Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. What
sinner can despair when he sees the Saviour of mankind seeking to save him; when he beholds even a publican and a rich man,
at the same time, who, as our Saviour informs us in another place, are so seldom truly converted, brought to the light of
faith, and the grace of a true conversion! (St. Ambrose) --- Zacheus (who as a farmer of the customs, not a collector, as
some falsely imagine) immediately hearkened to the interior voice of the Almighty, calling him to repentance; he made no delay,
and therefore deserved immediately not only to see, but to eat, drink, and converse with Jesus. (St. Cyril) --- Behold here
the three steps of his conversion: 1. an ardent desire of seeing Jesus; 2. the honourable reception he gave him in his house;
3. the complete restitution of all ill-acquired property.
Ver. 9. Zacheus
is here styled a son of Abraham; i.e. his spiritual son, a partaker of the promises made to Abraham concerning the Messias:
not that he was actually born of his seed, but because he imitated his faith; and as Abraham at the voice of God, left the
land and house of his father; so Zacheus renounced his goods and possessions, by giving them to the poor. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 11. That
the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested. The disciples were full of the expectation of the temporal kingdom
of the Messias, though he had divers times told them he was to suffer and die on a cross. (Witham) --- Notwithstanding all
that Jesus had said to them about his kingdom, his death, his consummation, and resurrection, they still believed that the
kingdom of God was going to be manifested, and that Jesus, in this journey, would make himself be acknowledged king by the
whole nation of the Jews. They could not lay aside the ideas they had formed of the personal and temporal reign of the Messias.
Every thing which they could not reconcile with this standard, was completely impenetrable to them. It was a language they
could not comprehend. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. This
parable is an exact prophetic history of what happened to Archelaus Antipas, son of Herod the great, about thirty-six years
afterwards. Judea being then tributary, he was obliged to go to Rome to receive his kingdom from the hands of the emperor
Augustus. The Jews, who hated him for his cruelty, sent an embassy to the emperor, to accuse him of many crimes, and disappoint
him in his hopes of gaining his crown. But Augustus confirmed it to him, and sent him back to reign in Judea, where he revenged
himself on those who had opposed his pretensions. With regard to the instruction, which is meant to be conveyed by this parable;
this nobleman is the Son of God, who came among the Jews to take possession of the kingdom, which was his due. But being rejected
and treated unworthily, and even put to a disgraceful death on the cross, he will one day come again, armed with vengeance,
and inflict the effects of his anger upon them. This was partly fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, and will be completed
at the general judgment. (Calmet) (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 13. Ten
pieces of money, each of which was called a mna. To translate pounds, gives the English reader a false notion,
the Roman coin called a mna not corresponding to our pound. (Witham) --- A mna was 12½ ounces, which, at five
shillings per ounce, is £3 2s. 6d.
Ver. 19. All
the disciples of Christ have not the same degree of honour in this world, nor in the next; because all do not make an equal
use of the graces they receive. Some are in the first rank, as apostles; then those, to whom the gift of prophecy has been
committed; then doctors, &c. each exalted according to his merit. For there are many mansions, and many degrees of glory,
in the house of the heavenly Father. (Calmet) --- For there is one brightness of the sun, another of the moon, and another
of the stars; for star differeth from star in brightness. (1 Corinthians xv. 41.)
Ver. 34. It
may here be asked, how the owners of the colt knew who the Lord was, of whom the disciples spoke? It may be answered,
that perhaps they had already heard that Jesus of Nazareth, who the Jews thought was to be their temporal king, was coming
about that time to Jerusalem, and that they saw from their dress, or other external marks, that they were the disciples of
Ver. 40. The
stones. This is a proverb, as if he had said: God has resolved to glorify me this day, in order to fulfil the prophecies.
Nothing can hinder the execution of his decrees; if men were silent, he would make even the stones to speak. (Calmet) ---
At the crucifixion of our Redeemer, when his friends were silent through fear, the very stones and rocks spoke in his defence.
Immediately after he expired, the earth was moved, the rocks split, and the monuments of the dead opened. (Ven. Bede) ---
Nor is it any wonder if, contrary to nature, the rocks bespeak the praises of the Lord, since he was even praised by a multitude,
much more insensible than the rocks themselves, in crucifying him only a few days after, whom they now salute with Hosannahs
of joy. (St. Ambrose)
Ver. 41. He
wept. St. Epiphanius tells us, that some of the orthodox of his time, offended at these words, omitted them in their copies,
as if to shed tears, were a weakness unworthy of Christ: but this true reading of the evangelist is found in all copies, and
received by all the faithful; and the liberty which those who changed them took, was too dangerous ever to be approved of
by the Church. Neither do these tears argue in Jesus Christ any thing unworthy of his supreme majesty or wisdom. Our Saviour
possessed all the human passions, but not the defects of them. The Stoics, who condemned the passions in their sages, laboured
to make statues or automata of man, not philosophers. The true philosopher moderates and governs his passions; the
Stoic labours to destroy them, but cannot effect his purpose. And when he labours to overcome one passion, he is forced
to have recourse to another for help. (Calmet) --- Our Saviour is said to have wept six times, during his life on earth: 1st,
At his birth, according to many holy doctors; 2ndly, at his circumcision, according to St. Bernard and others; 3rdly, when
he raised Lazarus to life, as is related in St. John, chap. xi.; 4thly, in his entry into Jerusalem, described in this place;
5thly, during his agony in the garden, just before his apprehension, when, as St. Luke remarks, (Chap. xxii.) his sweat
was as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground; and 6thly, during his passion, when he often wept, on account of
his great distress of mind, occasioned principally by the knowledge he had of the grievousness of men's sins, and the bad
use they would make of the redemption he was, through so many sufferings, procuring for them. (Dionysius)
Ver. 42. If
thou also hadst known. It is a broken sentence, as it were in a transport of grief; and we may understand, thou wouldst
also weep. Didst thou know, even at this day, that peace and reconciliation which God still offers to thee.
