Ver. 2. What sinner can despair when he sees the Saviour of mankind seeking to save him; when he beholds even a publican and a rich man, at the same time, who, as our Saviour informs us in another place, are so seldom truly converted, brought to the light of faith, and the grace of a true conversion! S. Ambrose.
--- Zacheus (who as a farmer of the customs, not a collector, as some falsely imagine) immediately hearkened to the interior voice of the Almighty, calling him to repentance; he made no delay, and therefore deserved immediately not only to see, but to eat, drink, and converse with Jesus. S. Cyril.
--- Behold here the three steps of his conversion: 1. an ardent desire of seeing Jesus; 2. the honourable reception he gave him in his house; 3. the complete restitution of all ill-acquired property.
Ver. 9. Zacheus is here styled a son of Abraham; i.e. his spiritual son, a partaker of the promises made to Abraham concerning the Messias: not that he was actually born of his seed, but because he imitated his faith; and as Abraham at the voice of God, left the land and house of his father; so Zacheus renounced his goods and possessions, by giving them to the poor. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 11. That the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested. The disciples were full of the expectation of the temporal kingdom of the Messias, though he had divers times told them he was to suffer and die on a cross. Wi.
--- Notwithstanding all that Jesus had said to them about his kingdom, his death, his consummation, and resurrection, they still believed that the kingdom of God was going to be manifested, and that Jesus, in this journey, would make himself be acknowledged king by the whole nation of the Jews. They could not lay aside the ideas they had formed of the personal and temporal reign of the Messias. Every thing which they could not reconcile with this standard, was completely impenetrable to them. It was a language they could not comprehend. Calmet.
Ver. 12. This parable is an exact prophetic history of what happened to Archelaus Antipas, son of Herod the great, about thirty-six years afterwards. Judea being then tributary, he was obliged to go to Rome to receive his kingdom from the hands of the emperor Augustus. The Jews, who hated him for his cruelty, sent an embassy to the emperor, to accuse him of many crimes, and disappoint him in his hopes of gaining his crown. But Augustus confirmed it to him, and sent him back to reign in Judea, where he revenged himself on those who had opposed his pretensions. With regard to the instruction, which is meant to be conveyed by this parable; this nobleman is the Son of God, who came among the Jews to take possession of the kingdom, which was his due. But being rejected and treated unworthily, and even put to a disgraceful death on the cross, he will one day come again, armed with vengeance, and inflict the effects of his anger upon them. This was partly fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, and will be completed at the general judgment. Calmet. V.
Ver. 13. Ten pieces of money, each of which was called a mna. To translate pounds, gives the English reader a false notion, the Roman coin called a mna not corresponding to our pound. Wi.
--- A mna was 12½ ounces, which, at five shillings per ounce, is £3 2s. 6d.
Ver. 19. All the disciples of Christ have not the same degree of honour in this world, nor in the next; because all do not make an equal use of the graces they receive. Some are in the first rank, as apostles; then those, to whom the gift of prophecy has been committed; then doctors, &c. each exalted according to his merit. For there are many mansions, and many degrees of glory, in the house of the heavenly Father. Calmet.
--- For there is one brightness of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for star differeth from star in brightness. 1 Cor. xv. 41.
BethaniaBethania, is about one mile and a half from Jerusalem: Bethphage was between the two. V.
BethphageBethphage (Mt 21:1; Lk 19:29), on Mt. Olivet, near the road from Jerusalem to Jericho; poss. Habalat el-'Amîrã, or Kehf Abu Laiân. --- Bethphage, was a village of the priests, and signifies the house of figs and dates, or the house of the fountain, or of the flatterer, situated on the declivity of Mount Olivet, about a mile to the east of Jerusalem, a sabbath-day's journey. As Bethphage was probably so called from the fig and date trees growing there, Mount Olivet was from the great number of olive-trees: των ελαιων.
Ver. 34. It may here be asked, how the owners of the colt knew who the Lord was, of whom the disciples spoke? It may be answered, that perhaps they had already heard that Jesus of Nazareth, who the Jews thought was to be their temporal king, was coming about that time to Jerusalem, and that they saw from their dress, or other external marks, that they were the disciples of Jesus. Dionysius.
