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MATT. XX. 29, 30.
And as they departed from Jericho, great multitudes followed
SEE whence He passed unto Jerusalem, and where He abode before this, with regard to which it seems to me especially worthy of enquiry, wherefore He went not away even long before this from thence unto Galilee, but through Samaria. But this we will leave to them that are fond of learning. For if any one were disposed to search the matters out carefully, he will find that John intimates it well, and hath expressed the cause'.
But let us keep to the things set before us, and let us and 10, listen to these blind men, who were better than many that see. For neither having a guide, nor being able to see Him when come near to them, nevertheless they strove to come unto Him, and began to cry with a loud voice, and when rebuked for speaking, they cried the more. For such is the nature of an enduring soul, by the very things that hinder, it is borne up.
But Christ suffered them to be rebuked, that their earnestness might the more appear, and that thou mightest learn that worthily they enjoy the benefits of their cure. Therefore He doth not so much as ask, "Do ye believe?" as He doth with many; for their cry, and their coming unto Him, sufficed to make their faith manifest.
890 Our Lord's care to shew the faith of those He healed.
HOMIL. Hence learn, O beloved, that though we be very vile and LXVI. outcast, but yet approach God with earnestness, even by
ourselves we shall be able to effect whatsoever we ask. See, for instance, these men, how having none of the Apostles to plead with them, but rather many to stop their mouths, they were able to pass over the hindrances, and to come unto Jesus Himself. And yet the Evangelist bears witness to no confidence of life in them, but earnestness sufficed them instead of all.
These then let us also emulate. Though God defer the gift, though there be many withdrawing us, let us not desist from asking. For in this way most of all shall we win God to us. See at least even here, how not poverty, not blindness, not their being unheard, not their being rebuked by the multitude, not any thing else, impeded their exceeding earnestness. Such is the nature of a fervent and toiling soul. What then saith Christ? He called them, and said, What will ye that I should do unto you? They say unto Him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. Wherefore doth He ask them? Lest any one should think that when they wish to receive one thing, He giveth them another thing. For indeed it is usual with Him on every occasion, first to make manifest and discover to all the virtue of those He is healing, and then to apply the cure; for one reason, that He might lead on the others likewise to emulation; and for another, that He might shew that they were enjoying the gift worthily. This, for instance, He did with respect to the Canaanitish woman also, this too in the case of the centurion, this again as to her that had the issue of blood, or rather that marvellous woman even anticipated the Lord's enquiry; but not so did He pass her by, but even after the cure makes her manifest. Such earnest care had He on every occasion to proclaim the good deeds of them that come to Him, and to shew them to be much greater than they are", which He doth here also.
• παῤῥησίαν βίου. Claim of access on account of good life.
b The words, and to shew them to be much greater than they are,' are rejected by Montfaucon on the authority of two Mss. but defended by Mr.
Field. It seems to be true that our Lord sometimes encouraged faith, and brought out good example, by putting ou an action a higher meaning and intention than was at all fully formed in the mind of the doer.
Our Lord's riding into Jerusalem well timed.
Then, when they said what they wished, He had com- MATT. passion on them, and touched them. For this alone is the cause of their cure, for which also He came into the world. But nevertheless, although it be Mercy and Grace, it seeks for the worthy.
But that they were worthy is manifest, both from what they cried out, and from the fact that, when they had received, they did not hasten away, as many do, being ungrateful after the benefits. Nay, they were not like this, but were both persevering before the gift, and after the gift grateful, for they followed Him.
And when He drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and was c. xxi. come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives; He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go into the village over against you, and ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her loose them, and bring them unto Me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he sendeth them. And this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Zechariah the prophet, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
And yet He had often entered Jerusalem before, but never with so much circumstance. What then is the cause? It was the beginning then of the dispensation; and neither was He very well known, nor the time of His Passion near; wherefore He mixed with them with less distinction, and more disguising Himself. For He would not have been held in admiration, had He so appeared, and He would have excited them to greater anger. But when He had both given them sufficient proof of His power, and the Cross was at the doors, He makes Himself then more conspicuous, and doeth with greater circumstance all the things that were likely to inflame them. For it was indeed possible for this to have been done at the beginning also; but it was not profitable nor expedient it should be so.
