Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:54-59
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2013
Luk 12:54 And he said also to the multitudes: When you see a cloud rising from the west, presently you say: A shower is coming. And so it happeneth.
Luk 12:55 And when ye see the south wind blow, you say: There will heat. And it cometh to pass.
“A cloud rising out of the west,” is a certain prognostic of rainy weather, “you say,” from observation and past experience, “and so it happeneth,” generally (see 1 Kings 18:44).
Luk 12:56 You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the heaven and of the earth: but how is it that you do not discern this time?
(See Matthew 16:3.) “Hypocrites.” In this He points to the Scribes and Pharisees, many of whom, with their followers, were probably among the “multitudes” whom our Lord addresses here (v. 54). These “hypocrites,” owing to their voluntary blindness, disguising from themselves the truth of what they saw, and inflated with a vain idea of their Jewish justice, refused to submit themselves to the justice of God, condemning them by the mouth of Jesus Christ, who had only in view their correction. Although well versed in judging rightly of sensible things, they were blind to the important concern, relating to the coming of Christ and its signs, contained in the prediction of the prophecies regarding Him.
Luk 12:57 And why, even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?
Luk 12:58 And when thou goest with thy adversary to the prince, whilst thou art in the way, endeavour to be delivered from him: lest perhaps he draw thee to he judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exacter, and the exacter cast thee into prison.
According to some Expositors (Ven. Bede among the rest), our Lord, in these words, anticipates or answers an objection which the illiterate crowd might raise against their knowing the Messiah from the signs alleged, on the ground, that they were utterly ignorant of Scripture and the prophecies. From their own consciences and from natural reason, aided by grace, which God refuses to none who ask it, they should know, that He who performed the works whereof they were witnesses, which no other man did, was the expected Messiah; and they should judge justly of what is fit and proper regarding Him. According to this interpretation, there is reference here to the foregoing. What follows would be a different argument or subject altogether. From the Greek, however, which runs thus: “For when thou goest with thy adversary,” &c., it would seem rather to be connected with what follows, and to have reference to man’s reconciliation with God, while there is time, which is illustrated by a human example drawn from the conduct or mode of acting on the part of men when about to appear in judgment before an earthly judge. The example does not seem to have reference to the same thing or occasion spoken of (Matthew 5:25.) For, here, there is question of reconciliation with God; there, with our neighbour. The words would then mean: why do you not judge, from what occurs among yourselves, from what you are wont to do in human transactions, of what it is right and just for you to do in reference to spiritual and eternal interests, in the work of reconciliation with God, which is now presented to you by me. (58). For when there is question of human obligations and debts, real or personal, if about to be brought before a judge, what do you do? Do you not arrange with your adversary on the way to the trial, in order to escape a greater punishment and loss? So should you make peace with God by penance and faith in Me, His Eternal Son, before the day of just retribution and vengeance arrives, and irreparable ruin befall you.
Luk 12:59 I say to thee, thou shalt not go out thence until thou pay the very last mite.
(See Matthew 5:25, 26.) Here is what the Bishop wrote concerning that passage:
Mat 5:25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
A continuation of the subject of reconciliation with our offended neighbour, and a new motive for doing so. In the preceding verses, is urged its necessity, in order that our other actions would be pleasing to God. In this verse, it is urged, in order to avoid the punishment which the neglect or voluntary omission to make due reparation would entail upon us.
“Thy adversary” (αντιδικος), an antagonist in a law suit; thy offended or injured fellow-creature. The words of this verse are, in their literal sense, allusive to the case of litigants on their way to a court of law, where the offending party wisely arranges matters, settles the case with his “adversary,” to avoid the penalty which the judge would award, perhaps the disgrace of imprisonment which might ensue. But, in their spiritual sense and application to the subject in hand, which is chiefly intended by our Redeemer under the guise of legal and forensic terms, all of which need not be applied to the chief subject of illustration, they are meant to convey, that we should be reconciled with our offended brother, “the adversary,” “who has something against us” (v. 23), while “in the way,” i.e., in this life, journeying to eternity and approaching nearer and nearer to the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, before which we must all “appear” (2 Cor. 5:10). “Lest perhaps, the adversary deliver thee to the judge,” by remitting the matter to God, who will take cognizance of it in His own time, or, lest his just cause and the injury unatoned for should plead with the judge against thee.
“The officer,” the devil and his angels. It is not, however, necessary to apply every word and part of a parable to the subject illustrated. The whole idea is, lest neglecting to discharge the duty of just reconciliation and reparation, you die in your sins, and be condemned by the just judgment of God, to everlasting and unchangeable punishment in the gloomy prison of hell, out of which there is no escape or ransom. It is not necessary, as regards the chief subject, to inquire into the application of the word, “officer,” or “last farthing,” &c. These terms are merely used to perfect the parable; and, probably, not intended to be applied to the chief subject.
Mat 5:26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.
In this is conveyed the rigour with which the sentence of the Eternal Judge shall be carried into execution in the life to come. If there be question of condemnation for mortal guilt, and of hell’s prison, whereas, full satisfaction—“the last farthing”—can never be made, the culprit shall not leave it for eternity. Some writers, from the particle, “until,” regard it as possible that reparation would be made in the case, and the accused party would leave his prison; and hence, they derive an argument in favour of the doctrine of Purgatory. But this does not necessarily follow from the text. It can be understood, and, most likely, ought, of never-ending punishment, as St. Augustine says, “donec pœnas œternas luent,” i.e., always paying eternal punishment. The meaning would be, “you must remain there, till you pay the last farthing, and if unable to pay it, then you shall never leave it.” If there were question of venial sin, then, the interpretation would be different. But it serves no purpose to be adducing weak or dubious arguments in proof of a doctrine clearly established from other undoubted sources. It only does mischief. And the enemies of the faith will be sure to enlarge upon the weak arguments, as if no better were forthcoming, leaving the undoubted arguments unheeded. (See comment. on 2 Peter 1:15).
- Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:35-38 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 18:1-8 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
- Sunday, October 20, 2013~Commentaries and Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms_ (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)