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 19:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 12, 2011

Ver 1. And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho2. And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the Publicans, and he was rich.3. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.4. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.5. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at your house.6. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.7. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.8. And Zacchaeus stood, and said to the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold9. And Jesus said to him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.10. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

AMBROSE; Zacchaeus in the sycamore, the blind man by the way side: upon the one our Lord waits to show mercy, upon the other He confers the great glory of abiding in his house.

The chief among the Publicans is here fitly introduced. For who will hereafter despair of himself, now that he attains to grace who gained his living by fraud. And he too moreover a rich man, that we may know that not all rich men are covetous.

CYRIL; But Zacchaeus made no delay in what he did, and so was accounted worthy of the favor of God, which gives sight to the blind, and calls them who are afar off.

TIT. BOST. The seed of salvation had begun to spring up in him, for he desired to see Jesus, having never seen Him. For if he had seen Him, he would long since have given up the Publican’s wicked life. No one that sees Jesus can remain any longer in wickedness. But there were two obstacles to his seeing Him. The multitude not so much of men as of his sins prevented him, for he was little of stature.

AMBROSE; What means the Evangelist by describing his stature, and that of none other? It is perhaps because he was young in wickedness, or as yet weak in the faith. For he was not yet prostrate in sin who could climb up. He had not yet seen Christ.

TIT. BOST. But he discovered a good device; running before he climbed up into a sycamore, and saw Him whom he had long wished for, i.e. Jesus, passing by. Now Zacchaeus desired no more than to see, but He who is able to do more than v e ask for, granted to Him far above what he expected; as it follows,And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him. He saw the soul of the man striving earnestly to live a holy life, and converts him to godliness.

AMBROSE; Uninvited he invites Himself to his house; as it follows, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, &c. for He knew how richly He would reward his hospitality. And though He had not yet heard the word of invitation, He had already seen the will.

BEDE; See here, the camel disencumbered of his hunch passes through the eye of a needle, that is, the rich man and the publican abandoning his love of riches, and loathing his dishonest gains, receives the blessing of his Lord’s company. It follows, And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

AMBROSE; Let the rich learn that guilt attaches not to the goods themselves, but to those who know not how to use them. For riches, as they are hindrances to virtue in the unworthy, so are they means of advancing it in the good.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Observe the gracious kindness of the Savior. The innocent associates with the guilty, the fountain of justice with covetousness, which is the source of injustice. Having entered the publican’s house, He suffers no stain from the mists of avarice, but disperses them by the bright beam of His righteousness. But those who deal with biting words and reproaches, try to cast a slur upon the things which were done by Him; for it follows, And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

But He, though accused of being a wine-bibber and a friend of publicans, regarded it not, so long as He could accomplish His end. As a physician sometimes can not save his patients from their diseases without the defilement of blood. kind so it happened here, for the publican was converted, and lived a better life. Zacchaeus stood, and said to the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any man, I restore him fourfold. Behold here is a marvel: without learning he obeys. And as the sun pouring its rays into a house enlightens it not by word, but by work, so the Savior by the rays of righteousness put to flight the darkness of sin; for the light shines in darkness. Now every thing united is strong, but divided, weak, therefore Zacchaeus divides into two parts his substance. But we must be careful to observe, that his wealth was not made up from unjust gains, but from his patrimony, else how could he restore fourfold what he had unjustly extorted. He knew that the law ordered what was wrongly taken away to be restored fourfold, that if the law deterred not, a man’s losses might soften him. Zacchaeus waits not for the judgment of the law, but makes himself his own judge.

THEOPHYL. If we examine more closely, we shall see that nothing was left of his own property. For having given half of his goods to the poor, out of the remainder he restored fourfold to those whom he had injured. He not only promised this, but did it. For he says not, “I will give the half, and I will restore fourfold, but, I give, and I restore. To such Christ announces salvation; Jesus said to him, This day is salvation come to this house, signifying that Zacchaeus had attained to salvation, meaning by the house the inhabitant thereof. And it follows, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For He would not have given the name of a son of Abraham to a lifeless building.

BEDE; Zacchaeus is called the son of Abraham, not because he was born of Abraham’s seed, but because he imitates his faith, that as Abraham left his country and his father’s house, so he abandoned all his goods in giving them to the poor. And He well says, “He also,” to declare that not only those who had lived justly, but those who are raised up from a life of injustice, belong to the sons of promise.

