But that you may know that the Son of man
has power on earth to forgive sins,
(then said he to the paralytic)
Arise, take up your bed, and go unto your house.
All Commentaries on Matthew 9:6 Go To Matthew 9
Cornelius a Lapide
But that ye may know, &c. Observe the expression, Son of Prayer of Manasseh , for Christ forgave sins, not only as He was God, but in that He was Prayer of Manasseh , authoritatively and meritoriously. Because His Humanity was hypostatically united to His Divinity, and subsisted in the Divine Person of the Son of God, therefore He was able to make full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
Wherefore this primary power and authority of forgiving sins was given unto Him, next unto God, which power He is able to grant unto others likewise, such as priests, who are instituted by Him, as His ministers, that they too should forgive sins. Whence S. Thomas says (3part. quæst63 , art3), "The power of the excellence of Christ standeth in four things1. Because His merit, and the virtue of His Passion, operate in the sacraments2. Because by His Name the sacraments are sanctified3. Because He Himself, who gives virtue to the sacraments, had power to institute them4. Because the effect of the sacraments—in other words, the remission of sins, and grace—Christ is able to confer without the sacraments. This power is peculiar to Christ alone, quÃ¢ man; and therefore it has been communicated neither to priest nor pontiff, nor to S. Peter."
Arise, take up thy bed, &c. Rise: be sound and healed of thy palsy; and to show to the Scribes and all the people that thou art healed, take up thy bed, that now thou mayest bear that which has lately borne thee, as Sedulius says in this place, "He himself, with grateful thanks, repaid his hire." Instead of bed (lectum), Mark has grabatum. Grabatus, says Sipontius, is a narrow sort of couch on which we recline at noon, as if from carabatus, something on which we lay our head, from ÎºÎ±ÏÎ±Ì€, the head, and, Î²Î±Ï„Î¿Ì€Î½, passing. Whence the line of Martial—
"Went the three-legged grabatus, went the three-legged table."
And he arose, &c. He arose at once, for what Christ said was straightway done. And the man walked off with the bed upon his shoulders.
S. Simon Stylites followed the example of this miracle of Christ, as may be seen in his Life, taken by Surius out of Theodoret. "A certain Saracen prince brought to him a paralytic domestic, and asked him to heal him. The holy man commanded him to be brought into the midst, and bade him abjure the impiety of his ancestors. After the man had done this, he asked him if he believed in the Father, the Song of Solomon , and the Holy Ghost. He replied that he did believe. "If thou believest," said Hebrews , "rise up." As soon as he had arisen, he bade him take up and carry the before-named prince, who was an excessively fat Prayer of Manasseh , upon his shoulders, as far as his tent. And he immediately raised him up, and carried him whither he was bidden. All the spectators were amazed at this miracle, and glorified God." In a similar manner S. Bernard, at the request of the King of France, healed a man sick of the palsy, with the sign of the Cross, and bade him take up his bed.
Tropologically; by the sick man"s taking up, and carrying his bed is meant, that by the just judgment of God it cometh to pass that the sinner who aforetime willingly consented to temptation, after he has repented, feels temptation against his will. For repentance truly takes away sin, but not sinful habits and depraved inclinations, which the sinner of his own will contracted and put on. Thus S. Mary of Egypt, after her conversion, felt for seventeen years the sharp goads of lust, because for so many years she had shamefully lived in lust.
But when the multitudes saw it they marvelled, &c. Instead of marvelled, the Latin Vulgate has, they feared. S. Mark adds, that the multitude said, We never saw it after this fashion. S. Luke , We have seen strange things today. For this man"s whole body was paralysed. S. Mark says that, he was borne of four, which shows that the palsy had affected every limb. He was a different paralytic from the one of whom S. John makes mention ( John 5:2), who was healed in the Sheep-market at Jerusalem. That man had no one carrying him: neither did he believe, as this one did, to whom it was said, Song of Solomon , be of good cheer.
Tropologically; paralysis is any disease of the soul whatsoever, but especially of fleshly lust, and the carelessness and indifference to spiritual things which it generates. For it so entirely prostrates the soul, that it is without power to lift itself up to virtue, to heaven, to God. Wherefore the man that labours under this disease must be carried by bearers, that Isaiah , by pastors, preachers, confessors, up upon the housetop, that Isaiah , to the desire of salvation and heavenly things; and then must be let down through the roof to the feet of Christ; and they must ask of Him by earnest prayer to heal him by His grace, and restore to him the power of motion, and the sense of spiritual things. Then when he is healed, let him give thanks to Christ his Saviour, and let him not be slothful, but let him go away to the house of his mind and conscience, and sweep it clean of vices, and adorn it with all virtuous actions. Thus ought the soul to trust in the Lord, because He alone is able to supply all her wants. She ought to arise from the sleep of sin, and the bed of depraved habits, by calling to mind into what a state she has fallen, which she doth by confession; for as he who arises, so also does he who confesses, come forth: she ought to take up her bed, which pertains to satisfaction, for when that is enjoined in confession, it is a sort of burden to be borne, for the flesh which, as a bed, gave pleasure, and as it were carried the dead soul, ought, after remission and satisfaction. to be a burden to a Prayer of Manasseh , as it was to him who cried out, "0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" So Salmeron, Jansen, Toletus, and others, expound this passage.
