5. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,
6. And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7. And Jesus says to him, I will come and heal him.
8. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. The Lord having taught His disciples in the mount, and healed one leper at the foot of the mount, came to Capharnaum. This is a mystery, signifying that after the purification of the Jews He went to the Gentiles.
HAYMO; For Capharnaum, which is interpreted, The town of fatness, or, The field of consolation, signifies the Church, which was gathered out of the Gentiles, which is replenished with spiritual fatness, according to that, That my soul may be filled with marrow and fatness, and under the troubles of the world is comforted concerning heavenly things, according to that, Your consolations have rejoiced my soul. Hence it is said, When he had entered into Capharnaum the centurion came to him.
AUG. This centurion was of the Gentiles, for Judea had already soldiers of the Roman empire
PSEUDO-CHRYS. This centurion was the first fruits of the Gentiles, and in comparison of his faith, all the faith of the Jews was unbelief; He neither heard Christ teaching, nor saw the leper when he was cleansed, but from hearing only that he had been healed, he believed more than he heard; and so he mystically typified the Gentiles that should come, who had neither read the Law nor the Prophets concerning Christ, nor had seen Christ Himself work His miracles. He came to Him and besought Him, saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously afflicted. Mark the goodness of the centurion, who for the health of his servant was in so great haste and anxiety, as though by his death he should suffer loss, not of money, but of his well being. For he reckoned no difference between the servant and the master; their place in this world may be different, but their nature is one. Mark also his faith, in that he said not, Come and heal him, because that Christ who stood there was present in every place; and his wisdom, in that he said not, Heal him here on this spot, for he knew that He was mighty to do, wise to understand, and merciful to hearken, therefore he did but declare the sickness, leaving it to the Lord, by His merciful power to heal. And he is grievously afflicted; this shows how he loved him, for when any that we love is pained or tormented, though it be but slightly, we think him more afflicted than he really is.
RABAN. All these things he recounts with grief, that he is sick, that it is with palsy; that he is grievously afflicted therewith, the more to show the sorrow of his own heart, and to move the Lord to have mercy. In like manner ought all to feel for their servants, and to take thought for them.
CHRYS. But some say that he says these things in excuse of himself, as reasons why he did not bring the sick man himself. For it was impossible to bring one in a palsy, in great torment, and at the point to die. But I rather think it a mark of his great faith; in as much as he knew that a word alone was enough to restore the sick man, he deemed it superfluous to bring him.
HILARY; Spiritually interpreted, the Gentiles are the sick in this world, and afflicted with the diseases of sin, all their limbs being altogether unnerved, and unfit for their duties of standing and walking. The sacrament of their salvation is fulfilled in this centurion's servant, of whom it is sufficiently declared that he was the head of the Gentiles that should believe. What sort of head this is, the song of Moses in Deuteronomy teaches, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the Angels.
REMIG. Or, in the centurion are figured those of the Gentiles who first believed, and were perfect in virtue. For a centurion is one who commands a hundred soldiers; and a hundred is a perfect number. Rightly, therefore, the centurion prays for his servant, because the first fruits of the Gentiles prayed to God for the Salvation of the whole Gentile world.
JEROME; The Lord seeing the centurion's faith, humbleness, and thoughtfulness, straightway promises to go and heal him; Jesus says to him, I will come and heal him.
CHRYS. Jesus here does what He never did; He always follows the wish of the supplicant, but here He goes before it, and not only promises to heal him, but to go to his house. This He does, that we may learn the worthiness of the centurion.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. Had not he said, I will come and heal him, the other would never have answered, I am not worthy. It was because it was a servant for whom he made petition, that Christ promised to go, in order to teach us not to have respect to the great, and overlook the little, but to honor poor and rich alike.
JEROME; As we commend the centurion's faith in that he believed that the Savior was able to heal the paralytic; so his humility is seen in his professing himself unworthy that the Lord should come under his roof; as it follows, And the centurion answered and said to him, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.
RABAN. Conscious of his gentile life, he thought he should be more burdened than profited by this act of condescension from Him with whose faith he was indeed endued, but with whose sacraments he was not yet initiated.
