"And Jesus seeing their thoughts" |
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: We continue this special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible. With the type so small in most bibles, we publish it here in larger type in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. For the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Father Haydock provides one of the keys to revealing Christ's divinity in knowing hearts and working miracles. Few miracles conveyed as much resentment from the Pharisees as His baiting their blackened souls for He knew their hearts and, in His healing the man because of the faith of those who had brought him forward, Jesus was manifesting that He, as the Son of God, had the power to forgive sins, a power He bestowed on the Apostles of the only Church He established.
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1: 4-6
I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus,
Commentary on Verse 4 That is given you in, or by Christ Jesus. Where we may take notice with Saint John Chrysostom for the understanding of other places, that in, is many times put for by or through.
That in all things you are made rich in Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Commentary on Verse 5 Rich in Him in all knowledge. The apostles never addressed any epistle, except to persons who had been previously converted to the faith. Nor is it reasonable to expect, that infidel and pagan nations, merely by reading the inspired writings, will be able, by the light that is in them, to elicit from the said book the truths of religion. Would they not be tempted to worship the wily serpent, that succeeded in deceiving Eve? And how will they know that this serpent is the devil? (A.)
As the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,
Commentary on Verse 6 As the testimony of Christ, what Christ testified and taught was confirmed in you, that is, your faith in Christ hath been confirmed by those graces and gifts which you received from the Holy Ghost at your baptism, and when by imposition of hands you were confirmed by me, or some other bishop. (Wi.)
so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who also will confirm you in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel: St. Matthew 9: 1-8
At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, He passed over the water and came into His Own city.
Commentary on Verse 1 The cure of the paralytic (verse 2), is generally supposed to have been anterior in point of time, to the cure of two possessed persons, chapter 8. Carrieres supposes to the contrary. (V.) – Into His Own city. Not of Bethlehem, where He was born, nor of Nazareth, where He was brought up, but of Capharnaum, says Saint Chrysostom, where He is said to have dwelt since He began to preach. See Matthew 4. 13. (Wi.) – Saint Jerome understands this city to be Nazareth, which was Christ’s own, because He was conceived there. Saint Augustine, Saint Chrysostom, Euthy. Theophylactus, think it was Capharnaum, because this miracle was performed at the last mentioned place, according to Saint Mark’s relation; and Saint Matthew calls it Christ’s own city, because after leaving Nazareth, He chose Capharnaum for the chief place of His abode. If Saint Jerome’s interpretation be admitted, we must suppose that Saint Matthew having told us that Christ came to his own city, Nazareth, and omitting to relate what happened there, passed immediately to the history of the cure of the paralytic, which took place at Capharnaum. Such omissions and change of place without the reader’s being informed of the transition, are not infrequent in the evangelists. We must likewise observe that they frequently invert the order of facts, as to the time of their happening. (Jansen.) – Christ may be said to have had three cities: Bethlehem, in which He was born; Nazareth, in which He was educated; and Capharnaum, in which He most frequently resided, during His sacred ministry. It is most probable, and most generally understood, that in this place of the Scripture Capharnaum is meant; though several understand it of Nazareth, and some few with Sedulius, li. 3. carm.
Intravit natale solum, quo corpore nasci
Se voluit, patriamque sibi pater ipse dicavit.
And behold they brought to Him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee.
