The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for March, 2012

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 26:14-25 for Wednesday of Holy Week

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

Mat 26:14  Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests.

Then went one of the twelve, &c. The word then refers partly to what has immediately preceded, and partly to the council of the rulers about taking Christ in the 16th verse. It means that on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, when Judas, the instigator of the murmuring, found himself rebuked by Christ, he did not repent as the other Apostles, whom he had misled, did, but then he made his forehead brazen, and clothed himself with the cloak of impudence, and, mad with covetousness and wickedness, he determined to sell and betray Christ to the Jews. Therefore, on the following Wednesday, when the rulers were taking counsel as to the way in which they might lay hold on Christ, he came to them, and suggested a method, and stipulated to deliver Him into their hands for thirty pieces of silver.

One of the twelve. An Apostle, not one even of Christ’s seventy disciples, or He might the better have borne it, but one of the twelve Apostles, and of His own most intimate friends, whom He had elevated to that lofty rank. So this was the dark ingratitude and wickedness of Judas, which pierced the heart of Christ, so that He said, “If mine enemy had spoken evil of Me, I would have borne it,” &c. “But thou, the man united to me, my guide and my familiar friend! We took sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God by consent” (Ps 55:13, &c). Wherefore S. Augustine (Tract. 61 in Joan.) says, “One by vocation, not by predestination; in number, not in merit; in body, not in spirit; in appearance, not in reality.”

Went away. Satan having entered into him, as Mark has, not that Satan insinuated himself into the soul of Judas, and so inclined his will and intellect to betray Christ. For God alone is able to glide into the soul, as Didymus rightly teaches (Tract. 3, de Spiritu Sancto). Neither was it that Satan took bodily possession of Judas, in the same way that he possesses energumens, but that he presented reasons suited to his imagination, which induced him to betray Christ, as S. John shows, xiii. 2. The same Evangelist says in the 27th verse, that after supper, when Judas had received the morsel from Christ, Satan entered into him, in order that he might accomplish in act the treachery which he had already purposed in his mind. This expression shows also the horrible atrocity of Judas’ wickedness, as though a man were not sufficient for its perpetration, but there were need of the help and instigation of the devil.

Mat 26:15  And said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver.

And he said to them, What will ye give me, &c. “Unhappy Judas,” says S. Jerome, “wishes to recompense himself for the loss which he deemed he had sustained by the pouring forth of the oil, by selling his Master. Nor does he even demand a certain sum, so that his treachery might at least seem profitable, but as though he were disposing of a worthless slave, he left the price to the option of the buyers.”

So S. Jerome, who thinks that Judas did not stipulate for any fixed sum, but left it to be determined by the rulers, as though he had said, “Give me what you will.” But others, with greater probability, say that Judas bargained with the rulers thus, “I will sell Christ to you, but for so great a person, and for one whom you hate so much, I demand a suitable price. How much will ye give me?”

Thirty pieces of silver. See the vileness of Judas in valuing Christ, the Saviour of the world, his Master and his Lord, for such a miserable sum. This vileness afflicted Christ with great sorrow. Wherefore S. Ambrose says (lib. de Spirit. Sanct. c. 18) “0 Judas, the traitor, thou valuest the ointment of His Passion at 300 denarii, and His Passion itself at thirty,—rich in valuing, cheap in crime!”

You will ask what was the weight and value of these thirty pieces of silver. Baronius (ex Helia in Tisbi, R. David, and other more modern Rabbins) thinks that the silver piece of Zechariah and the prophets, and consequently of this passage of S. Matthew, as is plain from xxvii 9, is a pound of silver. This would amount to about 1000 Flemish florins. But who can believe that the covetous Jews would pay such a sum to Judas, of his own accord making the offer, not to sell, but only to betray and guide them to a man who was daily to be met with, especially since the Fathers and Zechariah marvel at the price as being so small and poor?

With greater probability, Maldonatus and others understand thirty shekels to be here intended, which would be equal in value to thirty Flemish florins. This was the price at which a slave, who had been killed, was estimated, according to the law in Exodus 21:32. Thus the life of Christ was valued by Judas and the Jews at the same price as that of a slave.

But since Jeremiah (Jer 32:9) distinguishes the stater, or the shekel, which is the Hebrew word, from the silver piece, for he says, “Weigh for it the silver, seven staters and ten silver pieces” (Vulg. following the Heb. See also the margin of the English Version), it would seem more probable that these silver pieces of Judas were half shekels or double denarii. I have been the more confirmed in this opinion from seeing in the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem at Rome, together with a portion of the true Cross brought thither by S. Helena, one of those silver pieces for which Christ was sold. This is about the size of a Spanish real, but a little thicker. Hence, also, Zacharias calls the price, ironically, due or fitting; Ang. Vers. goodly. The shekel was equal to a Flemish florin, so that the thirty pieces of silver would be equal to fifteen Flemish florins.

You will ask how could “the potter’s field” be bought for such a sum as this? I answer, that the Heb. שדה, sade, and the Syr. חקל, chakel, i.e., a field, is put for any piece of land, however sandy, stony, or barren, such as sand-pits, which this “field” probably was. It seems to have been useless for agricultural purposes, and of very small value, like the Jewish cemeteries outside the cities of Germany. It is also possible that the rulers may have supplemented the thirty pieces of silver by a grant from the corbana, or treasury.

Observe: Joseph being sold by his brethren was a type of this selling of Christ. But Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver, for it was not fitting, says S. Jerome, that the servant should be sold for as much as his Master.

Observe secondly: Judas, according to S. Ambrose, received the tenth part of the price of the ointment with which Christ was anointed, which was valued at 300 denarii. But it is more probable that he received the fifth part, for the silver piece of Judas seems to have been, as has been said, a double denarius.

Thirdly, because Christ was sold at so vile a price, therefore He deserved to become the price of the whole world, and of all sinners.

Fourthly, because of these thirty pieces of silver, with which Judas and the Jews trafficked for Christ, God smites them with thirty curses in the 109th Psalm. The first is, “Set Thou an ungodly man to be ruler over him.” The second, “Let the devil stand at his right hand.” The third, “When he is judged, let him be condemned.” The fourth, “Let his prayer be turned into sin.” The fifth, “Let his days be few.” The sixth, “His bishopric let another take,” and so on. Lastly, as Hegesippus says, thirty Jews, who were taken captive by Titus, were sold for one denarius.

Mat 26:16  And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him.

Sought opportunity—and found it the following day, being Thursday, which was the first day of unleavened bread. Hear Origen: “Such an opportunity as he sought, Luke explains by saying, he sought . . . in the absence of the multitude, that is to say, when the people were not about Him; but He was in private with His disciples. This also he did, betraying Him at night after supper, in the garden of Gethsemane, whither He had retired.

Mat 26:17  And on the first day of the Azymes (unleavened bread), the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the pasch?

On the first day of Azymes (unleavened bread), &c. The Passover was to be eaten with unleavened, that is, pure unfermented bread, according to the Law. This abstinence from leaven lasted seven days, and the first day of unleavened bread was the first day of the Passover. The Pasch or Passover was celebrated on the 14th day of the first month, at even ; that is to say, on the full moon of the month called Nisan, which was that in which fell the full moon of the vernal equinox. Wherefore, Nisan answers partly to our March and partly to April.

The following is the chronology of the last eight days of the life of Christ. On the Friday, which was the 8th day of Nisan, He came from Ephrem to Bethany. The next day, being the Sabbath, He sups in the house of Simon the leper. The day following was the 10th of Nisan, and Palm Sunday. On the 11th of Nisan, He taught in the Temple, and cursed the barren fig-tree. On the 12th, He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and spake the parables recorded in S. Matthew 24 and 25. On the 13th of Nisan, or Wednesday, the rulers held their council, when Judas sold Him to them. On the 14th of Nisan, He instituted the Eucharist. On the 15th, He was crucified. The 16th of Nisan was Saturday, when He lay in the tomb. The 17th of Nisan was Easter Sunday.

On the first day ofAzymes (unleavened bread), that is, the 14th day of Nisan, or the full moon, Christ about mid-day sent two of His disciples from Bethany to Jerusalem to prepare and roast the paschal lamb, that He might eat it with them in the evening. Here observe, that the first day of unleavened bread is sometimes called the 14th of Nisan and sometimes the 15th. For that evening in which the Jews celebrated the Pasch, with which the days and the eating of unleavened bread commenced, according to the natural computation of time, pertained to the fourteenth day, but according to the computation observed with respect to festivals, it pertained to the following day, or the 15th of Nisan.

You will ask, What was the precise day on which Christ ate the Passover and instituted the Eucharist? Was it the same day on which the Jews kept the Pasch, or was it another? I take it for granted that, according to the belief of the whole Church, Christ was crucified on Friday, and therefore that He ate the paschal lamb at supper the day before, or on Thursday evening.

1st Euthymius and the Greeks say that Christ celebrated the Pasch on the 13th of Nisan; that He anticipated the time fixed by the Law for the Passover, on account of His Passion, which was about to be on the next day, on which the Jews celebrated the Passover. And because the use of azyms, or unleavened bread, began with the Passover on the following day, they think that Christ instituted the Eucharist before the azyms, and in leavened bread. Therefore they celebrate in leavened bread; and they say that this is a command. Whence they condemn the Latins for celebrating in unleavened bread, and call them Azymites and heretics. And they wash their altars before they will celebrate upon them, as deeming them polluted with unleavened bread. They cite in favour of their view S. John 13:1-2, who says, before the feast of the Passover (that is, before the fourteenth day of the moon, when they began to eat unleavened bread) Christ made His supper.

2nd Rupertus, Jansen, Maldonatus, and Salmeron, who enters at length into the subject (tract 9, tom. 4), say that Christ celebrated the Pasch according to the Law on the 14th of Nisan, but that the Jews deferred it until the 15th, an opinion thought to be supported by S. John. For there was a tradition, says Burgensis (ex Seder Olam), that if the Passover fell on the Friday, or the preparation for the Sabbath, it was transferred to the following day, which was the Sabbath, or Saturday, lest two solemn festivals, the Passover and the Sabbath, should concur.1 But this tradition is later than the time of Christ, as may be proved from the Talmud and Aben Ezra.

With these I say that both Christ and the Jews celebrated the Passover on the same day prescribed by the Law, namely, on the 14th day of Nisan, in the evening. That this was so, appears from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who say that Christ celebrated the Passover on the first day of unleavened bread, on which the Passover must (by the Law) be killed. And on which day they (ie., the Jews) killed the Passover. Had it been otherwise, the Jews would have proved and condemned Christ to be a transgressor of the Law.

You may object, 1st If Christ celebrated the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that He celebrated it on the first day of unleavened bread, which fell upon the fifteenth day? The answer is, as I have already said, that the first day of the azyms was partly the 14th and partly the 15th of Nisan. For that evening on which the Jews celebrated the Passover, with which began the days and the use of unleavened bread, pertained, according to the natural reckoning of time, to the day which preceded the evening, that is, to the 14th of Nisan. But the same evening pertained, according to the festal reckoning, to the day following, which was the 15th of Nisan. And in this sense John says that Christ supped upon the paschal lamb before the feast of the Passover, which was the 15th of Nisan, according to the festal reckoning.

You will object, 2nd That it is said, John 18:28, that the Jews did not enter the prætorium lest they should be defiled, but that they being pure, might eat a pure Pasch. I answer, Passover, in that place, does not signify the paschal lamb, for that had been already sacrificed and eaten the evening before, but the other paschal victims, which they were wont to immolate on the seven following days, but especially on the first day of the azyms, that is, on the morning of the 15th day of Nisan, according to the Law.

You will object, 3rd John 19:21 calls the 15th of Nisan, on which Christ celebrated the paschal supper, the preparation of the Passover. I answer yes, of the Passover, that is, of the Paschal Sabbath, or the Sabbath which fell within the octave of the Paschal Feast, which was for that reason more thought of than other Sabbaths. As S. John adds by way of explanation, For that Sabbath-day was a high day. This appears also from Mark 15:32, who calls this preparation day the day before the Sabbath. For on the preparation day, that is, the Friday, they prepared food and other necessaries for the following day, which was the Sabbath. For on this Sabbath, as being most holy, they abstained from every kind of work, even from preparing food, which was allowable on other festivals.

You will object, 4th That the rulers say in Matt 26:5, Let us put Christ to death, but not on the feast day. I reply that, after the treachery of Judas, they changed their counsel; and they did put Him to death on the feast day.

The disciples came,—two, says S. Mark; Peter and John, S. Luke. Where?—this is not to ask the city or town, but the house. They were certain from the Law (Deut 16:5-7) that the Passover could not be offered anywhere save at Jerusalem. The paschal lamb, however, was not immolated in the temple by the priests, but at home, by each master of a household, who for this purpose retained the ancient right of the priesthood, which was originally given to each first-born son of a family. Philo shows this at length (lib. de Decalogo, sub finem): “Every one ordinarily sacrifices the Passover without waiting for the priest; for they in this case, by the permission of the Law, discharge the office of the priest.” For the sacrifice of the paschal lamb consisted rather in the eating thereof, than in the immolation. Whence the disciples say, eat the Passover. Hence, also, it might be slain, immolated, flayed, and roasted, not indeed by common butchers, but either by a priest, or by that member of a family whom its head should appoint. Thus Peter and John, who were here sent by Christ, killed and made ready the lamb, and prepared the unleavened bread, and the wild herbs with which the lamb was to be eaten. The lamb was wont to be slain at the ninth hour, or three o’clock in the afternoon, as Josephus says (lib. 7, de.Bell. c. 17).

Mat 26:18  But Jesus said: Go ye into the city to a certain man and say to him: The master saith, My time is near at hand. With thee I make the pasch with my disciples.

Go ye into the city: Jerusalem. From this it is plain that Christ said these things in Bethany. To a certain man, and say. Such a one; this is the Hebrew idiom, when any one is intended whose name is not mentioned. However, He indicates him by certain marks, as S. Mark signifies: “And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the good man of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And His disciples went forth, And came into the city, and found as He had said unto them; and they made ready the Passover.”

Where observe, that it is plain from S. Mark’s words that this water-carrier, who guided them to the house, was not the master of the house. This latter appears to have been a wealthy man, who possessed a spacious mansion, and who was probably a friend and disciple of Christ. The tradition is, that this house belonged to John, whose surname was Mark, the companion of Paul and Barnabas. This was the house in which the Apostles lay concealed after the death of Christ. In it Christ appeared to them in the evening of the day of His resurrection. And in the same house they received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Wherefore also Peter, when he was delivered by the angel out of the prison into which he had been cast by Herod, betook himself to the believers who were gathered together in this same house (see Acts 12:12). Wherefore, this house was converted into a church. For in it was Sion builded up, which is the greatest and the holiest of all churches. Alexander shows all these things in his Life of the Apostle S. Barnabas. He is followed by Baronius and many others. For where My refreshment is, as the Vulgate of S. Matt. (ver. 14) translates, the Greek has κατάλυμα, inn or lodging. The Greek for chamber is α̉νώγεων, an upper floor, or chamber, or flat, such as are inhabited at Rome by wealthy people. Wherefore it is a type of the Church, which is tending from earth to Heaven.

My time is near at hand, i.e., the time of My death, and of finishing the work which My Father sent Me to do.

Mat 26:19  And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them: and they prepared the pasch.

And the disciples, viz., Peter and John, did as Jesus appointed to them: they killed and roasted the paschal lamb. Now the lamb, prepared for roasting, set forth the image of Christ crucified. For as S. Justin (contr. Tryph.) teaches, the body of the lamb was pierced through with the spit. The hind- feet as well as the fore-feet, which stood in the place of hands, were distended, and held apart by little sticks inserted in the hollows of the feet. As if the spit signified the longitudinal portion of the cross, and the little stakes the transverse bars, together with the nails driven into the hands and feet of the Divine Lamb. For the fire of His affliction was no less than the fire by which the paschal lamb was roasted. “Why,” asks Franc. Lucas, “do lambs always bear the marks of wounds in the hollow of their feet, in a manner not unlike to those which our Saviour retained from the piercing of the nails upon the cross?” Christ then, when He came to the house, and beheld the roasted lamb, beheld in it a lively image of His own crucifixion. Wherefore He offered this lamb, as it were a type of Himself, or rather He offered up Himself, a whole burnt-offering, and as it were a Victim for the sins of the whole world, with a great and burning ardour unto God the Father.

Mat 26:20  But when it was evening, he sat down with his twelve disciples.

When it was evening, &c. For in the evening, according to the Law, the lamb was to be eaten, and by the eaters standing, that the Hebrews might thereby show that they were prepared for the journey, that is to say, out of Egypt to the land of promise But Jesus is said to have lain down (discubuisse) with His disciples, because the ancients were accustomed at supper to recline upon couches; that is to say, with the lower portion of the body they were in a recumbent position, but with their arms they leant upon supports, as though they were sitting at table. Mark (Mark 14:17) has, when it was evening he came with the twelve. Speaking precisely, there were ten, since two had been previously sent to prepare the Passover, and were already on the spot.

You will ask, Was Judas the traitor present at the celebration of the Passover and the Eucharist? And did he partake of it? S. Hilary and Theophylact (in loc.) say, No. So do Clemens Romanus (lib. 5, Constit. c. 16), Innocent III. (lib. de Myster. Euchar. c. 13), and Rupertus (lib. 10, in Matth.). S. Dionysius (de Eccles. Hierar.) is thought by some to favour the same opinion; but other writers, as S. Thomas, take S. Dionysius to incline to the opposite view. Theophylact also may be taken both ways. The reason why the above writers think that Judas did not partake is, because a traitor was unworthy of so great Mysteries, and one who must be forbidden to assist at them.

But that Judas was present at the Passover and the Eucharist, and that he did communicate with the rest of the Apostles, is the common opinion of all other Fathers and Doctors, namely, Origen, Cyril, Chrysostom, Ambrose, SS. Leo, Cyprian, Austin, Bede, Rabanus, S. Thomas, and others, whom Suarez cites and follows (3 part. quæst. 73, art. 5, disp. 41, sect. 3), where he maintains that S. Dionysius also held the same opinion. For Dionysius says thus, “And the Author Himself (Christ) of the Creeds most justly separates him, who not as He Himself, nor in like manner, with sacred simplicity, had supped with Him.” Which means, Christ separates Judas from the company of Himself and His Apostles, saying to him, “What thou doest, do quickly,” because he had supped and taken the Eucharist unworthily with Him. For presently, after his unworthy communicating, Satan entered into him, and compelled him to accomplish his betrayal of Christ, as SS. Chrysostom, Cyril, and Austin teach.

This opinion is proved—1st Because Matthew here says that Christ sat down to the Supper of the lamb and the Eucharist with the twelve Apostles—therefore with Judas. Whence in the 21st verse it follows, And whilst they were eating, he said: Amen I say to you that one of you is about to betray me. 2d Because Mark (Mar_14:23) says concerning the Eucharistic Chalice, And they all drank of it. 3d Because Luke says that, after the consecration of the Chalice, Christ immediately added, but yet behold: the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 4th Because John (chap. 13), when he relates that Christ, before the Eucharistic Feast, washed the Apostles’ feet, signifies that He washed the feet of Judas, for He says, you are clean, but not all. For he knew who he was that would betray him. If, then, Christ washed the feet of Judas, He also gave him the Eucharist; for this washing was preparatory to the Eucharistic Feast. 5th Because Christ, after the Eucharistic Supper, said that one of them who were reclining with Him at the table, meaning Judas, was His betrayer. And when John asked, Who was this betrayer? Christ answered (13:26), He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

The a priori reason is, that although Christ might properly have made known to the Apostles the hidden treachery of Judas, for the manifestation of His Divinity and His love, both because He was the lord of the character (famæ) of Judas, as well as because the treason of Judas was already known to others, that is, to the princes and elders, and was very shortly to become known to the Apostles themselves by the course of events, yet was He unwilling to do this, that He might give an example of perfect charity, and that He might by this means draw Judas to repentance. Lastly, He would show that secret sinners must not be publicly traduced nor prohibited from coming to the celebration of holy Communion. Wherefore, when Christ, in instituting the Eucharist, made the Apostles priests and bishops when he said, Do this for a commemoration of Me, it follows that He created Judas also, who was present, a priest and a bishop. Wherefore it is said concerning him in the 109th [108th 8] Psalm, “And his bishopric let another take.” For S. Peter interprets this of Judas in the 1st chapter of the Acts. For although the Hebrew of the passage in the Psalm is pecuddato, i.e., prefecture, meaning his Apostleship, yet there is no reason why it should not be properly understood of Bishopric, as Suarez takes it. Lastly, it is plain that none others, except the twelve Apostles, were present at the Supper and the Eucharist. For these twelve only are mentioned. This against Euthymius, who thinks that others were present.

