1 And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples,
Remigius: Bethphage was a small village of the priests, situated on the declivity of Mount Olivet, one mile distant from Jerusalem. For the priests who ministered in the temple their apportioned time, when their office of ministration was discharged, withdrew to this village to abide; as also did they who were to take their place. Because it was commanded by their Law that none should travel on the Sabbath more than a mile.
Origen: Bethphage is interpreted, The house of the Shoulder; for the shoulder was the priest’s portion in the Law.
2 Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to me. 3 And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go. 4 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke. 6 And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them.
Jerome: By the ass which had been under the yoke, and was broken, the synagogue is understood. By the ass’s colt wild and unbroken, the Gentile people; for the Jewish nation is towards God the mother of the Gentiles.
Rabanus: Whence Matthew, who wrote his Gospel to the Jews, is the only one who mentions that the ass was brought to the Lord.
Pseudo-Chrysostom: Before we do any sin we have free will to follow, or not, the will of the Devil; but if once by sinning we have bound ourselves to do his works, we are no longer able to escape by our own strength, but, like a vessel that has lost its rudder is tossed at the mercy of the storm, so man, when by sin he has forfeited the aid of Divine grace, no longer acts as he wills, but as the Devil wills. And if God, by the mighty arm of His mercy, do not loose him, he will abide till death in the chain of his sins. Therefore He saith to His disciples, “Loose them,” that is, by your teaching and miracles, for all the Jews and Gentiles were loosed by the Apostles; “and bring them to me,” that is, convert them to My glory.
Origen: Whence also, when He ascended into heaven, He gave command to His disciples that they should loose sinners, for which also He gave them the Holy Spirit. But being loosed, and making progress, and being nourished by the Divinity of the Word, they are held worthy to be sent back to the place whence they were taken, but no more to their former labours, but to preach to them the Son of God, and this is what He signifies when He says, “And straightway He will send them.”
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).