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

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 26:14-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 16, 2011

Ver  14. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the Chief Priests,15. And said unto them, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.16. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Gloss., non. occ.: Having described the occasion of his treachery, the Evangelist proceeds to recount the manner of it.

Chrys.: “Then,” when, that is, he heard that this Gospel should be preached every where; for that made him afraid, as it was indeed a mark of unspeakable power.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: The order of the narrative is this. The Lord says, “Ye know that after two days will be the feast of the Passover; . . . then assembled together the Chief Priests and Scribes; . . . then went one of the twelve.”

Thus the narrative of what took place at Bethany is inserted by way of digression, respecting an earlier time between that, “Lest there be an uproar,” and, “Then one of the twelve.”

Origen: “Went,” against that one high priest, who was made a Priest for ever, to many high priests, to sell for a price Him who sought to redeem the whole world.

Raban.: “Went,” he says, because he was neither compelled, nor invited, but of his own free will formed the wicked design.

Chrys.: “One of the twelve,” as much as to say, of that first band who are elected for preeminent merit.

Gloss, non. occ: He adds his distinctive appellation, “Scarioth,” for there was another Judas.

Remig.: So called from the village Scariotha, from which he came.

Leo, Serm., 60, 4: He did not out of any fear forsake Christ, but through lust of money cast Him off; for in comparison of the love of money all our affections are feeble; the soul athirst for gain fears not to die for a very little; there is no  trace of righteousness in that heart in which covetousness has once taken up its abode. The traitor Judas, intoxicated with this bane, in his thirst for lucre was so foolishly hardened, as to sell his Lord and Master.

Jerome: The wretched Judas would fain replace, by the sale of his Master, that loss which he supposed he had incurred by the ointment. And he does not demand any fixed sum, lest his treachery should seem a gainful thing, but as though delivering up a worthless slave, he left it to those who bought, to determine how much they would give.

Origen: The same do all who take any material or worldly things to cast out of their thoughts the Saviour and the word of truth which was in them. “And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver,” as many pieces as the Saviour had dwelt years in the world.

[ed. note: i.e. Before He began His ministry, as what follows in Origen shews. For though Origen had at one time considered the duration of Our Lord’s ministry not to have exceeded one year and a few months, he had changed that opinion before this commentary on S. Matt. was written. In it he more than once mentions three years as the probable period. vid. Comm. in Matt. Ser., sect 40]

Jerome: Joseph was not sold as many, following the LXX [septuagint], think for twenty pieces of gold, but as the Hebrew text has for twenty pieces of silver, [marg. note: Gen 37:28] for it could not be that the servant should be more valuable than his Master.

Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 41: That the Lord was sold for thirty pieces of silver by Judas, denotes the unrighteous Jews, who pursuing things carnal and temporal, which belong to the five bodily senses, refuse to have Christ; and forasmuch as they did this in the sixth age of the world, their receiving five times six as the price of the Lord is thus signified; and because the Lord’s words are silver, but they understood even the Law carnally, they had, as it were, stamped on silver the image of that worldly dominion which they held to when they renounced the Lord.

Origen: The “opportunity” which Judas sought is further explained by Luke, “how he might betray him in the absence of the multitude;” [Luke 22:6] when the populace was not with Him, but He was withdrawn with His disciples. And this he did, delivering Him up after supper, when He was withdrawn to the garden of Gethsemane. And from that time forward, such has been the season sought for by those that would betray the word of God in time of persecution, when the multitude of believers is not around the word of truth.

Ver  17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, “Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?”18. And he said, “Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples.”19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.

Gloss., non occ.: The Evangelist having gone through the events preliminary to the Passion, namely, the announcement of the counsel of the Chief Priests, and the covenant for His betrayal, prosecutes the history in the order of events, saying, “On the first day of unleavened bread.”

Jerome: The first day of unleavened bread is the fourteenth day of the first month, when the lamb is killed, the moon is at full, and leaven is put away.

Remig.: And observe that with the Jews, the Passover is celebrated on the first day, and the following seven are called the days of unleavened bread; but here the first day of unleavened bread means the day of the Passover.

Chrys., Hom. lxxxi: Or, by “the first day,” he means the day before the days of unleavened bread. For the Jews always reckoned their day from the evening; and this day of which he speaks was that on the evening of which they were to kill the Passover, namely, the fifth day of the week.

