Divorce – Mark 10:6-9

6 But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.

Chrysostom: He at once brings back the discourse to the old law.

Bede: He says not male and females, which the sense would have required had it referred to the divorce of former wives, but “male” and “female”, so that they might be bound by the tie of one wife.

Chrysostom: If however he had wished one wife to be put away and another to be brought in, He would have created several women.

7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.

Chrysostom: He also bade a man quit his parents and cleave to his wife. From the very mode of speech, shewing the impossibility of severing marriage, because He said, “He shall cleave.”

Bede: He says, he shall cleave to his wife, not wives.

8 And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.

Chrysostom: Being framed out of one root, they will join into one body.

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Bede: What therefore God hath conjoined by making one flesh of a man and a woman, that man cannot separate, but God alone.

Chrysostom: If two persons, whom God has joined together, are not to be separated; much more is it wrong to separate from Christ, the Church, which God has joined to Him.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. II (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Divorce – Mark 10:2-5

2 And the Pharisees coming to him asked him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

Theophylact: They proposed to Him a question, which had on either side a precipice, so that whether He said that it was lawful for a man to put away his wife, or that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, and contradict what He said, out of the doctrines of Moses [Deut 24:1-4]. Christ, therefore, being Very Wisdom, in answering their question, avoids their snares.

Chrysostom: Divorce was an indifferent thing among the Jews, and all practised it, as though it were permitted by the law.

3 But he answering, saith to them: What did Moses command you? 4 Who said: Moses permitted to write a bill of divorce, and to put her away. 5 To whom Jesus answering, said: Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you that precept.

Augustine: Moses, however, was against a man’s dismissing his wife, for he interposed this delay, that a person whose mind was bent on separation, might be deterred by the writing of the bill, and desist; particularly, since, as is related, among the Hebrews, no one was allowed to write Hebrew characters but the scribes. The law therefore wished to send him, whom it ordered to give a bill of divorcement, before he dismissed his wife, to them, who ought to be wise interpreters of the law, and just opponents of quarrel. For a bill could only be written for him by men, who by their good advice might overrule him, since his circumstances and necessity had put him into their hands, and so by treating between him and his wife they might persuade them to love and concord.

But if a hatred so great had arisen that it could not be extinguished and corrected, then indeed a bill was to be written, that he might not lightly put away her who was the object of his hate, in such a way as to prevent his being recalled to the love, which he owed her by marriage, through the persuasion of the wise. For this reason it is added, “For the hardness of your heart, he wrote this precept”; for great was the hardness of heart which could not be melted or bent to the taking back and recalling the love of marriage, even by the interposition of a bill in a way which gave room for the just and wise to dissuade them.

Chrysostom: He saves Moses, who had given the law, from their accusation, and turns the whole upon their head. But since what He had said was grievous to them, He at once brings back the discourse to the old law, saying, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.”

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. II (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:27-31

27 And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, 28 That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments.

Gregory: When the rich man in flames found that all hope was taken away from him, his mind turns to those relations whom he had left behind.

The hearts of the wicked are sometimes by their own punishment taught the exercise of charity, but in vain; so that they indeed have an especial love to their own.

In addition to his punishment, his knowledge and memory are preserved. He knew Lazarus whom he despised, he remembered his brethren whom he left.

Augustine: He asks that Lazarus should be sent, because he felt himself unworthy to offer testimony to the truth. And as he had not obtained even to be cooled for a little while, much less does he expect to be set free from hell for the preaching of the truth.

Chrysostom: He had five brothers, that is, the five senses, to which he was before a slave, and therefore he could not love Lazarus because his brethren loved not poverty.

29 And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

Chrysostom: He here means the Mosaic and prophetic writings.

Ambrose: In this place our Lord most plainly declares the Old Testament to be the ground of faith.

30 But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.

Gregory: When he heard the Scriptures he despised them, and thought them fables, and therefore according to what he felt himself, he judged the like of his brethren.

Gregory of Nyssa: The soul of Lazarus is neither anxious about present things, nor looks back to aught that it has left behind, but the rich man, even after death is held down by his carnal life. For a man who becomes altogether carnal in his heart, not even after he has put off his body is out of the reach of his passions.

31 And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

Gregory: They who despise the words of the Law, will find the commands of their Redeemer who rose from the dead, as they are more sublime, so much the more difficult to fulfill.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:26

26 And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither.

Theophylact: The great gulf signifies the distance of the righteous from sinners. For as their affections were different, so also their abiding places do not slightly differ.

Ambrose: Between the rich and the poor then there is a great gulf, because after death rewards cannot be changed.

Chrysostom: We can see, we cannot pass; and we see what we have escaped, you what you have lost; our joys enhance your torments, your torments our joys.

Gregory: As the wicked desire to pass over to the elect, that is, to depart from the pangs of their sufferings, so to the afflicted and tormented would the just pass in their mind by compassion, and wish to set them free. But the souls of the just, although in the goodness of their nature they feel compassion, after being united to the righteousness of their Author, are constrained by such great uprightness as not to be moved with compassion towards the reprobate.