Mat 26:21  And whilst they were eating, he said: Amen I say to you that one of you is about to betray me.

And whilst they were eating, &c. Matthew says that Christ spake this before the institution of the Eucharist, but Luke 12:22 says after it. And this seems more probable. For Christ would be unwilling to trouble the minds of His disciples with such dreadful news before the Eucharist. Rather would He have them wholly intent upon, and devoted to the consideration of so great a Sacrament. Wherefore S. Matthew speaks by way of anticipation. Although S. Austin thinks (lib. 3, de Consens. Evang. c. 1) that Christ spake thus twice, both before and after the Eucharist.

One of you is about to betray (Vulg.), i.e., in a few hours to deliver up. Christ spoke thus, as well to show that He was conscious of the treachery, as that, not against His will, but voluntarily, He suffered. Wherefore He did not flee away, but offered Himself to His betrayer. He did it also to prick the conscience of Judas and arouse him to repentance. So S. Jerome says, “He casts the accusation generally, that the conscience of the guilty one might lead him to repentance” Christ did not name Judas for three reasons. 1st For the sake of his good name, and to teach us to act in like manner. 2d Lest Peter and the Apostles should rise up against Judas, and tear him to pieces. 3d That by this gentleness and charity He might provoke Judas to repentance. Wherefore S. Leo says (Serm. 7, de Passione), “He made it plain to the traitor that his inmost heart was known to Him, not confounding the impious one by a rough or open rebuke, but convicting him by a gentle and quiet admonition, that He might the more easily correct, by bringing to repentance, him whom no charge had robbed of his good name.”

Mat 26:22  And they being very much troubled began every one to say: Is it I, Lord?

And they being very much troubled, &c. Syr. They were vehemently troubled.

Began every one to say: Is it I, Lord?, therefore Judas lest if he alone kept silence should betray himself, or render himself suspected to the rest of the Apostles. For, as Origen says, “I think that at first he thought he might lie hid as a man. But when afterwards he saw that his heart was known to Christ, he embraced the opportunity of concealment offered by Christ’s words.” His first action was one of unbelief, his second of impudence. Now the other Apostles all said, Is it I? because, although their conscience did not accuse them of such a crime, yet, as S. Chrysostom says, they believed the words of Christ rather than their own conscience. Because, as S. Austin says in another place, “There is no sin which a man has done, which a man may not do, if the Ruler, by whom man was made, be absent from him.”

Is it I, Lord? Syr. Mori, i.e., My Lord, is it I? For very greatly did they grieve that Christ their Lord, their Parent and their Master, upon whom they wholly depended, was to be torn from them, and to die, and that through treachery, which was to be perpetrated by one of their own college, which would be the greatest injury, and occasion the utmost infamy to the entire college. Wherefore these words of Christ transfixed their hearts as with a sword, and, says S. Chrysostom, “they became half dead.”

Mat 26:23  But he answering said: He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me.

He that dippeth his hand, &c. Dippeth; Gr. ό ε̉μβαψάς, who dipped, or who is accustomed to dip. It appears that Judas, in order the better to conceal his treachery, and show himself a friend to Christ, the more frequently dipped bread, or flesh, into the vessel of broth, or vinegar, or condiment. But inasmuch as the other Apostles were wont to do the same thing to some extent, they could not know that Judas was certainly designated as the traitor by these words of Christ. Whence they strove to get at the fact by means of other questions addressed to Him.

Here take notice, for the harmony of the Evangelists, who relate diversely the pointing out of Judas the traitor, that the following is the historical order which harmonises all the Gospels with one another. First, Christ before the Eucharist foretold that He should be betrayed by one of the Apostles. But this He did in a general manner, without naming or indicating any individual. This is plain from Matthew and Mark. Afterwards, when the Apostles asked one by one, Lord, is it I? Christ answered, that “he was the traitor, who dipped his hand with Him in the dish.” For the ancients were wont to recline at table on couches by threes and fours, as I have shown on Est_1:6. Each three or four, therefore, had a common dish, in such a way, that those who reclined on opposite couches might have the same dish. Therefore, because several of the Apostles had the same dish, Christ did not by those words indicate precisely who was the traitor. After this Christ instituted the Eucharist. And when this was finished, He again said that the traitor was with Him at the table, as S. Luke relates at length; on which I have said more on S. Joh_13:21. Whereupon Peter made signs to John, who was reclining upon the bosom of Christ, to ask Him definitely, and by name, who was the traitor. John then asked, and to him Christ answered, “that it was he to whom He was about to give a morsel,” which presently He gives to Judas. Judas having received it, and feeling that he was designated both by his own consciousness of his guilt and by the sign which Christ gave, impudently asks, Is it I, Rabbi? Christ answered, Thou hast said it, meaning, “thou art he.” Wherefore he seemed to himself altogether detected, goes forth, as it were, in madness and rage to accomplish the betrayal of Christ, and goes to the house of Caiaphas, to ask for servants and officers to take Christ.

Mat 26:24  The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him. But woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born.

The Son of man indeed goeth, &c. It were better for him, if that man had not been born.  For “far better is it not to exist at all, than to exist in evil. The punishment is foretold, that him whom shame had not conquered, the denunciation of punishment might correct,” says S. Jerome. He threatens him with the woe of damnation. For far better is it not to be, than to exist only to be endlessly miserable, as I have shown on Ecclesiastes 4:2-3. Wisely does S. Jerome say (Epist. ad Furiam), “It is not their beginning which is inquired about in Christians, but their ending. Paul began badly but ended well. Judas’ beginning was commended, but his end was to be condemned as a traitor.”

Goeth. “By this word,” says Victor of Antioch, “Christ showeth that His death is like rather to a departure or passing away, than to real death. He signifies, likewise, by it that He went voluntarily to death.” Moreover, the betrayal of Judas was an act of infinite sacrilege, perpetrated directly against the very Person of Christ and God. Thus it was true deicide. Wherefore it is exceedingly probable that Judas abides in the deepest pit of Gehenna, near to Lucifer, and is there grievously tormented. And this seems to be indicated by the word woe, which Christ here pronounces upon him above the rest of the reprobates. Blessed Francis Borgia was wont, in meditation, in the depth of his humility, to place himself at the feet of Judas, that is to say, in the lowest pit of hell, exclaiming that there was no other place fit for him, neither in Heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, as the due reward of his sins.

Mat 26:25  And Judas that betrayed him answering, said: Is it I, Rabbi? He saith to him: Thou hast said it. 

And Judas…answering said: Is it I, Rabbi? Franc. Lucas thinks, with probability, that Judas asked this question after Christ had given him the morsel of bread.

Now Judas asked this question out of impudence, to cover his wickedness; and, as Jerome says, “by boldness to lay a lying claim to a good conscience.” For he thought that Christ, out of gentleness, would not name His betrayer. As though he had said, “Surely it is not I, 0 Christ, who am Thy betrayer? I who have faithfully served Thee all these years? Who have fed Thy family, and executed all Thy business?”

Thou hast said it. This is the modest Hebrew method of answering, by which they confirm what is asked. As though Christ said, “It is not that I say it, and call thee traitor. It is thou thyself who in reality dost call thyself so because thou art, in truth, a traitor.” Whence S. Chrysostom extols the meekness of Christ, who, in just anger, did not say, “Thou wicked and sacrilegious wretch! thou ungrateful traitor! but gently, Thou hast said it. “Thus has He fixed for us the bounds and rules of forbearance and forgetfulness of injuries.”

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Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 13:21-33, 36-38 for Tuesday of Holy Week

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

Text in red are my additions.

Joh 13:21  When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit; and he testified, and said: Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you shall betray me.

He was troubled in spirit. As we said above on John 11:23, this perturbation of soul was freely permitted by Christ. The disclosure of the traitor had been begun earlier in the night. It is recorded more or less fully by the four Evangelists, but in such a manner as to render it extremely probable that Christ returned to the subject several times during the night. St. Matthew 26:21-25, and St. Mark 14:18-21 record the allusion to the traitor, immediately before the institution of the Blessed Eucharist. St. Luke, on the other hand, records it immediately after the same event: “This is the chalice, the New Testament, in my blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table” (Luke 22:20-21). St. John does not refer, at least explicitly, to the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; but in his narrative the treachery of Judas is at first insinuated during the washing of tne feet (verse 10) , again alluded to in verse 18; and, finally, clearly foretold in verse 26. We can best reconcile all the Evangelists by holding that, in the hope of deterrng, Judas from his awful purpose, our Lord returned several times to the same subject: first, during the washing of the feet, as in St. John; then before the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, as in SS. Matthew and Mark; then, immediately after the institution, as in St. Luke; and finally, when the dipped bread was handed to the traitor, and he  left the room, as in St John.

No doubt it would be difficult to admit this supposition if the words in question (the words of the Synoptic Evangelists) contained, as seems generally to be taken for granted, a distinct identification of the traitor. For it could hardly be supposed that Judas, if thus pointed out, could have retained his place at the supper table, among the Apostles. But, in reality, there is no reason to regard the expressions recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark and the same may be said of that recorded by St. Luke as thus distinctly identifying the one who was to betray our Lord.

We may, indeed, regard them as conveying an intimation to Judas himself, if, as may be supposed, at the time they were uttered, or shortly before it, his hand had been upon the table, or if he had helped himself to some meat from the same dish as our Lord, and those others who sat in immediate proximity to Him. Or we may even suppose that those expressions, or at least some of them, were altogether indefinite, so as to convey only the sad intelligence that it was one of His chosen Twelve who was about to betray Him; just as the words, Unus vestrum me traditurus est, (“one of you is about to betray me”); of St. Matthew 26:21, or the Unus ex vobis tradet me, qui manducat mecum (“one of you shall betray me, the one that eateth with me”) of St. Mark 14:18, or the prophetic words of the Psalmist (Ps 41:9) quoted by our Lord, as recorded by St. John 13:18, qui manducat mecum panem levavit contra me calcaneum suum (“He that eateth bread with me shall lift up his heel against me”).

But there appears no sufficient reason for supposing that any of the expressions hitherto quoted was calculated, or was intended, to identify the traitor, at least in the eyes of his fellow-Apostles. Thus, then, there is no difficulty in supposing that they may have been spoken by our Lord at even an early period of the supper.

The incident recorded by St. John (13:21, 30) is of an essentially different character. There our Lord, after announcing in general terms, Unus ex vobis tradet me, is appealed to by St. John, at the instance of St. Peter, to declare who the traitor may be (see verses 24-26). The request of the beloved disciple is promptly met by the response, Ille est ego intinctum panem porrexero (“He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped”); and the traitor is immediately pointed out by the signal thus selected by our Lord: et cum intinxisset panem dedit Iudae Simonis Scariotis (“and when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon”).

Joh 13:22  The disciples therefore looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke.

The disciples therefore looked (rather, were looking, as in the original and Vulgate) one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke. The words vividly recall the actual scene. Strange as the prediction was, no one doubted its fulfilment; they merely doubted of whom He spoke. We say of whom He spoke, for though the original might mean, of what He spoke, Peter’s question immediately afterwards: “Who is it of whom he speaketh?” (verse 24) shows that their doubt regarded merely which of them was to betray Him. Earlier in the night, when He first referred to the betrayal, they may perhaps, have doubted even what He meant; but that stage was now passed, and the only doubt remaining was as to which of their number was to play the part of traitor.

Joh 13:23  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Now there was leaning on Jesus bosom. Rather: “Now there was reclining at the table in Jesus bosom.”  Instead of sitting at table, as we do now, the Jews of our Lord’s time, and for some time before and after, reclined. The guests lay resting on their left arm, stretched obliquely, their feet being behind them, instead of under the table, as with us. In this way a guest was reclining close to the bosom of the guest behind him, and such was the position that St. John occupied in reference to Christ on this occasion. When three reclined on the same couch, the centre was the place of honour.

One of his disciples whom Jesus loved. This, according to all antiquity, was our Evangelist himself. The title, which occurs here for the first time, is perhaps suggested by the recollection of the privileged position he occupied at the Last Supper. It occurs again, John 19:26; John 21:7, 20. Comp. also John 20:2.

Joh 13:24  Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh?

The best – supported Greek reading agrees substantially with the Vulgate: “Simon Peter therefore beckoneth to him, and saith unto him, Tell who it is of whom he speaketh.” According to this reading, St. John was not asked to inquire of Jesus who the traitor was, but St. Peter takes for granted that St. John had already learned from Jesus, and simply asks the beloved disciple to make it known to them all. In the other and less probable reading, St. John is asked to inquire (πυθεσθαι) who the traitor is. It might seem more in accordance with St. Peter s character, that he should directly ask our Lord to point out the traitor, but it is possible that Christ’s threat, recorded in verse 8, may have made him less confident than usual.

Joh 13:25  He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it?

If St. Peter supposed that St. John already knew who the traitor was, he was mistaken, as we see by this verse.

He therefore leaning on. The best-supported Greek reading would be rendered thus: He leaning back, as he was, on &c ( αναπεσων ουν εκεινος ουτως επ).

From his reclining position, St. John had merely to lean a little farther back in order to rest his head on His Divine Master’s breast. Thus “as he was,” i.e., without changing his position at table, by merely leaning back, he was not only close to the bosom of Jesus, but was on His breast, and could whisper his question. All the fathers speak of the privilege conferred upon St. John on this occasion in his being admitted to such familiarity with his Divine Master.

Joh 13:26  Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

If we suppose the bread which was handed to Judas to have been dipped in the Charoseth, a kind of sauce used at the Paschal Supper, then the meats of the Paschal Supper must have been still upon the table. This there is no difficulty in admitting, even if the ordinary supper, following upon the Paschal Supper, had already been partaken of.

Joh 13:27  And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly.

After the morsel had been given to Judas, “Satan entered into him;” that is to say, Judas now revealed as a traitor, at least to St. John, became still more confirmed in his evil purpose. The words are generally understood not as implying corporal possession of Judas by the devil, but as signifying that the devil now gained full control over him in reference to the crime contemplated. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly, again intimating that He knew the traitor’s thoughts, and at the same time manifesting His own readiness to suffer. These words of our Lord do notcontain a command or permission to Judas to commit the crime: but, taking for granted the traitor s fixed determination “That which thou dost, i.e., hast determined to do, they show Christ’s readiness and eagerness to begin to drink of the chalice that awaited Him.

Joh 13:28  Now no man at the table knew to what purpose he said this unto him.

The disciples, even St. John, knew not to what purpose Christ had told Judas to do quickly what he was determined to do. Though St. John, at least, had learned immediately before that Judas was to betray our Lord, still he probably did not expect that the betrayal would follow so rapidly upon the disclosure of the traitor.

Joh 13:29  For some thought, because Judas had the purse, that Jesus had said to him: Buy those things which we have need of for the festival day: or that he should give something to the poor.

For some thought . . . . . for the festival day. This conjecture of the Apostles is adduced by some writers as a proof that the supper mentioned by St. John in this thirteenth chapter is not the Paschal Supper; or, if the Paschal Supper, that it was not celebrated on the night of the 14th of Nisan. They argue (a) that on the night of the 14th of Nisan it would not have been lawful to buy or sell; and, therefore, the Apostles would not have conjectured as on this occasion they did; and (b) that on the night of the 14th of Nisan the Feast would already have begun, and the Apostles would not have conjectured that Judas was about to buy necessaries in preparation for the Feast.

But to (a) we reply that the buying and selling of articles of food was not forbidden during the Pasch (Exodus 12:16), and certainly was not for bidden on a festival that fell, as in this case, on a Friday, the day before the Sabbath. To (b) we answer that though the festival time had begun, yet it lasted seven days; and the fact that a few hours of the festal period had already elapsed
would not prevent the Apostles from conjecturing that Judas might be making provision for the long period that was still to come. To the poor. From this conjecture, and from John 12:5, we may conclude that our Lord and the Apostles were in the habit of giving alms to the poor.

Joh 13:30  He therefore, having received the morsel, went out immediately. And it was night.

When Judas found himself revealed as the traitor, he immediately left the supperroom. The Evangelist adds: And it was night, no doubt in order to give completeness to the history, but possibly also to mark the contrast of the light Judas left behind him with the outer darkness into which he went forth. Erat autem nox (“and it was night”), says St. Aug., Et ipse qui exivit erat nox (“And he that went out was himself the night”).

Let us pause for a moment in the narrative of St. John to inquire whether the Blessed Eucharist was instituted before the departure of Judas; whether, therefore, he sacrilegiously received the Blessd Eucharist and was ordained priest at the Last Supper. The great majority of the fathers answer in the affirmative. This view seems to us extremely probable. For the Synoptic Evangelists all take care to tell us that Jesus sat down with the Twelve; and then a few verses afterwards, without any indication of a change in the company, with out the slightest hint that any one had departed, they proceed: “And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to His disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat; this is My body” (Matt 26:26). Compare St. Mark and St. Luke. Hence, although they must have had the treachery of Judas before their minds while writing, yet they say not a word about his departure, as it might naturally be expected they would, if he had actually departed. Nay, St. Luke’s version of our Lord s words clearly implies that Judas was present at the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; for in St. Luke our Lord seems to contrast His own love in instituting the Blessed Eucharist with the treachery of one who was present. “This is the chalice, the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table” (Luke 22:20-21). Therefore, according to St. Luke, Judas was still at the table after the institution; and St. Mark states that all present drank of the chalice: “And they all drank of it” (Mark 14:23).

It seems to us, then, much more probable that Judas received the Blessed Eucharist, and was ordained priest at the Last Supper. Many, however, hold the opposite view; among others, St. Hilary, Innocent III., Salmeron, B. Lamy, Corluy, Langen, and Cornely. The latter says that he agrees in this “Cum plerisque modernis” (Corn., Hi., p. 298, note). Their principal arguments are: (1) That St. Matthew, who was present at the Last Supper, records the disclosure of the traitor before the institution of the Eucharist, while we know from St. John (verse 30) that Judas departed when he was disclosed: therefore he departed before the institution of the Eucharist. But this argument loses its force, if we hold as above, that Christ referred on several occasions during the night to the trea chery of Judas, and only on the last occasion definitely disclosed who the traitor was.

(2) They say, that surely our Lord did not allow Judas to make a sacrilegious Communion and receive Holy Orders, when He could so easily have prevented it. But we may reply that Christ referred several times to the betrayal, in order to recall Judas to a better sense; failing in this, He left him free, just as He leaves unworthy communicants or bad priests free now.

We believe, then, that modern commentators have no solid reason for departing from what was undeniably the common view in the early Church, that Judas at the Last Supper did receive Holy Communion and was ordained priest.

Joh 13:31  When he therefore was gone out, Jesus said: Now is the Son of man glorified; and God is glorified in him.

With this verse our Lord’s last discourses begin. They are divided into two portions by the change of place at the close of chapter 14, the first portion containing what was spoken in the Supper Room (13:31-14:31); the second, what was spoken just outside the Supper Room or along the way to Gethsemane or at some point on the way (chapters 15-16). In the first portion the leading ideas are that He and the Apostles are to be separated because He is about to ascend to the glory of the Father; still, that not withstanding the separation, they shall not be orphans, but He and they shall be united.

When he therefore was gone out Jesus said. The departure of Judas marked the beginning of the end, and Jesus at once turned to the eleven with words that prove His knowledge of what was about to happen, and His acceptance of the issue of the traitor’s work.

Now is the son of man glorified. Judas had finally decided to betray Him, and He Himself had fully accepted what was to follow, so that His death, now so certain and so near, might be spoken of as already past: “is . . glorified.” For their consolation and encouragement He refers to His death as a glorification, as indeed it was, being a triumph over Satan and sin, and the prelude to victory over death itself.

And God is glorified in him. God’s rigorous justice and boundless love for men were manifested by His sending His Divine Son to die for them, and hence God was glorified in the death of Christ. See Rom 3:25-26; Rom 5:8-9.

Joh 13:32  If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself: and immediately will he glorify him.