[ed. note: This passage has been altered by the text of S. Chrys. The Catena has, ‘Vel hanc primam diem azymorum dicit quia septem dies azymorum erant.”]

REMIG. But perhaps some one will say, If that typical lamb bore a type of this the true lamb, how did not Christ suffer on the night on which this was always killed? It is to be noted, that on this night, He committed to His disciples the mysteries of His flesh and blood to be celebrated, and then also being seized and bound by the Jews, He hallowed the commencement of His sacrifice, i.e. His Passion. “The disciples came” unto him;” among these no doubt was the traitor Judas.

Chrys.: Hence it is evident that He had neither house nor lodging. Nor, I conclude, had the disciples any, for they would surely have invited Him thither.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 80: “Go into the city to such a man,” Him whom Mark and Luke call “the good-man of the house,” or “the I master of the house.” And when Matthew says, “to such a man,” he is to be understood to say this as from himself for brevity’s sake; for every one knows that no man speaks thus, “Go ye to such a man.” And Matthew adds these words, “to such a man,” not that the Lord used the very expression, but to convey to us that the disciples were not sent to any one in the city, but to some certain person.

Chrys.: Or, we may say that this, “to such a man,” shews that He sent them to some person unknown to them, teaching them thereby that He was able to avoid His Passion. For He who prevailed with this man to entertain Him, how could He not have prevailed with those who crucified Him, had He chosen not to suffer? Indeed, I marvel not only that he entertained Him, being a stranger, but that he did it in contempt of the hatred of the multitude.

Hilary: Or, Matthew does not name the man in whose house Christ would celebrate the Passover, because the Christian name was not yet held in honour by the believers.

Raban.: Or, he omits the name, that all who would fain celebrate the true Passover, and receive Christ within the dwelling place of their own minds, should understand that the opportunity is afforded them.

Jerome: In this also the New Scripture observes the practice of the Old, in which we frequently read, ‘He said unto him,’ and ‘In this or that place,’ without any name of person or place.

Chrys.: “My time is at hand,” this He said, both by so manifold announcements of His Passion, fortifying His disciples against the event, and at the same time shewing that He undertook it voluntarily. “I will keep the Passover at thy house,” wherein we see, that to the very last day He was not disobedient to the Law. “With my disciples,” He adds, that there might be sufficient preparation made, and that he to whom He sent might not think that He desired to be concealed.

Origen: Some one may argue [marg. note: e.g. The Ebionites], that because Jesus kept the Passover with Jewish observances, we ought to do the same as followers of Christ, not remembering that Jesus was “made under the Law,” though not that He should leave “under the Law” [Gal 4:4] those who were under it, but should “lead them out” of it; how much less fitting then is it, that those who before were without the Law, should afterwards enter in? We celebrate spiritually the things which were carnally celebrated in the Law, keeping the Passover “in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” [1 Cor 5:8] according to the will of the Lamb, who said, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall not have life in you.” [John 6:53]

Ver  20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.21. And as they did eat, he said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.”22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, “Lord, is it I?”23. And he answered and said, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.24. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”25. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, “Master, is it I?” He said unto him, “Thou hast said.”

Jerome: The Lord had above foretold His Passion, He now foretels who is to be the traitor; thus giving him place of repentance, when he should see that his thoughts and the secret designs of his heart were known.Remig.: “With the twelve,” it is said, for Judas was personally among them, though he had ceased to be so in merit.

Jerome: Judas acts in every thing to remove all suspicion of his treachery.

Remig.: And it is beautifully said, “When even was come,” because it was in the evening that the Lamb was wont to be slain.

Raban.: For this reason also, because in Christ’s Passion, wherein the true sun hasted to his setting, eternal refreshment was made ready for all believers.

Chrys.: The Evangelist relates how as they sat at meat, Jesus declares Judas’ treachery, that the wickedness of the betrayer may be more apparent from the season and the circumstances.

Leo, Serm. 58, 3: He shews that the conscience of His betrayer was known to Him, not meeting his wickedness with a harsh and open rebuke, that penitence might find a readier way to one who had not been disgraced by public dismissal.

Origen: Or, He spoke generally, to prove the nature of each of their hearts, and to evince the wickedness of Judas, who would not believe in One who knew his heart. I suppose that at first he supposed that the thing was hid from Him, deeming Him man, which was of unbelief; but when he saw that his heart was known, he embraced the concealment offered by this general way of speaking, which was shamelessness.

