Ver. 1. This was the Hebrew expression for taking a meal; their frugality probably suggested this method of expression, bread being the principal part of their repast. Calmet.
--- What a contrast here between the actions of the Pharisees and those of our Saviour! They watched all his actions, in order to have an opportunity of accusing him, and of putting him to death; whilst he, on the contrary, seeks after nothing but the salvation of his enemies' souls. Tirin.
Ver. 2. Our divine Saviour, regardless of the wicked designs which these Pharisees meditated to destroy him, cures the sick man, who did not dare to ask the favour of him, for fear of the Pharisees. He could only persuade himself to stand in his presence, hoping that Christ would at length cast a compassionate look upon him: who being well pleased with him, did not demand of him if he wished to be cured, but without demur proceeded to work this stupendous miracle in his behalf. S. Cyril.
--- In which Christ did not so much consider whether the action would give scandal to the Pharisees, as whether it would afford the sick man comfort; intimating, that we ought ever to disregard the raillery of the fools, and the scandal which men of this world may take at our actions, as often as they are for the honour of God, and the good of our neighbour. Theophy.
Ver. 3. Is it lawful? Jesus knew their thoughts, and that they would blame him as a sabbath-breaker: yet he healed the man, and confounded them by the example and common practice of pulling an ass out of a pit on the sabbath-day. Wi.
Ver. 5. By this example Christ convicts his adversaries, as guilty of sordid avarice, since, in delivering beasts from the danger of perishing on the sabbath-day, they consult only their own advantage, whilst he was only employed in an act of charity towards his neighbour; an action they seemed so warmly to condemn. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 7. A parable. What parable? In the text there is no parable, but only instruction. Maldonatus thinks that our Saviour spoke a parable on this occasion, which S. Luke has omitted, giving us only the moral and the substance of the instruction conveyed by it. Calmet.
--- To take the lowest place at a feast, according to our Saviour's injunctions, is certainly very becoming; but imperiously to insist upon it, is far from acting according to our Saviour's wishes, particularly when it is destructive of regularity, and productive of discord and contention. S. Basil.
Ver. 9. The lowest place. A person of the first quality is not to do this literally, which would be preposterous; but it is to teach every on humility of heart and mind. Wi.
Ver. 12. Christ does not here forbid the invitation of friends and relatives, since that would be acting directly contrary to his own maxims and spirit, which breathe nothing but charity and union. He merely wishes to purify our motives in the disposal of our charity, by insinuating that there is more merit in giving to the indigent, from whom we can expect no remuneration. Calmet.
--- It is only an effect of avarice, to be liberal to those who will repay us, says S. Ambrose. It is our duty as acknowledged even by heathens (Cicero de Off. l. i.) to assist those who stand most in need of it; but our practice says the same author, is to be most obsequious to those from whom we expect most, though they want our services the least. S. Ambrose, Ven. Bede, and S. Chrys. are of the same opinion.
Ver. 16. By this man we are to understand Christ Jesus, the great mediator between God and man. He sent his servants, at supper-time, to say to them that were invited, that they should come; i.e. he sent his apostles to call the people of Israel, who had been invited to his supper on almost innumerable occasions: but they not only refused the invitation, but also murdered the Lord who had invited them. We may remark, that the three different excuses exactly agree with what S. John says: All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. The one says, I have married a wife, by which may be understood the concupiscence of the flesh; another says, I have bought five yoke of oxen, by which is denoted the concupiscence of the eyes; and the pride of life is signified by the purchase of the farm, which the third alleges in his justification. S. Aug. de verb. Dei.
Ver. 23. Compel them to come in. This is almost the only expression in the New Testament, which can give to the intolerant a plea for persecution. The spirit of the gospel is the spirit of mildness, and the compulsion which it authorizes to bring infidels or heretics into the Church, is such as we use towards our friends, when we press them to accept of our hospitality. The great pope, S. Gregory, forbade the Jews to be persecuted in Rome, who refused to receive the faith of Christ. "That is a new and unheard of kind of preaching," says he, "which demands assent by stripes." A.
Ver. 26. Hate not, &c. The law of Christ does not allow us to hate even our enemies, much less our parents: but the meaning of the text is, that we must be in that disposition of soul so as to be willing to renounce and part with every thing, how near or dear soever it may be to us, that would keep us from following Christ. Ch.
--- The word hate is not to be taken in its proper sense, but to be expounded by the words of Christ, (Matt. x. 37.) that no man must love his father more than God, &c. Wi.
--- Christ wishes to shew us what dispositions are necessary in him who desires to become his disciple; (Theophy.) and to teach us that we must not be discouraged, if we meet with many hardships and labours in our journey to our heavenly country. S. Gregory.
--- And if for our sakes, Christ even renounced his own mother, saying, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? why do you wish to be treated more delicately than your Lord? S. Ambrose.
--- He wished also to demonstrate to us, that the hatred he here inculcates, is not to proceed from any disaffection towards our parents, but from charity for ourselves; for immediately he adds, and his own life also. From which words it is evident, that in our love we must hate our brethren as we do ourselves.
Ver. 28. For which of you, &c. The similitude, which our divine Saviour makes us of, represents the offices and duty of a true Christian, for he has to build within himself and conduct others by his example to war with the devil, the world, and the flesh; and he has to season, purify, and keep all his actions free from corruption by the spiritual salt of mortification and prayer. Tirinus.
Ver. 29. Lest after, &c. Here he wishes to shew us, that we are not to embrace any state of life, particularly that of an ecclesiastic, without previous and serious consideration, whether we shall be able to go through with the difficulties and dangers which will inevitably befall us: lest afterwards we find ourselves constrained to yield to our enemies, who will deride us, and say: This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Tirinus.
Ver. 34. But if the salt, &c. Man, after he has once been illumined with the light of faith, should he be so unfortunate as to fall into the sink of his former evil habits, what remedy is there remaining for him? He is, as our Saviour says, neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out. Luke xiv. 35. Ven. Bede.