But do thou observe, I pray thee, how many miracles are done, and how many prophecies are fulfilled. He said, Ye shall find an ass; He foretold that no man should hinder them, but that all, when they heard, should hold their peace.
892 Our Lord's power in the consent of the owners of the Ass.
HOMIL. But this is no small condemnation of the Jews, if them LXVI. 1.2. that were never known to Him, neither had appeared before
Him, He persuades to give up their own property, and to say nothing against it, and that by His disciples, while these, being present with Him at the working of His miracles, were not persuaded.
[2.] And do not account what was done to be a small thing. For who persuaded them, when their own property was taken from them, and that, when they were perhaps poor men and husbandmen, not to forbid it? Why say I not to forbid it? not to ask, or even if they asked, to hold their peace, and give it up. For indeed both things were alike marvellous, as well, if they said nothing, when their beasts were dragged away, or if having spoken, and heard, The Lord hath need of them, they yielded and withstood not, and this when they see not Him, but His disciples.
By these things He teaches them, that it was in His power to have entirely hindered the Jews also, even against their will, when they were proceeding to attack Him, and to have made them speechless, but He would not.
And another thing again together with these doth He teach the disciples, to give whatever He should ask; and, though he should require them to yield up their very life, to give even this, and not to gainsay. For if even strangers gave up to Him, much more ought they to strip themselves of all things.
And besides what we have said, He was fulfilling also another prophecy, one which was twofold, one part in words, and another in deeds. And that in deeds was, by the sitting on the ass; and that by words, the prediction of Zacharias; because he had said, that the King should sit on an ass. And He, having sat and having fulfilled it, gave to the prophecy another beginning again, by what He was doing typifying beforehand the things to come.
How and in what manner? He proclaimed beforehand the calling of the unclean Gentiles, and that He should rest upon them, and that they should yield to Him and follow Him, and prophecy succeeded to prophecy.
But to me He seemeth not for this object only to sit on the ass, but also as affording us a standard of self-denial. For
His small requirements for Himself.
not only did He fulfil prophecies, nor did He only plant the MATT. doctrines of the truth, but by these very things He was 1-5. correcting our practice for us, every where setting us rules of necessary use, and by all means amending our life.
For this cause, I say, even when He was to be born He sought not a splendid house, nor a mother rich and distinguished, but a poor woman, and one that had a carpenter as her betrothed husband; and is born in a shed, and laid in a manger and choosing His disciples, He chose not orators and wise men, not rich men and nobly born, but poor men, and of poor families, and in every way undistinguished; and providing His table, at one time He sets before Himself barley loaves, and at another at the very moment commands the disciples to buy at the market. And making His couch, He makes it of grass, and putting on raiment, He clothes Himself in what is cheap, and in no respect different from the common sort; and a house He did not so much as possess. And if He had to go from place to place, He did this travelling on foot, and so travelling, as even to grow weary. And sitting, He requires no throne nor pillow, but sits on the ground, sometimes in the mountain, and sometimes by the well, and not merely by the well, but also alone, and talks with a Samaritan woman.
Again, setting measures of sorrow, when He had need to mourn, He weeps moderately, every where setting us rules, as I have said, and limits how far one ought to proceed, and not any further. So for this intent now also, since it happens that some are weak and have need of beasts to carry them, in this too He fixes a measure, shewing that one ought not to yoke horses or mules to be borne by them, but to use an ass, and not to proceed further, and every where to be limited by the want.
But let us look also at the prophecy, that by words, that by acts. What then is the prophecy? 'Behold, thy King1 Zech. cometh to thee, meek, and riding on an ass, and a young colt; not driving chariots, like the rest of the kings, not demanding tributes, not thrusting men off, and leading about guards, but displaying His great meekness even hereby.
Ask then the Jew, What King came to Jerusalem borne on an ass? Nay, he could not mention, but This alone.