Verse 1: Passed over: to Capharnaum.
Verse 2: And, behold, they brought to him. St. Mark says, the paralytic man was carried by four bearers (2:3).
And Jesus, seeing their faith. The faith of those who brought the paralytic to Christ. The roofs of the houses in Palestine are not steep, but flat. They uncovered the roof; that is, they broke through it, by taking away the tiles. St. Mark says, they laid bare the roof: and so they let down the sick man by means of ropes before Christ. All these things showed their great faith and devotion to Christ.
Their refers to those who brought him, say Sts. Ambrose and Jerome. St. Chrysostom adds, that the faith of the paralytic is included, for through his faith he wished himself to be carried, and he would not have heard the words, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," unless he had faith. Moreover this faith was the faith of miracles.
There is nothing in this passage to prove that faith only properly justifies; especially since what is here treated of is miraculous faith, which they themselves distinguish from justifying faith. Christ here speaks of the faith of the bearers as much or more than he does of the faith of the paralytic, and their faith could not justify the sick man.
Son, be of good heart. This paralytic already had faith and hope in Christ as we have just seen, but Christ bids him confirm and increase his faith. by these words, Be of good heart, Christ stirred up the paralytic to an act of great faith, hope, and sorrow for the sins which he had committed, and firm determination to enter upon a new and holy life, and love God above all things, that by this means he might be in a fit state to receive remission of his sins.
Christ, here and elsewhere, names and requires faith alone, and attributes salvation, more especially of the body, to faith, because faith is the prime origin and root of hope, fear, sorrow, and love of God.
Faith in Christ was what was especially insisted on at that time.
Thy sins are forgiven thee. St. Chrysostom observes that Christ first forgave the paralytic his sins, and then healed him, knowing that the Pharisees would make slanderous remarks which He would use as an occasion to prove His Divinity. He did this with a "triple miracle", as an uncontestable proof:
1st, by declaring openly their secret thoughts and murmurs against Him;
2nd, by healing the paralytic;
3rd, by performing the miracle with this end in view, so that He might demonstrate He had the power of forgiving sins.
Taken literally, a clearer reason was, that He might show that palsy and other diseases, often arise not so much from natural causes, but from sin. For He forgives the sins first, and then He heals the paralytic; showing that when the cause was taken away, the effect followed.
In the 1600's, canon law stated that physicians should seek the health of a sick man's soul before that of his body. This rule was strictly observed in Rome, where physicians after the third day of illness, especially when there is peril of death, may not go near a sick person, except he forthwith cleanse his soul from sin by sacramental confession. For, as St. Basil says, "Oftentimes are diseases the scourges of sins, which are sent for no other purpose than that we should amend our lives."
Again, we must remember that Christ came into the world chiefly to bestow spiritual health.
Verse 3: And behold some of the scribes . . . Within themselves. Because He takes away God's special prerogative of pardoning sin, and claims it for Himself, which would be a grave dishonor done to God, and therefore blasphemy. They thought Christ was not God, but a mere man. This was their perpetual and obstinate error, which led them perpetually to persecute Him, even unto the death of the Cross. St. Mark adds, that they said, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Verse 4: And Jesus seeing their thoughts. St. Mark adds that Jesus knew in His Spirit. By Himself and His own Spirit, pervading and penetrating all things. From this the Fathers rightly prove the Divinity of Christ against the Arians. For He searches the hearts, a thing which God alone can do.
The Scribes might have raised the following objection: "You, Jesus, indeed know and reveal our secret thoughts, but not by Your own Spirit, but by the Spirit of God. Therefore You are a prophet, and not God, that you should remit sins."
However, if the Scribes acknowledged Jesus to be a prophet, then they would have had to believe that He was speaking the truth when He said that He had the power to forgive sins, and therefore He was God.
In the Old Testament, the power of remitting sins was not given to any of the prophets, but it was promised to Messiah alone by the prophets. Therefore, they should have acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, and consequently God.
Verse 5: Whether is easier:
1. It is more difficult to forgive sins than to heal a paralytic person, or, for that matter, to create heaven and earth. And the reason for this: First, because sin, as an enemy of God, is far further away from God than a paralytic, or any any other created thing. Created things are in themselves good: but sin is diametrically opposed and repugnant to God. There are no contraries which are so mutually opposed as supreme goodness and supreme badness that is to say, God and sin.
