And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
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Cornelius a Lapide
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, i.e, to an evil spirit, for the devils are the citizens of the country far off from God. So S. Augustine (Quæst. Evang. lib. ii. q33.) says, "He joined himself to a certain prince of the air belonging to the army of the devil, whose fields signify the manner of his power. The swine are the unclean spirits which are under him, and to feed them is to work those things in which they delight."
So also S. Ambrose, "The citizen is the prince of this world," and in like manner the Gloss.
S. Peter Chrysologus (Serm2.) says, "Behold the effect of unbridled desires. It turned a citizen into an alien, a son into a hireling, a rich man into a beggar, a free man into a slave. It associated him whom it separated from a kind father with swine; that he who had despised a holy affection might be the slave of the greedy herd."
S. Ambrose judges rightly that by the expression "he joined himself to" we are to understand a dangerous as well as a laborious service. For as a bird is snared when seeking food, so the unhappy sinner, hoping for the delights of freedom, falls into a perilous slavery.
And he sent him into his field. That Isaiah , says Bede, "he became a slave of earthly desires."
To feed swine. "To feed swine," says S. Chrysostom in the Catena, "is to nourish in the soul sordid and unclean thoughts. See here how marvellously the condition of the sinner is changed, as a just punishment for the foolish use he made of his freedom. He who was unwilling to be held in honour as a Song of Solomon , is obliged to become the bond slave of an alien. He who would not obey the laws of God, is compelled to serve Satan. He who would not abide in his father"s palace, is sent to dwell amongst clowns. He who would not associate with his brethren and with princes, becomes the attendant and companion of swine. He who refused the bread of angels, would fain satisfy his hunger with husks from the hog-trough."