Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 11:25-30

Ver 25. At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.26. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

Gloss, non occ.: Because the Lord knew that many would doubt respecting the foregoing matter, namely, that the Jews would not receive Christ whom the Gentile world has so willingly received, He here makes answer to their thoughts; “And Jesus answered and said, I confess unto thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”

Gloss. ord.: That is, Who makest of heaven, or leavest in earthlinees, whom Thou wilt. Or literally,

Aug., Serm., 67, 1: If Christ, from whom all sin is far, said, “I confess,” confession is not proper for the sinner only, but sometimes also for him that gives thanks. We may confess either by praising God, or by accusing ourselves. When He said, “I confess unto thee,” it is, I praise Thee, not I accuse Myself.

Jerome: Let those hear who falsely argue, that the Saviour was not born but created, how He calls His Father “Lord of heaven and earth.” For if He be a creature, and the creature can call its Maker Father, it was surely foolish here to address Him as Lord of heaven and earth, and not of Him (Christ) likewise. He gives thanks that His coming has opened to the Apostles sacraments, which the Scribes and Pharisees knew not, who seemed to themselves wise, and understanding in their own eyes; “That thou hast hid these things from the wise and understanding, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Aug.: That the wise and understanding are to be taken as the proud, Himself opens to us when He says, “and hast revealed them unto babes;” for who are “babes” but the humble?

Greg.: He says not ‘to the foolish,’ but to babes, shewing that He condemns pride, not understanding.

Chrys.: Or when He says, “The wise,” He does not speak of true wisdom, but of that which the Scribes and Pharisees seemed to have by their speech. Wherefore He said not, ‘And hast revealed them to the foolish,’ but, “to babes,” that is, uneducated, or simple; teaching us in all things to keep ourselves from pride, and to seek humility.

Hilary: The hidden things of heavenly words and their power are hid from the wise, and revealed to the babes; babes, that is, in malice, not in understanding; hid from the wise because of their presumption of their own wisdom, not because of their wisdom.

Chrys.: That it is revealed to the one is matter of joy, that it is hid from the other not of joy, but of sorrow; He does not therefore joy on this account, but He joys that these have known what the wise have not known.

Hilary: The justice of this the Lord confirms by the sentence of the Father’s will, that they who disdain to be made babes in God, should become fools in their own wisdom; and therefore He adds, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good before thee.”

Greg., Mor. xxv, 14: In which words we have a lesson of humility, that we should not rashly presume to discuss the counsels of heaven concerning the calling of some, and the rejection of others; shewing that that cannot be unrighteous which is willed by Him that is righteous.

Jerome: In these words moreover He speaks to the Father with the desire of one petitioning, that His mercy begun in the Apostles might be completed in them.

Chrys.: These things which the Lord spoke to His disciples, made them more zealous. As afterwards they thought great things of themselves, because they cast out demons, therefore He here reproves them; for what they had, was by revelation, not by their own efforts.

The Scribes who esteemed themselves wise and understanding were excluded because of their pride, and therefore He says, Since on this account the mysteries of God were hid from them, fear ye, and abide as babes, for this it is that has made you partakers in the revelation.

But as when Paul says, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” [Rom 1:28] he does not mean that God did this, but they who gave Him cause, so here, “Thou hast hid thee things from the wise and understanding.” And wherefore were they hid from them? Hear Paul speaking, “Seeking to set up their own righteousness, they were not subject to the righteousness of God.” [Rom 10:3]

Ver 27. “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”

