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 January 1st, 2012

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 5:5-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

1Jn 5:5  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Who is he that overcometh the world, &c.  For by believing he hopes, by hoping he invokes, by invoking he loves Christ, and therefore he is strengthened by the grace of Christ to despise the world, and by despising he overcomes it, according to the saying of S. Paul, “I am able to do all things in Him who strengtheneth me.” For he who believes in Christ, ought to follow the precepts of Christ and obey Him, not the world.

S. John proves his thesis ex hypothesi, the general from the particular. He proves, I say, that faith is the victory of believers, because the faith of Christ is the victory over the world. And at the same time he confutes Cerinthus, Ebion, and the other heretics of that age, who denied the Divinity of Christ. Hence when Peter confessed this doctrine, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the Living God,” he deserved to hear from Him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.”

1Jn 5:6  This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth that Christ is the truth.

This is he that cam by water and blood, Jesus Christ. This is Messias, the Son of God, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, whom the Prophets foretold should come to redeem the world by His Blood, and purify it by the water of baptism, as is plain from Ezek 36:47, and Zech 12:13. John proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that is, that Jesus is true Man and true God. He does this, ist. Because He is He who came, Greek,  ο ελθων, i.e., He, the Coming One, the Messias, who indeed the Prophets promised should come: whom the Scripture (Isa 9:6. and else where) signified should be God and the Son of God. Wherefore Coming or About to come is the Name of Messiah. For so the Jews called Him from the prophetic oracles. This is plain from S. John 1:15, &c.

Again, he proves the same thing from the water and the blood of which the Body of Christ was constituted, and which He shed for us. For they signify, 1st. That Christ was a true man, and not a phantasm, as Simon Magus and Manes pretended. For the human body is composed of water and blood.

2nd. The water and blood proved that Christ is true God. One reason is that the Blood of Christ was the full price of our redemption, entirely satisfying God for the offences of our sins. Therefore it was necessary that the Blood should be the Blood of a God-man, a man hypostatically united to God: for the blood of a mere man could not be an adequate price for offences against God. A second reason is, because Christ by the virtue of His Blood in ordaining baptism, endowed it with a Divine power to expiate all the sins of all men. Therefore it was necessary for Him to be God. For Christ did this per se, and authoritatively, not ministerially as dependent upon some one else. But per se to institute a sacrament to remit and atone for sin is a work of Divine power.

There is an allusion in the first place to the water and blood of the victims with which Moses ratified the Old Testament (Ex 24:8). By this he signified that Christ by His own Blood and Water would ratify the New Testament. Hear S. Paul, Heb 9:19, “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and
scarlet wool, and hyssop,” &c.

There is an allusion, secondly, to the water and blood which miraculously flowed from the side of Christ when He was dead upon the Cross. For a dead body, instead of the blood and water of a living one, naturally emits gore (saniem). S. John alone of the Evangelists records this emission of blood and water. By these two it was set forth that by the power of the blood of Christ the faithful should be cleansed from their sins by the water of Baptism. And this is the meaning of the Bride, i.e. the Church, when she says (Cant. 5. 10), “My Beloved is white and ruddy.” (So Cyril, Hieros. Cat. 13; S. Augustine, lib. 2 de Catech. rud. c. 6; S. Leo, Epist 45, Hier. 83; Damascene, 4 de Fide, c. 10; Suarez, 3 part, quast. 53, disput. 41, and others.) From hence our Salmeron is of opinion that Christ always mingled water with His Blood, viz., tears at His circumcision, His Bloody Sweat, His Scourging, and on the Cross before His death. And that this was why He ordered water to be mingled with wine in the Eucharistic Chalice to be converted into His Blood.

Moreover, S. John distinguishes Christ s Baptism from that of John the Baptist, because the latter was in water only, and, therefore unavailing for the remission of sins. But Christ’s Baptism was in water and blood, and therefore availing to that end. Again, he confutes the Ebionites, who thought that God was appeased with mere water, and who therefore washed themselves daily with water, and offered water only, without wine, in the Eucharistic Chalice, because they denied that we were redeemed by the Blood of Christ. (See Irenaeus, lib. 5 c. i.)

Lastly, Tertullian (lib. de Bapt. c. 16) says, Christ came by water when he was baptized by John, by blood when He suffered, that “He might be washed by water, glorified by blood,” by the victory of His Passion and Death. “He would have us called by water, elected by blood. This twofold Baptism He shed forth from the wound in His pierced side, that they who believed in His Blood might be washed with water, and that those who were laved with the water of Baptism might also drink His Blood in the Eucharist”

Tropologically: S. Bernard explains it to mean a twofold baptism and a twofold martyrdom: ist, Of compunction by tears; 2nd, By the desire of mortification. “Now because we have said that baptism is signified by water, martyrdom by blood, remember that there is one only and daily baptism, one only and daily martyrdom. For there is indeed a kind of martyrdom and a certain effusion of blood in the daily affliction of the body. There is also a species of baptism in compunction of the heart and frequent tears.”

This is he that came by water and blood. Some Greek codices add and by spirit: not by water only, but by water and blood, and by spirit.

And it is the Spirit which testifieth that Christ is the truth. (Vulg.) The Greek has οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια, i.e., The Spirit is the Truth. This is also the reading of the Syriac. The meaning is, It is the Spirit who recently at Pentecost testified that Christ is the Son of God. Him therefore we must believe because He is the Spirit of Truth, and the Truth Itself. But the genuine reading is, Because Christ is Truth. For the Apostle is here treating of Christ, and Christ’s proper name is the Truth.

To the obscure and as it were dead testimony of water and blood, is added the clear and living witness of the Holy Ghost. For He as well during Christ’s (earthly) life, in which He wrought miracles by Him to bear witness to this, as also after His death and resurrection, when He was sent by Him to the Apostles at Pentecost, testified by their mouth, and preached everywhere that Christ was the Truth, i.e. true God. For Christ, in that He is God is the Word, and therefore the Truth and Wisdom of the Father. In that He is man, He is the true ambassador and interpreter of the Father, who opened out the shadows of the Old Law, and published the true doctrine concerning God, according to His own words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Hence too the Aaronic High Priest bore, as a type of Christ the true and real High Priest, the Urim and Thummim, i.e. doctrine and truth, in his breastplate.

1Jn 5:7  And there are Three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.

And there are three who give testimony in heaven, &c. S. John here more fully explains and confirms the testimony already adduced of the water, the blood and the spirit concerning Christ. The particle and  (οτι = “because”, “and”, “for”,) is partly confirmatory of what He had said in the 5th ver. that Jesus is the Son of God, partly of what he said in the 6th, that the Spirit bears witness that Jesus is true God. For this is here confirmed because the Holy Spirit is one of the three witnesses who in heaven bear testimony to Christ.

S. Jerome (Pref. in Epist. Canon.) observes that this verse had been erased by unbelievers, i.e. the Arians, from some Greek copies. Therefore it is not found in the Syriac, Clement of Alexandria, Bede, Œcumenius, and some others. It is, however, the constant reading of the Latin Bibles, and the more correct Greek MSS. and of many of the ancients, SS. Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome, Cyprian, the Lateran Council, at which Greeks were present. Therefore it is certain that these words are to be taken as canonical Scripture.

The meaning then is this All the Three Persons of the Sacred Trinity in heaven and from heaven bear testimony to the angels, but especially to men (for to men S. John chiefly refers) concerning Christ, that He is the true Messiah and the Son of God. This the Father did at His Baptism and Transfiguration. Again, when He answered Christ by thunder out of heaven, “I have both glorified, and will glorify Thee again” (John 12:18). Similarly also the Holy Ghost bore witness when He descended upon Christ in the form of a dove, and poured out Himself upon the Apostles and other Christians at Pentecost. And this was the result of Christ’s prediction, promise, and mission. Wherefore the same Holy Spirit by the mouths of the Apostles preached little else save Christ The Son also very often declared, taught, and proved convincingly by His miracles that He was the Messias and the Son of God, as is plain from the whole Gospel of S. John. Therefore heaven and earth mutually agree, yea the whole universe appears at one, in bearing this witness to Christ.

And these three are one– as in nature and Divine Essence, so likewise in intelligence, voice, and testimony, concerning Christ. For all these things in the Holy Trinity are one and the same. There is another reading of these words in the Greek, signifying These Three are into One (in unum), but the Latin and other Greek copies have These Three are One (Hi tres unum sunt), signifying the oneness of Substance of the Holy Trinity, that the Three Persons have one and the same undivided Godhead.

1Jn 5:8  And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit and the water and the blood. And these three are one.

And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit and the water and the blood. Three (tres in the masc.). He might have said tria in the neuter, for the Greek πνευμα (spirit),  υδωρ (water), and αιμα (blood), are all in that gender. But he chose to say tres, to show that these three earthly witnesses concur with, yea represent, the Three Heavenly witnesses already spoken of. So says S. Augustine. By a figure of speech, personality is attributed to these earthly witnesses, as speaking with man’s voice. S. John sets the human and earthly testimony over against the Divine. Some think that the Three Witnesses in heaven are witnesses to Christ s Divinity, and the three on earth witnesses to His Humanity. Among these are Innocent III. (cap. in quad, de Celebrat. Miss.), and S. Thomas. But it is better to take both classes as attesting the Divinity. For this is what S. John undertook to prove (per. 5), because Cerinthus and others denied it. And this is why he subjoins presently, He that believeth in the Son of God hath the testimony of God in himself (ver. 10).

There are Three. S. John places a twofold Trinity of witnesses to Christ, who testify of His Divinity, and that He is the Son of God. And he sets the one over against the other. Indeed, he unites them as regards their office of witness bearing. The first are uncreated, viz., the Father, the Son, and the Ghost. The second are created, the Spirit, the water, and the blood. These emanate from the uncreated witnesses, and correspond to them. For water refers to the Father, blood to the Son, spirit to the Holy Ghost. For the Father is the beginning (principiuni) of all things, as like wise is water. For out of water were formed the heavens, the air, the birds and the fishes, as I have shown in the beginning of Genesis. Again, water nourishes herbs, trees, plants, and every living thing. Wherefore, also, the heavens are called in Hebrew scamaim, i.e. waters. Again, water signifies the affluence of goods and graces which there is in God the Father, according to the words in Isaiah 12, “You shall draw water with joy from the wells of the Saviour.” ( Vulg.) It is well known that the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a god, because all their crops were due to the over flowing of the Nile. Moreover, water appositely represents the mercy and goodness of God the Father. At the present day some of the Indians adore water. Suidas, under the word Brachmans, says that the Brahmins lived to a very great age because they drank nothing but water. Apollonias of Syana was wont to say that those who drink water never suffer from giddiness in the head.

  On earth– from earth: like as the first Three testify in heaven, i.e. from heaven, to men dwelling on earth.

The Spirit, the water, and the blood- the spirit, namely, which Christ when dying on the Cross committed into the hands of the Father. Also the water and the blood which flowed from the side of Christ testify that Christ was truly not only man, but God, because by these, as by a just price, Christ made satisfaction to an offended God. Again, His spirit, because it went forth with a loud cry, showed Him to be God. Wherefore the centurion, when he saw that He thus cried out and expired, said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” For speech fails those who are at the point of death. This cry of Christ was then miraculous and not natural, signifying that Christ was more than human, and therefore that He died of His own will, and not through weakness.

2nd. S. Augustine Lyra and the Gloss understand by the Spirit in this place the Holy Ghost shed forth at Pentecost. For He testified that Christ was God.

3rd. (Ecumenius understands by Spirit the Holy Ghost given at Baptism. “In Baptism,” he says, “by water Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the witness of the Father.”