Anagogically, understand it of the celestial glory, concerning which the Psalmist speaks, "I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord." ( Psalm 122:1.) For, in the resurrection, the Lord will say, "Arise, that Isaiah , from death; and take up thy bed, that Isaiah , resume thy body, endowed with glorious gifts; and go into thine house, that Isaiah , into the eternal and heavenly mansion."
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, &c. Custom, in Greek, Ï„ÎµÎ»Î¿Ï‚, means revenue; from which telonium, the word here used by S. Matthew , means the house, or place where the sailors and merchants paid the tribute and customs dues upon their ships and merchandise. Here sat the publicans, who were the farmers and collectors of these dues. Hence the Persian version, instead of telonium has, in the house of payment; the Ethiopic has, in the forum, or market-place. Matthew was one of these publicans; whence it is probable that his house was at Capernaum, by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, at a point where the vessels touched. The Roman Senate and the people were accustomed to let the tribute which was due to them from their subjects for a stipulated sum.
Jansen, in his Harmony of the Gospels, says, that persons who have carefully surveyed the Holy Land, assert that the spot where Matthew was called is still pointed out, outside of Capernaum, near the Sea. Mark and Luke say that Matthew was sitting at the telonium, because, by this word, they seem to mean not a house, but a table, on which they were counting the tribute money.
Named Matthew. Matthew names himself, both out of humility, that he might confess to the whole world that he had been a publican and a sinner, and also out of gratitude, that he might make known abroad the exceeding grace of Christ towards him, just as S. Paul does: "It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief," ( 1 Timothy 1:15.)
Follow me: Whom in Capernaum thou hast heard preaching heavenly doctrine, and confirming it by many miracles, and especially by that recent healing of the paralytic. He calls Matthew , already subdued by the fame of His miracles, says Chrysostom. Observe the condescension of Christ who calls Matthew , the publican, and so a man infamous among the Jews, not only to grace but to His family and intimate friendship and Apostleship.
And he arose, &c. Note here the efficacy of Christ"s vocation, and the ready obedience of Matthew. Hear what S. Jerome says about it. "Porphyry and Julian find fault in this place, either with the lying unskilfulness of the historian, or else with the folly of those persons who immediately followed the Saviour, as though they irrationally followed the first person who called them. But they do not consider that great miracles and mighty signs had preceded this calling. And there can be no doubt that the Apostles had witnessed these things before they believed. This at least is certain, the very refulgence and majesty of the hidden Divinity, which shone even in His human countenance, was able to attract to Him those who saw Him as soon as they beheld Him. For if there be in a magnet, which is but a stone, such force that it is able to attract, and join unto itself rings and straws, how much more is the Lord of all creatures able to draw unto Himself whom He will."
Thus then as a magnet draws iron unto it, so did Christ draw Matthew , and by His drawing, gave him his virtues, and chiefly his exceeding love of God, zeal for souls, ardour in preaching. Listen to the account of S. Matthew"s conversion, which he himself gave to S. Bridget, when praying at his tomb at Malphi: "It was my desire at the time I was a publican to defraud no Prayer of Manasseh , and I wished to find out a way by which I might abandon that employment, and cleave to God alone with my whole heart. When therefore He who loved me, even Jesus Christ was preaching, His call was a flame of fire in my heart; and so sweet were His words unto my taste, that I thought no more of riches than of straws: yea, it was delightful to me to weep for joy, that my God had deigned to call one of such small account, and so great a sinner as I to His grace. And as I clave unto my Lord, His burning words became fixed in my heart, and day and night I fed upon them by meditation, as upon sweetest food."
And it came to pass as he sat at meat, &c. This was in Matthew"s own house, for he is silent about his virtues, outspoken about his errors. This appears from what Luke says, Levi, that Isaiah ,, Matthew , made him a great feast in his own house: to this feast he invited many of his companions, publicans like himself, and sinners, that they might be drawn by the kindness of Christ to follow Him, as he had done. It is indeed a sign of true conversion to be anxious that others also should be converted from their sins. For good is self-diffusive, and charity instigates men to seek the salvation of other lost sinners.