THEOPHYL. He said not that he “was” a son of Abraham, but that he now is. For before when he was the chief among the publicans, and bore no likeness to the righteous Abraham, he was not his son. But because some murmured that he tarried with a man who was a sinner, he adds in order to restrain them, For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Why do you accuse me if I bring sinners to righteousness? So far am I from hating them, that for their sakes I came. For I came to heal, not to judge, therefore am I the constant guest of those that are sick, and I suffer their noisomeness that I may supply remedies. But some one may ask, how does Paul bid us, If we have a brother that is a fornicator or covetous man, with such not even to take food; whereas Christ was the guest of publicans? They were not as yet so far advanced as to be brethren, and besides, St. Paul bids us avoid our brethren only when they persist in evil, but these were converted.

BEDE; Mystically, Zacchaeus, which is by interpretation “justified,” signifies the Gentile believers, who were depressed and brought very low by their worldly occupations, but sanctified by God. And he was desirous to see our Savior entering Jericho, inasmuch as he sought to share in that faith which Christ brought into the world.CYRIL; The crowd is the tumultuous state of an ignorant multitude, which cannot see the lofty top of wisdom. Zacchaeus therefore, while he was in the crowd, saw not Christ, but having advanced beyond the vulgar ignorance, was thought worthy to entertain Him whom he desired to look upon.

BEDE; Or the crowd that is, the general habit of vice, which rebuked the blind man crying out, lest he should seek the light, also impedes Zacchaeus looking up, that he might not see Jesus; that as by crying out the more the blind man overcame the crowd, so the man weak in the faith by forsaking earthly things, and climbing the tree of the Cross, surmounts the opposing multitude. The sycamore, which is a tree resembling the mulberry in foliage, but exceeding it in height, whence by the Latins it is called “lofty,” is called the “foolish fig-tree,” and so the Cross of our Lord sustains believers, as the fig-tree figs, and is mocked by unbelievers as foolishness. This tree Zacchaeus, who was little in stature, climbed up, that he might be raised together with Christ; for every one who is humble, and conscious of his own weakness, cries out, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

AMBROSE; He has well added, that our Lord was to pass that way, either where the sycamore-tree was, or where he was who was about to believe, that so He might preserve the mystery, and sow the seeds of grace. For He had so come as that through the Jews He came to the Gentiles. He sees then Zacchaeus above, for already the excellence of his faith shone forth amidst the fruits of good works, and the loftiness of the fruitful tree; but Zacchaeus stands out above the tree, as one who is above the law.

BEDE; The Lord as He journeyed came to the place where Zacchaeus had climbed the sycamore, for having sent His preachers throughout the world in whom He Himself spoke and went, He comes to the Gentile people, who were already raised up on high through faith in His Passion, and whom when He looked up He saw, for He chose them through grace. Now our Lord once abode in the house of the chief of the Pharisees, but when He did works such as none but God could do, they railed at Him Wherefore hating their deeds He departed, saying, Your house shall be left to you desolate; but now He must needs stay at the house of the weak Zacchaeus, that is, by the grace of the new law brightly shining, He must take rest in the hearts of tile lowly nations. But that Zacchaeus is bid to come down from the sycamore tree, and prepare an abode for Christ, this is what the Apostle says, Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. And again elsewhere, For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. It is plain that the Jews always hated the salvation Of the Gentiles; but salvation, which formerly filled the houses of the Jews, has this day shone upon the Gentiles, forasmuch as this people also by believing on God is a son of Abraham.

THEOPHYL. It is easy to turn this to a moral use. For whoever surpasses many in wickedness is small in spiritual growth, and cannot see Jesus for the crowd. For disturbed by passion and worldly things, he beholds not Jesus walking, that is, working in us, not recognizing His operation. But he climbs up to the top of a sycamore-tree, in that he rises above the sweetness of pleasure, which is signified by a fig, and subduing it, and so becoming more exalted, he sees and is seen by Christ.

GREG. Or because the sycamore is from its name called the foolish fig, the little Zacchaeus gets up into the sycamore and sees the Lord, for they who humbly choose the foolish things of this world are those who contemplate most closely the wisdom of God. For what is more foolish in this world than not to seek for what is lost, to give our possessions to robbers, to return not injury for injury? However, by this wise foolishness, the wisdom of God is seen, not yet really as it is, but by the light of contemplation.

THEOPHYL. The Lord said to him, Make haste and come down, that is, “you have ascended by penitence to a place too high for you, come down by humility, lest your exaltation cause you to sky. I must abide in the house of a humble man. We have two kinds of goods in us, bodily, and spiritual; the just man gives up all his bodily goods to the poor, but he forsakes not his spiritual goods, but if he has extorted any thing from any one, he restores to him fourfold; signifying thereby that if a man by repentance walks in the Opposite path to his former perverseness, he by the manifold practice of virtue heals all his old offenses, and so merits salvation, and is called the son of Abraham, because he went out from his own kindred, that is, from his ancient wickedness.

2 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 19:1-10”

  1. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 19:1-10). […]

  2. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 19:1-10). […]

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