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St. Thomas Aquinas, 

Catena Aurea (Golden Chain), 

Parallel Gospel of Matthew 12:22-30, 43-45
(John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington:London, 1842)
22. Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.  
23. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the Son of David?  
24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."  

Gloss., non occ.: The Lord had refuted the Pharisees above, when they brought false charges against the miracles of Christ, as [p. 446] if He had broken the sabbath in doing them. But inasmuch as with a yet greater wickedness they perversely attributed the miracles of Christ done by divine power to an unclean spirit, therefore the Evangelist places first the miracle from which they had taken occasion to blaspheme, saying, "Then was brought to him one that had a daemon, blind and dumb." 

Remig.: The word "Then" refers to that above, where having healed the man who had the withered hand, He went out of the synagogue. Or it may be taken of a more extended time; Then, namely, when these things were being done or said. 

Chrys.: We may wonder at the wickedness of the daemon; he had obstructed both inlets by which he could believe, namely, hearing and sight. But Christ opened both, whence it follows, "And he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw." 

Jerome: Three miracles were wrought in one and the same person at the same time; the blind sees, the dumb speaks, the possessed is delivered from the daemon. This was at that time done in the flesh, but is now daily being fulfilled in the conversion of them that believe; the daemon is cast out when they first behold the light of the faith, and then their mouths which had before been stopped are opened to utter the praises of God. 

Hilary: Not without reason, after having mentioned that all the multitude was healed together, does he bring in the cure of this man separately who was demoniac, blind and dumb. For after the man of the withered hand had been brought before Him, and been healed in the Synagogue, it behoved that the salvation of the Gentiles should be represented in the person of some other afflicted man; he who had been the habitation of a daemon, and blind and dumb, should be made meet to receive God, should contain God in Christ, and by confession of God should give praise to the works of Christ. 

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 4: For he that believes not, is truly demoniac, b1ind, and dumb; and he that has not understanding of the faith, nor confesses, nor gives praise to God, is subject to the devil. 

Aug., De Cons. Ev., ii, 37: This narrative is given by Luke, not in this place, but after many other things intervening, and speaks of him as dumb only, and not blind. But he is not to be thought to be speaking of another man, because he is silent respecting this one [p. 447] particular; for in what follows he agrees exactly with Matthew. 

Hilary: All the multitude were astonished at this which was done, but the jealousy of the Pharisees grew thereupon, "And all the multitude were astonished and said, Is not this the Son of David?" 

Gloss., ap. Raban.: Because of His mercy and His goodness to them they proclaim Him the Son of David. 

Raban. e Beda in Luc.: The multitude who seemed less learned, always wondered at the works of the Lord; they, on the other hand, either denied these things, or what they could not deny laboured to pervert by an ill interpretation, as though they were wrought not by a Deity, but by an unclean spirit, namely, Beelzebub, who was the God of Acharon: "The Pharisees when they heard it said, This man does not cast out daemons but by Beelzebub, the prince of the demons." 

Remig.: Beelzebub is the same as Beel or Baal, or Beelphegor. Beel was father of Ninus king of Assyria; Baal was so called because he was worshipped on high; he was called Beelphegor from the mountain Phegor; Zebub was the servant of Abimelech the son of Gedeon, who, having slain his seventy brothers, built a temple to Baal, and set him up as Priest therein, to drive away the flies which were collected there by the abundant blood of the victims; for Zebub means, a fly. Beelzebub therefore is interpreted, The man of flies; wherefore from this most unclean worship they called him the Prince of the daemons. Having therefore nothing more mean to cast upon the Lord, they said that He cast out daemons by Beelzebub. And it should be known that this word is not to be read with d or t at the end, as some corrupt copies have, but with, b. 

25. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand;  
26. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?"  

Jerome: The Pharisees ascribed the works of God to the Prince of the daemons; and the Lord makes answer not to [p. 448] what they said, but to what they thought, that even thus they might be compelled to believe His power, Who saw the secrets of the heart; "Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said unto them." 