The office of a publican, although a just one in itself, and one that could be exercised without sin, yet, because avaricious men frequently undertook it from love of gain, who extorted unjust dues, especially from the poor, publicans were accounted infamous among the Jews, and public sinners, as public usurers are similarly accounted among Christians. There was this also, that the Jews maintained that they, as a people dedicated to God, ought not to pay tribute to the Romans , who were Gentiles and idolaters: for this was contrary to the liberty and dignity of the children of God. Thus they detested the publicans, who exacted the tribute.
Sinners are here distinguished from publican. These sinners seem to have been dissolute Jews, who cared little for the law and religion of the Jews, and lived in a heathenish manner, or who had apostatized to heathenism.
And when the Pharisees saw it, &c. These are the words, not of those who asked a question, but of those who were making an accusation. As much as to say, "Your Master Christ acts contrary to the law of God and the traditions of the Fathers. Why do you listen to Him, and follow Him? He associates with sinners. He is bringing the stain of their sins and infamy upon you."
But when Jesus heard that, &c. from the report of His disciples. For even the Pharisees did not dare to make this charge to Christ Himself. He saith, not to His disciples, but to the Pharisees, for He turned Himself to those from whom the complaint proceeded, as is clear from what follows. They that are whole, &c. As a physician is not infected by the diseases of those who are sick, but rather overcometh diseases, and drives them away, and therefore it is not a disgrace, but an honour to a physician to be associated with the sick, so in like manner I, who have been sent from heaven to earth by God the Father, to be a physician of sin-sick souls, am not contaminated by their sins when I associate with them, but rather heal them, which is the highest praise to Me, and the greatest benefit to them. I therefore am the Physician, not the companion of sinners.
But go ye: that Isaiah , go away from Me; depart out of My sight. They are the words of one repudiating them. And learn, what Hosea says (vi6), I will have mercy and not sacrifice: i.e, I prefer mercy to sacrifice, although sacrifice is the noblest act of religion. Therefore follow mercy, even as I do, that ye may save sinners. For I prefer mercy, and to have pity upon miserable sinners, rather than with you to offer victims to God. See what I have said upon Hosea 6:6, where I have commented upon the dignity and surpassing excellency of mercy.
Well does S. Bernard (Serm16 in Cant.).exclaim, "0 Wisdom of Solomon , with what art of healing, by wine and oil, dost Thou restore health to my soul! Thou art bravely sweet, and sweetly brave, brave for me, sweet to me. Thy name is oil poured forth, not wine. For I would not that Thou shouldst enter into judgment with Thy servant. It is oil, because thou crownest me with mercy and loving kindness. It is indeed oil; for oil floats at the top of all liquids with which it is mingled: and thus it is a lively figure of that Name which is above every name."
For I came not to call the just but sinners. So it is in the Vulgate. The Greek adds, ÎµÎ¹Ì‰Ï‚ Î¼ÎµÏ„Î±Î½Î¿Î¯Î±Î½, to repentance. So too S. Luke , and the Arabic Version. This must be either expressed or understood. For Christ also called Nathanael, who was a just man. Also He called the Blessed Virgin, S. John , and Elizabeth, who were saints, to still greater sanctity and perfection.
Hilary, Jerome, Bede, &c, take the words differently, I came not to call the righteous, that Isaiah , those who proudly, but falsely esteem and boast themselves to be righteous, when they are in very truth sinners and hypocrites, such as ye are, 0 ye Pharisees.
Then came to him the disciples of John , &c. Then, signifies that it was shortly afterwards. The Pharisees being, therefore, upon just grounds, refuted by Christ, here frame another accusation against Him. They suborn the disciples of John , that by the occasion of fasting, practised by them in common with themselves, they might bring it as a charge against Christ, that neither Hebrews , nor His disciples fasted. Now this particular fast to which they refer was not prescribed by the Law, for Christ and His disciples observed the fasts as well as all the other requirements of the Law: but it was a fast, either appointed by the Jewish doctors, or else voluntarily taken up by their disciples at the exhortation of the doctors. Wherefore S. Luke relates that they said, Why do the disciples of John fast oft, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees, but Thine eat and drink? It is as much as to say, "Thou wishest to be our Reformer, and a master of perfection. Why then do we fast, when Thou and Thine lead a genial life?" S. Mark speaks of the disciples of John , in connection with those of the Pharisees. This was because the Pharisees instigated John"s disciples to propose this question to Christ. And this is the reason why S. Matthew in this place makes mention only of John"s disciples. They therefore press Christ with the authority of John the Baptist, which was very great among the Jews, but they do it in an unwarrantable and presumptuous manner. "This was a haughty interrogation," says the Interlinear, "and full of Pharisaic pride." "Therefore," says S. Jerome, "John"s disciples are to be blamed, because of their boasting about their fasting, as because of their uniting themselves to the Pharisees, whom John had condemned; also because they were calumniating Him of whom John had preached." Moreover, the disciples of John said these things out of zeal for their master, and out of envy of Christ, preferring John to Him. This may be gathered from S. John iii26. We may perceive a like jealousy in certain good men, even now, who busy themselves in extolling their own founder or patron above everybody else: but in this they are carnal and childish, and betray their own secret vanity and arrogance. For in thus extolling their master above others, they are really seeking to exalt themselves. Such were the Corinthians, who said, "I am of Paul, I of Cephas." Such the Apostle sharply rebukes, saying, "When there is envy and contention among you, are ye not carnal and walk as men?" ( 1 Corinthians 3:3.)
