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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 2. When Christ healed the paralytic, he dismissed him with this injunction: Behold thou art made whole; now sin no more. From this the disciples concluded, that his infirmity was sent him in punishment of former sins. When, therefore, they saw this man afflicted with blindness, they inquired of their divine Master, whether it was on account of his or his parents' sin. S. John Chrys. hom. lv. in Joan.
Ver. 3. When Christ says that neither he nor his parents had sinned, we must not understand that he was born without original sin, nor even that he had not committed other sins. For both he and his parents had sinned; but the meaning is, that this blindness was not a penal blindness inflicted in punishment of any sin either himself or his parents had committed; but, as is afterwards subjoined, it was sent him for the manifestation of the glory of God. S. Austin, tract. xliv. in Joan.
Ver. 4. Whilst it is day. That is, during all the time of this mortal life; the night comes, that is, death. Wi. — He speaks of that night of which mention is made is S. Matt. c. xxii. Cast him into exterior darkness. This is a night in which none can work, but only receive the reward of their labours. If you wish to work, work now whilst you live; for beyond the grave there is neither faith, nor labour, nor repentance. S. Chrys. as above.
Ver. 5. Thus the day of which I am to avail myself is the time of my mortal life; and the night which is to follow this, is that of my death. V.
Ver. 6. He spat on the ground. With clay and spittle he cured the blind man, to make the miracle more visible. Wi. — From the example of Jesus Christ, religious ceremonies are introduced in the administration of the sacraments; and can the Church be blamed for copying her divine Founder? A.
Ver. 7. The fountain of Siloe was at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem, to the east, where its waters were collected in a reservoir for the benefit of the city. Thither our Saviour sent the blind man. The word Siloe signifies sent, and was a figure of Christ, who was sent by his eternal Father into the world to enlighten all men, of whom this blind man was the emblem. The pool of Siloe represents the sacrament of baptism, by which we are sanctified and made Christians. It is still to this day held in great veneration by the Turks, who think its waters very beneficial in diseases of the eyes. Calmet. — Its waters signify those of divine grace and light, communicated to the faithful soul through Jesus Christ, who was sent of God. V. — Thus Sedulius:
Mystica quid doceant animos miracula nostros.
Cœca sumus proles miseræ de fœtibus Hevæ,
Portantes longo natas errore tenebras.
Sed dignante Deo mortalem sumere formam
Tegminis humani, facta est de Virgine nobis
Terra salutaris, quæ fontibus oblita sacris
Clara renascentis referat spiracula lucis.
Ver. 17. The Hebrews gave the name of prophet to all those who were honoured by the Almighty in a particular manner. And it was a maxim amongst them, that a prophet could dispense with the law of the sabbath. Cal. — Do you wish to know what he believed Jesus to be? asks S. Austin. And falling down, he adored him. Before, he regarded him as a holy man, as a prophet; but he did not adore him until he understood him to be the Son of God; whereas no sooner did he know this, than, falling down, he paid him that sovereign worship which is due to God alone. Calmet.
Ver. 22. The Jews had already agreed, or combined together, that if any one owned him for the Messias, he should be turned out of their synagogues, as a person excommunicated. Wi.
Ver. 24. Give glory to God, before whom thou art speaking, and tell us the truth. It could not be this man who cured thee; for we know he is a sinner, who seduceth the people. V. — So say our separated brethren, when they derogate from miracles done by saints, pharisaically pretending the glory of God, as if it were not God's glory when his servants act by his power and virtue. Witness Peter's shadow, (Acts v.) and Paul's handkerchiefs that cured diseases, and expelled wicked spirits. Acts xix. 11, 12.
Ver. 27. I have told you already, and you have heard. In almost all Greek MSS. we now read, and you have not heard. Beza, with good reason, here prefers the Latin Vulgate, as more correct than the Greek. Wi.
Ver. 28. They reviled him with scornful and disdainful language. Wi.