AUG. By declaring himself unworthy, he showed himself worthy, not indeed into whose house, But into whose heart, Christ the Word of God should enter. Nor could He have said this with so much faith and humility, had he not borne in his heart Him whom he feared to have in his house. And indeed it would have been no great blessedness that Jesus should enter within his walls, if He had not already entered into his heart.
CHRYSOLOGUS. Mystically, his house was the body which contained his soul, which contains within it the freedom of the mind by a heavenly vision. But God disdains neither to inhabit flesh, nor to enter the roof of our body.
PSEUDO-ORIGEN; And now also when the heads of Churches, holy men and acceptable to God, enter your roof, then in them the Lord also enters, and do you think of yourself as receiving the Lord. And when you eat and drink the Lord's Body, then the Lord enters under your roof, and you then should humble Yourself, saying, Lord, I am not worthy. For where He enters unworthily, there He enters to the condemnation of him who receives Him.
JEROME; The thoughtfulness of the centurion appears herein, that he saw the Divinity hidden beneath the covering of Body; wherefore he adds, But speak the word only, and my servant will be healed.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. He knew that Angels stood by unseen to minister to Him, who turn every word of his into act; you and should Angels fail, yet diseases are healed by His life-giving command.
HILARY; Also he therefore says that it needed only a word to heal his son, because all the salvation of the Gentiles is of faith, and the life of them all is in the precepts of the Lord; therefore he continues saying, For I am a man set under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, amid he does it.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. He has here developed the mystery of the Father and the Son, by the secret suggestion of the Holy Spirit; as much as to say, Though I am under the command of another, yet have I power to command those who are under me; so also You, though under the command of the Father, in so far as you art man, yet have You power over the Angels. But Sabellius perhaps affirms, seeking to prove that the Son is the same as the Father, that it is to be understood thus; 'If I who am set under authority have yet power to command, how much more You who art under the authority of none.' But the words will not hear this exposition; for he said not, ' If I being a man under authority,' but, 'For I also am a man set under authority;' clearly not drawing a distinction, but pointing to a resemblance in this respect between himself and Christ.
AUG. If I who am under command have yet power to command others, how much more you whom all powers serve!
GLOSS. you art able without Your bodily presence, by the ministry of Your Angels, to say to this disease, Go, and it will leave him; and to say to health, Come, and it shall come to him.
HAYMO; Or, we may understand by those that are set under the centurion, the natural virtues in which many of the Gentiles were mighty, or even thoughts good and bad. Let us say to the bad, Depart, and they will depart; let us call the good, and they shall come; and our servant, that is, our body, let us bid that it submit itself to the Divine will.
AUG. What is here said seems to disagree with Luke's account, When the centurion heard concerning Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And again, When he was come nigh to the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying, Lord, trouble not Yourself, for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.
CHRYS. But Some say that these are two different occurrences; an opinion which has much to support it. Of Him in Luke it is said, He loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue; but of this one Jesus says, I have not found so great faith in Israel; whence it might seem that the other was a Jew. But in my opinion they are both the same person. What Luke relates that he sent to Jesus to come to him, betrays the friendly services of the Jews. We may suppose that when the centurion sought to go to Jesus, he was prevented by the Jews, who offered to go themselves for the purpose of bringing him. But as soon as he was delivered from their importunity, then he sent to say, Do not think that it was from want of respect that I did not come, but because I thought myself unworthy to receive you into my house. When then Matthew relates, that he spoke thus not through friends, but in his own person, it does not contradict Luke's account; for both have only represented the centurion's anxiety, and that he had a right opinion of Christ. And we may suppose that he first sent this message to Him by friends as he approached, and after, when He was come thither, repeated it Himself. But if they are relating different stories, then they do not contradict each other, but supply mutual deficiencies.
AUG. Matthew therefore intended to state summarily all that passed between the centurion and the Lord, which was indeed done through others with the view of commending his faith; as the Lord Spoke, I have not found so great faith in Israel. Luke, on the other hand, has narrated the whole as it was done, that so we might be obliged to understand in what sense Matthew, who could not err, meant that the centurion himself came to Christ, namely, in a figurative sense through faith.
