Ver. 2. Father, hallowed be thy name, &c. See Matt. vi. In the ordinary Greek copies here are all the seven petitions, as in S. Matthew: and so they are in the Prot. Testament. Yet S. Aug. in his Enchiridion, (c. i. tom. 6, p. 240,) says there were read seven petitions in S. Matt. and only five in S. Luke. We may also take notice, that though in the Greek copies here in S. Luke are all seven petitions of the Lord's prayer, yet the doxology, for thine is the kingdom, &c. is omitted in all Greek copies, and by the Protestants; which is a new argument and proof, that the said doxology is an addition from the Greek liturgy. Wi.
Ver. 3. In the Greek it is called epiousion; i.e. supersubstantial. This is not the bread that goeth into the body, but the bread of eternal life, that supports the life of the soul. It is here called daily bread. Receive then daily, what will daily profit you; and continue so to live, that you may be daily in proper dispositions for receiving it. All who are under sin, have received a wound, and must seek for a cure. The cure is this heavenly and most venerable sacrament. S. Austin, Serm. ii. de verbo Dei.
Ver. 4. Christ does not teach us to pray for afflictions of the body, but always enjoins us to pray, that we may not enter into temptation. When, therefore, temptation attacks us, we must beg of God grace to withstand it, that the promise in S. Matthew (chap. x.) may be fulfilled in us, he who perseveres to the end shall be saved. S. Bede in Reg. Brev. 221.
Ver. 5. This parable is not found in any one of the evangelists, except S. Luke. Our Saviour having taught his disciples the aforesaid form of prayer, now shews them the utility and efficacy of prayer in general. He wishes to inculcate the necessity of perseverance in prayer. A friend comes to borrow of another friend at an unseasonable hour; his request is refused; he insists, and obtains, by his perseverance, what he could not have gained without it. Thus also the Almighty wishes to be importuned; he wishes us to pray with zeal and perseverance. This is the model we ought to follow. Calmet.
--- God would not exhort us so earnestly to pray, unless he was ready to grant our petitions. Let us blush at our sloth: he is more ready to give than we are to receive. S. Austin.
Ver. 8. After our Saviour had given his apostles this form of prayer, knowing that men would recite it with remissness and negligence, and then on account of not being heard, would desist, he teaches here to avoid this pusillanimity in prayer; perseverance in our petitions being the most advantageous. S. Cyril, ex Divo Thoma.
Ver. 9. Our petitions are frequently not immediately granted, that our earnestness and assiduity may be increased; that we may learn to esteem the gifts of God, and preserve them with care, for whatever we procure with labour, we preserve with care, lest by losing it we lose our labour also. S. Basil in Con. Mon.
Ver. 10. How comes it to pass then, that many pray, and receive not? To this we answer, that if they approach in a proper manner, and observe the necessary conditions of the petition, they will undoubtedly receive what they ask for; but if, on the contrary, they deviate from this rule, and ask not, as they ought, they will not receive; because as S. James says, you ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss. Chap. i. By asking for things that are prejudical to your well-being; or, if for spiritual blessings, you do not receive them, on account of your evil motives. Origen ex S. Thoma.
Ver. 14. This possessed person is said in S. Matthew to have been also blind. Upon him, therefore, were wrought three wonders: the blind saw, the dumb spoke, the possessed was delivered; which daily takes place in the persons of such as are converted to the number of true believers: the devil is expelled, and they both receive the light of faith beaming upon their eyes, and having the strings of their silent organs loosed to sound forth the praises of God. Ven. Bede.
--- And the multitude, &c. The multitude, though devoid of learning, were constant admirers of the actions of our Lord, whilst the Scribes and Pharisees either denied them, or by a sinister interpretation, ascribed them to the power of the unclean spirit. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 17. And house upon house shall fall. He speaks of a house or family divided, which thereby shall fall to ruin. Wi.
Ver. 19. Your judges. They will condemn you of injustice, envy, and hatred against me, and blasphemy against God; because when they perform any exorcisms, though they appear but little more than human in their actions, yet you ascribe them to the virtue of God; but when I perform any miracle, though there always appear most evident signs of the power and virtue of God, you ascribe all to the hand and machinations of the devil. Tirinus.