And Jesus saith unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber, &c. The Bridegroom is Christ, because He hath betrothed human nature, and by it the Church, unto Himself, in the Incarnation, and hath united them unto Himself by a perpetual bond of marriage. This marriage Christ hath begun by grace on earth ( Matthew 22:2), but He will consummate it in glory with His elect in heaven, where there shall be celebrated the endless marriage feast of the Lamb ( Revelation 9:7). Hence John the Baptist calls himself the friend of the Bridegroom ( John 3:29). And Christ"s disciples, hearing this, knew that He was the Bridegroom.
Children of the bridechamber. So it is in the Greek. But the Latin Vulgate has, sons of the bridegroom. The meaning of children of the bridechamher, is that they rejoice in the Bridegroom"s marriage, and are accounted His familiar friends, and are admitted to His chamber and hear His secret counsels. By a similar Hebraism, they are called sons of obedience, who love obedience; sons of pride, who delight in pride.
Mourn, by catachresis, for fast, because in mourning, men fast, and fasting makes men sad; just as, on the contrary, food and wine make men jovial and cheerful. The meaning Isaiah , "It is not wonderful that My disciples do not mourn and fast whilst they are enjoying Me and My nuptials. For at a wedding, modest banquets are becoming, fasting is unbecoming. But the sons of the Servant—that Isaiah , My servant John Baptist, who leads an austere life to bring men to repentance, and imposes the burdensome law of Moses upon his followers because it is still binding—grief and fasting, I say, become them; for they, by means of sorrow and austere deeds of penance, are preparing the way for sinners to the joyful marriage supper of the Bridegroom, Christ. But Christ shall die, and be taken from them, and then shall His disciples mourn and fast. He alludes to the ancient custom of mourning for the dead, accompanied by fasting. Thus the Hebrews mourned for Saul, fasting seven days.
Christ here intimates that novices in the faith and in religious orders must be gently and blandly treated, as being tender and but children in spirit, until they become matured in virtue, lest they should despair, or forsake the path of virtue on which they have entered. Thus S. Pachomius, who received the rule of his Order from an angel, directed novices to be instructed in it for three years, even as Christ fed His Apostles with milk, and instructed them in His school for three years.
We are here reminded of that ancient good Abbot, who used to receive his guests to dine before the canonical hour for refection. When asked the reason, he said, "Fasting, my brethren, is always with me, but since I am about to send you away, I cannot have you with me always. Since, therefore, I receive Christ in you, I ought to refresh you; and when I shall have set you on your way, I shall be able, by myself, to make up for deferring my fasting." So Cassian and Sulpitius relate.
Moreover, after Christ"s death, the Apostles often fasted, and suffered from hunger and thirst, as S. Paul relates at length, 2Cor. xi. So in the Life of S. Peter we read that he did severe penance, and ate only bread with olives.
Hence, also, in the Eastern Church, says S. Epiphanius (Hres75), Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. So they still do in Greece, Poland, and Holland. In other parts of the Western Church they abstain from flesh on Fridays and Saturdays. These customs arose because on Wednesday the Bridegroom was betrayed to the Jews by Judas, on Friday He was crucified, and on Saturday He lay in the tomb. Epiphanius adds that formerly on fasting days Christians ate nothing but bread and salt, with water, and that this was enjoined by a decree of the Apostles.
Tropologically, S. Jerome says, "When Christ the Bridegroom departed from us on account of sins, then especially must grief and fasting be undergone."
But SS. Hilary and Ambrose say, we have Christ the Bridegroom with us, and we continually feed on His Body in the Eucharist. But those to whom the Bridegroom is not present, present, that Isaiah , by grace, such as those who are living in deadly sin, keep a perpetual fast, because they lack the Bread of Life. S. Ambrose, explaining the words of Christ, The Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, says, "No one can take Christ from thee, unless thou takest thyself away from Him."
