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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea: What’s the Big Deal?
This commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew; because Mark's Gospel itself is shorter, and also it covers much of the same ground as Matthew. As with the commentary on St. Matthew, it is set forth as a great conversation between the church fathers; they reply to each other, and put forward alternate readings of the same passages. Are you looking for solid commentary on the text itself, by people who take the Gospel seriously?
Are you tir This commentary on the Gospel according to St. Are you tired of psychologizing, spiritualizing, modernizing commentary? Tired of the spirit of the times? Then come to the Catena Aurea and be refreshed. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas sometimes styled Thomas of Aquin or Aquino , was a Dominican friar and priest notable as a scholastic theologian and philosopher. He is honored as a saint and "Doctor of the Church" in the Roman Catholic tradition.
Origen: But as, at the dispensation of the Cross, the sun was eclipsed, and darkness was spread over the earth; so when the sign of the Son of Man appears in heaven, the light of the sun, moon, and [p. This we understand to be the sign of the cross, that the Jews. That the disciples might not be ashamed, and grieve over the cross, He speaks of it as a sign, with a kind of distinction.
The sign of the cross will appear to overthrow the shamelessness of the Jews, when Christ shall appear in the judgment, shewing not only His wounds, but His most ignominious death, "And then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn. Jerome: Rightly does He say, "the tribes of the earth," for they shall mourn who have no citizenship in heaven, but are written in earth.
Origen: Morally, one may say that the sun, which shall be darkened, is the Devil, who shall be convicted in the end of the world, that whereas he is darkness, he has feigned himself to be the sun; the moon, which seems to receive its light from this sun, is the Church of the wicked, which professes to have and to give light, but then convicted with its sinful dogmas, shall lose its brightness; and all those who, either by false teaching, or false virtues, promised truth to men, but led them astray by lies, these are fitly called stars falling from, so to say, their own heaven, where they were raised on high, exalting themselves against the knowledge of God.
For illustration of this discourse, we may apply that place in Proverbs, which says, "The light of the just is unquenchable, but the light of the wicked shall be quenched. Then shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light," [Song of Songs ] because in that ungoverned fury of wicked persecutors, the Church shall not be seen.
- Catena Aurea (the Golden Chain)?
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And these things shall be "after the tribulation of those days," not because they shall happen when the whole persecution is overpast, but because the tribulation shall be first, that the falling away may come after. And because it shall be so throughout all those days, it shall be "after the tribulation of those days," yet on those very days.
As we read in the Acts of the Apostles; "He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out their sight," [Acts ] upon which it was said by the Angels, "He shall so come as ye have seen Him go into heaven," we may reasonably believe that He will come again, not only in the same body, but also in a cloud. Origen: Therefore shall they see with the bodily eyes the Son of Man, coming in human shape, "in the clouds of heaven," that is, on high. As at the transfiguration, a voice came out of the cloud, so when He shall come again transformed into His glorious appearance, it shall be not on one cloud, but upon many, which shall be His chariot.
And if when the Son of God went up to Jerusalem, they who loved Him spread their garments in the way, not willing that even the ass that carried Him should tread upon the earth; what wonder, if the Father and God of all should spread the clouds of heaven under the body of the Son, when He comes to the work of the consummation? And one may say, that as in the creation of man, God took clay from the earth and made man; so to manifest the glory of Christ, the Lord taking of the heaven, and of its substance, gave it a body [p. And it behoves the Father to give all such admirable gifts to the Son, because He humbled Himself; and He has also exalted Him, not only spiritually, but bodily, that He should come upon such clouds; and perhaps upon rational clouds, that even the chariot of the glorified Son of Man should not be irrational.
At the first, Jesus came with that power with which He wrought signs and wonders in the people; yet was that power little in comparison of that great power with which He shall come in the end; for that was the power of one emptying Himself of power. And also, it is fitting that He should be transformed into greater glory than at the transfiguration on the mount; for then He was transfigured for the sake of three only, but in the consummation of the whole world, He shall appear in great glory, that all may see Him in glory.
All these things He does at "the last hour" [1 John ] coming in His members as in the clouds, or in the whole Church as in one great cloud, as now He ceases not to come. And "with great power and glory," because His power and glory will seem greater in the Saints to whom He will give great power, that they may not be overcome of persecution.