(Witham) --- What can be more tender than the apostrophe here made use of by our Saviour! Hadst thou but known, &c.
that is, didst thou but know how severe a punishment is about to be inflicted upon thee, for the numberless transgressions
of thy people, thou likewise wouldst weep; but, alas! hardened in iniquity, thou still rejoicest, ignorant of the punishment
hanging over thy head. Just men have daily occasion to bewail, like our blessed Redeemer, the blindness of the wicked, unable
to see, through their own perversity, the miserable state of their souls, and the imminent danger they are every moment exposed
to, of losing themselves for ever. Of these, Solomon cries out; (Proverbs ii. 13.) They leave the right way, and walk through
dark ways. We ought to imitate this compassion of our blessed Redeemer; and, as he wept over the calamities of the unfortunate
Jerusalem, though determined on his destruction; so we ought to bewail the sins not only of our friends, but likewise of our
enemies, and daily offer up our prayers for their conversion. (Dionysius)
Ver. 43. And
compass thee, &c. Christ's prophecy is a literal description of what happened to Jerusalem, under Titus. (Witham)
Ver. 48. All
the people, as they heard him with so great attention. So Virgil said:
----- pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore. (Witham)
--- The original Greek, exekremato autou akouon, shews how
eagerly they catched the words that dropped from his sacred lips, all enraptured with the wisdom of his answers, and the commanding
superiority of his doctrines. Seneca (Controv ix. 1.) uses a similar turn of expression: Ex vultu discentis pendent omnium
vultus. The chief priests and rulers were all apprehension lest the people, who followed Jesus with such avidity, and who
had conceived such high sentiments of his character, might prevent the execution of their murderous designs.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Zacheus entertains Christ. The parable of the pounds.
Christ rides upon an ass, and weeps over Jerusalem.
1 And entering in, he walked through Jericho.
2 And behold there was a man, by name Zacheus; and he was the chief of
the publicans, and was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus, who he was: and he could not for the crowd,
because he was low of stature.
4 And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore-tree, that he might
see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said
to him: Zacheus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide in thy house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him with joy.
7 And when they all saw it, they murmured, saying: That he was gone to
be a guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my
goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold.
9 Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house: because
he also is a son of Abraham.
10 *For the Son of man is come to seek, and to save that which was lost.
11 As they were hearing these things, he added and spoke a parable, because
he was nigh to Jerusalem: and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested.
12 He said, therefore: *A certain nobleman went into a far country, to
receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And calling his ten servants, he delivered them ten pounds, and said
to them: Trade till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him: and they sent an embassage after him,
saying: We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that he returned, having received the kingdom:
and he commanded his servants to be called, to whom he had given the money: that he might know how much every man had gained
16 And the first came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said to him: Well done, thou good servant, because thou hast
been faithful in a little, thou shalt have power over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said to him: Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying: Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I
have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up
what thou didst not lay down, and thou reapest what thou didst not sow.
22 He saith to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant.
Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping that which I did not sow:
23 And why then didst thou not give my money into the bank, that at my
coming, I might have required it with usury?
24 And he said to them that stood by: Take the pound away from him, and
give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 And they said to him: Lord, he hath ten pounds.
26 *But I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and
he shall abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath, shall be taken from him.
27 But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them,
bring them hither; and kill them before me.
28 And having said these things, he went before going up to Jerusalem.
29 *And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania,
at the mountain called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples,
30 Saying: Go ye into the town, which is over against you; entering into
it, you shall find the colt of an ass tied, on which no man ever sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
31 And if any man shall ask you: Why do you loose him? You shall say
thus unto him: Because the Lord hath need of his service.
32 And they that were sent went their way, and found the colt standing,
as he had said to them.
33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them:
Why loose you the colt?
34 But they said: Because the Lord hath need of him.
35 *And they brought him to Jesus. And casting their garments on the
colt, they set Jesus thereon.
36 And as he went, they spread their clothes underneath in the way.
37 And when he was now coming near the descent of Mount Olivet, the whole
multitude of his disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works they had seen,
38 Saying: Blessed is he who cometh king in the name of the Lord, peace
in heaven, and glory on high.
39 And some of the Pharisees, from amongst the multitude, said to him:
Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 And he said to them: I tell you, that if these shall hold their peace,
the stones will cry out.
41 And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying:
42 If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that
are for thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee; and thy enemies shall cast a trench
about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side,
44 And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee:
*and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.
45 *And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold
therein, and them that bought,
46 *Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But
you have made it a den of thieves.
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. And the chief priests, and
the Scribes, and the rulers of the people sought to destroy him:
48 And they found not what to do to him. For all the people heard him
10: Matthew xviii. 12.
12: Matthew xxv. 14.
26: Matthew xiii. 12. and xxv. 29.; Mark iv. 25.; Luke viii. 18.
29: Matthew xxi. 1.; Mark xi. 1.
35: John xii. 14.
44: Matthew xxiv. 2.; Mark xiii. 2.; Luke xxi. 6.
45: Matthew xxi. 12.; Mark xi. 15.
46: Isaias lvi. 7.; Jeremias vii. 11.