1. And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
2. And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
6. And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
7. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
8. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Now that the Lord had given sufficient proof of His virtue, and the cross was at hand, even at the door, He did those things which were about to excite them against Him with a greater openness; therefore although He had so often gone up to Jerusalem, He never however had done so in such a conspicuous manner as now.
THEOPHYLACT. That thus, if they were willing, they might recognise His glory, and by the prophecies, which were fulfilled concerning Him, know that He is very God; and that if they would not, they might receive a greater judgment, for not having believed so many wonderful miracles. Describing therefore this illustrious entrance, the Evangelist says, And when they came nigh unto Jerusalem, and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples.
BEDE. (in Marc. 3, 41) Bethany is a little village or town by the side of mount Olivet, where Lazarus was raised from the dead. But in what way He sent His disciples and for what purpose is shewn in these words, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you.
THEOPHYLACT. Now consider how many things the Lord foretold to His disciples, that they should find a colt; wherefore it goes on, And as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat, loose him, and bring him; and that they should be impeded in taking it, wherefore there follows, And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and that on saying this, they should be allowed to take him; wherefore there follows, And straightway he will send him hither; and as the Lord had said, so it was fulfilled. Thus it goes on: And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without, in a place where two ways meet; and they loose him.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. ii. 66) Matthew says, an ass and a colt, the rest however do not mention the ass. Where then both may be the case, there is no disagreement, though one Evangelist mentions one thing, and a second mentions another; how much less should a question be raised, when one mentions one, and another mentions that same one and another. It goes on: And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded, and they let them take it, that is, the colt.
THEOPHYLACT. But they would not have allowed this, if the Divine power had not been upon them, to compel them, especially, as they were country people and farmers, and yet allowed them to take away the colt. It goes on: And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Cat. in Marc. Oxon.) Not indeed that He was compelled by necessity to ride on a colt from the mount of Olives to Jerusalem, for He had gone over Judæa and all Galilee on foot, but this action of His is typical. It goes on: And many spread their garments in the way: that is, under the feet of the colt; and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 1This, however, was rather done to honour Him, and as a Sacrament, than of necessity. It goes on: And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. 2For the multitude, until it was corrupted, knew what was its duty, for which reason each honoured Jesus according to his own strength. Wherefore they praised Him, and took up the hymns of the Levites, saying, Hosanna, which according to some is the same as save me, but according to others means a hymn. I however suppose the former to be more probable, for there is in the 117th Psalm, (Ps. 118:25) Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord, which in the Hebrew is Hosanna.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) But Hosanna is a Hebrew word, made out of two, one imperfect the other perfect. For save, or preserve, is in their language, hosy; but anna is a supplicatory interjection, as in Latin heu is an exclamation of grief.
PSEUDO-JEROME. They cry out Hosanna, that is save us, that men might be saved by Him who was blessed, and was a conqueror and came in the name of the Lord, that is, of His Father, since the Father is so called because of the Son, and the Son, because of the Father.
PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Cat. in Marc. Oxon.) Thus then they give glory to God, saying, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. They also bless the kingdom of Christ, saying, Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, which cometh.
THEOPHYLACT. But they called the kingdom of Christ, that of David, both because Christ was descended from the seed of David, and because David means a man of a strong hand. For whose hand is stronger than the Lord’s, by which so many and so great miracles were wrought.
PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Cat. in Marc. Oxon.) Wherefore also the prophets so often call Christ by the name of David, on account of the descent according to the flesh of Christ from David.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Now we read in the Gospel of John that He fled into a mountain, lest they should make him their king. Now, however, when He comes to Jerusalem to suffer, He does not shun those who call Him king, that He might openly teach them that He was King over an empire not temporal and earthly, but everlasting in the heavens, and that the path to this kingdom was through contempt of death. Observe also the agreement of the multitude with the saying of Gabriel, The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; (Luke 1:32) that is, that He Himself may call by word and deed to a heavenly kingdom the nation to which David once furnished the government of a temporal rule.
PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Cat. in Marc. Oxon.) And further, they give glory to God, when they add Hosanna in the highest, that is, praise and glory be to the God of all, Who is in the highest.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Or Hosanna, that is, save in the highest as well as in the lowest, that is, that the just be built on the ruin of Angels, and also that both those on the earth and those under the earth should be saved. In a mystical sense, also, the Lord approaches Jerusalem, which is ‘the vision of peace,’ in which happiness remains fixed and unmoved, being, as the Apostle says, the mother of all believers. (Gal. 4:26)
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Bethany again means the house of obedience, because by teaching many before His Passion, he made for Himself a house of obedience; and it is said to be placed on the mount of Olives, because He cherishes His Church with the unction of spiritual gifts, and with the light of piety and knowledge. But He sent His disciples to a hold1, which was over against them, that is, He appointed doctors to penetrate into the ignorant parts of the whole world, into, as it were, the walls of the hold placed against them.
PSEUDO-JEROME. The disciples of Christ are called two by two, and sent two by two, since charity implies more than one, as it is written, Woe to him that is alone. (Eccl. 4:10) Two persons lead the Israelites out of Egypt: two bring down the bunch of grapes from the Holy Land, that men in authority might ever join together activity and knowledge, and bring forward two commandments from the Two Tables, and be washed from two fountains, and carry the ark of the Lord on two poles, and know the Lord between the two Cherubim, and sing to Him with both mind and spirit.
THEOPHYLACT. The colt, however, was not necessary to Him, but He sent for it to shew that He would transfer Himself to the Gentiles.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the colt of the ass, wanton and unshackled, denotes the people of the nations, on whom no man had yet sat, because no wise doctor had, by teaching them the things of salvation, put upon them the bridle of correction, to oblige them to restrain their tongues from evil, or to compel them into the narrow path of life.
PSEUDO-JEROME. But they found the colt tied by the door without, because the Gentile people were bound by the chain of their sins before the door of faith, that is, without the Church.
AMBROSE. (in Luc. 9, 6) Or else, they found it bound before the door, because whosoever is not in Christ is without, in the way; but he who is in Christ, is not without. He has added in the way, or in a place where two ways meet, where there is no certain possession for any man, nor stall, nor food, nor stable; miserable is his service, whose rights are unfixed; for he who has not the one Master, has many. Strangers bind him that they may possess him, Christ looses him in order to keep him, for He knows that gifts are stronger ties than bonds.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, fitly did the colt stand in a place where two ways meet, because the Gentile people did not hold on in any certain road of life and faith, but followed in its error many doubtful paths of various sects.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Or, in a place where two roads meet, that is, in the freedom of will, hesitating between life and death.
THEOPHYLACT. Or else, in a place where two roads meet, that is, in this life, but it was loosed by the disciples, through faith and baptism.
PSEUDO-JEROME. But some said, What do ye? as if they would say, Who can remit sins?
THEOPHYLACT. Or else, those who prevent them are the devils, who were weaker than the Apostles.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, the masters of error, who resisted the teachers, when they came to save the Gentiles; but after that the power of the faith of the Lord appeared to believers, the faithful people were freed from the cavils of the adversaries, and were brought to the Lord, whom they bore in their hearts. But by the garments of the Apostles, which they put upon it, we may understand the teaching of virtues, or the interpretation of the Scriptures, or the various doctrines of the Church, by which they clothe the hearts of men, once naked and cold and fit them to become the seats of Christ.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Or else, they put upon it their garments, that is, they bring to them the first robe of immortality by the Sacrament of Baptism. And Jesus sat upon it, that is, began to reign in them, so that sin should not reign in their wanton flesh, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Again, many spread their garments in the way, under the feet of the foal of the ass. What are feet, but those who carry, and the least esteemed, whom the Apostle has set to judge? (v. 1 Cor. 6:4.) And these too, though they are not the back on which the Lord sat, yet are instructed by John with the soldiers.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, many strew their garments in the way, because the holy martyrs put off from themselves the garment of their own flesh, and prepare a way for the more simple servants of God with their own blood. Many also strew their garments in the way, because they tame their bodies with abstinence, that they may prepare a way for God to the mount, or may give good examples to those who follow them. And they cut down branches from the trees, who in the teaching of the truth cull the sentences of the Fathers from their words, and by their lowly preaching scatter them in the path of God, when He comes into the soul of the hearer.