Chrys.: Because He had said, “I confess unto thee, Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise,” that you should not suppose that He thus thanks the Father as though He Himself was excluded from this power, He adds, “All things are committed to me by my Father.” Hearing the words are committed, do not admit suspicion of any thing human, for He uses this word that you may not think there be two gods unbegotten. For at the time that He was begotten He was Lord of all.Jerome: For if we conceive of this thing according to our weakness, when he who receives begins to have, he who gives begins to be without.Or when He says, “All things are committed to him,” He may mean, not the heaven and earth and the elements, and the rest of the things which He created and made, but those who through the Son have access to the Father.Hilary: Or that we may not think that there is any thing less in Him than in God, therefore He says this.Aug., cont. Maximin. ii. 12: For if He has aught less in His power than the Father has, then all that the Father has, are not His; for by begetting Him the Father gave power to the Son, as by begetting Him He gave all things which He has in His substance to Him whom He begot of His substance.Hilary: And also in the mutual knowledge between the Father and the Son, He teaches us that there is nothing in the Son beyond what was in the Father; for it follows, “And none knoweth the Son but the Father, nor does any man know the Father but the Son.”Chrys.: By this that He only knows the Father, He shews covertly that He is of one substance with the Father. As though He had said, What wonder if I be Lord of all, when I have somewhat yet greater, namely to know the Father and to be of the same substance with Him?Hilary: For this mutual knowledge proclaims that they are of one substance, since He that should know the Son, should know the Father also in the Son, since all things were delivered to Him by the Father.Chrys.: When He says, “Neither does any know the Father but the Son,” He does not mean that all men are altogether ignorant of Him; but that none knows Him with that knowledge wherewith He knows Him; which may also be said of the Son. For it is not said of some unknown God [margin note: i.e. who was not the Creator] as Marcion declares.Aug., De Trin., i, 8: And because their substance is inseparable, it is enough sometimes to name the Father, sometimes the Son; nor is it possible to separate from either His Spirit, who is especially called the Spirit of truth.Jerome: Let the heretic Eunomius [ed. note: Eunomius, the chief of the Anomaean branch of the Arians, taught that there was no mystery about the Divine nature. He is opposed by St. Basil, and by St. Chrysostom in his Homilees on ‘the incomprehensible nature of God.’] therefore blush hereat who claims to himself such a knowledge of the Father and the Son, as they have one of another. But if he argues from what follows, and props up his madness by that, “And he to whom the Son will reveal him,” it is one thing to know what you know by equality with God, another to know it by His vouchsafing to reveal it.Aug., De Trin., vii, 3: The Father is revealed by the Son, that is, by His Word. For if the temporal and transitory word which we utter both shews itself, and what we wish to convey, how much more the Word of God by which all things were made, which so shews the Father as He is Father, because itself is the same and in the same manner as the Father.Aug., Quast Ev., i, 1: When He said, “None knoweth the Son but the Father,” He did not add, And he to whom the Father will reveal the Son. But when He said, “None knoweth the Father bet the Son,” He added, “And he to whom the Son will reveal him.”But this must not be so understood as though the Son could be known by none but by the Father only; while the Father may be known not only by the Son, but also by those to whom the Son shall reveal Him. But it is rather expressed thus, that we may understand that both the Father and the Son Himself are revealed by the Son, inasmuch as He is the light of our mind; and what is afterwards added, “And he to whom the Son will reveal,” is to be understood as spoken of the Son as well as the Father, and to refer to the whole of what had been said. For the Father declares Himself by His Word, but the Word declares not only that which is intended to be declared by it, but in declaring this declares itself.Chrys.: If then He reveals the Father, He reveals Himself also. But the one he omits as a thing manifest, but mentions the other because there might be a doubt concerning it.Herein also He instructs us that He is so one with the Father, that it is not possible for any to come to the Father, but through the Son. For this had above all things given offence, that He seemed to be against God, and therefore He strove by all means to overthrow this notion.

Ver 28. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Chrys.: By what He had said, He brought His disciples to have a desire towards Him, shewing them His unspeakable excellence; and now He invites them to Him, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”

Aug., Serm., 69, 1: Whence do we all thus labour, but that we are mortal men, bearing vessels of clay which cause us much difficulty. But if the vessels of flesh are straitened, the regions of love will be enlarged. To what end then does He say, “Come unto me,” all ye that labour, but that ye should not labour?

Hilary: He calls to Him those that were labouring under the hardships of the Law, and those who are burdened with the sins of this world.

Jerome: That the burden of sin is heavy the Prophet Zachariah bears witness, saying, that wickedness sitteth upon a talent of lead. [margin note: Zec_5:7] And the Psalmist fills it up, “Thy iniquities are grown heavy upon me.” [Psa_38:4]

Greg.: For a cruel yoke and hard weight of servitude it is to be subject to the things of time, to be ambitious of the things of earth, to cling to falling things, to seek to stand in things that stand not, to desire things that pass away, but to be unwilling to pass away with them. For while all things fly away against our wish, those things which had first harassed the mind in desire of gaining them, now oppress it with fear of losing them.