No man putteth a piece of new cloth, &c. Note1 , for piece of cloth, the Greek has ÎµÌ‰Ï€Î¹Î²Î»Î®Î¼Î±, an addition, a patch. S. Augustine and Fertullian call it plagula. Others call it a little rag, what is called in Italian, un pezzo. Whence S. Francis desired his Brothers to wear patched garments, like paupers. For thus we see beggars wearing clothes made of many and divers-coloured patches, which you might reckon up to the number of a hundred. Hence they are called centos.
Of new, Î±Ì‰Î³Î½Î±Ï†Î¿Ï‚, cloth, that Isaiah , unfulled, uncombed, uncarded cloth—cloth such as is brought by the weavers to be prepared and dyed. S. Luke has, commissuram a nova vestimento, "a patch off a new garment." For such is a new and rough rag. Whence the Italians call clothes, rags.
That which is put in to fill it up. The Greek and the Vulgate have, its plenitude; by which Christ means, its integrity. For if you sew a piece of new cloth on to an old garment, you will take away its integrity, so that it will no longer seem one garment but two, partly old, partly new.
Note2 , the meaning of the parable is this: If an ancient garment be torn, it should be mended with the like old cloth, not with new. For if the new patch be sewed on to the old cloth, the garment is no longer whole and homogeneous, but multiform and heterogeneous, and so deformed and spoilt
And the rent is made worse, that Isaiah , than it was before, when the garment was torn; worse, because of the division of the old parts from the other old parts, by the intervention of the new patch. Therefore the rent is made worse, because what has been added to it to mend it, tears it still more. Thus it is again cut out, and so there is a still greater rent.
In a similar way, Cicero said of Julius Csar, when he wished to decorate certain unworthy persons with Senatorial dignity, "Them he did not adorn, but brought disgrace upon the honours themselves."
Note3 , the parable is connected with the matter in hand, as follows: "As no one sews a new patch on an old garment, but attaches new to new, old to old, so I, who am the most prudent Physician of souls, perceiving the ancient and ingrained habits of My disciples, as it were an old garment, and their infirmity as old bottles, do not, as yet, impose upon them hard and rigid penances and fasts, since they are not prescribed by the Law, but are voluntary, lest also the fruit of My teaching should be lost to them, and they, being moved to despair, should forsake Me and My teaching: but I am waiting until they shall be renewed by the Heavenly Spirit, whom I will send down at Pentecost, that, oldness and weakness being laid aside, they may undertake new austerities and new fasts. And this they shall do, not by compulsion, or from fear of punishment, like the Jews, but voluntarily, and out of love. For the New Law of Christ is one of liberty and love, as the Old Law was one of fear and servitude." That the Apostles, after Pentecost, kept frequent fasts, is plain from Acts 13:2-3; 2 Corinthians 9:27; Acts 27:9, &c. So Euthymius, Theophylact, Maldonatus, Jansen, and others explain this passage. Less appositely Tertullian, (lib. de Orat. c1 , and lib3contra Marc. c15) by old garments and old skins understands the Old Law, by the rough and new patch the New Law, or the Gospel. For the New Law hath reformed the Old, and as it were made it new. For precisely and adequately, by the old garment and the new, the Apostles are meant, who as yet, from their old habit of eating and living freely, were old, but were to be renewed at Pentecost by the spirit of temperance and austerity.
Neither do men put new wine, &c. Christ shows by a threefold similitude, that His disciples must not fast when He was present1. By the parable of the Spouse and the wedding2. Of the old and new garment3. Of the new wine, and the old bottles of skin. The sense is this: "As new wine, or must, by the violence of its fermenting spirit, and its heat, bursts the old skins, because they are worn and weak, and so there is a double loss, both of wine and skins; therefore new wine must be poured into new skins, that being strong, they may be able to bear the force of the must: so in like manner, new austerities and fasts must not be imposed as yet upon My disciples, lest their spirits should be broken, and they depart from Me. But I wait for the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost."
Truly, saith Horace, "Unless the vessel be clean, it will taint whatever you pour into it." So also a pure and perfect life agrees not except with a mind cleansed from vices, pure and renewed. Otherwise both the austerity and the mind itself are full of sourness and bitterness.
An old proverb is similar to this parable, "A new sieve, a new peg," which Nonias quotes from Varro"s Eumenides, where Zeno is said to have first hung a new sect upon a new peg, because Zeno founded at Athens a new sect of the Stoics, which he did by new reasonings and paradoxes. There is also the proverb, "A new swallow, a new spring." Whence the Rhodians, on the testimony of Theognis, by yearly public proclamation, invite the swallows in the springtime, "Come, come, 0 swallow, and bring us a good season and a Prosperous year."