Ver. 40. The stones. This is a proverb, as if he had said: God has resolved to glorify me this day, in order to fulfil the prophecies. Nothing can hinder the execution of his decrees; if men were silent, he would make even the stones to speak. Calmet.
--- At the crucifixion of our Redeemer, when his friends were silent through fear, the very stones and rocks spoke in his defence. Immediately after he expired, the earth was moved, the rocks split, and the monuments of the dead opened. V. Bede.
--- Nor is it any wonder if, contrary to nature, the rocks bespeak the praises of the Lord, since he was even praised by a multitude, much more insensible than the rocks themselves, in crucifying him only a few days after, whom they now salute with Hosannahs of joy. S. Ambrose.
Ver. 41. He wept. S. Epiphanius tells us, that some of the orthodox of his time, offended at these words, omitted them in their copies, as if to shed tears, were a weakness unworthy of Christ: but this true reading of the evangelist is found in all copies, and received by all the faithful; and the liberty which those who changed them took, was too dangerous ever to be approved of by the Church. Neither do these tears argue in Jesus Christ any thing unworthy of his supreme majesty or wisdom. Our Saviour possessed all the human passions, but not the defects of them. The Stoics, who condemned the passions in their sages, laboured to make statues or automata of man, not philosophers. The true philosopher moderates and governs his passions; the Stoic labours to destroy them, but cannot effect his purpose. And when he labours to overcome one passion, he is forced to have recourse to another for help. Calmet.
--- Our Saviour is said to have wept six times, during his life on earth: 1st, At his birth, according to many holy doctors; 2ndly, at his circumcision, according to S. Bernard and others; 3rdly, when he raised Lazarus to life, as is related in S. John, c. xi.; 4thly, in his entry into Jerusalem, described in this place; 5thly, during his agony in the garden, just before his apprehension, when, as S. Luke remarks, (C. xxii.) his sweat was as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground; and 6thly, during his passion, when he often wept, on account of his great distress of mind, occasioned principally by the knowledge he had of the grievousness of men's sins, and the bad use they would make of the redemption he was, through so many sufferings, procuring for them. Dionysius.
Ver. 42. If thou also hadst known. It is a broken sentence, as it were in a transport of grief; and we may understand, thou wouldst also weep. Didst thou know, even at this day, that peace and reconciliation which God still offers to thee. Wi.
--- What can be more tender than the apostrophe here made use of by our Saviour! Hadst thou but known, &c. that is, didst thou but know how severe a punishment is about to be inflicted upon thee, for the numberless transgressions of thy people, thou likewise wouldst weep; but, alas! hardened in iniquity, thou still rejoicest, ignorant of the punishment hanging over thy head. Just men have daily occasion to bewail, like our blessed Redeemer, the blindness of the wicked, unable to see, through their own perversity, the miserable state of their souls, and the imminent danger they are every moment exposed to, of losing themselves for ever. Of these, Solomon cries out; (Prov. ii. 13.) They leave the right way, and walk through dark ways. We ought to imitate this compassion of our blessed Redeemer; and, as he wept over the calamities of the unfortunate Jerusalem, though determined on his destruction; so we ought to bewail the sins not only of our friends, but likewise of our enemies, and daily offer up our prayers for their conversion. D. Dionysius.
Ver. 43. And compass thee, &c. Christ's prophecy is a literal description of what happened to Jerusalem, under Titus. Wi.
Ver. 48. All the people, as they heard him with so great attention. So Virgil said:
—--pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore. Wi.
--- The original Greek, exekremato autou akouwn, shews how eagerly they catched the words that dropped from his sacred lips, all enraptured with the wisdom of his answers, and the commanding superiority of his doctrines. Seneca (Controv ix. 1.) uses a similar turn of expression: Ex vultu discentis pendent omnium vultus. The chief priests and rulers were all apprehension lest the people, who followed Jesus with such avidity, and who had conceived such high sentiments of his character, might prevent the execution of their murderous designs. . . .