The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for March 17th, 2010

Notes On Matthew 26:1-5 for March 28~Palm Sunday:The Passion According To Matthew (Extraordinary Form of the Rite)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2010

This post-the first in a series-contains notes on Matthew 26:1-5.  Some of the notes are mine, but most come from the Early Church Fathers and older commentators such as Maldonatus and MacEvilly.  A few Protestant reference works are used a couple of times.

Mat 26:1  And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended all these words, he said to his disciples:

Maldonatus:  St Hilary and others understand the discourses of the last chapter on the future judgment; others refer them not only to the last chapter, but to the 24th chapter as well, where Christ speaks of the end of the world; others, again, think that the words refer to everything Which St Matthew has written from the beginning of the Gospel to this time, that the discourses may contain not words only, but deeds as well; as if Christ said to His disciples, when He had said and done all that has been described: “You know that after two days” &c.  This is the opinion of Bede, and Strabus after him.  These opinions are probable; but the explanation of St Thomas in his commentaries on the Passover seems better: that the Evangelist wished to comprehend the whole doctrine of Christ, which he had set forth in the whole Gospel; as if he would say: “When Christ had fulfilled the office of a teacher, He began to prepare Himself for that of a Redeemer, and to admonish His disciples of it.”  For although with the Hebrews “words” mean things as well, it seems in this passage too stringent to understand by “words” both words and deeds.  Origen has observed that the Evangelist wrote the words “all these,” not to exclude those discourses which Christ held both before His Passion and after His Passion.”

Each of Jesus’ four previous discourses presented in Matthew ended with some similar statement, but the use of  “all” announces the end of the public teaching ministry, and not just another discourse.

Mat 26:2  You know that after two days shall be the pasch: and the Son of man shall be delivered up to be crucified.

Father Anthony Maas: “Throughout the history of the preparation (i.e., for the Passion) St Matthew emphasizes the fact that Jesus suffered with full foreknowledge, and therefore freely.  Jesus foretells his crucifixion in verse 2, his burial in verse 12, his betrayal in verse 21ff., the shedding of his blood in verse 28, the scandal of the apostles and the denial of Peter in verses 31ff.; he freely submits to the chalice of his passion in verse 39ff., he definitely announces the approach of the enemies in verse 46.  The Jewish converts cannot, therefore, have supposed Jesus suffered by constraint.  It is with a view to prevent this impression that the evangelist begin the present section with the precise prediction of Christ;s passion, and of its date and nature, a prediction  uttered by Jesus two days before the pasch.”

Franz Xaver Poelzl: This announcement was made for various reasons.  The disciples had to be taught that Jesus was not outwitted by His enemies, but trod the path of suffering voluntarily, without fear or hesitation, being fully aware of all the circumstances.  The precise indication of the day when His Passion should begin was intended by our Lord to strengthen His disciples in their faith in Him, since the occurrence of the events foretold would testify to His omniscience.

Bishop MacEvilly: The word “Pasch,” signifies, a passing over, and contains an allusion commemorative of the occasion, when the destroying angel in Egypt smote the Egyptians, and passed over the huses of the Hebrews, the jambs of whose doors were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, slain on the occasion (Ex 12:1)-hence, the term Passover.  It is frequently employed to denote-firstly, the Paschal lamb, slain according to the law (Ex 12:60, on the evening of the 14th of the month, Nisan, the first month with the Jews, corresponding with our March (Ex 12:21; Deut 26:2; Lk 22:7; Matt 26:17; Mk 14:12; 1 Cor 5:7).  Secondly, The solemnity itself, as here, and ark 14:1; Lk 22:1).  Thirdly, Other victims, which were offered up with the Pascahl lamb, but after a different rite, as peace offerings (Deut 16:2; 2Paralip 35:7-9, 13).

The Son of Man. The persecuted Son of Man who would receive Eternal dominion, glory, kingship, etc., see Dan 7:13-14.

Delivered. (Greek: Paradidomi)  A key word, variously translated as arrest, betray, hand over.  It was used by Jesus in his passion prediction recorded in 17:22.  The word was used for the arrest of John the Baptist (4:2) and the lot of the disciples of Christ for preaching the Gospel (10:19, 21).

The above translation is in the future tense-“shall be delivered up”-, but the Greek is in the present tense-“is delivered up”.  Such a translation sounds on in English, but its intent in the Greek is to emphasize the certainty of what is to happen; which is why modern scholars refer to the usage as “the prophetic present tense.”  The Protestant reference work Vine’s Word Study: “The present tense expresses here something which, though future, is as good as present, because already determined, or because it must ensue in virtue of an unalterable law. Thus the passover is (γίνεται=ginomai): it must come round at the fixed season. The Son of Man is betrayed according to the divine decree. Compare Mat 26:24.”

Concerning this verse Origin writes: Origen:  “He foretells His crucifixion to His disciples, adding, “And the Son of Man shall be delivered to be crucified;” thus fortifying them against that shock of surprise, which the sight of their Master, led forth to crucifixion, would otherwise have occasioned them. And He expresses it impersonally “shall be delivered,” because God delivered Him up in mercy to the human race, Judas from covetousness, the Priest for envy, the Devil through fear that through His teaching the human race would be plucked out of His hand, little aware how much more that would be effected by His death, than either by His teaching or miracles.”

Mat 26:3  Then were gathered together the chief priests and ancients of the people, into the court of the high priest, who was called Caiphas:

The Gloss, as quoted by St Thomas Aquinas in his Catena Aurea: “Then the Evangelist lays before us the hidden springs and machinery by which the Lord’s Passion was brought to pass.”