While he spake these things, &c. A ruler, namely of the synagogue, as Luke adds, who presided over the synagogue in Capernaum. For these things took place by the shore of the sea of Galilee, near Capernaum, as is plain from Mark 5:21-22. Mark speaks of him as one of the rulers of the synagogue, for there were several rulers of the same synagogue, who taught and guided the people who assembled in it, in the same way that priests do now in churches. His name was Jairus, as Mark records. This is the same as the Hebrew Jair, meaning, that which shall be resplendent, or shall give light, from the root ××•×¨ or, "he hath shone." For Jairus, as the ruler of the synagogue, illuminated the people, and taught the Law.
Worshipped him, that Isaiah , fell at his feet, as Mark and Luke have it.
My daughter, twelve years old, as Luke says, is even now dead, but come. Matthew , studying brevity, relates in substance what was done, rather than the exact historical sequence. For, as is plain from Mark and Luke , the child was not yet dead when her father first came to Christ and said, Come and lay thine hand upon her, and she shall live. As Christ and Jairus were going together, some one ran, and told Jairus that his daughter was dead, and that, the case being now desperate, he should come away from Christ. Then Christ, as it would seem, confirms his wavering faith, and Jairus hopefully leads Him to his house, and then, either by implication, or else in express words, asks Him to raise his daughter from death, as Matthew here relates.
S. Chrysostom and Theophylact explain differently. She is dead, i.e, she is near death, for in this way those who are wretched, are wont to exaggerate their miseries, that they may more easily obtain the aid for which they seek. S. Austin (lib2de Consens,Evang. c28), adds, that the father by reckoning the time which his journey had taken, might suppose that she, whom he had left in her last agony, was now dead.
But come, lay thine hand. Jairus had seen, or heard of many sick who had been healed at Capernaum by the laying on of hands; and he hoped that Christ would do the same for his daughter. The faith of Jairus was less than that of the centurion, for he believed that Christ, even when absent, could heal his servant by a word.
And Jesus arose. It is probable that Christ was sitting and teaching the multitude when He rose up at the request of Jairus. Observe the readiness and promptitude of Christ to succour the afflicted. Let Christians imitate Him in this. S. Chrysostom adds, that when Christ first went with Jairus, He proceeded somewhat slowly, and conversed for some time with the woman with the issue of blood, that in the meantime the girl might die, and that there might be a manifest proof of the resurrection.
Behold, a woman, &c. She was from Csarea, a place called Daniel , afterwards Paneas. We learn this from Eusebius (H. E714). S. Mark relates at greater length this history of the healing of the woman. It will therefore be more convenient to speak of it in the Commentary upon his Gospel (chap. v.).
And when Jesus came, &c. Minstrels were persons who, as S. Ambrose says (in S. Luc. c852), were hired at funerals, to chant doleful ditties, by which they moved the relations and neighbours to sobbing and tears. There were women minstrels as well as men. Jeremiah speaks of the former ( Jeremiah 9:17), "Call for the mourning women, that they may come, and let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with water." This was not only a Jewish custom: it was also common among the Gentiles.
Minstrels. Gr. flute-players. Theophylact says, that the ancients at the funerals of men sounded with trumpets; but at the funerals of boys and virgins played upon flutes, as in this case of the daughter of Jairus. This was done, he says, in token of their virginity.
He said, Give place, &c. The girl was really dead, as is plain from verse18 ( Matthew 9:18). Christ, however, denied this, and said that she was asleep1. Because as S. Jerome says, to God and Himself, to whom all things live, she was not dead, and because she was to be raised again at the Judgment Day. Wherefore the dead are continually called in the Scriptures, those who sleep2. And better, because this girl was not dead in the sense in which the multitude thought her dead, namely, altogether and absolutely dead, as though it were not possible for her to be recalled to life, when by the extraordinary providence of God that very thing was shortly about to be done. Thus she was not so much really dead, as sleeping for a little while. Thus too, when Lazarus was dead, Christ speaks of him as sleeping. ( John 11:11.) So Maldonatus, Jansen, and others explain. Moreover the soul of this deceased girl, like the souls of others whom Christ and His saints have raised from the dead, was not yet judged, or condemned to hell, or purgatory. But God"s judgment was suspended, because it was His will to bring her back to life.
S. Chrysostom adds, Christ shows by this expression that it was as easy to Him to raise the dead, as to awake men out of sleep, and therefore we should not fear death, for when He comes nigh, it is no longer death but sleep.
And they laughed him to scorn, &c. Christ, says Chrysostom, permitted this, that the girl"s death might be better attested, and so the greater the belief in Him when He did raise her from death.
But when the people were put forth, he went in, with, says S. Mark , the parents of the child, and Peter, James , and John. Christ put forth the crowd, because they were not worthy, says the Interlinear, to see that which they would not believe. S. Jerome says, they were unworthy to behold the mystery of the resurrection, who had derided Him who was about to raise. Christ teaches us when we are doing some great work, to avoid multitudes and tumult, which distract the mind, that we may give the full force of our mind to our work and to prayer.
