(Ezekiel) Ezechiel 34:1-11
|1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:|
|2 Son of man, prophesy concerning the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to the shepherds: Thus saith the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, that fed themselves: should not the flocks be fed by the shepherds?||Shepherds. That is, princes, magistrates, chief priests, and scribes. Ch. --- Shepherds may lawfully take milk, (1 Cor. ix. 7.) but the sheep and its wool belong to the master. W. --- Excellent instructions are here given for all in authority. C.
|3 You ate the milk, and you clothed yourselves with the wool, and you killed that which was fat: but my flock you did not feed.||Fat. Pastors often disguise the truth to flatter the rich, or the more just souls are ruined by their negligence.
|4 The weak you have not strengthened, and that which was sick you have not healed, that which was broken you have not bound up, and that which was driven away you have not brought again, neither have you sought that which was lost: but you ruled over them with rigour, and with a high hand.||Healed. God alone can restore to life. But pastors will not be excused by ignorance if they know not the maladies and the remedies of their flock. --- Hand. This was blamed in the Pharisees, and is contrary to the spirit of the gospel. Mat. xxiii. 4. 1 Pet. v. 2.
|5 And my sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd: and they became the prey of all the beasts of the field, and were scattered.||Field. The people being neglected, followed false prophets and idols. Their teachers were so far from striving to reclaim them, that they perhaps shewed them the example. C.
|6 My sheep have wandered in every mountain, and in every high hill: and my flocks mere scattered upon the face of the earth, and there was none that sought them, there was none, I say, that sought them.|
|7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:|
|8 As I live, saith the Lord God, forasmuch as my flocks have been made a spoil, and my sheep are become a prey to all the beasts of the field, because there was no shepherd: for my shepherds did not seek after my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flocks:||No shepherd. Pastors who seek only their temporal advantage, (1 Tim. vi. 5. Tit. i. 7. H.) are hirelings; and if they teach false doctrine, they are wolves. John x. W.
|9 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:|
|10 Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself come upon the shepherds, I will require my flock at their hand, and I will cause them to cease from feeding the flock any more, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more: and I will deliver my flock from their mouth, and it shall no more be meat for them.||Cease. Both the leaders and the people were led into captivity.
|11 For thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them.|
|12 As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.||Day, in persecution. I will count my sheep, lest any be lost.
|13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land: and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the habitations of the land.||Land. All this cannot be understood of the synagogue alone.
|14 I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel: there shall they rest on the green grass, and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel.|
|15 I will feed my sheep: and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.|
|16 I will seek that which was lost: and that which was driven away, I will bring again: and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong I will preserve: and I will feed them in judgment.||Preserve, (Sept. Syr.) which seems more natural than Heb. and Chal. "destroy." I will not eat them, like bad shepherds. v. 3. C. --- God and those whom he sends, will take care of the flock. Eph. iv. W.
|17 And as for you, O my flocks, thus saith the Lord God: Behold I judge between cattle and cattle, of rams and of he goats.||Cattle. The crimes of the pastors do not excuse the flock. In it there are people of different dispositions. The rich often destroy, and these are brought to an account. v. 24. C.
|18 Was it not enough for you to feed upon good pastures? but you must also tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures: and when you drank the dearest water, you troubled the rest with your feet.|
|19 And my sheep were fed with that which you had trodden with your feet: and they drank what your feet had troubled.|
|20 Therefore thus saith the Lord God to you: Behold, I myself will judge between the fat cattle and the lean.|
|21 Because you thrusted with sides and shoulders, and struck all the weak cattle with your horns, till they were scattered abroad:|
|22 I will save my flock, and it shall be no more a spoil, and I will judge between cattle and cattle.|
|23 AND I WILL SET UP ONE SHEPHERD OVER THEM, and he shall feed them, even my servant David: he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.||David; Christ, who is of the house of David. C. --- That king had been dead long before, so that no Jew or heretic can deny but that the Messias is here meant, as C. xxxvii. 24. &c. W. --- He possessed eminently all the virtues of David, and was of his seed. Zorobabel, &c. cannot be understood, as we have no proof that the governors after the captivity were chosen from the tribe of Juda. C. xxi. 27.
