Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. This was the Hebrew expression for taking a meal; their frugality probably suggested this method of expression, bread being the principal part of their repast. (Calmet) — What a contrast here between the actions of the Pharisees and those of our Saviour! They watched all his actions, in order to have an opportunity of accusing him, and of putting him to death; whilst he, on the contrary, seeks after nothing but the salvation of his enemies’ souls. (Tirinus)
Ver. 2. Our divine Saviour, regardless of the wicked designs which these Pharisees meditated to destroy him, cures the sick man, who did not dare to ask the favour of him, for fear of the Pharisees. He could only persuade himself to stand in his presence, hoping that Christ would at length cast a compassionate look upon him: who being well pleased with him, did not demand of him if he wished to be cured, but without demur proceeded to work this stupendous miracle in his behalf. (St. Cyril) — In which Christ did not so much consider whether the action would give scandal to the Pharisees, as whether it would afford the sick man comfort; intimating, that we ought ever to disregard the raillery of the fools, and the scandal which men of this world may take at our actions, as often as they are for the honour of God, and the good of our neighbour. (Theophylactus)
Ver. 3. Is it lawful? Jesus knew their thoughts, and that they would blame him as a sabbath-breaker: yet he healed the man, and confounded them by the example and common practice of pulling an ass out of a pit on the sabbath-day. (Witham)
Ver. 5. By this example Christ convicts his adversaries, as guilty of sordid avarice, since, in delivering beasts from the danger of perishing on the sabbath-day, they consult only their own advantage, whilst he was only employed in an act of charity towards his neighbour; an action they seemed so warmly to condemn. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 7. A parable. What parable? In the text there is no parable, but only instruction. Maldonatus thinks that our Saviour spoke a parable on this occasion, which St. Luke has omitted, giving us only the moral and the substance of the instruction conveyed by it. (Calmet) — To take the lowest place at a feast, according to our Saviour’s injunctions, is certainly very becoming; but imperiously to insist upon it, is far from acting according to our Saviour’s wishes, particularly when it is destructive of regularity, and productive of discord and contention. (St. Basil)
Ver. 9. The lowest place. A person of the first quality is not to do this literally, which would be preposterous; but it is to teach every on humility of heart and mind. (Witham)
Ver. 12. Christ does not here forbid the invitation of friends and relatives, since that would be acting directly contrary to his own maxims and spirit, which breathe nothing but charity and union. He merely wishes to purify our motives in the disposal of our charity, by insinuating that there is more merit in giving to the indigent, from whom we can expect no remuneration. (Calmet) — It is only an effect of avarice, to be liberal to those who will repay us, says St. Ambrose. It is our duty as acknowledged even by heathens (Cicero de Off. lib. i.) to assist those who stand most in need of it; but our practice says the same author, is to be most obsequious to those from whom we expect most, though they want our services the least. St. Ambrose, Ven. Bede, and St. Chrysostom are of the same opinion.
Ver. 16. By this man we are to understand Christ Jesus, the great mediator between God and man. He sent his servants, at supper-time, to say to them that were invited, that they should come; i.e. he sent his apostles to call the people of Israel, who had been invited to his supper on almost innumerable occasions: but they not only refused the invitation, but also murdered the Lord who had invited them. We may remark, that the three different excuses exactly agree with what St. John says: All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. The one says, I have married a wife, by which may be understood the concupiscence of the flesh; another says, I have bought five yoke of oxen, by which is denoted the concupiscence of the eyes; and the pride of life is signified by the purchase of the farm, which the third alleges in his justification. (St. Augustine, de verb. Dei.)