Origen: Or He comes every day "with great power" to the mind of the believer in the clouds of prophecy, that is, in the Scriptures of the Prophets and the Apostles, who utter the word of God with a meaning above human nature. Also we say that to those who understand He comes with "great glory," and that this is the more seen in the second coming of the Word which is to the perfect. And so it may be, that all which the three Evangelists have said concerning Christ's [p. Origen: Because He had spoken of mourning, which shall be only that they may bear witness against themselves and condemn themselves, that none should suppose that that mourning will end their woes, He now adds, "And he shall send his Angels with a trump and a loud voice.
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Origen: It is written in Numbers, that the Priests shall summon by the sound of the trumpet from the four winds those who are of the camp of Israel [Num ], and it is in allusion to this that Christ speaks here of the Angels, "And they shall gather together the elect from the four winds.
Origen: Some of little discernment think, that only those who shall then be found in the body shall be gathered together, but it is better to say that the Angels of Christ shall then gather together not only all who from the coming of Christ to the end of the world have been called and chosen, but all from the foundation of the world, who like Abraham have seen the day of Christ and rejoiced therein.
Or, the heavens are the divine [p. The saints there are gathered together "from one end of heaven," that is, from those that live in the beginning of the Scriptures to those who live in the ends of them. They shall be gathered together "with a trump and a loud voice," that they who bear and attend may prepare themselves for that way of perfection which leads to the Son of God. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Jerome: As much as to say, When the tender shoots first shew themselves in the stem of the fig tree, and the bud bursts into flower, and the bark puts forth leaves, ye perceive the approach of summer and the season of spring and growth; so when ye shall see all [p. By the comparison of the tree He signifies the spiritual summer and peace that the just shall enjoy after their winter, while sinners on the other hand shall have a winter after summer.
Origen: As the fig has its vital powers torpid within it through the season of winter, but when that is past its branches become tender by those very powers and put forth leaves; so the world and all those who are saved had before Christ's coming their vital energies dormant within them as in a season of winter. Christ's Spirit breathing upon them makes the branches of their hearts soft and tender, and that which was dormant within burgeons into leaf, and makes shew of fruit. To such the summer and the coming of the glory of the Word of God is nigh at hand. For daily it draws ever more and more near, but of the exact time it is said, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.
Hilary: Mystically; The Synagogue is likened to the fig tree; [ed. Hilary: To give sure credit to the things which should come to pass He adds, "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. Origen: The uninstructed refer the words to the destruction of Jerusalem, and suppose them to have been said of that generation which saw Christ's death, that it should not pass away before the city should be destroyed.
But I doubt that they would succeed in thus expounding every word from that, "one stone shall not be left upon another," to that, "it is even at the door;" in some perhaps they would succeed, in others not altogether. Herein He teaches that Jerusalem shall perish, and the greater part of the Jews be destroyed, but that no trial shall overthrow the generation of the faithful. Origen: Yet shall the generation of the Church survive the whole of this world, that it may inherit the world to come, yet it shall not pass away until all these things have come to pass.
But when all these shall have been fulfilled, then not the earth only but the heavens also shall pass away; that is, not only the men whose life is earthly, and who are therefore called the earth, but also they whose conversation is in heaven, and who are therefore called the heaven; these "shall pass away" to things to come, that they may come to better things.
But the words spoken by the Saviour shall not pass away, because they effect and shall ever effect their purpose; but the perfect and they that admit no further improvement, passing through what they are, come to that which they are not; and this is that, "My words shall not pass away. Or perhaps we ought not to say that the words of Moses and the Prophets are once for all fulfilled; seeing they also are the words of the Son of God, and are fulfilled continually.
Catena Aurea (Golden Chain), Volume 1: Gospel of Matthew
Jerome: Or, by "generation" here He means the whole human race, and the Jews in particular. And He adds, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away," to confirm their faith in what has gone before; as though He had said, it is easier to destroy things solid and immovable, than that aught should fail of my words. Hilary: For heaven and earth have in their constitution no necessity of existence, but Christ's words derived from eternity have in them such virtue that they must needs abide.