Chrys.: He said not, Come ye, this man and that man, but All whosoever are in trouble, in sorrow, or in sin, not that I may exact punishment of you, but that I may remit your sins. Come ye, not that I have need of your glory, but that I seek your salvation. “And I will refresh you;” not, I will save you, only; but that is much greater, “I will refresh you,” that is, I will set you in all quietness.

Raban.: I will not only take from you your burden, but will satisfy you with inward refreshment.

Remig.: “Come,” He says, not with the feet, but with the life, not in the body, but in faith. For that is a spiritual approach by which any man approaches God; and therefore it follows, “Take my yoke upon you.”

Raban.: The yoke of Christ is Christ’s Gospel, which joins and yokes together Jews and Gentiles in the unity of the faith. This we are commanded to take upon us, that is, to have in honour; lest perchance setting it beneath us, that is wrongly despising it, we should trample upon it with the miry feet of unholiness; wherefore He adds, “Learn of me.”

Aug., Serm., 69, 1: Not to create a world, or to do miracles in that world; but that “I am meek and lowly in heart.” Wouldest thou be great? Begin with the least. Wouldest thou build up a mighty fabric of greatness? First think of the foundation of humility; for the mightier building any seeks to raise, the deeper let him dig for his foundation. Whither is the summit of our building to rise? To the sight of God.

Raban.: We must learn then from our Saviour to be meek in temper, and lowly in mind; let us hurt none, let us despise none, and the virtues which we have shewn in deed let us retain in our heart.

Chrys.: And therefore in beginning the Divine Law He begins with humility, and sets before us a great reward, saying, “And ye shall find rest for your souls.” This is the highest reward, you shall not only be made useful to others, but shall make yourself to have peace; and He gives you the promise of it before it comes, but when it is come, you shall rejoice in perpetual rest. And that they might not be afraid because He had spoken of a burden, tberefore He adds, “For my yoke is pleasant, and my burden light.”

Hilary: He holds forth the inducements of a pleasant yoke, and a light burden, that to them that believe He may afford the knowledge of that good which He alone knoweth in the Father.

Greg., Mor., iv, 33: What burden is it to put upon the neck of our mind that He bids us shun all desire that disturbs, and turn from the toilsome paths of this world!

Hilary: And what is more pleasant than that yoke, what lighter than that burden? To be made better, to abstain from wickedness, to choose the good, and refuse the evil, to love all men, to hate none, to gain eternal things, not to be taken with things present, to be unwilling to do that to another which yourself would be pained to suffer.

Raban.: But how is Christ’s yoke pleasant, seeing it was said above, “Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life?” [Mat_7:14] That which is entered upon by a narrow entrance is in process of time made broad by the unspeakable sweetness of love.

Aug., Serm., 70, 1: So then they who with unfearing neck have submitted to the yoke of the Lord endure such hardships and dangers, that they seem to be called not from labour to rest, but from rest to labour.

But the Holy Spirit was there who, as the outward man decayed, renewed the inward man day by day, and giving a foretaste of spiritual rest in the rich pleasures of God in the hope of blessedness to come, smoothed all that seemed rough, lightened all that was heavy. Men suffer amputations and burnings, that at the price of sharper pain they may be delivered from torments less but more lasting, as boils or swellinga.

What storms and dangers will not merchants undergo that they may acquire perishing riches? Even those who love not riches endure the same hardships; but those that love them endure the same, but to them they are not hardships. For love makes right easy, and almost nought all things however dreadful and monstrous.

How much more easily then does love do that for true happiness, which avarice does for misery as far as it can?

Jerome: And how is the Gospel lighter than the Law, seeing in the Law murder and adultery, but under the Gospel anger and concupiscence also, are punished? Because by the Law many things are commanded which the Apostle fully teaches as cannot be fulfilled; by the Law works are required, by the Gospel the will is sought for, which even if it goes not into act, yet does not lose its reward.

The Gospel commands what we can do, as that we lust not; this is in our own power; the Law punishes not the will but the act, as adultery. Suppose a virgin to have been violated in time of persecution; as here was not the will she is held as a virgin under the Gospel; under the Law she is cast out as defiled.

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One Response to Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 11:25-30

  1. Pingback: Commentaries and Resources for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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