Many authorities omit the words: “If God be glorified in him.”  In himself. The meaning seems to be: with Himself, as in John 17:5, which reads: “And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself.” Immediately, we refer to the time of the crucifixion.

Joh 13:33  Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me. And as I said to the Jews: Whither I go you cannot come; so I say to you now.

The glorification of Christ implied His departure from the Apostles, and the time was now come for making known to them the separation. At present they, any more than His enemies, could not follow Him, and what He had before declared to His enemies (John 7:33-34), He now declares to His dearest friends. Yet, though the substance of the declaration is in both cases the same, Christ’s purpose in making it was very different. To the Jews it was made in the hope that they would thus be urged to make good use of the time that still remained to them before the separation, while in the present case the motive seems rather to be to forearm the Apostles by fore warning them and putting before them various motives of consolation.

Little children. The term (τεκνια) occurs only here in the Gospels, but is found six (or seven) times in St. John’s First Epistle. The diminutive form is expressive of tender affection, and perhaps of anxiety for those who were still immature.

Little children you shall seek me, &c. See above on John 7:34. The declaration is somewhat different in form on this second occasion. The words: “and shall not find me” (John 7:34) are omitted, and instead of: “where I am” the present text has: “whither I go.”  As we have said, the leading idea in both cases is of separation, but since that separation was to be followed in the case of the Apostles by spiritual union (John 14:18, 23), hence He now omits the words: “and shall not find me;” though in the sense of not finding Him any longer visibly present among them, the words were true even in reference to the Apostles.

Joh 13:36  Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered: Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now: but thou shalt follow hereafter.

St. Peter, all absorbed in Christ s words (verse 33), which signified that he was to be separated from his Divine Master, asks: Lord, whither goest thou? Christ’s reply means that He was going to Mis Father, whither Peter should one day follow, though he could not follow then. Thou shalt follow hereafter. These words implied Peter’s final perseverance and salvation.

Joh 13:37  Peter saith to him: Why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thee.

St. Peter, not under standing Christ’s reply, and thinking that He meant to go to some place of danger, testifies his readiness to die for Christ, and hence, he implies, to follow Him anywhere.

Joh 13:38  Jesus answered him: Wilt thou lay down thy life for me? Amen, amen, I say to thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou deny me thrice.

Christ replies, rebuking Peter’s boastful confidence, and declaring that so far was Peter from being ready at that time to die for Him, that before cockcrow he would deny Him thrice.

We believe that our Lord twice on this night predicted the denials by Peter: once in the supper-room, as recorded by St. John here, and by St. Luke 22:34, and again on the way to Gethsemane, as recorded by St. Matthew 26:30-34, and St. Mark 14:26-30. By the latter Evangelists the prophecy of Peter s denial is distinctly placed on the way to Gethsemane, and connected with the prophecy of the general desertion of the Apostle. This latter prophecy, it may well be, called forth from Peter a second expression of his fearless attachment to his Master, and this was followed in turn by a second reference to Peter’s denials.

While the other three Evangelists represent our Lord as saying that the three denials by Peter should take place before the cock would crow, St. Mark, who was a disciple of St. Peter, records the prediction more minutely, and represents our Lord as saying: “Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Mark 14:30). There is, however, no contradiction between St. Mark and the others, even if all refer to the same prediction; for the second crowing of the cock, before which, according to St. Mark, the three denials were to take place, is that which is meant by the other Evangelists, and which was universally known as “the cock-crowing.” That the cock-crowing in our Lord’s time was regarded as so distinct a note of time as to have given its name to one of the four watches of the night, we have clear evidence in the Gospels. Thus, in St. Mark 13:35, our Lord says: “Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh; at evening, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning).” Thus, then, although the cock crew after Peter’s first denial, as St. Mark records (Mark 14:68), still the time generally known as cockcrow about 3 a.m. was that meant when the word was used, as it is in our Lord’s prediction in SS. Matt., Luke, and John, without any special indication that the first crowing of the cock was the one intended. Hence, the second crowing of the cock referred to by St. Mark was the cock-crowing mentioned by the other three Evangelists.

Before quitting this chapter, it may be well, for clearness sake, to repeat here what we consider to be the most probable order of events at the Last Supper.

(1) There was the Paschal Supper.

(2) During the Paschal Supper, or at its close (but certainly before the ordinary supper was over: see above on verse 2), the washing of the feet, accompanied by the first allusion to the traitor (John 13:10).

(3) The ordinary supper, during which

(4) Another reference to the traitor (Matt 26:21-25; and Mark 14:18-21).

(5) The Eucharistic Supper.

(6) A third reference to the traitor (Luke 22:21).

(7) The strife among the Apostles as to which of them was the greatest, occasioned, perhaps, by the anxiety of each to shift from himself the charge of treachery.

(8) The question of St. John (John 13:25), and the final disclosure of the

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Cornelius A Lapide’s Commentary on John 12:1-11 for Monday of Holy Week

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

A few notes in red are my additions.

Joh 12:1  Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.

Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch (Passover),  &c. He came from Ephraim, as the Passover was drawing on when He was to die. And He came to Bethany to prepare Himself for it; nay more, to offer Himself for death, and furnish an opportunity for it through the covetousness of Judas. This explains why He first went to Bethany. For the chief priests had ordered that He should be seized. And He, knowing this by divine inspiration, came to Bethany, where He had many well-wishers, among whom He could remain in security, and might thence shortly afterwards enter Jerusalem in solemn pomp on Palm Sunday, as the Paschal Lamb who was to be offered for the sins of the world.

Bethany, which is close to Mount Olivet, signifies in Hebrew the house of obedience. From this place He wished to go to His Cross. For as the Gloss says, By being obedient even as far as to the death of the Cross, He taught His Church obedience, on the Mount of Oil, i.e., the Mount of Mercy, which cannot be hid, and by which He raises up those who are buried in grievous sins. A supper is there made by the faith and devotion of the righteous. Martha ministers, when each of the faithful offers to the Lord works of devotion, and Lazarus, i.e., those who have been raised up (from sin), with those who have remained stedfast in their righteousness, joyfully feast on the Lord’s presence.

Six days before the Pasch (Passover). It was on the Friday evening that He came from Ephraim. On the following Sabbath they made Him a feast, and on the next day (Palm Sunday) He in solemn manner entered Jerusalem. For the Passover that year fell on the Thursday of that week. He came to Bethany on the Friday, because it was not lawful to journey on the Sabbath.

Symbolically: The Gloss says, “God made all things in six days. On the sixth He made man; in the sixth age of the world He willed to redeem him. He suffered on the sixth day of the week, and died at the sixth hour.”

Whom Jesus raised to life. That by His presence He might revive the memory of this miracle, and arouse the people to attend Him on His solemn entry into Jerusalem, and shout Hosanna.

Joh 12:2  And they made him a supper there: and Martha served. But Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him.

And they made Him a supper, &c. To show that He had really risen; as S. Augustine says (in loc.). “He lived, He talked, He partook of the meal: the truth was set forth, the unbelief of the Jews was confounded.”

Joh 12:3  Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right (i.e., true, pure, trustworthy, in Gr. πιστικης) spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

Mary therefore (that she might not be wanting on her part, and in order specially to honour Christ, and to surpass all others in her services, as she surpassed them in love) took a pound of ointment of right (pure) spikenard, of great price. Ointment of nard was composed of several sweet scents (see Pliny H. N. xiii. 2), and was thick. But this was liquid, as S. Matt. (Mat_26:7) says that it was poured on His head. Liquids are very often weighed in vessels, or anyhow the nard itself from which the ointment was made. Or this pound was rather a measure of quantity, not of weight.

Mystically: S. Augustine says, “The ointment was righteousness (πιστικης = pistikos). Therefore it was of due weight” (libra). The Gloss says, “Mary before anointed His feet as a penitent; but now, when the righteousness of the perfect, and not the mere rudiments of penitence, are designated, she anoints His head and His feet. The pound of ointment is the perfection of righteousness. He anoints the head, who preaches high doctrines respecting Christ; He anoints the feet who respects the least commandments.”

But what is “pistic nard”? (1.) The Commentary on S. Matthew (in S. Jerome) says “mystic,” which is absurd. (2.) S. Augustine says it is so called from the place whence it was brought. But the place itself is uncertain. (3.) Maldonatus derives it α̉πὸ του̃ πίνειν, meaning that it was liquid, and so could be drunk, other ointments being thick and clotted. (4.) Others derive it from πιέξω, squeezed or pressed out. (5.) As if from πίστις, pure, unadulterated, as nard frequently was. (See Pliny H. N. xii. 13.) So Euthymius, Theophylact, on Mark 12, Baronius, Ribera, Jansenius, Toletus and others. (6.) Pistici is the same as spicati by a change of letters. This was the best kind of ointment. (Lapide goes on to treat of the matter at some length. Fr. Raymond Brown, in the Anchor Bible Commentary on John suggests it is from πίστις, as in example 5 above).

Morally: Here learn that the good works, with which we anoint Christ, ought to be quite free from fault, and of the very best kind. Compare the offerings of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:3-4. The sacrifice had to be full of the good marrow and fat (See Ps 66:15, Ps 20:3, Dan 3:40 (i.e., the Pryer of Azariah, Vulg.)Lev 3:16-17, Num 18:17, Num 18:29, and Lev 23:19).

And anointed the feet of Jesus. S. Matt. adds “and the head.” Alcuin explains mystically, “The Head is the loftiness of the Godhead, the feet the humility of the Incarnation. Or the Head is Christ, the feet the poor who are His members. We anoint them when we give them alms.”

And wiped His feet with her hair. A hysteron proteron (see definition). For first she wiped, and then anointed His feet. For had she anointed His feet first, and then wiped them with her hair, she would have anointed her own hair, (which she did not wish to do,) and which indeed she counted unworthy of such anointing, and not His feet. Moreover, this sweet-scented and precious ointment was not to be wiped off, but left on His feet, to give them ease.

Her hair. To soil those hairs, of which she used to be vain, with the dust of His feet, and also that she might with the deepest reverence and humility place her whole head beneath His feet. For S. Chrysostom says, she placed the noblest part of her body beneath His feet, and she approached Him not as man but as God.

And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.  S. Augustine says, mystically, the whole world was filled with the good fame of her piety and virtue. As S. Paul says, “We are a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor 2:14)—to the good, of life unto life; to the wicked, of death unto death—as was here the case. Whence it follows:

Joh 12:4  Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said:

SS. Matt. and Mark add, “Why was this waste of the ointment made?” Bede replies, “It was no waste, but for the rite of burial; nor is it wonderful that she offered Me the sweet savour of Faith, when I am about to shed my blood for her.”

Joh 12:5  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?
Joh 12:6  Now he said this not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and, having the purse, carried the things that were put therein.

Now he said this, &c. Nay worse, sacrilegious, “for he seized for his own use, that which was given for a sacred purpose,” says Theophylact. “He carried the money by his office, he carried it off by theft,” says S. Augustine. He wished the ointment to be sold, and the price of it given to him; and since he knew that Christ did not wish so large a sum to be kept in his purse, but rather to be distributed amongst the poor, he would have distributed some of it to the poor, and have purloined the rest for himself. See here how opportunity makes the thief, and how dangerous it is for holy men in “religion” to handle moneys, those especially which belong to the whole community. For if covetousness suggests it, a portion is easily diverted to the use of themselves or their families.

But why did Jesus entrust to him the bag, knowing him to be a thief? I answer, Because Judas was more qualified than the other Apostles to make purchases. And He allowed the theft, because an opportunity was furnished thereby for the betrayal and death which He courted. Again S. Augustine, “Because the Church would afterwards have its coffers, He admitted thieves, in order that His Church might tolerate powerful thieves, even when suffering from them, to teach us that the wicked must be tolerated, for fear of dividing the body of Christ. Do thou, the good, bear with the evil, that thou mayest attain to the reward of the good.” S. Chrysostom adds, “The Lord committed the bags to a thief, in order to cut off any excuse for betraying Him, and that it might not seem as if he betrayed Him from want of money.” But Theophylact says, “Some maintain that as the least of the Apostles he undertook the management of the money.”

Lastly, S. Bernard (de Consid. iv. 6) teaches us “that Christ wished in ‘this’ way to teach Prelates readily to entrust the management of temporal affairs to any one, but to reserve the ordering of spiritual matters to themselves: though many do exactly the contrary.” Again, Christ acted thus, to keep us from being surprised, if in the assemblies, monasteries, and congregations of holy men, there be occasionally found some vicious and scandalous persons; and accordingly S. Augustine (Epist. 137, nunc 75), when one of his monks had caused scandal, at which the people cried out against him, prudently replied, “However vigilant may be the discipline of my house, I am but a man, I am living among men: nor do I dare to claim for myself, that my house should be better than Noah’s ark, where among eight men one was found reprobate, or better than the house of Abraham, when it was said, Cast out the bond-woman and her son; or better than the house of Isaac, to whom it was said respecting the twin children, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated: or better than the house of Jacob, when his son defiled his father’s bed; or better than the house of David, whose son lay with his sister, and where another son rebelled against his holy and gentle father; or better than they who were associated with the Lord Christ Himself, where eleven righteous men tolerated Judas, that perfidious thief; or, lastly, better than heaven from which the angels fell.”

Doubtless God permits it in His wise providence, in order that by the wickedness of one or two the goodness and sanctity of others may shine out the more by way of contrast, as light amid darkness, gold amongst lead, the sun between the clouds, a wise man among fools, shines forth only the more resplendently. For contraries opposed to each other are the more marked. (See. Sirach 33:15, and notes in loc.)

And having the purse, &c. From this Jansen and others rightly gather that it is lawful for the Church to have coffers and wealth to use, and that it does not derogate from perfection to have a common purse, for reasonable and moderate expenses. For Jesus did nothing which implied imperfection, being the teacher of all perfection.

Please Note: the text in green which follows will certainly be of little interest to most people. You can scroll down beyond the green text and continue readings if you so choose.

In order to understand this thoroughly, observe that though Christ, by reason of His Hypostatic Union with the Word, had a pre-eminent and (as it were) Divine dominion over all creatures, yet professed poverty, that is, an abandonment of ownership, special ownership, in order to be the teacher and example of a more perfect life. See Matt 8:20, Matt 19:21,  Matt 19:27.

Observe, secondly, that Christ had absolute control of the offerings made to Him by the faithful, for the common good, and not for His special use. They belonged to the whole College of the Apostles. He held them not as though He were their sole owner. See John 4:8, John 6:5.

It follows therefore that it does not in any way detract from their perfection for Religious orders to have goods in common. (See John XXII, Extravag. Ad Conditorem.) In some cases this is the most perfect way, in others not. But Christ at one time seemed to have lost all claim even to a share of the common property. (See Luke 8:3).

S. Thomas (see Secund. Quæst. clxxxviii. Art. 7) proves à priori that the possession of goods in common does not hinder perfection. Poverty, he says, is only an instrument of perfection, as taking away anxiety in acquiring and preserving riches, the love of them, and our priding ourselves in them. But to have goods in common does not give rise to any of these evils; and so far from hindering charity, it even promotes it. “For it is manifest,” says S. Thomas, “that to store up things which are necessary to man, and purchased at a fitting time, causes the least possible anxiety.”

All founders of Religious Orders have sanctioned this. And hence resulted the Constitution of Justinian, that the goods of those who became monks should belong as a matter of course to their monasteries. For the whole meaning of poverty turns on not having anything belonging especially to one’s own self, though there may be some common fund, from which, according to the Apostolic Rule, distribution should be made to each, as need may require. (See Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:35, and the Notes thereon.) This is just what S. Jerome says to the “Religious” of his own day (Epist. xxii.) “No one has any right so say, I have not a tunic, or a coat, or a bed of plaited bulrushes. For the head of the Community so divides the common stock, that every one has what he asks for. And if any begins to fall ill, he is transferred to a larger cell, and is so carefully attended by the older monks, that he longs not for the delights of cities, or the tenderness of a mother.”

The fathers and schoolmen teach everywhere the same thing. (See Suarez par. iii. Quæst. xl. disp. xxviii. § 2, Bellarm. de Summo Pont. iv. 14, Soto de Just. iv. Quæst. i. art. 1.)

Nicolas IV. (ut supr.) says that to have common purses is to detract from perfection, for Christ in this matter adapted Himself to the weaker brethren, that He might be an example to all. Suarez replies, that Nicolas only asserted that in the matter of poverty that was the least rigid rule which allowed them to have common purses, but that it must not be concluded from this that the other rule was absolutely the most perfect. For though less perfect, as common poverty, it may be more perfect in charity, or some other virtue. For Nicolas is speaking of the Franciscans (of whom he was one), whose Order had for its scope and end the extremest poverty, in order to be conformed to S. Francis. But other orders have other pious and holy ends, for which it is more convenient to have goods in common. And therefore this is more fitting and perfect in their case. Carthusians observe silence and solitude. Others practise great austerity. But those who are employed in preaching and missions to unbelievers, need great strength to endure the great labours of their order, and make up for austerity of living by charity towards their neighbours. Both act in a manner suited to their order, and the end they propose to themselves. Different ends require different means. The Council of Trent allows all “Religious,” except the Franciscans, to own Real Property (bona immobilia).

Joh 12:7  Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial.

Let her alone, that she may keep if against the day of my burial. In the Greek it is “for the day of my burial hath she kept this,” and also in the Syriac (see notes on Mat 26:12, &c.) Hear S. Augustine, “He saith not to him, It is on account of thy thefts that thou speakest thus. He knew he was a thief, but was unwilling to expose him. He chose rather to bear with him, and to set us an example of patience in tolerating evil men in the Church.”

Joh 12:8  For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.

From Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 26:11~“The world is full of poor, to whom ye may always do good; but I, after six days, am about to die, and go away to Heaven, so that ye will not be able either to see Me or to touch Me. Suffer then this woman’s act of service towards Me. In six days ye would vainly desire to do the like.”

Joh 12:9  A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

A great multitude therefore of the Jews, &c. “Curiosity led them,” says S. Augustine, “not charity,” to see and hear Lazarus, and to ask him where he had been after death, what he had seen, what he had done? So Cyril, Theophylact, Leontius. It seems more likely that there would have been many different reasons among the crowd (see John 7:11-12). Underlying St Augustine’s statement is the common cultural attitude many Jews exhibited: Jews seek signs, and the Greeks, wisdom (1 Cor 1:22).

Joh 12:10  But the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also:

But the chief priests thought (ε̉βουλεύσαντο consulted) to kill Lazarus also. See here their virulent envy and malice: envying Jesus His glory. They grudge also Lazarus his life, lest it should add to the glory of Jesus. For the feast of the Passover was at hand, at which all the Jews who flocked together would see Lazarus and wondering at the power of Jesus who had raised him from the dead, would consequently believe on Him. And in order to prevent this, they determine to put him out of the way. But S. Augustine (in loc.) rightly exclaims against them, “0 foolish thought, and blind cruelty! For could not the Lord, who had power to raise him from the dead, have power to raise him up also if he had been put to death? In putting him to death, could ye take away Christ’s power? If a dead man seems to you one thing, and one who is put to death another, behold the Lord did both, for He both raised Lazarus who was dead, and Himself also who had been put to death.”

Lastly, the raising of Lazarus was especially the work of God, and they therefore who were so eager to put him to death, were fighting against God, and challenging Him, as it were, to the contest.

Joh 12:11  Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away and believed in Jesus.

Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away and believed in Jesus–ύπη̃γον, withdrew themselves, deserted their party. This may mean either, “many of the Jews went their way,” or else “many went away from the unbelieving Jews, and followed Christ.”

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St Cyril of Alexandria on John 13:1-15 for Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

xiii. 1 Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in this world, He loved them unto the end.