Anagogically: but very appropriately, and almost literally, the water, the blood, and the spirit that were emitted by Christ upon the Cross, but resumed by Him at His resurrection, signify that He was the very promised Messiah, the conqueror of death and hell, and therefore the Son of God. For Christ rose again by His own power, and resumed these three things.

Mystically:  by spirit, water, and blood are signified the three things which concur for our justification. As S. Ambrose says, “By the Spirit our mind is renewed, by water we are washed; the blood is the price.”

Allegorically: by these three things are signified the three chief sacraments which bear testimony to Christ, as instituted by Him, and as sanctifying by virtue of His merits. Water signifies Baptism, blood the Eucharistic Chalice, the Spirit penance. Whence by breathing the Spirit upon His Apostles Christ gave them the power of remitting sins.

Symbolically: Baldwin of Canterbury, whose work I examined in manuscript at Louvain (lib. i de Eucharist, c. 48) says, The spirit of the righteous, the tears of penitents, the blood of the martyrs bear witness that Christ is the Redeemer.”

S. Augustine upon this passage thinks that by these three earthly witnesses the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are denoted, viz., the Father by the spirit, the Son by the the blood, the Holy Ghost by the water. For of the Father it is said, “God is a Spirit” (Jn 4:14), the Son assumed the blood and flesh of man s nature. Of the Holy Ghost it is spoken: “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of
living water” (Jn 7:18.).  And for this reason they are called tres in the masculine, not tria, three things, in the neuter.

Tropologically:  S. Bernard (Serm. 2 in Oct. Pasch.0 says, “By the blood, the water, and the spirit thou hast witness unto righteousness; that thou art born again through Christ, if thou refrainest from sin, if thou bringest forth worthy fruits of penance, if thou doest living works.” The blood there signifies continence, the water tears, the Spirit spirit, and works which testify that we are regenerated and made holy. “He also shows that these three things are opposed to three things which are in the world, and overcome them. For the concupiscence of the flesh is overcome by the mortification of the blood, the lust of the eyes by the compunction of tears, the pride of life, or the spirit of vanity, by the spirit of charity.” S. Bernard adds (Serm. 76) that there are in like manner three witnesses in hell, the worm by which the conscience is gnawed, the fire which burns both soul and body, and the spirit of despair. “By the witnesses in heaven,” he says, “is given the witness of beatitude, by those in earth of justification, by those in hell of damnation. The first testimony is of glory, the second of grace, the third of wrath.

And these three are one. Some Greek and Latin codices, as the Complutensian and the Royal, omit these words. Wherefore S. Thomas (Opusc. 24 in 2 decret.) says, that they were foisted in by the Arians, that it might be gathered that the Three heavenly Persons are not spoken of as being one in Essence, but only as bearing witness. But many of the Latin and the more correct Greek copies
have the words, but read, These three are into one (in unum). And the Syriac, These three are in one (in uno), meaning to say, the water, the blood, and the spirit of Christ are not one as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are One, but that they are referred to One, &c., Christ and His Humanity, or mystically to one justifying and perfecting of man.

1Jn 5:9  If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God, which is greater, because he hath testified of his Son.

If we receive the testimony of men, &c. If we give credit to man’s testimony, much more ought we to believe the witness of God concerning Christ. It is greater both in dignity and authority, in truth and certainty. For God infinitely surpasses all men and angels in majesty and veracity. He is the first and supreme Verity, who cannot lie, neither can He deceive, or be deceived. As S.
Paul declares (Rom 3:4), “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Moreover, the testimony of the Church, of the Apostles and Prophets, is the testimony of God, for the Church is governed by the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of Truth.

For this is the testimony of God, &c. The word For here is not so much causative as explanatory, and means the same as but. The meaning is, But this is God’s testimony, because, i.e. which, He has testified, &c., namely, as He testified at the Baptism of Christ, and at many other times, “This is My Beloved Son.”

1Jn 5:10  He that believeth in the Son of God hath the testimony of God in himself. He that believeth not the Son maketh him a liar: because he believeth not in the testimony which God hath testified of his Son.

He that believeth in the Son of God hath the testimony of God in himself.  1st. Because he hath in him the thing attested by God, namely this truth, that Christ is the Son of God.

2nd. Because he hath in himself the very witness of God, and God Himself attesting.

3rd. This testimony is the faith itself by which we believe the witness of God. There is a metonymy, because the object is put instead of the habit, or act tending to the object. It means, he who believes has a special gift of God, viz., faith. And this includes the witness, or testimony of God, and God Himself attests, which marvellously honours the believer, and makes him strong to confess Christ.

4th. This testimony may be taken to signify the regeneration and adoption, the grace and glory of the believer meaning, He who believes in the Son of God hath in himself the witness of God, namely, that by which God witnesses to his soul and conscience by means of this faith with which he believes in Christ, that he is faithful, and a son and heir of God.

He that believeth not the Son, &c. As he that believeth in the Son, and receives God s testimony concerning Him, makes God to be true, and honours and worships Him; so, on the contrary, he that believeth not the Son, and rejects God’s testimony concerning Him, makes God false, and does Him great despite.

Observe: instead of believe, the Greek has πεπιστευκεν, hath believed. This is a Hebraism by which the perfect is put for any tense.

1Jn 5:11  And this is the testimony that God hath given to us eternal life. And this life is in his Son.

And this is the testimony, &c. This means, 1st. God hath not only testified that Christ is His Son, but also that He is our Saviour and Redeemer, so that he who believes in Him is justified, and receives the spiritual life of grace and glory.

2nd. This very thing is the end and fruit of the testimony, i.e. of the faith by which we believe God s witness concerning Christ, that by this faith we obtain the life of grace and glory. There is an allusion and reference to the words of the Gospel (Jn 17:3), “Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

That hath given to us eternal life. By these words that hath given, S. John denotes the firmness and certainty both of the Divine promise and of our hope, namely, that we are just as sure of everlasting life, if we persevere in faith and obedience, as if it had been actually now bestowed upon us.

The primitive Christians represented this faith and hope of life eternal by the Phoenix, which after death is said to be born again and rise up in a fresh and youthful life, as Lactantius testifies in his poem on the Phoenix. Therefore it was often depicted on the tombs of the faithful. S. Cecilia, as the Acts relate, ordered it to be sculptured on the sarcophagus of S. Maximus the Martyr. So too at Rome the Phoenix is often found depicted on tombs in the catacombs. For Christ rising again to life eternal is our Phoenix. And He by raising up Christians to the same life, will make them phoenixes likewise.

1Jn 5:12  He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath not the Son hath not life.

He that hath the Son, i.e. by faith, love, and obedience, hath life, of grace in fact, of glory in hope. He alludes to the words in his own Gospel, “He that believeth in the Son hath life everlasting: but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him. ” (Jn 3:36).

1Jn 5:13  These things I write to you that you may know that you have eternal life: you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

The name of the Son of God is put for the thing signified, the Son of God Himself. There is an allusion to his own Gospel (Jn 20:31): “But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.”

S. John here reckons up three fruits of a living faith in Christ. The first, eternal life in this verse; the second, confidence of obtaining all things from God (ver. 14); the third is complete banishment of sin, and moral sinlessness (ver. 18).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on 1 John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:43-51

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

Ver 43. The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and finds Philip, and said to him, Follow me.44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter45. Philip finds Nathaniel, and said to him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph46. And Nathaniel said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see.

CHRYS. After gaining these disciples, Christ proceeded to convert others, viz. Philip and Nathanael: The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee.

ALCUIN. Leaving, that is, Judea, where John was baptizing, out of respect to the Baptist, and not to appear to lower his office, so long as it continued. He was going too to call a disciple, and wished to go forth into Galilee, i.e. to a place of “transition” or “revelation,” that is to say, that as He Himself increased in wisdom or stature, and in favor with God and man, and as He suffered and rose again, and entered into His glory: so He would teach His followers to go forth, and increase in virtue, and pass through suffering to joy. He finds Philip, and said to him, Follow Me. Everyone follows Jesus who imitates His humility and suffering, in order to be partaker of His resurrection and ascension.

CHRYS. Observe, He did not call them, before some had of their own accord joined Him: for had He invited them, before any had joined Him, perhaps they would have started back: but now having determined to follow of their own free choice, they remain firm ever after. He calls Philip, however, because he would be known to him, from living in Galilee. But what made Philip follow Christ? Andrew heard from John the Baptist, and Peter from Andrew; he had heard from no one, and yet on Christ saying, Follow Me, was persuaded instantly. It is not improbable that Philip may have heard John: and yet it may have been the mere voice of Christ which produced this effect.

THEOPHYL. For the voice of Christ sounded not like a common voice to some, that is, the faithful, but kindled in their inmost soul the love of Him. Philip having been continually meditating on Christ, and reading the books of Moses, so confidently expected Him, that the instant he saw, he believed. Perhaps too he had heard of Him from Andrew and Peter, coming from the same district; an explanation which the Evangelist seems to hint at, when he adds, Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

CHRYS. The power of Christ appears by His gathering fruit out of a barren country. For form that Galilee, out of which there arises no prophet, He takes His most distinguished disciples.

ALCUIN. Bethsaida means house of hunters. The Evangelist introduces the name of this place by way of allusion to the characters of Philip, Peter, and Andrew, and their future office, i.e. catching and saving souls.

CHRYS. Philip is not persuaded himself, but begins preaching to others: Philip finds Nathanael, and said to him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph. See how zealous he is, and how constantly he is meditating on the books of Moses, and looking for Christ’s coming. That Christ was coming he had known before; but he did not know that this was the Christ, of whom Moses and the Prophets did write: He says this to give credibility to his preaching, and to show his zeal for the Law and the Prophets, and how that he had examined them attentively. Be not disturbed at his calling our Lord the Son of Joseph; this was what He was supposed to be.

AUG. The person to whom our Lord’s mother had been betrothed. The Christians know from the Gospel, that He was conceived and born of an undefiled mother. He adds the place too, of Nazareth.

THEOPHYL. He was bred up there: the place of His birth could not have been known generally, but all knew that He was bred up in Nazareth.   And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth.

AUG. However you may understand these words, Philip’s answer wild suit. You may read it either as affirmatory, Something good can come out of Nazareth; to which the other says, Come and see: or you may read it as a question, implying doubt on Nathanael’s part, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Come and see. Since either way of reading agrees equally with what follows, we must inquire the meaning of the passage. Nathanael was well read in the Law, and therefore the word Nazareth (Philip having said that he had found Jesus of Nazareth) immediately raises his hopes, and he exclaims, Something good can come out of Nazareth. He had searched the Scriptures, and knew, what the Scribes and Pharisees could not, that the Savior was to be expected thence.

ALCUIN. He who alone is absolutely holy, harmless, undefiled; of whom the prophet said, There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch (Nazaraus) shall grow out of his roots. Or the words may be taken as expressing doubt, and asking the question.

CHRYS. Nathanael knew from the Scriptures, that Christ was to come from Bethlehem, according to the prophecy of Micah, And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, – out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. On hearing of Nazareth, then, he doubted, and was not able to reconcile Philip’s tidings with prophecy. For the Prophets call Him a Nazarene, only in reference to His education and mode of life. Observe, however, the discretion and gentleness with which he communicates his doubts. He does not say, You deceive me, Philip; but simply asks the question, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip too in turn is equally discrete. He is not confounded by the question, but dwells upon it, and lingers in the hope of bringing him to Christ: Philip said to him, Come and see. He takes him to Christ, knowing that when he had once tasted of His words and doctrine, he will make no more resistance.

