And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Read Chapter 16
Ambrose of Milan
Not that the Law failed, but that the preaching of the Gospel began, for that which is inferior seems to be completed when a better succeeds.
For the Law delivered many things according to nature, as being more indulgent to our natural desires, that it might call us to the pursuit of righteousness. Christ breaks through nature as cutting off even our natural pleasures. But therefore we keep under nature, that it should not sink us down to earthly things, but raise usto heavenly.
But we must first speak, I think, of the law of marriage, that we may afterwards discuss the forbidding of divorce. Some think that all marriage is sanctioned by God, because it is written, Whom God has joined, let not man put asunder. How then does the Apostle say, If the unbelieving depart, let him depart? Herein he shows that the marriage of all is not from God. For neither by God's approval are Christians joined with Gentiles. Do not then put away your wife, lest you deny God to be the Author of your union....
They also do violence to the kingdom of heaven, in that they not only despise all temporal things, but also the tongues of those who desire their doing so. This the Evangelist added, when he said that Jesus was derided when He spoke of despising earthly riches.
They justify themselves before men who despise sinners as in a weak and hopeless condition, but fancy themselves to be perfect and not toneed the remedy of almsgiving; but how justly the depth of deadly pride is to be condemned, He sees who will enlighten the hidden places of darkness. Hence it follows, But God knows your hearts.
Now the Pharisees derided our Savior disputing against covetousness, as if He taught things contrary to the Law and the Prophets, in which many very rich men are said to have pleased God; but Moses also himself promised that the people whom he ruled, if they followed the Law, should abound in all earthly goods. These the Lord answers by showing that between the Law and the Gospel, as in these promises so also in the commands, there isnot the slightest difference. Hence He adds, The Law and the Prophets were until John.
But lest they should suppose that in His words, the Law and the Prophets were until John, He preached the destruction of the Law or the Prophet...
For when in the Gospel the Lord was discoursing concerning almsgiving, and faithfully and wholesomely warned us to make to ourselves friends of our earthly lucre by provident good works, who might afterwards receive us into eternal dwellings, the Scripture added after this, and said, "But the Pharisees heard all these things, who were very covetous, and they derided Him."
Being lovers of money, they repeatedly did not judge matters before them according to what was agreeable to the laws of God. On the contrary, they judged inequitably and in opposition to God’s will…. Since it says that the Pharisees were lovers of money, they derided Jesus for directing them by his healthful doctrines to praiseworthy conduct and making them want saintly glories. He tells them that it was their duty to sell their possessions and distribute them to the poor. They would then possess in heaven a treasure that could not be stolen, purses that could not be harmed, and wealth that would not have to be abandoned. Commentary on Luke, Homily
Now the ancient prophets knew the preaching of the kingdom of heaven, but none of them had expressly announced it to the Jewish people, because the Jews having a childish understanding were unequal to the preaching of what is infinite. But John first openly preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, as well as also the remission of sins by the laver of regeneration. Hence it follows, Since that time the kingdom of heaven is preached, and every one presses into it.
A great struggle befalls men in their ascent to heaven. For that men clothed with mortal flesh should be able to subdue pleasure and every unlawful appetite, desiring to imitate the life of angels, must be compassed with violence. But who that looking upon those who labor earnestly in the service of God, and almost put to death their flesh, will not in reality confess that they do violence to the kingdom of heaven.
Now the Pharisees Christ had admonished the Scribes and Pharisees not to presume too much on their own sanctity, but to receive repenting sinners, and to redeem their own sins with alms. But they derided these precepts of mercy and humility; either because they esteemed what he commanded them to be useless, or because they thought they had already complied with them. (Ven. Bede)
The Pharisees considered temporal riches as true goods, and the recompense which God had promised to such as observed his laws; they therefore laughed at the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which extolled liberality and alms-deeds, and despised the Master who, on all occasions, testified his great regard for poverty in his discourses, in his conduct, in the choice of his apostles, who were all poor, and had no pretensions whatever to exterior pomp or show. (Calmet)
He hereby disposes them readily to believe on Him, because if as far as John's time all things were complete, I am He who am come. For the Prophets had not ceased unless I had come; but you will say, were the Prophets until John, since there have been many more Prophets in the New than the Old Testament. But He spoke of those prophets who foretold Christ's coming.
But the Lord detecting in them a hidden malice, proves that they make apresence of righteousness. Therefore it is added, And he said to them, you are they which justify yourselves before men.
And therefore you are an abomination to Him because of your arrogance, and love of seeking after the praise of men; as He adds, For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
For that to the imperfect the Law spoke imperfectly is plain from what he says to the hard hearts of the Jews, “If a manhate his wife, let him put her away,” because since they were murderers and rejoiced in blood, they had no pity even upon those who were united to them, so that they slew their sons and daughters for devils. But now there is need of a more perfect doctrine. Wherefore I say, that ifa man puts away his wife, having no excuse of fornication, he commits adultery, and he who marries another commits adultery.