Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Other seventy-two. Most Greek copies, and the Syriac version, have seventy, as in the Protestant translation. Yet there seems no doubt but the true number was seventy-two. For seventy-two may be called seventy; but had they been only seventy, they could never have been called seventy-two. This was also the exact number of the judges chosen to assist Moses; (Exodus xxiv. 1.) though called seventy, (Numbers xi. 16.) as it is evident, because there were six chosen out of every one of the twelve tribes. In like manner the exact number of the interpreters called the Septuagint must have been seventy-two; and also the just number of the Sanhedrim. — Two and two, that one might be a help and comfort to the other; as also a witness of the carriage and behaviour of his companion. (Witham)
Ver. 4. As Moses formerly chose twelve elders as princes and fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and afterwards gave to each of these elders six others, to assist them in the arduous work of governing the people, so our divine Saviour chose twelve apostles to govern his Church. He likewise afterwards gave six disciples to each apostle, which makes 72, to serve as priests, and assist in governing the Church. (Tirinus) — Salute no man, i.e. go forwards promptly, and do not stay to amuse yourselves with vain compliments and useless civilities towards those whom you meet. This was a proverb. Eliseus said the same to Giezi, when he sent him to restore life to the child of the widow of Sunamis. If any man meet you, salute him not; think of nothing but of executing the orders I give you. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. And thou, Capharnaum, &c. Capharnaum is situated on the western coast of the sea of Tiberias. Christ having left Nazareth, made the former city the usual place of his abode. There was no city in which he had preached so much, or wrought so many miracles. On this account, he said it was exalted to the heavens; but for its incredulity he threatens it shall be cast down even unto hell. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. I saw Satan as lightning, &c. Many expound it in this manner: I, who am from eternity, saw Satan with all the rebellious angels, as glorious as they were, fall from heaven; fear then, and tremble, though you have received such favours from God. Others take it in this sense, that Christ, by his incarnation, hath seen the power of the devils lessened and confounded, according to what he also said, (John xii. 31.) Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (Witham) — What connexion have these words with what goes before? Some understand them thus: the reign of the devil is near at an end; this prince of darkness is going to be overturned; he will fall from the air, where he reigns, with the same precipitation as lightning, which cuts the clouds and presently disappears. It is almost the same thing he says in other places. “The prince of this world is already judged; behold now is the judgment of this world; behold now the prince of this world shall be cast forth! When I sent you to preach the gospel to the poor, I saw Satan fall; I saw his empire overturned. The last effort which this empire of darkness shall make is the death of our Saviour, as he himself says: This is your hour, and the power of darkness. Since his resurrection he has bound the dragon in the abyss for a thousand years; he has shut up the entrance, and sealed it with his seal.” (Apocalypse xii. 9. and xx. 2.) Others think that Jesus speaks here of the fall of Lucifer, at the beginning of the creation. Wishing to give his disciples a lesson in humility, on account of the vain complacency which he saw they took in the miracles they wrought, he says to them: Beware of pride, that precipitated the first angel from heaven: I have seen him in the glory with which he was surrounded, and I have seen him hurried into the abyss. Fear, lest the same should happen to you. The former explanation appears to us more simple and literal. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Given you power, &c. By these words our Saviour seems to insinuate, that the venom of serpents, and the other noxious qualities of some animals, proceed from the malice of the devil. These are the arms and the instruments he makes use of to kill us, being the prince of death and a murderer from the beginning, as the Scripture styles him. The Jews attributed sickness, poisons, and every thing of the same kind to evil spirits.