Ver  47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!48. Nathanael said to him, Whence know you me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.49. Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.50. Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, believe you? you shall see greater things than these.51. And he said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

CHRYS. Nathanael, in difficulty as to Christ coming out of Nazareth, showed the care with which he had read the Scriptures: his not rejecting the tidings when brought him, showed his strong desire for Christ’s coming. He thought that Philip might be mistaken as to the place. It follows, Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! There was no fault to be found with him, though he had spoken like one who did not believe, because he was more deeply read in the Prophets than Philip. He calls him guileless, because he had said nothing to gain favor, or gratify malice.

AUG. What means this, In whom is no guile? Had he no sin? Was no physician necessary for him? Far from it. No one was ever born, of a temper not to need the Physician. It is guile, when we say one thing, and think another. How then was there no guile in him? Because, if he was as a sinner, he confessed his sin; whereas if a man, being a sinner, pretends to be righteous, there is guile in his mouth. Our Lord then commended the confession of sin in Nathanael; He did not pronounce him not a sinner.

THEOPHYL. Nathanael however, notwithstanding this praise, does not acquiesce immediately, but waits for further evidence, and asks, Whence know You me?

CHRYS. He asks as man, Jesus answers as God: Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you: not having, beheld him as man, but as God discerning him from above. I saw you, He says, that is, the character of the life, when you were under the fig tree: where the two, Philip and Nathanael, had been talking together alone, nobody, seeing them; and on this account it is said, that on seeing him a long way off, He said, Behold an Israelite indeed; whence it appears that this speech was before Philip came near, so that no suspicion could attach to Christ’s testimony. Christ would not say, I am not of Nazareth, as Philip told you, but of Bethlehem; in order to avoid an argument: and because it would not have been sufficient proof, had He mentioned it, of His being the Christ. He preferred rather proving this by His having been present at their conversation.

AUG. Has this fig tree any meaning? We read of one fig tree which was cursed, because it had only leaves, and no fruit. Again, at the creation, Adam and Eve, after sinning, made themselves aprons of fig leaves. Fig leaves then signify sins; and Nathanael, when he was under the fig tree, was under the shadow of death: so that our Lord seems to say, O Israel, whoever of you is without guile, O people of the Jewish faith, before that I called you by My Apostles, when you were as yet under the shadow of death, and saw Me not, I saw you.

GREG. When you were under the fig tree, I saw you; i.e. when you were yet under the shade of the law, I chose you.

AUG. Nathanael remembered that he had been under the fig tree, where Christ was not present corporeally, but only by His spiritual knowledge. Hence, knowing that he had been alone, he recognized our Lord’s Divinity.

CHRYS. That our Lord then had this knowledge, had penetrated into his mind, had not blamed but praised his hesitation, proved to Nathanael that He was the true Christ: Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel: as if he said, You are He who was expected, you are He who was sought for. Sure proof being obtained, he proceeds to make confession; herein showing his devotion, as his former hesitation had shown his diligence.

ID. Many when they read this passage, are perplexed at finding that, whereas Peter was pronounced blessed for having, after our Lord’s miracles and teaching, confessed Him to be the Son of God, Nathanael, who makes the same confession before, has no such benediction. The reason is this. Peter and Nathanael both used the same words, l but not in the same meaning. Peter confessed our Lord to he the Son of God, in the sense of very God; the latter in the sense of mere man; for after saying, You are the Son of God, he adds, You are the King of Israel; whereas the Son of God was not the King of Israel only, but of the whole world. This is manifest from what follows. For in the case of Peter Christ added nothing, but, as if his faith were perfect, said, that he would build the Church upon his confession; whereas Nathanael, as if his confession were very deficient, is led up to higher things: Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, believe you? You shall see greater things than these. As if He said, What I have just said has appeared a great matter to you, and you have confessed Me to be King of Israel; what will you say when you see greater things than these? What that greater thing is He proceeds to show: And He said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. See how He raises him from earth for a while, and forces him to think that Christ is not a mere man: for how could He be a mere man, whom angels ministered to? It was, as, as it were, saying, that He was Lord of the Angels; for He must be the King’s own Son, on whom the servants of the King descended and ascended; descended at His crucifixion, ascended at His resurrection and ascension. Angels too before this came and ministered to Him, and angels brought the glad tidings of His birth. Our Lord made the present a proof of the future. After the powers He had already shown, Nathanael would readily believe that much more would follow.

AUG. Let us recollect the Old Testament account. Jacob saw in a dream a ladder reaching from earth to heaven; the Lord resting upon it, and the angels ascending and descending upon it. Lastly, Jacob himself understanding what the vision meant, set up a stone, and poured oil upon it. When he anointed the stone, did he make an idol? No: he only set up a symbol, not an object of worship You see here the anointing; see the Anointed also. He is the stone which the builders refused. If Jacob, who was named Israel, saw the ladder, and Nathanael was an Israelite indeed, there was a fitness in our Lord telling him Jacob’s dream; as if he said, Whose name you are called by, his dream has appeared to you: for you shall see the heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. If they descend upon Him, and ascend to Him, then He is both up above and here below at the same time; above in Himself, below in His members.

AUG. Good preachers, however, who preach Christ, are as angels of God; i.e. they ascend and descend upon the Son of man; as Paul, who ascended to the third heaven, and descended so far even as to give milk to babes. He said, We shall see greater things than these: because it is a greater thing that our Lord has justified us, whom He has called, than that He saw us lying under the shadow of death. For had we remained where He saw us, what profit would it have been? It is asked why Nathanael, to whom our Lord bears such testimony, is not found among the twelve Apostles. We may believe, however, that it was because he was so learned, and versed in the law, that our Lord had not put him among the disciples. He chose the foolish, to confound the world. Intending to break the neck of the proud, He sought not to gain the fisherman through the orator, but by the fisherman the emperor. The great Cyprian was an orator; but Peter was a fisherman before him; and through him not only the orator, but the emperor, believed.


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 1:43-51

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee; and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me.

Likeminded with those preceding was Philip, and very ready to follow Christ. For Christ knew that he would be good. Therefore also He says Follow Me, making the word a token of the grace that was upon him, and wherein he bid him follow, testifying to him that most excellent was his conversation. For Ho would not have chosen him, if he had not been altogether good. |152

45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth the Son of Joseph.

Exceeding swift was the disciple unto the bearing fruit, that hereby he might shew himself akin in disposition to them that had preceded. For he findeth Nathanael, not simply meeting him coming along, but making diligent search for him. For he knew that he was most painstaking and fond of learning. Then he says that he had found the Christ Who was heralded through all the Divine Scripture, addressing himself not as to one ignorant, but as to one exceedingly well instructed in the learning both of all-wise Moses and of the prophets. For a not true supposition was prevailing among the Jews as regards our Saviour Jesus Christ, that He should be of the city or village of Nazareth, albeit the Divine Scripture says that He is a Bethlehemite, as far as pertains to this. And thou, Bethlehem, it says, in the land of Judah, house of Ephrata, art little to be among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee shall He come forth unto Me That is to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. For He was brought up in Nazareth, as the Evangelist himself too somewhere testified, saying, And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; but He was not thence, but whence we said before, yea rather, as the voice of the prophet affirmed. Philip therefore following the supposition of the Jews says, Jesus of Nazareth.

46 Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Nathanael readily agrees that something great and most fair is that which is expected to appear out of Nazareth 5. It is, I suppose, perfectly clear, that not only did he take Nazareth as a pledge of that which he sought, but bringing together knowledge from the law and Prophets, as one fond of learning he gained swift understanding.

Come and see. 

Sight will suffice for faith, says he, and having only |153 conversed with. Him you will confess more readily, and will unhesitatingly say that He is indeed the Expected One. But we must believe that there was a Divine and Ineffable grace, flowing forth with the words of the Saviour, and alluring the souls of the hearers. For so it is written, that all wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His Mouth. For as His word is mighty in power, so too is it efficacious to persuade.

47 Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.

Not having yet used proof by means of signs, Christ endeavoured in another way to persuade both His own disciples, and the wiser of those that came to Him, that He was by Nature Son and God, but for the salvation of all was come in human Form. What then was the mode that led to faith? God-befitting knowledge. For knowledge of all things befitteth God Alone. He receiveth therefore Nathanael, not hurrying him by flatteries to this state, but by those things whereof he was conscious, giving him a pledge, that he knoweth the hearts, as God.

48 Whence knowest thou me?

Nathanael begins to wonder, and is called to a now firm faith: but desires yet to learn, whence He has the knowledge concerning him. For very accurate are learning-seekingand pious souls. But perhaps he supposed that somewhat of him had been shewn to the Lord by Philip.

Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.

The Saviour undid his surmise, saying that even before his meeting and conversing with Philip, He had seen him under the fig-tree, though not present in Body. Very profitably are both the fig-tree and the place named, pledging to him the truth of his having been seen. For he that has already accurate knowledge of what was with him, will readily be admitted. |154

49 Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.

He knows that God Alone is Searcher of hearts, and giveth to none other of men to understand the mind, considering as is likely that verse in the Psalms, God trieth the hearts and reins. For as accruing to none else, the Psalmist hath attributed this too as peculiar to the Divine Nature only. When then he knew that the Lord saw his thoughts revolving in his mind in yet voiceless whispers, straightway he calls Him Master, readily entering already into discipleship under Him, and confesses Him Son of God and King of Israel, in Whom are inexistent the Properties of Divinity, and as one well instructed he affirms Him to be wholly and by Nature God.

50 Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

Thou shalt be firmer unto faith, saith He, when thou seest greater things than these. For he that believed one sign, how shall he not by means of many be altogether bettered, especially since they shall be more wonderful than those now wondered at?

51 Verily, verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Common now to all is the word which seals the faith of Nathanael. But in saying that angels shall be seen speeding up and down upon the Son of Man, that is, ministering and serving His commands, for the salvation of such as shall believe, He says that then especially shall He be revealed as being by Nature Son of God. For it is not one another that the rational powers serve but surely God. And this does not take away subjection among the angels (for this will not be reasonably called bondage). But we have heard of the Holy Evangelists, that angels came to our Saviour Christ, and ministered unto Him. |155

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 1:35-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

35, 36    Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world.

Already had the blessed Baptist pointed Him out before; but lo, repeating again the same words, he points Jesus out to his disciples, and calls Him the Lamb of God, and says that He taketh away the sin of the world, all but bringing his hearers to remembrance of Him Who saith in the Prophets: I, even I, am He That blotteth out thy transgressions, and will not remember thy sins. But not in vain does the Baptist repeat the same account of the Saviour. For it belongs to skill in teaching, to infix in the souls of the disciples the not yet received word, not shrinking at repetition, but rather enduring it for the profit of the pupils. For therefore does the blessed Paul too say, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

37  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Seest thou the fruit, handmaid of teaching, yielded therefrom? Seest thou how great gain accrued from repetition? Let him then who is entrusted with teaching learn from this, to shew himself superior to all indolence, and to esteem silence more hurtful to himself than to his hearers, and not to bury the Lord’s talent in listless sloth, as in the earth, but rather to give His money to the exchangers. For the Saviour will receive His own with usury, and will quicken as seed the word cast in. You have here a most excellent proof of |149 what has been said. For the Baptist, not shrinking from pointing out the Lord to his disciples, and from saying a second time, Behold the Lamb of God, is seen to have so greatly profited them, as to at length even persuade them to follow Him and already to desire discipleship under Him.

38 Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?

Fitly does the Lord turn to them that follow Him, that thou mayest learn in act that which is sung, I sought the Lord, and He heard me. For while we do not yet seek the Lord by good habits and Tightness in believing, we are in some sort behind Him: but when, thirsting after His Divine law, we track the holy and choice way of righteousness, then at length will He look upon us, crying aloud what is written, Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But He saith unto them, What seek ye? not as though ignorant (whence could it be so?), for He knoweth all things, as God; but making the question a beginning and root of His discourse.

They said unto Him, Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?