The meaning contained in the words before us seems |172 to most men somewhat obscure and not very capable of exact explanation, nor indeed to possess (as any one might suppose) any simple signification. For what can be the reason why the inspired Evangelist at this point notifies to us particularly, and (so to speak) as a necessary sequence of things, that: Before the feast of the passover, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, Christ acted as He did? And again, what is the meaning of: Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end? Allowing therefore that the uncertainty involved in this passage is by no means slight, I suppose it to imply something of this sort, namely, that the Saviour, before enduring His suffering for our salvation, although aware (says the Evangelist) that the time of His translation to heaven was now close even at the doors, gave a proof of the absolute perfection of His love for His own that were in this world. And if there is any necessity for conceiving a wider meaning for the passage, I will only repeat once more what I was saying just now. To Christ our Saviour peculiarly belong as His own possessions all things made by Him, all intellectual and reasonable creatures, the powers above, and thrones, and principalities, and all things akin to these, in so far as regards the fact of their having been made [by Him]; and again, to Him peculiarly belong also the rational beings on earth, inasmuch as He is Lord of all, even though some refuse to adore Him as Creator. He loved therefore His own that were in the world. For not of angels doth He take hold, according to the voice of Paul; nor was it for the sake of the angelic nature, that, being in the form of God the Father, He counted it not a prize to he on an equality with God: but rather for the sake of us who are in the world, He the Lord of all has emptied Himself and assumed the form of a servant, called thereto by His love for us. Having therefore loved His own which were in this world, He loved them unto the end, although indeed before the feast, even before the passover, He knew that His hour was come that |173 He should depart out of this world unto the Father. For it would have been the manner of one who loved them, but not unto the end, to have become man, and then to have been unwilling to meet danger for the life of all; but He did love unto the end, not shrinking from suffering even this, although knowing beforehand that He would so suffer. For the Saviour’s suffering was not by Him unforeseen. While therefore, says the Evangelist, He might have escaped the rude insolence of the Jews and the unholiness of those who were meditating His Crucifixion, He gave a proof of the absolute perfection of His love towards His own which were in the world; for He did not shrink in the least from being offered up for the life of all mankind. For that herein especially we may see the most perfect measure of love, I will bring forward our Lord Jesus Christ Himself as witness, in saying to His holy disciples: This is My commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And for another reason the holy Evangelists always set themselves purposely to shew that our Lord Jesus the Christ foreknew the time of His suffering, namely, lest any of those who are wont to be heterodox should disparage His Divine glory by saying that Christ was overpowered through weakness on His part, and that it was against His will that He fell into the snares of the Jews and endured that death which was so very aweful. Therefore the language of the holy men is in accordance with the Divine system and profitable for our instruction.

2, 3, 4, 5 And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s [son], to betray Him, [Jesus,] knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God, and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.

The Saviour strives to eradicate utterly from our thoughts |174 the vice of pride, as the basest of all human failings, and worthy of universal and utter abomination. For He knows that nothing so commonly injures the soul of man as this most loathsome and detestible passion, to which even the Lord of all Himself stands in just opposition, after the manner of an open foe; for the Lord resisteth the proud, according to the voice of Solomon. The holy disciples therefore especially stood in need of a sober and submissive temper, and of a mind that reckoned empty honour as no high ambition. For they possessed in no slight degree the germs of this sad infirmity, and would have easily glided down into subjection to it, if they had not received great help. For it is always against those who occupy an illustrious position that the malignant monster vainglory directs its attacks. Think then, what position can be more brilliant than that of the holy Apostles? or what more attractive of attention than their friendship with God? A man who is of little account in life would not be likely to experience this passion: for it always avoids one who possesses nothing that others can envy and nothing that is inaccessible to those whose lot is of no consequence in the world; for how could such a one possibly exhibit vainglory on any subject whatever? But pride is a feeling dear to a man when he is in an enviable position, and when for this reason he thinks himself better than his neighbour; foolishly supposing that he differs very greatly from the rest of mankind, as having achieved some special and surpassing degree of excellence, or as having followed a path of policy unfamiliar to and untrodden by the rest of the world. Since therefore it has come to be regularly characteristic of all who hold brilliant positions to be liable to attacks of the infirmity of pride, it was surely needful for the holy Apostles to find in Christ a Pattern of a modest temper; so that, having the Lord of all as their model and standard, they themselves also might mould their own hearts according to the Divine will. In no other way therefore (as it seems) could He rid them from the infirmity, except by teaching them clearly that each one should regard himself as inferior |175 in honour to the rest, even so far as to feel bound to undertake the part of a servant, without shrinking from discharging even the lowest of menial offices; [and this He taught them] by both washing the feet of the brethren and girding on a towel in order to perform the act. For consider what utterly menial behaviour it is, I mean according to the world’s way of thinking and outward practice. Therefore Christ has become a Pattern of a modest and unassuming temper to all living men, for we must not suppose the teaching was meant for the disciples alone. Accordingly the inspired Paul also, taking Christ as a standard, exhorts to this end, saying: Let each one of you have this mind in himself, which was also in Christ Jesus. And again: In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself. For in a lowly temper there is established a settled habit of love and of yielding to the will of others. Moreover, in order to highly exalt the significance of what was done, and to prevent us from supposing that Christ’s action was a commonplace one, the inspired Evangelist again cannot help being astounded at the thought of the glory and the power that were in Christ, and His supremacy over all; as he shows by saying: Knowing that the Father had committed all things into His hands. For although, he says, Christ was not ignorant that He possessed authority over all, and that He came forth from God, that is, was begotten of the Essence of God the Father, and goeth unto God, that is, returns again to the heavens, there sitting as we know by the side of His own Father; yet so excessive was the humiliation He underwent that He even girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples. As therefore we have in this act of Christ a very excellent pattern of affectionate care, and a most conspicuous standard for our love for each other to imitate, let us be modest in mind, beloved, and let us consider that, whatever may be our own goodness, our brethren have attained to greater excellences than those to be found in ourselves. For that we may both think and be willing to think in this way, is the wish of Him Who is our great Pattern. |176

6, 7 So He cometh to Simon Peter, and he saith unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt understand hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.

The fiery and impulsive character of Peter, always far more eager than the other disciples to display devotion, can be observed, one might almost say, throughout all the records that are written of him. And so it happens that on this occasion also, following the bent of his peculiar character and usual tone of mind, he thrusts aside the lesson of extreme humility and love, the record of which has been preserved in this passage,—-remembering on the one hand who he is himself by nature, and on the other hand Who He is that is bringing the bason to him, and shrinking not from fulfilling the duty of a menial servant. For he is dismayed not a little at the action, which is in a manner hard of acceptance to faith, even though it happened to be seen by many eyes. For who is there who would not have shuddered at learning that He Who with the Father is Lord of all had shown His devotion to the service of His own disciples to be so intensely compassionate, that the very thing that seems to be the work of the lowest grade among servants, He willingly and of deliberate intention performed, to furnish a pattern and type of modesty in temper? Therefore the inspired disciple is dismayed and distressed at the circumstance, and makes the refusal as a natural result of his accustomed and habitual devotion. Moreover, not yet understanding the cause of the action, he supposes that the Lord is doing it with no special motive, and thinking only of the refreshment of their bodies; for that is the sole object of washing the feet, and not a little does it relieve their condition after walking. On this account he insists even very earnestly, saying: Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? For surely, he says, surely this ought to be done by us who are by nature in the condition of “servants,” not by Thee, the “Lord” of all. Christ however defers for a |177 while the explanation of the event; yet, to make him account its cause more weighty, He tells Peter that he should understand what the action meant hereafter, meaning of course at the time when He should give a fuller explanation of it.

And this point again, taken in connection with the others, will profit us not a little. For notice how, when the occasion calls for action, He defers His discourse; and again, when the occasion calls for discourse, He postpones action: for He was ever wont to assign all things to their fit and proper seasons. When therefore Peter made a sign of dissent, and plainly asserted that Christ should never wash his feet, the Saviour at once lays clearly before him the loss he would suffer in consequence, saying as follows:

Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.

Inasmuch therefore as He had come to what manifestly and obviously is the central point of the incident before us, He says: “If thou shouldst refuse to receive this strange and novel lesson of humility, thou wouldst find no part or lot with Me.” And since oftentimes our Lord Jesus the Christ, taking small matters as the suggestive occasions of His discourses, makes His exposition of general application; and, drawing out to a wide range the lessons arising out of a single event or the words spoken solely with regard to some individual circumstance, introduces into the discussion of the matters in hand a rich abundance of profitable illustrations: we shall suppose that in this also He meant to say that unless through His grace a man washes away from himself the defilement of sin and error, he will have no share in the life that proceeds from Him, and will remain without a taste of the kingdom of heaven. For the uncleansed may not enter the mansions above, but only they who have their conscience cleansed by love to Christ, and have been sanctified in the Spirit by Holy Baptism. |178

9 Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

He who lately exhibited to us so strongly his opposition to what Christ was doing, and who expressly refused to allow the washing of his feet, now offers not them only, but also hands and head as well. For if, says he, my refusal to assent to Thy wish and Thy deliberate purpose, in the matter of washing my feet, is to be followed by my falling away from my fellowship with Thee, and by my being excluded from the blessings for which I hope; then I will offer Thee my other members also, rather than incur so very frightful a loss. Certainly therefore pious devotion was the motive of the former refusal: it was the behaviour of one who feared to submit to the action because there seemed to be something about it which he could not bring himself to tolerate, and not at all the conduct of one who set himself in opposition to his master’s injunctions. For bearing in mind, as I said, both the dignity of the Saviour and the utter unworthiness of his own nature, he at first refused; but on learning the jeopardy in which he had thus put himself, immediately he hastens to change his will so as to conform to the good pleasure of his Master.

But look again closely, and accept what was done as a pattern for our profit. For in spite of having said: Thou shalt never wash my feet, he in a moment changes from his purpose thus expressed, not allowing it to be the uppermost thought in his mind that he ought to appear truthful in the eyes of men by adhering to his own words, but rather [influenced by the warning] that he would find a greater and more grievous loss to be the necessary consequence of holding to what he had said. Therefore every one ought to guard against using rash and hasty words, and no one ought in a spirit of violent energy to hastily urge a course of action, which on account of its very recklessness may be afterwards bitterly regretted. But if anything should ever happen to be said by any one in |179 such a way that by persistence in adhering to it something of great value and importance would suffer harm, let the speaker in such a case learn from the words before us that it is very much better for him not to preserve consistency, and not to vainly carry out an intention merely because he has once given expression to it, but rather to use all his efforts to do what will really be profitable to him. For every one, I imagine, will allow that it is safer to incur an indictment for inconsistency in our words, than to suffer a loss of indispensable blessings. And let swearing be altogether absent from our conversation; for words are often spoken on the spur of the moment and without deliberate intention, and our plans are necessarily liable to occasional change and chance. For surely it may be called a worthy and in very truth an enviable possession, to have a discreet tongue, that very rarely lapses into unbefitting language. And since even the Divine Scripture itself has shown to us that the matter is one for violent and tedious struggling—-for, as it is written, the tongue can no man tame,—-let us keep the utterance of our words free from oaths. For then, if circumstances compel us to refrain from carrying out something we have said, the blame will be less, and our error will be liable to a less severe indictment. And readily will pardon be granted, I think, even by God Himself, for the thoughtless levity of language that is ever besetting us: for who can understand his errors? according to that which is written. Else surely man would utterly perish from the face of the earth, since most easily does language fall away into mistakes of all kinds; for it is a work of the greatest difficulty to keep our tongue under due restraint. |180

10, 11 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew him that should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean.

He draws His illustration from a common incident of ordinary human life, and opportunely contrives the rebuke to the traitor, teaching the man both to repent of his purpose and to change himself to a better mind. For even if Christ’s reproaches do not yet convict him of his meditated treachery, yet the saying must carry with it a stern significance. For in testifying to the perfect cleanness of some [but not all] of the disciples, He thereby makes the one who was not clean feel an uneasy suspicion, and points out the presence of a polluted one. For Christ graciously commends the cleanness of His other disciples, as shown by their willing joy in attending on Him continually, the hardship they underwent in following Him, their firmness in faith, and their fulness of love towards Him. On Judas, however, the reproach of his insatiable covetousness and the feebleness of his affection for our Lord Jesus the Christ are branding the ineffaceable stain, and steeping him in the pollution, of his incomparably hideous treachery. When therefore Christ says: Now ye are clean, but not all, though the language is obscure, yet it conveys a profitable rebuke to the traitor. For although He did not speak plainly, as we have just said, still in each man’s heart conscience was sitting in judgment, pricking the sinner to the heart, and bringing home to the guilty one the force of the words according to their necessary meaning.

And notice how fully the conduct of Christ is expressive of a certain set purpose and of God-befitting forbearance. For if He had said plainly who it was that would betray Him, He would have made the other disciples to be at enmity with the traitor. Judas might thence perhaps have suffered some fatal mischief, and |181 have undergone a premature penalty at the hands of one who was spurred on by pious zeal to prevent the murder of his Master by previously putting to death His would-be betrayer. Therefore, by merely giving an obscure hint, and then leaving the conviction to gnaw its way to the conscience, He proved incontestably the greatness of His inherent forbearance. For although He well, knew that Judas had no kindly feeling or wise consideration for His Master, but that he was full of the poison of devilish bitterness and even then devising the means whereby he might effect the betrayal, He honoured him in the same measure as the rest, and washed even his feet also, continually exhibiting the marks of His own love, and not letting loose His anger till He had tried every kind of remonstrance. For thou mayest perceive how this special characteristic also is peculiar to the Divine Nature. For although God knows what is about to happen, He brings His punishment prematurely on no man: but rather, after bearing with the guilty for the utmost length of needful time, when He sees them in no way profiting thereby, but rather remaining in their self-chosen evil ways, then at length He punishes them; showing it to be the actual result of their perverse folly, and not really an effect of His own counsel or of His will. For instance, Ezekiel on this account says: As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of him that dieth, but rather that he should turn from his evil way and live. Therefore with long-suffering and forbearance our Lord Jesus the Christ still treats the traitor just as He does His other disciples, although the devil had already put into his heart to betray Him, (for this also the Evangelist was constrained to point out at the outset of the narrative;) and washes his feet, thus making his impious conduct absolutely inexcusable, so that his apostasy might be seen to be the fruit of the wickedness which was in him. |182

12, 13, 14, 15 So when He had washed the disciples’ feet, and taken His garments, and sat down again, He said unto them: Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call Me Lord, and Master: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.

He now clearly explains the object of what He has done, and says that this example of incomparable humility had been set forth for the sake of the benefit therefrom derived for us: and in making His reproof of pride unanswerable, He is constrained to put forward the conspicuous example of His Own Person. For in such an act anyone may behold the incomparable greatness of His humiliation. When anything is in itself considered most ignoble, or held to be quite undignified, in what manner could it possibly suffer degradation or pass to a stage of lower esteem? For anyone may see that in such a thing, if in nothing else, there is an original and natural baseness. But when we have been observing an object pre-eminent for its high position, our wonder is excited if we see it suddenly humiliated: for it has descended to a sphere not its own. Therefore it was that our Lord Jesus the Christ felt constrained, in giving the lesson of humility to His disciples, or rather through them to all that dwell on the earth, not merely to say: “As I washed your feet, so also ought ye to do,” but rather to bring into conspicuous prominence His peculiar claim to their obedience; and, while setting forth to their minds the glory that was His by natural right, by His action to put to shame the vain-glorious. For He says: Ye yourselves style Me Lord, and Master; and ye say well, for so I am. And observe how in the midst of His discourse He showed His watchful care for the edification of those who believe, and was not unaware of the evil-speaking of the unholy heretics. For after saying to His own disciples: Ye style Me Lord, and Master; then, lest any should suppose that |183 He is not by nature Lord or Master, but that He holds the title simply as a mark of honour from those who shall be devoted to Him, He has emphatically added, to dispel such suggestions, the words: And ye say well, for so I am. For Christ does not hold the title Lord as an empty name of honour, like we do ourselves when, although we remain by nature mere servants, we are decorated by favour of others with titles that surpass our nature and merit: but He is in His nature “Lord,” possessing authority over the universe as God; concerning Whom it is said somewhere by the voice of the Psalmist: For all things serve Thee. And He is by nature “Master [or “Teacher“] also, for all wisdom cometh from the Lord, and by Him cometh all understanding. For inasmuch as He is wisdom He makes all intelligent beings wise, and in every rational creature both in heaven and in earth He implants the intelligence that is fitting for it. For just as, being Himself in His nature Life, He vivifies all things capable of receiving life; so also, since He is Himself the wisdom of the Father, He bestows on all the gifts of wisdom, namely, knowledge and perception of all good things. By nature therefore the Son is Lord and Master of all things. “Since therefore,” [He seems to say,] “I, Who am such as this and so mighty in glory, have shown you that I shrink not from condescending to this ill-befitting humiliation, even to have washed your feet, how will ye any longer refuse to do the like for one another?” And hereby He teaches them not to be ever scornfully declaiming against the honour bestowed on others, but each one to think his fellow-servant to excel himself and in every possible respect to be superior. And very excellent this teaching is: for I do not think anyone can shew us anything to match a temper that is ever averse to arrogance; and nothing so severs brethren and friends as the unbridled passion for miserable and petty dignities. For somehow we are always grasping after what is greater, and the empty honours of life are ever persuading our easily-yielding |184 minds to vault up towards a more brilliant station. In order therefore that we may save ourselves from this disease, and obtain final relief from so loathsome a passion,—-for the passion for vain-glory is a mere fraud, and nothing less,—-let us engrave on our inmost hearts the memory of Christ the King of all men washing His disciples’ feet, to teach us also to wash one another’s feet. For by this means every tendency to arrogance will be kept in restraint, and every form of worldly vain-glory will depart from among us. For if He Who is by nature Lord acts the part of a servant, how shall one that is a servant refuse to undergo any of those things that are altogether proper for his condition, without suffering in consequence the worst possible penalty?

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St Augustine on John 13:21-33, 36-38 for Tuesday of Holy Week

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

The following post contains St Augustine’s tractates 60-64, 66 on the Gospel of St John.

Tractate 60 on John 13:21:
1. It is no light question, brethren, that meets us in the Gospel of the blessed John, when he says: “When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” Was it for this reason that Jesus was troubled, not in flesh, but in spirit, that He was now about to say, “One of you shall betray me”? Did this occur then for the first time to His mind, or was it at that moment suddenly revealed to Him for the first time, and so troubled Him by the startling novelty of so great a calamity? Was it not a little before that He was using these words, “He that eateth bread with me will lift up his heel against me”? And had He not also, previously to that, said, “And ye are clean, but not all”? where the evangelist added, “For He knew who should betray Him:”1 to whom also on a still earlier occasion He had pointed in the words, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?”2 Why is it, then, that He “was now troubled in spirit,” when “He testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me”? Was it because now He had so to mark him out, that he should no longer remain concealed among the rest, but be separated from the others, that therefore “He was troubled in spirit”? Or was it because now the traitor himself was on the eve of departing to bring those Jews to whom he was to betray the Lord, that He was troubled by the imminency of His passion, the closeness of the danger, and the swooping hand of the traitor, whose resolution was foreknown? For some such cause it certainly was that Jesus “was troubled in spirit,” as when He said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.”3 And accordingly, just as then His soul was troubled as the hour of His passion approached; so now also, as Judas was on the point of going and coming, and the atrocious villainy of the traitor neared its accomplishment, “He was troubled in spirit.”

2. He was troubled, then, who had power to lay down His life, and had power to take it again.4 That mighty power is troubled, the firmness of the rock is disturbed: or is it rather our infirmity that is troubled in Him? Assuredly so: let servants believe nothing unworthy of their Lord, but recognize their own membership in their Head. He who died for us, was also Himself troubled in our place. He, therefore, who died in power, was troubled in the midst of His power: He who shall yet transform5 the body of our humility into similarity of form with the body of His glory, hath also transferred into Himself the feeling of our infirmity, and sympathizeth with us in the feelings of His own soul. Accordingly, when it is the great, the brave, the sure, the invincible One that is troubled, let us have no fear for Him, as if He were capable of failing: He is not perishing, but in search of us [who are]. Us, I say; it is us exclusively whom He is thus seeking, that in His trouble we may behold ourselves, and so, when trouble reaches us, may not fall into despair and perish. By His trouble, who could not be troubled save with His own consent, He comforts such as are troubled unwillingly.

3. Away with the reasons of philosophers, who assert that a wise man is not affected by mental perturbations. God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world;6 and the Lord knoweth the thoughts of men, that they are vain.7 It is plain that the mind of the Christian may be troubled, not by misery, but by pity: he may fear lest men should be lost to Christ; he may sorrow when one is being lost; he may have ardent desire to gain men to Christ; he may be filled with joy when such is being done; he may have fear of falling away himself from Christ; he may sorrow over his own estrangement from Christ; he may be earnestly desirous of reigning with Christ, and he may be rejoicing in the hope that such fellowship with Christ will yet be his lot. These are certainly four of what they call perturbations-fear and sorrow, love and gladness. And Christian minds may have sufficient cause to feel them, and evidence their dissent from the error of Stoic philosophers, and all resembling them: who indeed, just as they esteem truth to be vanity, regard also insensibility as soundness; not knowing that a man’s mind, like the limbs of his body, is only the more hopelessly diseased when it has lost even the feeling of pain.

