Mark xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Under these figurative modes of speech, or parables, Jesus Christ began to trace out for their reflection a true portraiture of their ingratitude, and of the divine vengeance. By this man we are to understand God the Father, whose vineyard was the house of Israel, which he guarded by angels; the place dug for the wine-vat is the law; the tower, the temple; and Moses, the prophets and the priests, whom the Jews afflicted and persecuted are the husbandmen or servants. (St. Jerome) — This same parable was employed by Isaias, (v. 1.) where speaking of Christ, he says: My beloved had a vineyard, and he fenced it in. (Tirinus) — He went into a far country, not by change of place, for he is every where, but by leaving the workmen the power of free-will, either to work or not to work; in the same manner as a man in a far country cannot oversee his husbandmen at home, but leaves them to themselves. (Ven. Bede) — This parable is thus morally explained: Jesus Christ planted a Church with his own blood, surrounded it with evangelical doctrine, as with a hedge; dug a place for the wine-vat, by the abundance of spiritual graces which he has prepared for his Church; built a tower, by appointing his angels to guard each individual Christian, who are the husbandmen to whom he has let it out. (Nicholas of Lyra)

Ver. 2. The first servant whom the Almighty sent, was Moses; but they sent him away empty; for, says the Psalmist, they provoked him to anger in the camp. (Psalm cv.) The second servant sent was David, whom they used reproachfully, saying: What have we to do with David? (3 Kings xii. 16.) The third was the school of the prophets; and which of the prophets did they not kill? (Matthew xxiii.) (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 7. From this it appears, that the chief priests and lawyers were not ignorant that Christ was the Messias promised in the law and the prophets, but their knowledge was afterwards blinded by their envy: for otherwise, had they known him to be true God, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory, says St. Paul. For a further explanation, see St. Matthew xxi. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 8. They cast the heir, Jesus Christ, out of the vineyard, by leading him out of Jerusalem to be crucified. (Theophylactus) — They had before cast him out by calling him a Samaritan and demoniac; (St. John, Chap. viii.) and again by refusing to receive him, and turning him over to the Gentiles. (St. Jerome)

Ver. 9. The vineyard is given to others; as it is said, they shall come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. (St. Jerome)

Ver. 10. By this question, Christ shows that they were about to fulfil this prophecy, by casting him off, planning his death, and delivering him up to the Gentiles, by which he became the corner-stone, joining the two people of the Jews and Gentiles together, and forming out of them the one city and one temple of the faithful. (Ven. Bede) — The Church is the corner, joining together Jews and Gentiles; the head of it is Christ. By the Lord hath this been done in our days, and it is wonderful in our eyes, seeing the prodigies which God has performed through him whom men reject as an impostor. (Theophylactus and Bible de Vence)

Ver. 12. The chief priests thus shew, that what our Saviour had just said was true, by thus seeking to lay their hands on him. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 14. The disciples of the Pharisees said this in order to induce our Saviour to answer them, “that they were not to pay tribute to Cæsar, being the people of God; an answer they confidently anticipated, and which the Herodians hearing, might immediately apprehend him, and thus remove the odium from themselves to Herod. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 15. Knowing their hypocrisy.[1] The Latin word commonly signifies, cunning, but by the Greek is here meant their dissimulation, or hypocrisy. (Witham)

Ver. 17. Although Christ clearly establishes here the strict obligation of paying to Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar, to the confusion of his very enemies, we shall still find them bringing forward against him the charge of disloyalty, as if he forbade tribute to be paid to Cæsar. (Luke xxiii. 2.) After the example of her divine Model, the Catholic Church has uniformly taught with St. Paul, the necessity of obeying the powers in being; and this not for fear of their wrath, but for conscience sake. Render to Cæsar the money on which his image is stamped, but render yourselves cheerfully to God; for the light of thy countenance, O Lord, is stamped upon us, (Psalm iv.) and not the image of Cæsar. (St. Jerome) — With reason were they astonished at the wisdom of this answer, which eluded all their artifices, and taught them at the same time what they owed to their prince, and what they owed to God: and whoever hopes for the favour of heaven, must conscientiously observe this double duty to God and to the magistrate.

Ver. 26. The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is clearly given in the book of Moses, where mention is made of the burning bush, from the midst of which God appeared to Moses: have you not read, I say, what God there said to him? As God is the God of the living, you must be in an egregious error in imagining, that such as die in the eyes of the world not to return thither any more, die in the same manner in the eyes of God, to live no more. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 29. Literally the Lord our God is the only Lord: and this is the sense of the text in Deuteronomy vi. 4. The word in the original text, rendered by the term Lord, is the grand name JEHOVA, which signifies properly God, considered as the supreme Being, or the author of all existence.

Ver. 33. Venerable Bede gathers from this answer of the Scribes, that it had been long disputed among the Scribes and Pharisees, which was the greatest commandment in the law; some preferring the acts of faith and love, because many of the fathers, before the law was instituted, were pleasing to God on account of their faith and piety, and not on account of their sacrifices; yet none were agreeable to God who had not faith and charity. This Scribe seems to have been of the opinion of those who preferred the love of God. (Ven. Bede) — This excellence of charity teacheth us that faith only is not sufficient. (Bristow)

Ver. 34. Being now refuted in their discourse, they no longer interrogate him, but deliver him up to the Roman power. Thus envy may be vanquished, but with great difficulty silenced. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 35. According to St. Matthew it was principally to the Pharisees that Christ proposed this question. See Matthew 22, 41.

