1. And He began to speak unto them by parables. "A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dug a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
2. And at the season he sent to husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
3. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
4. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
5. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
6. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, 'They will reverence my son.'
7. But those husbandmen said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.'
8. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
9. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. [p. 237]
10. And have ye not read this Scripture; 'The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:
11. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?' "
12. And they sought to lay hold on Him, but feared the people: for they knew that He had spoken the parable against them: and they left Him, and went their way.
Gloss: After the Lord had closed the mouths of His tempters by a wise question, He next shews their wickedness in a parable.
Wherefore it is said: "And He began to speak unto them by parable. A certain man planted a vineyard."
Pseudo-Jerome: God the Father is called a man by a human conception. The vineyard is the house of Israel; the hedge is the guardianship of Angels; the winefat is the law, the tower is the temple, and the husbandmen, the priests.
Bede, in Marc., 3, 42: Or else, the hedge is the wall of the city, the winefat is the altar, or those winefats, by which three psalms receive their name.
Theophylact: Or, the hedge is the law, which prohibited their mingling with strangers.
There follows: "And went into a far country."
Bede: Not by any change of place, but He seemed to go away from the vineyard, that He might leave the husbandmen to act on their own freewill.
It goes on: "And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard."
Pseudo-Jerome: The servants who were sent were the prophets, the fruit of the vineyard is obedience; some of the prophets were beaten, others wounded, others slain.
Wherefore it goes on: "And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty."
Bede: By the servant who was first sent we must understand Moses, but they beat him, and sent him away empty, because "they angered Moses in the tents." [Ps 106:6]
There follows: "And again he sent unto them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled."
This other servant means David and the other Psalmists, but they wounded Him in the head and shamefully handled him, because they despised the songs of the Psalmists, [p. 238] and rejected David himself, saying, "What portion have we in David?" [1 Kings 12,16]
It goes on: "And he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some."
By the third servant and his companions, understand the band of the prophets. But which of the prophets did they not persecute? In these three kinds of servants, as the Lord Himself elsewhere pronounces, may be included in a figure all the doctors under the law, when He says, "that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me." [Luke 24:44]
Theophylact: Or else, by the first servant, understand the prophets who lived about the time of Elias, for Zedekiah the false prophet beat Micaiah [2 Chron. 18:23]; and by the second servant whom they wounded in the head, that is, evil entreated, we may understand the prophets who lived about the time of Hosea and Isaiah; but by the third servant understand the prophets who flourished about the time of Daniel and Ezekiel.
It goes on: "Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, Perchance they will reverence my son."
Pseudo-Jerome: The well-beloved son and the last is the Only-begotten; and in that He says, "They will reverence my son," He speaks in irony.
Bede: Or else, this is not said in ignorance, but God is said to doubt, that freedom of will may be left to man.
Theophylact: Or else, He said this not as thought He were ignorant of what was to happen, but to shew what it was right and fitting that they should do.
"But those husbandmen said amongst themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours."
Bede: The Lord proves most clearly that the chiefs of the Jews did not crucify the Son of God through ignorance, but through envy; for they understood that this was He to whom it was said, "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance." [Ps 2:8]
But these evil husbandmen strove to seize upon it by slaying Him, when the Jews crucifying Him tried to extinguish the faith which is by Him, and rather to bring forward their own righteousness which is by the Law, and to thrust it on the nations, and to imbue them with it.
There follows: "And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard."
Theophylact: That is, without Jerusalem, for the Lord was crucified out of the city.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, they case Him out of [p. 239] the vineyard, that is, out of the people, saying "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil." [John 8:48]
Bede: Or, as far as in them lay, they cast Him out of their own borders, and gave Him up to the Gentiles that they might receive Him.
There follows: "What then will the Lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy those husbandmen, and give the vineyard unto others."
Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, 70: Matthew indeed subjoins that they answered and said, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men," [Matt 21:41] which Mark here says was not their answer, but that the Lord after putting the question, as it were answered Himself. But we may easily understand either that their answer was subjoined without the insertion of, "they answered," or "they said," which at the same time was implied; or else, that their answer, being the truth, was attributed to the Lord, since He also Himself gave this answer concerning them, being the Truth.