Jerome: The heaven and the earth shall pass away by a change, not by annihilation; for how should the "sun be darkened, and the moon not give her light," if earth and heaven in which these are should be no more?
Catena Aurea or a Golden Chain of Evidences : James Whelan :
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Jerome: In some Latin copies is added here, "neither the Son:" but in the Greek copies, and particularly those of Adamantius and Pierius, it is not found. It probably crept in from the parallel passage in S.
Adamantius is a surname of Origen. Pierius was a presbyter of Alexandria in the third century, whose learning occasioned him to be styled 'Origen the younger. Jerome: Whereat Arius and Eunomius rejoice greatly; for say they, He who knows and He who is ignorant cannot be both equal. Against these we answer shortly; Seeing that Jesus, that is, The Word of God, made all times, for "By him all things were made, and without him was not any thing made that was made, [1 John ] and that the day of judgment must be in all time, by what reasoning can He who knows the whole be shewn to be ignorant of a part?
This we will further say; Which is the greater, the knowledge of the Father, or the knowledge of the judgment? If He knows the greater, how can He be ignorant of the less? Hilary: And has indeed God the Father denied the knowledge of that day to the Son, when He has declared, "All things are committed to me of my Father?
Jerome: Having then shewn that the Son of God cannot be ignorant of the day of the consummation, we must now show a cause why He should be said to be ignorant. When after the resurrection He is demanded concerning this day by the Apostles, He answers more openly; "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in his own power. He knew not then, so as to tell His disciples; as it was said to Abraham, "Now I know that thou fearest God;" [Gen ] i. For what can there be in time which was not made by the Word, seeing that time itself was made by the Word!
Q That the Father alone knows may be well understood in the above-mentioned manner of knowing, that He makes the Son to know; but the Son is said not to know, because be does not make men to know. Origen: Otherwise; So long as the Church which is Christ's body knows not that day and hour, so long the Son Himself is said not to know that day and hour. The word "know" is used according to its proper usual meaning in Scripture. The Apostle speaks of Christ, as "him who knew no sin," [1 Cor ] i.
The knowledge of that day and hour the Son reserves in store for the fellow-heirs of the promise, that all may know at once, i. This exactness of yours up to this point seems as if you meant that the year could not be known, but that the week or the decade of years might be known, as though it was possible to fix or assign it to some seven, ten, or a hundred, or some number of years more or less.
If you allow that you cannot so limit it, you think with me. Raban: Marriage and meats in themselves are not here condemned, as the error of Marcion and Manicheaus teaches; for in the one the continuation of the species, in the [p. We must suppose, that after the wars and the other miseries which shall waste the human race, shall follow a short peace, offering rest and quiet to approve the faith of the believers. This shews also, that when Antichrist shall come, those who are wicked, and despair of their salvation, shall run into illicit pleasures; therefore He chooses an instance suitable.
For while the ark was building, Noe preached among them, foretelling the evils that should come; but those wicked giving no heed to him, wantoned as though no evil should ever come; so now, because many would not believe things future, He makes credible what He says from what has happened. Another token He gives to shew how unexpectedly that day shall come, and that He is not ignorant of the day, "Then two shall be in the field, one shall be taken and the other left. Hilary: Or, the two in the field, are the two people of believers and unbelievers, whom the day of the Lord shall overtake, as it were in the labours of this life.
And they shall be separated, one being taken and the other left; this shews the separation that shall be between believers and unbelievers; when God's wrath is kindled, the saints shall be gathered into His garner, and the unbelievers shall be left as fuel for the fire from heaven. The same is the account to be given of that, "Two shall be grinding at the mill. Jerome: Or, "Two men in one field" shall be found performing the same labour, sowing corn together, but not reaping the same fruit of their labour.
The two "grinding together" we may understand either of the Synagogue and the Church, which seem to grind together in the Law, and to make of the same Scriptures meal of the commandments of God; or of other heresies, which out of both or one Testament, seem to grind meal of their own doctrines. Hilary:; The "two in one bed" are those who preach alike the Lord's rest after His passion, about which heretics and catholics have the same confession; but because the Catholic Faith preaches the unity of the Godhead of the Father and the Son, and the false creed of the heretics impugns that, therefore shall the Divine judgment decide between the confession of these two by taking one and leaving the other.