THEOPHYLACT. Let us also strew the way of our life with branches which we cut from the trees, that is, imitate the saints, for these are holy trees, from which, he who imitates their virtues cuts down branches.
PSEUDO-JEROME. For the righteous shall flourish as a palm tree, straitened in their roots, but spreading out wide with flowers and fruits; for they are a good odour unto Christ, and strew the way of the commandments of God with their good report. Those who went before are the prophets, and those who followed are the Apostles.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) And because all the elect, whether those who were able to become such in Judæa, or those who now are such in the Church, believed and now believe on the Mediator between God and man, both those who go before and those who follow cried out Hosanna.
THEOPHYLACT. But both those of our deeds which go before and those which follow after must be done to the glory of God; for some in their past life make a good beginning, but their following life does not correspond with their former, neither does it end to the glory of God.
11. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
12. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) As the time of His Passion approached, the Lord wished to approach to the place of His Passion, in order to intimate that He underwent death of His own accord: wherefore it is said, And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple. And by His going to the temple on first entering the city, He shews us beforehand a form of religion, which we are to follow, that if by chance we enter a place, where there is a house of prayer, we should first turn aside to it. We should also understand from this, that such was the poverty of the Lord, and so far was He from flattering man, that in so large a city, He found no one to be His host, no abiding place, but lived in a small country place with Lazarus and his sisters; for Bethany is a hamlet of the Jews. Wherefore there follows: And when he had looked round about upon all things, (that is, to see whether any one would take Him in,) and now the eventide was come, he went out into Bethany with the twelve. Nor did He do this once only, but during all the five days, from the time that He came to Jerusalem, to the day of His Passion, He used always to do the same thing; during the day He taught in the temple, but at night, He went out and dwelt in the mount of Olives. It goes on, And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry.
CHRYSOSTOM. (in Matt. Hom. 67) How is it that He was hungry in the morning, as Matthew says, if it were not that by an economy He permitted it to His flesh? There follows, And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon. Now it is evident that this expresses a conjecture of the disciples, who thought that it was for this reason that Christ came to the fig tree, and that it was cursed, because He found no fruit upon it. For it goes on: And when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. He therefore curses the fig tree for His disciples sake, that they might have faith in Him. For He every where distributed blessings, and punished no one, yet at the same time, it was right to give them a proof of His chastising power, that they might learn that He could even cause the persecuting Jews to wither away; He was however unwilling to give this proof on men, wherefore He shewed them on a plant a sign of His power of punishing. This proves that He came to the fig tree principally for this reason, and not on account of His hunger, for who is so silly as to suppose that in the morning He felt so greatly the pains of hunger, or what prevented the Lord from eating before He left Bethany? Nor can it be said that the sight of the figs excited His appetite to hunger, for it was not the season of figs; and if He were hungry, why did He not seek food elsewhere, rather than from a fig-tree which could not yield fruit before its time? What punishment also did a fig tree deserve for not having fruit before its time? From all this then we may infer, that He wished to shew His power, that their minds might not be broken by His Passion.
THEOPHYLACT. Wishing to shew His disciples that if He chose He could in a moment exterminate those who were about to crucify Him. In a mystical sense, however, the Lord entered into the temple, but came out of it again, to shew that He left it desolate, and open to the spoiler.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Farther, He looks round about upon the hearts of all, and when in those who opposed the truth, He found no place to lay His head, He retires to the faithful, and takes up His abode with those who obey Him. For Bethany means the house of obedience.