Ver. 31. God doth not hear sinners. That is, in so particular a manner, as to work miracles in favour of them and their doctrine. Wi.
Ver. 32. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard. Though we read of many miracles done by Moses and the prophets, this, saith he, is the first example of any man receiving his sight who had been born blind. Wi.
Ver. 39. For judgment I am come into this world. Christ said (c. iii. 17.) that God did not send his Son to judge the world: the same he repeats; (John xii. 47.) nor is this contradictory to those words: the meaning here is not that he is come to exercise the office of a judge, but he tells them what will be the consequences of his coming, and their refusing to believe in him, that they shall be justly punished with the greatest severity for their wilful blindness. Wi. — Jesus Christ came into the world that the pagans, who were yet in darkness, might receive light, and that the Jews, who enjoyed the light, might fall into darkness. The Jews were thus condemned, on account of their presumption and hardness of heart, and grace was granted to the Gentiles to enter into the true Church. These are the designs of the Almighty upon mankind, some of whom remain in infidelity, whilst others receive the light of faith; but all is done by the secret and impenetrable decrees of the justice and wisdom of God. The Holy Ghost, by these words, tells us only what was to be the event, not what was the cause of these things. We must seek for the cause of them in the malice of the heart of man, and in the depth of the judgments of God. Cal. — I am come, &c. Not that Christ came for that end, that any one should be made blind; but that the Jews, by the abuse of his coming, and by their not receiving him, brought upon themselves this judgment of blindness. Ch.
Ver. 40-41. The Pharisees then replied: and are we also blind? Jesus said to them: if you were blind, by ignorance in not having heard of me, and my doctrine, you might be excused for not believing; but now saying, we see: and having been yourselves in the occasions and opportunities of seeing, your sin remaineth, and you in your sins. Wi. — If you were blind, &c. If you were invincibly ignorant, and had neither read the Scriptures, nor seen my miracles, you would not be guilty of the sin of infidelity: but now, as you boast of your knowledge of the Scriptures, you are inexcusable. Ch. — If you had humility enough to acknowledge your blindness and ignorance, and seriously to seek for a remedy, you would soon be delivered from sin, and freed from the evil of blindness. But filled as you are with presumption, you remain still in blindness, which, as it is voluntary, is at the same time criminal and inexcusable. This is your evil; this your sin. Calmet. — We here see that it is judged by truth itself far better not to read the Scriptures at all, than to read them with bad dispositions; not to see the miracles of Jesus Christ, than to refuse our assent to their author. At the present day all read the Scriptures, but do we see any marked improvement in the moral world? The text, without any comment, is given to Churchmen and to Dissenters: the latter gladly accept the offering, because, as the Rev. Frederick Noland observes, (in his objections of a Churchman to uniting with the Bible society, p. 34) "the authorized version is in many places accommodated to their peculiar opinions, through the conciliatory spirit of the Church, which revised the text for the purpose of doing their objections away." And in his note on this part, he adds: "The last revisal of the translation of the Bible was undertaken, as is notorious, for the purpose of removing certain objections made to the old version by the non-conformists. That the execution has been answerable to the intent, is evident from the fact of the Dissenters having withdrawn their exceptions, and adopted the version. Comp. Nichols. Defens. Eccles. Anglic. p. 33. Pierre. Vindic. Fratr. Dissent. p. 60-67." Thus (Acts xiv. 23.) "ceirotonhsanteV de autoiV presbuterouV kat ekklhsian. When they had ordained them elders by election, in every church. Bp's Bible. When they had ordained them elders in every church. Authors. vers. These words, as applied to S. Paul and S. Barnabas, who had merely received first orders, (Acts xiii. 2.) form in the former version an argument against presbyters' right to ordain, and in the latter one in favour of that practice." As a further accommodation, he says the word elders was substituted for presbyters, &c. "Independency in the very nature of it is schism; for every congregation is a different church." Sherl. Def. of Stillingfl.