But in all these orders are good and bad, righteous and unrighteous, so that some shall be taken, and some left. Origen: Or otherwise; The body is laid as sick on the bed of carnal passions, the soul grinds in the mill of this world, and the bodily senses labour in the field of the world. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh. Origen: Those of more plain understanding say, that He spoke this of His second coming; but others would say that it applies to an intellectual coming of the word into the understanding of the disciples, for as yet He was not in their understanding as He was to be. That day comes to each one of us, when it comes to him to go out of the world, such as he shall be judged, and therefore ought every Christian to watch that the Lord's coming may not find him unprepared; and he will be unprepared for the day of His coming, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.
Jerome: And by the instance of the master of the household, He teaches more plainly why He keeps secret the day of the consummation. Origen: "The master of the household" is the understanding, "the house" is the soul, "the thief" is the Devil. The thief is also every contrary doctrine which enters the soul of the unwary by other than the natural entrance, breaking into the house, and pulling down the soul's natural fences, that is, the natural powers of understanding, it enters the breach, and spoils the soul.
Sometimes one takes the thief in the act of breaking in, and seizing him, stabs him with a word, [p. And the thief comes not in the day-time, when the soul of the thoughtful man is illuminated with the Sun of righteousness, but in the night, that is, in the time of prevailing wickedness; in which, when one is plunged, it is possible, though he have not the power of the sun, that he may be illuminated by some rays from the Word, as from a lamp; continuing still in evil, yet having a better purpose, and watchfulness, that this his purpose should not be broken through.
Or in time of temptation, or of any calamities, is the time when the thief is most found to come, seeking to break through the house of the soul. But if he had watched be would have been secure from the thief; that is, looking forward to the coming of the Judge, who takes our lives unawares, be would meet Him with penitence, and not perish impenitent.
And the Lord would therefore have the last hour unknown, that it might always be in suspense, and that being unable to foresee it, we might never be unprepared for it. Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; [p. The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Hilary: Though the Lord had given above a general exhortation to all in common to unwearied vigilance, yet He adds a special charge to the rulers of the people, that is, the Bishops, of watchfulness in looking for His coming. Such He calls a faithful servant, and wise master of the household, careful for the needs and interests of the people entrusted to Him.
He calls him "prudent," as knowing on what he ought to lay out the things committed to him. Origen: Or, he that makes progress in the faith, though he is not yet perfect in it, is ordinarily called "faithful," and he who has natural quickness of intellect is called "prudent.
Others again he will see who are quick and prudent but of weak faith; for the union of faith and prudence in the same man is most rare. To give food in due season calls for prudence in a man; not to take away the food of the needy requires faithfulness. And this the literal sense obliges us to, that we be faithful in dispersing the revenues of the Church, that we [p.
And that we be prudent, to understand the cases of them that are in need, whence they come to be so, what has been the education and what are the necessities of each. It needs much prudence to distribute fairly the revenues of the Church. Also let the servant be faithful and prudent, that he lavish not the intellectual and spiritual food upon those whom he ought not, but dispense according as each has need; to one is more behoveful that word which shall edify his behaviour, and guide his practice, than that which sheds a ray of science; but to others who can pierce more deeply let him not fail to expound the deeper things, lest if he set before them common things only, he be despised by such as have naturally keener understandings, or have been sharpened by the discipline of worldly learning.
It is hard then to find one man who is both "faithful and wise," but not impossible; for He would not pronounce a blessing on a character that could never be, as when He adds, "Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Hilary: That is, obedient to his Lord's command, by the seasonableness of his teaching dispensing the word of life to a household which is to be nourished for the food of eternity. The good hearers, if He finds them watching He will make to sit down to meat, as Luke speaks; but the good preachers "He will set over all His goods.
Origen: That he may reign with Christ, to whom the Father has committed all that is His. And as the son of a good father set over all that is his, [p. Hilary: Or, "shall set him over all his goods," that is, shall place him in the glory of God, because beyond this is nothing better. My soul is athirst for the living God; when shall I come? Origen: And every Bishop, who ministers not as a fellow servant, but rules by might as a master, and often an harsh one, sins against God; also if he does not cherish the needy, but feasts with the drunken, and is continually slumbering because his Lord cometh not till after long time.