PSEUDO-JEROME. He went in the morning to the Jews, and visits us in the eventide of the world.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Just in the same way as He speaks parables, so also His deeds are parables; therefore He comes hungry to seek fruit off the fig tree, and though He knew the time of figs was not yet, He condemns it to perpetual barrenness, that He might shew that the Jewish people could not be saved through the leaves, that is, the words of righteousness which it had, without fruit, that is, good works, but should be cut down and cast into the fire. Hungering therefore, that is, desiring the salvation of mankind, He saw the fig tree, which is, the Jewish people, having leaves, or, the words of the Law and the Prophets, and He sought upon it the fruit of good works, by teaching them, by rebuking them, by working miracles, and He found it not, and therefore condemned it. Do thou too, unless thou wouldest be condemned by Christ in the judgment, beware of being a barren tree, but rather offer to Christ the fruit of piety which He requires.
CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) We may also say, in another sense, that the Lord sought for fruit on the fig tree before its time, and not finding it, cursed it, because all who fulfil the commandments of the Law, are said to bear fruit in their own time, as, for instance, that commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but he who not only abstains from adultery but remains a virgin, which is a greater thing, excels them in virtue. But the Lord exacts from the perfect not only the observance of virtue, but also that they bear fruit over and above the commandments.
15. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16. And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18. And the Scribes and Chief Priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) What the Lord had done in figure, when He cursed the barren fig tree, He now shews more openly, by casting out the wicked from the temple. For the fig tree was not in fault, in not having fruit before its time, but the priests were blameable; wherefore it is said, And they come to Jerusalem; and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple. Nevertheless, it is probable that He found them buying and selling in the temple things which were necessary for its ministry. If then the Lord forbids men to carry on in the temple worldly matters, which they might freely do any where else, how much more do they deserve a greater portion of the anger of Heaven, who carry on in the temple consecrated to Him those things, which are unlawful wherever they may be done. It goes on: and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.
THEOPHYLACT. He calls moneychangers, changers of a particular sort of money, for the word means a small brass coin. There follows, and the seats of them that sold doves.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Because the Holy Spirit appeared over the Lord in the shape of a dove, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are fitly pointed out under the name of doves. The Dove therefore is sold, when the laying on of hands by which the Holy Spirit is received is sold for a price. Again, He overturns the seats of them who sell doves, because they who sell spiritual grace, are deprived of their priesthood, either before men, or in the eyes of God.
THEOPHYLACT. But if a man by sinning gives up to the devil the grace and purity of baptism, he has sold his Dove, and for this reason is cast out of the temple. There follows, And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) He speaks of those vessels which were carried there for the purpose of merchandise. But God forbid that it should be taken to mean, that the Lord cast out of the temple, or forbade men to bring into it, the vessels consecrated to God; for here He shews a type of the judgment to come, for He thrusts away the wicked from the Church, and restrains them by His everlasting word from ever again coming in to trouble the Church. Furthermore, sorrow, sent into the heart from above, takes away from the souls of the faithful those sins which were in them, and Divine grace assists them so that they should never again commit them. It goes on: And he taught, saying unto them, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer. (Isa. 56:7)
PSEUDO-JEROME. According to Isaiah: But ye have made it a den of thieves, (Jer. 7:11) according to Jeremiah.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) He says, to all nations, not to the Jewish nation alone, nor in the city of Jerusalem alone, but over the whole world; and he does not say a house of bulls, goats, and rams, but of prayer.
THEOPHYLACT. Further, He calls the temple, a den of thieves, on account of the money gained there; for thieves always troop together for gain. Since then they sold those animals which were offered in sacrifice for the sake of gain, He called them thieves.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) For they were in the temple for this purpose, either that they might persecute with corporal pains those who did not bring gifts, or spiritually kill those who did. The mind and conscience of the faithful is also the temple and the house of God, but if it puts forth perverse thoughts, to the hurt of any one, it may be said that thieves haunt it as a den; therefore the mind of the faithful becomes the den of a thief, when leaving the simplicity of holiness, it plans that which may hurt others.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. lib. ii. 67) John, however, relates this in a very different order, wherefore it is manifest that not once only, but twice, this was done by the Lord, and that the first time was related by John, this last, by all the other three.