Theophylact: The Lord of the vineyard then is the Father of the Son who was slain, and the Son Himself is He who was slain, who will destroy those husbandmen, by giving them up to the Romans, and who will give the people to other husbandmen, that is, to the Apostles.
Read the Acts of the Apostles, and you will find three thousand, and five thousand on a sudden believing and bearing fruit to God.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the vineyard is given to others, that is, to those who come from the east, and from the west, and from the south, and from the north, and who sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Bede: But that this was done by Divine interposition He affirms, by immediately afterwards adding, "And have ye not read this Scripture, The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone in the corner?"
As if He had said, how is this prophecy to be fulfilled, save in that Christ, being rejected and slain by you, is to be preached to the Gentiles, who will believe on Him? Thus then as a corner stone, He will found the two people on Himself, and of the two people will build for Himself a city of the faithful, one temple. For the masters of the synagogue, whom He had just called husbandmen, He now calls "builders", because the same persons, who seemed to cultivate His people, that they might bear the fruits of life, like a vineyard, were also commanded to construct and adorn this people, to be, as it were, a house worthy to have God for its inhabitant.
Theophylact: The [p. 240] stone then which the builders refused, the same has become the head-stone of the corner, that is, of the Church. For the Church is, as it were, the corner, joining together Jews and Gentiles; and this corner has been made by the Lord, and is wonderful in our eyes, that is, in the eyes of the faithful; for miracles meet with detraction from the faithless.
The Church indeed is wonderful, as it were resting on wonders, for the Lord worked with the Apostles, and confirmed the word with signs. And this is what is meant, when it is said, "This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."
Pseudo-Jerome: This rejected stone, which is borne by that corner where the lamb and the bread met in the supper, ending the Old and beginning the New Testament, does things marvellous in our eyes [Ps 118:23] as the topaz.
Bede: But the Chief Priests shewed that those things which the Lord had spoken were true; which is proved from what follows: "And they sought to lay hold on him;" for He Himself is the heir, whose unjust death He said was to be revenged by the Father. Again, in a moral sense, each of the faithful, when the Sacrament of Baptism is intrusted to him, receives on hire a vineyard, which he is to cultivate. But the servant sent to him is evil intreated, beaten, and cast out, when the word is heard by him and despised, or, what is worse, even blasphemed; further, he kills, as far as in him lies, the heir, who has trampled under foot the Son of God.
The evil husbandman is destroyed; and the vineyard given to another, when the humble shall be enriched with that gift of grace, which the proud man has scorned. And it happens daily in the Church, that the Chief Priests wishing to lay hands on Jesus, are held back by the multitude, when some on, who is a brother only in name, either blushes or fears to attack the unity of the faith of the Church, and of its peace, though he loves it not, on account of the number of good brethren who dwell together within it.
13. And they send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.
14. And when they were come, they say unto Him, "Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but [p. 241] teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15. Shall we give, or shall we not give?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, "Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it."
16. And they brought it. And He saith unto them, "Whose is this image and superscription?" And they said unto Him, "Caesar's."
17. And Jesus answering said unto them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marvelled at Him.
Bede: The Chief Priests though they sought to take Him, feared the multitude, and therefore they endeavored to effect what they could not do of themselves, by means of earthly powers, that they might themselves appear to be guiltless of His death.
And therefore it is said, "And they send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch Him in His words."
Theophylact: We have said elsewhere of the Herodians, that they were a certain new heresy, who said that Herod was the Christ, because the succession of the kingdom of Judah had failed. Others however say that the Herodians were the soldiers of Herod, whom the Pharisees brought as witnesses of the words of Christ, that they might take Him, and lead Him away. But observe how in their wickedness they wished to deceive Christ by flattery; for it goes on: "Master, we know that thou art true."
Pseudo-Jerome: For they questioned Him with honied words, and they surrounded Him as bees, who carry honey in their mouth, but a sting in their tail.
