38. And he said to them in his doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39. And the chief seats in the Synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40. Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
PSEUDO-JEROME; After confuting the Scribes and Pharisees, He burns up as a fire their dry and withered examples; wherefore it is said, And he said to them in his doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing.
BEDE; To walk in long clothing is to go forth into public clad in garments too much ornamented, in which amongst other things, that rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, is said to have sinned.
THEOPHYL. But they used to walk in honorable garments because they wished to be highly esteemed for it, and in like manner they desired other things, which lead to glory. For it goes on: And love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.
BEDE; We must observe that He does not forbid that those, to whom it falls by the rule of their office, should be saluted in the marketplace, or have chief seats and places at feasts, but He teaches that those who hove those things unduly, whether they have them or no, are to be avoided by the faithful as wicked men: that is, He blames the intention and not the office; although this too is culpable, that the very men who wish to be called masters of the synagogue in Moses' seat, should have to do with lawsuits in the marketplace. We are in two ways ordered to beware of those who are desirous of vain glory; first, we should not be seduced by their hypocrisy into thinking that what they do is good; nor secondly, should we be excited to imitate them, through a vain rejoicing in being praised for those virtues which they affect.
THEOPHYL. He also especially teaches the Apostles, not to have any communication with the scribes, but to imitate Christ Himself; and in ordaining them to be masters in the duties of life, He places others under them.
BEDE; But they do not only seek for praise from men, but also for gain. Wherefore there follows, Which devour widows' houses, under the pretense of long prayers. For there are men who pretending to be just hesitate not to receive money from persons who are troubled in conscience, as though they would be their advocates in the judgment. A hand stretched out to the poor is always an accompaniment to prayer, but these men pass the night in prayer, that they may take away money from the poor.
THEOPHYL. But the Scribes used to come to women, who were left without the protection of their husbands, as though they were their protectors; and by a pretense of prayer, a reverend exterior and hypocrisy, they used to deceive widows, and thus also devour the houses of the rich. it goes on, These shall receive a greater damnation, that is, than the other Jews, who sinned.
41. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43. And he called to him his disciples, and said to them, Verily I say to you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
BEDE; The Lord, who had warned them to avoid the desire of high place and vain glory, now distinguishes by a sure test those who brought in gifts. Wherefore it is said, And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury. In the Greek language, phylassein means to keep, and gaza is a Persian word for treasure; wherefore the word gazophylacium which is here used means a place where riches are kept, which name also was applied to the chest in which the offerings of the people were collected, for the necessary uses of the temple, and to the porch in which they were kept. You have a notice of the porch in the Gospel, These words spoke Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple; and of the chest in the book of Kings, But Jehoida the priest took a chest.
THEOPHYL. Now there was a praiseworthy custom amongst the Jews, that those who were able and willing should put something into the treasury, for the maintenance of the priests, the poor, and the widows; wherefore there is added, And many that were rich cast in much. But whilst many people were so engaged, a poor widow came up, and showed her love by offering money according to her ability; wherefore it is said, And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing
BEDE; Reckoners use the word 'quadrans' for the fourth part of anything, be it place, money, or time. Perhaps then in this place is meant the fourth part of a shekel, that is, five pence. It goes on, And he called to him his disciples, and said to them, Verily I say to you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for God does not weigh the property but the conscience of those who offer; nor did He consider the smallness of the sum in her offering, but what was the store from which it came.
Wherefore He adds, For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
PSEUDO-JEROME; But in a mystical sense, they are rich, who bring forth from the treasure of their heart things new and old, which are the obscure and hidden things of Divine wisdom in both testaments; but who is the poor woman, if it be not I and those like me, who cast in what I can, and have the will to explain to you, where I have not the power. For God does not consider how much you hear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word, and deed. And in that it is said that she cast in all her living, it is implied that all that the body wants is that by which it lives; wherefore it is said, All the labor of man is for his mouth.
THEOPHYL. Or else; That widow is the soul of man, which leaving Satan to which it had been joined, casts into the temple two mites, that is, the flesh and the mind, the flesh by abstinence, the mind by humility, that so it may be able to hear that it has cast away all its living, and has consecrated it, leaving nothing for the world of all that it possessed.
BEDE; Again, in an allegorical way, the rich men, who cast gifts into the treasury, point out the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow is the simplicity of the Church: poor indeed, because she has cast away the spirit of pride and of the desires of worldly things; and a widow, because Jesus her husband has suffered death for her. She casts two mites into the treasury, because she brings the love of God and of her neighbor, or the gifts of faith and prayer; which are looked upon as mites in their own insignificance, but measured by the merit of a devout intention are superior to all the proud works of the Jews. The Jew sends of his abundance into the treasury, because he presumes on his own righteousness; but the Church sends her whole living into God's treasury, because she understands that even her very living is not of her own desert, but of Divine grace.
Catena Aurea Mark 12