2. Remission of sins is something of a higher order than the natural order. It has to do with the supernatural order of grace. Grace is the highest communion with the Divine Nature: for by grace "you may be made partakers of the divine nature," as St. Peter says (2 Peter 1:4).
On the other hand, Christ speaks of the remission of sins as being easier than the healing of the paralytic.
Someone can say "I forgive you your sins" - whether he remits them or not, because sin and its' remission are not things that can be seen.
But he who says to a paralytic, Arise and walk, exposes himself to great peril, if the sick man does not arise. Such a one will be convicted by all of imposture and falsehood.
Verse 6: But that you may know, Son of Man, for Christ forgave sins, not only as He was God, but in that He was man, with authority and merit. Because His Humanity was hypostatically united to His Divinity, and subsisted in the Divine Person of the Son of God, therefore He was able to make full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
This primary power and authority of forgiving sins was given to Him, next to God, which power He is able to grant unto others likewise, such as priests, who are instituted by Him, as His ministers, that they too should forgive sins. St. Thomas says (3 part. quest. 43, art.
3), "The power of the excellence of Christ stands in four things. I. Because His merit, and the virtue of His Passion, operate in the sacraments. 2. Because by His Name the sacraments are sanctified. 3. Because He Himself, who gives virtue to the sacraments, had power to institute them. 4. Because the effect of the sacraments in other words, the remission of sins, and grace Christ is able to confer without the sacraments. This power is peculiar to Christ alone, qu... man; and therefore it has been communicated neither to priest nor pontiff, nor to St. Peter."
And he arose. He arose at once, for what Christ said was straightway done. And the man walked off with the bed upon his shoulders.
And the multitude seeing it, feared. St. Mark adds, that the multitude said, We never saw it after this fashion. St. Luke, We have seen strange things today, for this man's whole body was paralyzed. He was a different paralytic from the one of whom St. John makes mention (5:2), who was healed in the sheep-market at Jerusalem. That man had no one carrying him: neither did he believe, as this one did, to whom it was said, Son, be of good heart.
Figuratively, paralysis is any disease of the soul whatsoever.
Verse 9: And as Jesus passed forth from there. Custom means revenue.
Matthew chose to become a publican, or public sinner (Matthew 10:3), one who gathered taxes from the Jews for their Roman conquerors or Herod Antipas, who worked under the Emperor Caesar in Capharnaum. Capharnaum lay at the place on the busy Damascus road where the province of Herod Antipas bordered on his brother Philip's - hence, the custom-house at the lakeside.
Each year a certain amount of taxes had to be collected. The authorities did not care about the methods used to collect the taxes, how much was demanded from the Jews, or how much the publicans kept for themselves, so long as the desired amount was sent to the treasury. As a result, these publicans could collect an unlimited amount of tax and turn over only the required portion.
The tax collectors were the most shunned by their own people precisely because it was "one of their own" working for the Roman administrators, robbing his own family and making a large personal profit. Hence, they were called "publicans" or "public sinners", who, because of this, were not allowed to trade, eat or pray with other Jews. In lawsuits they could not act as judges or witnesses, and they were often refused marriage by other families of Jews because of their position.
Matthew became an apostle in the second year of the public ministry of Christ. He had heard of the miracles and wonders that Jesus had already accomplished, as he wrote, "his fame went throughout all Syria, and they presented to him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and such as were possessed by devils, and lunatics, and those that had the palsy, and he cured them. And many people followed him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond the Jordan" (4:24-25). Capharnaum, the town where Matthew lived and probably worked, was a very Jewish city. It was also a natural rendezvous for pilgrims who formed into caravans for the yearly journey to Jerusalem for the Pasch. As a tax collector meeting so many townsmen and travelers daily, it is likely the rumors he heard grew to be almost constant, and perhaps some of the cured even showed themselves to Matthew. He had heard enough about Jesus to begin wondering if He might actually be the long awaited Messiah.
And so, Jesus, after beginning the formation of His apostles, called Matthew with the simple command, "follow me." Understanding what Matthew had heard daily for at least six months previously about the miracles of Jesus, and understanding his conception of the tremendous importance of such signs, it is not difficult to imagine Matthew immediately stop working with money, getting up and leaving the accounting unfinished and in disorder.
