Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. It was not immediately after he had spoken the preceding words that Christ entered Capharnaum, for in the interim he healed the man afflicted with the leprosy, according as St. Matthew related it in its proper place. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 2. This history, though different in some circumstances from that related by St. Matthew, chap. viii., is most likely a relation of the same event, and the apparent discrepancies may be easily reconciled. St. Matthew says it was the centurion’s boy; St. Luke calls him his servant: but in these terms there is no necessary contradiction. And whereas the former says the centurion went himself to Christ, St. Luke mentions that he sent the ancients, or senators, of the Jews. Here, as in other places, we may suppose, that the former evangelist, for the sake of brevity, attributes to the centurion what was done in his name and with his authority; and through the whole narrative he represents our Saviour answering the centurion as if personally present. (Jansenius, concord. Evan.)
Ver. 3. When St. Luke says that the centurion begs of our Lord to come to him, he must not be supposed to contradict St. Matthew, who says, that the centurion objected he was not worthy to receive him under his roof. St. Luke seems here to relate the words of the Jews, who most probably would stop the centurion as he was going to Christ, and promise to intercede with our Lord for him. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxvii. in Matt.) — Some pretend that the centurion, after having sent to Jesus, went himself; but there is no necessity for such a supposition. We see in another case, that the petition of the sons of Zebedee, made by them to Jesus Christ, according to St. Mark (x. 35.) was made to him by the mouth of their mother, according to St. Matthew xx. 20. And this the old adage also teaches: qui facit per alium, facit per se; what a man does by another, he does by himself.
Ver. 6. Jesus Christ went with them, not because he could not cure him, when absent, but that he might set forth the centurion’s humility for our imitation. He would not go to the child of the ruler of the synagogue, lest he might appear to be induced by the consideration of his consequence and riches; but he went to the centurion’s servant, that he might appear to despise his humble condition. (St. Ambrose)
Ver. 9. Our Lord does not speak of the patriarchs, but of the Israelites of his own time, with whose faith he compares and prefers that of the centurion, because they had the assistance of the law and of the prophets; but this man, without any such instruction, willingly believed. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 11. Naim is a city of Galilee, about two miles from Mount Thabor. It was by divine dispensation, that so very great a multitude was present on this occasion, in order to witness this stupendous miracle. (Ven. Bede) — The burying-places of the Jews were out of the precincts of the city, as well for the preservation of health as decency. Thus Joseph of Arimathea, had his sepulchre in the rock of Mount Calvary, which was out of the city. (Tirinus)
Ver. 12. The evangelist seems to relate this miracle, as if it had happened by mere accident; though, beyond a doubt, divine Providence disposed all things to increase the splendour of the miracle. Jesus Christ would not raise this young man to life before he was carried out to be buried, that he might meet him near the gates of the city, where the assembly of the people took place. Besides this, there were present both the multitude that followed Jesus, and the multitude that followed the corpse, to the end that all these might be eye-witnesses to the miracle, and many might praise God, as Ven. Bede remarks. It was very proper that Christ should work this miracle just as he was entering the city, that he might preach the gospel with better success, from the opinion they must form of him, after beholding so great a miracle, and so great a favour bestowed upon them. (Maldonatus) — In a few words, the evangelist paints to life the affliction of this distressed widowed parent: a mother and a widow, without the least hopes of children, deprived of him who was her only support, the life of her habitation, the source of all her maternal tenderness and satisfaction, now in the prime of health, the only branch of her succession, and the staff of her old age. (St. Gregory of Nyssa, de hominis opificio.)
Ver. 14. Here Christ shews that he raised the dead by his own power, and at his own command: I say to thee, arise. This shews that it is the voice of God that speaks; for the dead can hear the voice of him alone, according to St. John. Amen, I say to you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they who hear shall live. (St. John v. 25.) (Maldonatus) — Our Saviour is not like Elias, weeping for the son of the widow of Sarepta; nor Eliseus, who applied his own body to the body of the dead child; nor Peter, who prayed for Tabitha: but he it is that calls the things that are not, as those that are; who speaks to the dead as to the living. (Titus Bostrensis)
Ver. 16. And there came a fear on them all; i.e. a certain reverential awe and trepidation seized them, and an uncommon degree of astonishment at the divinity which appeared to them. (Menochius) — And they glorified God: (edoxazan) they gave praise and glory to God for thus visiting his people, by sending them the Saviour he had promised them. (Polus, synop. crit.)
Ver. 20. The men; (oi andres) viz. the two disciples sent by John the Baptist, who delivered their master’s message; but, before Jesus Christ undertook to reply to their question, he performed on the spot various kinds of miracles.
Ver. 22. Then addressing himself to these disciples of John the Baptist, he ordered them to go and relate to their master all they had seen and heard; and to tell him, that he declared all those to be happy, who, strong in faith, should not take occasion to doubt of his divine power, (the proofs of which they had so recently seen) from the weakness of his flesh, which he had taken upon himself for the love of man. — Jesus Christ alludes to the known and full testimonies that had been given of him by the prophets. The Lord giveth food to the hungry, the Lord looseth them that are in fetters, the Lord enlighteneth the blind, he lifteth up them that are cast down, … and he who does these things, shall reign for ever thy God, O Sion, from generation to generation. (Psalm cxlv.) (St. Ambrose) — The words of the prophet Isaias are not less descriptive of the promised Messias: God himself will come, and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. The lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free. (Isaias xxxv. 4, 5, 6.) (Theophylactus)
Ver. 26. Because the Scripture styles him an angel; or, because he is the immediate precursor of him whom all the prophets announced at a distance.
Ver. 29. Justified God; i.e. feared and worshipped God, as just, merciful, &c. (Witham) — There are only two different sets of men, who glorified God for the baptism of John, and these seemed the most remote from works of piety; viz. the ignorant multitude, who scarcely knew the law; and the publicans, who were in general the most avaricious of mortals, and were looked upon as public sinners. If the preaching of John the Baptist had such an effect upon these men; what kind of hearts must not the Scribes have had, who, with all the advantage of the knowledge of the law, still refused to believe? This verifies the saying of our Lord, in St. Matthew chap. xxi. 31: Amen, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of heaven before you. (Maldonatus) — God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them to little ones; (St. Luke, x. 21.) for so it hath seemed good in his sight (Luke, x. 21.)
Ver. 32. Speaking one to another: (prosphonousin allelois) they seem to have been alternate choirs of youths, answering each other in the above words. (Menochius)
Ver. 36. And one of the Pharisees, by name Simon, as we learn in ver. 40.
Ver. 37. A woman in the city, who was a sinner. Some say she had only been of a vain airy carriage; one that loved to be admired for her beauty and wit; but the common exposition and more conformable to the text, is, that she had been of a lewd, debauched life and conversation. (Witham) — Mary Magdalene.
Ver. 38. Jesus Christ was then at table, after the manner of the Orientals, reclined at length on a couch, a little raised from the ground, having his face turned towards the table, and his feet extended. He had quitted his sandals, according to the custom of the country, before he had laid himself on the couch. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 39. The Pharisee was egregiously deceived. 1. In thinking that Christ was ignorant of the character of the woman, when he not only clearly saw the past bad conduct of the woman, but the present unjust thoughts of the Pharisee; 2. in his erroneous inference that Christ could not be a prophet; for all things are not necessarily revealed by God to his prophets; 3. by judging of Christ, after his own and the other Pharisees’ treatment of sinners; who, elated with pride, and thinking themselves just, kept all public sinners at a respectful distance; whereas not those who are well, but such as are sick, need the physician. (Menochius)
Ver. 42. Which will love him most? as we read in the Protestant version, and in the Greek, agapesei. But Christ, seeming to require love as a previous disposition to the remission of sins, as appears from ver. 47 below, the Catholic Church has adopted the version of St. Augustine, hom. xxiii. in the present tense: quis ergo plus eum diligit? (Jansenius, Comment. in Evang.)
Ver. 43. In proportion to our sins, should be our grief, says St. Cyprian: ut pœnitentia non sit minor crimine. (lib. de lapsis.)
Ver. 47. Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. In the Scripture, an effect sometimes seems attributed to one only cause, when there are divers other concurring dispositions; the sins of this woman, in this verse, are said to be forgiven, because she loved much; but (ver. 50,) Christ tells her, thy faith hath saved thee. In a true conversion are joined faith, hope, love, sorrow, and other pious dispositions. (Witham)
Ver. 50. This is one of those places upon which modern sectaries lay so much stress, in order to prove that faith alone can save us. But if they will attentively consider the different parts of this history, they will easily discover the fallacy of their argument. Because, before Christ spoke these words: thy faith, &c. he had said to Magdalene: many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. Therefore she was justified not so much through her faith, as her charity: still she had faith, or she would not have come to Jesus, to be delivered from her sins. It was therefore her faith, working by charity, that justified her: and this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, she had not that faith, which modern sectaries affirm to be necessary for their justification, viz. a belief that they are already justified, and that their sins are forgiven: this faith the woman here mentioned had not before Christ spoke those words to her; for it was to obtain the remission of her sins, that she performed so many offices of charity, washing his feet with her tears, &c. But is may be asked, why then does Christ attribute her salvation to her faith? The answer is easy, and has often been given, viz. that faith is the beginning of salvation; for it was her faith that brought her to Christ: for had not the woman believed in him, she never would have come to him to obtain the remission of her sins. (Maldonatus)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ heals the centurion’s servant: raises the widow’s son to life: answers the messengers sent by John: and absolves the penitent sinner.
1 And *when he had finished all his words in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capharnaum.
2 And the servant of a certain centurion, who was dear to him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he had heard of Jesus, he sent to him the ancients of the Jews, desiring him to come and heal his servant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying to him: He is worthy that thou shouldst do this for him.
5 For he loveth our nation: and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 And Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent his friends to him, saying: *Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof.
7 Wherefore neither did I think myself worthy to come to thee: but say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers: and I say to one, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh: and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it.
9 Which when Jesus heard, he marvelled: and turning about to the multitude that followed him, he said: Amen, I say to you, I have not found so great faith, even in Israel.
10 And they who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole, who had been sick.
11 And it came to pass, after this, that he went into a city called Naim: and there went with him his disciples, and a great multitude.
12 And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
13 Whom when the Lord had seen, he had compassion on her, and said to her: Weep not.
14 And he came near and touched the bier. (And they that carried it, stood still.) And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise.
15 And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
16 And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: *That a great prophet is risen up among us: and God hath visited his people.
17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the country round about.
18 And John’s disciples told him of all these things.
19 *And John called to him two of his disciples, and sent them to Jesus, saying: Art thou he who is to come: or expect we another?
20 And when the men were come to him, they said: John, the Baptist, hath sent us to thee, saying: Art thou he who is to come: or expect we another?
21 (And in that same hour, he cured many of their diseases, and sores, and evil spirits, and to many that were blind, he gave sight.)
22 And, answering, he said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: *That the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached:
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be scandalized in me.
24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?
25 But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings.
26 But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet.
27 *This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John, the Baptist: but he who is lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he.
29 And all the people hearing, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30 But the Pharisees, and the lawyers, despised the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him.
31 And the Lord said: *Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
32 They are like to children sitting in the market-place, and speaking one to another, and saying: We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have mourned, and you have not wept.
33 *For John, the Baptist, came, neither eating bread, nor drinking wine, and you say: He hath a devil.
34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking, and you say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners.
35 And wisdom is justified by all her children.
36 And one of the Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And entering the house of the Pharisee, he sat down to meat.
37 *And behold, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster-box of ointment:
38 And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what kind of woman it is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it.
41 A certain creditor had two debtors; the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And, whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which, therefore, of the two loveth him most?
43 Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly.
44 And turning to the woman, he said to Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with her hair.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head, with oil, thou didst not anoint: but she, with ointment, hath anointed my feet.
47 Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less.
48 And he said to her: *Thy sins are forgiven thee.
49 And they that sat with him at table began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.
1: about the year A.D. 31.; Matthew viii. 5.
6: Matthew viii. 8.
16: Luke xxiv. 19.; John iv. 19.
19: Matthew xi. 2.
22: Isaias xxxv. 5.
27: Malachias iii. 1.; Matthew xi. 10.; Mark i. 2.
31: Matthew xi. 16.
33: Matthew i. 6.
37: Matthew xxvi. 7.; Mark xiv. 3.; John xi. 2. and xii. 3.
48: Matthew ix. 2.