4. But says some one: Ought the mind of the Christian to be troubled even at the prospect of death? For what comes of those words of the apostle, that he had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ,8 if the object of his desire can thus trouble him when it comes? Our answer to this would be easy, indeed, in the case of those who also term gladness itself a perturbation [of the mind]. For what if the trouble he thus feels arises entirely from his rejoicing at the prospect of death? But such a feeling, they say, ought to be termed gladness, and not rejoicing.9 And what is that, but just to alter the name, while the feeling experienced is the same? But let us for our part confine our attention to the Sacred Scriptures, and with the Lord’s help seek rather such a solution of this question as will be in harmony with them; and then, seeing it is written, “When He had thus said, He was troubled in spirit,” we will not say that it was joy that disturbed Him; lest His own words should convince us of the contrary when He says, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death.”10 It is some such feeling that is here also to be understood, when, as His betrayer was now on the very point of departing alone, and straightway returning along with his associates, “Jesus was troubled in spirit.”

5. Strong-minded, indeed, are those Christians, if such there are, who experience no trouble at all in the prospect of death; but for all that, are they stronger-minded than Christ? Who would have the madness to say so? And what else, then, does His being troubled signify, but that, by voluntarily assuming the likeness of their weakness, He comforted the weak members in His own body, that is, in His Church; to the end that, if any of His own are still troubled at the approach of death, they may fix their gaze upon Him, and so be kept from thinking themselves castaways on this account, and being swallowed up in the more grievous death of despair? And how great, then, must be that good which we ought to expect and hope for in the participation of His divine nature, whose very perturbation tranquillizes us, and whose infirmity confirms us? Whether, therefore, on this occasion it was by His pity for Judas himself thus rushing into ruin, or by the near approach of His own death, that He was troubled, yet there is no possibility of doubting that it was not through any infirmity of mind, but in the fullness of power, that He was troubled, and so no despair of salvation need arise in our minds, when we are troubled, not in the possession of power, but in the midst of our weakness. He certainly bore the infirmity of the flesh,-an infirmity which was swallowed up in His resurrection. But He who was not only man, but God also, surpassed by an ineffable distance the whole human race in fortitude of mind. He was not, then, troubled by any outward plessure of man, but troubled Himself; which was very plainly declared of Him when He raised Lazarus from the dead: for it is there written that He troubled Himself,11 that it may be so understood even where the text does not so express it, and yet declares that He was troubled. For having by His power assumed our full humanity, by that very power He awoke in Himself our human feelings whenever He judged it becoming.

Tractate 61 on John 13:21-26
1. This short section of the Gospel, brethren, we have in this lesson brought forward for exposition, as thinking that we ought also to say something of the Lord’s betrayer, as now plainly enough disclosed by the dipping and holding out to him of the piece of bread. Of that indeed which precedes, (namely), that Jesus, when about to point him out, was troubled in spirit, we have treated in our last discourse; but what I perhaps omitted to mention there, the Lord, by His own perturbation of spirit, thought proper to indicate this also, that it is necessary to bear with false brethren, and those tares that are among the wheat in the Lord’s field until harvest-time, because that when we are compelled by urgent reasons to separate some of them even before the harvest, it cannot be done without disturbance to the Church. Such disturbance to His saints in the future, through schismatics and heretics, the Lord in a way foretold and prefigured in Himself, when, at the moment of that wicked man Judas’ departure, and of his thereby bringing to an end, in a very open and decided way, his past intermingling with the wheat, in which he had long been tolerated, He was troubled, not in body, but in spirit. For it is not spitefulness, but charity, that troubles His spiritual members in scandals of this kind; test perchance. in separating some of the tares, any of the wheat should also be uprooted therewith.

2. “Jesus,” therefore, “was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” “One of you,” in number, not in merit; in appearance, not in reality; in bodily commingling, not by any spiritual tie; a companion by fleshly juxtaposition, not in any unity of the heart; and therefore not one who is of you, but one who is to go forth from you. For how else can this “one of you” be true, of which the Lord so testified, and said, if that is true which the writer of this very Gospel says in his Epistle, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us”?1 Judas, therefore was not of them; for, had he been of them, he would have continued with them. What, then, do the words “One of you shall betray me” mean, but that one is going out from you who shall betray me? Just as he also, who said, “If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us,” had said before, “They went out from us.” And thus it is true in both senses, “of us,” and “not of us;” in one respect “of us,” and in another “not of us;” “of us” in respect to sacramental communion, but “not of us” in respect to the criminal conduct that belongs exclusively to themselves.

3. “Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake.” For while they were imbued with a reverential love to their Master, they were none the less affected by human infirmity in their feelings towards each other. Each one’s own conscience was known to himself; but as he was ignorant of his neighbor’s, each one’s self-assurance was such that each was uncertain of all the others, and all the others were uncertain of that one.

4. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’bosom, one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” What he meant by saying “in His bosom,” he tells us a little further on, where he says, “on the breast of Jesus.” It was that very John whose Gospel is before us, as he afterwards expressly declares.2 For it was a custom with those who have supplied uswith the sacred writings, that when any ofthem was relating the divine history, and came to something affecting himself, he spoke as if it were about another; and gave himself a place in the line of his narrative becoming one who was the recorder of public events, and not as one who made himself the subject of his preaching. Saint Matthew acted also in this way, when, in coming in the course of his narrative to himself, he says, “He saw a publican named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, and saith unto him, Follow me.”3 He does not say, He saw me, and said to me. So also acted the blessed Moses, writing all the history about himself as if it concerned another, and saying, “The Lord said unto Moses.”4 Less habitually was this done by the Apostle Paul, not however in any history which undertakes to explain the course of public events, but in his own epistles. At all events, he speaks thus of himself: “I knew a man in Christ fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up into the third heaven.”5 And so, when the blessed evangelist also says here, not, I was leaning on Jesus’ bosom, but, “There was leaning one of the disciples,” let us recognize a custom of our author’s, rather than fall into any wonder on the subject. For what loss is there to the truth, when the facts themselves are told us, and all boastfulness of language is in a measure avoided? For thus at least did he relate that which most signally pertained to his praise.

5. But what mean the words, “whom Jesus loved”? As if He did not love the others, of whom this same Jn has said above, “He loved them to the end” (ver. 1); and as the Lord Himself, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And who could enumerate all the testimonies of the sacred pages, in which the Lord Jesus is exhibited as the lover, not only of this one, or of those who were then around Him, but of such also as were to be His members in the distant future, and of His universal Church? But there is some truth, doubtless, underlying these words, and having reference to the bosom on which the narrator was leaning. For what else can be indicated by the bosom but some hidden truth? But there is another more suitable passage, where the Lord may enable us to say something about this secret that may prove sufficient.

6. “Simon Peter therefore beckons, and says to him.”6 The expression is noteworthy, as indicating that something was said not by any sound of words, but by merely beckoning with the head. “He beckons, and says;” that is, his beckoning is his speech. For if one is said to speak in his thoughts, as Scripture saith, “They said [reasoned] with themselves;”7 how much more may he do so by beckoning, which expresses outwardly by some sort of signs what had previously been conceived within! What, then, did his beckoning mean? What else but that which follows? “Who is it of whom He speaks?” Such was the language of Peter’s beckoning; for it was by no vocal sounds, but by bodily gestures, that he spake. “He then, havingleaned back on Jesus’ breast,”-surely the very bosom8 of His breast this, the secret place of wisdom!-“saith unto Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a piece of bread, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the bread, Satan entered into him.” The traitor was disclosed, the coverts of darkness were revealed. What he got was good, but to his own hurt he received it, because, evil himself, in an evil spirit he received what was good. But we have much to say about that dipped bread which was presented to the false-hearted disciple, and about that which follows; and for these we shall require more time than remains to us now at the close of this discourse.

Tractate 62 on John 13:26-31.
1). I Know, dearly beloved, that some may be moved, as the godly to inquire into the meaning of, and the ungodly to find fault with, the statement, that it was after the Lord had given the bread, that had been dipped, to His betrayer that Satan entered into him. For so it is written: “And when He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon. And after the bread, then entered Satan into him.” For they say, Was this the worth of Christ’s bread, given from Christ’s own table, that after it Satan should enter into His disciple? And the answer we give them is, that thereby we are taught rather how much we need to beware of receiving. what is good in a sinful spirit. For the point of special importance is, not the thing that is received, but the person that receives it; and not the character of the thing that is given, but of him to whom it is given. For even good things are hurtful, and evil things are beneficial, according to the character of the recipients. “Sin,” says the apostle, “that it might appear sin, wrought death to me by that which is good.”1 Thus, you see, evil is brought about by the good, so long as that which is good is wrongly received. It is he also that says: “Lest I should be exalted unduly through the greatness of my revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. For which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it away from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is made perfect in weakness.”2 And here, you see, good was brought about by that which was evil, when the evil was received in a good spirit. Why, then, do we wonder if Christ’s bread was given to Judas, that thereby he should be made over to the devil; when we see, on the other hand, that Paul was visited by a messenger of the devil, that by such an instrumentality he might be perfected in Christ? In this way, both the good was injurious to the evil man, and the evil was beneficial to the good. Bear in mind the meaning of the Scripture, “Whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”3 And when the apostle said this, he was dealing with those who were taking the body of the Lord, like any other food, in an undiscerning and careless spirit. If, then, he is thus taken to task who does not discern, that is, does not distinguish from the other kinds of food, the body of the Lord, what condemnation must be his, who in the guise of a friend comes as an enemy to His table! If negligence in the guest is thus visited with blame, what must be the punishment that will fall on the man that sells the very person who has invited him to his table! And why was the bread given to the traitor, but as an evidence of the grace he had treated with ingratitude?

2. It was after this bread, then, that Satan entered into the Lord’s betrayer, that, as now given over to his power, he might take full possession of one into whom before this he had only entered in order to lead him into error. For we are not to suppose that he was not in him when he went to the Jews and bargained about the price of betraying the Lord; for the evangelist Lc very plainly attests this when he says: “Then entered Satan into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve; and he went his way, and communed with the chief priests.”4 Here, you see, it is shown that Satan had already entered into Judas. His first entrance, therefore, was when he implanted in his heart the thought of betraying Christ; for in such a spirit had he already come to the supper. But now, after the bread, he entered into him, no longer to tempt one who belonged to another, but to take possession of him as his own.

3. But it was not then, as some thoughtless readers suppose, that Judas received the body of Christ. For we are to understand that the Lord had already dispensed to all of them the sacrament of His body and blood, when Judas also was present, as very clearly related by Saint Luke;5 and it was after this that we come to the moment when, in accordance with John’s account, the Lord made a full disclosure of His betrayer by dipping and holding out to him the morsel of bread, and intimating perhaps by the dipping of the bread the false pretensions of the other. For the dipping of a thing does not always imply its washing; but some things are dipped in order to be dyed. But if a good meaning is to be here attached to the dipping, his ingratitude for that good was deservedly followed by damnation.

4. But still, possessed as Judas now was, not by the Lord, but by the devil, and now that the bread had entered the belly, and an enemy the soul of this man of ingratitude: still, I say, there was this enormous wickedness, already conceived in his heart, waiting to be wrought out to its full issue, for which the damnable desire had always preceded. Accordingly, when the Lord, the living Bread, had given this bread to the dead, and in giving it had revealed the betrayer of the Bread, He said, “What thou doest, do quickly.” He did not command the crime, but foretold evil to Judas, and good to us. For what could be worse for judas, or what could be better for us, than the delivering up of Christ,-a deed done by him to his own destruction, but done, apart from him, in our behalf? “What thou doest, do quickly.” Oh that word of One whose wish was to be ready rather than to be angry! That word! expressing not so much the punishment of the traitor as the reward awaiting the Redeemer! For He said, “What thou doest, do quickly,” not as wrathfully looking to the destruction of the trust-betrayer, but in His own haste to accomplish the salvation of the faithful; for He was delivered for our offences,6 and He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.7 And as the apostle also says of himself: “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”8 Had not, then, Christ given Himself, no one could have givenHim up. What is there in Judas’ conduct but sin? For in delivering up Christ he had no thought of our salvation,for which Christ was really delivered, but thought only of his money gain, and found the loss of his soul. He got the wages he wished, but had also given him, against his wish, the wages he merited. Judas delivered up Christ, Christ delivered Himself up: the former transacted the business of his own selling of his Master, the latter the business of our redemption. “What thou doest, do quickly,” not because thou hast the power in thyself, but because He wills it who has all the power.

5. “Now no one of those at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the money-bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy those things which we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” The Lord, therefore, had also a money-box, where He kept the offerings of believers, and distributed to the necessities of His own, and to others who were in need. It was then that the custom of having church-money was first introduced, so that thereby we might understand that His precept about taking no thought for the morrow9 was not a command that no money should be kept by His saints, but that God should not he served for any such end, and that the doing of what is right should not be held in abeyance through the fear of want. For the apostle also has this foresight for the future, when he says: “If any believer hath widows, let him give them enough, that the church may not be burdened, that it may have enough for them that are widows indeed.”10

6. “He then, having received the morsel of bread, went immediately out: and it was night.” And he that went out was himself the night. “Therefore when” the night “was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified.” The day therefore uttered speech unto the day, that is, Christ did so to His faithful disciples, that they might hear and love Him as His followers; and the night showed knowledge unto the night,11 that is, Judas did so to the unbelieving Jews, that they might come as His persecutors, and make Him their prisoner. But now, in considering these words of the Lord, which were addressed to the godly, before His arrest by the ungodly, special attention on the part of the · hearer is required; and therefore it will be more becoming in the preacher, instead of hurriedly considering them now, to defer themtill a future occasion.

Tractate 63 on John 13:31-32.
1. Let us give our mind’s best attention, and, with the Lord’s help, seek after God. The language of the divine hymn is: “Seek God and your soul shall live.”1 Let us search for that which needs to be discovered, and into that which has been discovered. He whom we need to discover is concealed, in order to be sought after; and when found, is infinite, in order still to be the object of our search. Hence it is elsewhere said, “Seek His face evermore.”2 For He satisfies the seeker to the utmost of his capacity; and makes the finder still more capable, that he may seek to be filled anew, according to the growth of his ability to receive. Therefore it was not said, “Seek His face evermore,” in the same sense as of certain others, who are “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth;”3 but rather as the preacher saith, “When a man hath finished, then he beginneth;”4 till we reach that life where we shall be so filled, that our natures shall attain their utmost capacity, because we shall have arrived at perfection, and no longer be aiming at more. For then all that can satisfy us will be revealed to our eyes. But here let us always be seeking, and let our reward in finding put no endto our searching. For we do not say that it will not be so always, because it is only so here; but that here we must always be seeking, lest at any time we should imagine that here we can ever cease from seeking. For those of whom it is said that they are “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” are here indeed always learning; but when they depart this life they will no longer be learning, but receiving the reward of their error. For the words, “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth,” mean, as it were, always walking, and never getting into the road. Let us, on the other hand, be walking always in the way, till we reach the end to which it leads; let us nowhere tarry in it till we reach the proper place of abode: and so we shall both persevere in our seeking, and be making some attainments in our finding, and, thus seeking and finding, be passing on to that which remains, till the very end of all seeking shall be reached in that world where perfection shall admit of no further effort at advancement. Let these prefatory remarks, dearly beloved, make your Charity attentive to this discourse of our Lord’s, which He addressed to the disciples before His passion: for it is profound in itself; and where, in particular, the preacher purposes to expend much labor, the hearer ought not to be remiss in attention.

2. What is it, then, that the Lord says, after that Judas went out, to do quickly what he purposed doing, namely, betraying the Lord? What says the day when the night had gone out? What says the Redeemer when the seller had departed? “Now,” He says, “is the Son of man glorified.” Why “now”? It was not, was it, merely that His betrayer was gone out, and that those were at hand who were to seize and slay Him? Is it thus that He “is now glorified,” to wit, that His deeper humiliation is approaching; that over Him are impending both bonds, and judgment, and condemnation, and mocking, and crucifixion, and death? Is this glorification, or rather humiliation? Even when He was working miracles, does not this very Jn say of Him, “The Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified”?5 Even then, therefore, when He was raising the dead, He was not yet glorified; and is He glorified now, when drawing near in His own person unto death? He was not yet glorified when acting as God, and is He glorified in going to suffer as man? It would be strange if it were this that God, the great Master, signified and taught in such words. We must ascend higher to unveil the words of the Highest, who reveals Himself somewhat that we may find Him, and anon hides Himself that we may seek Him, and so press on step by step, as it were, from discoveries already made to those that still await us. I get here a sight of something that prefigures a great reality. Judas went out, and Jesus is glorified; the son of perdition went out, and the Son of man is glorified. He it was that had gone out, on whose account it had been said to them all, “And ye are clean, but not all” (ver. 10). When, therefore, the unclean one departed, all that remained were clean, and continued with their Cleanser. Something like this will it be when this world shall have been conquered by Christ, and shall have passed away, and there shall be no one that is unclean remaining among His people; when, the tares having been separated from the wheat, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.6 The Lord, foreseeing such a future as this, and in testimony that such was signified now in the separation of the tares, as it were, by the departure of Judas, and the remaining behind of the wheat in the persons of the holy apostles, said, “Now is the Son of man glorified:” as if He had said, See, so will it be in that day of my glorification yet to come, when none of the wicked shall be present, and none of the good shall be wanting. His words, however, are not expressed in this way: Now is prefigured the glorification of the Son of man; but expressly, “Now is the Son of man glorified:” just as it was not said, The Rock signified Christ; but, “That Rock was Christ.”7 Nor is it said, The good seed signified the children of the kingdom, or, The tares signified the children of the wicked one; but what is said is, “The good seed, these are the children of the kingdom; and the tares, the children of the wicked one.”8 According, then, to the usage of Scripture language, which speaks of the signs as if they were the things signified, the Lord makes use of the words, “Now is the Son of man glorified;” indicating that in the completed separation of that arch sinner from their company, and in the remaining around Him of His saints, we have the foreshadowing of His glorification, when the wicked shall be finally separated, and He shall dwell with His saints through eternity.

3. But after saying, “Now is the Son of man glorified,” He added, “and God is glorified in Him.” For this is itself the glorifying of the Son of man, that God should be glorified in Him. For if He is not glorified in Himself, but God in Him, then it is He whom God glorifies in Himself. And just as if to give them this explanation, He furthers adds: “If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself.” That is, “If God is glorified in Him,” because He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him; “and God shall glorify Him in Himself,” in such wise that the human nature, in which He is the Son of man, and which was so assumed by the eternal Word, should also be endowed with an eternal immortality. “And,” He says, “He shall straightway glorify Him;” predicting, to wit, by such an asseveration, His own resurrection in the immediate future, and not, as it were, ours in the end of the world. For it is this very glorification of which the evangelist had previously said, as I mentioned a little ago, that on this account the Spirit was not yet in their case given in that new way, in which He was yet to be given after the resurrection to those who believed, because that Jesus was not yet glorified: that is, mortality was not yet clothed with immortality, and temporal weakness transformed into eternal strength. This glorification may also be indicated in the words, “Now is the Son of man glorified;” so that the word “now” may be supposed to refer, not to His impending passion, but to His closely succeeding resurrection, as if what was now so near at hand had actually been accomplished. Let this suffice your affection to-day; we shall take up, when the Lord permits us, the words that follow.

