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

Catena Aurea On John 10:22-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 20, 2010

The following is taken from the Catena Aurea (The Golden Chain) compiled by St Thomas Aquinas.  It is a running commentary on the Gospel collected from the Fathers of the Church.  More resources for the Sunday readings can be found here.

Ver 22. And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.23. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.24. Then came the Jews round about him, and said to him, How long do you make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly.25. Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.26. But you believe not, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you.27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.28. And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.30. I and my Father are one.

AUG. And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication. Encænia is the feast of the dedication of the temple; from the Greek word signifying new. The dedication of any thing new was called encænia.

CHRYS. It was the feast of the dedication of the temple, after the return from the Babylonish captivity.

ALCUIN. Or, it was in memory of the dedication under Judas Maccabeus. The first dedication was that of Solomon in the autumn; the second that of Zorobabel, and the priest Jesus in the spring. This was in winter time.

BEDE. Judas Maccabeus instituted an annual commemoration of this dedication.

THEOPHYL. The Evangelist mentions the time of winter, to show that it was near His passion. He suffered in the following spring; for which reason He took up His abode at Jerusalem.

GREG. Or because the season of cold was in keeping with the cold malicious hearts of the Jews.

CHRYS. Christ was present with much zeal at this feast, and thenceforth stayed in Judea; His passion being now at hand. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

ALCUIN. It is called Solomon’s porch, because Solomon went to pray there. The porches of a temple are usually named after the temple. If the Son of God walked in a temple where the flesh of brute animals was offered up, how much more will He delight to visit our house of prayer, in which His own flesh and blood are consecrated;

THEOPHYL. Be you also careful, in the winter time, i.e. while yet in this stormy wicked world, to celebrate the dedication of your spiritual temple, by ever renewing yourself, ever rising upward in heart. Then will Jesus be present with you in Solomon’s porch, and give you safety under His covering. But in another life no man will be able to dedicate Himself.

AUG. The Jews cold in love, burning in their malevolence, approached Him not to honor, but persecute. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said to Him, How long do you make us to doubt? If You be the Christ, tell us plainly. They did not want to know the truth, but only to find ground of accusation.

CHRYS. Being able to find no fault with His works, they tried to catch Him in His words. And mark their perversity. When He instructs by His discourse, they say, What sign show You? When He demonstrates by His works, they say, If you be the Christ, tell us plainly. Either way they are determined to oppose Him.

There is great malice in that speech, Tell us plainly. He had spoken plainly, when up at the feasts, and had hid nothing. They preface however with flattery: How long do you make us to doubt? as if they were anxious to know the truth, but really only meaning to provoke Him to say something that they might lay hold of.

ALCUIN. They accuse Him of keeping their minds in suspense and uncertainty, who had come to save their souls.

AUG. They wanted our Lord to say, I am the Christ. Perhaps, as they had human notions of the Messiah, having failed to discern His divinity in the Prophets they wanted Christ to confess Himself the Messiah, of the seed of David; that they might accuse Him of aspiring to the regal power.

ALCUIN. And thus they intended to give Him into the hands of the Proconsul for punishment, as an usurper against the emperor. Our Lord so managed His reply as to stop the mouths of His calumniators, open those of the believers; and to those who inquired of Him as a man, reveal the mysteries of His divinity: Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.

CHRYS. He reproves their malice, for pretending that a single word would convince them, whom so many words had not. If you do not believe My works, He says, how will you believe My words? And He adds why they do not believe: But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep.

AUG. He saw that they were persons predestinated to eternal death, and not those for whom He had bought eternal life, at the price of His blood. The sheep believe, and follow the Shepherd.

THEOPHYL. After He had said, You are not of My sheep, He exhorts them to become such: My sheep hear My voice.

ALCUIN. i.e. Obey My precepts from the heart. And I know them, and they follow Me, here by walking in gentleness and innocence, hereafter by entering the joys of eternal life.