THEOPHYLACT. Which also turns to the greater condemnation of the Jews, because though the Lord did this so many times, nevertheless they did not correct their conduct.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. lib. ii. 68) In this again Mark does not keep the same order as Matthew; because however Matthew connects the facts together by this sentence, And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany, (Matt. 21:17) returning from whence in the morning, according to his relation, Christ cursed the tree, therefore it is supposed with greater probability that he rather has kept to the order of time, as to the ejection from the temple of the buyers and sellers. Mark therefore passed over what was done the first day when He entered into the temple, and on remembering it inserted it, when he had said that He found nothing on the fig tree but leaves, which was done on the second day, as both testify.
GLOSS. (non occ.) But the Evangelist shews what effect the correction of the Lord had on the ministers of the temple, when he adds: And the Scribes and Chief Priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him; according to that saying of Amos: They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos 5:10) From this wicked design, however, they were kept back for a time solely by fear. Wherefore it is added, For they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees, as is said elsewhere.
19. And when even was come, he went out of the city.
20. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
PSEUDO-JEROME. The Lord, leaving darkness behind Him in the hearts of the Jews, went out, as the sun, from that city to another which is well-disposed and obedient. And this is what is meant, when it is said, And when even was come, he went out of the city. But the sun sets in one place, rises in another, for the light, taken from the Scribes, shines in the Apostles; wherefore He returns into the city; on which account there is added, And in the morning, as they passed by, (that is, going into the city,) they saw the fig tree dried up from the root.
THEOPHYLACT. The greatness of the miracle appears in the drying up so juicy and green a tree. But though Matthew says that the fig tree was at once dried up, and that the disciples on seeing it wondered, there is no reason for perplexity, though Mark now says, that the disciples saw the fig tree dried up on the morrow; for what Matthew says must be understood to mean that they did not see it at once, but on the next day.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 68) The meaning is not that it dried up at the time, when they saw it, but immediately after the word of the Lord; for they saw it, not beginning to dry up, but completely dried up; and they thus understood that it had withered immediately after our Lord spoke.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Now the fig tree withered from the roots is the synagogue withered from Cain, and the rest, from whom all the blood from Abel up to Zechariah is required.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Further, the fig tree was dried up from the roots to shew that the nation was impious not only for a time and in part, and was to be smitten for ever, not merely to be afflicted by the attacks of nations from without and then to be freed, as had often been done; or else it was dried up from the roots, to shew that it was stripped not only of the external favour of man, but altogether of the favour of heaven within it; for it lost both its life in heaven, and its country on earth.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Peter perceives the dry root, which is cut off, and has been replaced by the beautiful and fruitful olive, called by the Lord; wherefore it goes on: And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) The wonder of the disciples was the consequence of imperfect faith, for this was no great thing for God to do; since then they did not clearly know His power, their ignorance made them break out into wonder; and therefore it is added, And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, &c. That is; Thou shalt not only be able to dry up a tree, but also to change a mountain by thy command and order.
THEOPHYLACT. Consider the Divine mercy, how it confers on us, if we approach Him in faith, the power of miracles, which He Himself possesses by nature, so that we should be able even to change mountains.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The Gentiles, who have attacked the Church, are in the habit of objecting to us, that we have never had full faith in God, for we have never been able to change mountains. 1It could, however, be done, if necessity called for it, as once we read that it was done by the prayers of the blessed Father Gregory of Neocæsarea, Bishop of Pontus, by which a mountain left as much space of ground for the inhabitants of a city as they wanted.
CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) Or else, as He did not dry up the fig tree for its own sake, but for a sign that Jerusalem should come to destruction, in order to shew His power, in the same way we must also understand the promise concerning the mountain, though a removal of this sort is not impossible with God.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Christ then who is the mountain, which grew from the stone, cut out without hands, is taken up and cast into the sea, when the Apostles with justice say, Let us turn ourselves to other nations, since ye judged yourselves unworthy of hearing the word of God. (Acts 13:46)
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, because the devil is often on account of his pride called by the name of a mountain, this mountain, at the command of those who are strong in the faith, is taken up from the earth and cast into the sea, whenever, at the preaching of the word of God by the holy doctors, the unclean spirit is expelled from the hearts of those who are fore-ordained to life, and is allowed to exert the tyranny of his power over the troubled and embittered souls of the faithless. At which time, he rages the more fiercely, the more he grieves at being turned away from hurting the faithful. It goes on: Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
THEOPHYLACT. For whosoever sincerely believes evidently lifts up his heart to God, and is joined to Him, and his burning heart feels sure that he has received what he asked for, which he who has experienced will understand; and those persons appear to me to experience this, who attend to the measure and the manner of their prayers. For this reason the Lord says, Ye shall receive whatsoever ye ask in faith; for he who believes that he is altogether in the hands of God, and interceding with tears, feels that he as it were has hold of the feet of the Lord in prayer, he shall receive what he has rightly asked for. Again, would you in another way receive what you ask for? Forgive your brother, if he has in any way sinned against you; this is also what is added: And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Mark has, as he is wont, expressed seven verses of the Lord’s prayer in one prayer. But what can he, whose sins are all forgiven, require more, save that he may persevere in what has been granted unto him.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) But we must observe that there is a difference in those who pray; he who has perfect faith, which worketh by love, can by his prayer or even his command remove spiritual mountains, as Paul did with Elymas the sorcerer. But let those who are unable to mount up to such a height1 of perfection pray that their sins should be forgiven them, and they shall obtain what they pray for, provided that they themselves first forgive those who have sinned against them. If however they disdain to do this, not only shall they be unable to perform miracles by their prayers, but they shall not even be able to obtain pardon for their sins, which is implied in what follows; But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
27. And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
28. And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
29. And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32. But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
THEOPHYLACT. They were angry with the Lord, for having cast out of the temple those who had made it a place of merchandize, and therefore they come up to Him, to question and tempt Him. Wherefore it is said: And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders, and say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee authority to do these things? As if they had said, Who art thou that doest these things? Dost thou make thyself a doctor, and ordain thyself Chief Priest?
BEDE. (ubi sup.) And indeed, when they say, By what authority doest thou these things, they doubt its being the power of God, and wish it to be understood that what He did was the devil’s work. When they add also, Who gave thee this authority, they evidently deny that He is the Son of God, since they believe that He works miracles, not by His own but by another’s power.
THEOPHYLACT. Further, they said this, thinking to bring Him to judgment, so that if He said, by mine own power, they might lay hold upon Him; but if He said, by the power of another, they might make the people leave Him, for they believed Him to be God. But the Lord asks them concerning John, not without a reason, nor in a sophistical way, but because John had borne witness of Him. Wherefore there follows: And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The Lord might indeed have confuted the cavils of his tempters by a direct answer, but prudently puts them a question, that they might be condemned either by their silence or their speaking, which is evident from what is added, And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? As if He had said, He whom you confess to have had his prophecy from heaven bore testimony of Me, and ye have heard from him, by what authority I do these things. It goes on: But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people. They saw then that whatever they answered, they should fall into a snare; fearing to be stoned, they feared still more the confession of the truth. Wherefore it goes on: And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell.
PSEUDO-JEROME. They envied the Lamp, and were in the dark, wherefore it is said, I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed; his enemies will I clothe with shame. (Ps. 132:17, 18) There follows: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) As if He had said, I will not tell you what I know, since ye will not confess what ye know. Further, we must observe that knowledge is hidden from those who seek it, principally for two reasons, namely, when he who seeks for it either has not sufficient capacity to understand what he seeks for, or when through contempt for the truth, or some other reason, he is unworthy of having that for which he seeks opened to him.