Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Read Chapter 15
Chromatius of Aquileia
He then goes on to say, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of blind men. But if a blind man guide a blind man, both fall into a pit.” These words were intended to expose the scribes and Pharisees, who were blinded by the error of their unbelief. Not only were they unable to recognize the light of truth—not believing in Christ—but also they were attracting others into the pit of death. Nevertheless the words also apply to heretics. Denying that Christ is the “true light from true light, and God from God,” they too were steeped in blindness. Because of their perverse doctrine, they also proved to be guides and leaders to those adrift. ...
Let them alone. It must not be hence inferred, that he desired not the conversion of the Scribes and Pharisees. He only says: if, through their own perversity, they choose to take scandal, let them do it; we must not neglect to teach the truth, though it displease men. (St. Jerome)
When, says St. Gregory, we see scandal arise from our preaching truth, we must rather suffer it to take place than desert the truth. Our Lord says they are blind, let us leave them. For the land which has often been watered with the dews of heaven, and still continues barren is deserted. Behold your house shall be left desolate. (Luke xiii. 35) And Isaias (v. 6.) says, It shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged, but briers and thorns shall come upon it; and I will command the clouds to rain no more rain upon it. For, although God never refuses man grace sufficient to enable him to rise, if he pleases, yet he sometimes denies such assistance as would render his rise easy. The state of a sinner is the...
Interlin.: Or, the plant here spoken of may be the doctors of the Law with their followers, who had not Christ for their foundation. Why they are to be rooted up, He adds, “Let them alone; they are blind, leaders of the blind.”
In one of the Lord’s discourses the whole superstition of Jewish observances had been cut down. They placed their whole religion in using or abstaining from certain meats.
As this word ‘scandalum’ (offence or stumbling block) is of such frequent use in ecclesiastical writings, we will shortly explain it. We might render it in Latin,‘offendiculum,’ or ‘ruina,’ or ‘impactio;’ and so when we read, Whosoever shall scandalize, we understand, whoso by word or deed has given an occasion of falling to any.
Shall that plant also be rooted up of which the Apostle says, “I planted, Apollos watered?” God indeed has planted it, and none may root up His planting. But since that planting was through the disposition of the will of him which was planted, none other can root it up unless its own will consents thereto.
This is also the same as that Apostolic injunction, “A heretic after the firstand second admonition reject, knowing that such a one is perverse.” To the same end the Saviour commands evil ...
When the Pharisees heard the things that went before, they made no reply to the m, because He had so mightily overthrown them, not only refuting their arguments, but detecting their fraud, but they, not the multitudes, were offended at them. "Then came his disciples unto him and said,Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?”.
Christ does not remove the stumbling block out of the way of the Pharisees, but rather rebukes them; as it follows, “But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up. "This Manichaeus affirmed was spoken of the Law, but what has been already said is a sufficient refutation of this. For if He had said this of the Law, how would He have above contended for the Law, saying, “Why transgress ye the commandment of God through your tradition? "Or would He have cited the Prophet? Or how, if God said, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” is not this, being spoken in the Law, a plant of God? ...
They are blind, that is, they want the light of God’s commandments; and they are “leaders of the blind,” inasmuch as they draw others headlong, erring, and leading into error; whence it is added, “If the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch.”
Every false doctrine and superstitious observance with the workers thereof cannot endure; and because it is not from God the Father, it shall be rooted up with the same. And that only shall endure which is of God.
It is the Judaic ordinances and the traditions of the elders that He says will be rooted up, not the commandments of the law, as the Manichean heretics believe. The law is a plant of God, so it has not been rooted up. Its root, that is, the hidden Spirit, remains, but its leaves, namely, the visible letter, have fallen. For we no longer understand the law according to the letter, but according to the Spirit. As the Pharisees were hopeless and incurable, He said, "Let them be." Here we learn that it is not to our detriment to give offense to those who willingly take offense and are incorrigible. He calls them blind teachers of the blind; He says this to draw the multitudes away from them. ...