Jerome: "The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him," is to rouse the stewards to watchfulness and carefulness. Origen: Or, "He shall cut him in sunder," when his spirit, that is, his spiritual gift, shall return to God who gave it; but his soul shall go with his body into hell. But the righteous man is not cut in sunder, but his soul, with his spirit, that is, with his gift, spiritual enters into the kingdom of heaven.
They that are cut in sunder have in them thenceforth no part of that spiritual gift which was from God, but there remains to them that part which was their own, that is, their soul, which shall be punished with [p. Jerome: "And shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites," with those, namely, that were in the field, and grinding at the mill, and were nevertheless left. For as we often say that the hypocrite is one who is one thing, and passes himself for another; so in the field and at the mill he seemed to be doing the same as others, but the event proved that his purpose was different.
Origen: Or, there shall be "weeping" for such as have laughed amiss in this world, "gnashing of teeth" for those who have enjoyed an irrational peace. For being unwilling to suffer bodily pain, now the torture forces their teeth to chatter, with which they have eaten the bitterness of wickedness. From this we may learn that the Lord sets over His household not the faithful and wise only, but the wicked also; and that it will not save them to have been set over His household, but only if they have given them their food in due season, and have abstained from beating and drunkenness.
One looks for His coming sooner, another later, the third confesses his ignorance of the matter. Let us see which is most agreeable to the Gospel. One says, Let us watch and pray, because the Lord will quickly come; another, Let us watch and pray, because this life is short and uncertain, though the Lord's coining may be distant; and the third, Let us watch, because this life is short and uncertain, and we know not the time when the Lord will come.
What else does this man say than what we hear the Gospel say, "Watch, because ye know not the hour in which the Lord shall come? He who believes with the second that the Lord's coming is distant will not be shaken in faith, but will receive an unlooked for joy. He who confesses his ignorance which of these is true, wishes for the one, is resigned to the other, but errs in neither, because he neither affirms or denies either.
MARK 13 1. And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, "Seest thou these great buildings? Bede, in Marc. Wherefore it is said, "And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! Theophylact: For, since the Lord had spoken much concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His disciples wondered, that such numerous and beautiful buildings were to be destroyed; and this is the reason why they point out the beauty of the temple, and He answers not only that they were to be destroyed, but also that one stone should not be left upon another.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? Now some may endeavour to prove that Christ's words were false, by saying that many ruins were left, but this is not at all the point; for though some ruins had been left, still at the consummation of all things one stone shall not be left upon another. Besides it is related, that Aelius Adrian overturned [p. Bede: But it was ordered by Divine power that after that the grace of the faith of the Gospel was made known through the world, the temple itself with its ceremonies should be taken away; lest perchance some one weak in the faith, if he saw that these things which had been instituted by God still remained, might by degrees drop from the sincerity of the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, into carnal Judaism.
Pseudo-Jerome: Here also the Lord enumerates to His disciples the destruction of the last time, that is of the temple, with the people, and its letter; of which one stone shall not be left upon another, that is, no testimony of the Prophets upon those, to whom the Jews perversely applied them, that is, on Ezra, Zerubbabel and the Maccabees. Bede: Again, when the Lord left the temple, all the edifice of the law and the framework of the commandments were destroyed, so that nothing could be filled up by the Jews; and now that the head has been taken away, all the limbs fight one against the other.
And Jesus answering them began to say, "Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6. For many shall come in My name, saying, 'I am Christ;' and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
Wherefore it is said: "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us when shall these things be? The Lord sits upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, when He discourses upon the ruin and destruction of the temple, so that even His bodily position may be in accordance with the words which He speaks, pointing out mystically that, abiding in peace with the saints, He hates the madness of the proud.
For the mount of Olives marks the fruitful sublimity of the Holy Church. Augustine, Epist. Theophylact: But before answering their question, He strengthens their minds that they may not be deceived.