Verse 10: And it came to pass as he sat at meat. This was in Matthew's own house, but he doesn't mention it. This appears from what Luke says, Levi, that is, Matthew, made him a great feast in his own house: to this feast he invited many of his companions, publicans like himself, and sinners, that they might be drawn by the kindness of Christ to follow Him, as he had done.
Sinners are here distinguished from publicans. These sinners seem to have been dishonest Jews, who cared little for the law and religion of the Jews, and lived like heathens.
Verse 11: And the Pharisees seeing it. The words are not a question, but an accusation.
Verse 12: But Jesus hearing it, from the report of His disciples. For even the Pharisees did not dare to make this charge to Christ Himself.
Verse 13: Go then: that is, go away from Me; depart out of My sight. They are the words of one repudiating them. And learn, what Hosea (Osee) says (6:6), I desired mercy and not sacrifice. Jesus recalls the same passage in Matt. 12:7.
We worship God by external sacrifices and gifts, not for the benefit of God, but for ourselves and our neighbor. God doesn't need our sacrifices (He requires them), and wishes them to be offered to Him in order to arouse our devotion and for the profit our neighbor. So mercy (where we supply for others' defects), is a sacrifice more acceptable to Him, as it is more directly profitable to our neighbor's well-being, according to Hebrews 13:16: "Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such sacrifices God's favor is obtained."
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. St. Augustine; Luke adds to repentance (5:32), which explains the sense; that none should think that Christ loved sinners because they are sinners; and this comparison of the sick shows what God means by calling sinners, as a physician saves them from their sickness, hence the nickname, "The Divine Physician".
Christ also called Nathanael, who was a just man. Also He called the Blessed Virgin, Sts. John, and Elizabeth, who were saintly, to still greater sanctity and perfection.
Verse 14: Then came to him the disciples of John. The Pharisees instigated John's disciples to propose this question to Christ. "Therefore," says St. Jerome, "John's disciples are to be blamed, because of their boasting about their fasting, because of their uniting themselves to the Pharisees, whom John had condemned; also because they were calumniating Him of whom John had preached." Moreover, the disciples of John said these things out of zeal for their master, and out of envy of Christ, preferring John to Him. This can be seen in St. John 3:26 - The disciples of John told him that Jesus "is baptising and all men are going to him".
We sometimes see this in religious who extol their own founder or patron above everybody else: but in doing this, they are really seeking to exalt themselves. Such were the Corinthians, who said, "I am of Paul, I of Cephas." (1 Cor. 3:3.)
This particular fast to which they refer was not prescribed by the Law, for Christ and His disciples observed the fasts as well as all the other requirements of the Law: but it was a fast, either appointed by the Jewish doctors, or else voluntarily taken up by their disciples at the exhortation of the doctors. Wherefore St. Luke relates that they said, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink? It is like saying, "You wish to be our Reformer, and a master of perfection: Why then do we fast, when You and Yours lead a genial life?"
Verse 15: And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bridegroom. The meaning of children of the bridechamber, is that they rejoice in the Bridegroom's marriage, or are His familiar friends.
In mourning, men fast, and fasting makes them sad; just as, on the contrary, food and wine make men jovial and cheerful. The meaning is, "It is not wonderful that My disciples do not mourn and fast whilst they are enjoying Me and My nuptials. For at a wedding, modest banquets are becoming, fasting is unbecoming. He also alludes to the ancient custom of mourning for the dead, accompanied by fasting. Thus the Hebrews mourned for Saul, fasting seven days.
Christ here also shows that novices in the faith and in religious orders should be treated gently at first, as being but children in spirit, until they become matured in virtue, otherwise they might despair, or leave the path of virtue. St. Pachomius, who received the rule of his Order from an angel, directed novices to be instructed in it for three years, as Christ taught His Apostles and instructed them in His school for three years.
After Christ's death, the Apostles often fasted, and suffered from hunger and thirst, as St. Paul relates at length, Acts 13:2-3; Acts 27:9, 2 Cor. 11:27, etc. It has been said that St. Peter also did severe penance, and ate only bread with olives.
In the Eastern Church, according to St. Epiphanius (310-403), Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Various customs like this arose because on Wednesday Jesus was betrayed by Judas, on Friday He was crucified, and on Saturday He lay in the tomb. St. Epiphanius adds that formerly on fasting days Christians ate nothing but bread and salt, with water, and that this was directed by a decree of the Apostles.