Bede: But this bland and crafty question was intended to induce Him in His answer rather to fear God than Caesar, and to say that tribute should not be paid, so that the Herodians immediately on hearing it might hold Him to be an author of sedition against the Romans.
And therefore they add, "And carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of any."
Theophylact: So that thou wilt not honour Caesar, that is, against the truth.
Therefore they add, "But teachest the way of God in truth. Is it [p. 242] lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?"
For their whole plot was one which had a precipice on both sides, so that if He said that it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, they might provoke the people against Him, as though He wished to reduce the nation itself to slavery; but if He said, that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, as though He was stirring up the people against Caesar; the Fountain of wisdom escaped their snares.
Wherefore there follows: "But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it."
Bede: A denarius was a piece of money, accounted equal to ten smaller coins, and bearing the image of Caesar; wherefore there follows: "And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto Him, Caesar's.
Let those who think that our Saviour asked the question through ignorance and not by an economy, learn from this that He might have known whose image it was; but He puts the question, in order to return them a fitting answer.
Wherefore there follows: "And Jesus answering said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."
Theophylact: As if He had said, Give what bears an image to him whose image it bears, that is, the penny to Caesar; for we can both pay Caesar his tribute, and offer to God what is His own.
Bede: That is, tithes, first-fruits, oblations, and victims. In the same way as He gave tribute both for Himself and Peter, He also gave to God the things that are God's, doing the will of his Father.
Pseudo-Jerome: Render to Caesar the money bearing his image, which is collected for him, and render yourselves willingly up to God, for the light of thy countenance, O Lord [Ps 4:6], and not of Caesar's, is stamped upon us.
Theophylact: The inevitable wants of our bodies is as Caesar unto each of us; the Lord therefore orders that there should be given to the body its own, that is, food and raiment, and to God the things that are God's. It goes on: "And they marvelled at Him." They who ought to have believed, wondered at such great wisdom, because they had found no place for their craftiness.
18. Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying,
19. "Master, Moses wrote unto us, 'If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
20. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
21. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
22. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
23. In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.' "
24. And Jesus answering, said unto them, "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?
25. For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?'
27. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."
Gloss.: After that our Lord has prudently escaped the crafty temptation of the Pharisees, it is shewn how He also confounds the Sadducees, who tempt Him.
Wherefore it is said: "Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection."
Theophylact: A certain heretical sect of the Jews called Sadducees denied the resurrection, and said that there was neither angel nor spirit. These then [p. 244] coming to Jesus, craftily proposed to Him a certain tale, in order to shew that no resurrection should take place, or had taken place; and therefore there is added, "And they asked Him, saying, Master." And in this tale they lay down that seven men had married one woman, in order to make men draw back from belief in the resurrection.
Bede: And fitly do they frame such a fable in order to prove the madness of those who assert the resurrection of the body. Such a thing however might really have happened at some time or other among them.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense: what can this woman, leaving no seed to seven brothers, and last of all dying, mean except the Jewish synagogue, deserted by the seven-fold Spirit, which filled those seven patriarchs, who did not leave to her the seed of Abraham, that is, Jesus Christ?
For although a Son was born to them, nevertheless He was given to us Gentiles. This woman was dead to Christ, nor shall she be joined in the resurrection to any patriarch of the seven; for by the number seven is meant the whole company of the faithful. Thus it is said contrariwise by Isaiah, "Seven women shall take hold of one man;" [Isa 4:1] that is, the seven Churches, which the Lord loves, reproves, and chastises, adore Him with one faith.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus answering, said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, not knowing the Scripture, neither the power of God?"
Theophylact: As if He had said, Ye understand not what sort of a resurrection the Scriptures announce; for ye believe that there will be a restoration of our bodies, such as they are now, but it shall not be so. Thus then ye know not the Scriptures; neither again do ye know the power of God; for ye consider it as a difficult thing, saying, How can the limbs, which have been scattered, be united together and joined to the soul? But this in respect to the Divine power is as nothing.