CHRYS. For indeed there is no necessary contradiction between Luke's statement, that he had built a synagogue, and this, that he was not an Israelite; for it was quite possible, that one who was not a Jew should have built a synagogue, and should love the nation.
10. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven.
12. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall he weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; and as you has believed, so be it done to you. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
CHRYS. As what the leper had affirmed concerning Christ's power, If you will, you can cleanse me, was confirmed by the mouth of Christ, saying, I will, be you clean; so here He did not blame the centurion for hearing testimony to Christ's authority, but even commended him. Nay more; it is something greater than commendation that the Evangelist signifies in the words, But Jesus hearing marveled.
PSEUDO-CHRYS; Observe how great and what that is at which God the Only-begotten marvels! Gold, riches, principalities, are in His sight as the shadow or the flower that fades; in the sight of God none of these things is wonderful, as though it were great or precious, but faith only; this He wonders at, and pays honor to, this He esteems acceptable to Himself.
AUG. But who was He that had created this faith in him, but only He who now marveled at it? But even had it come from any other, how should He marvel who knew all things future? When the Lord marvels, it is only to teach us what we ought to wonder at; for all these emotions in Him are not signs of passion, but examples of a teacher.
CHRYS. Wherefore He is said to have thus wondered in the presence of all the people, giving them an example that they also should wonder at Him; for it follows, And he said to them that followed, I have not found so great faith in Israel.
AUG. He praises his faith, But gives command to quit his profession of a soldier .
JEROME; This He speaks of the present generation, not of all the Patriarchs and Prophets of past ages.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. Andrew believed, but it was after John had said, Behold the Lamb of God; Peter believed, but it was at the preaching of Andrew; Philip believed, but it was by reading the Scriptures; and Nathaniel first received a proof of His Divinity, and then spoke forth his confession of faith.
PSEUDO-ORIGEN; Jairus a prince in Israel, in making request for his daughter, said not, 'Speak the word,' but, 'Come quickly, Nicodemus, hearing of the sacrament of faith., asks How can these things be? Mary and Martha say, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died; as though distrusting that God's power could be in all places at the same time.
PSEUD-CHRYS. Or, if we would suppose that his faith was greater than even that of the Apostles, Christ's testimony to it must be understood as though every good in a man should be commended relatively to his character; as it were a great thing in a countryman to speak with wisdom, but in a philosopher the same would be nothing wonderful. In this way it may be said of the centurion, In none other have I found so great faith in Israel.
CHRYS. For it is a different thing for a Jew to believe and for a Gentile.
JEROME; Or perhaps in the person of the centurion the faith of the Gentiles is preferred to that of Israel; whence He proceeds, But I say to you, Many shall come from the east and from the west.
AUG He says, not 'all,' but many; yet these from the east and west; for by these two quarters the whole world is intended.
HAYMO; Or; From the east shall come they, who pass into the kingdom as soon as they are enlightened; from the west they who have suffered persecution for the faith even to death. Or, he comes from the east, who has served God from a child; he from the west who in decrepit age has turned to God.
PSEUDO-ORIGEN; How then does He say in another place, that the chosen are few? Because in each generation there are few that are chosen, but when all are gathered together in the day of visitation they shall be found many; they shall sit down, not the bodily posture, but the spiritual rest, not with human food, but with an eternal feast, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, where is light, joy, glory, and eternal length of days.
JEROME; Because the God of Abraham, the Maker of heaven, is the Father of Christ, therefore also is Abraham in the kingdom of heaven, and with him will sit down the nations who have believed in Christ the Son of the Creator.
AUG. As we see Christians called to the heavenly feast, where is the bread of righteousness, the drink of wisdom; So we see the Jews in reprobation. The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness, that is, the Jews, who have received the Law, who observe the types of all things that were to be, yet did not acknowledge the realities when present.
JEROME; Or the Jews may be called the children of the kingdom, because God reigned among them heretofore.
CHRYS. Or, He calls them the children of the kingdom, because the kingdom was prepared for them, which was the greater grief to them.