Chrys., Hom. xli: Above they had accused Christ of having cast out daemons by Beelzebub; but then He did not reprove them, suffering them, if they would, to acknowledge Him from further miracles, and to learn His greatness from His doctrine. But because they continued to maintain the same things, He now rebukes them, although their accusation had been very unreasonable. 

But jealousy reeks not what it says, so that only it say somewhat. Yet does not Christ contemn them, but answers with a gracious mildness, teaching us to be gentle to our enemies, and not to be troubled, even though they should speak such things against us, as we neither acknowledge in us, nor have any reasonableness in themselves. 

Therein also He proves that the things which they had said against Him were false, for it is not of one having a daemon to shew such mercy, and to know the thoughts. Moreover, because this their accusation was very unreasonable, and they feared the multitude, they did not dare to proclaim it openly, but kept it in their thoughts; wherefore he says, "Knowing their thoughts." 

He does not repeat their thoughts in His answer, not to divulge their wickedness; but He brings forward an answer; it was His object to do good to the sinners, not to proclaim their sin. He does not answer them out of the Scriptures, because they would not hearken to Him as they explained them differently, but He refutes them from common opinions. For assaults from without are not so destructive as quarrels within; and this is so in bodies and in all other things. But in the mean while He draws instances from matters more known, saying, "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation;" for there is nothing on earth more powerful than a kingdom, and yet that is destroyed by contention. 

What then must we say concerning a city or a family; that whether it be great or small, it is destroyed when it is at discord within itself. 

Hilary: For a city or family is analogous to a kingdom; as it follows, "And every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." 

Jerome: For as small things grow by concord, [p. 449] so the greatest fall to pieces through dissensions. 

Hilary: But the word of God is rich, and whether taken simply, or examined inwardly, it is needful for our advancement. 

Leaving therefore what belongs to the plain understanding thereof, let us dwell on some of the more secret reasons. The Lord is about to make answer to that which they had said concerning Beelzebub, and He casts upon those to whom He made answer a condition of their answering. Thus; The Law was from God and the promise of the kingdom to Israel was by the Law; but if the kingdom of the Law be divided in itself, it must needs be destroyed; and thus Israel lost the Law, when the nation whose was the Law, rejected the fulfilment of the Law in Christ. 

The city here spoken of is Jerusalem, which when it raged with the madness of its people against the Lord, and drove out His Apostles with the multitude of them that believed, after this division shall not stand; and thus (which soon happened in consequence of this division) the destruction of that city is declared. 

Again He puts another case, "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall hie kingdom stand? 

Jerome: As much as to say, If Satan fight against himself, and, daemon be an enemy to daemon, then must the end of the world be at hand, that these hostile powers should have no place there, whose mutual war is peace for men. 

Gloss. ord.: He holds them therefore in this dilemma. For Christ casts out daemons either by the power of God, or by the Prince of the daemons. If by the power of God, their accusations are malicious; if by the Prince of the daemons, his kingdom is divided, and will not stand, and therefore let them depart out of his kingdom. And this alternative He intimates that they had chosen for themselves, when they refused to believe in Him. 

Chrys.: Or thus; If he is divided, he is made weak, and perishes; but if he perishes, how can he cast out another? 

Hilary: Otherwise; If the daemon was driven to this division to the end that he should thus afflict the daemons, even thus must we attribute higher power to Him who made the division than to those who are thus divided; thus the kingdom of the Devil, after this division made, is destroyed by Christ. 

Jerome: But if ye think, ye Scribes and Pharisees, that the [p. 450] daemons depart out of the possessed in obedience to their Prince, that men may be imposed upon by a concerted fraud, what can ye say to the healing of diseases which the Lord also wrought? It is something more if ye assign to the daemons even bodily infirmities, and the signs of spiritual virtues. 

27. "And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.  
28. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."  

Chrys.: After the first answer, He comes to a second more plain than the first, saying, "And if I by Beelzebub cast out daemons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges." 