St. Ambrose, explaining the words of Christ, The Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, says, "No one can take Christ from you, unless you take yourself away from Him."
Verse 16: Nobody puts a piece of raw cloth.
If an ancient garment is torn, it should be mended with the like old cloth, not with new, because the new cloth will be much more resistant to wear than the old.
And there is made a greater tear than it was before, when the garment was torn; because what has been added to it to mend it, tears it still more.
The ancient and ingrained habits of His disciples were like old garments, and their infirmity as old bottles, so do not, impose upon them hard and rigid penances and fasts, since they are not prescribed by the Law, but are voluntary lest also the fruit of My teaching should be lost to them, and they, being moved to despair, should forsake Me and My teaching: Tertullian explains that by old garments and old skins is meant the Old Law, by the rough and new patch the New Law, or the Gospel. For the New Law has reformed the Old, and as it were made it new. For precisely and adequately, by the old garment and the new, the Apostles are meant, who as yet, from their old habit of eating and living freely, were old, but were to be renewed at Pentecost by the spirit of temperance and austerity.
Verse 17: Neither do they put new wine. Christ shows with three examples that His disciples must not fast when He was present.
1. By the parable of the Spouse and the wedding.
2. Of the old and new garment.
3. Of the new wine, and the old bottles of skin.
The sense is, as new wine, by the violence of its fermenting spirit, bursts the old skins, because they are worn and weak, and so there is a double loss, both of wine and skins;
Therefore new wine must be poured into new skins, that, being strong, they may be able to bear the force of the must: so in like manner new austerities and fasts must not be imposed as yet upon disciples, because their spirits might be broken, and they leave.
Also, a pure and perfect life agrees with a mind cleansed from vices, pure and renewed. Otherwise both the austerity and the mind itself are full of sourness and bitterness.
Verse 18: As he was speaking these things, A ruler of the synagogue, as Luke adds, who presided over the synagogue in Capharnaum. There were several rulers of the same synagogue. His name was Jairus, as Mark records (5:22).
My daughter, twelve years old, as Luke says, is even now dead, but come. Matthew, using brevity, relates in substance what was done, but not the exact historical sequence.
Mark and Luke state, the child was not yet dead when her father first came to Christ and said, Come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. As Christ and Jairus were going together, some one ran, and told Jairus that his daughter was dead, and that the case being now desperate, he should come away from Christ.
St. Chrysostom and Theophylact explain differently. She is dead, i.e., she is near death, for in this way those who are wretched, are wont to exaggerate their miseries, that they may more easily obtain the aid for which they seek. St. Augustin adds, that the father by reckoning the time which his journey had taken, might suppose that she, whom he had left in her last agony, was now dead.
But come, lay thy hand. Jairus had seen, or heard of many sick who had been healed at Capharnaum by the laying on of hands; and he hoped that Christ would do the same for his daughter.
Everywhere in the New Testament, except where our Lord laid His hands on the children to bless them (Matt 19:15), the imposition of the hands always means the conferring or exercise of special power, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, consecrating for the service of God.
In Matthew 9:18 (syn. Mark 5:23), Mark 16:18 and Luke 4:40, Jesus is either demonstrating this power Himself, or giving instruction to the apostles (Mark 16:18 - "they shall lay their hands upon the sick and they will recover). Our Lord not only instituted the sacrament of ordination, but also established much of the external rite.
Verse 19: And Jesus rising. St. Chrysostom adds that when Christ first went with Jairus, He proceeded somewhat slowly, and conversed for some time with the woman with the issue of blood, that in the meantime the girl might die, and that there might be a manifest proof of His divinity and the resurrection.
Verse 20: Behold, a woman. She was from Caesarea, a place called Dan, afterwards Paneas, (from Eusebius). St. Mark relates at greater length this history of the healing of the woman.
Chrysostem: This woman, who was known to all, did not dare to approach the Savior openly, nor to come Him directly, because according to the law, she was unclean; this is why she touched Him from behind, and only ventured to touch the hem of His garment.