This also shews the goodness of the disciples, that they believed Christ’s words more than their own consciences, “for they began each to say, Lord, is it I?” For they knew by what Jesus had taught them that human nature is readily turned to evil, and is in continual struggle with “the rulers of the darkness of this world;” [Eph 6:12] whence they ask as in fear, for by reason of our weakness the future is an object of dread to us.

When the Lord saw the disciples thus alarmed for themselves, He pointed out the traitor by the mark of the prophetic declaration, “He that hath eaten bread with me hath wantonly overthrown me.” [Ps 41:9]

Jerome: O wonderful endurance of the Lord, He had said before, “One of you shall betray me.” The traitor perseveres in his wickedness; He designates him more particularly, yet not by name. For Judas, while the rest were sorrowful, and withdrew their hands, and bid away the food from their months, with the same hardihood and recklessness which led him to betray Him, reached forth his hand into the dish with his Master, passing off his audacity as a good conscience.

Chrys.: I rather think that Christ did this out of regard for him, and to bring him to a better mind.

Raban.: What Matthew calls ‘paropsis,’ Mark calls ‘catinus.’ The ‘paropsis’ is a square dish for meat, ‘catinus,’ an earthen vessel for containing fluids; this then might be a square earthen vessel.

Origen: Such is the wont of men of exceeding wickedness, to plot against those of whose bread and salt they have partaken, and especially those who have no enmity against them. But if we take it of the spiritual table, and the spiritual food, we shall see the more abundant and overflowing measure of this man’s wickedness, who called to mind neither his Master’s love in providing carnal goods, nor His teaching in things spiritual. Such are all in the Church who lay snares for their brethren whom they continually meet at the same table of Christ’s Body.

Jerome: Judas, not withheld by either the first or second warning, perseveres in his treachery; the Lord’s long-suffering nourishes his audacity. Now then his punishment is foretold, that denunciations of wrath may correct where good feeling has no power.

Remig.: It belongs to human nature to come and go, Divine nature remains ever the same. So because His human nature could suffer and die, therefore of the Son of Man it is well said that “he goeth.” He says plainly, “As it is written of him,” for all that He suffered had been foretold by the Prophets.

Chrys.: This He said to comfort His disciples, that they might not think that it was through weakness that He suffered; and at the same time for the correction of His betrayer. And notwithstanding His Passion had been foretold, Judas is still guilty; and not his betrayal wrought our salvation, but God’s providence, which used the sins of others to our profit.

Origen: He said not, By whom “the Son of Man is betrayed,” but “through whom,” [John 13:2] pointing out another, to wit the Devil, as the author of His betrayal, Judas as the minister. But woe also to all betrayers of Christ! and such is every one who betrays a disciple of Christ.

Remig.: Woe also to all who draw near to Christ’s table with an evil and defiled conscience! who though they do not deliver Christ to the Jews to be crucified, deliver Him to their own sinful members to be taken. He adds, to give more emphasis, “Good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

Jerome: We are not to infer from this that man has a being before birth; for it cannot be well with any man till he has a being; it simply implies that it is better not to be, than to be in evil.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 40: And if it be contended that there is a life before this life, that will prove that not only not for Judas, but for none other is it good to have been born. Can it mean, that it were better for him not to have been born to the Devil, namely, for sin? Or does it mean that it had been good for him not to have been born to Christ at his calling, that he should now become apostate?

Origen: After all the Apostles had asked, and after Christ had spoken of him, Judas at length enquired of himself, with the crafty design of concealing his treacherous purpose by asking the same question as the rest; for real sorrow brooks not suspense.

Jerome: His question feigns either great respect, or a hypocritical incredulousness. The rest who were not to betray Him, said only “Lord;” the actual traitor addresses Him as “Master,” as though it were some excuse that he denied Him as Lord, and betrayed a Master only.

Origen: Or, out of sycophancy he calls Him Master, while be holds Him unworthy of the title.

Chrys.: Though the Lord could have said, Hast thou covenanted to receive silver, and darest to ask Me this? But Jesus, most merciful, said nothing of all this, therein laying down for us rules and landmarks of endurance of evil.  “He saith unto him, Thou hast said.”

Remig.: Which may be understood thus; Thou sayest it, and thou sayest what is true; or, Thou hast said this, not I; leaving him room for repentance so long as his villainy was not publicly exposed.

Raban.: This might have been so said by Judas, and answered by the Lord as not to be overheard by the rest.

4 Responses to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 26:14-25”

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