Gospel of Luke Commentary

Overview of the Gospel of St. Luke:

Saint Luke was a physician, a native of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, and well skilled in the Greek language, as his writings sufficiently evince. He lived 84 years in the state of celibacy, was crucified at Elœa, in Peloponnesus, near Achaia, and was buried in the church of the apostles, at Constantinople, to which city his remains were translated, together with those of St. Andrew and St. Timothy, in the year 357, by order of the emperor Constantius. St. Luke writes purer Greek than any of the other hagiographers; yet many Syriac words, and turns of expressions, occur in both his gospel and Acts of the Apostles; some also that imitate the genius of the Latin tongue. He cites Scripture according to the Septuagint, and not after the Hebrew text.

 

“It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus”Luke 1:3

Most excellent Theophilus. This word, Theophilus, by its etymology, signifies a lover of God: but here we may rather understand some particular person, by the title given him of most excellent, or best: which, at that time, was given to persons in dignity; as to to Felix, Acts xxiii. 26. and to Festus, Acts xxvi. 25.

 

But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John – Luke 1:13

Thy prayer is heard. We cannot suppose, as S. Aug. observes, (l. ii. QQ. Evang. c i, tom. 3, part 2, p. 249. Ed. Ben.) that he was praying to have children, when his wife was so advanced in years; that he did not think possible; but he was praying for the people, and for the coming of the Messias. S. Chrysos. — It is always a mark of singular merit, whenever the Almighty either appoints or changes the name of a man. The name of John is derived from the Hebrew word, Jochanan, which frequently occurs in the Old Testament, as 1 Par. iii. 15. and vi. 9. and xii. 12. &c. and signifies, blessed with grace or divine favour; see also in Isai. xxx. 18, 19.

 

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. – Luke 1:17

With reason is he said to precede Christ, who was his forerunner both in his birth and in his death. In the spirit of prophecy, and in the power of abstinence, and patience, and zeal, they resembled each other; Elias was in the desert, S. John was in the desert also. The one sought not the favour of king Achab, the other despised the favour of Herod. The one divided the Jordan, the other changed it into a laver of salvation. The one is to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ’s second coming, as the other was of his first. S. Ambrose.

 

To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.Luke 1:27

The word Miriam, or Mary, is expounded by S. Jerom from different etymologies, to signify in Hebrew, star of the sea, and in Chaldaic, lady. Both interpretations admirably well agree with her, who is the glorious Queen of heaven, our patroness and star, to direct us in the stormy ocean of this world.

 

“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women”. – Luke 1:28

Hail, full of grace: [5] by the greatest share of divine graces granted to any creature.The Catholic Church makes frequent use of these words which were brought by the archangel from heaven, as well to honour Jesus Christ and his virgin Mother, as because they were the first glad tidings of Christ’s incarnation, and man’s salvation; and are the very abridgment and sum of the whole gospel.

 

And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?Luke 1:34

How shall this be done? She only asks about the manner. — Because I know not man. [6] This answer, as S. Aug. takes notice, would have been to no purpose, had she not made a vow to God to live always a virgin. Wi. — Listen to the words of this pure Virgin. The angel tells her she shall conceive; but she insists upon her virginity, holding her purity in higher estimation than the promised dignity. S. Greg. of Nyssa. — She did not doubt the truth of what the angel said, (as Calvin impiously maintained) but she wished it might not happen to the prejudice of her vowed virginity.

 

And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:38

Behold the handmaid. With all modesty and humility of heart and mind, the blessed Virgin consented to the divine will: and from that moment in her was conceived the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. Wi. — Thus ought the virgin, who brought forth meekness and humility itself, to shew forth an example of the most profound humility. S. Amb.

 

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? – Luke 1:43

The mother of my Lord. A proof that Christ was truly God, and the blessed Virgin Mary truly the mother of God.

