For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Read Chapter 23
George Leo Haydock
Heavy and insupportable burdens. Some understand in general the ceremonies of the law of Moses; but Christ seems rather here to mean the vain customs, traditions, and additions, introduced by the Jewish doctors, and by their Scribes and Pharisees. (Witham)
They thus greatly increase the burden of others, by multiplying their obligations; whilst they will not offer themselves the least violence in observing them, or alleviating the burden, by taking any share upon their own shoulders.
But all these things, the shoulders, the finger, the burdens, and the bands with which they bind the burdens, have a spiritual meaning. Herein also the Lord speaks generally against all masters who enjoin high things, but do not even little things.
He mentions here a twofold wickedness. First they require great and extreme strictness of life, without any indulgence, from those over whom they rule. Yet they are much less stringent with themselves. This is opposite from what the truly good pastor ought to hold. He ought to be a rigorous and severe judge in things that concern himself. But in the matters of those whom he rules, he ought to be gentle and ready to make allowances. What these men do is just the opposite. For such are all they who practice selfrestraint in mere words while being unforgiving and grievous to bear when they have had no experience of the difficulty in actions. This is no small fault. In no small way does Jesus increase the former charge. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
And together with these He mentions also another charge against them, that they are harsh to those accountable to them.
For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they will not move them with their finger. He mentions here a twofold wickedness, their requiring great and extreme strictness of life, without any indulgence, from those over whom they rule, and their allowing to themselves great security; the opposite to which the truly good ruler ought to hold; in what concerns himself, to be an unpardoning and severe judge, but in the matters of those whom he rules, to be gentle and ready to make allowances; the contrary to which was the conduct of these men.
For such are all they who practise self restraint in mere words, unpardoning and grievous to bear as having no experience of the difficulty in actions. And this itself too is no small fault, and in no ordinary way increases the former charge.
But do thou mark, I pray you, how ...
When the Lord had overthrown the Priests by His answer, and shown their condition to be irremediable, forasmuch as clergy, when they do wickedly, cannot be amended, but laymen who have gone wrong are easily set right, He turns His discourse to His Apostles and the people. For that is an unprofitable word which silences one, without conveying improvement to another.
But regard must be had to this, after what sort each man fills his seat; fornot the seat makes the Priest, but the Priest the seat; the place does not consecrate the man, but the man the place. A wicked Priest derives guilt and not honour from his Priesthood.
Hom. lxxii: But that none should say, For this cause am I slack to practise, because my instructor is evil, He removes every such plea, saying, “All therefore whatsoever they say unto you, that observe and do,” for they speak not their own, but God’s, which things He taught through Moses in the Law. And look with how great honour He speaks of Moses, shewing again what h...