There follows: "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven;" as if He had said, there will be a certain heavenly and angelic restoration to life, when there shall be no more decay, and we shall remain unchanged; and for this reason marriage shall cease. For marriage now exists on account of our decay, that we may be carried on by succession of our race, and not [p. 245] fail; but then we shall be as the Angels, who need no succession by marriage, and never come to an end.
Bede: We must here consider that the Latin custom does not answer to the Greek idiom. For properly different words are used for the marriage of men, and that of women; but here we may simply understand that, "marry," is meant of men, and "given in marriage" of women.
Pseudo-Jerome: Thus then they do not understand the Scripture, in that in the resurrection, men shall be as the Angels of God, that is, no man there dies, no one is born, no infant is there, no old men.
Theophylact: In another way also they are deceived, not understanding the Scriptures; for if they had understood them, they should also have understood how by the Scriptures the resurrection of the dead may be proved.
Wherefore He adds, "And as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?"
Pseudo-Jerome: But I say, "in the bush," which is an image of you; for in it the fire was kindled, but it did not consume its thorns; so my words set you on fire, but do not burn off your thorns, which have grown under the curse.
Theophylact: But I say, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
As if He had said, "The God of the living," wherefore He adds, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living;" for He did not say, I have been, but "I am," as if they had been present. But some one perhaps will say, that God spake this only of the soul of Abraham, not of his body; to which I answer, that Abraham implies both, that is, soul and body, so that He also is the God of the body, and the body lives with God, that is, in God's ordinance.
Bede: Or else; because after proving that the soul remained after death, (for God could not be God of those who did not exist at all,) the resurrection of the body also might be inferred as a consequence, since it had done good and evil with the soul.
Pseudo-Jerome: But when He says, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" by naming God thrice, He implied the Trinity. But when He says, "He is not the God of the dead," by naming again the One God, He implies One Substance. But they live who make good the portion, which they [p. 246] had chosen; and they are dead, who have lost what they had made good. "Ye therefore do greatly err."
Gloss.: That is, because they contradicted the Scriptures, and derogated from the power of God.
28. And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"
29. And Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
32. And the scribe said unto Him, "Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He:
33. And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." And no man after that durst ask Him any question.
Gloss.: After that the Lord confuted the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, who tempted Him, it is here shewn how He satisfied the Scribe who questioned Him.
Wherefore it is said, "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of [p. 247] all?"
Pseudo-Jerome: This question is only that which is a problem common to all skilled in the law, namely, that the commandments are differently set forth in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Wherefore He brought forward not one but two commandments, by which, as by two paps rising on the breast of the bride, our infancy is nourished.
And therefore there is added, "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord thy God is one God." He mentions the first and greatest commandment of all; this is that to which each of us must give the first place in his heart, as the only foundation of piety, that is, the knowledge and confession of the Divine Unity, with the practice of good works, which is perfected in the love of God and our neighbour.
Wherefore there is added, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
Theophylact: See how He has enumerated all the powers of the soul; for there is a living power in the soul, which He explains, when He says, "With all thy soul," and to this belong anger and desire, all of which He will have us give to Divine love.
There is also another power, which is called natural, to which belong nutriment and growth, and this also is all to be given to God, for which reason He says, "With all thy heart."
There is also another power, the rational, which He calls the mind, and that too is to be given whole to God.
Gloss.: The words which are added, "And with all thy strength," may be referred to the bodily powers.
It goes on: "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Theophylact: He says that it is like, because these two commandments are harmonious one with the other, and mutually contain the other. For he who loves God, loves also His creature; but the chief of His creatures is man, wherefore he who loves God ought to love all men. But he who loves his neighbor, who so often offends him, ought much more to love Him, who is ever giving him benefits. And therefore on account of the connection between these commandments, He adds, "There is none other commandment greater than these."