 

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.  Luke 2:35

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce. These words, which figuratively express the grief of the blessed Virgin mother, when present at the death of her Son, are to be taken by way of a parenthesis. — That out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed, and these are to be joined with what went before; to wit, that child shall be a sign of contradiction, set unto the fall and resurrection of many, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed and disclosed; when some shall believe, and others remain in their obstinacy. Wi. — Bede, and many others, understand this of the sharp sorrow, which wounded the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary, at the time of Christ’s passion. Barradius. — Carthusianus and Jansenius explain this passage as follows: Behold, this child is placed for a sign that shall be contradicted, which as a sword of most poignant grief will pierce thy soul, O Virgin! But Christ shall be contradicted, that the thoughts of the Jews may be revealed from many hearts, and it may appear who among them are good, and who are wicked and hypocrites. Barradius.

 

And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins.Luke 3:3

To all who read, it is plain, that S. John not only preached baptism, but likewise conferred it upon many; yet, he could not give baptism to the remission of sins. S. Paul orders those who had only been baptized by John, and had not heard of the Holy Ghost, to be rebaptized. We must then conclude, that S. John’s baptism was only a ceremony or initiation, by which they enrolled themselves as his disciples, to do penance, as a preparation for the remission of sins by means of the second baptism, viz. of Jesus Christ.

 

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him; and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. – Luke 3:22

The reason why the Holy Ghost shewed himself in the shape of a dove, was because he could not be seen in the substance of his divinity. But why a dove? To express that simplicity acquired in the sacrament of baptism. Be ye simple as doves; to signify that peace bestowed by baptism, and prefigured by the olive branch which the dove carried back to the ark, a true figure of the Church, and which was the only security from the destructive deluge. S. Amb. — You will object: Christ, though he was God, would not be baptized till the age of 30, and do you order baptism to be received sooner? When you say, though he was God, you solve the difficulty. For, he stood not in need of being purified at all; of course, there could be no danger in deferring his baptism. But you will have much to answer for, if, being born in corruption, you pass out of this world without the garment of incorruption. S. Greg. Nazian. orat. 40.

 

 For the space of forty days; and was tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. – Luke 4:2

Many reasons may be assigned why Christ permitted himself to be tempted. 1st. To merit for man the grace of overcoming temptations. 2d. To encourage us under temptations. 3d. To teach us not to be cast down with temptations, however grievous they may be, since even Jesus Christ submitted to them. 4thly. To point out to us the manner in which we ought to behave in time of temptation.

 

For it is written, that He hath given his angels charge over thee, that they keep thee.Luke 4:10

We have the devil here again citing Scripture, (Ps. xc. v. 11.) which shews how very dangerous a thing it is to put the Scripture, in the first instance, indiscriminately into every, even the most illiterate person’s hands, without any previous disposition of the mind and heart, by study and prayer. How much more satisfactory must it be to be guided by the Church of God, which Christ has promised to secure against all error, and which he commands all to obey!  If humility be a virtue that renders us most pleasing to God, it is a virtue particularly necessary for the proper understanding of Holy Writ. This will teach us to submit (whenever the Scripture is either silent or obscure in points of faith) our own private and unassisted judgment to the judgment and comments of the Church. This was the sentiment of a great philosopher of this nation, who, when charged with scepticism and a love of novelty by his contemporaries, replied: “However fanciful I may be esteemed in matters of philosophy, in religious concerns I like to go the beaten road. Where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my text. Where that speaks, it is but the comment; and I never refer any thing to the arbitration of my own judgment, but in the silence of them both.”

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, – Luke 4:18

By the poor are to be understood the Gentiles; who might truly be called poor, since they possessed neither the knowledge of the true God, nor of the law, nor of the prophets. Origen.

 

 And going into one of the ships that was Simon’s, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship.Luke 5:3

Why is it mentioned that there were two ships; that one of them was Simon Peter’s, that Christ went into that one, and sat down in it, and sitting he taught out of that ship? No doubt, answer many of the ancient commentators, to shew that the Church was figured by the bark of Peter, and that in it is the chair of Christ, a permanent authority, prefigured by Christ’s sitting down, and the true word of God.

 

And he retired into the desert, and prayed. – Luke 5:16

Christ did not stand in need of this retirement, since, being God, he was free from every stain, and likewise present in every place. But, by this his conduct, he wished to teach us the time most proper, both for our active employments, and for the more sublime duties of prayer and contemplation. S. Greg.Naz.