Now the virtues of Christ are by His own will imparted to those men, who touch Him by faith. Therefore, Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue which had gone out of Him, to show that with His knowledge, and not without His being aware of it, the woman was healed. He asked, (not in Matthew - Luke 8:45) Who touched me? although He knew her who touched Him, that He might bring to light the woman, by her coming forward, and proclaim her faith, and lest the virtue of His miraculous work should be consigned to oblivion.
But the woman fearing and trembling. The woman feared because she thought she had stolen health. Ven. Bede: The object of His question was that the woman should confess the truth of her long want of faith, of her sudden belief and healing, and so herself be confirmed in faith, and afford an example to others. But he said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be whole of your plague. He said not, Your faith is about to make you whole, but has made you whole.
Verse 23: And when Jesus came, &c. Minstrels. There were women minstrels as well as men. Jeremiah speaks of the former (9:17), "Call for the mourning women, that they may come, and let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with water." This was not only a Jewish custom - it was also common among the Gentiles.
Verse 24: He said, Give place. The girl was really dead, as is plain from verse 18. Christ, however, denied this, and said that she was asleep. 1. Because as St. Jerome says, to God and Himself, to whom all things live, she was not dead, and because she was to be raised again at the Judgment Day. Wherefore the dead are continually called in the Scriptures, those who sleep.
For example, when Lazarus was dead, Christ speaks of him as sleeping (John 11:11).
Moreover, the soul of this deceased girl, like the souls of others whom Christ and His saints have raised from the dead, was not yet judged, or condemned to hell, or purgatory. But God's judgment was suspended, because it was His will to bring her back to life.
Verse 25: And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, with, says St. Mark, the parents of the child, and Peter, James, and John. Christ put forth the crowd, because they were not worthy to see that which they would not believe.
He held the hand of the dead body, as though ruling and commanding it, and saying to it in Syriac, Talitha cumi that is, Maid, arise. "For as the Father raises up the dead and gives life: so the Son also gives life to whom he will." (John 5:21)
Mark adds, And he commanded that something should be given her to eat. So the resurrection might be proven to be real.
Verse 26: And the fame . . . into all that country that is, into the whole of Galilee. All men spread abroad the news, and celebrated this resurrection of the maid by Christ, speaking of it as a new, unheard of, and Divine work. And in so doing they preached Christ, that He was a prophet - the Messiah.
Sts. Hilary, Ambrose, and Jerome say that these things are an allegory of the Church. The woman with the issue of blood, who received health and the salvation of her soul before the daughter of the chief of the synagogue, or the Jews, is the people of the Gentiles; for after the fulness of the Gentiles has entered into the Church, the Jews shall be converted, and saved at the end of the world.
Only the three chief Apostles are present (Peter, James & John), that it may be signified that Christ, by the Apostles and their successors, will raise sinners from death; and that this is the prime and chief power of the Apostles, concerning which Christ said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John 20:23)
Figuratively, both the woman healed of the issue of blood, and Jairus' daughter raised from the dead, denote the sinful soul, which Christ raises from the death of sin to the life of grace; but first, the friends and minstrels must be driven out that is, the depraved companions and the wicked spirits. By His mighty power He takes her by the hand, gives her life, and raises her up from the deep of death to the summit of life. She is bidden to walk, that is, do good works; and to eat, that is, to feed on the Eucharist, that it may strengthen and confirm her life.
First, this maid of twelve years old, whom He raised immediately on her death.
Second, the young man, the widow's son, whom He raised as he was being carried to the tomb.
Third was Lazarus, whom He called out of his sepulchre, after he had lain there four days.
First, the young girl denotes young people and inexperienced or from frailness or infirmity, fall into sin, but very soon, being touched by God, see their fall, and easily repent, and rise again.
Second, the young man denotes those who have fallen repeatedly into sin, and are verging upon a habit of sin. These are with more difficulty recalled to life. They need more powerful and grace. So it came to pass that Christ commanded the bearers of the young man to stand still. And touching the bier, He said in a commanding manner, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
Thirdly, Lazarus denotes those who have grown old in sin. These are with great difficulty recalled. They need the most efficacious grace and vocation of God. And the indication of this, was Christ's groaning, weeping, and crying with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Verse 27: And as Jesus passed from there, i.e., from Jairus' house. You are the Son of David, that is, the Messiah, to whom this healing of blindness and other diseases has been promised by the Prophets. (Is. 35:5; 61:1) The Messiah had been promised to David as his Son, that He should be sprung from his posterity. Wherefore Messiah was always called by the Jews, the Son of David. Therefore these men, whose bodily eyes were blind, had sharp-sighted minds.