|24 And I the Lord will be their God: and my servant David the prince in the midst of them: I the Lord have spoken it.|
|25 And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they that dwell in the wilderness shall sleep secure in the forests.||Peace. Christ pacifies all. Rom. xv. 33. Mic. v. 5. Eph. vi. 15. --- Beasts: those who promote idolatry; or, speaking of Christians, who teach heretical doctrine and persecute the Church. C.
|26 And I will make them a blessing round about my hill: and I will send down the rain in its season, there shall be showers of blessing.||Make. Lit. "place." H. --- Sept. read not a blessing, which seems superfluous. C. --- Yet Chal. has it, and the idea is more complete. H.
|27 And the tree of the field shall yield its fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be in their land without fear: and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have broken the bonds of their yoke, and shall have delivered them out of the hand of those that rule over them.|
|28 And they shall be no more for a spoil to the nations, neither shall the beasts of the earth devour them: but they shall dwell securely without any terror.|
|29 And I will raise up for them a bud of renown: and they shall be no more consumed with famine in the land, neither shall they bear any more the reproach of the Gentiles.||A bud of renown, ( germen nominatum. ) He speaks of Christ, our Lord, the illustrious bud of the house of David, renowned over all the earth. See Jer. xxxiii. 15. Ch. --- Sept. Syr. "a plant of peace." Chal. "established." C.
|30 And they shall know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they are my people the house of Israel: saith the Lord God.|
|31 And you my flocks, the flocks of my pasture are men: and I am the Lord your God, saith the Lord God.||
What has been said of sheep (M.) relates to you. ---
Am the Lord.
This is not in Heb. or Prot. H. --- But it is found in one Heb. MS. and Sept. as this version is thus frequently confirmed. Kennicott, Dis. ii.
|1 The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.||For the kingdom. The participle for, is found in the Greek, and connects the present parable with the last verse of the preceding chapter: indeed it is a comment on that text, and describes to us the gospel dispensation. Thus the conduct of God in the choice he makes of members for his spiritual kingdom, the Church, and of his elect for the kingdom of heaven, is not unlike that of the father of a family, who hires workmen to labour in his vineyard. There are various opinions respecting who are meant by the first , and by the last, in this parable. Many of the fathers suppose that the saints of different states and degrees are here designed, whose reward will suffer no diminution from the circumstances of their having come to the service of Christ at a late age of the world, according to SS. Hilary, Gregory, and Theophylactus; or, at a late age of life, according to SS. Basil, Jerom, and Fulgentius. In the latter case, however, we must understand that their
greater fervour in co-operating with divine grace, in the latter part of their life, has supplied and compensated for the defect of their preceding negligence; hence it may sometimes happen that the reward of such as enter late in life on the service of God, will exceed that of the less fervent who have entered at an earlier period. But as Christ rather seems to speak here of his militant than his triumphant Church, many commentators explain the parable of the Jews and Gentiles. For the Jews, after bearing the yoke of the Mosaic law for so many ages, received nothing more than what was promised to the observance of that law; whilst Christians receive a more plentiful reward for their more easy labour under the sweet yoke of the gospel. In which sense Christ says to the Jews, Luke xiii. 29: Publicans and harlots shall go before you into the kingdom of heaven. "And, strangers shall come from the east, and from the west, and the north, and the south, and shall sit down in
the kingdom of God. And behold they are last that shall be first, and they are first that shall be last." Ibid. 30. — Hence the Jews may be supposed to murmur, that they who are first in their vocation to be the people of God, and first in the observance of his law, should not be preferred to others, who in these respects have been far posterior to them. T. — By the vineyard, says S. Chrysostom, we here understand, the commandments of God. The time for labour is the present life. In the first, third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, i.e. in infancy, youth, manhood, declining years, and extreme decrepitude of age, many individuals, yielding to the effective call of God, labour in the exact performance of the divine commandments. Hom. lxv.
|2 And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.||The Roman penny, or denarius, was the 8th part of an ounce; which, at the rate of 5s. per ounce, is 7½d. It is put here for the usual hire of a day-labourer.
