Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. In collating the present narrative with that of St. Matthew it appears that Jesus Christ was not tempted till the expiration of forty days. (Bible de Vence) — Many reasons may be assigned why Christ permitted himself to be tempted. 1st. To merit for man the grace of overcoming temptations. 2d. To encourage us under temptations. 3d. To teach us not to be cast down with temptations, however grievous they may be, since even Jesus Christ submitted to them. 4thly. To point out to us the manner in which we ought to behave in time of temptation. (Dionysius)
Ver. 3. The tempter here appears to endeavour to discover by stratagem whether Christ was the Son of God. He does not say, if thou be the Son of God, “pray” that these stones be made bread, which he might have said to any man; but “command,” effect by thine own authority, that this come to pass. If Christ had done this, the tempter would have instantly concluded, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, since only God could effect such a miracle. (Dionysius)
Ver. 10. We have the devil here again citing Scripture, (Psalm xc. ver. 11.) (Read what is given on this subject in note on ver. 6, chap. iv. of St. Matthew’s gospel) which shews how very dangerous a thing it is to put the Scripture, in the first instance, indiscriminately into every, even the most illiterate person’s hands, without any previous disposition of the mind and heart, by study and prayer. How much more satisfactory must it be to be guided by the Church of God, which Christ has promised to secure against all error, and which he commands all to obey! How much more rational to begin with distributing elementary catechisms, approved by the Catholic Church as conformable to the word of God, and then only opening to them the sacred mystic book, when their minds and hearts are better prepared to avail themselves of the inestimable treasure, and of justly appreciating and exploring the golden lore. If humility be a virtue that renders us most pleasing to God, it is a virtue particularly necessary for the proper understanding of Holy Writ. This will teach us to submit (whenever the Scripture is either silent or obscure in points of faith) our own private and unassisted judgment to the judgment and comments of the Church. This was the sentiment of a great philosopher of this nation, who, when charged with scepticism and a love of novelty by his contemporaries, replied: “However fanciful I may be esteemed in matters of philosophy, in religious concerns I like to go the beaten road. Where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my text. Where that speaks, it is but the comment; and I never refer any thing to the arbitration of my own judgment, but in the silence of them both.”
Ver. 13. For a time, viz. until his Passion, in which he again most grievously tempted him, by the hands of impious persecutors, whom he could not overcome with sensuality, covetousness, or vanity. The devil now deals with men in the same manner. He tempts them, and, being overcome, leaves them for a time, to prompt them to rest in a fatal security; that indulging indolence, they may at some future period be attacked, with greater certainty of success, when unprepared. Knowing, therefore, the trick and design of our infernal enemy, how much does it behove us to be on our guard; and having overcome in one temptation, prepare ourselves for another; never resting in the presumptuous thought, that we are sufficiently strong in virtue to resist the enemy, without fresh preparation. (Dionysius) — This history of the various temptations to which our Saviour subjects himself, as related by St. Luke, is exactly the same as that given by St. Matthew with this only difference, that the order in which the temptations took place is not the same in both evangelists: but it does not matter what order is observed, where all the circumstances are related. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 17. As he unfolded the book: and again, (ver. 20) when he had folded the book. Books at that time where not like our now-a-days, but were skins or parchments, rolled or folded up. (Witham) — Some are of opinion that the Jews of Nazareth, having heard of the miracles and fame of Jesus, and that he was accustomed to teach in the synagogues, though he had never been instructed in any learning, when he rose to speak, purposely gave him the book of Isaias, which was esteemed the most difficult to be explained, in order to try his learning; though it is probable that it was done by the all-directing interposition of Divine Providence. (Maldonatus)
Ver. 18. By the poor are to be understood the Gentiles; who might truly be called poor, since they possessed neither the knowledge of the true God, nor of the law, nor of the prophets. (Origen) — Isaias in this place speaks of himself, as a figure of the Messias. The captivity of Babylon, which is the literal object of this prophecy, was a figure of the then state of mankind; the return from this captivity announced by the prophet, and effected by Cyrus, represented the redemption of man, effected by Jesus Christ. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 19. To set at liberty them that are bruised, or oppressed. These words are not in the prophet; but are added by St. Luke, to explain the others. — To preach the acceptable year, as it were the jubilee year, when slaves used to be set at liberty. (Witham)
Ver. 20. To observe and admire a person that had never learned letters, and who stood up amongst them an experienced teacher. (Menochius) See John vii. 15. and Maldonatus.
