And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Read Chapter 11
George Leo Haydock
Suffereth violence It is not to be obtained but by main force, by using violence upon ourselves, by mortification and penance, and resisting our perverse inclinations. (Challoner)
Certainly it is great violence for a man to look for a seat in heaven, and to obtain that by his virtue which was refused him by his nature. (St. Jerome in St. Thomas Aquinas)
The kingdom of heaven That is, the kingdom of heaven is to be obtained by mortification, penance, poverty, and those practices of austerity which John, both by word and example, pointed out. According to this interpretation, the kingdom of heaven means eternal life. Or the meaning may be, the kingdom of heaven is taken by the violent, because it is not now confined, as in the old law, to one people, but open to all, that whoever will may enter in and take possession of it. The kingdom of heaven, in this interpretation, is taken for the Church of Christ, for the gospel, and also for eternal life. (Menochius)
What violence? People did not believe in John the Baptist. The works of Christ were held to be of no importance. His torment on the cross was a stumbling block. “Until now” prophecy has been dormant. But now the law is fulfilled. Every prediction is finished. The spirit of Elijah is sent in advance through John’s words. Christ is proclaimed to some and acknowledged by others. He is born for some and loved by others. The violent irony is that his own people rejected him, while strangers accepted him. His own people speak ill of him, while his enemies embrace him. The act of adoption offers an inheritance, while the family rejects it. Sons refuse to accept their father’s last will, while the slaves of the household receive it. This is what is meant by the phrase “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” Earlier expectations are being torn apart. The glory that was pledged to Israel by the patriarchs, which was announced by the prophets and which was offered by Christ, is now being seized...
And what sort of connection may this have with what was said before? Much, assuredly, and in full accordance therewith. Yea, by this topic also He proceeds to urge and press them into the faith of Himself; and at the same time likewise, He is speaking in agreement with what had been before said by John. For if all things are fulfilled even down to John, I am He that should come.
It would seem that this does not follow the train of thought, but it does. Consider this: Christ, by saying of Himself that He is greater than John, strongly urges them to believe in Him, showing that many are by force acquiring the kingdom of heaven, that is, faith in Him. And there is need of great force, for in order to leave father and mother and to despise one’s own life, how much force is needed?