 

Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.Luke 5:20

Great is the Lord, who pardons men on account of the merits of others. If you are diffident of the pardon of your grievous sins, have recourse to the Church. She will pray for you; and the Almighty, at her intercession, will grant you that pardon he might have denied to your prayers. S. Ambrose,

 

But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. – Luke 5:24

The Son of man . . on earth. By which act, says S. Cyril, it is clear that the Son of man hath power on earth to remit sins; which he said both for himself and us. For he, as God-man, the Lord of the law, forgiveth sins; and we also have obtained by him that wonderful grace when he said to his disciples: Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. John xx. 23. And how should he not be able to remit sins, who gave others the power to do the same? B.

 

And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. – Luke 6:20

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.

 

 Which Jesus hearing, marvelled: and turning about to the multitude that followed him, he said: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel. – Luke 7:9

Our Lord does not speak of the patriarchs, but of the Israelites of his own time, with whose faith he compares and prefers that of the centurion, because they had the assistance of the law and of the prophets; but this man, without any such instruction, willingly believed. V. Bede.

 

And answering, he said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached:Luke 7:22

Jesus Christ alludes to the known and full testimonies that had been given of him by the prophets. The Lord giveth food to the hungry, the Lord looseth them that are in fetters, the Lord enlighteneth the blind, he lifteth up them that are cast down, . . . . . . and he who does these things, shall reign for ever thy God, O Sion, from generation to generation. Ps. cxlv.

 

Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. – Luke 7:47

Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. In the Scripture, an effect sometimes seems attributed to one only cause, when there are divers other concurring dispositions; the sins of this woman, in this verse, are said to be forgiven, because she loved much; but (v. 50,) Christ tells her, thy faith hath saved thee. In a true conversion are joined faith, hope, love, sorrow, and other pious dispositions. Wi.

 

And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.Luke 7:50

This is one of those places upon which modern sectaries lay so much stress, in order to prove that faith alone can save us. But if they will attentively consider the different parts of this history, they will easily discover the fallacy of their argument. Because, before Christ spoke these words: thy faith, &c. he had said to Magdalene: many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. Therefore she was justified not so much through her faith, as her charity: still she had faith, or she would not have come to Jesus, to be delivered from her sins. It was therefore her faith, working by charity, that justified her: and this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, she had not that faith, which modern sectaries affirm to be necessary for their justification, viz. a belief that they are already justified, and that their sins are forgiven: this faith the woman here mentioned had not before Christ spoke those words to her; for it was to obtain the remission of her sins, that she performed so many offices of charity, washing his feet with her tears, &c. But it may be asked, why then does Christ attribute her salvation to her faith? The answer is easy, and has often been given, viz. that faith is the beginning of salvation; for it was her faith that brought her to Christ: for had not the woman believed in him, she never would have come to him to obtain the remission of her sins. Maldonatus.

 

Now no man lighting a candle covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it upon a candlestick, that they who come in may see the light. – Luke 8:16

Our Lord calls himself the lighted candle, placed in the middle of the world. Christ was by nature God, and by dispensation man: and thus, not unlike a torch placed in the middle of a house, does our Lord, seated in the soul of man, illumine all around him. But by the candlestick, is understood the Church, which he illuminates by the refulgent rays of his divine word. S. Maximus. — By these expressions, Jesus induces his audience to be very diligent, and quite alive in the momentous affair of salvation; informing them that they are placed in the public view of the whole world. S. Chry. hom. xv. in Matt.

 

Take heed therefore how you hear. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given: and whosoever hath not, that also which he thinketh he hath, shall be taken away from him.Luke 8:18

He here exhorts his audience to attend to what he was about to deliver, and to apply themselves with all their attention to the divine word; for he who has a desire of hearing the word, shall also receive the grace and power of understanding it. But the man who has no desire of hearing it, though from his learning he might expect to understand it, shall not understand it, because he does not willingly attend to the divine admonitions; hence it is said, Whosoever hath, to him also shall be given. Ven. Bede.