Ver. 21. By this Christ wished to shew that he was the Messias foretold by the prophet Isaias, whom they so anxiously expected: he declares himself to be the person pointed out by the prophet. There seems also to be a secret reprehension in these words of Christ; as if he were to say: Why are you so desirous to behold the Messias, whom, when he is before your eyes, you will not receive? Why do you seek him in the prophets, when you neither understand the prophets, nor perceive the truth of their predictions, when they are fulfilled before you eyes? (Maldonatus)
Ver. 23. I see you will object to me this similitude, (parabolen) or trite saying, applied to such as attended to the concerns of others, and neglected their own. (Menochius)
Ver. 30. Passing through the midst of them, went his way. Perhaps by making himself on a sudden invisible, or by striking them with blindness, or by changing their minds, and hearts, as he pleased. (Witham) — All commentators observe on these words, that the evangelist wished to shew that Christ worked a miracle on this occasion, and by it proved his divinity. This is the opinion of Sts. Euthymius, Ambrose, and Thomas Aquinas. St. Ambrose says, we must observe that Christ did not suffer from necessity, but because he wished it. He was not taken by the Jews, but delivered up himself; at his own pleasure he is seized, and at his own pleasure he escapes; when he wills it, he is condemned; and when he wills it, he is freed. The most common opinion is, that he rendered himself invisible on this occasion; though others imagine that he changed their wills, or withheld their hands. (Maldonatus) — When we observe the outrageous treatment Jesus Christ met with from the people of Nazareth, we are not surprised that he should shut up the fountain of his beneficence against them for their incredulity, and return to Capharnaum. (Haydock)
Ver. 31. Although Christ was well acquainted with the obduracy of the Jews, nevertheless, like a good physician, he condescends to pay them another visit, and try what a fresh medicine might effect in this their last stage, as it were, of existence. He publicly preaches therefore in the synagogue, according as Isaias had declared of him, and struck amazement into every heart. The Jews themselves considered him as something very extraordinary; as one of the prophets, or ancient saints. But Christ, that they might conceive a higher opinion of his person, does not make use of the expressions they did, but speaks as Lord and Master of the law. (St. Cyril)
Ver. 38. It is evident that St. Peter was married; but after his call to the apostleship, he left his wife, as St. Jerome writes, in ep. xliii. Chap. ii. ad Julianum, and lib. i. adv. Jovin. See Matthew xix. 29.
Ver. 40. The evangelist mentions this circumstance, because these distressed people did not dare to bring their sick before that time, either through fear of the Pharisees, or of violating the sabbath. (Origen)
Ver. 41. It appears, that when the devil expresses himself thus, it is less through conviction than artifice. He suspected the fact; and to certify the same, he said to him in the desert, if you be the Son of God, change these stones into bread. In the same manner by saying here, you are the Son of God, he wished to give him an occasion of explaining himself on the subject. (Bible de Vence) — But Jesus Christ would not accept of the testimony of evil spirits, lest he might be suspected of some intelligence with them, to cause himself to be acknowledged the Son of God. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 43. From the apparent good dispositions of these people, we might be induced to think, that if Christ had yielded to their solicitations, and remained with them, he could have drawn all to himself; yet he did not choose to do this, but has left us an example worthy of our imitation, in seeking out the perishing and strayed sheep; for by the salvation of one soul, our many sins will be remitted. (St. Chrysostom, in cat. Gręc. Pat. hom. in Matt.)
Ver. 44. Our divine Redeemer frequented the Jewish synagogue, to shew he was no seducer. If he had inhabited wilds and deserts, it might have been objected to him, that he concealed himself, like an impostor, from the sight of men. (St. Chrysostom, in cat. Gręc. Pat. hom. in Matt.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ’s fasting, and temptation. He is persecuted in Nazareth: his miracles in Capharnaum.
1 And *Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan: and was led by the spirit into the desert,
2 For the space of forty days, and was tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days: and when they were ended he was hungry.
3 And the devil said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him: It is written: *That man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil led him into a high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time:
6 And he said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them: for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will I give them.
7 If thou, therefore, wilt adore before me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answering, said to him: *It is written: Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and he said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.
10 *For it is written, that he hath given his Angels charge over thee, that they keep thee:
11 And that in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering, said to him: It is said: *Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God.
13 *And when all the temptation was ended, the devil departed from him for a time.
14 *And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and the fame of him went out through the whole country.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, and was extolled by all.
16 *And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up, and he went into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the sabbath day, and he rose up to read.
17 And the book of Isaias, the prophet, was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written:
18 *The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: wherefore he hath anointed me, to preach the gospel to the poor he hath sent me, to heal the contrite of heart,
19 To preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward.
20 And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21 And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this Scripture in your ears.
22 And all gave testimony to him: and they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth, and they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?
23 And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself: as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.
24 And he said: Amen, I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.
25 In truth I say to you, *there were many widows in the days of Elias, in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months: when there was a great famine throughout all the land:
26 And to none of them was Elias sent, but to a widow at Sarepta of Sidon.
27 *And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus, the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman, the Syrian.
28 And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger.
29 And they rose up, and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30 But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.
31 *And he went down into Capharnaum, a city of Galilee, and there he taught them on the sabbath-days.
32 *And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
33 *And in the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean devil, and he cried out with a loud voice,
34 Saying: Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy one of God.
35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying: Hold thy peace, and go out of him. And when the devil had thrown him into the midst, he went out of him, and hurt him not at all.
36 And there came fear upon all, and they talked among themselves, saying: What word is this: for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they go out?
37 And the fame of him was published in every place of the country.
38 And Jesus rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon’s house. *And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever: and they besought him for her.
39 And standing over her, he commanded the fever: and it left her. And immediately rising, she ministered to them.
40 And when the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers diseases, brought them to him. But he laying his hands on every one of them, healed them.
41 *And devils went out of many, crying out and saying: Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them, he suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
42 And when it was day, going out, he came into a desert place: and the multitudes sought him, and came to him: and they detained him, that he should not depart from them.
43 To whom he said: I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.
1: about the year A.D. 30.; Matthew iv. 1.; Mark i. 12.
4: Deuteronomy viii. 3.; Matthew iv. 4.
8: Deuteronomy vi. 13. and x. 20.
10: Psalm xc. 11.
12: Deuteronomy vi. 16.
13: about the year A.D. 31.
14: Matthew iv. 12.; Mark i. 14.
16: Matthew xiii. 54.; Mark vi. 1.; John iv. 45.
18: Isaias lxi. 1.
25: 3 Kings xvii. 9.
27: 4 Kings v. 14.
31: Matthew iv. 13.; Mark i. 21.
32: Matthew vii. 28.
33: Mark i. 23.
38: Matthew viii. 14.; Mark i. 30.
41: Mark i. 34.