Verse 28: And when he came to the house. The house where Jesus was staying. Christ did not answer the blind men as they cried to Him in the way, and asked their sight. He put them off until He came into the house, 1. That He might prove them, and kindle their faith and desire of healing. 2. That He might teach the necessity of persevering in prayer.
This faith then gave rise to hope, insomuch that these blind men conceived the hope that what Christ was able to do, that He would do.
Verse 30: And Jesus strictly charged them. The Latin is comminatus est: which means literally, He sharply and sternly threatened them. He did this to show His strong dislike of showing off in His miracles, and to teach us to dislike it.
Verse 31: But they going out, spread his fame abroad in all that country. These blind men did not offend against the strict charge of Christ by publishing His miracle, because they persuaded themselves that Christ had done so, not by an absolute law, but only out of modesty. The Fathers are persuaded that Christ spoke in this sense: St. Chrysostom, "To another He says, Declare the glory of God (John 11:4); surely He teaches that they are to be corrected, who wish to praise us for our own sakes, but not if they do so for the glory of God." And St. Jerome says, "The Lord, because of humility, avoiding the glory of boasting, gave this command; but they, in remembrance of His grace, were not able to keep silent about His kindness."
Verse 32: They brought him a dumb man possessed with a devil. Deaf more than dumb. The word, says St. Jerome, is used indifferently, in both senses, in Scripture. For they who are deaf from their birth, are usually dumb; for they who cannot hear anything, are not able to learn sounds and words, so as to speak them. For we generally only learn what we hear. Because of this, Christ did not require faith from this man as He did from others. So St. Chrysostom, Theophylact.
Here Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him (chap. 35), "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." This was a different demon from the one of whom Luke writes of (11:14). Matthew writes fo this second one in 12:22.
Verse 33: And after the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke. From this it appears that the demon made this man deaf and dumb, who was not so naturally. He did this by hindering the use of his tongue and ears, so that, when he was cast out, the dumb man both spake and heard. The mercy of Christ by which He made whole a man who neither asked nor thought about it who was unable either to speak or think, for he was possessed by a devil simply at the prayer of those who brought him. Where there is greatest affliction, there is the mercy most and help of Christ.
Verse 33, cont.: The multitudes wondered, saying. Neither Moses, nor Elias, nor Isaiah, nor any other of the prophets, performed so many and so great miracles as Jesus did. Therefore He was greater than they, and so was the Messias, or Christ. They preferred Christ, says St. Chrysostom, to all others, because He quickly healed an infinite number of incurable diseases.
Verse 34: But the Pharisees said, by the prince of the devils He casts out devils.
Now, meekly bearing and despising their charges, He proceeds in His course of doing good, and confutes their blasphemies by fresh miracles.
This awful blasphemy Christ refutes in chap 12:25 - "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate". If Jesus was doing the work of the devil He would be defeating the devils purpose.
Verse 36: Like sheep that have no shepherd. There is no animal so simple, careless, improvident, so exposed to be the prey of wolves and other wild beasts, and therefore so needing a keeper, as a sheep. Christ takes notice that the Scribes and priests, did not care for the good of the people, to lead them in the way of salvation. And so they were not pastors, but shearers of the sheep, who only cared for the milk and the fleece, that is, for what profit they could make out of the people. The Scribes, says St. Chrysostom, were not so much shepherds of the sheep as wolves, for in word they taught them false and perverse doctrines, and by their example they destroyed the souls of the simple ones, especially in that they called Christ a magician, and so alienated Him from the minds of those who were well disposed to Him.
The Lord of the harvest. St. Chrysostom says, the Lord sent His Apostles to reap that which He Himself had sown by the Prophets.
Here ends the early manhood of Christ and His Acts from His Baptism and first Passover until His second Passover. That is to say, it is the history of one year and some months.
"For in this is the saying true: That it is one man that sows, and it is another that reaps. I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labor: others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."
By the words, "others have labored" is meant the prophets, who had sewn the seed in the Old Testament, in order to bring men to believe in Christ. This was the end of the law, this the fruit which the prophets looked for to crown their labors.