Jerome: He alludes, as is His manner, under the name children of the Jews, either to the exorcists of that race, or to the Apostles who are by race of that nation. If He means the exorcists who by the invocation of God cast out daemons, He thus constrains the Pharisees by a wise enquiry to confess that their work was of the Holy Spirit. If, He would say, the casting out of the daemons by your children is imputed to God, and not to daemons, why should the same work wrought by Me not have the same cause? "Therefore shall they be your judges," not by authority but by comparison; they ascribe the casting out of the daemons to God, you to the Prince of the daemons. But if it is of the Apostles also that this is said, (and so we should rather take it,) then they shall be their judges, for they shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Hilary: And they are worthily appointed judges over them, to whom Christ is found to have given that power over the daemons, which it was denied that He had. 

Raban.: Or, because the Apostles well knew within their own conscience that they had learnt no evil art from Him. 

Chrys.: Yet He said not, My disciples, or Apostles, but "your children;" that if they chose to return again to their own privileges, they might take occasion hence; but if they should [p. 451] be ungrateful, they might not have even an impudent excuse, And the Apostles cast out daemons by virtue of power which they had from Him, and yet the Pharisees made no such charge against them; for it was not the actions themselves, but the person of Christ to which they were opposed. 

Desiring then to shew that the things which were said against Him were only jealous suspicions, He brings forward the Apostles. And also He leads them to a knowledge of Himself, shewing how they stood in the way of their own good, and resisted their own salvation; whereas they ought to be joyful because He had come to bestow great goods upon them; "If I by the Spirit of God cast out daemons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you." This also shews that it is a matter of great power to cast out daemons, and not an ordinary grace. 

And thus it is He reasons, "Therefore is the kingdom of God come upon you," as much as to say, If this indeed be so, then is the Son of God come upon you. But this He hints darkly, that it may not seem hard to them. 

Also to draw their attention, He said not merely, "The kingdom hath come," but, "upon you;" that is to say, These good things are coming for you; why do you oppose your own salvation; for this is the very sign given by the Prophets of the presence of the Son of God, that such works as these should be wrought by Divine power. 

Jerome: For the kingdom of God denotes Himself, of whom it is written in another place, "The kingdom of God is among you; [Luke 17:21] and, "There standeth one in the midst of you whom ye know not." [John 1:26]. Or surely that kingdom which both John and the Lord Himself had preached above, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [Matt 3:2, 4:17] 

There is also a third kingdom of the Holy Scripture which shall be taken from the Jews, and be given to a nation that brings forth the fruit thereof. 

Hilary: If then the disciples work by Christ, and Christ by the Spirit of God, already is the kingdom of God transferred to the Apostles through the office of the Mediator. 

Gloss., ap. Anselm: For the weakening of the kingdom of the Devil is the increase of the kingdom of God. 

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i. 5: Whence the sense might be this, "If I by Beelzebub cast out daemons," then, according to your own opinion, "the kingdom of God is come upon you," for the kingdom of the Devil, being [p. 452] thus divided against itself, cannot stand. Thus calling that the kingdom of God, in which the wicked are condemned, and are separated from the faithful, who are now doing penitence for their sins. 

29. "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house."  

Chrys.: Having concluded the second answer, He brings forward yet a third, saying, "Or how can any enter into a strong man's house? For that Satan cannot cast out Satan is clear from what has been said; and that no other can cast him out, till he have first overcome him, is plain to all. 

Thus the same as before is established yet more abundantly; for He says, So far am I from having the Devil for my ally, that I rather am at war with him, and bind him; and in that I cast out after this sort, I therein spoil his goods. Thus He proves the very contrary of that they strove to establish. They would shew that He did not cast out demons of His own power; He proves that not only daemons, yea but the prince, also of the daemons He hath bound, as is shewn by that which He hath wrought. For if their Prince were not overcome, how were the daemons who are His subjects thus spoiled. 

This speech seems also to me to be a prophecy; inasmuch as He not only casts out daemons, but will take away all error out of the world, and dissolve the craft of the Devil; and He says not rob, but spoil, shewing that He will do it with power. 

Jerome: His "house" is this world, which is set in evil, not by the majesty of the Creator, but by the greatness of the sinner. The strong man is bound and chained in tartarus, bruised by the Lord's foot. Yet ought we not therefore to be careless; for here the conqueror Himself pronounces our adversary to be strong. 

Chrys.: He calls him "strong," shewing therein his old reign, which arose out of our sloth. 