AUG. Moses set before the people of Israel no other God than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Christ sets forth the very same God. So that so far was He from seeking to turn that people away from their own God, that He therefore threatened them with the outer darkness, because He saw them turned away from their own God. And in this kingdom He tells them the Gentiles shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for no other reason than that they held the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To these Fathers Christ gives His testimony, not as though they had been converted after death, or had received justification after His passion.
JEROME; It is called outer darkness, because he whom the Lord casts out leaves the light.
HAYMO; What they should suffer there, He shows when He adds, There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Thus in metaphor He describes the sufferings of the tormented limbs; the eyes shed tears when filled with smoke, and the teeth chatter together from cold. This shows that the wicked in hell shall endure both extreme cold and extreme heat: according to that in Job, They shall pass from rivers of snow to the scorching heat.
JEROME; Weeping and gnashing of teeth are a proof of bones and body; truly then is there a resurrection of the same limbs, that sank into the grave.
RABAN. Or; The gnashing of teeth expresses the passion of remorse; repentance coming too late and self-accusation that he has sinned with such obstinate wickedness.
REMIG. Otherwise; By outer darkness, He means foreign nations; for these words of the Lord are a historical prediction of the destruction of the Jews, that they were to be led into captivity for their unbelief, and to be scattered ever the earth; for tears are usually caused by heat, gnashing of teeth by cold. Weeping then is described to those who should be dispersed into the warmer climates of India and Ethiopia, gnashing of teeth to those who should dwell in the colder regions, as Hyrcania and Scythia.
CHRYS. But that none might suppose that these were nothing more than fair words, He makes them credible by the miracles following, And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and be it done to you as you has believed.
RABAN. As though He had said, According to the measure of your faith, so be your grace. For the merit of the Lord may be communicated even to servants not only through the merit of their faith, but through their obedience to rule. It follows, And his servant was healed in the self-same hour.
CHRYS. Wherein admire the speediness, showing Christ's power, not only to heal, but to do it in a moment of time.
AUG. As the Lord did not enter the centurion's house with His body, but healed the servant, present in majesty, but absent in body; so He went among the Jews only in the body, but among other nations He was neither born of a Virgin, nor suffered, nor endured human sufferings, nor did divine wonders; and yet was fulfilled that which was spoken, A people that I have not known has served me, and has obeyed me by the hearing of the ear. The Jews beheld, yet crucified Him; the world heard, and believed.
14. And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
15. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered to them.
ANSELM. Matthew having in the leper shown the healing of the whole human race, and in the centurion's servant that of the Gentiles, now figures the healing of the synagogue in Peter's mother-in-law. He relates the ease of the servant, first, because it was the greater miracle, and the grace was greater in the conversion of the Gentile; or because the synagogue should not be fully converted till the end of the age when the fullness of the Gentiles should have entered Peter's house was in Bethsaida.
CHRYS. Why did He enter into Peter's house? I think to take food; for it follows, And she arose, and ministered to them. For He abode with His disciples to do them honor, and to make them more zealous. Observe Peter's reverence towards Christ; though his mother-in-law lay at home sick of a fever, yet He did not force Him thither at once, but waited till His teaching should he completed, and others healed. For from the beginning he was instructed to prefer others to himself. Wherefore he did not even bring Him thither, but Christ went in of Himself; purposing, because the centurion had said, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, to show what He granted to a disciple. And He did not scorn to enter the humble hut of a fisherman, instructing us in everything to trample upon human pride. Sometimes He heals by a word, sometimes He reaches forth His hand; as here, He touched her hand, and the fever left her. For He would not always work miracles with display of surpassing power, but would sometimes be hid. By touching her body He not only banished the fever, but restored her to perfect health. Because her sickness was such as art could cure, He showed his power to heal, in doing what medicine could not do, giving her back perfect health and strength at once; which is intimated in what the Evangelist adds, And she arose, and ministered to them.
JEROME; For naturally the greatest weakness follows fever, and the evils of sickness begin to be felt as the patient begins to recover. but that health which is given by the Lord's power is complete at once.
GLOSS. And it is not enough that she is cured, but strength is given her besides, for she arose and ministered to them.