It goes on: "And the Scribe said unto Him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: [p. 248] for there is one God, and there is none other but He: and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Bede: He shews when he says, "this is greater than all sacrifices," that a grave question was often debated between the scribes and Pharisees, which was the first commandment, or the greatest of the Divine law; that is, some praised offerings and sacrifices, others preferred acts of faith and love, because many of the fathers before the law pleased God by that faith only, which works by love. This scribe shews that he was of the latter opinion.
But it continues: "And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
Theophylact: By which He shews that he was not perfect, for He did not say, Thou art within the kingdom of heaven, but, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
Bede: But the reason why he was not far from the kingdom of God was, that he proved himself to be a favourer of that opinion, which is proper to the New Testament and to Gospel perfection.
Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 73: Nor let it trouble us that Matthew says, that he who addressed this question to the Lord tempted Him; for it may be that though he came as a tempter, yet he was corrected by the answer of the Lord. Or at all events, we must not look upon the temptation as evil, and done with the intention of deceiving an enemy, but rather as the caution of a man who wished to try a thing unknown to him.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, he is not far who comes with knowledge; for ignorance is farther from the kingdom of God than knowledge; wherefore He says above to the Sadducees, "Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, or the power of God."
It goes on: "And no man after that durst ask Him any questions."
Bede: For since they were confuted in argument, they ask Him no further questions, but take Him without any disguise, and give Him up to the Roman power. From which we understand that the venom of envy may be overcome, but can hardly lie quiet.
35. And Jesus answered and said, while He taught [p. 249] in the temple, "How say the Scribes that Christ is the Son of David?
36. For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, 'The Lord said to my Lord - "Sit thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." '
37. David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his son?" And the common people heard Him gladly.
Theophylact: Because Christ was coming to His Passion, He corrects a false opinion of the Jews, who said that Christ was the Son of David, not his Lord.
Wherefore it is said, "And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple."
Pseudo-Jerome: That is, He openly speaks to them of Himself, that they may be inexcusable.
For it goes on: "How say the Scribes that Christ is the Son of David?"
Theophylact: But Christ shews Himself to be the Lord, by the words of David.
For it goes on: "For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand;" as if He had said, Ye cannot say that David said this without the grace of the Holy Spirit, but he called Him Lord in the Holy Spirit; and that He is Lord, he shews, by this that is added, "Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;" for they themselves were His enemies, whom God put under the footstool of Christ.
Bede: But the putting down of His enemies by the Father, does not shew the weakness of the Son, but the unity of nature, by which One works in the Other; for the Son also subjects the Father's enemies, because He glorifies His Father upon earth.
Gloss.: Thus then Lord concludes from what has gone before the doubtful questions. For from the foregoing words of David it is proved that Christ is the Lord of David, but according to the saying of the Scribes, it is proved that He is his Son. And this is what is added, "David himself then calls Him Lord, how is He then his Son?"
Bede: The question of Jesus is useful for us even now against the Jews; for they, acknowledging that Christ is to come, assert that He is a mere man, a holy Person descended from David. Let us then ask them, as our [p. 250] Lord has taught us, if He be a mere man, and only the son of David, how David in the Holy Spirit calls Him Lord. They are not however reproved for calling Him David's son, but for not believing Him to be the Son of God.
It goes on: "And the common people heard Him gladly."
Gloss.: Namely, because they saw that He answered and put questions wisely.
38. And He said unto them in His doctrine, "Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39. And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40. Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
Pseudo-Jerome: After confuting the Scribes and Pharisees, He burns up as a fire their dry and withered examples.
Wherefore it is said, "And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing."
Bede: To walk in long clothing is to go forth into public clad in garments too much ornamented, in which amongst other things, that rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, is said to have sinned.
Theophylact: But they used to walk in honourable garments, because they wished to be highly esteemed for it, and in like manner they desired other things, which lead to glory.
For it goes on: "And love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts."
Bede: We must observe that He does not forbid that those, to whom it falls by the rule of their office, should be saluted in the marketplace, or have chief seats and places at feasts, but He teaches that those who love those things unduly, whether they have them or no, are to be avoided by the faithful as wicked men: that is, He blames the intention and not the office; although this too is culpable, that the very men who wish to be called masters of the synagogue in Moses' seat, should have to do with lawsuits in the marketplace. We are in two way ordered to beware of those who are desirous of vain [p. 251] glory; first, we should not be seduced by their hypocrisy into thinking that what they do is good; nor secondly, should we be excited to imitate them, through a vain rejoicing in being praised for those virtues which they affect.