Gathered together the chief priests and ancients (i.e., elders) of the people. The Greek συνάγω (sunago,  or synago) has the basic meaning of “to assemble,” “to convene,” etc.  The word was used in 2:4 to refer to Herod’s assembling together “the chief priests and scribes of the people” so that he might find out where the Christ had been born in order to kill him.  That ominous event foreshadowed the persecution and death of Christ.  In addition, Christ’s enemies are described as being gathered together against Him in 22:34 and 41 as he taught in the temple.  The word will also be used in reference to His enemies in 26:57; 27:17; 27:27; 27:62; 28:12.  In Psalm 2:2, a messianic psalm, the word appears in reference to pagan rulers who oppose the anointed son of David.  Many scholars believe that Matthew is insinuating that the Jewish rulers who handed Jesus over to crucifixion and opposed the fact of His resurrection were showing themselves to be pagan-like.

Origen: “Not true Priests and elders, but Priests and elders of what seemed the people of God, but was indeed the people of Gomorrah; these, not knowing God’s High Priest, laid a plot against Him, not recognizing “the firstborn of the whole creation, [Col 1:15] yea, even against Him that was elder than them all, did they take counsel.”

The court of the high priest.  This will be the scene of Peter’s threefold denial of our Lord (26:58, 69).  Repentant, he would leave the court and weep bitterly (26:75).

Caiphas.  According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, a contemporary of St Matthew’s, Caipahs was well known for his greed and lack of virtue.

Mat 26:4  And they consulted together that by subtilty they might apprehend Jesus and put him to death.

Mat 26:5  But they said: Not on the festival day, lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people.

Concerning these two verses St John Chrysostom writes: “For what then did they conspire, to seize Him secretly, or put Him to death? For both; but they feared the people, and therefore waited till the feast was over, for “they said, not on the feast-day.” For the Devil would not that Christ should suffer at the Passover, that His Passion might not be notorious. The Chief Priests had no fear in respect of God, namely, that their guilt might be aggravated by the season, but took into account human things only, “Lest there be an uproar among the people.””

Consulted together.  Another allusion to Psalm 2:2.  With the Passover so near, devout Jews would have already been preparing with diligence and reverence for the great Feast of freedom and life, but the leaders are conspiring to do evil; to take away a man’s freedom and life, and this by subtlety.

Subtilty (subtlety, craft, guile, deceit). In John 1:47 our Lord declared Nathaniel “a true Israelite in whom their is no guile.”  

Apprehend. The word in Greek is krateo, and it is used for Herod’s arrest of the Baptist in 14:3.  It was also used for the action of our Lord’s enemies in 21:46

But they said: Not on the festival day.  Concerning which Pope St Leo wrote: “This precaution of the Chief Priests arose not from reverence for the festival, but, from care for the success of their plot; they feared an insurrection at that season, not because of the guilt the populace might thereby incur, but because they might rescue Christ.”

As the account unfolds, however, we find that they are not in control of the time-line.  St John Chrysostom attributes this lack of control to their fury: “But their fury set aside their caution, and finding a betrayer, they put Christ to death in the middle of the feast.”  This was probably a factor, but surely Pope St Leo is more to the point when he attributes it primarily to the divine plan: “We recognise here a providential arrangement whereby the chief men of the Jews, who had often sought occasion of effecting their cruel purposes against Christ, could never yet succeed till the days of the paschal celebration. For it behoved that the things which had long been promised in symbol and mystery should be accomplished in manifest reality, that the typical lamb should be displaced by the true, and one sacrifice embrace the whole catalogue of the varied victims. That shadows should give way to substance, and copies to the presence of the original; victim is commuted for victim, blood is abolished by blood, and the festival of the Law is at once fulfilled and changed.”

Lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people. “Who assembled fro every part of Judea, on the occasion of the Paschal solemnity.  Among this assembled multitude, there were any of our Redeemer’s own countrymen from Galilee-many who had received benefits at His hands, cures of their bodily distempers, many, whose hunger He miraculously appeased in the desert-many, who regarded Him as a holy man and a prophet.  The enemies of our Divine Redeemer, therefore, calculated, that if any violence were resorted to against Him on this public occasion, when it was usual to release and pardon malefactors, the multitude, who, as we learn from Josephus, were prone to tumults, which caused the Roman Governor to station a body of soldiers near the temple, would resent it, and rescue Him out of their hands, and, perhaps, maltreat themselves.  Hence, they resolve that the apprehension and death of our Redeemer should either precede the Paschal solemnity, or be postponed till after it.  But, the designs of God are not to be frustrated by human machinations.  The true Passover Lamb was to have suffered on the Paschal solemnity, according to the decrees of God.  Hence, it came to pass, that the High Priests, &c., changing their minds, availed themselves of the unexpected opportunity presented to them, by the treason of Judas, for His apprehension; and, forgetful of the the sacredness of the Paschal solemnity, imbue their hands in His blood; while the multitude, whom they dread, seconding their efforts, called for His crucifixion, and invoked His innocent blood on their own heads, and those of their children; so that the designs of God, and the consequent predictions of our Redeemer, regarding the day, the hour, the place, and the manner of His death were fulfilled to the letter. (MacEvilly)

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Commentary On Today’s Responsorial Psalm

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2010

Actually, this commentary is on the whole Psalm and was given by Benedict XVI as he finished up the commentary series on the Psalms of the Divine Office started by Pope John Paul II.  It was delivered in two parts: First & Second

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