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Wherefore there follows: "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you? And this He says, because when the sufferings of the Jews began, some arose professing to be teachers. Wherefore there follows: "For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Bede: For many came forward, when destruction was hanging over Jerusalem, saying that they were Christs, and that the time of freedom was now approaching. Many teachers of heresy also arose in the Church even in the time of the Apostles; and many Antichrists came in the name of Christ, the first of whom was Simon Magus, to whom the Samaritans, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, listened, saying, "This man is the great power of God.
Wherefore also it is added here, "And shall deceive many.
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Now from the time of the Passion of our Lord there ceased not amongst the [p. Wherefore it goes on: "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled. And when these come, the Apostles are warned not to be afraid, or to leave Jerusalem and Judaea, because the end was not to come at once, nay was to be put off for forty years. And this is what is added: "for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet," that is, the desolation of the province, and the last destruction of the city and temple.
It goes on: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Theophylact: That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful, they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, "And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines.
Bede: Now it is on record that this literally took place at the time of the Jewish rebellion. But "kingdom against kingdom," the pestilence of those whose word spreads as a canker, dearth of the word of God, the commotion of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may all rather be understood of heretics who, by fighting one against the other, bring about the triumph of the Church.
And the Gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall [p. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Bede: The Lords shews how Jerusalem and the province of Judaea merited the infliction of such calamities, in the following words: "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.
For the greatest cause of destruction to the Jewish people was, that after slaying the Saviour, they also tormented the heralds of His name and faith with wicked cruelty. Theophylact: Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings. There follows: "And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.
He says "kings and rulers," as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero and Herod. Again, His saying, "for My sake," gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: "And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.
Augustine, de Con. Bede: Ecclesiastical historians testify that this was fulfilled, for they relate that all the Apostles long before the destruction of the province of Judaea were dispersed to preach the Gospel over the whole world, except James the son of Zebedee and James the brother of our Lord, who had before shed their blood in Judaea for the word of the Lord. Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, [p.
Lest therefore after hearing that they were to be brought before kings and rulers, they should fear that their want of science and eloquence should render them unable to answer, our Lord consoles them by saying, "But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye.
Bede: For when we are led before judges for Christ's sake, all our duty is to offer up our will for Christ. As for the rest, Christ Himself who dwells in us speaks for us, and the grace of the Holy Ghost shall be given us, when we answer. Wherefore it goes on: "For it is not ye that shall speak, but the Holy Ghost. Theophylact: He also foretells to them a worse evil, that they should suffer persecution from their relations.
Wherefore there follows: "Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake. Bede: This has often been seen in time of persecution, nor can there be any firm affection amongst men who differ in faith. Theophylact: And this He says, that on hearing it, they might prepare themselves to bear persecutions and ills with greater patience. Then He brings them consolation, saying, "And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake;" for the being hated for Christ's sake is a sufficient reason for suffering persecutions patiently, for it is not the punishment, but the cause, that makes the martyr.
Again, that which follows is no small comfort amidst persecution: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: [p. And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days. Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, Matthew says, standing "in the holy place;" but with this verbal difference Mark has expressed the same meaning; for He says "where it ought not" to stand, because it ought not to stand in the holy place.
Bede: When we are challenged to understand what is said, we may conclude that it is mystical. But it may either be said simply of Antichrist, or of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate put into the temple, or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which for a long time stood in the holy of holies itself. An idol is also called abomination according to the Old Testament, and He has added "of desolation" because it was placed in the temple when desolate and deserted. Theophylact: Or He means by "the abomination of desolation" the entrance of enemies into the city by violence.
It goes on: "Then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains. Bede: [p. Theophylact: And well does He say, "Who are in Judaea," for the Apostles were no longer in Judaea, but before the battle had been driven from Jerusalem. Theophylact] Or rather went out of their own accord, being led by the Holy Ghost. It goes on: "And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house;" for it is a desirable thing to be saved even naked from such a destruction.