Tractate 64 on John 13:33.
1. It becomes us, dearly beloved, to keep in view the orderly connection of our Lord’s words. For after having previously said, but subsequently to Judas’ departure, and his separation from even the outward communion of the saints, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;”-whether He said so as pointing to His future kingdom, when the wicked shall be separated from the good, or that His resurrection was then to take place, that is, was not to be delayed, like ours, till the end of the world;-and having then added, “If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him,” whereby without any ambiguity He testified to the immediate fulfillment of His own resurrection; He proceeded to say, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.” To keep them, therefore, from thinking that God was to glorify Him in such a way that He would never again be joined with them in earthly intercourse, He said, “Yet a little while I am with you:” as if He had said, Straightway indeed I shall be glorified in my resurrection; and yet I am not straightway to ascend into heaven, but “yet a little while I am with you.” For, as we find it written in the Ac of the Apostles, He spent forty days with them after His resurrection, going in and out, and eating and drinking:1 not indeed that He had any experience of hunger and thirst, but even by such evidences confirmed the reality of His flesh, which no longer needed, but still possessed the power, to eat and to drink. Was it, then, these forty days He had in view when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you,” or something else? For it may also be understood in this way: “Yet a little while I am with you;” still, like you, I also am in this state of fleshly infirmity, that is, till He should die and rise again: for after He rose again He was with them, as has been said, for forty days in the full manifestation of His bodily presence; but He was no longer with them in the fellowship of human infirmity.

2. There is also another form of His divine presence unknown to mortal senses, of which He likewise says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.”2 This, at least, is not the same as “yet a little while I am with you;” for it is not a little while until the end of the world. Or if even this is so (for time flies, and a thousand years are in God’s sight as one day, or as a watch in the night,)3 yet we cannot believe that He intended any such meaning on this occasion, especially as He went on to say, “Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come.” That is to say, after this little while that I am with you, “ye shall seek me, and whither I go, ye cannot come.” Is it after the end of the world that, whither He goes, they will not be able to come? And where, then, is the place of which He is going to say a little after in this same discourse, “Father, I will that they also be with me where I am “?4 It was not then of that presence of His with His own which He is maintaining with them till the end of the world that He now spake, when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you;” but either of that state of mortal infirmity in which He dwelt with them till His passion, or of that bodily presence which He was to maintain with them up till His ascension. Whichever of these any one prefers, he can do so without being at variance with the faith.

3. That no one, however, may deem that sense inconsistent with the true one, in which we say that the Lord may have meant the communion of mortal flesh which He held with the disciples till His passion, when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you;” let those words also of His after His resurrection, as found in another evangelist, be taken into consideration, when He said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you:”5 as if then He was no longer with them, even at the very time that they were standing by, seeing, touching, and talking with Him. What does He mean, then, by saying, “while I was yet with you,” but, while I was yet in that state of mortal flesh wherein ye still remain? For then, indeed, He had been raised again in the same flesh; but He was no longer associated with them in the same mortality. And accordingly, as on that occasion, when now clothed in fleshly immortality, He said with truth, “while I was yet with you,” to which we can attach no other meaning than, while I was yet with you in fleshly mortality; so here also, without any absurdity, we may understand His words, “Yet a little while I am with you,” as if He had said, Yet a little while I am mortal like yourselves. Let us look, then, at the words that follow.

4. “Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so say I to you now.” That is, ye cannot come now. But when He said so to the Jews, He did not add the “now.”6 The former, therefore, were not able at that time to come where He was going, but they were so afterwards; because He says so a little afterwards in the plainest terms to the Apostle Peter. For, on the latter inquiring, “Lord, whither goest Thou?” He replied to him, “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards” (ver. 36). But what it means is not to be carelessly passed over. For whither was it that the disciples could not then follow the Lord, but were able afterwards? If we say, to death, what time can be discovered when any one of the sons of men will find it impossible to die; since such, in this perishable body, is the lot of man, that therein life is not a whit easier than death? They were not, therefore, at that time less able to follow the Lord to death, but they were less able to follow Him to the life which is deathless. For thither it was the Lord was going, that, rising from the dead, He should die no more, and death should no more have dominion over Him.7 For as the Lord was about to die for righteousness’ sake, how could they have followed Him now, who were as yet unripe for the ordeal of martyrdom? Or, with the Lord about to enter the fleshly immortality, how could they have followed Him now, when, even though ready to die, they would have no resurrection till the end of the world? Or, on the point of going, as the Lord was, to the bosom of the Father, and that without any forsaking of them, just as He had never quitted that bosom in coming to them, how could they have followed Him now, since no one can enter on that state of felicity but he that is made perfect in love? And to show them, therefore, how it is that they may attain the fitness to proceed, where He was going before them, He says, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another” (ver. 34). These are the steps whereby Christ must be followed; but any fuller discourse thereon must be put off till another opportunity.

Tractate 66 on John 13:36-38.
1. While the Lord Jesus was commending to the disciples that holy love wherewith they should love one another, “Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, whither goest Thou?” So, at all events, said the disciple to his Master, the servant to his Lord, as one who was prepared to follow. Just as for the same reason the Lord, who read in his mind the purpose of such a question, made him this reply: “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now;” as if He said, In reference to the object of thy asking, thou canst not now. Hedoes not say, Thou canst not; but “Thou canst not now.” He intimated delay, with out depriving of hope; and that same hope, which He took not away, but rather bestowed, in His next words He confirmed, by proceeding to say, “Thou shall follow me afterwards.” Why such haste, Peter? The Rock (petra) has not yet solidified thee by His Spirit. Be not lifted up with presumption, “Thou canst not now;” be not cast now into despair, “Thou shalt follow afterwards.” But what does he say to this? “Why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” He saw what was the kind of desire in his mind; but what the measure of his strength, he saw not. The weak man boasted of his willingness, but the Physician had an eye on the state of his health; the one promised, the Other foreknew: the ignorant was bold; He that foreknew all, condescended to teach. How much had Peter taken upon himself, by looking only at what he wished, and having no knowledge of what he was able! How much had he taken upon himself, that, when the Lord had come to lay down His life for His friends, and so for him also, he should have the assurance to offer to do the same for the Lord; and while as yet Christ’s life was not laid down for himself, he should promise to lay down his own life for Christ! “Jesus” therefore “answered him, Wilt thoulay down thy life for my sake?” Wilt thou do for me what I have not yet done for thee? “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?” Canst thou go before, who art unable to follow? Why dost thou presume so far? what dost thou think of thyself? what dost thou imagine thyself to be? Hear what thou art: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” See, that is how thou wilt speedily become manifest to thyself, who art now talking so loftily, and knowest not that thou art but a child. Thou promisest me thy death, and thou wilt deny me thy life. Thou, who now thinkest thyself able to die for me, learn to live first for thyself; for in fearing the death of thy flesh, thou wilt occasion the death of thy soul. Just as much as it is life to confess Christ, it is death to deny Him.

2. Or was it that the Apostle Peter, as some with a perverse kind of favor strive to excuse him,1 did not deny Christ, because, when questioned by the maid, he replied that he did not know the man, as the other evangelists more expressly affirm? As if, indeed, he that denies the man Christ does not deny Christ; and so denies Him in respect of what He became on our account, that the nature He had given us might not be lost. Whoever, therefore, acknowledges Christ as God, and disowns Him as man, Christ died not for him; for as man it was that Christ died. He who disowns Christ as man, finds no reconciliation to God by the Mediator. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.2 He that denies Christ as man is not justified: for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one man shall many be made righteous.3 He that denies Christ as man, shall not rise again into the resurrection of life; for by man is death, and by man is also the resurrection of the dead: for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.4 And by what means is He the Head of the Church, but by His manhood, because the Word was made flesh, that is, God, the Only-begotten of God the Father, became man. And how then canone be in the body of Christ who denies the man Christ? Or how can one be a member who disowns the Head? But why linger over a multitude of reasons when the Lord Himself undoes all the windings of human argumentation? For He says not, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied the man; or, as He was wont to speak in His more familiar condescension with men, The cock shall not crow till thou hast thrice denied the Son of man; but He says, “till thou hast denied me thrice.” What is that “me,” but just what He was, and what was He but Christ? Whatever of Him, therefore, he denied, he denied Himself, he denied the Christ, he denied the Lord his God. For Thomas also, his fellow-disciple, when he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God,” did not handle the Word, but only His flesh; and laid not his inquisitive hands on the incorporeal nature of God, but on His human body.5 And so he touched the man, and yet recognized his God. If, then, what the latter touched, Peter denied; what the latter invoked, Peter offended. “The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.” Although thou say, “I know not the man;” although thou say, “Man, I know not what thou sayest;” although thou say, “I am not one of His disciples;”6 thou wilt be denying me. If, which it were sinful to doubt, Christ so spake, and foretold the truth, then doubtless Peter denied Christ. Let us not accuse Christ in defending Peter. Let infirmity acknowledge its sin; for there is no falsehood in the Truth. When Peter’s infirmity acknowledged its sin, his acknowledgment was full; and the greatness of the evil he had committed in denying Christ, he showed by his tears. He himself reproves his defenders, and for their conviction, brings his tears forward as witnesses. Nor have we, on our part, in so speaking, any delight in accusing the first of the apostles; but in looking on him, we ought to take home the lesson to ourselves, that no man should place his confidence in human strength. For what else had our Teacher and Saviour in view, but to show us, by making the first of the apostles himself an example, that no one ought in any way to presume of himself? And that, therefore, really took place in Peter’s soul, for which he gave cause in his body. And yet he did not go before in the Lord’s behalf, as he rashly presumed, but did so otherwise than he reckoned. For before the death and resurrection of the Lord, he both died when he denied, and returned to life when he wept; but he died, because he himself had been proud in his presumption, and he lived again, because that Other had looked on him with kindness).

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St Augustine on John 12:1-11 for Monday of Holy Week

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2012

5. “Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And there they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that reclined at the table.” To prevent people thinking that the man had become a phantom, because he had risen from the dead, he was one of those who reclined at table; he was living, speaking, feasting: the truth was made manifest, and the unbelief of the Jews was confounded. The Lord, therefore, reclined at table with Lazarus and the others; and they were waited on by Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus.

6. But “Mary,” the other sister of Lazarus, “took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Such was the incident, let us look into the mystery it imported. Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was [exactly] a pound weight: but it was ointment of pure nard [nardi pistici], very precious. From his calling it “pistici,”6 we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its preciousness: but this does not exhaust its meaning, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The root of the word [“pure”] in the Greek is by us called “faith.” Thou weft seeking to work righteousness: the just shall live by faith.7 Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord’s footsteps. Wipe them l with thy hair: what thou hast of superfluity, give to the poor, and thou hast wiped the feet of the Lord; for the hair seems to be the superfluous part of the body. Thou hast something to spare of thy abundance: it is superfluous to thee, but necessary for the feet of the Lord. Perhaps on this earth the Lord’s feet are still in need. For of whom but of His members is He yet to say in the end, “Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of mine, ye did it unto me”?8 Ye spent what was superfluous for yourselves, but ye have done what was grateful to my feet.

7. “And the house was filled with the odor.” The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is as a pleasant odor. Those who live wickedly and bear the name of Christians, do injury to Christ: of such it is said, that through them “the name of the Lord is blasphemed.”9 If through such God’s name is blasphemed, through the good the name of the Lord is honored. Listen to the apostle, when he says, “We are a sweet savor of Christ in every place.” As it is said also in the Song of Songs, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.”10 Attend again to the apostle: “We are a sweet savor,” he says, “of Christ in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life, to the other the savor of death unto death: and who is sufficient for I these things?”11 The lesson of the holy Gospel before us affords us the opportunity of so speaking of that savor, that we on our part may give worthy utterance, and you diligent heed, to what is thus expressed by the apostle himself, “And who is sufficient for these things?” But have we any reason to infer from these words that we are qualified to attempt speaking on such a subject, or you to hear? We, indeed, are not so; but He is sufficient, who is pleased to speak by us what it may be for your profit to hear. The apostle, you see, is, as he calls himself, “a sweet savor:” but that sweet savor is “to some the savor of life unto life, and to others the savor of death unto death;” and yet all the while “a sweet savor” in itself. For he does not say, does he, To some we are a sweet savor unto life, to others an evil savor unto death? He called himself a sweet savor, not an evil; and represented himself as the same sweet savor, to some unto life, to others unto death. Happy they who find life in this sweet savor! but what misery can be greater than theirs, to whom the sweet savor is the messenger of death?

8. And who is it, says some one, that is thus slain by the sweet savor? It is to this the apostle alludes in the words, “And who is sufficient for these things?” In what wonderful ways God brings it about that the good savor is fraught both with life to the good, and with death to the wicked; how it is so, so far as the Lord is pleased to inspire my thoughts (for it may still conceal a deeper meaning beyond my power to penetrate),-yet so far, I say, as my power of penetration has reached, you ought not to have the information withheld. The integrity of the Apostle Paul’s life and conduct, his preaching of righteousness in word and exhibition of it in works, his wondrous power as a teacher and his fidelity as a steward, were everywhere noised abroad: he was loved by some, and envied by others. For he himself tells us in a certain place of some, that they preached Christ not sincerely, but of envy; “thinking,” he says, “to add affliction to my bonds.” But what does he add? “Whether in pretence or in truth, let Christ be preached.”12 They preach who love me, they preach who hate me; in that good savor the former live, in it the others die: and yet by the preaching of both let the name of Christ be proclaimed, with this excellent savor let the world be filled. Hast thou been loving one whose conduct evidenced his goodness then in this good savor thou hast lived. Hast thou been envying such a one then in this same savor thou hast died. But hast thou, pray, in thus choosing to die, converted this savor into an evil one? Turn from thine envious feelings, and the good savor will cease to slay thee.

9. And now, lastly, listen to what we have here, how this ointment was to some a sweet savor unto life, and to others a sweet savor unto death. When the pious Mary had rendered this grateful service to the Lord, straightway one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was yet to betray Him, said, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” Alas for thee, wretched man! the sweet savor hath slain thee. For the cause that led him so to speak is disclosed by the holy evangelist. But we, too, might have supposed, had not the real state of his mind been revealed in the Gospel, that the care of the poor might have induced him so to speak. Not so. What then? Hearkeu to a true witness: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the money bag, and bare13 what was put therein.” Did he bear it about, or bear it away? For the common service he bore it, as a thief he bore it away.

10. Look now, and learn that this Judas did not become perverted only at the time when he yielded to the bribery of the Jews and betrayed his Lord. For not a few, inattentive to the Gospel, suppose that Judas only perished when he accepted money from the Jews to betray the Lord. It was not then that he perished, but he was already a thief, and a reprobate, when following the Lord; for it was with his body and not with his heart that he followed. He made up the apostolic number of twelve, but had no part in the apostolic blessedness: he had been made the twelfth in semblance, and on his departure, and the succession of another, the apostolic reality was completed, and the entireness of the number conserved.14 What lesson then, my brethren, did our Lord Jesus Christ wish to impress on His Church, when it pleased Him to have one castaway among the twelve, but this, that we should bear with the wicked, and refrain from dividing the body of Christ? Here you have Judas among the saints,-that Judas, mark you! who was a thief, yea-do not overlook it-not a thief of any ordinary type, but a thief and a sacrilegist: a robber of money bags, but of such as were the Lord’s; of money bags, but of such as were sacred. If there is a distinction made in the public courts between such crimes as ordinary theft and peculation,-for by peculation we mean the theft of public property; and private theft is not visited with the same sentence as public,-how much more severe ought to be the sentence on the sacrilegious thief, who has dared to steal, not from places of any ordinary kind, but to steal from the Church? He who thieves from the Church, stands side by side with the castaway Judas. Such was this man Judas, and yet he went in and out with the eleven holy disciples. With them he came even to the table of the Lord: he was permitted to have intercourse with them, but he could not contaminate them. Of one bread did both Peter and Judas partake, and yet what communion had the believer with the infidel? Peter’s partaking was unto life, but that of Judas unto death. For that good bread was just like the sweet savor. For as the sweet savor, so also does the good bread give life to the good, and bring death to the wicked. “For he that eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself:”15 “judgment to himself,” not to thee. If, then, it is judgment to himself, not to thee, bear as one that is good with him that is evil, that thou mayest attain unto the rewards of the good, and be not hurled into the punishment of the wicked.

11. Lay to heart our Lord’s example while living with man upon earth. Why had He a money bag, who was ministered unto by angels, save to intimate that His Church was destined thereafter to have her repository for money? Why gave He admission to a thief, save to teach His Church patiently to bear with thieves? But he who had formed the habit of abstracting money from the bag, did not hesitate for money received to sell the Lord Himself. But let us see what answer our Lord gave to such words. See, brethren: He does not say to him, Thou speakest so on account of thy thievishness. He knew him to be a thief, yet did not betray him, but rather endured him, and showed us an example of patience in tolerating the wicked in the Church. “Then said Jesus to him: Let her keep it against the day of my burial.”16 He announced that His own death was at hand.

12. But what follows? “For the poor ye have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” We can certainly understand, “thepoor ye have always;” what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? “But me ye will not have always;” what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, “Me ye will not have always”? Don’t be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, thou wilt have, but, ye will have? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.”17 If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven,-for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven:-if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, “But me ye will not have always.” But what means the “not always;” and what, the “always”? If thou art good, if thou belongest to the body represented by Peter, thou hast Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. Thou hast Christ now, but thou wilt have Him always; for when thou hast gone hence, thou wilt come to Him who saidto the robber, “To-day shall thou be with me in paradise.”18 But if thou livest wickedly, thou mayest seem to have Christ now, because thou enterest the Church, signest thyself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest thyself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now thou hast Christ, but by living wickedly thou wilt not have Him always.

13. It may be also understood in this way: “The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.”19 But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, “ye will not have Him always.” And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, “Me ye will not have always.” In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes. In whichever way, then, it was said, “But me ye will not have always,” it can no longer, I suppose, after this twofold solution, remain as a subject of doubt.

14. Let us listen to the other few points that remain: “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.” They were drawn by curiosity, not by charity: they came and saw. Hearken to the strange scheming of human vanity. Having seen Lazarus as one raised from the dead,-for the fame of such a miracle of the Lord’s had been accompanied everywhere with so much evidence of its genuineness, and it had been so openly performed, that they could neither conceal nor deny what had been done,-only think of the plan they hit upon. “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

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Resources for Easter Sunday (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2012

This post contains resources (mostly biblical) for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.

*************************ORDINARY FORM:*************************


FIRST READING: Acts 10:34a, 37-43.

  • Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 10:34a, 37-43.


SECOND READING: Colossians 3:1-4.  An alternate, 1 Cor 5:6-8 can be used. See below.

  • Pending: St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4.

ALTERNATE SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.


**********************EXTRAORDINARY FORM:*********************


  • Roman Missal. Latin and English side by side. Be sure correct date is set.
  • Roman Breviary. Latin and English side by side. Be sure correct date is set.



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Mass Resources for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 27, 2012

This post contains resources (mostly biblical and homiletic) for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. I hope to add updates to both forms several times before Sunday Morning.



Commentary on the Procession with the Palms Reading. One can use either Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16.

Commentaries on the First Reading:

Commentaries on the Responsorial Psalm:

Commentaries on the Second Reading:

Commentaries on the Gospel Reading: Allows for a longer (Mark 14:1-15:47) or shorter (Mark 15:1-39) reading.

Homilies, Podcasts, Other Stuff:

Dominica II Passionis seu in Palmis ~ I. classis


Commentaries on Psalm 24 (23): Used during the distribution of the palms.

Commentaries on Psalm 47 (46): Also used during distribution of the palms.

Commentaries on Matthew 21:1-9: the Palm Procession Reading

Commentaries on Psalm 147: 12-20:

Commentaries on the Epistle Reading:

Commentaries on the Gospel Reading:


  • The Mental Sufferings of our Lord in His Passion. A homily by St John Henry Cardinal Newman from his Discourses to Mixed congregations.
  • Bishop Fulton J. SheenThree talks delivered on Good Friday in 1977.  These are only lengthy parts of a three hour talk and not the full presentation, nonetheless, they are excellent.

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Part 1: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on the Passion According to St Matthew (on Matt 26:1-75)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 27, 2012

To view Part (on Matt 27:1-66) go here.

Ver  1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,2. “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”

Hilary: After the discourse in which the Lord had declared that He should return in splendour, He announces to them His approaching Passion, that they might learn the close connection between the sacrament of the Cross, and the glory of eternity.

Raban.: “All these sayings,” i.e. about the consummation of the world, and the day of judgment. Or, “finished,” because He had fulfilled in doing and preaching all things from the beginning of the Gospel to His Passion.