|3 And going about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle.||About the third hour. As the Jews divided their nights into four watches, each watch comprehending three hours, so they divided their days into four greater hours, from sunrise to sunset, and each of these great hours contained three lesser hours; so that the whole day from sunrise to sunset, consisted of 12 hours, as also did the night. The first of the great hours, comprehending the three first lesser hours, contained half of the space betwixt the rising of the sun and mid-day; and the end of this time was called the third hour. The next great hour was from that time till mid-day, called the sixth hour. The following great hour contained half of the time betwixt noon and the setting of the sun, the end of which was called the ninth hour. The fourth great hour comprehended the last three lesser hours remaining till sunset, so that at the end of the eleventh hour, mentioned here, v. 6, began the last lesser hour of the twelve hours of the day; of
which our Saviour said, (Jo. xi. 9,) are there not twelve hours in the day? — As to the moral sense of the parable, by the day is commonly expounded all the time from the creation to the end of the world, and so the third hour is reckoned from Adam to Noe; the sixth from Noe to Abraham; the ninth from Abraham to Moses; and from the ninth to the eleventh, was from Moses till Christ's coming; and the time from Christ to the end of the world, is the 12th hour. Other interpreters, by the day understand human life; and by the different hours, infancy, youth, the age of manhood, old age, and the last hour man's decrepit age. God is master and disposer of all, who by his grace calls some sooner, some later. The market-place, in which men are so often found idle, as to the great concern of their eternal salvation, is the world. The design of this parable was to
shew that the Gentiles, though called later than the Jews, should be made partakers of the promises made to the Jews; this is also the meaning of verse 16, where it is said: the last shall be first, and the first last. Wi.
|4 And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.||I will give you what shall be just. The prospect of a reward is therefore a good motive, authorized here by Christ himself.
|5 And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.|
|6 But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?|
|7 They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard.||No man hath hired us. S. Chrys. again puts us in mind, that in parables all the parts are not significant, but some things are to be taken as mere ornaments of parabolical discourses, as here murmurings, which cannot be found in heaven: nor can men pretend they are not hired into God's service; God hath given lights, called, hired, and promised heaven to all. The rewards in heaven are also different. And they who are last called, if they labour with greater fervour, may deserve a greater reward than others called before them. Wi. — The Greek text finishes with, you shall receive what is reasonable. — We must observe here, says S. Chrys. on the words, because no man hath hired us, that this is the voice of the labourers only, in excuse for their not having entered upon their work before this late hour; for the master of the vineyard had shewn his willingness to hire them all, by going out early for that purpose. Though the fault was their own, he does
not upbraid them, but abstains from all harshness and severity, that he may the more easily engage them. Hom. lxv.
|8 And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.|
|9 When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.|
|10 But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny.|
|11 And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,||And when they received it. By those who laboured all the day in the vineyard, we are to understand such as have spent their whole lives in the service of God; but we are not thence to infer, that in the kingdom of heaven, where all receive their just reward, there is envy, discontent, or any complaint. By these words, Christ wishes to convey to our minds an idea of the immense honours that will be heaped upon all such as return with sincerity, though at the decline or even verge of life, to the Almighty. So exceeding great will be their reward, that it would excite envy, were it possible, even in the elect. S. Chrys. hom. lxv.
|12 Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.|
|13 But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?|
|14 Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.||I will also give. Some are called to the service of their God, and to a life of virtue, from their infancy, whilst others, by a powerful call from above, are converted late in life, that the former may have no occasion to glory in themselves, or to despise those who, even in the 11th hour, enter upon the path of rectitude; and that all might learn that there is time sufficient, however short, left them to repair by their diligence and fervour their past losses. S. Chry. hom. lxv. — Jesus Christ does not count so much the number of years, as the fervour and diligence we employ in his service. Calvin is rather unhappy in his choice of this parable to prove his favourite tenet, that salvation is not the reward of good works, but of faith alone, or predestination, since Jesus Christ represents heaven as given wholly as a just reward of meritorious labour in the vineyard, though some labour a shorter, and others a longer time, and God of his great goodness may give more to some than
to others, while to all He gives at least their due. And a truly humble Christian will be ever satisfied with his lot, without envying that of others. A. — As star differeth from star in glory in the firmament, (1 Cor. xv. 41,) so will there be different degrees of glory in heaven. S. Aug. de virgin. c. xxvi.