It goes on: "But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. Bede: That is, they whose wombs or whose hands, overladen with the burden of children, in no small measure impede their forced flight. Theophylact: But it seems to me, that in these words He foretells the eating of children, for when afflicted by famine and pestilence, they laid hands on their children. Theophylact: That is, lest they who wish to fly should be impeded by the difficulties of the season. And He fitly gives the cause for so great a necessity for flight; saying, "For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
But although in the time of Antichrist there shall be one similar or greater, we must understand that it is of that [p. For if they are the first and foremost to receive Antichrist, that same people may rather be said to cause than to suffer tribulation. Bede: The only refuge in such evils is, that God who gives strength to suffer, should abridge the power of inflicting. Wherefore there follows: "And except that the Lord had shortened those days. Theophylact: That is, if the Roman war had not been soon finished, "no flesh should be saved;" that is, no Jew should have escaped; "but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen," that is, for the sake of the believing Jews, or who were hereafter to believe, "He hath shortened the days," that is, the war was soon finished, for God foresaw that many Jews would believe after the destruction of the city; for which reason He would not suffer the whole race to be utterly destroyed.
Augustine: But some persons more fitly understand that the calamities themselves are signified by days, as evil days are spoken of in other parts of Holy Scripture; for the days themselves are not evil, but what is done in them. The woes themselves therefore are said to be abridged, because through the patience which God gave they felt them less, and then what was great in itself was abridged.
Bede: Or else; these words, "In those days shall be affliction," properly agree with the times of Antichrist, when not only tortures more frequent, and more painful than before are to be heaped on the faithful, but also, what is more terrible, the working of miracles shall accompany those who inflict torments. But in proportion as this tribulation shall be greater than those which preceded, by so much shall it be shorter. For it is believed, that during three years and a half, as far as may be conjectured from the prophecy of Daniel and the Revelations of John, the Church is to be attacked.
In a spiritual sense, however, when we see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, that is, heresies and crimes reigning amongst them, who appear to be consecrated by the heavenly mysteries, then whosoever of us remain in Judaea, that is, in the confession of the true faith, ought to mount the higher in virtue, the more men we see following the broad paths of vice.
Pseudo-Jerome: For our flight is to the mountains, that he who has mounted to the heights of virtue may not go down to the depths of sin. Bede: Then let him who is on [p. For our house either means this world, or that in which we live, our own flesh. Pseudo-Jerome: "Pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on the sabbath day," that is, that the fruit of our work may not be ended with the end of time; for fruit comes to an end in the winter and time in the sabbath.
Bede: But if we are to understand it of the consummation of the world, He commands that our faith and love for Christ should not grow cold, and that we should not grow lazy and cold in the work of God, by taking a sabbath from virtue. Theophylact: We must also avoid sin with fervour, and not coldly and quietly. Pseudo-Jerome: But the tribulation shall be great, and the days short, for the sake of the elect, lest the evil of this time should change their understanding. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. No, but he speaks indefinitely and without precision. So also here, "then" may be taken to mean not when Jerusalem shall be made desolate, but about the time of the coming of Antichrist. It goes on: "For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
For many shall take upon them the name of Christ, so as to seduce even the faithful. Augustine, de Civ. Dei, xx, For then shall Satan be unchained, and work through Antichrist in all his power, wonderfully indeed, but falsely. But a doubt is often raised whether the Apostle said "signs and lying wonders," because he is to deceive mortal sense, by phantoms, so as to appear to do what he does not, or because those wonders themselves, even though true, are to turn men aside to lies, because they will not believe that any power but a Divine power could do them, being ignorant of the power of Satan, especially when he shall have received such power as he never had before.
But for whichever reason it is said, they shall be deceived by those signs and wonders who deserve to be deceived.
One of two things is implied; that if they are elect, it is not possible; and if it is possible, they are not elect. This doubt therefore in our Lord's discourse expresses the trembling in the mind of the elect. And He calls them elect, because He sees that they will persevere in faith and good works; for those who are chosen to remain firm are to be tempted to fall by the signs of the preachers of Antichrist.
Bede: Some however refer this to the time of the Jewish captivity, where many, declaring themselves to be Christs, drew after them crowds of deluded persons; but during the siege of the city there was no Christian to whom the Divine exhortation, not to follow false [p. Wherefore it is better to understand it of heretics, who, coming to oppose the Church, pretended to be Christs; the first of whom was Simon Magus, but that last one, greater than the rest, is Antichrist. It goes on: "But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. Theophylact: But after the coming of Antichrist, the frame of the world shall be altered and changed, for the stars shall be obscured on account of the abundance of the brightness of Christ.
Wherefore it goes on: "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall.
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