Ver. 1. As this chapter is almost verbally like to the 5th, 7th, and 12th of S. Matthew, and the 3d of S. Mark, the reader is referred to these for further explanation.
--- On the second-first sabbath. An obscure passage, on which S. Jerom says to Nepotianus,† that he consulted his master, S. Greg. Nazianzen, but in vain. S. Chrys. Hom. xl. in Matt. takes it for a double feast, or a double rest: by which we may either understand a sabbath, and another feast concurring on the same day; or a sabbath and a feast immediately succeeding to each other. Theophylactus says the same; and that then the latter day, on which they were to rest, was called the second-first. Others say, that when the Jews kept their solemn paschal feast for seven days, the last day was called the second-first, because it was kept with equal solemnity as the first day had been. See Maldonatus. Later interpreters have found out other expositions, of which the most plausible seems to be, that by the second-first sabbath may be understood the feast of Pentecost (which also happened when corn was ripe in Palestine). To understand this we must take notice, that the Jews had three great and solemn feasts: 1. That of the Pasch, or the great paschal feast, with the seven days of unleavened bread; the 2d. was the great feast of Pentecost; and the 3d. was the feast, called of tabernacles. It is supposed then that the paschal feast was called the first-first sabbath, that Pentecost was called the second-first sabbath, and that of tabernacles the third-first, or great sabbath. Wi.
[†] V. 1. In Sabbato secundo-primo en sabbatw deuteroprwtw. See S. Chrys. Hom. xl. in Matt. in the Latin edition, in the Greek of Savil om lq p. 262, tom. ii. otan h argia h, kai tou sabbatou tou kuriou, kai eteraV eorthV diadecomenhV. See S. Hieron. ad Nepotianum. tom. iv, part 2, p. 262. Ed. Ben.
Ver. 2. The Scribes and Pharisees boasted much, as do many modern teachers, of their great knowledge of Scriptures, but our Saviour often sheweth their profound ignorance. B.
Ver. 13. These twelve Christ chose as individual companions and domestics. To these he committed the charge of founding and governing his Church. He sent them as legates, or ambassadors, (for this is the import of the word apostle) to all the world. Hence their power was more universal than that of bishops, which is confined to their own dioceses or districts. The jurisdiction of the apostles was not limited to place. Tirinus.
--- This power which Jesus Christ delegated to his apostles, and which was for the benefit and regulation of the universal Church in all future ages, the apostles, in their turn, delegated to their successors in the ministry, with such regulations and limitations as have been judged in the Holy Ghost necessary for the proper government of the spiritual kingdom of God upon earth. And it is the height of presumption to question any ordinations that come to us with the authority of the Catholic Church: for, "whatever the Church says, is true; whatever she permits is lawful; whatever she forbids, is evil; whatever she ordains, is holy; whatever she institutes, is good." S. Augustine.
--- How futile then is the objection of Calvin, who pretends, that an apostle, being nothing but a legate, can make no laws, nor prescribe or teach any thing not expressed in his mandatum! Calv. Inst. l. iv. c. 8.
Ver. 16. Judas, surnamed Thaddeus in S. Matt. x. 3. and in S. Mark iii. 18. At the head of his epistle he styles himself Judas, brother of James. V.
Ver. 17. To a more extended and even part of the mountain, as we learn from comparing this text with S. Matt. v. 1. as it was from the mountain that Jesus Christ addressed to the people the following discourse. V.
Ver. 20. S. Matt. (v. 3. 10.) mentions eight beatitudes, S. Luke only four; but S. Luke only gives an abridgment in this place of the discourse, which S. Matt. gives more at length. We are also to remark, that in these four the whole eight are comprised, and that both evangelists place poverty in the first place, because it is the first in rank, and, as it were, the parent of the other virtues; for he who hath forsaken earthly possessions, deserves heavenly ones. Neither can any man reasonably expect eternal life, who is not willing to forsake all in affection, and in effect also, if called upon for the love of Jesus Christ. S. Ambrose.
--- Not that every one under great poverty is happy, but that the man who prefers the poverty of Christ to the riches of the world, ought certainly to be esteemed such. Many indeed are poor in worldly substance, but are avaricious in affection; to such as these poverty is no advantage. Nothing that is against the will, merits reward; therefore all virtue is known by the will. Blessed, therefore, are the poor, who bear poverty for the sake of Christ: he himself hath already trodden the path before us, and taught us by his example that it leads to honour and enjoyment. S. Cyril, ap. T. Aquin.
Ver. 24. Jesus Christ having declared how meritorious poverty of spirit was to eternal life, proceeds to denounce heavy chastisements upon the rich and proud. Idem Ibidem.
--- Although in great riches there are great inducements to sin, yet there are not wanting even in that state great incitements to virtue; neither is this wo aimed against those who abound in affluence; but against "those who abuse that affluence which Providence has bestowed upon them: Non enim census, sed affectus, in crimine est." S. Ambrose.
Ver. 25. As before he promised blessings to those that hunger, that weep, that are outcasts for Christ's sake; so here, and in the next verse, he denounces curses to such as are filled, that laugh, and are praised; i.e. to such, as so far seek their beatitude in present enjoyment, as to become indifferent with regard to the good things of the next world. A.
Ver. 26. Wo to you, when men shall bless you. The ministers of the gospel must not value themselves, when they are applauded by men; for so did the fore-fathers of the Jews, formerly commend the false prophets, when they flattered the people, and spoke things that were pleasing to them. Wi.
Ver. 30. Jesus Christ does not order us never to refuse a petition: but the meaning of his words is, that we are to give what is just and reasonable, what will be neither injurious to yourself nor your family; for what is unjustly asked, may be justly denied. S. Austin, l. x. c. 40. de serm. Dom. in Monte.
--- But in this, the sin we commit is often far from trivial; particularly, when to the refusal of a just request, we add also reprehensions and complaints. For why, say we, does he not labour? why has he reduced himself to penury, through his own indolence?—But, tell me, do you live upon the fruits of your own industry? On the supposition that you do, is it not that you may have some plea to reprehend another for the morsel of bread he begs at your hands? You give him no charitable relief, give him then no contumelious words: if you have no compassion for him yourself, do not prevent others from shewing him commiseration. Abraham, in the number of guests he received, had the honour of receiving under his roof even angels. Let us not, therefore, be strict and unfavourable judges in regard of our suffering and distressed neighbours, lest perhaps we ourselves come to be more severely judged. S. Chrys. collected from hom. xxi. in ep. ad. Rom.
--- Hom. xi. in ep. ad. Heb. and hom. ii. de Lazaro.
Ver. 35. Hoping for nothing, but merely impelled by a desire of doing good. They who only give when sure of having a greater return, do not give, but traffic with their generosity; in which there is no charity. A.
Ver. 37. What can be imagined more kind, what more merciful, than this conduct of our Sovereign Lord, that the sentence of the judge should be left in the hands of the person to be judged? Jans. Comment. in sanct. Evang.
Ver. 38. Here all solicitude of diffidence, all delay of avarice, is cut off; for what truth promises to repay, humility may safe expend. S. Leo. Serm. vi.
Ver. 48. That man buildeth safely who hath both faith and good works; whereas the man that trusteth to his faith alone, to his reading or knowledge of Scripture, and doth not work and live accordingly, buildeth on sand. B.