Like people well instructed do they that are asked reply. For already do they call Him, Master, thereby clearly signifying their readiness to learn. Then they beg to know His home, as about therein to tell Him at a fit season of their need. For probably they did not think it right to make talk on needful subjects the companion of a journey. Be what is said again to us for a useful pattern.

39 He saith unto them, Come and see.

He doth not point out the house, though asked to do it, but rather bids them come forthwith to it: teaching first, as by example, that it is not well to cast delays in the way of search after what is good (for delay in things profitable is altogether hurtful): and this too besides, that to those who are still ignorant of the holy house of our Saviour |150 Christ, that is, the Church, it will not suffice to salvation that they should learn where it is, but that they should enter into it by faith, and see the things mystically wrought therein.

They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Assiduously did the disciples apply themselves to the attainment of the knowledge of the Divine Mysteries. For I do not think that a fickle mind beseems those who desire to learn, but rather one most painstaking, and superior to feeble mindedness in good toils, so as during their whole life time to excel in perfect zeal. For this I think the words, they abode with Him that day, darkly signify. But when he says, it was about the tenth hour, we adapting our own discourse to each man’s profit, say that in this very thing, the compiler of Divinity through this so subtle handling again teacheth us, that not in the beginning of the present world was the mighty mystery of our Saviour made known, but when time now draws towards its close. For in the last days, as it is written, we shall be all taught of God. Take again I pray as an image of what has been said about the tenth hour, the disciples cleaving to the Saviour, of whom the holy Evangelist says that having once become His guests they abode with Him: that they who through faith have entered into the holy house, and have run to Christ, may learn that it needs to abide with Him, and not to desire to be again estranged, either turning aside into sin, or again returning to unbelief.

40, 41, 42    One of the two which heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.

They who even now received the talent, straightway make traffic of their talent, and bring it to the Lord. For such are in truth obedient and docile souls, not needing many words for profit, nor bearing the fruit of their instruction, |151 after revolutions of years or months, but attaining the goal of wisdom along with the commencement of their instruction. For give, it says, instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Andrew then saves his brother (this was Peter), having declared the whole mystery in a brief summary. For we have found, he says, Jesus, as Treasure hid in a field, or as One Pearl of great price, according to the parables in the Gospels.

And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, Peter.

He after a Divine sort looketh upon him, Who seeth the hearts and reins; and seeth to how great piety the disciple will attain, of how great virtue he will be possessed, and at what consummation he will leave off. For He Who know-eth all things before they be is not ignorant of ought. And herein does He specially instruct him that is called, that being Very God, He hath knowledge untaught. For not having needed a single word, nor even sought to learn who or whence the man came to Him; He says of what father he was born, and what was his own name, and permits him to be no more called Simon, already exercising lordship and power over him, as being His: but changes it to Peter from Petra 4: for upon him was He about to found His Church.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:35-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

Ver 35. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;36. And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God!

CHRYS. Many not having attended to John’s words at first, he rouses them a second time: Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples.

BEDE; John stood, because he had ascended that citadel of all excellences, from which no temptations could cast him down: his disciples stood with him, as stout-hearted followers of their master.

CHRYS. But wherefore went he not all about, preaching in every place of Judea; instead of standing near the river, waiting for His coming, that he might point Him out? Because he wished this to be done by the works of Christ Himself. And observe how much greater an effort was produced; He struck a small spark, and suddenly it rose into a flame. Again, if John had gone about and preached, it would have seemed like human partiality, and great suspicion would have been excited.

Now the Prophets and Apostles all preached Christ absent; the former before His appearance in the flesh, the latter after His assumption. But He was to be pointed out by the eye, not by the voice only; and therefore it follows: And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God!

THEOPHYL. Looking he said, as if signifying by his looks his love and admiration for Christ.

AUG. John was the friend of the Bridegroom; he sought not his own glory, but bore witness to the truth. And therefore he wished not his disciples to remain with him, to the hindrance of their duty to follow the Lord; but rather showed them whom they should follow, saying, Behold the Lamb of God.

CHRYS. He makes not a long discourse, having only one object before him, to bring them and join them to Christ; knowing that they would not any further need his witness. John does not however speak to his disciples alone, but publicly in the presence of all. And so, undertaking to follow Christ, through this instruction common to all, they remained thenceforth firm, following Christ for their own advantage, not as an act of favor to their master. John does not exhort: he simply gazes in admiration on Christ, pointing out the gift He came to bestow, the cleansing from sin: and the mode in which this would be accomplished: both of which the word Lamb testifies to. Lamb has the article affixed to it, as a sign of preeminence.

AUG. For He alone and singly is the Lamb without spot, without sin; not because His spots are wiped off; but because He never had a spot. He alone is the Lamb of God, for by His blood alone can men be redeemed. This is the Lamb whom the wolves fear; even the slain Lamb, by whom the lion was slain.

BEDE. The Lamb therefore he calls Him; for that He was about to give us freely His fleece, that we might make of it a wedding garment; i.e. would leave us an example of life, by which we should be warmed into love.

ALCUIN. John stands in a mystical sense, the Law having ceased, and Jesus comes, bringing the grace of the Gospel, to which that same Law bears testimony. Jesus walks, to collect disciples.

BEDE. The walking of Jesus has a reference to the economy of the Incarnation, by means of which He has condescended to come to us, and give us a pattern of life.

Ver 37. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.38. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, What seek you? They said unto Him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwell you?39. He said to them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.40. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

ALCUIN. John having borne witness that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the disciples who had been hitherto with him, in obedience to his command, followed Jesus: And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

CHRYS. Observe; when he said, He that comes after me is made before me, and, Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose, he gained over none; but when he made mention of the economy, and gave his discourse a humbler turn, saying, Behold the Lamb of God, then his disciples followed Christ. For many persons are less influenced by the thoughts of God’s greatness and majesty, than when they hear of His being man’s Helper and Friend; or any thing pertaining to the salvation of men. Observe too, when John says, Behold the Lamb of God, Christ says nothing.

The Bridegroom stands by in silence; others introduce Him, and deliver the Bride into His hands; He receives her, and so treats her that she no longer remembers those who gave her in marriage. Thus Christ came to unite to Himself the Church; He said nothing Himself; but John, the friend of the Bridegroom, came forth, and put the Bride’s right hand in His; i.e. by his preaching delivered into His hands men’s souls, whom receiving He so disposed of, that they returned no more to John. And observe farther; As at a marriage the maiden goes not to meet the bridegroom, (even though it be a king’s son who weds a humble handmaid,) but he hastens to her; so is it here. For human nature ascended not into heaven, but the Son of God came down to human nature, and took her to His Father’s house.

Again; There were disciples of John who not only did not follow Christ, but were even enviously disposed toward Him; but the better part heard, and followed; not from contempt of their former master, but by his persuasion; because he promised them that Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost. And see with what modesty their zeal was accompanied. They did not straightway go and interrogate Jesus on great and necessary doctrines, nor in public, but sought private converse with Him; for we are told that Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, What seek you? Hence we learn, that when we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us opportunities enough of improvement. Christ asks the question, not because He needed to be told, but in order to encourage familiarity and confidence, and show that He thought them worthy of His instructions.

THEOPHYL. Observe then, that it was upon those who followed Him, that our Lord turned His face and looked upon them. Unless you by your good works follow Him, you shall never be permitted to see His face, or enter into His dwelling.

ALCUIN. The disciples followed behind His back, in order to see Him, and did not see His face. So He turns round, and, as it were, lowers His majesty, that they might be enabled to behold His face.

ORIGEN. Perhaps it is not without a reason, that after six testimonies John ceases to bear witness, and Jesus asks seventhly, What seek you?

CHRYS. And besides following Him, their questions showed their love for Christ; They said to Him, Rabbi, (which is, being interpreted, Master,) where dwell You? They call Him, Master, before they have learnt any thing from Him; thus encouraging themselves in their resolution to become disciples, and to show the reason why they followed.

ORIGEN. An avowal, befitting persons who came from hearing John’s testimony. They put themselves under Christ’s teaching, and express their desire to see the dwelling of the Son of God.

ALCUIN. They do not wish to be under His teaching for a time only, but inquire where He abides; wishing an immediate initiation in the secrets of His word, and afterwards meaning often to visit Him, and obtain fuller instruction. And, in a mystical sense too, they wish to know in whom Christ dwells, that profiting by their example they may themselves become fit to be His dwelling. Or, their seeing Jesus walking, and straightway inquiring where He resides, is an intimation to us, that we should, remembering His Incarnation, earnestly entreat Him to show us our eternal habitation. The request being so good a one, Christ promises a free and full disclosure. He said to them, Come and see: that is to say, My dwelling is not to be understood by words, but by works; come, therefore, by believing and working, and then see by understanding.

ORIGEN. Or perhaps come, is an invitation to action; see, to contemplation.

CHRYS. Christ does not describe His house and situation, but brings them after Him, showing that he had already accepted them as His own. He says not, It is not the time now, tomorrow you shall hear if you wish to learn; but addresses them familiarly, as friends who had lived with him a long time. But how is it that He said in another place, The Son of man has no where to lay His head? when here He says, Come and see where I live? His not having where to lay His head, could only have meant that He had no dwelling of His own, not that He did not live in a house at all: for the next words are, They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day. Why they stayed the Evangelist does not say: it being obviously for the sake of His teaching.

AUG. What a blessed day and night was that! Let us too build up in our hearts within, and make Him an house, whither He may come and teach us.

THEOPHYL. And it was about the tenth hour. The Evangelist mentions the time of day purposely, as a hint both to teachers and learners, not to let time interfere with their work.

CHRYS. It showed a strong desire to hear Him, since even at sunset they did not turn from Him. To sensual persons the time after meals is unsuitable for any grave employment, their bodies being overloaded with food. But John, whose disciples these were, was not such a one. His evening was a more abstemious one than our mornings.

AUG. The number here signifies the law, which was composed of ten commandments. The time had come when the law was to be fulfilled by love, the Jews, who acted from fear, having been unable to fulfill it, and therefore was it at the tenth hour that our Lord heard Himself called, Rabbi; none but the giver of the law is the teacher of the law.

CHRYS. One of the two which heard John speak and followed Him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. Why is the other name left out? Some say, because this Evangelist himself was that other. Others, that it was a disciple of no eminence, and that there was no use in telling his name any more than those of the seventy-two, which are omitted.

ALCUIN. Or it would seem that the two disciples who followed Jesus were Andrew and Philip.

Ver 41. He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.42. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jonas: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, Peter.

CHRYS. Andrew kept not our Lord’s words to himself; but ran in haste to his brother, to report the good tidings: He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

BEDE. This is truly to find the Lord; viz. to have fervent love for Him, together with a care for our brother’s salvation.

CHRYS. The Evangelist does not mention what Christ said to those who followed Him; but we may infer it from what follows. Andrew declares in few words what he had learnt, discloses the power of that Master Who had persuaded them, and his own previous longings after Him. For this exclamation, We have found, expresses a longing for His coming, turned to exultation, now that He was really come.

AUG. Messias in Hebrew, Christus in Greek, Unctus in Latin. Chrism is unction, and He had a special unction, which from Him extended to all Christians, as appears in the Psalm, God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. All holy persons are partakers with Him; but He is specially the Holy of Holies, specially anointed.