Tropologically, S. Gregory says, "That the dead soul may arise, the multitude of worldly cares must be cast out of the heart."
Symbolically, the Gloss says, "When the scornful deriders have been rejected, Christ enters into the minds of the elect."
Anagogically, S. Hilary: "How few are the elect may be understood from the multitude being cast out."
Took her by the hand. That Isaiah , like a magistrate He laid His hand upon the corpse, as upon one who was guilty. He seizes it, and conquers it, and, as though it were a captive, He subjugates it to Himself. The Greek is ÎµÌ‰ÎºÏÎ¬Ï„Î·ÏƒÎµ, and the word denotes the efficacy of the power and empire of Christ. He held the hand of the dead body, as though ruling and commanding it, and so mightily operating upon it as to raise it from death unto life. For by His hand He raised the body from the earth, and recalled the soul into it from the unseen world, saying to it in Syriac, Talitha cumi—that Isaiah , Maid, arise. "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son giveth life to whom he will." ( John 5:21.)
And the maid arose. Greek Î·Ì‰Î³ÎÏÎ¸Î·—i.e, was roused up, and awoke. Christ raised her to life, as easily as if He were waking one who was asleep.
Mark adds, And he commanded that something should be given her to eat. This was that the resurrection might be seen to be real.
And the fame hereof . . . into all that land—that Isaiah , into the whole of Galilee. All men spread abroad the news, and celebrated this resurrection of the maid by Christ, speaking of it as a new, unheard of, and Divine work. And in so doing they preached Christ, that He was a prophet—yea, the Messiah.
SS. Hilary, Ambrose, and Jerome say that these things are an allegory of the Church. The woman with the issue of blood, who received health and the salvation of her soul before the daughter of the chief of the synagogue, or the Jews, is the people of the Gentiles; for after the fulness of the Gentiles has entered into the Church, the Jews shall be converted, and saved at the end of the world. Whence the Gloss says, Jairus—i.e, illuminating, or illuminated, is Moses who, beholding the Lord about to come in the flesh, prays for his daughter—that Isaiah , the Synagogue, who, brought up by the Law and the Prophets, languishing in error, is dead in sins, but nevertheless is in the house—that Isaiah , in the worship of God. And S. Jerome says, "Even until this day, the Synagogue lies dead, and they who seem to be teachers—the Jewish Rabbin—are flute-players and minstrels, singing a mournful chant; and the Jews are not a multitude of believers, but of people making a noise."
Tropologically, both the woman healed of the issue of blood, and Jairus" daughter raised from the dead, denote the sinful soul, which Christ raises from the death of sin to the life of grace; but first, the friends and minstrels must be driven out—that Isaiah , the depraved companions and the wicked spirits; for they soothe the soul with their ditties, and detain it in the death of sin. They make flattering suggestions. They chant that sin is not deadly, or that some indulgence must be granted to youth, that all may be atoned for by repentance when old, and so on. Thus Christ touches the soul. By His mighty power He takes her by the hand, gives her life, and raises her up from the deep of death to the summit of life. By-and-by she is bidden to walk, that Isaiah , do good works; and to eat, that Isaiah , to feed on the Eucharist, that it may strengthen and confirm her life.
Only the three chief Apostles are present, that it may be signified that Christ, by the Apostles and their successors, will raise sinners from death; and that this is the prime and chief power of the Apostles, concerning which Christ saith, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." ( John 20:23.)
Lastly, Christ is recorded to have raised three dead persons only to life—first, this maid of twelve years old, whom He raised immediately upon her decease. The second was the young Prayer of Manasseh , the widow"s Song of Solomon , whom He raised as he was being carried to the tomb. The third was Lazarus, whom He called out of his sepulchre, after he had lain there four days.
First, the young girl denotes those who from age—for young people are fervid and inexperienced—or from frailness, or from infirmity, fall into sin, but very soon, being touched by God, see their fall, and easily repent, and rise again. Secondly, the young man denotes those who have fallen repeatedly into sin, and are verging upon a habit of sin. These are with more difficulty recalled to life. They need more powerful and efficacious grace. So it came to pass that Christ commanded the bearers of the young man to stand still. And touching the bier, He said in a commanding manner, Young Prayer of Manasseh , I say unto thee, Arise. Thirdly, Lazarus denotes those who have grown old in sin. These are with great difficulty recalled. They need the most efficacious grace and vocation of God. And the symbol or indication of this, was Christ"s groaning, weeping, and crying with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. Therefore Rabanus and others think that, symbolically, by the raising of the girl is meant the repentance of one who has only sinned in thought: by the young Prayer of Manasseh , the repentance of those who have sinned in deed as well as in thought: by Lazarus, their repentance, who have contracted a habit and practice of sin. Lastly, Christ here teaches that secret and light sins are blotted out by secret repentance, and therefore the girl was raised in the house. But public sins need a public remedy, therefore, he recalled the young man and Lazarus to life publicly, before multitudes.