Aug.: For he held us, that we should not by our own strength be able to free ourselves from him, but by the grace of God. By his goods, he means all the unbelievers. He has bound the strong man, in that He has [p. 453] taken away from him all power of hindering the faithful from following Christ, and gaining the kingdom of heaven. 

Raban.: Therefore He has spoiled his house, in that them, whom He foresaw should be His own, He set free from the snares of the Devil, and has joined to the Church. Or in that He has divided the whole world among His Apostles and their successors to be converted. By this plain parable therefore He shews that He does not join in a deceitful working with the daemons as they falsely accused Him, but by the might of His divinity He frees men from the daemons. 

30. "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."  

Chrys.: After that third reply, here follows a fourth, "He that is not with me is against me." 

Hilary: Wherein He shews how far He is from having borrowed any power from the Devil; teaching us how great the danger to think amiss of Him, not to be with Whom, is the same as to be against Him. 

Jerome: But let none think that this is said of heretics and schismatics; though we may apply it besides to such; but it is shewn by the context to refer to the Devil; in that the works of the Saviour cannot be compared with the works of Beelzebub. He seeks to hold men's souls in captivity, the Lord to set them free; he preaches idols, the Lord the knowledge of the true God; he draws men to sin, the Lord calls them back to virtues. How then can these have agreement together, whose works are so opposite? 

Chrys.: Therefore whoso gathereth not with me, nor is with me, may not be compared together with me, that with me he should cast out daemons, but rather seeks to scatter what is mine. But tell me; If you were to have fought together with some one, and he should not be willing to come to your aid, is he not therefore against you? 

The Lord also Himself said in another place, "He that is not against you is for you." [Luke 9:50] To which that which is here said is not contrary. For here He is speaking of the Devil who is our adversary -- there of some man who was on their side, of whom it is, said, "We saw one casting out daemons in thy name." 

Here He seems to allude to the Jews, classing them with the [p. 454] Devil; for they were against Him, and scattered what He would gather. But it is fair to allow that He spoke this of Himself; for He was against the Devil, and scattered abroad the things of the Devil. 

43. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. [p. 471]  
44. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.  
45. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."  

Chrys.: The Lord had said to the Jews, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it;" that they should not therefore be careless, He tells them that not only in the world to come but here also they should suffer grievous things; setting forth in a sort of riddle the punishment that should fall upon them whence He says, "When, the unclean spirit has gone out of a man." 

Jerome: Some suppose that this place is spoken of heretics, because the unclean spirit who dwelt in them before when they were Gentiles, is cast out before the confession of the true faith; when after they went over to heresy, and garnished their house with feigned virtues, then it is that the Devil, having taken to him other seven evil spirits, returns and dwells in them; and their last state becomes worse than their first. And indeed heretics are in a much worse condition than the Gentiles; for in the heretics was a hope of faith, in the Gentiles a war of discord. 

Yet though this exposition has a plausibility and a shew of learning, I am doubtful of its truth. For by the concluding words of this, whether it be parable or example, "Thus shall it be to this evil generation," we are compelled to refer it, not to heretics, or to men in general, but to the Jewish people. So the context of the passage may not shift about loosely and vaguely, and be like unmeaning speeches, but may be consistent with itself from first to last. The unclean spirit then went out from the Jews when they received the Law; and being cast out of the Jews, he walked through the wilderness of the Gentiles; as it follows, "He walketh through dry places seeking rest." 

Remig.: He calls the hearts of the Gentiles, "dry places," as lacking all the moisture of wholesome waters, that is of the [p. 472] holy Scriptures, and of spiritual gifts, and strangers to the pouring in of the Holy Spirit. 

Raban.: Or, the "dry places" are the hearts of the faithful, which after they have been purged from the weakness of loose thoughts, the crafty lier-in-wait tries if by any means he may fix his footsteps there; but lying from the chaste spirit, the Devil finds no resting place to his mind but in the heart of the wicked; as it follows, "and findeth none." 

Remig.: The Devil supposed he should have rest for ever among the Gentiles, but it is added, "and findeth none," because when the Son of God appeared in the mystery of His Incarnation, the Gentiles believed. 

