icon_bede-On Luke 17:11-19

Continued from here…

And one of them when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God.

This one who went back giving glory to God is a figure of the one Church, in devout humility before Christ. He falling down before the feet of the Lord, gives fitting thanks.

For he truly gives thanks to God who repressing the thoughts of his own presumption, is humbly aware of how weak he is in himself; he who attributes no virtue to himself; who confesses that the good he does, is due to the mercy of his Creator.

Hence, fittingly, He adds: And this was a Samaritan. For Samaritan means guardian. And by this name that people is very aptly signified who, giving thanks, attribute all it has received to Him from whom it received it; as the singer in the psalm declares: I will keep my strength for thee; for thou art my protector: my God, his mercy shall go before me (Ps. 58:10).

He falls on his face, ashamed because of the sins he remembers he has committed. For when a man is ashamed it is then he humbles himself. And for the same reason Paul said to certain persons who as it were lay face to the ground: What fruit therefore had you then in those things of which you are now ashamed (Rom. 6:21)?

On the other hand, of the rider of the horse (Amos 2:15) that is, of the man lifted above himself by the glory of this world, is it said: That his rider may fall backwards (Gen. 49:17). And again, it was written of the persecutors of the Lord that, They went backward and fell to the ground (Jn. 18:6).

What does this mean, that the elect fall on their faces, and the reprobate falls backwards, if not that he who falls backwards does not, beyond doubt, see where he falls; while he who falls forward, sees where he is falling?

The wicked therefore, since they do not see into what they are falling, are said to fall backwards; for they rush headlong where they cannot now see what will then happen to them.

But the just fall as it were upon their faces; for moved by fear, they humble themselves: of their own will they throw themselves down amid things visible, that they may be raised up amid things invisible.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel (PL 92, Lib. III, Cap. X, col. 467); Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D. @ Lectionary Central.