And passing on from thence, i.e, from Jairus" house, two blind men, &c. These blind men had conceived the hope of recovering their sight from Christ from the many and great miracles which they had heard were done by Him. Therefore they said, have mercy upon us, pity our blindness, which is the greatest misery, and restore to us the light of the sun. We believe that Thou art the Son of David, that Isaiah , the Messiah, to whom this healing of blindness and other diseases has been promised by the Prophets. ( Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 61:1.) For Messiah had been promised to David as his Song of Solomon , that He should be sprung from his posterity. Wherefore Messiah was always called by the Jews, the Son of David. Therefore these men, whose bodily eyes were blind, had sharp-sighted minds, as a certain writer exclaims, "0 that darkness brighter than any light: 0 those most piercing eyes of blindness!"
And when he was come into the house, &c. The house, that is to say, His own, which Christ had hired at Capernaum, as I have said on chap. iv13. Christ did not answer the blind men as they cried unto Him in the way, and asked their sight. He put them off until He came into the house, 1. That He might prove them, and kindle their faith and desire of healing2. That He might teach the necessity of persevering in prayer. Believe ye, He says, that I am able to do this? He does not say, that I am about to do it, but, that I am able to do it? For faith is properly in the Omnipotence of God. This is why we say in the Creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." This faith then gave rise to hope, insomuch that these blind men conceived the hope that what Christ was able to do, that He would do. Away then with the faith of the Innovators, by which they believe, that their sins have been forgiven to themselves in particular, for the merits of Christ, and, that they are justified, and sons of God. They believe, I say, in their own false imagination, by which they say that they most firmly believe it by Divine faith, when they only imagine it, and dream of it. For nothing can be believed, except what has been revealed by God. But it has not been revealed to thee, 0 Luther, that thou art justified (justum), therefore thou canst not believe it.
Then he touched their eyes, &c. Christ heals them by the touch of His hands, to manifest their saving power. "The confession of their mouth is requited by the touch of kindness," says the Gloss.
And Jesus straitly charged them. The Greek Isaiah , ÎµÌ‰Î½ÎµÎ²ÏÎ¹Î¼Î®ÏƒÎ±Ï„Î¿, the Vulgate comminatus est: which means literally, He sharply and sternly threatened them. He did this to show His strong dislike of ostentation in His miracles, and of vain glory, and to teach us to dislike it.
But they spread abroad his fame in all that country. These blind men did not offend against the strict charge of Christ by publishing His miracle, as Calvin would have it, for they persuaded themselves that Christ had done Song of Solomon , not by an absolute precept, but only out of modesty, for the reason I have given. And no wonder that the blind men thought Song of Solomon , for the Fathers are persuaded that, Christ spoke in this sense. Hear S. Chrysostom: "To another He says, Declare the glory of God; surely He teaches that they are to be rebuked, who wish to praise us for our own sakes, but not if they do so for the glory of God." And S. Jerome says, "The Lord, because of humility, avoiding the glory of boasting, gave this command; but they, in remembrance of His grace, were not able to keep silent about His kindness."
Thy brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. Gr. ÎºÏ‰Ï†Î¿Ì€Î½, 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 Prayer of Manasseh , as is clear from the Greek Î´Î±Î¹Î¼Î¿Î½Î¹Î¶ÏŒÎ¼ÎµÎ½Î¿Î½. The Syriac translation makes this plain, They offered unto him a dumb Prayer of Manasseh , 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 ( Matthew 12:22). Here Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him ( Isaiah 35:4-6), "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."
And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake. 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. ( Psalm 47:7.)
The multitudes marvelled, 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.
But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the 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 xii25. But now, meekly bearing and despising their charges, He proceeds in His course of doing good, and confutes their blasphemies by fresh miracles.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, &c. 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 ÎºÏŽÎ¼Î±Ï‚.
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.
But when he saw the multitudes, &c. Had compassion, the Greek is ÎµÌ‰ÏƒÏ€Î»Î±Î³Ï‡Î½Î¯ÏƒÎ¸Î·, that is. pitied them from His inmost bowels. This is the same word, as to its use, as the Hebrew ×¨×—× rechem, "bowels," and Song of Solomon , mercifulness.
As sheep having 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 Isaiah , 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.
The harvest truly is plenteous, &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."
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.
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.