Ver. 24. Man, &c. By this one man is meant the whole Jewish people, out of whom the unclean spirit had been driven by the law. S. Ambrose.
--- For as long as they were in Egypt, they lived after the manners of the Egyptians, and were the habitation of the unclean spirit; but it was expelled from them, when they slew the paschal lamb in figure of Christ, and escaped destruction by sprinkling themselves with its blood. S. Cyril ex Divo Thoma.
--- But the evil spirit returned to his former habitation, the Jews, because he saw them devoid of virtue, barren, and open for his reception. And their latter state is worse than their former; for more wicked demons possessed the breasts of the Jews than before. Then they raged against the prophets only; but now they persecute the Lord himself of the prophets: therefore have they suffered much greater extremities from Vespasian and Titus, than from Egypt and Babylon; for besides being deprived of the merciful protection of Providence, which before watched over them, they are destitute of all grace, and delivered up to a more poignant misery, and a more cruel tyranny of the devil. S. Chrys. hom. xliv. on S. Matt.
Ver. 26. The last state, &c. But these words are also addressed to us Christians, who may often, and with reason, fear lest the vice we think extinguished in us, again return and seize on our slothful and careless souls, finding them cleansed indeed from the filth of sin by the grace of baptism, but destitute of every ornamental and protective virtue. It brings with it seven other evil spirits, by which we must understand every vicious inclination. V. Bede.
--- The latter state of these souls is worse than the former; because having been delivered from all former sins, and adorned with grace, if they again return to their iniquities a much more grievous punishment will be due for every subsequent crime. S. Chrys. hom. xliv. on S. Matt.
Ver. 28. Menounge, imo vero, yes indeed. Our Saviour does not here wish to deny what the woman had said, but rather to confirm it: indeed how could he deny, as Calvin impiously maintained, that his mother was blessed? By these words, he only wishes to tell his auditors what great advantage they might obtain by attending to his words. For the blessed Virgin, as S. Augustine says, was more happy in having our Saviour in her heart and affections, than in having conceived him in her womb. Tirinus.
Ver. 29. But the sign of Jonas. Instead of a prodigy in the heavens or in the air, I will give you one in the bosom of the earth, more wonderful than that of the prophet Jonas, who came out alive from the belly of the fish, which had swallowed him. Thus I will return alive from the bosom of the earth three days after my death. Calmet.
--- He gave them a sign, not from heaven, for they were unworthy to behold it, but from the deep; the sign of his incarnation, not of his divinity; of his passion, not of his glory. V. Bede.
Ver. 31. Queen of the South shall condemn this generation, not by exercising the power of judgment against them, but by having performed an action which, when put in competition with theirs, will be found superior to them. V. Bede.
Ver. 34. If thy eye be single. As when the eyes of the body are pure, and free from the mixture of bad humours, the whole body is lightsome; so if the eyes of the mind, viz. reason, faith and understanding, are not infected with the pestiferous humours of envy, avarice, and other vices, the whole mind will be illuminated by the presence of the Holy Ghost. Take care, therefore, lest by giving way to these vices, the light which is in thee be turned into darkness. Barradius.
Ver. 36. The whole shall be lightsome. Not only all thy body, but all about thee; all thy ways and actions. Wi.
Ver. 38. Washed, &c. There was nothing ordained by the law concerning this washing of the hands, which the Pharisees observed before taking meat. Christ and his apostles washed their hands when they pleased, without looking for any mystery in such things, or making to themselves vain obligations in frivolous and indifferent things. They did not neglect what was ordained by the law in certain cases for purification; but beside that, they observed nothing more. Calmet.
Ver. 41. But yet that which remaineth, give alms.† The sense seems not to be of what remaineth, give alms, as some expound it; but by the Greek, the sense is, give alms of what you have, i.e. of your goods, according to your abilities; and as Toby said to his son, If thou hast much, give much; if little, give a little willingly. Tob. iv. 9.