Commentary on Verse 2 Thy sins are forgiven thee. We do not find that the sick man asked this; but it was the much greater benefit, and which every one ought to prefer before the health of the body. (Wi.) – He says this, because He wished to declare the cause of the disease, and to remove it, before He removed the disease itself. He might also desire to shew the paralytic, what he ought to have prayed for in the first place. (M.) – The sick man begs for corporal health, but Christ first restores to him the health of his soul, for two reasons: 1st. That He might insinuate to the beholders, that the principal intent of His coming into the world was to cure the evils of the soul, and to let them know that the spiritual cure ought most to be desired and petitioned for. Corporal infirmities, as we learn in many places of the sacred text, are only the consequences of the sins of the patient. In Saint John (chapter 3), Christ bids the man whom He had healed, to sin no more, lest something worse should befall him; and Saint Paul says, that many of the Corinthians were afflicted with various diseases, and with death, on account of their unworthily receiving the body of the Lord. A second reason why Christ forgave the sick man his sins, was, that He might take occasion from the murmurs of the Pharisees, to speak more plainly of His power and divinity, which He proved not only by restoring the man instantaneously to health, but by another miracle equally great and conclusive, which consisted in seeing the thoughts they had never expressed; for the evangelist observes, that they murmured in their hearts. He afterwards cures the sick man to shew, says He, that the Son of man has power to forgive sins. (Jansen.) – We may here observe likewise, that when Christ afterwards gave His apostles their mission, and empowered them to preach to the whole world, He communicates this same power to them, and seems to refer to the miracles which He had wrought, to prove that He himself had the power which He gave to them. All power, says He, is given to me in heaven and on earth. As the Father sent me, so I send you. … Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven. A. – Seeing their faith. It does not follow from hence, as Calvin would have it, that faith alone will save us. For Saint Chrysostom says, “Faith indeed is a great and salutary thing, and without it there is no gaining salvation.” But this will not of itself suffice without good works; for Saint Paul admonishes us, who have made ourselves deserving a participation of the mysteries of Christ, thus, (Hebrews chapter 4) “Let us hasten, therefore, to enter into that rest.” He tells us to hasten, that is, faith alone will not suffice, but we must also strive all our life by good works to render ourselves worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven: for if those Israelites, who murmured and would not bear the calamities of the desert, were not, on that account, permitted to enter the land of promise, how can we think ourselves worthy of the kingdom of heaven, (figured by the land of promise) if we will not in this world undergo the labours of good works. (Saint John Chrysostom) – From hence Saint Ambrose concludes, that our Savior is moved to grant our petitions through the invocation of saints, as He even forgave this man his sins through the faith of those that brought him. Of how much greater efficacy then will not the prayers of the saints be? (Barardius) – Christ does not always require faith in the sick who desire to be cured, but seems to have dispensed with it on many occasions; for example, in the cases of those He cured possessed by the devil. (Saint John Chrysostom) – Son, & c. O the wonderful humility of the God-man! Jesus looks with complacence on this miserable wretch, whom the Jewish priests disdain to look upon, and in the midst of all his miseries calls him his son. (Saint Aquinas) – They had read what Isaias had said: I am, I am He who destroyeth thy sins: ego sum, ego sum ipse, qui deleo iniquitates tuas, xliii. 25.: but they had not read, or, at least they had not understood what the same prophet says, liii. 6. The Lord hath heaped upon Him the iniquity of us all: posuit Dominus in eo iniquitatem omnium nostrum. Nor had they remembered the testimony of the Baptist: behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world. (John 1: 29) (Mald.)
And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth.
Commentary on Verse 3 This man blasphemeth, by pretending to have a power to forgive sins, which none but God can do; and they looked upon Jesus as a man only. It is true, and what all Catholics teach, that God alone hath power of Himself to forgive sins. But Christ, who was both God and man, could, and did communicate this power of forgiving sins in His name, to bishops and priests, as His ministers and instruments in the sacraments of baptism and penance. We have Christ’s clear words for it, (John 20: 23) whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, & c. (Wi.) – and behold some of the scribes. The Jewish rulers wished to defame the character of our divine Redeemer, but by this means they rendered the miracle much more famous, and Christ turned their wicked designs to their own confusion. (Saint John Chrysostom) – For Christ says, Why do you think evil in your hearts? In which words Jesus plainly evinces to them the reality of His divinity; for who knows the secrets of man’s heart, but God alone? (Saint Jerome).
And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Commentary on Verse 4 Jesus seeing their thoughts. By showing that He knew their hidden thoughts, as well as by healing the man, to confirm His words and doctrine, He gave them a proof of His divine power. (Wi.) – Not because they betrayed them by any exterior sign, but, as Saint Mark says, knowing in His spirit that they so thought within themselves, because he was God, in whose hands are our hearts, (Proverbs chapter 15 and chapter 21) and to whose eyes all things are naked and open. (Tostatus.) – Had not our Saviour been truly God and equal to His Father, He would have rebuked the scribes, for attributing that to God only which He exercised. But so far from denying their assertion, He immediately admits the truth of it, and answers them by another no less wonderful act of His almighty power. He tells them publicly the evil they had thought in their hearts, whilst the Scriptures repeatedly affirm that God alone can know the secrets of hearts. Thou alone knowest the hearts of the children of men, 3 Kings 8 and 2 Paralipomenon 6: 30. And man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart. And 1 Kings 16: 7, The searcher of reins and hearts is God. Psalm 7: 10, The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable. Who can know it? I am the Lord that search the heart and prove the reins. (Jeremias 17: 9-10); and innumerable other texts of Scripture might be brought to prove that God only can know the minds and thoughts of men. Our Saviour, therefore, shews Himself to be equal to His Father, by thus revealing to all, the malicious murmurs of His enemies, who for fear of the multitude, dared not to publish themselves what their wicked hearts devised. (Saint John Chrysostom, homily 30) – Said: Why do you think, & c. Here Saint Cyril exclaims, Oh! Thou Pharisee, who sayest, who is able to forgive sins, except God alone! I will answer thee; who is able to search into the secrets of the heart but God alone, who calls Himself, by His prophet, the searcher of the hearts and the reins of men! (Saint Cyril) – If thou art incredulous about my power of remitting sin, behold I exercise another, whilst I lay open thy interior. (Saint John Chrysostom).
Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?
Commentary on Verse 5 The power of working miracles, and of forgiving sins, is proper to God, but can be communicated by God to man equally in the sacraments of baptism and penance. (A.) – Which is easier. It is more difficult to remit sins than restore the health of the body. Saint Augustine remarks, (tract. lxxii in Joannem) it is more difficult to justify a man than to create the heavens and the earth; but Christ speaks thus, because the Pharisees might otherwise have said, that as He could not confer visible health upon the body, He had recourse to the invisible remission of sins, and that it was easy to grant in words, what no one could discern whether it was really granted or not. In this sense, therefore, the word, “Be thou healed, “ is more difficult than simply to say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee;” which any one could say, though he might not effect what his word implied. (M.) – Doubtless the healing of the body was easier, for as much as the soul is more excellent than the body, so much is the healing of the soul more difficult and more excellent than that of the body. But since the one is visible, the other invisible, therefore He performs the less, but more evident miracle, in testimony of the performance of the other more excellent, but less evident exertion of His power. Thus He truly verifies what the Baptist said of Him, “This is He that taketh away the sins of the world.” (Saint John Chrysostom, homily 30).
But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said He to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.
Commentary on Verse 6 But that you may know. This may be understood differently, either as spoken by Christ to the Jews present, or by the evangelist to the people to whom he wrote his gospel. (Saint Thomas Aquinas) – Thus Christ proves that He had the power of remitting sins; as a falsity cannot be confirmed by a miracle, since in this case God would bear testimony to a falsity. (M.) – Take thy bed, & c. This doubtless was commanded him, to convince the whole world that this was no phantom, and to add still greater credibility to the fact, and he rose, & c. – He who was pleased to become man, is truly the Son of God; and, in this quality, He possesses all power. This He proves by the double exercise of His power over both soul and body. (A.) – Surge, tolle, and vade, Christ added these words for the greater evidence of the cure. (Maldonatus).
And he arose, and went into his house.
And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.
Commentary on Verse 8 Feared, and glorified God. Here it may be observed, that the people, before they praised, feared God, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And Saint Basil says, that fear, as a good guide, necessarily leads us to piety; and charity takes us, after having been exercised a little in fear, makes us perfect men. (Saint Basil)