Ver. 1. Always to pray, i.e. to pray daily, and frequently; (Wi.) and also to walk always in the presence of God, by a spirit of prayer, love, and sorrow for sin.
Ver. 2. This judge, who feared not God, nor cared for man, yet yielded to the importunity of the widow, represents the absolute and sovereign power of God. But we must not suppose the Almighty has any of the faults we see in this iniquitous judge. Comparisons are not meant to hold good in every particular. The only consequence to be drawn from the present parable, is this: if a man, who has neither piety nor tenderness for his fellow creatures, yield to the importunity of a widow, who is not wearied out with repeating her petitions; how much more will God, who is full of bounty and tenderness to man, and only seek occasions to grant him his gifts, hear the prayers of the fervent, and fill with benedictions the petitioner, who can continue like the widow to importune his interference, and can beg without languor or discouragement? Calmet.
Ver. 3. Avenge me; i.e. do me justice. It is a Hebraism. Wi.
Ver. 4. And he would not for a long time. The Almighty does not always hear us as soon as we could wish, nor in the manner that seems best to us; but if we are not always heard according to our desires, we always are as far as is conducive to our salvation. He sometimes delays, in order to exercise our patience, and increase our ardour: sometimes he grants, in his anger, what, in him mercy, he would refuse. Let us then pray always, desire always, love always. Desire always, and you pray always. This is the continual voice of prayer, which the Almighty demands of you. You are silent, when you cease to love. The cooling of charity, is the silence of the heart. S. Aug. in Ps. xxxvii. Wi.
Ver. 5. She weary me out.† This, as much as I am able to find out, seems the literal signification both of the Latin and Greek text. Wi.
[†] V. 5. Sugillet me, upwpiazh me. The Greek word literally signifies, lest she give me strokes on the face, that make me appear black and blue; which were called, upwpia. This word, upwpiazein, is only used in one other place in the New Testament, (1 Cor. ix. 27.) where S. Paul says, castigo, or contundo corpus meum. Now, as we cannot imagine that this judge feared lest the widow should beat him in this shameful manner, the word metaphorically seems to imply, lest she should injuriously upbraid and continually reproach me.
Ver. 8. In the Greek, although he suffer for the present the elect to be oppressed. V.
--- Our divine Redeemer adds, this, to shew that faith must necessarily accompany our prayers. For whosoever prays for what he does not believe he shall obtain, will pray in vain; let us, therefore, entreat the Father of mercies to grant us the grace of prayer, and firmness in faith; for faith produces prayer, and prayer produces firmness of faith. S. Aug. de verb. Dom. Serm 36.
--- But of this there is little left on the earth, and there will be still less at the second coming of the Son of God.
Ver. 9. In this chapter we have three examples of prayer: one of the persevering widow; another of the poor publican, who solicits the divine mercy by the acknowledgment of his crimes; and the third of the proud Pharisee, who only goes to the temple to pronounce his own panegyric, and enter upon a accusation of his humble neighbour, whose heart is unknown to him. Calmet.
Ver. 11. The Pharisee standing. The Greek is, standing by himself, i.e. separated from the rest. Some understand this term, standing, as if in opposition to kneeling or prostrating, which they suppose to be the general posture in which the Jews offered up their prayers, and that of the humble publican. The Christians borrowed this practice from them. We see the apostles and disciples praying on their knees: Acts vii. 59, ix. 40, xx. 36. In the Old Testament, we see the same observed. Solomon, (3 K. viii. 54.) Daniel, (vi. 10.) and Micheas, (vi. 6.) prayed in that posture. Others however, think that the people generally prayed standing, as there were neither benches nor chairs in the temple. Calmet.
--- There are four ways by which men are guilty of pride: 1st, By thinking they have any good from themselves; 2nd, by thinking that though they have received it from above, it was given them as due to their own merits; 3rd, by boasting of the good they do not possess; and fourthly, by desiring to be thought the only persons that possess the good qualities of which they thus pride themselves. The pride of the Pharisee seems to have consisted in attributing to himself alone the qualities of which he boasted. S. Greg. mor. l. xxiii, c. 4.
--- He who is guilty of publicly speaking against his neighbour, is likewise the cause of much damage to himself and others. 1st, He injures the hearer; because if he be a sinner, he rejoices to find an accomplice; if he be just, he is tempted to vanity, seeing himself exempt from the crimes with which others are charged. 2nd, He injures the Church, by exposing it to be insulted for the defects of its members. 3rd, He causes the name of God to be blasphemed; for, as God is glorified by our good actions, so is he dishonoured by sin. 4th, He renders himself guilty, by disclosing that which it was his duty not to have mentioned. S. Chrys. Serm. de Phar. et Pub.
Ver. 12. See how the Pharisee here, by pride, lays open to the enemy his heart, which he had in vain shut against him by fasting and prayer. It is in vain to defend a city, if you leave the enemy a single passage, by which he may enter in. S. Greg. mor. l. xix. c. 12.
Ver. 14. If any one should ask why the Pharisee is here condemned for speaking some few words in his own commendation, and why the like sentence was not passed on Job, who praised himself much more; the difference is evident: the former praised himself without any necessity, merely with an intention of indulging his vanity, and extolling himself over the poor publican; the latter, being overwhelmed with misery, and upbraided by his friends, as if, forsaken of God, he suffered his present distress in punishment of his crimes, justifies himself by recounting his virtues for the greater glory of God, and to preserve himself and others in the steady practice of virtue, under similar temptations. Theophylactus.
Ver. 34. They understood well enough the sense of the words he spoke to them. But they could not understand how they could be reconciled with the idea they had previously conceived of the Messias. They were scandalized in the first place, to think that God should suffer any thing inflicted by man; they were scandalized in the second place, to hear that sufferings and death could lead to victory and empire; and lastly, they were scandalized, (their own feelings taking the alarm) lest they should be forced to imitate their Master in this part which he had chosen for himself. A.
Ver. 35. This blind man is, according to some interpreters, different from the other two whom Jesus Christ cured as he was going out of Jericho. V.
--- See Matt. xx. 29. and Mark x. 46. et dein.