Notes & Commentary:
As Christ had frequently denounced the destruction of the temple, his disciples, surprised that so beautiful an edifice should
be reduced to nothing, wish on that account to shew him the grandeur and magnificence of it; upon which Christ exclaimed:
There shall not remain a stone upon a stone. (Theophylactus)
Ver. 4. When
shall these things be? The miseries that took place previously to the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem,
were a figure of the extreme calamity that will happen before the last day, in the reign of Antichrist: hence Jesus Christ
speaketh indifferently of both. (Bristow)
Ver. 6. At the
destruction of Jerusalem there appeared many impostors, many who professed themselves to be the Christ, and assured the populace
that their delivery was at hand. And in the Church many heresiarchs started up, and many came in the name of Christ; the first
of these was Simon Magus, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, whom the people of Samaria received as the power and virtue
of God. But it is remarkable from the time of our Saviour's passion, when they preferred the robber Barabbas to Jesus Christ,
the Lamb of God, they had no peace or quiet in the city, but constant tumult and dissension succeeded, to the very time of
its destruction. (Ven. Bede) --- So shall many seducers come towards the end of the world, who shall make themselves authors
of sects, and shall gain many disciples: as followeth in plain words, ver. 22. of this chapter. (Bristow)
Ver. 9. In
the synagogues, or assemblies. The word is here taken for assemblies of judges, and of justice. --- For a testimony
to them; i.e. that you may bear witness of me and my doctrine, and also against them. (Witham) --- Some solicitude perhaps
had seized upon the minds of the disciples, when they were informed by their divine Master, that they should stand accused
before kings, and princes of the earth, for fear they should not be able, for want of human learning, to make a proper defence.
Our Saviour therefore says: be not thoughtful beforehand; for when we are brought to the bar in defence of our holy faith,
it is only necessary for us, under such circumstances, to make an offer of our will; Christ himself will speak for us: and
in our answers will be infused the grace of the Holy Ghost: for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Ven.
Ver. 14. Ven.
Bede here gives a beautiful illustration of this passage in a spiritual sense. When, says he, we see the abomination of desolation
standing where it ought not, that is, when we behold heresies and crimes reigning where we ought to see truth and virtue flourish,
then let those who are in Judea, such as have kept the true faith unpolluted, flee to the mountains; that is, rise to the
height of perfection; and let those who are on the house-top, those who crucifying the works of the flesh, live according
to the spirit, not descend any more to their former way of living according to the flesh. (Ven. Bede) --- If all heresies
tend to the abomination of desolation, that more particularly does which taketh away with other sacrament, and the external
worship of God, the very sacrifice of Christ's body and blood; which being taken away, as St. Cyprian remarketh, no religion
can remain. (St. Cyprian, on the supper of our Lord. Num. ii.)
Ver. 19. Jospehus,
the Jewish historian, relates the calamities that befell unhappy Jerusalem, about thirty-seven years after the death of Jesus
Christ, which verified to the very letter the prediction: there shall be such tribulations as were not from the beginning.
Ver. 20. This
may be explained in a more general sense of the persecution of Antichrist, which will be dreadful beyond description, and
executed in every part of the world. The time however allowed to him and his wicked agents to tread under foot the holy city,
(Apocalypse xi. 2.) i.e. the Church of Christ, will not extend beyond forty-two months, or three years and a half. This space
of time Christ has set apart to purify his Church, and try his servants; and therefore he allows them to fall under the power
of this merciless tyrant; and it was given unto him, says St. John, speaking of this event, to make war with the saints, and
overcome them. (Apocalypse xiii. 7.) We are admonished of the same by the prophet Daniel: (vii. 21.) I beheld, says he, and
lo that horn (Antichrist) made war against the saints, and prevailed against them; and he shall speak words against the Most
High, and shall crush the saints of the Most High ... and they shall be delivered into his hand until a time, and times, and
half a time, (Daniel vii. 25.) i.e. a year, two years, and half a year, or three years and a half, the same with St. John.
(Pastorini, p. 327 and 8.) --- St. Augustine, speaking of this dreadful period, says: this persecution will be the last; it
will happen towards the approach of the last judgment, and will fall upon the Church in every part of the world; that is,
the whole city of Christ will be persecuted by the whole city of the devil, as far as both are extended upon earth. (De civit.
lib. xx. chap. xi.) But our Saviour will put a stop to these calamities on account of his elect, unwilling that they should
be tempted above their strength; for he will descend himself from heaven, and, as St. Paul tells us, will kill the wicked
man, Antichrist, with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming.
Ver. 24. In
the day of judgment the luminaries of heaven shall be darkened, not by the privation of their light, but by the approach of
the true light of the world, i.e. the great Judge. And what cause for wonder can there be, that man should be terrified at
the thoughts of the last day, when the angelic powers shall tremble; or, how will these mortal habitations of ours stand the
shock, when the very pillars of heaven shall be moved? what will the tender osier suffer, when the lofty cedars of Paradise
bend their head! (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 32. But
how can the Son be ignorant of that last day? Were this the case, we must thence conclude that his nature was imperfect: since
he was under the necessity of a second coming, and yet was ignorant when that time should be. But we must remember,
that the meaning of this sentence is not, that Christ was really ignorant of this circumstance, but only that it was not then
a convenient time to disclose the secret. (St. Augustine) --- Not as if Christ were ignorant himself, as certain Eutychian
heretics, called Agnoitæ, held; but because he knew it not as our teacher, to teach it others, as being not expedient.