Origen: Yet it is not “all” barely, but “all these;” for there were other sayings which He must speak before He should be delivered up.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: We gather from John’s account, that six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, and thence entered Jerusalem sitting upon the ass, after which were done the things related to have been done at Jerusalem. We understand therefore that four days elapsed from His coming to Bethany, to make this two days before the Passover. The difference between the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread is this; the name Passover is given to that one day on which the lamb was slain in the evening, that is, the fourteenth moon of the first month; and on the fifteenth moon, the day that the people came out of Egypt, followed the festival of unleavened bread. But the Evangelists seem to use the terms indifferently. [marg. note: see Acts 12:3]

Jerome: The Passover, called in Hebrew Phase, does not come as most think from  ‘to suffer,’ but from the Hebrew word signifying ‘to pass over;’ because the destroyer passed over when he saw the blood on the doors of the Israelites, and smote them not; or the Lord Himself walked on high, succouring His people.

Remig.: Or, because by the help of the Lord the Israelitish people, freed from Egyptian bondage, passed forth into liberty.

Origen: He said not, “After two days” will be, or will come, “the feast of the Passover,” but not meaning the ordinary annual Passover, but that Passover such as had never before been, “the Passover will be offered.”

Remig.: Mystically, that is called the Passover, because on that day Christ passed out of the world to His Father, from corruption to incorruption, from life to death, or because He redeemed the world by causing it savingly to pass from the slavery of the Devil.

Jerome: After the two days of the shining light of the Old and of the New Testament, the true Passover is slain for the world. Also our Passover is celebrated when we leave the things of earth, and hasten to the things of heaven.

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

Ver  3. Then assembled together the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiaphas,4. And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.5. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Gloss., non occ.: Then the Evangelist lays before us the hidden springs and machinery by which the Lord’s Passion was brought to pass.

Remig.: This, “then,” is to be referred to the preceding words, and means before the Feast of the Passover.

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

Chrys.: With such ill designs they came to the chief Priest, seeking a sanction whence a prohibition should have issued. There were at that time several Chief Priests, while the Law allowed but of one, whence it was manifest that the dissolution of the Jewish state was having its beginning. For Moses had commanded that there should be one Chief Priest, whose office should be filled up at death; but in process of time it grew to be annual. All those then who had been Chief Priests [marg. note: ] are here called “Chief Priests.”

Remig.: They are condemned both because they were gathered together, and because they were the Chief Priests; for the more the numbers, and the higher the rank and station of those who band together for any villainy, the greater the enormity of what they do, and the heavier the punishment stored up for them.  To shew the Lord’s innocence and openness, the Evangelist adds, “that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.”

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

Origen: By reason of the parties among the populace, those who favoured and those who hated Christ, those who believed and those who believed not.

Leo, Serm. 58, 2: This precaution of the Chief Priests arose not from reverence for the festival, but, from care for the success of their plot; they feared an insurrection at that season, not because of the guilt the populace might thereby incur, but because they might rescue Christ.

Chrys.: But their fury set aside their caution, and finding a betrayer, they put Christ to death in the middle of the feast.

Leo, Serm. 58, 1: We recognise here a providential arrangement whereby the chief men of the Jews, who had often sought occasion of effecting their cruel purposes against Christ, could never yet succeed till the days of the paschal celebration. For it behoved that the things which had long been promised in symbol and mystery should be accomplished in manifest reality, that the typical lamb should be displaced by the true, and one sacrifice embrace the whole catalogue of the varied victims. That shadows should give way to substance, and copies to the presence of the original; victim is commuted for victim, blood is abolished by blood, and the festival of the Law is at once fulfilled and changed.

Ver  6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,7. There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.8. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, “To what purpose is this waste?9. For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.”10. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.11. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.12. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.13. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”

Gloss, non. occ.: Having set before us the counsels of the chief of the Jews concerning the death of Christ, the Evangelist would proceed to follow out their execution, and to relate the bargain of Judas with the Jews to deliver Him up, but be first shews the cause of this betrayal. He was grieved that the ointment which the woman poured upon Christ’s head had not been sold that he might have carried off something out of the price it brought, and to make up this loss he was willing to betray his Master.  And therefore he proceeds, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.”

Jerome: Not that he was a leper yet, but having been so, and having been healed by the Saviour, be retained the appellation to shew forth the power of Him who healed him.

Raban.: “Alabaster” is a kind of marble, white but marked with veins of different colours, which was in use for vessels to hold ointment, because it was said to preserve it from corruption.

Jerome: Another Evangelist instead of ‘alabastruin’ has ‘nardum pisticam,’ that is, genuine, unadulterated. [marg. note: John 12:3]

Raban.: From the Greek,  faith, whence ‘pisticus,’ faithful. For this ointment was pure, unadulterated.

Origen: Some one may perhaps think that there are four different women of whom the Evangelists have written, but I rather agree with those who think that they are only three; one of whom Matthew and Mark wrote, one of whom Luke, another of whom John.

Jerome: For let no one think that she who anointed His head and she who anointed His feet were one and the same; for the latter washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, and is plainly said to have been a harlot. But of this woman nothing of this kind is recorded, and indeed a harlot could not have at once been made deserving of the Lord’s head.

Ambrose, Ambros. in Luc. 7, 37: It is possible therefore that they were different persons, and so all appearance of contradiction between the Evangelists is removed. Or it is possible that it was the same woman at two different times and two different stages of desert; first while yet a sinner, afterwards more advanced.

Chrys., Hom. lxxx: And in this way it may be the same in the three Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And not without good reason does the Evangelist mention Simon’s leprosy, to shew what gave this woman confidence to come to Christ. The leprosy was an unclean disease; when then she saw that Jesus had healed the man with whom He now lodged, she trusted that He could also cleanse the uncleanness of her soul; and so whereas other women came to Christ to be healed in their bodies, she came only for the honour and the healing of her soul, having nothing diseased in her body; and for this she is worthy our highest admiration. But she in John is a different woman, the wonderful sister of Lazarus.

Origen: Matthew and Mark relate that this was done in the house of Simon the leper; but John says that Jesus came to a house where Lazarus was; and that not Simon, but Mary and Martha served. Further, according to John, six days before the Passover, He came to Bethany where Mary and Martha made Him a supper. But here it is in the house of Simon the leper, and two days before the Passover.

And in Matthew and Mark, it is the disciples that have indignation with a good intent; in John, Judas alone with intent to steal; in Luke, no one finds fault.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxiii, 1: Or, we may think that this is the same woman whom Luke calls a “sinner,” and John names Mary.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 79: Though the action described in Luke is the same as that described here, and the name of him with whom the Lord supped is the same, for Luke also names Simon; yet because it is not contrary to either nature or custom for two men to bear the same name, it is more probable that this was another Simon, not the leper, in whose house in Bethany these things were done.

I would only suppose that the woman who on that occasion came near to Jesus’ feet, and this woman, were not two different persons, but that the same Mary did this twice. The first time is that narrated by Luke; for John mentions it in praise of Mary before Christ’s coming to Bethany, “It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.” [John 11:2] Mary therefore had done this before. That she did afterwards in Bethany is distinct from Luke’s account, but is the same event that is recorded by all three, John, Matthew, and Mark. That Matthew and Mark say it was the Lord’s head that she anointed, and John His feet, is reconciled by supposing that she anointed both.

Against this one might raise a cavil from what Mark says, that she anointed His head by breaking the box over it, so that there could be none of the ointment left with which to anoint His feet also. Let such caviller understand, that His feet were first anointed before the box was broken, and there remained in it, yet whole, enough wherewith to anoint the head by breaking the box and shedding the contents.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., iii, 12: But let not any suppose that the Lord’s feet were by this woman bathed in ointment after the manner which the luxurious and debauched use. In all things of this nature, it is not the thing itself, but the mind of him who uses it, that is in fault. Whoso uses things after such sort as to pass the bounds observed by good men with whom he lives, either has some meaning [marg. note: aliquid significat] in what he does, or is vicious. What then is vice in others, in a divine or prophetic person is a sign of some great thing.

The good odour is the good report which one has gained by the works of a good life, and in following Christ’s footsteps sheds a most precious odour on His feet.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: Still there may seem to be some discrepancy between the narrative of Matthew and Mark, who say, that “after two days is the feast of the Passover,” and then bring Jesus to Bethany; and that of John, who, relating this history of the ointment, says “Six days before the Passover.”

They who urge this do not understand that the events in Bethany are in Matthew and Mark inserted out of their place, a little later than the time of their occurrence. Neither of them, it is to be observed, introduce their account with ‘afterwards.’

Chrys.: The disciples had heard their Master say, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,” [Matt 9:13] wherefore they thought among themselves, If He accepts not burnt-offerings, much less will He the application of such ointment as this.

Jerome: I know that some raise a cavil here, because John says that Judas alone was grieved because he had the bag, and was a thief from the beginning; but Matthew, that all the disciples were sorrowful. These know not the figure syllepsis, by which one name is put for many, and many for one; as Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews says, “They were sawn asunder,” [Heb 11:37] when it is thought that one only, Esaias namely, was so.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 79: We may however understand that the other disciples thought or said the same, or that they assented to what Judas said, and thus Matthew and Mark have described their common consent. But Judas said it because he was a thief, the others out of their care for the poor; and John desired to mention it only in the case of him whose thievish propensity he thought ought to be recorded.

Chrys.: The disciples then thought thus, but Jesus, who saw the thoughts of the woman, suffered it. For her piety was great, and her ardour unspeakable, wherefore He condescended to suffer her to pour the ointment on His head. As the Father admitted the smoke and odour of the slain victim, so also Christ admitted this votive anointing of His head, though the disciples, who saw not her heart, murmured.

Remig.: He clearly shews that the Apostles had uttered something harsh against her, when He says, “Why trouble ye the woman?” And beautifully He adds, “She hath wrought a good work in me;” as much as to say, It is not a waste of ointment, as ye say, but a good work, that is, a service of piety and devotion.

Chrys.: And He says not merely, “She hath wrought a good work,” but says first, “Why trouble ye the woman?” to teach us that every good act that is wrought by any, even though it lack somewhat of exact propriety, yet we ought to receive, cherish, and cultivate it, and not to require strict correctness in a beginner. If He had been asked before this was done by the woman, He would not have directed its doing; but when it was done, the rebuke of the disciples had no longer any place, and He Himself to guard the woman from importunate attacks speaks these things for her comfort.

Remig.: “For the poor ye have ever with you.” The Lord shews in these words as of set purpose, that they were not to be blamed who ministered of their substance to Him while He dwelt in a mortal body; forasmuch as the poor were ever in the Church, to whom the believers might do good whensoever they would, but He would abide in the body with them but a very short time.  Whence it follows, “But me ye shall not have always.”

Jerome: Here a question arises how the Lord should have said elsewhere to His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world;” [Matt 28:20] but here, “Me ye shall not have always.”

I suppose that in this place He speaks of His bodily presence, which shall not be with them after the resurrection in daily intercourse and friendship, as it is now.

Remig.: Or, it is to be explained by supposing this spoken to Judas only; and He said not, Ye have not, but “Ye shall not have,” because this was spoken in the person of Judas to all his followers. And He says, “Not always,” though they have it at no time, because the wicked seem to have Christ in this present world, while they mix among His members and approach His table, but they shall not always so have Him when He shall say to His elect, “Come, ye blessed of my Father.” [Matt 25:34]

It was the custom among this people to embalm the bodies of the dead with divers spices, to the end that they might be kept from corruption as long as possible. And as this woman was desirous of embalming the Lord’s dead Body, and would not be able because she would be anticipated by His resurrection, it was therefore arranged by Divine Providence that she should anoint the Lord’s living Body. This then is what He says, “In that she hath poured,” that is, By anointing My living Body she shews forth My death and burial.

Chrys.: That this mention of His death and burial might not cause her to despond, He comforts her by what follows, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever &c.”

Raban.: That is, To whatsoever place throughout the whole world the Church shall be propagated, there this also that she hath done shall be told. That also that is added signifies, that as Judas by his reproof of her has earned evil character of treachery, so has she also earned the glory of pious devotedness.

Jerome: Note His knowledge of things to come, how though about to suffer death within two days, He knows that His Gospel will be preached throughout the whole world.

Chrys.: Behold the accomplishment of this saying; to whatsoever part of the world you go, you will find this woman famous, and this has been wrought by the power of Him who spake this word. How many victories of kings and captains have passed into oblivion; how many who built cities and enslaved many nations are now known neither by report nor by name; but the deed of this woman pouring forth ointment in the house of a leper in the presence of twelve men, this resounds throughout the world, and though so much time has elapsed, the memory of that which was done is not effaced.

But why promised He no spiritual gift to this woman, but everlasting remembrance only? Because this He did promise made her confident of receiving the other also; whereas she wrought a good work, it is clear that she shall receive an adequate reward.

Jerome: Mystically; The Lord, about to suffer for the whole world, sojourns in Bethany, in the house of obedience, which once was that of Simon the leper. Simon also is interpreted ‘obedient,’ or, according to another interpretation, ‘the world,’ in whose house the Church is healed.

Origen: Oil is throughout Scripture put for the work of mercy, with which the lamp of the word is fed; or for doctrine, the hearing of which sustains the word of faith when once kindled. All with which men anoint is comprehensively called oil; and one kind of oil is unguent, and one kind of unguent is precious. So all righteous acts are called good works; and of good works there is one kind which we do for, or to, men; another which we do for, or to, God. And this likewise that we do for God, in part only advances the good of men, in part, the glory of God.

For example, one does a kindness to a man out of feelings of natural righteousness, not for God’s sake, as the Gentiles sometime did; such a work is common oil of no fine savour, yet is it acceptable to God, forasmuch, as Peter says in Clement, the good works that the unbelievers do, profit them in this world, but avail not to gain them eternal life in another. They who do the same for God’s sake, profit thereby not in this world only but in the next also, and that they do is ointment of good savour.

Another sort is that done for the good of men, as alms, and the like. He who does this to Christians, anoints the Lord’s feet, for they are the Lord’s feet; and this penitents are most found to do for remission of their sins. He who devotes himself to chastity, and continues in fastings and prayers, and other things which conduce to God’s glory only, this is the ointment which anoints the Lord’s head, and with whose odour the whole Church is filled; this is the work meet not for penitents, but for the perfect, or the doctrine which is necessary for men; but the acknowledgment of the faith which belongs to God alone, is the ointment with which the head of Christ is anointed, with which we “are buried together with Christ by baptism into death.” [Rom 6:4]

Hilary: In this woman is prefigured the people of the Gentiles, who gave glory to God in Christ’s passion; for she anointed His head, but the head of Christ is God, and ointment is the fruit of good works. But the disciples, anxious for the salvation of Israel, say that this ought to have been sold for the use of the poor; designating by a prophetic instinct the Jews, who lacked faith, by the name of the poor. The Lord answers that there is abundant time in which they may shew their care for the poor, but that salvation cannot be extended to the Gentiles but by obedience to His command, if, that is, by the pouring out of this woman’s ointment they are buried together with Him, because regeneration can only be given to those who are dead in the profession of baptism. And this her work shall be told wherever this Gospel is preached, because when Israel draws back, the glory of the Gospel is preached by the belief of the Gentiles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

Jerome: When the typical Passover was concluded, and He had partaken of the Lamb with His Apostles, He comes to the true paschal sacrament; that, as Melchisedech [marg. note: Gen 14:18], Priest of the most high God, had done in foreshadowing Christ, offering bread and wine, He also should offer the present verity of His Body and Blood.

[ed. note: Many of the passages here quoted appear to have been taken by S. Thomas from the Decretum of Gratian, though the Catena gives no reference to this compilation. Whenever they can be found, the originals are referred to in the margin, and the important differences or additions are noticed in the note. The present passage from S. Jerome (in Joe.) is found in Gratian. de Cons. ii. 88; that which follows from S. Augustine, ibid, 53. The next passage headed ‘Gloss.’ cannot be found any where.]

Aug., Ep. 54, 7: “And as they were eating,” whereby it is clearly seen that at their first partaking of the Lord’s Body and Blood, the disciples did not partake fasting. But are we therefore to except against the practice of the whole Church, of receiving fasting? It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that for the better honour of so great a Sacrament, the Lord`s Body should enter the Christian’s mouth before other food. For to commend more mightily the depth of this mystery, the Saviour chose this as the last thing He would imprint on the hearts and memory of His disciples, from whom He was to depart to His Passion. But He did not direct in what order it should thenceforth be taken, that He might reserve that for the Apostles by whom He would regulate His Church.

Gloss., non occ.: Christ delivered to us His Flesh and Blood under another kind, and ordained them to be thenceforth so received, that faith might have its merit, which is of things that are not seen.

Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., vi, 1 [ed. note: S. Ambrose’s name has been retained at the head of the passages out of the Treatise ‘De Sacramentis,’ because it is placed in the Ben. ed. among the genuine works of S. Ambrose, and not in the Appendix. But there seems to be little doubt of its spuriousness. See Jenkyns’ note to Cranmer’s ‘Defence, &c.’ in Cranmer’s Works, ii. 326]: And that we might not be shocked by the sight of blood, while it at the same time wrought the price of our redemption.

Aug., in Joan. Tr. 26, 17, cf Serm. 227, 1: The Lord committed His Body and Blood to substances which are formed a homogeneous compound out of many. Bread is made of many grains, wine is produced out of many berries. Herein the Lord Jesus Christ signified us, and hallowed in His Own table the mystery of our peace and unity.

Remig.: Fittingly also did He offer fruit of the earth, to shew thereby that He came to take away the curse wherewith the earth was cursed for the sin of the first man. Also He bade be offered the produce of the earth, and the things for which men chiefly toil, that there might be no difficulty in procuring them, and that men might offer sacrifice to God of the work of their hands.

Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., iv, 3: Hence learn that the Christian mysteries were before the Jewish. Melchisedech offered bread and wine, being in all things like the Son of God, to Whom it is said, “Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech;” [Ps 110:4] and of Whom it is here said, “Jesus took bread.” [John 12:24]

Gloss., non occ.: [ed. note: This Gloss is partly from the Gloss on Gratian de Cons. d. ii. c. 5. The next passage is headed ‘Gregorius in Registro’ in the editions, and is so quoted by S. Thomas, Summa 3. q. 74. art. 4. but cannot be found in S. Greg.]

This, we must understand to be wheat bread for the Lord compared Himself to a grain of wheat, saying, “Except a corn fall into the ground &c.” Such bread also is suitable for the Sacrament, because it is in common use; bread of other kinds being only made when this fails. But forasmuch as Christ up to the very last day, to use the words of Chrysostom as above [marg. note: shewed that He did nothing contrary to the Law, and the Law commanded that unleavened bread should be eaten in the evening when the Passover was slain, and that all leavened should be put away, it is manifest that the bread which the Lord took and gave to His disciples was unleavened.

Greg., non occ.: It has given trouble to divers persons, that in the Church some offer unleavened and others leavened bread. The Roman Church offers unleavened, because the Lord took flesh without any pollution [marg. note: commixtione]; other [marg. note: Graecaesc] Churches offer leavened bread, because the Word of the Father took flesh upon Him, and is Very God, and Very Man; and so the leaven is mingled with the flour. But whether we receive leavened or unleavened, we are made one body of the Lord our Saviour.

Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., iv, 4: This bread before the sacramentary words, is the bread in common use; after consecration it is made of bread Christ’s flesh. And what are the words, or whose are the phrases of consecration, save those of the Lord Jesus? For if His word had power to make those things begin to be which were not, how much rather will it not be efficacious to cause them to remain what they are, while they are at the same time changed into somewhat else? For if the heavenly word has been effectual in other matters, is it ineffectual in heavenly sacraments? Therefore of the bread is made the Body of Christ, and the wine is made blood by the consecration of the heavenly word.

[ed. note: ap. Grat. ibid. 54. On this remarkable passage it may be observed, first, S. Ambrose is referring to the creation, and his meaning is, “If his word had power to make these things,” i.e. heaven and earth, “begin to be, which were not, how much rather is it not efficacious to make those things,” i.e. the bread, not begin, but “continue to be, which were already, and are but changed into something else?”

2. Next he illustrates the change by our own change in regeneration. “Tu ipse eras, sed eras vetus creatura; postea quam consecratus es, nova creatura esse cepisti.”

3. There is no introduction of the word “substance,” i.e. no assertion of transubstantiation.]

Dost thou enquire after the manner? Learn. The course of nature is, that a man is not born but of man and woman, but by God’s will Christ was born of the Holy Spirit and a Virgin.

Paschasius: As then real flesh was created by the Holy Spirit without sexual union, so by the same Holy Spirit the substance of bread and wine are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ. And because this consecration is made by the Lords word, it is added, “He blessed.”

