CapharnaumCapharnaum (Mt 4:13, etc.), on the Lake of Tiberias; identified by some with Tell Hûm, on the W. shore; by others with Minieh, S.W. of Tell Hûm. --- Capharnaum is situated on the western coast of the sea of Tiberias. Christ having left Nazareth, made the former city the usual place of his abode. There was no city in which he had preached so much, or wrought so many miracles. On this account, he said it was exalted to the heavens; but for its incredulity he threatens it shall be cast down even unto hell. Calmet.
Ver. 2. Some Greek and Latin copies have, after eight days.
Ver. 4. Such diligence ought to be used to bring sinners to Christ, by means of the sacraments, as was used to procure for this man, through Christ, the health of his body. B.
Ver. 5. When Jesus saw their faith. Our Lord is moved to shew mercy to sinners, by the faith and desires, and prayers of others; for this man was not more helpless in his limbs, than in his soul. From this example, we are taught that in sickness the sacraments and helps of the Church, which are the medicines of the soul, should be called for in the first instance; for Christ first healed the sick man's soul, before he removed his bodily infirmity. We also learn that many diseases originate in sin, and that we are to remove the effect by removing the cause.
Ver. 10. The Son of man. Jesus Christ here proveth that himself as man, and not as God only, hath power to forgive sins; by this, that he was able to do miracles, and make the sick man suddenly rise; so the apostles and their successors, though they be not God, may in like manner have authority from God to remit sins, not as God, but as God's ministers, and acting in his name, and vested with his delegated authority.
--- On earth. This power which the Son of man hath to remit sins on earth, was never taken from him, but is perpetuated in his sacraments and ministers, by whom he still remitteth sins in the Church, and not in heaven only. Relative to sin, there is one court of conscience on earth, and another in heaven, and the judgment of heaven followeth and approveth this on earth; as is plain by the words of our Saviour, to Peter first, and then to all the apostles: Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall by bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. See Matt. xvi. 19. and xviii. 18. Whereupon S. Jerom sayeth: that priests having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, judge in some manner before the day of judgment. Ep. v. ad Heliod; and S. Chrys. more at large, l. iii. de Sacerd.
Ver. 12. This paralytic is not the same as that mentioned in S. John; for that distressed man had no one to assist him, whereas this person had four; the former was by the side of the Probatica, but the latter in a house at Capharnaum. Theophy.
Ver. 14. To follow Christ, is to imitate him; wherefore this apostle, that he might be able to follow Christ, the model of poverty, not so much by his bodily steps, as by the inward affections of his soul, forsook all; he not only forsook his present goods, but despised all danger, which he incurred by leaving his business abruptly, and without rendering any account of it to his employers or governors. Ven. Bede.
--- The person to whom Christ addresses the words, follow me, was Matthew: see infra ix. 9.
Ver. 17. The Greek printed copies, and some MSS. add to penance, as we read in Luke v. 33.
Ver. 18. See Matt. ix. 14, and Luke v. 33.
Ver. 20. Jesus Christ here foretelleth that fasting shall be used in his Church, no less than in the old law, or in the time of John the Baptist. See Matt. ix. 15.
--- When first we begin to be converted to God, the spiritual consolations which God infuses into our souls, cause in us an overflowing of spiritual delights, so that we then feast, and are in the midst of delight; but when the Bridegroom shall be taken away, when these spiritual consolations cease, then we fast, and find the commandments difficult. It is then we must prepare ourselves for tribulation. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 25. When he had need. In necessity many things are done without sin, which in other circumstances it would be unlawful to do. B.
Ver. 26. Under Abiathar. The priest from whom David had these loaves, is called Achimelech, 1 K. xxi. The most probable answer to this difficulty is, that the priest had both these names of Achimelech and of Abiathar, as also his father had before him. For he that (1 K. xxii.) is called Abiathar, the son of Achimelech, is called 2 K. viii. 17, Achimelech, the son of Abiathar. See also 1 Par. xviii. 16. Wi.
--- Others say that Abiathar, son of Achimelech, was present, and sanctioned the deed of his father, thus making it his own. Dion. Carth.
Ver. 28. The maker of the law may abrogate or dispense with it when and where, for just cause, it seemeth good to him: thus the Church can dispense with, change, or abrogate, for just reasons, the discipline of the Church founded upon Church authority. This we prove also from the action of David, (v. 26, supra) which the Scripture notices without blaming it, because the observance of the law, prescribed for the utility of man, must yield to the necessities of man.