(St. Ambrose, de fide, lib. v. chap. viii.) --- The Son of God is ignorant of this day, not according to his divinity,
which sees and knows all things; but according to his humanity, which does not know it of itself, of its own light,
but by revelation which is made to it by the divinity, which is intimately united to it. In naturâ quidem divinitatis novit,
says St. Gregory, non ex naturâ humanitatis. See St. Matthew xxiv. 36.
Ver. 33. Some
will perhaps think, that it would have been much better, if the Almighty had not left the hour of death uncertain; as in that
case, they would not have been so solicitous with regard to its arrival. But St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and other saints
assure us, on the contrary, that it is a very great mercy of God to keep us in this ignorance, that we may always be prepared
for it. For, if we knew the precise period, this assurance would give occasion of living more unguardedly, and of sinning
more freely. If, with this uncertainty of the hour of our death, we live notwithstanding, so very remissly; what should we
do, were we assured that we were not to die for some years? Sts. Gregory, Augustine, and Bonaventure say, that God chose to
leave us in this uncertainty, purposely to prevent all attachment to temporal things; that, seeing every hour, nay every moment,
we may lose them, we may not be tied to them, but aspire to those we shall always possess, when once we have obtained them.
Fool, says the Son of God to the rich covetous man, (Luke xii. 20.) this night thy soul shall be required of thee, and what
then will become of all these riches thou hast amassed. (St. Bonaventure)
Ver. 35. At
even, at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning. These are generally referred to the different ages of man's
life; infancy, youth, manhood, and old age. We are exhorted to be always in readiness, for we know not at what hour the Judge
will come. (Nicholas of Lyra) --- We are taught to watch, because we are charged with the care of our soul, which is the temple
or house of God, and which is to be his temple for all eternity. (Bible de Vence)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ foretells the destruction of the temple, and the
signs that shall forerun the day of judgment.
1 And *as he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples saith
to him: Master, behold what manner of stones, and what buildings are here.
2 And Jesus answering, said to him: Seest thou all these great buildings?
*There shall not be left a stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat on the mount of Olives, over-against the temple, Peter
and James, and John and Andrew, asked him apart:
4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when
all these things shall begin to be fulfilled.
5 And Jesus answering, began to say to them: *Take heed, lest any man
6 For many shall come in my name, saying: I am he; and they shall deceive
7 And when you shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, fear ye not:
for such things must needs be: but the end is not yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
and there shall be earthquakes in places, and famines. These are the beginning of sorrows.
9 But look to yourselves. For they shall deliver you up to councils,
and in the synagogues you shall be beaten, and you shall stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony unto
10 And unto all nations the gospel must first be preached.
11 *And when they shall lead you, delivering you up, be not thoughtful
beforehand what you shall speak; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. For it is not you that speak,
but the Holy Ghost.
12 And the brother shall betray his brother unto death, and the father
his son; and children shall rise up against the parents, and shall put them to death.
13 And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake. But he that
shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved.
14 *And when you shall see the abomination of desolation, standing where
it ought not: let him that readeth, understand: then let them that are in Judea, flee to the mountains:
15 And let him that is on the house-top, not go down into the house,
nor enter therein to take any thing out of his house:
16 And let him that shall be in the field, not turn back to take up his
17 And wo to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days.
18 But pray ye, that these things happen not in winter.
19 For in those days, shall be such tribulations as were not from the
beginning of the creation which God created until now, neither shall be.
20 And unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh should be saved:
but for the sake of the elect which he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
21 *And then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ; lo, he
is there: do not believe.
22 For there will rise up false Christs, and false prophets; and they
shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 Take you heed, therefore: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24 *But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened,
and the moon shall not give her light.
25 And the stars of heaven shall be falling down, and the powers that
are in heaven, shall be moved.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with
great power and glory.
27 *And then shall he send his Angels, and shall gather together his
elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
28 Now of the fig-tree learn ye a parable. When the branch thereof is
now tender, and the leaves are come forth, you know that summer is very near:
29 So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know ye
that it is very nigh, even at the doors.
30 Amen, I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, until all
these things be done.
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
32 But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the Angels in heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father.
33 *Take ye heed, watch, and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 Even as a man who, going into a far country, left his house, and gave
authority to his servants over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye, therefore, (for you know not when the lord of the house
cometh: at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning.)
36 Lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.
1: Matthew xxiv. 1.
2: Luke xix. 44. and xxi. 6.
5: Ephesians v. 6.; 2 Thessalonians ii. 3.
11: Matthew x. 19.; Luke xii. 11. and xxi. 14.
14: Daniel ix. 27.; Matthew xxiv. 15.; Luke xxi. 20.
21: Matthew xxiv. 23.; Luke xvii. 23. and xxi. 8.
24: Isaias xiii. 10.; Ezechiel xxxii. 7.; Joel ii. 10.
27: Matthew xxiv. 31.
33: Matthew xxiv. 42.