--- All things are clean unto you. Not that alms without other pious dispositions, will suffice to your salvation; but that other necessary virtues will be given you, by the mercies of God. Wi.
--- These are the means I propose to you to gain that interior purity I am speaking of. But will alms suffice to expiate all sorts of crimes? Is it enough for the murderer, the homicide, &c. to give alms? Undoubtedly not. Our Saviour only compares alms-deeds with the exterior washing which the Pharisees affected. As if he had said, "It is not by the washing in common water that you will take out the stains of your souls, but by the works of charity. Charity will be more efficacious to cleanse you than all the waters of the rivers and of the sea." Or, according to Euthymius, if you wish to cleanse yourselves truly, bring forth worthy fruits of penance, give up ill acquired possessions; and as for the rest, redeem you sins by alms. Thus shall all things be made clean to you, as well within as without the vase. Calmet.
[†] V. 41. Verumtamen quod superest, date eleemosynam plhn ta enonta dote elehmosunhn; quæ adsunt, quæ penes vos sunt. It is not to loipon, &c.
Ver. 43. Salutations in the market-place, &c. Such as wish to be saluted, and have the first places, that they may appear great, are likened to sepulchres, which are covered externally with ornaments, but are filled inwardly with rottenness. S. Cyril ex D. Thoma.
Ver. 44. Sepulchres that appear not. This comparison is partly different from that of Matt. xxiii. 27. For there Christ compares hypocrites to whitened sepulchres, which may be seen and avoided; here he compares them to sepulchres covered with grass, which appear not: yet the comparison, in the main, is the same; that whether they appear or not, still under them is corruption: as the interior of the Pharisees was always full of vice and corruption. Wi.
--- Men that walk, &c. Because they bear with them a fair outside, but are made up of nothing but corruption. S. Ambrose.
Ver. 45. Then one of the lawyers, &c. Correction, which turns to the advantage of the meek, appears always more intolerable to the wicked. Christ denounces woes against the Pharisees for deviating from the right path, and the doctors of the law found them equally applicable to themselves. S. Cyril ex D. Thoma.
--- How miserable is the conscience which, upon hearing the word of God, thinks itself insulted, and always hears the punishment of the reprobate rehearsed as the words of its own condemnation. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 47. Woe to you who build, &c. Not that the building of the monuments of the prophets was in itself blameworthy, but only the intention of these unhappy men, who made use of this outward shew of religion and piety, as a means to carry on their wicked designs against the prince of prophets. Ch.
Ver. 48. Build, &c. See the notes Matt. xxiii. 29. Wi.
Ver. 49. The wisdom of God said. In S. Matt. it is, Behold I send to you prophets and wise men; and in this passage of S. Luke, the wisdom of God saith, I will send, &c.: thus is Christ truly the wisdom of the Almighty God. S. Ambrose.
Ver. 51. Blood of Zacharias, &c. This Zacharias was, according to some Zacharias the son of Joiada, whom the Jews slew between the temple and the altar. Theophylactus,—also S. Jerom, who moreover mentions that some editions had Zacharias, son of Joiada.
--- This generation. Not that this generation of the Jews should be punished for the crimes of others, but that having before their eyes the severe chastisements their ancestors had received, in punishment of their wickedness, they had not grown better, but had imitated their perversity. S. Chrys. hom. lxxv. in Matt.
Ver. 52. You have taken away the key of knowledge. A comparison of a master that locks others out. As if Christ said: you pretend, as masters and teachers, to open and expound the law and the prophets; and by your false doctrine and interpretations, you neither observe the law, nor permit others to observe it. See Matt. xxiii. 13. Wi.
--- The key of knowledge is faith; for by faith we come to the knowledge of truth, according to that of Isaiah, How shall they understand, if they have not believed? Cap. vii, (according to Septuagint) these doctors of the law took away the key of science, by not allowing the people to believe in Christ. S. Cyril ex D. Thoma.
Ver. 53. And to oppress (i.e. stop) his mouth about many things.† This is the literal signification of the Greek: they started one question upon another, to raise confusion and confound the answers. Wi.
[†] V. 53. Et os ejus opprimere de multis: apostomatizein auton peri pleionwn.