 

And when he saw Jesus, he fell down before him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said: What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I beseech thee, do not torment me. – Luke 8:28

This is not a voluntary confession, which merits a reward, but a forced acknowledgment, extorted against their wills. Like fugitive servants, who, when they meet their masters, think of nothing but of deprecating punishment. The devils think our Lord is come down upon earth to judge them. S. Jerom. — The torment from which this devil desires to be freed, is the pain and affliction he would suffer by being forced to yield to the power of Christ, in leaving the man; not the general torment of hell, to which he knew he was unchangeably and irrevocably condemned. He was also tormented with the fear, lest he should be now consigned to those eternal pains before his time, as it is expressed in S. Matt. For, though the evil spirits are unavoidably condemned, and already suffer the chief torments of hell, yet the rigorous fulfilment of all is deferred to the day of judgment. Jans. conc. Evang.

 

And there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain; and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.Luke 8:32

If, says S. Athanasius, the infernal spirits have no power over such impure beasts as swine, with much greater reason then are they deprived of power over man, who is made after God’s own image, and redeemed by the blood of his son, Christ Jesus. We should therefore fear only God, and despise the devil. In vit. S. Ant.

 

But I tell you of a truth: There are some standing here that shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God. – Luke 9:27

Kingdom of God. This is generally understood of the transfiguration, in which Christ shewed to the three disciples an essay of his glory. Calmet.

 

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son; hear him. – Luke 9:35

And a voice, &c. This is the voice of the Father from the cloud, as if he should say, “I call him not one of my sons, but my true and natural Son, to the resemblance of whom all others are adopted. S. Cyril. — Not Elias, not Moses, but he whom you see alone, is my beloved Son. S. Ambrose. — Therefore, it is added: and when the voice was heard, Jesus was alone, lest any one should imagine these words, This is my beloved Son, were addressed to Moses or Elias.” Theophylact.

 

And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God. – Luke 9:60

Bury their dead, &c. Though this was an act of religion, yet it was not permitted him; that we may learn to prefer always the concerns of God to all human considerations. S. Ambrose. — However necessary this might appear, however easy, however short the time which it would take up, might be, it is not permitted him. Not the least delay can be allowed, although a thousand impediments stand in the way; for spiritual things must be preferred to things even the most necessary. Chrys. hom. xxviii. on S. Matt.

 

Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. – Luke 9:62

Putting his hand to the plough. A proverb and metaphor, to signify that nothing must hinder a man from God’s service. Wi. — Christ seems here to allude to the call of Eliseus by Elias. The former was at the plough, and the latter called him. Immediately Eliseus quits his plough, runs with Elias’s permission to bid adieu to his father and mother, sacrifices two of his oxen, roasts them with the wood of the plough, and joins the company of the prophets. Jesus Christ wishes that all who follow him, should in like manner think of nothing else. Calmet.

 

And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. – Luke 10:34

Parable of the good samaritan – Luke 10:25-34 – This is the allegorical meaning of the parable: The man that fell among robbers, represents Adam and his posterity; Jerusalem, the state of peace and innocence, which man leaves by going down to Jericho, which means the moon, the state of trouble and sin: the robbers represent the devil, who stripped him of his supernatural gifts, and wounded him in his natural faculties: the priest and Levite represent the old law: the Samaritan, Christ; and the beast, his humanity. The inn means the Church; wine, the blood of Christ; oil, his mercy; whilst the host signifies S. Peter and his successors, the bishops and priests of the Church. Origen, S. Jerom, S. Ambrose, S. Austin, and others.

 

Give us this day our daily bread.  – Luke 11:3

In the Greek it is called επιουσιον ; i.e. supersubstantial. This is not the bread that goeth into the body, but the bread of eternal life, that supports the life of the soul. It is here called daily bread. Receive then daily, what will daily profit you; and continue so to live, that you may be daily in proper dispositions for receiving it. All who are under sin, have received a wound, and must seek for a cure. The cure is this heavenly and most venerable sacrament. S. Austin, Serm. ii. de verbo Dei.

 

Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. – Luke 11:26

The last state, &c. But these words are also addressed to us Christians, who may often, and with reason, fear lest the vice we think extinguished in us, again return and seize on our slothful and careless souls, finding them cleansed indeed from the filth of sin by the grace of baptism, but destitute of every ornamental and protective virtue. It brings with it seven other evil spirits, by which we must understand every vicious inclination. V. Bede. — The latter state of these souls is worse than the former; because having been delivered from all former sins, and adorned with grace, if they again return to their iniquities a much more grievous punishment will be due for every subsequent crime. S. Chrys. hom. xliv. on S. Matt.