CHRYS. This, she arose and ministered to them, shows at once the Lord's power, and the woman's feeling towards Christ.
BEDE; Figuratively; Peter's house is the Law, or the circumcision, his mother-in-law the synagogue, which is as it were the mother of the Church committed to Peter. She is in a fever, that is, she is sick of zealous hate, and persecutes the Church. The Lord touches her hand, when He turns her carnal works to spiritual uses.
REMIG. Or by Peter's mother-in-law may be understood the law, which according to the Apostle was made weak through the flesh, i. e the carnal understanding. But when the Lord through the mystery of the incarnation appeared visibly in the synagogue, and fulfilled the Law in action, and taught that it was to be understood spiritually; straightway it thus allied with the grace of the Gospel received such strength, that what had been the minister of death and punishment, became the minister of life and glory.
RABAN. Or, every soul that struggles with fleshly lusts is sick of a fever, but touched with the hand of Divine mercy, it recovers health, and restrains the concupiscence of the flesh by the bridle of continence, and with those limbs with which it had served uncleanness, it now ministers to righteousness.
HILARY; Or; In Peter's wife's mother is shown the sickly condition of infidelity, to which freedom of will is near akin, being united by the bonds as it were of wedlock. By the Lord's entrance into Peter's house, that is into the body, unbelief is cured, which was before sick of the fever of sin, and ministers in duties of righteousness to the Savior.
AUG. When this miracle was done, that is, after what, or before what, Matthew has not said. For we need not understand that it took place just after that which it follows in the relation; he may be returning here to what he had omitted above. For Mark relates this after the cleansing of the leper, which should seem to follow the sermon on the mount, concerning which Mark is silent. Luke also follows the same order in relating this concerning Peter's mother-in-law as Mark; also inserting it before that long Sermon which seems to be the same with Matthew's sermon on the mount. But what matters it in what order the events are told, whether something omitted before is brought in after, or what was done after is told earlier, so long as in the same story he does not contradict either another or himself? For as it is in no man's power to choose in what order he shall recollect the things he has once known, it is likely enough that each of the Evangelists thought himself obliged to relate all in that order in which it pleased God to bring to his memory the various events. Therefore when the order of time is not clear, it cannot import to us what order of relation any one of them may have followed.
16. When the even was come, they brought to him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.
CHRYS. Because the multitude of believers was now very great, they would not depart from Christ, though time pressed; but in the evening they bring to Him the sick. When it was evening, they brought to him many that had demons.
AUG. The words, Now when it was evening, show that the evening of the same day is meant, This would not have been implied, had it been only when it was evening.
REMIG. Christ the Son of God, the Author of human salvation, the fount and source of all goodness, furnished heavenly medicine, He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick. Demons and diseases He sent away with a word, that by these signs, and mighty works, He might show that He was come for the salvation of the human race.
CHRYS. Observe how great a multitude of cured the Evangelist here runs through, not relating the case of each, but in one word introducing an innumerable flood of miracles. That the greatness of the miracle should not raise unbelief that so much people and so various diseases could be healed in so short a space, he brings forward the Prophet to bear witness to the things that were done, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the Prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities.
RABAN. Took them not that He should have them Himself, but that He should take them away from us; and bore our sicknesses, in that what we were too weak to bear, He should bear for us.
REMIG. He took the infirmity of human nature so as to make us strong who had before been weak.
HILARY; And by the passion of His body, according to the words of the Prophet, He absorbed all the infirmities of human weakness.
CHRYS. The Prophet seems to have meant this of sins; how then does the Evangelist explain it of bodily diseases? It should be understood, that either he cites the text literally, or he intends to inculcate that most of our bodily diseases have their origin in sins of the soul; for death itself has its root in sin.
JEROME; It should be noted, that all the sick were healed not in the morning nor at noon, but rather about Sunset; as a corn of wheat dies in the ground that it may bring forth much fruit.
RABAN. Sunset shadows forth the passion and death of Him who said, While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Who while He lived temporally in the flesh, taught only a few of the Jews; but having trodden under foot the kingdom of death, promised the gifts of faith to all the Gentiles throughout the world.
Catena Aurea Matthew 8