Ver. 21. He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost. In almost all Greek copies, we read in spirit, without holy. And it is expounded of Christ’s own spirit. (Witham) — I give thanks, &c. In this verse we see plainly refuted the heretical Marcion, and his follower Manicheus, who asserted that God was not the creator of the earth, or of any thing existing on the earth. St. Epiphanius says, that in a gospel written by Marcion, the words Father and earth were entirely omitted. Who does not here deplore the blindness of heretics, who, in order to spread their errors, do not hesitate thus to corrupt the original Scripture received by the whole Christian world!!! (Denis the Carthusian)
Ver. 25. Eternal life? The law of Moses does not expressly promise eternal life to the observers of it, but confines its promises to temporal blessings during this life. Still we always find that the Jews hoped in another life after this. This opinion is clearly observable in the books of Scripture, written both before and after the captivity, and in Josephus and Philo. (Calmet)
Ver. 29. Neighbour? It appears this was a celebrated controversy among the doctors of the law; some probably affirming, that the Jews only were so; while others maintained that their friends alone were their neighbours. (Maldonatus)
Ver. 30. A certain man, &c. This some would have to be a history: others rather judge it spoken by way of parable, to teach us to perform offices of charity towards all men without exception. (Witham) — Were we to adhere to the mere words of this parable, it would seem to follow, that only those who do us good were to be esteemed our neighbours; for the context seems to intimate, that the Levite and the priest were not neighbours to the man who fell among the robbers, because they did not assist him. But according to the opinion of most fathers, the intent of this parable is the shew, that every person who has need of our assistance is our neighbour. (Maldonatus)
Ver. 31. Our Saviour here shews the Jewish priests how preposterous was their behaviour, who, though scrupulously exact in performing all external acts of religion, entirely neglected piety, mercy, and other more essential duties. The Jews despised the Samaritans as wicked and irreligious men; but our Saviour here tells them that they were less exact in works of charity towards their neighbours than the very Samaritans. (Tirinus)
Ver. 34. This is the allegorical meaning of the parable: The man that fell among robbers, represents Adam and his posterity; Jerusalem, the state of peace and innocence, which man leaves by going down to Jericho, which means the moon, the state of trouble and sin: the robbers represent the devil, who stripped him of his supernatural gifts, and wounded him in his natural faculties: the priest and Levite represent the old law: the Samaritan, Christ; and the beast, his humanity. The inn means the Church; wine, the blood of Christ; oil, his mercy; whilst the host signifies St. Peter and his successors, the bishops and priests of the Church. (Origen, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and others)
Ver. 40. Calvin here ridicules the professors of evangelical poverty, because they gather from this place that there are two states of life, viz. the active and the contemplative, figured by Martha and Mary. But what will he answer, when he is informed, that this is the opinion not merely of monks, but even of a St. Augustine, (Serm. xxvii. De verbis Domini,) of a St. Jerome, (Com. 3 cap. of Jeremiah,) of a St. Gregory, and many others? Not that they were ignorant that there was another more natural explanation; but they were of opinion that nothing could be found more proper for the illustration of these different states of life. (Maldonatus)
Ver. 42. One thing is necessary. Some think that Christ’s meaning was, that Martha was preparing many dishes, when one was sufficient. But others, that this one thing necessary, was to learn, and comply with the will of God; which Mary was employed about. (Witham)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ sends forth, and instructs his seventy-two disciples. The good Samaritan.
1 And after these things the Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and he sent them two and two before his face, into every city and place, whither he himself was to come.
2 And he said to them: *The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest.
3 Go: *Behold I send you as lambs among wolves.
4 *Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; **and salute no man by the way.
5 Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house:
6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him: but if not, it shall return to you.
7 And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: *for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house.
8 And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you;
9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
10 But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, going forth into the streets thereof, say:
11 *Even the very dust of your city that cleaveth to us, we wipe off against you: yet know this that the kingdom of God is at hand.
12 I say to you, it shall be more tolerable at that day for Sodom, than for that city.
13 *Wo to thee, Corozain, wo to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works, that have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sack-cloth and ashes.
14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, at the judgment, than for you.
15 And thou, Capharnaum, which art exalted unto heaven: thou shalt be thrust down to hell.
16 *He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you, despiseth me. And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
17 And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils, also, are subject to us in thy name.
18 And he said to them: I saw Satan as lightening falling from heaven.
19 Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents, and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
20 But yet rejoice not in this, that spirits are subject unto you: but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.
21 *In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said: I give thanks to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father: because so it hath pleased thee.
22 All things are delivered to me by my Father: and no one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father: and who the Father is, but the Son, and to whom the Son will reveal him.
23 And turning to his disciples, he said: *Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see.
24 For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.
25 *And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?
26 But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 He answering, said: *Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him, went away leaving him half dead.
31 And it happened that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, passed by.
32 In like manner, also, a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.
33 But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion;
34 And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And the next day he took out twopence, and gave them to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I at my return will repay thee.
36 Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers?
37 But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.
38 Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman, named Martha, received him into her house:
39 And she had a sister, called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard his word.
40 But Martha was busy about much serving: who stood, and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her, therefore, that she help me.
41 And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things.
42 But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.
2: Matthew viii. 37.
3: Matthew x. 16.
4: Matthew x. 10.; Mark vi. 8. — ** 4 Kings iv. 29.
7: Deuteronomy xxiv. 14.; Matthew x. 10.; 1 Timothy v. 18.
11: Acts xiii. 51.
13: Matthew xi. 21.
16: Matthew x. 40.; John xiii. 20.
21: Matthew xi. 25.
23: Matthew xiii. 16.
25: Matthew xxii. 35.; Mark xii. 28.
27: Deuteronomy vi. 5.