And I give to them eternal life.

AUG. This is the pasture of which He spoke before And shall find pasture. Eternal life is called a goodly pasture: the grass thereof wither not, all is spread with verdure. But these cavilers thought only of this present life. And they shall not perish eternally; as if to say, you shall perish eternally, because you are not of My sheep.

THEOPHYL. But how then did Judas perish? Because he did not continue to the end. Christ speaks of them who persevere. If any sheep is separated from the flock, and wanders from the Shepherd, it incurs danger immediately.

AUG. And He adds why they do not perish: Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. Of those sheep of which it is said, The Lord knows them that are His, the wolf robs none, the thief takes none, the robber kills none. Christ is confident of their safety; and He knows what He gave up for them.

HILARY. This is the speech of conscious power. Yet to show, that though of the Divine nature He has His nativity from God, He adds, My Father which gave Me them is greater than all. He does not conceal His birth from the Father, but proclaims it. For that which He received from the Father, He received in that He was born from Him. He received it in the birth itself, not after it; though He was born when He received it.

AUG. The Son, born from everlasting of the Father, God from God, has not equality with the Father by growth, but by birth. This is that greater than all which the Father gave Him b; viz. to be His Word, to be His Only-Begotten Son, to be the brightness of His light.

Wherefore no man takes His sheep out of His hand, any more than from His Father’s hand: And no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. If by hand we understand power, the power of the Father and the Son is one, even as Their divinity is one. If we understand the Son, the Son is the hand of the Father, not in a bodily sense, as if God the Father had limbs, but as being He by Whom all things were made.

Men often call other men hands, when they make use of them for any purpose. And sometimes a man’s work is itself called his hand, because made by his hand; as when a man is said to know his own hand, when be recognizes his own handwriting. In this place, however, hand signifies power. If we take it for Son, we shall be in danger of imagining that if the Father has a hand, and that hand is His Son, the Son must have a Son too.

HILARY. The hand of the Son is spoken of as the hand of the Father, to let you see, by a bodily representation, that both have the same nature, that the nature and virtue of the Father is in the Son also.

CHRYS. Then that you may not suppose that the Father’s power protects the sheep, while He is Himself too weak to do so, He adds, I and My Father are one.

AUG. Mark both those words, one and are, and you will be delivered from Scylla and Charybdis. In that He says, one the Arian, in we are the Sabellian, is answered. There are both Father and Son. And if one, then there is no difference of persons between them.

AUG. We are one. What He is, that am I, in respect of essence, not of relation.

HILARY. The heretics, since they cannot gainsay these words, endeavor by an impious lie to explain them away. They maintain that this unity is unanimity only; a unity of will, not of nature, i.e. that the two are one, not in that they are the same, but in that they will the same. But they are one, not by any economy merely, but by the nativity of the Son’s nature, since there is no falling off of the Father’s divinity in begetting Him.

They are one whilst the sheep that are not plucked out of the Son’s hand, are not plucked out of the Father’s hand: whilst in Him working, the Father works; whilst He is in the Father, and the Father in Him. This unity, not creation but nativity, not will but power, not unanimity but nature accomplishes.

But we deny not therefore the unanimity of the Father and Son; for the heretics, because we refuse to admit concord in the place of unity, accuse us of making a disagreement between the Father and Son. We deny not unanimity, but we place it on the ground of unity. The Father and Son are one in respect of nature, honor, and virtue: and the same nature cannot will different things.

6 Responses to “Catena Aurea On John 10:22-30”

  1. […] The Catena Aurea on John 10:22-30.  A running commentary compiled from the Fathers of the Church by St Thomas Aquinas. […]

  2. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 10:22-30). Previously posted. […]

  3. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 10:22-30). Previously posted. […]

  4. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 10:22-30). […]

  5. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 10:22-30). […]

  6. […] Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 10:27-30. On 22-30. […]

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