Jerome: And when they believed on the Lord, the Devil, finding no place among the nations, said, "I will return into my house whence I came out;" I have the Jews from whom I formerly departed. "And when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished." [John 14:31] For the temple of the Jews was empty, and had not Christ to dwell therein, He having said, "Arise, let us go hence." 

Seeing then they had not the protection of Angels, and were burdened with the useless observances of the Law, and the traditions of the Pharisees, the Devil returns to his former dwelling, and, taking to him seven other daemons, inhabits it as before. And the last state of that nation is worse than the first, for they are now possessed by a larger number of daemons in blaspheming Jesus Christ in their synagogues, than they were possessed with in Egypt before they had knowledge of the Law; for it is one thing to have no belief that He should come, another not to receive Him when He is come. 

A number seven-fold is joined with the Devil, either because of the sabbath, or from the number of the Holy Spirit; that as in Isaiah [margin note: Isa 11:2] upon the bud which comes from the root of Jesse, seven spirits of virtues are related to have descended; so on the other hand an equal number of vices should he poured forth upon the Devil. 

Beautifully then are seven spirits said to be taken to him, either because of the breaking of the sabbath, or because of the heinous sins which are contrary to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Chrys.: Or, herein He may be shewing forth their punishment. As when daemoniacs have been loosed from their infirmity, if they after become remiss, they draw upon themselves more grievous illusions, so shall it be among you -- before ye were [p. 473] possessed by a daemon, when you worshipped idols, and slew your sons to daemons; yet I forsook you not, but cast out that daemon by the Prophets, and afterwards came Myself seeking to purify you altogether. Since then ye would not hearken to me, but have fallen into more heinous crime, (as it is greater wickedness to slay Christ than to slay the Prophets,) therefore ye shall suffer more heavy calamities. For what befel them under Vespasian and Titus, were much more grievous than they had suffered in Egypt, in Babylon, and under Antiochus. 

And this indeed is not all He shews concerning them, but also that since they were destitute of every virtue, they were more fit for the habitation of daemons than before. It is reasonable to suppose that these things were said not to them only, but also to us. If after being enlightened and delivered from our former evils, we are again possessed by the same wickedness, the punishment of these latter sins will be greater than of the first; as Christ spake to the paralytic, "Behold, thou art made whole, sin not, lest a worse thing come upon thee." [John 5:14] 

Raban,: For when any one is converted to the faith, the Devil is cast out of him in Baptism, who driven thence wanders up and down through the dry places, that is, the hearts of the faithful. 

Greg., Mor., xxxiii, 3: The dry places where no water is are the hearts of the righteous, which by the power of discipline are dried from all humours of carnal lust. The wet places are the minds of worldly men, which the humour of carnal lust fills, and makes watery; in such the Devil imprints his footsteps the more deeply, inasmuch as in his wanderings he comes down upon such hearts as upon low and marshy ground. 

Raban.: And returning to his house whence he had gone out, "he findeth it empty," of good works through slothfulness, "swept," that is, of its old vices by Baptism, and "garnished" with feigned virtues through hypocrisy. 

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 8: So that in these words the Lord signifies that some shall so believe as not to have strength for the work of continence, and shall return to the world. "He taketh unto him other seven," is to be understood that when any has fallen from righteousness, he shall also have hypocrisy. For the lust of the flesh being cast out of its wonted works by penitence, when it finds not any delights in which it may rest, returns the more greedily, and again takes possession of [p. 474] the goal, if carelessness has ensued, and there has not been introduced as the dweller in the cleansed abode the word of God in sound doctrine. 

And as he will not only have the seven vices which are the contraries of the spiritual virtues, but will hypocritically feign that he has the virtues, therefore his old lust, taking to itself seven other worse, that is, this seven-fold hypocrisy, returns to him so as to make the last state of that man worse than the former. 

Greg., Mor., vii, 17: For it often happens that the soul in the commencement of its progress is lifted up, and prides itself on its virtues, that it opens an entrance to the adversary who is raging against it, and who shews himself the more violent in breaking into it, by how much he was grieved at being cast out, though but for a short space.