Theophylact: He also especially teaches the Apostles, not to have any communication with the scribes, but to imitate Christ Himself; and in ordaining them to be masters in the duties of life, He places others under them. [ed. note: Theophylact's words should be translated - He becomes their example in the duties of life.]
Bede: But they do not only seek for praise from men, but also for gain. Where there follows, "Which devour widows' houses, under the pretence of long prayers." For there are men who pretending to be just hesitate not to receive money from persons who are troubled in conscience, as though they would be their advocates in the judgment. A hand stretched out to the poor is always an accompaniment to prayer, but these men pass the night in prayer, that they may take away money from the poor.
Theophylact: But the Scribes used to come to women, who were left without the protection of their husbands, as though they were their protectors; and by a pretence of prayer, a reverend exterior and hypocrisy, they used to deceive widows, and thus also devour the houses of the rich.
It goes on: "These shall receive a greater damnation," that is, than the other Jews, who sinned.
41. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, "Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Bede: The Lord, who had warned them to avoid the desire of high place and vain glory, now distinguishes by a sure test those who brought in gifts.
Wherefore it is said, "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury."
In the Greek language, "phylassein", means to keep, and "gaza" is a Persian word for treasure; wherefore the word "gazophylacium" which is here used means a place where riches are kept, which name also was applied to the chest in which the offerings of the people were collected, for the necessary uses of the temple, and to the porch in which they were kept.
You have a notice of the porch in the Gospel, "These words spake Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple:" [John 8:20] and of the chest in the book of Kings, "But Jehoiada the priest took a chest." [2 Kings 12:9]
Theophylact: Now there was a praiseworthy custom amongst the Jews, that those who were able and willing should put something into the treasury, for the maintenance of the priests, the poor, and the widows.
Wherefore there is added, "And many that were rich cast in much."
But whilst many people were so engaged, a poor widow came up, and shewed her love by offering money according to her ability.
Wherefore it is said, "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing."
Bede: Reckoners use the words "quadrans" for the fourth part of any thing, be it place, money, or time. Perhaps then in this place is meant the fourth part of a shekel, this is, five pence.
It goes on: "And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:" for God does not weigh the property but the conscience of those who offer; nor did He consider the smallness of the sum in her offering, but what was the store from which it came.
Wherefore He adds, "For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense, they are rich, who bring forth from the treasure of their heart things new and old, which are the obscure and hidden things of Divine wisdom in both testaments; but who is the poor woman, if it be not I and those like me, who cast in what I can, and have the will to explain to you, where I have, [p. 253] not the power. For God does not consider how much ye bear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word and deed. And in that it is said that "she cast in all her living," it is implied that all that the body wants is that by which it lives. Wherefore it is said, "All the labour of man is for his mouth." [Eccl 6:7]
Theophylact: Or else; that widow is the soul of man, which leaving Satan to which it had been joined, casts into the temple two mites, that is, the flesh and the mind, the flesh by abstinence, the mind by humility, that so it may be able to hear that it has cast away all its living, and has consecrated it, leaving nothing for the world of all that it possessed.
Bede: Again, in an allegorical way, the rich men, who cast gifts into the treasury, point out the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow is the simplicity of the Church: poor indeed, because she has cast away the spirit of pride and of the desires of worldly things; and a widow, because Jesus her husband has suffered death for her. She casts two mites into the treasury, because she brings the love of God and of her neighbour, or the gifts of faith and prayer; which are looked upon as mites in their own insignificance, but measured by the merit of a devout intention are superior to all the proud works of the Jews. The Jew sends of his abundance into the treasury, because he presumes on his own righteousness; but the Church sends her whole living into God's treasury, because she understands that even her very living is not of her own desert, but of Divine grace.