Theophylact: You may from this derive an argument against the followers of Origen, who say, that since an end is to be placed to punishments, there will be a time when sinners shall be gathered to the righteous and to God.

Augustine: It is shewn by the unchangeableness of the Divine sentence, that no aid of mercy can be rendered to men by the righteous, even though they should wish to give it; by which he reminds us, that in this life men should relieve those they can, since hereafter even if they be well received, they would not be able to give help to those they love.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:25

25 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.

Chrysostom: Behold the kindness of the Patriarch; he calls him son, yet gives no aid to him who had deprived himself of cure. . . . Consider the past, forget not that you delighted in your riches, and you received good things in your life, that is, such as you thought to be good. You could not both have triumphed on earth, and triumph here. Riches can not be true both on earth and below.

Augustine: He chose the happiness of the world, and loved no other life but that in which he proudly boasted.

Gregory: Whatsoever then ye have well in this world, when ye recollect to have done any thing good, be very fearful about it, lest the prosperity granted you be your recompense for the same good. And when you behold poor men doing any thing blameably, fear not, seeing that perhaps those whom the remains of the slightest iniquity defiles, the fire of honesty cleanses.

Chrysostom: Is there no one who shall enjoy pardon, both here and there? This is indeed a hard thing, and among those which are impossible. For should poverty press not, ambition urges; if sickness provoke not, anger inflames; if temptations assail not, corrupt thoughts often overwhelm. It is no slight toil to bridle anger, to check unlawful desires, to subdue the swellings of vain-glory, to quell pride or haughtiness, to lead a severe life. He that doeth not these things, can not be saved.

Ambrose: Lazarus is poor in this world, but rich to God; for not all poverty is holy, nor all riches vile, but as luxury disgraces riches, so holiness commends poverty.

Gregory: Evil men receive in this life good things, because they place their whole joy in transitory happiness, but the righteous may indeed have good things here, yet not receive them for reward, because while they seek better things, that is, eternal, in their judgment whatever good things are present seem by no means good.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:23-24

23 And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:

Chrysostom: As it made the poor man’s affliction heavier while he lived to lie before the rich man’s gate, and to behold the prosperity of others, so when the rich man was dead it added to his desolation, that he lay in hell and saw the happiness of Lazarus, feeling not only by the nature of His own torments, but also by the comparison of Lazarus’s honor, his own punishment the more intolerable. . . . He lifted up his eyes that he might look on him, not despise him; for Lazarus was above, he below. Many angels carried Lazarus; he was seized by endless torments. Therefore it is not said, being in torment, but torments. For he was wholly in torments, his eyes alone were free, so that he might behold the joy of another. His eyes are allowed to be free that he may be the more tortured, not having that which another has. The riches of others are the torments of those who are in poverty.

The rich man sees Lazarus not with any other righteous man, but in Abraham’s bosom. For Abraham was full of love, but the man is convicted of cruelty. Abraham sitting before his door followed after those that passed by, and brought them into his house [Gen 18:1-8], the other turned away even them that abode within his gate.

24 And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.

Theophylact: He does not however direct his words to Lazarus, but to Abraham, because he was perhaps ashamed, and thought Lazarus would remember his injuries.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: Mark the conscience of the sinner; he durst not ask for the whole of the finger.

Gregory: That rich man who would not give to the poor man even the scraps of his table, being in hell came to beg for even the least thing.

Chrysostom: Not because he was rich was he tormented, but because he was not merciful.

His tongue too had spoken many proud things. Where the sin is, there is the punishment.

Death and life are in the hands of the tongue [Prov 18:21].

Ambrose: He is tormented also because to the luxurious man it is a punishment to be without his pleasures.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:22

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. . . .

Pseudo-Chrysostom: That which was temporal has passed away; that which follows is eternal. . . . Those great sufferings are suddenly exchanged for bliss. He is carried after all his labors, because he had fainted, or at least that he might not tire by walking; and he was carried by angels. One angel was not sufficient to carry the poor man, but many come, that they may make a joyful band, each angel rejoicing to touch so great a burden. Gladly do they thus encumber themselves, that so they may bring men to the kingdom of heaven But he was carried into Abraham’s bosom, that he might be embraced and cherished by him; Abraham’s bosom is Paradise. And the ministering angels carried the poor man, and placed him in Abraham’s bosom, because though he lay despised, he yet despaired not nor blasphemed.

Gregory: When the two men were below on earth, that is, the poor and the rich, there was one above who saw into their hearts, and by trials exercised the poor man to glory, by endurance awaited the rich man to punishment.

22 . . . And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell.

Chrysostom: He died then indeed in body, but his soul was dead before. For he did none of the works of the soul. All that warmth which issues from the love of our neighbor had fled, and he was more dead than his body. But no one is spoken of as having ministered to the rich man’s burial as to that of Lazarus. Because when he lived pleasantly in the broad road, he had many busy flatterers; when he came to his end, all forsook him. For it simply follows, and was buried in hell. But his soul also when living was buried, enshrined in its body as it were in a tomb.

Augustine: The burial in hell is the lowest depth of torment which after this life devours the proud and unmerciful.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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