|15 Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good?|
|16 So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.||Few chosen: only such as have not despised their caller, but followed and believed him; for men believed not, but of their own free will. S. Aug. l. i, ad Simplic. q. ii. B. — Hence the rejection of the Jews and of negligent Christians, and the conversion of strangers, who come and take their place, by a conversion both of faith and morals. On the part of God all are called. Mat. xi. 28. Come to me all, &c. In effect, many after their call, have attained to faith and justification; but few in comparison are elected to eternal glory, because the far greater part do not obey the call, but refuse to come, whilst many of those who come fall away again; and thus very few, in comparison with those that perish, will at the last day be selected for eternal glory. T.
|17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said to them:|
|18 Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death.||Behold we go, &c. Jesus here, for the third time, foretells his death; (the first time, Mat. xvi. 21; the second time, Mat. xvii. 21.) Our salvation and happiness are owing to the death of Christ; neither is there any thing that more loudly calls for our gratitude than his sufferings and death. Jesus takes the 12 apart, and reveals to them the mystery of his passion. He had previously declared it in public, but in ambiguous terms, saying: destroy this temple, &c. A sign shall not be given, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; but here he manifestly expounds to his disciples the mystery: behold we go up to Jerusalem, &c. This discourse of our Saviour is remarkable for an energetic strength of expression. S. Chrys. — Jesus had repeatedly spoken to his apostles of his passion; but as much of what he had said had escaped their memory, now that he is upon the road to Jerusalem in company with his disciples, he brings it back to their recollection, to
fortify them against the scandal they might take at his ignominious death. S. Jerom.
|19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified, and the third day he shall rise again.||The third day he shall rise again. We may take notice, that as often as Christ mentioned his sufferings and death, he also joined his resurrection, that they might take notice, and not lose their faith. Wi. — Like the rest of the Jews, the apostles were so fully prepossessed with the idea that the Messias would be immortal, that they could not understand what Jesus Christ said to them. He, however, did reveal these things, that, on a future day, recollecting how their Lord and Master had foreseen and foretold to them the most material circumstances relating to his passion and death, they might believe more firmly in him, and be convinced that he suffered of his own free choice. A.
|20 Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, adoring and asking something of him.||Then came to him. Upon Christ's informing his apostles that he should die and rise again, they conceived that he would immediately reign in Jerusalem with great glory and power; and it was this made the mother of the sons of Zebedee petition that they might take precedence, and be honoured by the other apostles. But Christ answers them that they knew not what they asked, for honours were to be bestowed not on relationship, but on merit: in like manner, the dignities of the Church are not to be conferred upon relatives, but upon the worthy. Nic. de Lyran. — On comparing the 27th chapter of S. Mat. with the 15th of S. Mark, it will appear that she was the same as Salome. — In S. Mark x. 35, we find that the sons themselves made this petition: both the sons and their mother might make it; at least the sons may be said to have done what they got their mother to desire for them; and therefore Christ directed his answer to them: you know not what you ask. You think, says S.
Chrys. of temporal preferments, of honours, and crowns, when you should be preparing yourselves for conflicts and battles. Wi. — Our Lord suffers these occasional weaknesses in his apostles, that he might, from his instructions and corrections, render his doctrines more intelligible to them and to posterity. S. Jer.
|21 Who said to her: What wilt thou? She saith to him: Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom.|
|22 And Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They say to him: We can.||The chalice. It is a metaphor signifying Christ's sufferings and death. See Psal. x. 7. and lxxiv. 9. Isai. li. 17. The apostles replied, we can drink thy cup. Their answer shewed their readiness, but want of humility. Wi.
|23 He saith to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand, is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father.||Of my chalice indeed you shall drink. S. James was the first apostle that suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem. Acts xii. 2. And S. John at Rome was put into a cauldron of boiling oil, and banished into Patmos. — Is not mine to give you.  The Arians objected these words against Christ's divinity. S. Aug. answers that the words are true if taken of Christ, as he was man. The easier answer is, that it was not his to give to them, while they were in those dispositions of pride and ambition. So that the distinction made, is not betwixt the Father and his eternal Son, as if the Father could give what the Son could not, but betwixt persons worthy, and not worthy of such a favour. It is true the word you, is now wanting in the Greek MSS. and must have been wanting in some of them in the fourth, or at least the fifth century, since we find them not in S. Chrysostom. S. Aug. also in one place omits it, but sometimes lays great stress upon it; Christ's meaning
being no more, than that heaven was not his to give them; that is, to the proud, &c. S. Amb. reads it; and what is still of greater weight, S. Jerom hath it in the text of the New Testament, which he corrected from the best Greek MSS. Wi. — In your present state there is no exception of persons with God; for, whosoever is worthy of heaven, shall receive it as the reward of his merits. Therefore Christ answers them, it is not mine to bestow the kingdom of heaven upon you, because you are not yet deserving, on account of your pride in seeking to have yourselves preferred before my other apostles. But be ye humble, and heaven is prepared for you, as well as for all others, who are properly disposed. Nic. de Lyra. — Greatness in the next life will be proportioned to humility in this.
|24 And the ten hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren.||The ten . . . were moved with indignation against the two brothers, who had petitioned for the first and chief places. Wi. — The disciples understood from our Lord's answer, that the request came in the first instance from the two disciples; but as they saw them much honoured by Christ, they did not dare openly to accuse them. S. Chry. — The other ten apostles were as much wrong in their anger and jealousy as the former two were in their untimely petition. In his answer to both, we cannot sufficiently admire the wonderful meekness of our blessed Saviour's character. Jansenius.
|25 But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them.||Princes of the Gentiles lord it over them: tyrannize over those that are under them, by arbitrary and violent proceedings. Wi. — Our Lord wishing to extinguish the indignation conceived against the two brothers, lays before them the difference of secular and ecclesiastical princes, shewing that precedency in the Church is neither to be sought for by him who is not possessed of it, nor too eagerly loved by him who has it; for secular princes are lords of their subjects, keeping them under subjection, and govern them in every particular according to their will; but ecclesiastical princes are honoured with precedency, that they may be servants of their inferiors, administer to them whatever they have received from Christ, neglect their own convenience for the good of their neighbour, and be willing even to die for the spiritual good of their subjects. It is neither just nor reasonable, therefore, to desire precedency in the Church, without these qualifications. No prudent man is
willing to subject himself to such servitude and danger, as to take upon himself the obligation of having to give an account of the wickedness and perversity of others, unless fearless of the divine judgments, he abuse his ecclesiastical superiority. S. Chrys.
|26 It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister:|
|27 And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant.|
|28 Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many.||A redemption for many; i.e. for all, as it is sometimes the style of the Scriptures. See S. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 6. Wi. — Certain Puritans pretend from this part of holy Scripture, that all superiority is forbidden; but it is merely pride, ambition, and haughtiness, not superiority, that is here proscribed. Jesus Christ himself, as Son of man, was their and our Superior, Lord, and Master, notwithstanding his humility. B. — For the divine appointment of both civil and ecclesiastical government, see Rom. xiii. 2. and 1 Cor. xii. 28. Heb. c. xiii. 7, 17.
|29 And when they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.|
|30 And behold two blind men sitting by the way side, heard that Jesus passed by, and they cried out, saying: O Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on us.||Two blind men. S. Mark, (x. 46.) when he seems to relate the same passage, mentions but one, called Bartimeus; perhaps because he was the more famous of the two. Wi. — These were very opportunely presented to our Lord, that they might go up to Jerusalem with him, after they had received sight from his divine hands, and appear there as witnesses of the divinity of his mission. S. Chrys. hom. lxvi, in Matt. — We may here consider, if the blindness of the body be looked upon as a very great misfortune, how much greater must be the darkness of the soul. The former is only a privation of the light of day, the other is a privation of the light of grace and glory. The light of this world, though a great blessing, is enjoyed in common with the brute creation; it serves only to distinguish material objects. The light which Christ communicates to the soul, enables us to know God and his sacred truths, as revealed to his holy Catholic Church; it elevates us above all inferior
creatures, it dissipates the spiritual darkness caused by sin and our unruly passions, and conducts us to the true light of eternal glory. Oh what unspeakable joy must then fill and overwhelm the elect, when in the light of God they see light itself, the bright countenance of their loving and beloved Father!!!
|31 And the multitude rebuked them that they should hold their peace. But they cried out the more, saying: O Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on us.|
|32 And Jesus stood, and called them, and said: What will ye that I do to you?|
|33 They say to him: Lord, that our eyes be opened.|
|34 And Jesus having compassion on them, touched their eyes. And immediately they saw, and followed him.|