CHRYS. And therefore he said not Messias, but the Messias. Mark the obedience of Peter from the very first; he went immediately without delay, as appears from the next words: And he brought him to Jesus. Nor let us blame him as too yielding, because he did not ask many questions, before he received the word. It is reasonable to suppose that his brother had told him all, and sufficiently fully; but the Evangelists often make omissions for the sake of brevity. But, besides this, it is not absolutely said that he did believe, but only, He took him to Jesus; i.e. to learn from the mouth of Jesus Himself, what Andrew had reported. Our Lord begins now Himself to reveal the things of His Divinity, and to exhibit them gradually by prophecy. For prophecies are no less persuasive than miracles; inasmuch as they are preeminently God’s work, and are beyond the power of devils to imitate, while miracles may be fantasy or appearance: the foretelling future events with certainty is an attribute of the incorruptible nature alone: And when Jesus beheld him, He said, You are Simon the son of Jonas; you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

BEDE. He beheld him not with His natural eye only, but by the insight of His Godhead discerned from eternity the simplicity and greatness of his soul, for which he was to be elevated above the whole Church. In the word Peter, we must not look for any additional meaning, as though it were of Hebrew or Syriac derivation; for the Greek and Latin word Peter, has the same meaning as Cephas; being in both languages derived from petra. He is called Peter on account of the firmness of his faith, in cleaving to that Rock, of which the Apostle speaks, And that Rock was Christ; which secures those who trust in it from the snares of the enemy, and dispenses streams of spiritual gifts.

AUG. There was nothing very great in our Lord saying whose son he was, for our Lord knew the names of all His saints, having predestinated them before the foundation of the world. But it was a great thing for our Lord to change his name from Simon to Peter. Peter is from petra, rock, which rock is the Church: so that the name of Peter represents the Church. And who is safe, unless he build upon a rock? Our Lord here rouses our attention: for had he been called Peter before, we should not have seen the mystery of the Rock, and should have thought that he was called so by chance, and not providentially. God therefore made him to be called by another name before, that the change of that name might give vividness to the mystery.

CHRYS. He changed the name too to show that He was the same who done so before in the Old Testament; who had called Abram Abraham, Sarai Sarah, Jacob Israel. Many He had named from their birth, as Isaac and Samson; others again after being named by their parents, as were Peter, and the sons of Zebedee. Those whose virtue was to be eminent from the first, have names given them from the first; those who were to be exalted afterwards, are named afterwards.

AUG. The account A here of the two disciples on the Jordan, who follow Christ (before he had gone into Galilee) in obedience to John’s testimony; viz. of Andrew bringing his brother Simon to Jesus, who gave him, on this occasion, the name of Peter; disagrees considerably with the account of the other Evangelists, viz. that our Lord found these two, Simon and Andrew, fishing in Galilee, and then bid them follow Him: unless we understand that they did not regularly join our Lord when they saw Him on the Jordan; but only discovered who He was, and full of wonder, then returned to their occupations. Nor must we think that Peter first received his name on the occasion mentioned in Matthew, when our Lord says, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church; but rather when our Lord says, You shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

ALCUIN; Or perhaps He does not actually give him the name now, but only fixes beforehand what He afterwards gave him when He said, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church. And while about to change his name, Christ wishes to show that even that which his parents had given him, was not without a meaning. For Simon signifies obedience, Joanna grace, Jona a dove: as if the meaning was; You are an obedient son of grace, or of the dove, i.e. the Holy Spirit; for you have received of the Holy Spirit the humility, to desire, at Andrew’s call, to see Me. The elder disdained not to follow the younger; for where there is meritorious faith, there is no order of seniority.


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 John 3:7-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

This post includes Fr. MaxEvilly’s brief analysis of the entire chapter 3, followed by the notes on verses 7-10. In addition, I’ve also included (in purple text) the authors paraphrase of the text he is commenting on.

A analysis of 1 John 3~In this chapter, the Apostle continues the subject, upon which he entered in the last verse of the preceding, and extols the great love of God, manifested in our spiritual regeneration by sanctifying grace (verse 1). He shows the great privilege of Divine Sonship, conferred on us at present, and points out the glory we are to enjoy in future (2); and also what we are to do here, in order to enjoy this glory hereafter (3). He next shows how opposed the commission, of sin is to the sanctity of the Christian state, to the economy of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and to the true knowledge and love of God (4-6).

He then guards them against the leading error of the heretics of the day, respecting the sufficiency of faith without good works, and declares, that the performance of good works, and the avoidance of sin, are the real qualities and characteristics, whereby the sons of God are distinguishedfrom the children of the devil, and among the principal sins of the latter, he specifies hatred of our brethren (7-10).

He points out, how stringent, from the very beginning of the gospel, has been the precept of loving one another (11), and cautions them against following the example of the fratricide, Cain (12). The love of our neighbour is a probable sign that we are in a state of spiritual life, while the man who loves not his neighbour is in a state of spiritual death (14); and the man who hates his brother, with a hatred involving a wish for his death, the Apostle calls a murderer like Cain. In such a person, the grace of God cannot reside. (15).

In continuation, he points out the extent to which the precept of charity obliges. It binds us to lay down our lives for the spiritual good of our brethren, after the example of the charity of Christ for us; and also to relieve his corporal wants out of our worldly substance (16, 17). In every case, our sympathy should be practically matiifested in works of beneficence (18). It is by the possession of this beneficent charity, we can tranquillize our conscience against all fears, and feel confidence tfiat God will rescue us from damnation on the day ofjudgment (19-21); and we shall merit to obtain all our requests, because we observe his commandments regarding our believing in Christ and loving our neighbour (23). He concludes, by sfiowing tfie advantages of keeping God’s commandments.

1Jn 3:7  Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.

My dearly beloved children, let no one seduce or lead you astay (as is attempted by the heretics); he only, who does the works of justice, and no body else, is just before God, possessing the true justice similar to the justice of Christ.

“Little children,” a term of endearment, “let no one deceive you,” as the heretics of the day were attempting to do, viz., the Nicolaites and Simonians, whose fundamental error, as is also the case with modern heretics, was, that faith, without good works, confers justification. “He that doth justice,” i.e., performs the works of justice or good works, “is just, even as he is just,” i.e., as far as a comparison can be instituted between the Creator and the creature.

But, it may be asked, how can this be? May not a catechumen, before baptism, or a penitent, before the reception of the Sacrament of Penance, “do justice,” i.e., perform good works, observe the commandments, have faith, hope, initial love, sorrow, such as is insufficient to remit sin without the sacrament, and still not be just before God, his sins being yet unremitted?

Some interpreters say, the word “just” does not here imply the state of sanctifying grace or friendship with God. The word, according to them, means, the man who does the works of justice, is just, as far as the justice of works is concerned, as far as they can confer justice; and they confer initial justice, which serves as a disposition for consummate justice, or sanctifying grace; or, if there be question of persons already in the state of sanctifying grace, then, these works of justice will preserve that state in the soul; for, by the contrary works, the state of justice would be lost. So, then, the words mean, according to them, such a person is in perfect justice, if a state of sanctifying grace be united to his good works; in imperfect justice, unless sanctifying grace be added.

It is, however, far more probable, that the proposition is to be understood in an exclusive sense, (as in Paraphrase). He only, who doth the works of justice, and nobody else, is just, and one of the sons of God; as contra-distinguished from the children of the devil, in the following verses. This is what the Apostle intended to convey, when he employed the words, “let no one deceive you,” with reference to the sufficiency of faith only; nobody will be justified, except he do the works of justice. In this interpretation, there is not a shadow of ground for the preceding objection; for, according to it, the Apostle does not say, that every one, who does good works, is, eo ipso, justified, but only that good works are indispensably necessary conditions for justification, the point he intended to prove against the heretics.

1Jn 3:8  He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Whosoever commits grievous and deadly sins is of the devil; for, the devil sinned soon after his creation, or, was the first to commit sin, in which he still perseveres, and tempts others thereto. It was for the purpose of destroying sin, or the works of the devil, that Christ assumed human flesh, wherein he could offer atonement for our sins, and merit grace to prevent our future relapse into them.

“He that committeth sin is of the devil,” i.e., whosoever commits mortal sin is one of “the children of the devil” (as in verse 10). Similar are the words of our Redeemer to the Jews (John 7), “you do the works of your father;” you are of your father the devil.” It is the devil that tempts to sin, and even in eases where  the temptation proceeds immediately from our own concupiscence, it proceeds, still, from the devil, as its remote cause; for, it was owing to the sin, to which he first tempted man, that we are troubled with this corrupt concupiscence, this fomes peccati.

“For the devil sinneth from the beginning,” or, soon after, but not at his creation, having been created just; or, the words may mean, the devil was the first who sinned. “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). He says, the devil “sinneth,” rather than, sinned: because, now he tempts and impels men to sin, and is himself obdurate and hardened in his hatred of God. “For this purpose the Son of God,” &c. So far is such a person from being a son of God, when he commits sin, that it was to destroy and abolish his sins, which are the works of the devil, that Christ assumed human flesh.

1Jn 3:9  Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin: for his seed abideth in him. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

But everyone who receives of God a new birth, through sanctifying grace, commits no grievous sin; for, the seed of this new generation, which is sanctifying grace, resides in him by way of a permanent habit, and he cannot sin mortally, and, at the same time, continue a son of God; the state of divine sonship and mortal sin, being perfectly incompatible.

“Whosoever is born of God,” that is, receives of him the new nativity of sanctifying grace, “committeth not sin”—mortal sin—for, it alone destroys the divine sonship resulting from sanctifying grace. “For his seed abideth in him;” “his seed” is commonly understood to refer to sanctifying grace, which is the seed of future glory and the principle of our new spiritual nativity; and this grace abideth, permanently in the soul. This is a point of faith. That it abides, or adheres, by way of habit, is not defined as a matter of faith; but, it is a most probable theological opinion. “And he cannot sin, because he is born of God;” the words “cannot sin” are to be understood, as logicians say, in sensu composito, in the sense, that he cannot continue in mortal sin, and be at the same time, a son of God, both being as incompatible as “the association of light with darkness, or of Christ with Belial.”—(2 Cor 6:14, &c.) This verse, however, by no means conveys that grace is inamissible; for, if so, that is to say, if men could not fall away from the state of divine sonship, why should St. John so often exhort the sons of God not to sin? Did not David, although a son
of God, fall into sin, as he himself humbly confesses and deplores in his Psalms?

1Jn 3:10  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not just is not of God, or he that loveth not his brother.

It is by their committing or avoiding mortal sins, that the children of God, and the children of the devil, are manifested and distinguished. Whosoever is not just by the justice of works, or whosoever does not perform good works, is not a son of God, and he especially is not a son of God who does not love his fellow-creature.

“In this,” viz., in their committing sin (verse 8), and their not committing sin (verse 9), the children of the devil, and the children of God, are manifested; such is the mark for distinguishing them. “Whosoever is not just,” that is, does not perform the works of justice or good works. That such is the meaning of “just,” is clear from the following words, “for he that loveth not his brother,” in which is specified a particular instance of the injustice to which he refers in the words, “not just,” which must, therefore, refer to not doing good works, or to doing evil works. The words of this verse also throw an additional light on the exclusive or negatively exceptive meaning of the proposition, “he that doth justice,” &c. (verse 7).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on 1 John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on John 1:29-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

29. The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

The next day John saw Jesus; i.e., the day following the one on which he had given the preceding testimony. We do not know for certain whence our Lord was coming, but it is most probable that He was coming from the desert after His forty days’ fast.

Behold the Lamb of God. Our Lord was spoken of as the lamb of God most probably because He was to be offered for the sins of men. To point Him out as the Lamb of God was equivalent to designating Him as the Messiah, because Isaiah 53:7-12 had compared the Messiah to a lamb that should bear the sins of men.

Who taketh away the sin, etc.; i.e., who will wipe away completely the sins, not only of the Jews or of one nation, but of all men.

30. This is he, of whom I said : After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me.

In this verse there is reference most probably to the testimony recorded in verse 15.

31. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

And I knew him not; i.e., publicly or officially; or even personally, perhaps. St. John had been brought up in the hill country of Judea, whereas our Lord had grown to manhood in Nazareth of Galilee, hence it is not probable that the two were personally acquainted before they had grown to manhood.

32. And John gave testimony, saying : I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him.

And John gave testimony, saying. These are the words of the Evangelist interrupting the narrative of the Baptist.

I saw the Spirit coming down, etc., which was at our Lord’s baptism. See on Matthew 3:16-17.

33. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

But he who sent me . . . said to me, etc. Here the Baptist makes known that the sign he had perceived at our Lord’s baptism had previously been revealed to him as one that would designate the Messiah, and so confirm his faith in the Messiah.

That baptizeth with the Holy Ghost; i.e., that takes away the sins of men by the graces of the Holy Ghost.

34. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.

And I gave testimony that this, etc. It does not appear from the Gospel just when the Baptist uttered this testimony that our Lord was “the Son of God,” except, indeed, in so far as it was implied in speaking of our Lord’s superior character, exalted dignity, of His taking away the sins of the world, etc.; but that he did recognize the Messiah as God is certain.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

This Week’s Posts: Sunday, January 1-Saturday, January 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

Post and listings for the week are not yet complete.


Today’s Mass Resources (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Resources for Sunday Mass is a weekly feature of this blog. Next Sunday’s resources will be posted on Wednesday (or Thursday) evening.

Sermons for New Years Eve/Day.

Today’s Divine Office. Includes both text and podcast. Contains Office of Readings; Morning Prayer (i.e., Lauds); one day time Office; Evening Prayer (i.e., Vespers); and Night Prayer (i.e., Compline).

A Homily on the Holy Mother of God, Ever Virgin by St Gregory the Wonder-worker.

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, December 25-Saturday, December 31.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 2:22-28).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (98).

Father MacIntryre’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28).

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28).

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28). Scroll down and read lectures 12 & 13.

A Lectio Divina Meditation on Today’s Gospel (John 1:19-28). Prayer and reflection on the Gospel in the Carmelite tradition.


Pope Benedict’s First Address on St Basil the Great.

Pope Benedict’s Second Address on St Basil the Great.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St Basil.

Some Online Writings of St Basil:

Pope Benedict’s First Address on St Gregory Nanzianzus.

Pope Benedict’s Second Address on St Gregory Nanzianzus.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St Gregory.

Some Online Writings of St Gregory:


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 2:29-3:6).

UPDATE: Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 2:29-3:6).

UPDATE: St Augustine’s Homily on Today’s First Reading (1 John 2:29-3:6).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (98).

UPDATE: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Psalm (98).

PENDING: St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (98).

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34).

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34). Scroll down and read lecture 14.

A Lectio Divina Meditation on Today’s Gospel (John 1:29-34).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 3:7-10).

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 3:7-10).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 1:35-42).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Gospel (John 1:35-42). Scroll down and read lecture 15.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:35-42).

A Lectio Divina Meditation on Today’s Gospel (John 1:35-42).

UPDATE: Mass Resources for the Epiphany of the Lord.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 3:11-21).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (100).

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Today’s Psalm (100).

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 1:43-51).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 1:43-51).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Reading (John 1:43-51). Scroll down to lecture 16.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 5:5-13).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (147).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (1 John 5:14-21).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Today’s Psalm (149).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 2:1-11).

My Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 2:1-11).

Father MacRory’s Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 2:1-11).

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:29-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

Ver 29. The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.30. This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.31. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

ORIGEN; After this testimony, Jesus is seen coming to John, not only persevering in his confession, but also advanced in goodness: as is intimated by the second day. Wherefore it is said, The next day John sees Jesus coming to him. Long before this, the Mother of Jesus, as soon as she had conceived Him, went to see the mother of John then pregnant; and as soon as the sound of Mary’s salutation reached the ears of Elisabeth, John leaped in the womb: but now the Baptist himself after his testimony sees Jesus coming. Men are first prepared by hearing from others, and then see with their own eyes. The example of Mary going to see Elisabeth her interior, and the Son of God going to see the Baptist, should teach us modesty and fervent charity to our inferiors. What place the Savior came from when He came to the Baptist we are not told here; but we find it in Matthew, Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him.

CHRYS. Or; Matthew relates directly Christ’s coming to His baptism, John His coming a second time subsequent to His baptism, as appears from what follows: I saw the Spirit descending, &c. The Evangelists have divided the periods of the history between them; Matthew passing over the part before John’s imprisonment, and hastening to that event; John chiefly dwelling on what took place before the imprisonment. Thus he says, The next day John sees Jesus coming to him. But why did He come to him the next day after His baptism? Having been baptized with the multitude, He wished to prevent any from thinking that He came to John for the same reason that others did, viz. to confess His sins, and be washed in the river to repentance.

He comes therefore to give John an opportunity of correcting this mistake; which John accordingly did correct; viz. by those words, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. For He Who was so pure, as to be able to absolve other men’s sins, evidently could not have come thither for the sake of confessing His own; but only to give John an opportunity of speaking of Him. He came too the next day, that those who had heard the former testimonies of John, might hear them again more plainly; and other besides. For he said, Behold the Lamb of God, signifying that He was the one of old sought after, and reminding them of the prophecy of Isaiah, and of the shadows of the Mosaic law, in order that through the figure he might the easier lead them to the substance.

AUG. If the Lamb of God is innocent, and John is the lamb, must he not be innocent? But all men come of that stock of which David sings sorrowing, Behold, I was conceived in wickedness. He then alone was the Lamb, who was not thus conceived; for He was not conceived in wickedness, nor in sin did His mother bear Him in her womb, Whom a virgin conceived, a virgin brought forth, because that in faith she conceived, and in faith received.

ORIGEN; But whereas five kinds of animals are offered in the temple, three beasts of the field, a calf, a sheep, and a goat; and two fowls of the air, a turtle dove and a pigeon; and of the sheep kind three are introduced, the ram, the ewe, the lamb; of these three he mentions only the lamb; the lamb, as we know, being offered in the daily sacrifice, one in the morning, and one in the evening. But what other daily offering can there be, that can be meant to be offered by a reasonable nature, except the perfect Word, typically called the Lamb?

This sacrifice, which is offered up as soon as the soul begins to be enlightened, shall be accounted as a morning sacrifice, referring to the frequent exercise of the mind in divine things; for the soul cannot continually apply to the highest objects because of its union with an earthly and gross body. By this Word too, Which is Christ the Lamb, we shall be able to reason on many things, and shall in a manner attain to Him in the evening, while engaged with things of the body. But He Who offered the lamb for a sacrifice, was God hid in human form, the great Priest, He who said below, No man takes it (My life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself: whence this name, the Lamb of God: for He carrying our sorrows, and taking away the sins of the whole world, has undergone death, as it were baptism. For God suffers no fault to pass uncorrected; but punishes it by the sharpest discipline.

THEOPHYL. He is called the Lamb of God, because God the Father accepted His death for our salvation, or, in other words, because He delivered Him up to death for our sakes. For just as we say, This is the offering of such a man, meaning the offering made by him; in the same sense Christ is called the Lamb of God Who gave His Son to die for our salvation. And whereas that typical lamb did not take away any man’s sin, this one has taken away the sin of the whole world, rescuing it from the danger it was in from the wrath of God.

Behold Him Who takes away the sin of the world: he said not, who will take, but, Who takes away the sin of the world; as if He were always doing this. For He did not then only take it away when He suffered, but from that time to the present, He takes it away; not by being always crucified, for He made one sacrifice for sins, but by ever washing it by means of that sacrifice.

GREG. But then only will sin be entirely taken away from the human race, when our corruption has been turned to a glorious incorruption. We cannot be free from sin, so long as we are held in the death of the body.

THEOPHYL. Why does he say the sin of the world, not sins? Because he wished to express sin universally: just as we say commonly, that man was cast out of paradise; meaning the whole human race.

GLOSS; Or by the sin of the world is meant original sin, which is common to the whole world: which original sin, as well as the sins of every one individually, Christ by His grace remits.

AUG. For He Who took not sin from our nature, He it is Who takes away our sin. Some say, We take away the sins of men, because we are holy; for if he, who baptizes, is not holy, how can he take away the other’s sin, seeing he himself is full of sin? Against these reasoners let us point to the text; Behold Him Who takes away the sin of the world; in order to do away with such presumption in man towards man.

ORIGEN; As there was a connection between the other sacrifices of the law, and the daily sacrifice of the lamb, in the same way the sacrifice of this Lamb has its reflection in the pouring out of the blood of the Martyrs, by whose patience, confession, and zeal for goodness, the machinations of the ungodly are frustrated.

THEOPHYL. John having said above to those who came from the Pharisees, that there stood one among them whom they knew not, he here points Him out to the persons thus ignorant: This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me. Our Lord is called a man, in reference to His mature age, being thirty years old when He was baptized: or in a spiritual sense, as the Spouse of the Church; in which sense St. Paul speaks, I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

AUG. He comes after me, because he was born after me: He is made before me, because He is preferred to me.

GREG. He explains the reason of this superiority, in what follows: For He was before me; as if his meaning was; And this is the reason of His being superior to me, though born after me, viz. that He is not circumscribed by the time of His nativity. He Who was born of His mother in time, was begotten of His Father out of time.

THEOPHYL. Attend, O Arius. He said not, He was created before me, but He was before me. Let the false sect of Paul of Samosata attend. They will see that He did not derive His original existence from Mary; for if He derived the beginning of His being from the Virgin, how could He have been before His precursor? it being evident that the precursor preceded Christ by six months, according to the human birth.

CHRYS. That He might not seem however to give His testimony from any motive of friendship or kindred, in consequence of his being related to our Lord according to the flesh, he says, I knew Him not. John could not of course know Him, having lived in the desert. And the miraculous events of Christ’s childhood, the journey of the Magi, and such like, were now a long time past; John having been quite an infant, when they happened. And throughout the whole of the interval, He had been absolutely unknown: insomuch that John proceeds, But that He should, be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. (And hence it is clear that the miracles said to have been performed by Christ in His childhood, are false and fictitious.

For if Jesus had performed miracles at this early age, he would not have been unknown to John, nor would the multitude have wanted a teacher to point Him out.) Christ Himself then did not want baptism; nor was that washing for any other reason, than to give a sign beforehand of faith in Christ. For John said not, in order to change men, and deliver from sin, but, that he should be made manifest in Israel, have I come baptizing. But would it not have been lawful for him to preach, and bring crowds together, without baptizing? Yes: but this was the easier way, for he would not have collected such numbers, had he preached without baptizing.

AUG. Now when our Lord became known, it was unnecessary to prepare a way for Him; for to those who knew Him, He became His own way. And therefore John’s baptism did not last long, but only so long as to show our Lord’s humility. Our Lord received baptism from a servant, in order to give us such a lesson of humility as might prepare us for receiving the grace of baptism, And that the servant’s baptism might not be set before the Lord’s, others were baptized with it; who after receiving it, had to receive our Lord’s baptism: whereas those who first received our Lord’s baptism, did not receive the servant’s after.

Ver 32. And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.33. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptize with the Holy Ghost.34. And I saw, and bore record that this is the Son of God.

CHRYS. John having made a declaration, so astonishing to all his hearers, viz. that He, whom he pointed out, did of Himself take away the sins of the world, confirms it by a reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. For John might be asked, how did you know Him? Wherefore he replies beforehand, by the descent of the Holy Spirit: And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

AUG. This was not however the first occasion of Christ’s receiving the unction of the Holy Spirit: viz. Its descent upon Him at His baptism; herein He condescended to prefigure His body, the Church, wherein those who are baptized receive preeminently the Holy Spirit. For it would be absurd to suppose that at thirty years old, (which was His age, when He was baptized by John,) He received for the first time the Holy Spirit: and that, when He came to that baptism, as He was without sin, so was He without the Holy Spirit. For if even of His servant and forerunner John it is written, He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from His mother’s womb; if He, though sprung from His father’s seed, yet received the Holy Ghost, when as yet He was only formed in the womb; what ought we to think and believe of Christ, whose very flesh had not a carnal but spiritual conception?