Ver. 23. Compel them to come in. This is almost the only expression in the New Testament, which can give to the intolerant a plea for persecution. The spirit of the gospel is the spirit of mildness, and the compulsion which it authorizes to bring infidels or heretics into the Church, is such as we use towards our friends, when we press them to accept of our hospitality. The great pope, St. Gregory, forbade the Jews to be persecuted in Rome, who refused to receive the faith of Christ. “That is a new and unheard of kind of preaching,” says he, “which demands assent by stripes.” (Haydock)
Ver. 26. Hate not, &c. The law of Christ does not allow us to hate even our enemies, much less our parents: but the meaning of the text is, that we must be in that disposition of soul so as to be willing to renounce and part with every thing, how near or dear soever it may be to us, that would keep us from following Christ. (Challoner) — The word hate is not to be taken in its proper sense, but to be expounded by the words of Christ, (Matthew x. 37.) that no man must love his father more than God, &c. (Witham) — Christ wishes to shew us what dispositions are necessary in him who desires to become his disciple; (Theophylactus) and to teach us that we must not be discouraged, if we meet with many hardships and labours in our journey to our heavenly country. (St. Gregory) — And if for our sakes, Christ even renounced his own mother, saying, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? why do you wish to be treated more delicately than your Lord? (St. Ambrose) — He wished also to demonstrate to us, that the hatred he here inculcates, is not to proceed from any disaffection towards our parents, but from charity for ourselves; for immediately he adds, and his own life also. From which words it is evident, that in our love we must hate our brethren as we do ourselves.
Ver. 28. For which of you, &c. The similitude, which our divine Saviour makes us of, represents the offices and duty of a true Christian, for he has to build within himself and conduct others by his example to war with the devil, the world, and the flesh; and he has to season, purify, and keep all his actions free from corruption by the spiritual salt of mortification and prayer. (Tirinus)
Ver. 29. Lest after, &c. Here he wishes to shew us, that we are not to embrace any state of life, particularly that of an ecclesiastic, without previous and serious consideration, whether we shall be able to go through with the difficulties and dangers which will inevitably befall us: lest afterwards we find ourselves constrained to yield to our enemies, who will deride us, and say: This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (Tirinus)
Ver. 34. But if the salt, &c. Man, after he has once been illumined with the light of faith, should he be so unfortunate as to fall into the sink of his former evil habits, what remedy is there remaining for him? He is, as our Saviour says, neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out. (Luke xiv. 35.) (Ven. Bede)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ heals the dropsical man. The parable of the supper. The necessity of renouncing all to follow Christ.
1 And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of a certain chief of the Pharisees, on the sabbath-day, to eat bread, and they were watching him.
2 And behold there was a certain man before him, who had the dropsy.
3 And Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day?
4 But they held their peace. But he, taking him, healed him, and sent him away.
5 And answering them, he said: Which of you, whose ass or his ox shall fall into a pit, and he will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath-day?
6 And they could not answer him to these things.
7 And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them:
8 When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the highest place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him:
9 And he who invited thee, and him, come and say to thee: Give place to this man; and then thou begin, with blushing, to take the lowest place.
10 But when thou art invited, go sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee cometh, he may say to thee: *Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.
11 *Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
12 And he said to him also that had invited him: *When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy neighbours who are rich; lest they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made to thee.
13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the feeble, the lame, and the blind:
14 And thou shalt be blessed, because they have not wherewith to make thee recompense: for recompense shall be made thee at the resurrection of the just.
15 When one of them that sat at table with him, had heard these things, he said to him: Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
16 But he said to him: *A certain man made a great supper, and invited many.
17 And he sent his servant, at supper-time, to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready.
18 And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, have me excused.
19 And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them: I pray thee, have me excused.
20 And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 And the servant returning, told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame.
22 And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 But I say to you, that none of those men that were invited, shall taste my supper.
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and turning, he said to them:
26 *If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 *And whosoever doth not carry his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it?
29 Lest after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him,
30 Saying: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down and think, whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that with twenty thousand cometh against him?
32 Or else whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple.
34 *Salt is good. But if the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither profitable for the land, nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10: Proverbs xxv. 7.
11: Matthew xxiii. 12.; Luke xviii. 14.
12: Tobias iv. 7.; Proverbs iii. 9.
16: Matthew xxii. 2.; Apocalypse xix. 9.
26: Matthew x. 37.
27: Matthew x. 38. and xvi. 24.; Mark viii. 34.
34: Matthew v. 13.; Mark ix. 50.