Catena Aurea Commentary with Douay Rheims Bible
13. Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
15. And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell.
16. He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises him that sent me.
AMBROSE; Our Lord warns us that they will meet with a heavier punishment who have refused to follow the Gospel than those who have chosen to break the law; saying, Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! BEDE; Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, Tiberias also which John mentions, are cities of Galilee situated on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret, which is called by the Evangelists the sea of Galilee or Tiberias. Our Lord thus mourns over these cities which after such great miracles and wonders repented not, and are worse than the Gentiles who break through the law of nature only, seeing that after despising the written law, they feared not to despise also the Son of God and His glory. Hence it follows, For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented sitting in sackcloth and ashes, &c. By sackcloth, which is woven together from the hairs of goats, he signifies a sharp remembrance of previous sin. But by ashes, he hints at the consideration of death, by which we are reduced to dust. Again, by the sitting down, he implies the lowliness of our conscience. Now we have seen in this day the word of the Savior fulfilled, since Chorazin and Bethsaida, though our Lord was as present among them, believed not, and Tyre and Sidon were friendly both to David and Solomon, and afterwards believed in the disciples of Christ who preached the Gospel there.
CHRYS. Our Lord mourns over these cities for our example, because shedding tears and bitter lamentations over those who are insensible to grief, is no slight antidote, tending both to the correction of the insensible, and to the remedy and consolation of those who mourn over them. Again, He draws them over to what is good, not only by lamenting over them, but also by alarming them. Hence it follows, But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, &c. This we ought also to listen to. For not upon them alone, but upon us also, He has passed sentence, if we receive not the guests who come to us, since He commanded them to shake off the very dust from their feet. And in another place: Now when our Lord had done many mighty works in Capernaum, and had Himself dwelt there, it seemed to be exalted above the other cities, but through unbelief fell to destruction. Hence it follows, And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell; that, in fact, the judgment might be in proportion to the honor. BEDE; This sentence admits of two meanings: Either for this reason shall you be thrust down into hell, because you proudly resisted My preaching; that in truth she might be understood to have raised herself up to heaven by her pride. Or, because you are exalted to heaven by My dwelling in you, and by My miracles, halt you be beaten with more stripes, since even these you refused to believe. And that no one should suppose that this interpretation applied only either to the cities or the persons who, seeing our Lord in the flesh despised Him, and not to all also who now despise the words of the Gospel, Ho proceeds to add these words, He that hears you, hears me. CYRIL; Whereby He teaches, that whatever is said by the holy Apostles must be received, since he who hears them hears Christ, and an inevitable punishment therefore hangs over heretics who neglect the words of the Apostles; for it follows, and he who despises you despises me. BEDE; That is, that every one indeed on hearing or despising the preaching of the Gospel might learn that he is not despising or hearing the mere individual preacher, but our Lord and Savior, nay the Father Himself; for it follows, And he that despises me, despises him that sent me. For the Master is heard in His disciple, the Father honored in His Son. AUG. But if the word of God reaches to us also, and appoints us in the Apostles place, beware of despising us, lest that reach to Him which you have done to us. BEDE; It may also be understood as follows, He who despises you, despises me, that is, he who shows not mercy to one of the least of My brethren, neither shows it to Me. But he who despises me, (refusing to believe on the Son of God,) despises him that sent me. For I and my Father are one. TITUS BOST. But at the same time He herein consoles His disciples, as if He said, Say not why are we about to suffer reproach. Let your speech be with moderation. I give you grace, upon Me your reproaches fall.