AUG. We do not attribute to Christ only the possession of a real body, and say that the Holy Spirit assumed a false appearance to men’s eyes: for the Holy Spirit could no more, in consistency with His nature, deceive men, than could the Son of God. The Almighty God, Who made every creature out of nothing, could as easily form a real body of a dove, without the instrumentality of other doves, as He made a real body in the womb of the Virgin, without the seed of the male.

AUG. The Holy Ghost was made to appear visibly in two ways: as a dove, upon our Lord at His baptism; and as a flame upon His disciples, when they were met together: the former shape denoting simplicity, the latter fervency. The dove intimates that souls sanctified by the Spirit should have no guile; the fire, that in that simplicity there should not be coldness. Nor let it disturb you, that the tongues are cloven; fear no division; unity is assured to us in the dove. It was meet then that the Holy Spirit should be thus manifested descending upon our Lord; in order that every one who had the Spirit might know, that he ought to be simple as a dove, and be in sincere peace with the brethren. The kisses of doves represent this peace. Ravens kiss, but they tear also; but the nature of the dove is most alien to tearing. Ravens feed on the dead, but the dove eats nothing but the fruits of the earth. If doves moan in their love, marvel not that He Who appeared in the likeness of a dove, the Holy Spirit, makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. The Holy Spirit however groans not in Himself, but in us: He makes us to groan. And he who groans, as knowing that, so long as He is under the burden of this mortality, he is absent from the Lord, groans well: it is the Spirit that has taught him to groan. But many groan because of earthly calamities; because of losses which disquiet them, or bodily sickness which weigh heavily on them: they groan not, as does the dove. What then could more fitly represent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity, than the dove? as He said Himself to His reconciled Church, My dove is one. What could better express humility, than the simplicity and moaning of a dove? Wherefore on this occasion it was that there appeared the very most Holy Trinity, the Father in the voice which said, You are My beloved Son; the Holy Spirit in the likeness of the dove. In that Trinity the Apostles were sent to baptize, i.e. in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

GREG. He said, Abode upon Him: for the Holy Spirit visits all the faithful; but on the Mediator alone does He abide for ever in a peculiar manner; never leaving the Son’s Humanity, even as He proceeds Himself from the Son’s Divinity. But when the disciples are told of the same Spirit, He shall dwell with you, how is the abiding of the Spirit a peculiar sign of Christ? This will appear if we distinguish between the different gifts of the Spirit. As regards those gifts which are necessary for attaining to life, the Holy Spirit ever abides in all the elect; such are gentleness, humility, faith, hope, charity: but with respect to those, which have for their object, not our own salvation, but that of others, he does not always abide, but sometimes withdraws, and ceases to exhibit them; that men may be more humble in the possession of His gifts. But Christ had all the gifts of the Spirit, uninterruptedly always.

CHRYS. Should any however think that Christ really wanted the Holy Spirit, in the way that we do, he corrects this notion also, by informing us that the descent of the Holy Ghost took place only for the purpose of manifesting Christ: And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost.

AUG. But who sent John? If we say the Father, we say true; if we say the Son, we say true. But it would be truer to say, the Father and the Son. How then knew he not Him, by Whom he was sent? For if he knew not Him, by Whom he wished to be baptized, it was rash in him to say, I have need to be baptized by You. So then he knew Him; and why said he, I knew Him not?

CHRYS. When he said, I knew Him not, he is speaking of time past, not of the time of his baptism, when he forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of You.

AUG. Let us turn to the other Evangelists, who relate the matter more clearly, and we shall find most satisfactorily, that the dove descended when our Lord ascended from the water. If then the dove descended after baptism, but John said before the baptism, I have need to be baptized of You, he knew Him before His baptism also. How then said he, I knew him not, but He which sent me to baptize? Was this the first revelation made to John of Christ’s person, or was it not rather a fuller disclosure of what had been already revealed? John knew the Lord to be the Son of God, knew that He would baptize with the Holy Ghost: for before Christ came to the river, many having come together to hear John, he said unto them, He that comes after me is mightier than I: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. What then? He did not know that our Lord (lest Paul or Peter might say, my baptism, as we find Paul did say, my Gospel,) would have and retain to Himself the power of baptism, the ministering of it however passing to good and bad indiscriminately. What hindrance is the badness of the minister, when the Lord is good? So then we baptize again after John’s baptism; after a homicide’s we baptize not: because John gave his own baptism, the homicide gives Christ’s; which is so holy a sacrament, that not even a homicide’s ministration can pollute it. Our Lord could, had He so willed, have given power to any servant of His to give baptism as it were in His own stead; and to the baptism, thus transferred to the servant, have imparted the same power, that it would have had, when given by Himself. But this He did not choose to do; that the hope of the baptized might be directed to Him, Who had baptized them; He wished not the servant to place hope in the servant. And again, had He given this power to servants, there would have been as many baptisms as servants; as there had been the baptism of John, so should we have had the baptism of Paul and of Peter. It is by this power then, which Christ retains in His own possession exclusively, that the unity of the Church is established; of which it is said, My dove is one. A man may have a baptism besides the dove; but that any besides the dove should profit, is impossible.

CHRYS. The Father having sent forth a voice proclaiming the Son, the Holy Spirit came besides, bringing the voice upon the head of Christ, in order that no one present might think that what was said of Christ, was said of John. But it will be asked: How was it that the Jews believed not, if they saw the Spirit? Such sights however require the mental vision, rather than the bodily. If those who saw Christ working miracles were so drunken with malice, that they denied what their own eyes had seen, how could the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove overcome their incredulity?

Some say however that the sight was not visible to all, but only to John, and the more devotional part. But even if the descent of the Spirit, as a dove, was visible to the outward eye, it does not follow that because all saw it, all understood it. Zacharias himself, Daniel, Ezechiel, and Moses saw many things, appealing to their senses, which no one else saw: and therefore John adds, And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God. He had called Him the Lamb before, and said that He would baptize with the Spirit; but he had no where called Him the Son before.

AUG. It was necessary that the Only Son of God should baptize, not an adopted son. Adopted sons are ministers of the Only Son: but though they have the ministration, the Only one alone has the power.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 1:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

Ver 19. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?20. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.21. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elias (i.e., Elijah)? And he said, I am not. Are you that prophet? And he answered, No.22. Then said they to him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say you of yourself?23. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Elias.

ORIGEN; This is the second testimony of John the Baptist to Christ, the first began with, This is He of Whom I spoke; and ended with, He has declared Him.

THEOPHYL. Or, after the introduction above of John’s testimony to Christ, is preferred before me, the Evangelist now adds when the above testimony was given, And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem.

ORIGEN; The Jews of Jerusalem, as being of kin to the Baptist, who was of the priestly stock, send Priests and Levites to ask him who he is; that is, men considered to hold a superior rank to the rest of their order, by God’s election, and coming from that favored above all cities, Jerusalem. Such is the reverential way in which they interrogate John. We read of no such proceeding towards Christ: but what the Jews did to John, John in turn does to Christ, when he asks Him, through His disciples, Are you He that should come, or look we for another?

CHRYS. Such confidence had they in John, that they were ready to believe him on his own words: witness how it is said, To ask him, Who are you?

AUG. They would not have sent, unless they had been impressed by his lofty exercise of authority, in daring to baptize.

ORIGEN; John, as it appears, saw from the question, that the Priests and Levites had doubts whether it might not be the Christ, who was baptizing; which doubts however they were afraid to profess openly, for fear of incurring the charge of credulity. He wisely determines therefore first to correct their mistake, and then to proclaim the truth.

Accordingly, he first of all shows that he is not the Christ: And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. We may add here, that at this time the people had already begun to be impressed with the idea that Christ’s advent was at hand, in consequence of the interpretations which the lawyers had collected out of the sacred writings to that effect. Thus Theudas had been enabled to collect together a considerable body, on the strength of his pretending to be the Christ; and after him Judas, in the days of the taxation, had done the same. Such being the strong expectation of Christ’s advent then prevalent, the Jews send to John, intending by the question, Who are you? to extract from him whether he were the Christ.

GREG. He denied directly being what he was not, but he did not deny what he was: thus, by his speaking truth, becoming a true member of Him Whose name he had not dishonestly usurped.

CHRYS. Or take this explanation: The Jews were influenced by a kind of human sympathy for John, whom they were reluctant to see made subordinate to Christ, on account of the many marks of greatness about him; his illustrious descent in the first place, he being the son of a chief priest; in the next, his hard training, and his contempt of the world. Whereas in Christ the contrary were apparent; a humble birth, for which they reproach Him; Is not this the carpenter’s son? an ordinary way of living; a dress such as every one else wore.

As John then was constantly sending to Christ, they send to him, with the view of having him for their master, and thinking to induce him, by blandishments, to confess himself Christ. They do not therefore send inferior persons to him, ministers and Herodians, as they did to Christ, but Priests and Levites; and not of these an indiscriminate party, but those of Jerusalem, i.e. the more honorable ones; but they send them with this question, to ask, Who are you? not from a wish to be informed, but in order to induce him to do what I have said. John replies then to their intention, not to their interrogation: And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

And observe the wisdom of the Evangelist: he repeats the same thing three times, to show John’s virtue, and the malice and madness of the Jews. For it is the character of a devoted servant, not only to forbear taking to himself his lord’s glory, but even, when numbers offer it to him, to reject it. The multitude indeed believed from ignorance that John was the Christ, but in these it was malice; and in this spirit they put the question to him, thinking, by their blandishments to bring him over to their wishes.

For unless this had been their design, when he replied, I am not the Christ, they would have said, We did not suspect this; we did not come to ask this. When caught, however, and discovered in their purpose, they proceed to another question: And they asked him, What then? Are you Elias?

AUG. For they knew that Elias was to preach Christ; the name of Christ not being unknown to any among the Jews; but they did not think that our Lord was the Christ: and yet did not altogether imagine that there was no Christ about to come. In this way, while looking forward to the future, they mistook at the present.   And he said, I am not.

GREG. These words gave rise to a very different question. In another place, our Lord, when asked by His disciples concerning the coming of Elias, replied, If you will receive it, this is Elias. But John says, I am not Elias. How is he then a preacher of the truth, if he agrees not with what that very Truth declares?

ORIGEN; Some one will say that John was ignorant that he was Elias; as those say, who maintain, from this passage the doctrine of a second incorporation, as though the soul took up a new body, after leaving its old one. For the Jews, it is said, asking John by the Levites and priests, whether he is Elias, suppose the doctrine of a second body to be already certain; as though it rested upon tradition, and were part of their secret system. To which question, however, John replies, I am not Elias: not being acquainted with his own prior existence. But how is it reasonable to imagine, if John were a prophet enlightened by the Spirit, and had revealed so much concerning the Father, and the Only-Begotten, that he could be so in the dark as to himself, as not to know that his own soul had once belonged to Elias?

GREG. But if we examine the truth accurately, that which sounds inconsistent, will be found not really so. The Angel told Zacharias concerning John, He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias. As Elias then will preach the second advent of our Lord, so John preached His first; as the former will come as the precursor of the Judge, so the latter was made the precursor of the Redeemer. John was Elias in spirit, not in person: and what our Lord affirms of the spirit, John denies of the Person: there being a kind of propriety in this; viz. that our Lord to His disciples should speak spiritually of John, and that John, in answering the carnal multitude, should speak of his body, not of his spirit.