Ver. 37. This interrogation of Jesus instructs us how to refute the adversaries of truth; for if any assert that Christ was but a simple and holy man, a mere descendant of the race of David, we will ask them, after the example of Jesus: If Christ be man only, and the Son of David, how does David, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, call him Lord? The Jews were not blamed for calling him the Son of David, but for denying him to be the Son of God. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 43. God accepts alms, if they are corresponding to each one’s abilities; and the more able a man is, the more must he bestow in charities. The widow’s mite was very acceptable to God, and very meritorious to herself; because though small the offering considered in itself, it was great considering her extreme indigence.

Ver. 44. But she, of her want,[2] or indigence, out of what she wanted to subsist by, as appeareth by the Greek. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 15. Versutiam. ten upokrisin.

[2] Ver. 44. De penuria sua, ek tes ustereseos. See the same Greek word, 1 Corinthians xvi. 17; 2 Corinthians ix. 12, and Chap. xi. 9. &c.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The parable of the vineyard and husbandmen. Cæsar’s right to tribute. The Sadducees are confuted. The first commandment. The widow’s mite.

1 And *he began to speak to them in parables: A man planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round it, and dug a place for the wine-vat, and built a tower, and let it to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, to receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

3 But they having laid hands on him, beat him: and sent him away empty.

4 And again he sent to them another servant: and him they wounded in the head, and used him reproachfully.

5 And again he sent another, and him they killed: and many others, of whom some they beat, and others they killed.

6 Having therefore yet one most dearly beloved son: he sent him also to them last of all, saying: They will reverence my son.

7 But the husbandmen said one to another: This is the heir: come, let us kill him; and the inheritance shall be ours.

8 And laying hold on him, they killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

9 What, therefore, will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.

10 And have you not read this Scripture, *The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner:

11 By the Lord hath this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?

12 And they sought to lay hands on him: but they feared the people. For they knew that he spoke this parable against them. And leaving him, they went their way.

13 *And they sent to him some of the Pharisees, and of the Herodians; to catch him in his words.

14 They coming, say to him: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and carest not for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar; or shall we not give it?

15 But he knowing their hypocrisy, saith to them: Why tempt you me? bring me a penny that I may see it.

16 And they brought it to him. And he saith to them: Whose is this image and inscription? they say to him: Cæsar’s.

17 And Jesus answering, said to them: *Render, therefore, to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

18 *And there came to him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying:

19 Master, Moses wrote unto us,* that if any man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.

20 Now there were seven brethren; and the first took a wife, and died, leaving no issue.

21 And the second took her, and died: and neither did he leave any issue. And the third in like manner.

22 And the seven all took her in like manner; and did not leave issue. Last of all the woman also died.

23 In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall arise again, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

24 And Jesus answering, saith to them: Do ye not therefore err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God?

25 For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the Angels in heaven.

26 And, as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: *I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.

28 *And there came one of the Scribes, that had heard them reasoning together, and seeing that he had answered them well, asked him which was the first commandment of all.

29 And Jesus answered him: The first commandment of all is: *Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God, is one God:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.

31 *And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

32 And the Scribe said to him: Well, master, thou hast said in truth, that there is one God, and there is no other besides him.

33 And that he should be loved with the whole heart, and with the whole understanding, and with the whole soul, and with the whole strength: and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices.

34 And Jesus seeing that he had answered wisely, said to him: Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

35 And Jesus answering, said, teaching in the temple: How do the Scribes say, that Christ is the son of David?

36 For David himself saith by the Holy Ghost: *The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy foot-stool.

37 David, therefore, himself calleth him Lord, and whence is he then his son? And a great multitude heard him gladly.

38 And he said to them in his doctrine: Beware of the Scribes, who love to walk in long robes, and to be saluted in the market-place,

39 And to sit in the first chairs in the synagogues, and to have the highest places at suppers:

40 Who devour the houses of widows under the pretence of long prayer: these shall receive greater judgment.

41 *And Jesus sitting over-against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money into the treasury, and many that were rich cast in much.

42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing.

43 And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen, I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury.

44 For all they did cast in of their abundance: but she, of her want, cast in all she had, even her whole living.



1: about the year A.D. 33.; Isaias v. 1.; Jeremias ii. 21.; Matthew xxi. 33.; Luke xx. 9.

10: Psalm cxvii. 22.; Isaias xxviii. 16.; Matthew xxi. 42.; Acts iv. 11.; Romans ix. 33.; 1 Peter ii. 7.

13: Matthew xxii. 15.; Luke xx. 20.

17: Romans xiii. 7.

18: Matthew xxii. 23.; Luke xx. 27.

19: Deuteronomy xxv. 5.

26: Exodus iii. 6.; Matthew xxii. 32.

28: Matthew xxii. 35.

29: Deuteronomy vi. 4.

31: Leviticus xix. 18.; Matthew xxii. 39.; Romans xiii. 9.; Galatians v. 14.; James ii. 8.

36: Psalm cix. 1.; Matthew xxii. 44.; Luke xx. 42.

38: Matthew xxiii. 6.; Luke xi. 43. and xx. 46.

41: Luke xxi. 1.