 

And when great multitudes stood about him, so that they trod one upon another, he began to say to his disciples: Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. – Luke 12:1

Beware ye of the leaven, &c. Christ calls the hypocrisy of the Pharisees leaven, which changes and corrupts the best intentions of men; for nothing is more destructive than hypocrisy to such as give way to it. Theophylact.

 

It is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and became a great tree, and the birds of the air lodged in the branches thereof. – Luke 13:19

Our Lord was this mustard-seed, when he was buried in the earth; and He became a tree, when he ascended into heaven; but a tree that overshadowed the whole creation, in the branches of which the birds of heaven rested; that is, the powers of heaven, and all such as by good works have raised themselves from the earth. The apostles are the branches, to repose in whose bosoms we take our flight, borne on the wings of Christian virtue. Let us sow this seed (Christ) in the garden of our hearts, that the grace of good works may flourish, and you may send forth the various perfumes of every virtue. S. Amb.

 

 And a certain man said to him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.Luke 13: 23-24

Shall seek, &c. Shall desire to be saved; but for want of taking sufficient pains, and not being thoroughly in earnest, shall not attain to it. Ch. — Our Lord answers here in the affirmative: viz. that the number of those who are saved, is very small, for a few only can enter by the narrow gate. Therefore does he say, according to S. Matthew, (C. vii.) Narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that enter therein. This does not contradict what is said in the 8th chapter of S. Matthew: That many shall come from the east, and sit down in the kingdom of God; for many indeed shall join the blessed company of the angels, but when considered with the number of the slain, they will appear but few. S. Aust. ser. xxxii. de Verb. Dei.

 

And answering them, he said: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath day? – Luke 14:5

By this example Christ convicts his adversaries, as guilty of sordid avarice, since, in delivering beasts from the danger of perishing on the sabbath-day, they consult only their own advantage, whilst he was only employed in an act of charity towards his neighbour; an action they seemed so warmly to condemn. Ven. Bede.

 

And he said to him also that had invited him: When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy neighbours who are rich; lest perhaps they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made to thee. – Luke 14:12

Christ does not here forbid the invitation of friends and relatives, since that would be acting directly contrary to his own maxims and spirit, which breathe nothing but charity and union. He merely wishes to purify our motives in the disposal of our charity, by insinuating that there is more merit in giving to the indigent, from whom we can expect no remuneration. Calmet. — It is only an effect of avarice, to be liberal to those who will repay us, says S. Ambrose. It is our duty as acknowledged even by heathens (Cicero de Off. l. i.) to assist those who stand most in need of it; but our practice says the same author, is to be most obsequious to those from whom we expect most, though they want our services the least. S. Ambrose, Ven. Bede, and S. Chrys. are of the same opinion.

 

But he said to him: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. – Luke 14:16

By this man we are to understand Christ Jesus, the great mediator between God and man. He sent his servants, at supper-time, to say to them that were invited, that they should come; i.e. he sent his apostles to call the people of Israel, who had been invited to his supper on almost innumerable occasions: but they not only refused the invitation, but also murdered the Lord who had invited them. We may remark, that the three different excuses exactly agree with what S. John says: All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. The one says, I have married a wife, by which may be understood the concupiscence of the flesh; another says, I have bought five yoke of oxen, by which is denoted the concupiscence of the eyes; and the pride of life is signified by the purchase of the farm, which the third alleges in his justification. S. Aug. de verb. Dei.

 

Or what woman having ten groats; if she lose one groat, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? – Luke 15:8

In the preceding parable, the race of mankind is compared to a lost sheep, to teach us that we are the creatures of the most high God, who made us, and not we ourselves, of whose pasture we are the sheep. Ps. xcix. And in this parable mankind are compared to the drachma, which was lost, to shew us that we have been made to the royal likeness and image even of the omnipotent God; for the drachma is a piece of money, bearing the image of the king. S. Chrysos. in S. Tho. Aquin.