ORIGEN; He answers then the Levites and Priests, I am not, conjecturing what their question meant: for the purport of their examination was to discover, not whether the spirit in both was the same, but whether John was that very Elias, who was taken up, now appearing again, as the Jews expected, without another birth. But he whom we mentioned above as holding this doctrine of a reincorporation, will say that it is not consistent that the Priests and Levites should be ignorant of the birth of the son of so dignified a priest as Zacharias, who was born too in his father’s old age, and contrary to all human probabilities: especially when Luke declares, that fear came on all that dwelt round about them.

But perhaps, since Elias was expected to appear before the coming of Christ near the end, they may seem to put the question figuratively, Are you he who announces the coming of Christ at the end of the world? to which he answers, I am not. But there is in fact nothing strange in supposing that John’s birth might not have been known to all. For as in the case of our Savior many knew Him to be born of Mary, and yet some wrongly imagined that He was John the Baptist, or Elias, or one of the Prophets; so in the case of John, some were not unacquainted with the fact of his being son of Zacharias, and yet some may have been in doubt whether he were not the Elias who was expected.

Again, inasmuch as many prophets had arisen in Israel, but one was especially looked forward to, of whom Moses had prophesied The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like to me; to Him shall you hearken: they ask him in the third place, not simply whether he is a prophet, but with the article prefixed, Are you that Prophet? For every one of the prophets in succession had signified to the people of Israel that he was not the one whom Moses had prophesied of; who, like Moses, was to stand in the midst between God and man, and deliver a testament, sent from God to His disciples. They did not however apply this name to Christ, but thought that He was to be a different person; whereas John knew that Christ was that Prophet, and therefore to this question, he answered, No.

AUG. Or because John was more than a prophet: for that the prophets announced Him afar off, but John pointed Him out actually present.Then said they to him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say you of yourself?

CHRYS. You see them here pressing him still more strongly with their questions, while he on the other hand quietly puts down their suspicions, where they are untrue, and establishes the truth in their place: saying, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

AUG. So spoke Esaias: the prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist.

GREG. You know that the only-begotten Son is called the Word of the Father. Now we know, in the case of our own utterance, the voice first sounds, and then the word is heard. Thus John declares himself to be the voice, i.e. because he precedes the Word, and, through his ministry, the Word of the Father is heard by man.

ORIGEN; Heracleon, in his discussion on John and the Prophets, infers that because the Savior was the Word, and John the voice, therefore the whole of the prophetic order was only sound. To which we reply, that, if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle? If the voice of prophecy is nothing but sound, why does the Savior send us to it, saying, Search the Scriptures? But John calls himself the voice, not that cries, but of one that cries in the wilderness; viz. of Him Who stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He cries, in order that those at a distance may hear him, and understand from the loudness of the sound, the vastness of the thing spoken of.

THEOPHYL. Or because he declared the truth plainly, while all who were under the law spoke obscurely.

GREG. John cries in the wilderness, because it is to forsaken and destitute Judea that he bears the consolatory tidings of a Redeemer.

ORIGEN; There is need of the voice crying in the wilderness, that the soul, forsaken by God, may be recalled to making straight the way of the Lord, following no more the crooked paths of the serpent. This has reference both to the contemplative life, as enlightened by truth, without mixture of falsehood, and to the practical, as following up the correct perception by the suitable action. Wherefore he adds, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

GREG. The way of the Lord is made straight to the heart, when the word of truth is heard with humility; the way of the Lord is made straight to the heart, when the life is formed upon the precept.

Ver 24. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.25. And they asked him, and said to him, Why baptize you then, if you be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?26. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not;27. He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

ORIGEN; The questions of the priests and Levites being answered, another mission comes from the Pharisees: And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. So far as it is allowable to form a conjecture from the discourse itself here, I should say that it was the third occasion of John’s giving his witness. Observe the mildness of the former question, so befitting the priestly and levitical character, Who are you? There is nothing arrogant or disrespectful, but only what becomes true ministers of God.

The Pharisees however, being a sectarian body, as their name implies, address the Baptist in an importunate and contumelious way. And they said, Why baptize you then, if you be not that Christ, neither Elias, neither that Prophet? not caring about information, but only wishing to prevent him baptizing. Yet the very next thing they did, was to come to John’s baptism. The solution of this is, that they came not in faith, but hypocritically, because they feared the people.

CHRYS. Or, those very same priests and Levies were of the Pharisees, and, because they could not undermine him by blandishments, began accusing, after they had compelled him to say what he was not. And they asked him, saying, Why baptize you then, if you are not the Christ, neither Elias, neither that Prophet? As if it were an act of audacity in him to baptize, when he was neither the Christ, nor His precursor, nor His proclaimer, i.e. that Prophet.

GREG. A saint, even when perversely questioned, is never diverted from the pursuit of goodness. Thus John to the words of envy opposes the words of life: John answered them, saying, I indeed baptize with water.

ORIGEN; For how would the question, Why then baptize you, be replied to in any other way, than by setting forth the carnal nature of his own baptism?

GREG. John baptizes not with the Spirit, but with water; not being able to remit sins, he washes the bodies of the baptized with water, but not their souls with pardon. Why then cloth he baptize, when he cloth not remit sins by’ baptism? To maintain his character of forerunner. As his birth preceded our Lord’s, so cloth his baptism precede our Lord’s baptism. And he who was the forerunner of Christ in His preaching, is forerunner also in His baptism, which was the imitation of that Sacrament. And withal he announces the mystery of our redemption, saying that He, the Redeemer, is standing in the midst of men, and they know it not: There stands one among you, whom you know not: for our Lord, when He appeared in the flesh, was visible in body, but in majesty invisible.

CHRYS. One among you. It was fitting that Christ should mix with the people, and be one of the many, showing every where His humility. Whom you know not; i.e. not, in the most absolute and certain sense; not, who He is, and whence He is.

AUG. In His low estate He was not seen; and therefore the candle was; lighted.

THEOPHYL. Or it was, that our Lord was in the midst of the Pharisees; and they not knowing Him. For they thought that they knew the Scriptures, and therefore, inasmuch as our Lord was pointed out there, He was in the midst of them, i.e. in their hearts. But they knew Him not, inasmuch as they understood not the Scriptures. Or take another interpretation. He was in the midst of them, as mediator between God and man, wishing to bring them, the Pharisees, to God. But they knew Him not.

ORIGEN; Or thus; Having said, I indeed baptize with water,. in answer to the question, Why baptize you then? – to the next, If you be not Christ? he replies by declaring the preexistent substance of Christ; that it was of such virtue, that though His Godhead was invisible, He was present to every one, and pervaded the whole world; as is conveyed in the words; There stands one among you.

For He it is, Who has diffused Himself through the whole system of nature, insomuch that every thing which is created, is created by Him; All things were made by Him. Whence it is evident that even those who inquired of John, Why baptize you then? had Him among them. Or, the words, There stands one among you, are to be understood of mankind generally. For, from our character as rational beings, it follows that the word g exists in the center of us, because the heart, which is the spring of motion within us, is situated in the center of the body. Those then who carry the word within them, but are ignorant of its nature, and the source and beginning and the way in which it resides in them; these, hearing the word within them, know it not.

But John recognized Him, and reproached the Pharisees, saying, Whom you know now not. For, though expecting Christ’s coming, the Pharisees had formed no lofty conception of Him, but supposed that He would only be a holy man: wherefore he briefly refutes their ignorance, and the false ideas that they had of His excellence. He said, stand; for as the Father stands, i.e. exists without variation or change, so stands the Word ever in the work of salvation, though It assume flesh, though It be in the midst of men, though It stand invisible.

Lest any one however should think that the invisible One Who comes to all men, and to the universal world, is different from Him Who was made man, and appeared on the earth, he adds, He that comes after me, i.e. Who will appear after me. The after however here has not the same meaning that it has, when Christ calls us after Him; for there we are told to follow after Him, that by treading in His steps, we may attain to the Father; but here the word is used to intimate what should follow upon John’s teaching; for he came that all may believe, having by his ministry been fitted gradually by lesser things, for the reception of the perfect Word. Therefore he said, He it is Who comes after me.

CHRYS. As if he said, Do not think that every thing is contained in my baptism; for if my baptism were perfect, another would not come after me with another baptism. This baptism of mine is but an introduction to the other, and will soon pass away, like a shadow, or an image. There is One coming after me to establish the truth: and therefore this is not a perfect baptism; for, if it were, there would be no room for a second: and therefore he adds, Who is made before me: i.e. is more honorable, more lofty.

GREG. Made before me, i.e. preferred before me. He comes after me, that is, He is born after me; He is made before me, that is, He is preferred to me.

CHRYS. But lest you should think this to be the result of comparison, he immediately shows it to be a superiority beyond all comparison; Whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose: as if He said, He is so much before me, that I am unworthy to be numbered among the lowest of His attendants: the unloosing of the sandal being the very lowest kind of service.

AUG. To have pronounced himself worthy even of unloosing His shoe’s latchet, he would have been thinking too much of himself.

GREG. Or thus: It was a law of the old dispensation, that, if a man refused to take the woman, who of right came to him, to wife, he who by right of relationship came next to be the husband, should unloose his shoe. Now in what character did Christ appear in the world, but as Spouse of the Holy Church? John then very properly pronounced himself unworthy to unloose this shoe’s latchet: as if he said, I cannot uncover the feet of the Redeemer, for I claim not the title of spouse, which I have no right to. Or the passage may be explained in another way. We know that shoes are made out of dead animals. Our Lord then, when He came in the flesh, put on, as it were, shoes; because in His Divinity He took the flesh of our corruption, wherein we had of ourselves perished. And the latchet of the shoe, is the seal upon the mystery. John is not able to unloose the shoe’s latchet; i.e. even he cannot penetrate into the mystery of the Incarnation. So he seems to say: What wonder that He is preferred before me, Whom, being born after me, I contemplate, yet the mystery of Whose birth I comprehend not.

ORIG. The place has been understood not amiss thus by a certain person; I am not of such importance, as that for my sake He should descend from this high abode, and take flesh upon Him, as it were a shoe.

CHRYS. John having preached the thing concerning Christ publicly and With becoming liberty, the Evangelist mentions the place of His preaching: These things were done in Bethany beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. For it was in no house or corner that John preached Christ, but beyond Jordan, in the midst of a multitude, and in the presence of all whom He had baptized. Some copies read more correctly Bethabara: for Bethany was not beyond Jordan, or in the desert, but near Jerusalem.

GLOSS; Or we must suppose two Bethanies; one over Jordan, the other on this side, not far from Jerusalem, the Bethany where Lazarus was raised from the dead.

CHRYS. He mentions this too for another reason, viz. that as He was relating events which had only recently happened, He might, by a reference to the place, appeal to the testimony of those who were present and saw them.

ALCUIN. The meaning of Bethany is, house of obedience; by which it is intimated to us, that all must approach to baptism, through the obedience of faith.

ORIG. Bethabara means house of preparation; which agrees with the baptism of Him, who was making ready a people prepared for the Lord. Jordan, again, means, “their crescent.” Now what is this river but our Savior, through Whom coming into this earth all must be cleansed, in that He came down not for His own sake, but for theirs. This river it is which separates the lots given by Moses, from those given by Jesus; its streams make glad the city of God. As the serpent lies hid in the Egyptian river, so does God in this; for the Father is in the Son. Wherefore whosoever go thither to wash themselves, lay aside the reproach of Egypt, are made meet to receive the inheritance, are cleansed form leprosy, are made capable of a double portion of grace, and ready to receive the Holy Spirit; nor does the spiritual dove light upon any other river. John again baptizes beyond Jordan, as the precursor of Him Who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: