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

Tuesday, July 5: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 9:32-38)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 3, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

Mat 9:32  And when they were gone out, behold they brought him a dumb man, possessed with a devil.

They brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. Gr. κωφὸν, which rather means deaf than dumb, but the word, says S. Jerome, is used indifferently, in both senses, in Scripture. For they who are deaf from their birth, are usually dumb; for they who cannot hear anything, are not able to learn sounds and words, so as to speak them. For we only learn what we hear. Wherefore Christ did not require faith from this man as He did from others. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact.

Moreover, the word dumb is not to be referred to the devil, as Cajetan thinks, but to the man, as is clear from the Greek δαιμονιζόμενον. The Syriac translation makes this plain, They offered unto him a dumb man, in whom was a demon. This was a different demoniac from the one of whom Luke speaks (Luke 11:14), for of this latter Matthew speaks below (Matt 12:22). Here Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him (Isa 35:4-6), “Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you.  Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness.”

Mat 9:33  And after the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke, and the multitudes wondered, saying, Never was the like seen in Israel.

And after the devil was cast out, the dumb spoke. From this it appears that the demon made this man deaf and dumb, who was not so naturally. He did this by hindering the use of his tongue and ears, so that, when he was cast out, the dumb man both spake and heard. How wonderful was the benignity and mercy of Christ by which He made whole a man who neither asked nor thought about it—yea, who was unable either to speak or think, for he was possessed by a devil—simply at the prayer of those who brought him. Verily, wheresoever there is greatest affliction, there-are most nigh the mercy and help of Christ, according to the words, “The abyss” of our misery, “calls to the abyss” of the Divine mercy.

The multitudes wondered, saying, &c. Neither Moses, nor Elias, nor Isaiah, nor any other of the prophets, performed so many and so great miracles as Jesus did. Therefore He was greater than they, and so was the Messias, or Christ. They preferred Christ, says S. Chrysostom, to all others, because He quickly healed an infinite number of incurable diseases.

Mat 9:34  But the Pharisees said, By the prince of devils he casteth out devils.

But the Pharisees said, By the prince of devils he casteth out devils. As among the angels, so also among the devils, some are lower, others higher in rank, and princes, viz., those of the higher orders who fell, who were of a grander nature; for that which was theirs naturally remained in the devils after their fall. Thus those who fell of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones are princes among the lower orders of the Dominions, the Principalities, and the Powers; and these again are princes over the inferior fallen orders of Virtues, Archangels, and Angels. Thus even among rebel soldiers there are standard-bearers, colonels, captains. For without these an army cannot be marshalled and governed. Lucifer is the prince of all the devils, as S. Michael is of all the angels, as I have said on Apoc. xii. Observe the different dispositions of the Pharisees and the multitude. The multitude, with artless candour, magnified the miracles of Christ as done by a Divine Person, even the Messiah. But the Pharisees were envious of Christ, and had indignation against Him, and said that He was a magician, and had a familiar demon, by whose magic art He did these wonderful things. This was the awful blasphemy which Christ refutes in chap xii. 25. But now, meekly bearing and despising their charges, He proceeds in His course of doing good, and confutes their blasphemies by fresh miracles.

Mat 9:35  And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity.

And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, &c. Towns (more properly, villages), in the Vulgate, castella. Castrum is a place surrounded by walls, and is greater than a castle and less than a town, from whence the diminutive castellum means a little town. These castella, then, were forts, or small walled towns; and the meaning became extended to signify villages without walls, which the Greeks call κώμας.

Christ visited not only inhabitants of cities, and those who were had in honour, but poor men and rustics dwelling in villages, and taught and healed them. Let priests and religious imitate this example of Christ. Desire not, 0 preacher, to hold forth in the magnificent cathedrals of great cities, for Christ taught in villages, as well as in cities, and thus He was the Catechist and Preacher, as well as the Redeemer, of the sparsely scattered and poor rustics.

Mat 9:36  And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.

And seeing the multitudes, &c. Had compassion, the Greek is ε̉σπλαγχνίσθη, that is, pitied them from His inmost bowels. This is the same word, as to its use, as the Hebrew רחם rechem, “bowels,” and so, mercifulness. (The term “bowels,” like its Hebrew equivalent, has the meaning of “womb.”  The word was often used to denote the feelings a parent undergoes when a child is injuured and came to mean pity, compassion, co-suffering, mercy. We today might call his reaction “visceral.”).

Like sheep with no shepherd. There is no animal so simple, careless, improvident, so exposed to be the prey of wolves and other wild beasts, and therefore so needing a keeper, as a sheep. Christ takes notice that the Scribes and priests, did not care for the good of the people, to lead them in the way of salvation. And so they were not pastors, but shearers of the sheep, who only cared for the milk and the fleece, that is, for what profit they could make out of the people. The Scribes, says S. Chrysostom, were not so much shepherds of the sheep as wolves, for in word they taught them false and perverse doctrines, and by their example they destroyed the souls of the simple ones, especially in that they called Christ a magician, and so alienated from Him the minds of those who were well disposed to Him.

Mat 9:37  Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.

The harvest truly is great, &c. The harvest He calls the multitude of the people prepared to receive the Gospel, the seeds of which the Prophets had sown. Whence, as S. Austin saith, “the holy Apostles reaped among the Jews, but sowed among the Gentiles, because they delivered to them the first doctrines of the faith, as it were seed.”

Mat 9:38  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, &c., namely, that He would send you, 0 ye Apostles, and your co-adjutors and successors, and inspire them with the spirit of wisdom and zeal, assiduously to preach and to labour, that this so copious a harvest perish not. This passage prepares for the missionary discourse which follows in chapter 10.  It is a literary feature of Matthew’s Gospel that each narrative (e.g., chapters 1-4; 8-9; 11-12, etc.,) prepares for the discourse which follows (e.g., chapters 5-7; 10; 13 etc.,). On this important literary feature, so important for understanding Matthew, one can profitably consult MATTHEW, HIS MIND AND MESSAGE, by Catholic biblical scholar Peter F. Ellis. It is now out of print but copies can sometimes be found on Amazon.

The Lord of the harvest. Thus, tacitly, Christ calls Himself. As S. Chrysostom says, the Lord sent His Apostles to reap that which He Himself had sown by the Prophets. Remigius adds, The number or labourers was increased by the appointment of seventy-two other disciples.

Here ends the early manhood of Christ and His Acts from His Baptism and first Passover until His second Passover. That is to say, it is the history of one year and some months. This was the thirty-first year of Christ’s age.

This last paragraph reflects Lapide’s Monotessaron, or, as it is sometimes called, the Chronotaxin, his attempt to chronologically arrange the events of Jesus life and ministry.

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2 Responses to “Tuesday, July 5: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 9:32-38)”

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  2. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 9:32-38). […]

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