 

And he said: A certain man had two sons: – Luke 15:11

Prodigal Son Story – A certain man had two sons. By the elder son is commonly expounded the Jewish people, who for a long time had been chosen to serve God; and by the younger son, the Gentiles, who for so many ages had run blindly on in their idolatry and vices. Wi. — Some understand this of the Jews and Gentiles, others of the just and sinners. The former opinion seems preferable. The elder son, brought up in his father’s house, &c. represents the Jews; the younger prodigal is a figure of the Gentiles. Calmet.

 

He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater. – Luke 16:10

He that is faithful in that which is least. This seems to have been a common saying, and that men judged of the honesty of their servants by their fidelity in lesser matters. For example, a master that sees his servant will not steal a little thing, judges that he will not steal a greater, &c. — And he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater. The interpreters take notice, that here temporal goods are called little, and spiritual goods are called greater; so that the sense is, that such men as do not make a right use of their temporal goods, in the service of God, will not make a good use of spiritual graces as they ought to do. See Maldonatus. Wi.

 

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. – Luke 16:22

Abraham’s bosom. [3] The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death. Ch. — It was an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the souls of the just were conducted by angels into paradise. The bosom of Abraham (the common Father of all the faithful) was the place where the souls of the saints, and departed patriarchs, waited the arrival of their Deliverer. It was thither the Jesus went after his death; as it is said in the Creed, “he descended into hell,” to deliver those who were detained there, and who might at Christ’s ascension enter into heaven. Calmet. See 1 Pet. iii. 19. — “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham.” Matt. viii. 11.

 

And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, – Luke 16:27

In this parable we are taught an important truth, viz. that we must not expect to learn our duty from the dead returning to life, nor by any other extraordinary or miraculous means, but from the revelation of truths, which have already been made known to us in the Scriptures, and from those to whom the tradition of the Church has been committed, as a most sacred deposit. These, say the Fathers, are the masters from whom we are to learn what we are to believe, and what to practise. Calmet.

 

But which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle, will say to him, when he is come from the field: Immediately go, sit down to meat: – Luke 17:7

The design and end of this parable is to shew that, rigorously speaking, we are useless servants with regard to God. This sovereign Master has a right to exact of us every kind of service, and to make us apply ourselves to any task he may think proper, without our having any reason to complain either of the difficulty, trouble, or length of our labours; we are entirely his, and he is master of our persons, time, and talents. We hold of him whatever we possess, and wo to us if we abuse his trust, by applying our talents to any use contrary to his designs. But though he be Lord and Master, he leaves our liberty entire. If he produces in us holy desires, if he works in us meritorious actions, gives us virtuous inclinations and supernatural gifts, he sets to our account the good use we make of them; and in crowning our merits, he crowns his own gifts. S. Aug. lib. ix. Confes. and Serm. 131. Calmet.

 

I think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do. – Luke 17:10

Unprofitable servants. Because our service is of no profit to our Master; and he justly claims it as our bounden duty. But though we are unprofitable to him, our serving him is not unprofitable to us; for he is pleased to give, by his grace, a value to our good works, which, in consequence of his promise, entitles them to an eternal reward. Ch. — The word useless, when joined to servant, generally means a servant from whom his master does not derive the service he has a right to expect; as in S. Matt. xxv. 30. Here the word is taken in a less odious sense. It means a servant who does not testify sufficient zeal and ardour in his master’s service, who is not very eager to please him. With regard to God, we are always useless servants, because he wants not our services; and without his assistance, we can neither undertake nor finish any thing to please him. Calmet.

 

To whom he said: I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.  – Luke 19: 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.

 

And he said: Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: – Luke 21:3

Whatever we offer to the Almighty with a good intention is acceptable to him; for he regards not the gift, but the heart of the giver. Ven. Bede. — God does not appreciate the smallness of the gift, but the greatness of the affection with which it is offered. S. Chrys. hom. i. ad Hebræos.

 

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay. – Luke 21:15

I will give, &c. In some parts it is said, that Christ himself will speak by the mouths of his disciples, as in this passage of S. Luke; in other places, as S. Matt. C. xvi. that the Father will speak; and S. Matt. C. x. that the Spirit of the Father will speak. In these different texts there is no contradiction, but a most perfect harmony. What one of the divine Persons says, all three say; for the voice of the Trinity is only one. S. Ambrose.

