who had prayed for peace should have it – others should have the discord; as it follows, “And if that house be worthy, your peace shall rest upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you again.”

Remig., ap. Raban.: Thus either the hearer, being predestined to eternal life, will follow the heavenly word when he hears it; or if there be none who will hear it, the preacher himself shall not be without fruit; for his peace returns to him when he receives of the Lord recompense for all his labour.

Chrys.: The Lord instructs them, that though they were teachers, yet they should not look to be first saluted by others; but that they should honour others by first saluting them. And then He shews them that they should give not a salutation only, but a benediction, when He says, “If that house be worthy, your peace shall rest upon it.”

Remig.: The Lord therefore taught his disciples to offer peace on their entering into a house, that by means of their salutation their choice might be directed to a worthy house and host. As though He had said, Offer peace to all, they will shew themselves either worthy by accepting, or unworthy by not accepting it; for though you have chosen a hose that is worthy by the character he bears among his neighbours, yet ought you to salute him, that the preacher may seem rather to enter by invitation, than to intrude himself. This salutation of peace in few words may indeed by referred to the trial of the worthiness of the house or master.

Hilary: The Apostles salute the house with the prayer of peace; yet so as that peace seems rather spoken than given. For their own peace which was the bowels of their pity ought not to rest upon the house if it were not worthy; then the sacrament of heavenly peace could be kept within the Apostles own bosom. Upon such as rejected the precepts of the heavenly kingdom an eternal curse is left by the departure of the Apostles, and the dust shaken from their feet; “And whosoever shall not receive you, not hear your words, “when ye go out of that house, or that town, cast the dust off your feet.” For he that lives in any place seems to have a kind of fellowship with that place. By the casting the dust off the feet, therefore all that belonged to that house is left behind, and nothing of healing or soundness is borrowed from the footsteps of the Apostles having trod their soil.

Jerome: Also they shake off the dust as a testimony of the Apostles’ toil, that in preaching the Gospel they had come even so far, or as a token that from those that rejected the Gospel they would accept nothing, not even the necessaries of life.

Rabanus: Otherwise; The feet of the disciples signify the labour and progress of preaching. The dust which covers them is the lightness of earthly thoughts, from which even the greatest doctors cannot be free; their anxiety for their hearers involves them in cares for their prosperity, and in passing through the ways of this world, they gather the dust of the earth they tread upon. They then who have despised the teaching of these doctors, turn upon themselves all the toils and dangers and anxieties of the Apostles as a witness to their damnation. And lest it should seem a slight thing not to receive the Apostles, He adds, “verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”

Jerome: Because to the men of Sodom and Gomorrah no man had ever preached; but this city had been preached to and had rejected the Gospel.

Remig., ap. Raban.: Or because the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were hospitable among their sensuality, but they had never entertained such strangers as the Apostles.

Jerome: But if it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for that city, hence we may learn that there is difference of degree in the punishment of sinners.

Remig.: Sodom and Gomorrah are especially mentioned, to shew that those sins which are against nature are particularly hateful to God, for which the world was drowned with the waters of the deluge, four towns were overthrown, and the world is daily afflicted with manifold evils.

Hilary: Figuratively, The Lord teaches us not to enter the houses or to mix in the acquaintance of those who persecute Christ, or who are ignorant of Him; and in each town to enquire who among them is worthy, i.e.where there is a Church wherein Christ dwells; and not to pass to another, because this house is worthy, this host is our right host. But there would be many of the Jews who would be so well disposed to the Law, that though they believed in Christ because they admired His works, yet they would abide in the works of the Law; and others again who, desiring to make trial of that liberty which is in Christ, would feign themselves ready to forsake the Law for the Gospel; many also would be drawn aside into heresy by perverse understanding. And since all these would falsely maintain that with them only was Catholic verity, therefore we must with great caution seek out the house, i.e. the Church.

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2 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 10:7-15”

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