The Fathers of the Church on those who thought Jesus was insane or possessed
January 23, 2022 • 4 min
From The Catena Aurea, in file "Catena Aurea - Mark", page n74
By St. Thomas Aquinas and the Fathers of the Church
19. —And they went into an house.
20. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.
21. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.
22. And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
Bede; The Lord leads the Apostles, when they were elected, into a house, as if admonishing them, that after having received the Apostleship, they should retire to look on their own consciences. Wherefore it is said, And they came into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not eat bread.
Pseudo-Chrys. Ungrateful indeed were the multitudes of princes, whom their pride hinders from knowledge, but the grateful multitude of the people came to Jesus.
Bede; And blessed indeed the concourse of the crowd, flocking together, whose anxiety to obtain salvation was so great, that they left not the Author of salvation even an hour free to take food. But Him, whom a crowd of strangers loves to follow, his relations hold in little esteem: for it goes on: And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold upon him. For since they could not take in the depth of wisdom, which they heard, they thought that He was speaking in a senseless way, wherefore it continues, for they said, He is beside himself.
Theophyl. That is, He has a devil and is mad, and therefore they wished to lay hold upon Him, that they might shut Him up as one who had a devil. And even His friends wished to do this, that is, His relations, perchance His countrymen, or His brethren. But it was a silly insanity in them, to conceive that the Worker of such great miracles of Divine Wisdom had become mad.
Bede; Now there is a great difference between those who do not understand the word of God from slowness of intellect, such as those, who are here spoken of, and those who purposely blaspheme, of whom it is added, And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem, &c. For what they could not deny, they endeavour to pervert by a malicious interpretation, as if they were not the works of God, but of a most unclean spirit, that is, of Beelzebub, who was the God of Ekron. For ‘Beel’ means Baal himself, and ‘zebub’ a fly; the meaning of Beelzebub therefore is the man of flies, on account of the filth of the blood which was offered, from which most unclean rite, they call him prince of the devils, adding, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
Pseudo-Jerome; But mystically, the house to which they came, is the early Church. The crowds which prevent their eating bread are sins and vices; for he who eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.
Bede; The Scribes also coming down from Jerusalem blaspheme. But the multitude from Jerusalem, and from other regions of Judaea, or of the Gentiles, followed the Lord, because so it was to be at the time of His Passion, that a crowd of the people of the Jews should lead Him to Jerusalem with palms and praises, and the Gentiles should desire to see Him; but the Scribes and Pharisees should plot together for His death.
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