 

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. – Luke 22:32

That thy faith fail not. The faith of Peter, established by the coming of the Holy Ghost, hath never failed, nor can fail, being built upon a rock, which is Christ himself, and being guided by the spirit of truth, as Christ promised. Jo. xv. 26. and xvi. 13. — And thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren, even all the other apostles and bishops, over whom I have made and constituted thee and thy successors the chief head, that such a head being appointed by divine authority, all occasions of schisms and divisions might cease, says S. Jerom. Wi. — Admire the superabundance of the divine patience. That the disciple might not lose courage, he promised him pardon before he has committed the crime, and restores him again to his apostolic dignity, saying, confirm thy brethren. S. Cyril.

 

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. – Luke 22:43

An angel . . . strengthening him. Christ, our Redeemer, was truly God and truly man. And being made man by a real union of his divine person and nature, to our weak and infirm human nature, he likewise took upon him our infirmities, sin excepted. We must consider him as man, when we read of his being tempted in the wilderness, (Matt. iv.) when he wept at the raising of Lazarus out of the grave, (John xi.) as often as we read of his praying; and here, when we read of his praying, and redoubling his prayer in the garden, when we find him seized with fear, sadness, and grief: for though, as God, he could prevent and hinder these passions and affections natural to man, yet he could also permit them to affect his human nature; as he permitted himself to be seized with hunger, after fasting forty days; and so he permitted his human nature to be seized with fear and grief in this garden of Gethsemani. As angels came and ministered to him after his fast in the wilderness, so an angel came as it were to propose to him the divine decree, that he was to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind; and as man, he is said to be strengthened and comforted by the angel: he, who as God, was Lord and maker of the angels, and so needed not to be strengthened by his creatures. Besides what happened to Christ as man, were ordained as instructions for us. We are taught by angels appearing, that they were not only ready to assist and wait upon Christ, but that, by the order of divine Providence, they are also ready to assist us in our temptations and afflictions. — In an agony. This Greek word signifies, a strife, or combat; not that there could be any opposition or contrariety in the interior of Christ, whose human will was always perfectly subject to his divine will, and the sensitive part to reason: yet, inasmuch as he was truly man, his human nature dreaded all those sufferings which at that time were represented to his soul, and which in a few hours he was to undergo. Wi.

 

And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:43

I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise; i.e. in a place of rest with the souls of the just. The construction is not, I say to thee this day, &c., but, thou shalt be with me this day in the paradise. Wi. — In paradise. That is, in the happy state of rest, joy and peace everlasting. Christ was pleased by a special privilege, to reward the faith and confession of the penitent thief with a full discharge of all his sins, both as to the guilt and punishment, and to introduce him, immediately after death, into the happy society of the saints, whose limbo (that is, the place of their confinement) was now made a paradise by our Lord’s going thither. Ch. — The soul of the good thief was that same day with Jesus Christ, in the felicity of the saints, in Abraham’s bosom, or in heaven, where Jesus was always present by his divinity. S. Aug. — S. Cyril, of Jerusalem, says he entered heaven before all the patriarchs and prophets. S. Chrys. thinks that paradise was immediately open to him, and that he entered heaven the first mankind. Tom. v. homil. 32.

 

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead? – Luke 24:5

It is worthy of remark, that none of the disciples or friends of Christ, were so much astonished and struck at the many apparitions of angels, &c. as to be cast down to the ground, as the guards and his enemies were, but only through respect and reverential fear looked down upon the ground. Nor even did any of them fall down prostrate to adore our Saviour, when he appeared to them; because Christ was not now to be sought in the earth, among the dead, but was risen, and was to be looked for from heaven. Hence is derived the Catholic custom of praying in Pascal time, and on all Sundays, &c. not on the knee, but with the body respectfully bent, and bowing down their countenance towards the ground. Ven. Bede.

 

And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them. – Luke 24:30

The ancient Fathers think our Saviour consecrated, on this occasion, and administered the Eucharist to the two disciples. In the Acts of the Apostles, this same term, breaking of bread, is explained without difficulty of the Eucharist. S. Luke seems fond of this manner of expression, to signify that sacrament. Calmet.

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