[ed. note: This passage is quoted in the Bodl. MS. and early editions of the Cat., as ‘Augustinus in Verb. Dom.’ Gratian also (de Cons. d. ii. 72.) gives it as Augustine’s, but the earliest author in whom it is found is Paschasius Radbertus, Abbot of Corbey, and a well-known writer of the ninth century, ‘De Corpore et Sanguine Dom.’ 4.]

Remig.: Hereby He shewed also that He together with the Father and the Holy Spirit has filled human nature with the grace of His divine power, and enriched it with the boon of immortality. And to shew that His Body was not subject to passion but of His own will, it is added, “And brake.”

Lanfranc: When the host is broken, when the blood is poured from the cup into the mouth of the faithful, what else is denoted but the offering of the Lord’s Body on the cross, and the shedding of His Blood out of His side?

[ed. note: This is quoted in the early editions, and in Gratian de Cons. ii. 37. as Augustinus ‘in Libro Sent. Prosper.’ but does not occur in that collection of Prosper as we have it. It is found in Lanfranc cont. Bereng. 13.]

Dionysius, Eccl. Hier., 3, in fin: In this is also shewn, that the one and uncompounded Word of God came to us compounded and visible by taking human nature upon Him, and drawing to Himself our society, made us partakers of the spiritual goods which He distributed, as it follows, “And gave to his disciples.”

Leo, Serm. 58, 3: Not excluding the traitor even from this mystery, that it might be made manifest that Judas was provoked by no wrong, but that he had been foreknown in voluntary impiety.

Aug., in Joan Tr., 59: Peter and Judas received of the same bread, but Peter to life, Judas to death.

Chrys., Hom. lxxxii: And this John shews when be says “After the sop, Satan entered into him.” [John 13:27] For his sin was aggravated in that he came near to these mysteries with such a heart, and that having come to them, he was made better neither by fear, kindness, nor honour. Christ hindered him not, though He knew all things, that you may learn that He omits nothing which serves for correction.

Remig.: In so doing He left an example to the Church, that it should sever no one from its fellowship, or from the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, but for some notorious and public crime.

Hilary: Or, The Passover was concluded by the taking the cup and breaking the bread without Judas, for he was unworthy the communion of eternal sacraments. And that he had left them we learn from thence, that he returns with a multitude.

Aug.: [ed. note: This passage, headed ‘Augustinus’ in the Bodl. MS., and ‘Aug de Verb. Dom.’ in the earlier editions, is apparently taken from two canons in the 3d pt. of Gratian, viz. c. 70. and c. 58. to which Augustine’s name is there prefixed. It has not been found in S. Augustine’s works. But it is found in Bede on I Cor. x. who also quotes it from ‘Aug. de verb. Evang.’]

“And said, Take, eat;” The Lord invites His servants to set before them Himself for food. But who would dare to eat his Lord? This food when eaten refreshes, but fails not; He lives after being eaten, Who rose again after being put to death. Neither when we eat Him do we divide His substance; but thus it is in this Sacrament. The faithful know how they feed on Christ’s flesh, each man receives a part for himself. He is divided into parts in the Sacrament, yet He remains whole; He is all in heaven, He is all in thy heart.

They are called Sacraments, because in them what is seen is one thing, what is understood is another; what is seen has a material form, what is understood has spiritual fruit.

Aug., in Joan. Tr., 27, 11: Let us not eat Christ’s flesh only in the Sacrament, for that do many wicked men, but let us eat to spiritual participation, that we may abide as members in the Lord’s body, that we may be quickened by His Spirit.

Ambrose, de Sacr., iv, 5: Before consecration, it is bread; after Christ’s words, “This is my body,” have been pronounced, it is Christ’s Body.

Ver  27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it;28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Remig.: The Lord having given His disciples His Body under the element of bread [marg. note: sub specie panis], well gives the cup of His Blood to them likewise; shewing what joy He has in our salvation, seeing He even shed His Blood for us.

Chrys.: He gave thanks to instruct us after what manner we ought to celebrate this mystery, and shewed also thereby that He came not to His Passion against His will. Also He taught us to bear whatsoever we suffer with thanksgiving, and infused into us good hopes.

For if the type of this sacrifice, to wit, the offering of the paschal lamb, became the deliverance of the people from Egyptian bondage, much more shall the reality thereof be the deliverance of the world.

“And gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” That they should not be distressed at hearing this, He first drank His own blood to lead them without fear to the communion of these mysteries.

Jerome, Hieron. Ep. 120, ad Hedib: Thus then the Lord Jesus was at once guest and feast, the eater and the things eaten. [ed. note: ap. Grat. do Consecr. d. ii. 87.]

Chrys.: “This is my blood of the new testament;” that is, the new promise, covenant, law; for this blood was promised from of old, and this guarantees the new covenant; for as the Old Testament had the blood of sheep and goats, so the New has the Lord’s Blood.

Remig.: For thus it is read, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you.” [Ex 24:8]

Chrys.: And in calling it blood, He foreshews His Passion, “My blood … which shall be shed for many.” Also the purpose for which He died, adding, “For the remission of sins;” as much as to say, The blood of the lamb was shed in Egypt for the salvation of the first born of the Israelites, this My Blood is shed for the remission of sins.

Remig.: And it is to be noted, that He says not, For a few, nor, For all, but, “For many;” because He came not to redeem a single nation, but many out of all nations.

Chrys.: Thus saying, He shews that His Passion is a mystery of the salvation of men, by which also He comforts His disciples. And as Moses said, “This shall be an ordinance to thee for ever,” [Ex 12:24] so Christ speaks as Luke relates, “This do in remembrance of me.” [Luke 22:19]

Remig.: And He taught us to offer not bread only, but wine also, to shew that they who hungered and thirsted after righteousness were to be refreshed by these mysteries.

Gloss., non occ.: As the refreshment of the body is wrought  by means of meat and drink, so under the form of meat and drink the Lord has provided for us spiritual refreshment. And it was suitable that for the shewing forth the Lord’s Passion this Sacrament should be instituted under both kinds.

For in His Passion He shed His Blood, and so His Blood was separated from His Body. It behoved therefore, that for representation of His Passion, bread and wine should be separately set forth, which are the Sacrament of the Body and Blood. But it should be known, that under both kinds the whole of Christ is contained; under the bread is contained the Blood, together with the Body; under the wine, the Body together With the Blood.

Ambrosiaster, in 1 Cor 11:26 : And for this reason also in do we celebrate under both kinds, because that which we receive avails for the preservation of both body and soul.

Cyprian, Ep. 63, ad Caecil.: The cup of the Lord is not water only, or wine only, but the two are mixed; so the Lord’s Body cannot be either flour only, or water only, but the two are combined.

[ed. note: To signify, as S. Cyprian proceeds to say, the union between Christ and His faithful people; “For if one offer wine only, the blood of Christ begins to be without us; if water only, the people begin to be without Christ.” This passage of Cyprian is quoted in Gratian. de Cons ii. 7.]

Ambrose, de Sacr., v. 1: If Melchisedech offered bread and wine, what means this mixing of water? Hear the reason. Moses struck the rock, and the rock gave forth abundance of water, but that rock was Christ. Also one of the soldiers with his spear pierced Christ’s side, and out of His side flowed water and blood, the water to cleanse, the blood to redeem.

[ed. note: ap. Gratian de Cons. d ii, 83, cf. Paschas de Corp. et Sang. 11]

Remig.: For it should be known, that as John speaks, “The many waters are nations and people.” [Rev 17:15] And because we ought always to abide in Christ and Christ in us, wine mixed with water is offered, to shew that the bead and the members, that is, Christ and the Church, are one body; or to shew that neither did Christ suffer without a love for our redemption, nor we can be saved without His Passion.

Chrys.: And having spoken of His Passion and Cross, He proceeds to speak of His resurrection, “I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth, &c.” By the “kingdom” He means His resurrection. And He speaks this of His resurrection, because He would then drink with the Apostles, that none might suppose His  resurrection a phantasy.

Thus when they would convince any of His resurrection, they said, “We did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.” [Acts 10:41] This tells them that they shall see Him after He is risen, and that He will be again with them.

That He says, “New,” is plainly to be understood, after a new manner, He no longer having a passible body, or needing food. For after His resurrection He did not eat as needing food, but to evidence the reality of the resurrection. And forasmuch as there are some heretics who use water instead of wine in the sacred mysteries [ed. note: e.g. The Encratites, followers of Saturnius and Tatian in the second century. See Can. Apost. 43 and 45 of Johnson’s Translation.], He shews in these words, that when He now gave them these holy mysteries, He gave them wine, and drank the like after He was risen; for He says, “Of this fruit of the vine,” but the vine produces wine, and not water.

Jerome: Or otherwise; From carnal things the Lord passes to spiritual. Holy Scripture speaks of the people of Israel as of a vine brought up out of Egypt; [marg. note: Ps 80:8, Jer 2:21] of this vine it is then that the Lord says He will drink no more except in His Father’s kingdom. His Father’s kingdom I suppose to mean the faith of the believers. When then the Jews shall receive His Father’s kingdom, then the Lord will drink of their vine. Observe that He says, “Of my Father,” not, Of God, for to name the Father is to name the Son. As much as to say, When they shall have believed on God the Father, and He has brought them to the Son.

Remig.: Or otherwise; “I will not drink of the fruit of this vine,” i.e. I will no longer take pleasure in the carnal oblations of the Synagogue, among which the immolation of the Paschal lamb held an eminent place. But the time of My resurrection is at hand, and the day in which exalted in the Father’s kingdom, that is, raised in immortal glory, “I shall drink it new with you,” i.e. I shall rejoice as with a new joy in the salvation of that people then renewed by the water of baptism.

Aug., Quaest. Ev. i, 43: Or otherwise; When He says, “I shall drink it new with you,” He gives us to understand that this is old. Seeing then that He took body of the race of Adam, who is called the old man, and was to give up to death that Body in His Passion, (whence also He gave us His Blood in the sacrament of wine,) what else can we understand by the new wine than the immortality of renewed bodies?

In saying, “I will drink it with you,” He promises to them likewise a resurrection of their bodies for the putting on of immortality. “With you” is not to be understood of time, but of a like renewal, as the Apostle speaks, that “we are risen with Christ,” the hope of the future bringing a present joy. That which He shall drink new shall also be “of this fruit of the vine,” signifies that the very same bodies shall rise after the heavenly renewal, which shall now die after the earthly decay.

Hilary: It seems from this that Judas had not drunk with Him, because He was not to drink hereafter in the kingdom; but He promises to all who partook at this time of this fruit of the vine that they should drink with Him hereafter.

Gloss., non occ.: But in support of the opinion of other saints, that Judas did receive the sacraments from Christ, it is to be said, that the words “with you” may refer to the greater part of them, and not necessarily to the whole.

Ver  30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.31. Then saith Jesus unto them, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.32. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.”33. Peter answered and said unto him, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”34. Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”35. Peter said unto him, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” Likewise also said all the disciples.

Origen: When the disciples had eaten the bread of blessing, and drunk of the cup of thanksgiving, the Lord instructs them in return for these things to sing a hymn to the Father. And they go to the Mount of Olives, that they may pass from height to height, because the believer can do nought in the valley.

[ed. note: The passages (Bede and Rabanus, below, and more further on) between the brackets are not found in the earlier Editions of the Catena, in the ED. PR. nor the Bodl. MS. They appear to have been inserted by Nicolai.]

[Bede, in Luc., 22, 39: Beautifully after the disciples have been filled with the Sacraments of His Body and Blood, and commended to the Father in a hymn of pious intercession, does He lead them into the mount of Olives; thus by type teaching us how we ought, by the working of His Sacraments, and the aid of His intercession, mount up to the higher gifts of the virtues and the graces of the Holy Spirit, with which we are anointed in our hearts.

Raban.: This hymn may be that thanksgiving which in John, Our Lord offers up to the Father, when He lifted up His eyes and prayed for His disciples, and those who should believe through their word. This is that of which the Psalm speaks, “The poor shall eat and be filled, they shall praise the Lord.” Ps 22:26]

Chrys.: Let them hear this, who like swine with no thought but of eating rise from the table drunk, when they should have given thanks, and closed with a hymn. Let them hear who will not tarry for the final prayer in the sacred mysteries; for the last prayer of the mysteries represents that hymn. He gave thanks before He delivered the holy mysteries to the disciples, that we also might give thanks; He sung a hymn after He had delivered them, that we also should do the like.

Jerome: After this example of the Saviour, whosoever is filled and is drunken upon the bread and cup of Christ, may praise God and ascend the Mount of Olives, where is refreshment after toil, solace of grief, and knowledge of the true light.

Hilary: Hereby He shews that men confirmed by the powers of the Divine mysteries, are exalted to heavenly glory in a common joy and gladness.

Origen: Suitably also was the mount of mercy chosen whence to declare the offence of His disciples’ weakness, by One even then prepared not to reject the disciples who forsook Him, but to receive them when they returned to Him.

Jerome:  He foretels what they should suffer, that they might not after it had befallen them despair of salvation; but doing penitence might be set free.

Chrys.: In this we see what the disciples were both before and after the cross. They who could not stand with Christ whilst He was crucified, became after the death of Christ harder than adamant. This flight and fear of the disciples is a demonstration of Christ’s death against those who are infected with the heresy of Marcion. If He had been neither bound nor crucified, whence arose the terror of Peter and the rest?

Jerome: And He adds emphatically, “this night,” because as “they that are drunken are drunken by night,” [1 Thess. 5:7] so they that are scandalized are scandalized by night, and in the dark.

Hilary: The credit of this prediction is supported by the authority of old prophecy; “It is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.”

Jerome: This is found in Zacharias in words different; it is said to God in the person of the Prophet, “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered abroad.” [Zech 13:7] The good Shepherd is smitten, that He may lay down His life for His sheep, and that of many flocks of divers errors should be made one flock, and one Shepherd.

Chrys.: He produces this prophecy to teach them to attend to the things that are written, and to shew that His crucifixion was according to the counsel of God, and (as He does throughout) that He was not a stranger to the Old Testament, but that it prophesied of Him.

But He did not suffer them to continue in sorrow, but announces glad tidings, saying, “When I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” After His resurrection He does not appear to them immediately from heaven, nor depart into any far country, but in the very same nation in which He was crucified, almost in the very place, giving them thereby assurance, that He who was crucified was the same as He who rose again, thereby to cheer their cast-down countenances. He fixes upon Galilee, that, being delivered from fear of the Jews, they might believe what He spoke to them.

Origen: Also He foretels this to them, that they who now were somewhat dispersed in consequence of the offence, should be after gathered together by Christ rising again, and going before them into Galilee of the Gentiles.

Hilary: But Peter was carried so far by his zeal and affection for Christ, that he regarded neither the weakness of his flesh nor the truth of the Lord’s words; as if what He spake must not come to pass, “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”

Chrys.: What sayest thou, Peter? The Prophet says, “The sheep shall be scattered abroad,” and Christ has confirmed it, yet thou sayest, Never. When He said, “One of you shall betray me,” thou fearedst for thyself, although thou wert not conscious of such a thought; now when He openly affirms, “All ye shall be offended,” you deny it. But because when he was relieved of the anxiety he had concerning the betrayal, he grew confident concerning the rest, he therefore says thus, “I will never be offended.”Jerome: It is not wilfulness, not falsehood, but the Apostle’s faith, and ardent attachment towards the Lord his Saviour.

Remig.: What the One affirms by His power of foreknowledge, the other denies through love; whence we may take a practical lesson, that in proportion as we are confident of the warmth of our faith, we should be in fear of the weakness of our flesh. Peter seems culpable, first, because he contradicted the Lord’s words; secondly, because he set himself before the rest; and thirdly, because he attributed every thing to himself as though he had power to persevere strenuously. His fall then was permitted to heal this in him; not that be was driven to deny, but left to himself, and so convinced of the frailty of his human nature. [ed. note: Remigius has borrowed this from S. Chrysostom, in loc.]

Origen: Whence the other disciples were offended in Jesus, but Peter was not only offended, but what is much more, was suffered to deny Him thrice.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: Perplexity may be occasioned to some by the great difference, not in words only, but in substance, of the speeches in which Peter is forewarned by Our Lord, and which occasion his presumptuous declaration of dying with or for the Lord. Some would oblige us to understand that he thrice expressed his confidence, and the Lord thrice answered him that he would deny Him thrice before cock-crowing; as after His resurrection He thrice asked him if he loved Him, and as often gave him command to feed His sheep.

For what in language or matter has Matthew like the expressions of Peter in either Luke or John? Mark indeed relates it in nearly the same words as Matthew, only marking more precisely in the Lord’s words the manner in which it should fall in, “Verily, I say unto thee, that this day, in the night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” [Mark 14:30]

Whence some inattentive persons think that there is a discrepancy between Mark and the rest. For the sum of Peter’s denials is three; if the first then had been after the first cock-crowing, the other three Evangelists must be wrong when they make the Lord say that Peter should deny Him before the cock crow. But, on the other hand, if be had made all three denials before the cock began to crow, it would be superfluous in Mark to say, “Before the cock crow twice.” Forasmuch as this threefold denial was begun before the first cock-crow, the three Evangelists have marked, not when it was to be concluded, but how often it was to happen, and when to begin, that is, before cock-crow.

Though indeed if we understand it of Peter’s heart we may well say, that the whole denial was complete before the first cock-crow, seeing that before that his mind was seized with that great fear which wrought upon him to the third denial. Much less therefore ought it to disquiet us, how the three-fold denial in three distinct speeches was begun, but not finished before cock-crow. Just as though one should say, Before cock-crow you will write me a letter, in which you will revile me three times; if the letter were begun before any cock-crow, but not finished till after the first, we should not therefore say that the prediction was false.

Origen: But you will ask, whether it were possible that Peter should not have been offended, when once the Saviour had said, “All ye shalt be offended in me.” To which one will answer, what is foretold by Jesus must of necessity come to pass; and another will say, that He who at the prayer of Ninevites turned away the wrath He had denounced by Jonas, might also have averted Peter’s offence at his entreaty. But his presumptuous confidence, prompted by zeal indeed but not a cautious zeal, became the cause not only of offence but of a thrice repeated denial. And since He confirmed it with the sanction of an oath, some one will say that it was not possible that he should not have denied Him. For Christ would have  spoken falsely when he, said, “Verily I say unto thee,” if Peter’s assertion, “I will not deny thee,” had been true.

It seems to me that the other disciples having in view not that which was first said, “All ye shall be offended,” but that which was said to Peter, “Verily I say unto thee, &c.” made a like promise with Peter because they were not comprehended in the prophecy of denial. “Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”

Here again Peter knows not what he says; he could not die with Him who was to die for all mankind, who were all in sin, and had need of some one to die for them, not that they should die for others.

Raban.: Peter understood the Lord to have foretold that he should deny Him under terror of death, and therefore he declares that though death were imminent, nothing could shake him from his faith; and the other Apostles in like manner in the warmth of their zeal, valued not the infliction of death, but human presumption is vain without Divine aid.

Chrys.: [I suppose also that Peter fell into these words through ambition and boastfulness. And they had disputed at supper which of them should be greatest, whence we see that the love of empty glory disturbed them much. And so to deliver him from such passions, Christ withdrew His aid from him. Moreover observe how after the resurrection, taught by his fall, he speaks to Christ more humbly, and does not any more resist His words. All this his fall wrought for him; for before he had attributed all to himself, when he ought rather to have said, I will not deny Thee if Thou succour me with Thy aid. But afterwards he shews that every thing is to be ascribed to God, “Why look ye so earnestly upon us, as though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk?” [Acts 3:12] ]

Hence then we learn the great doctrine, that man’s wish is not enough, unless he enjoys Divine support.

Ver  36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.37. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.38. Then saith he unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

Remig.: The Evangelist had said a little above, that “when they had sung an hymn they went out to the mount of Olives;” to point out the part of the mount to which they took their way, he now adds, “Then came Jesus with them to a garden called Gethsemane.”

Raban.: Luke says, “To the mount of Olives,” [Luke 22:39] and John, “Went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden,” [John 18:1] which is the same as this Gethsemane, and is a place where He prayed at the foot of mount Olivet, where is a garden, and a Church now built. [ed. note: This is probably from Areulfus’ account in Adamnantus de Locis Sanctis, c. 23 (ap. Act. Benedict. iv 502) as he quoted him by name, above, p. 95]

Jerome: Gethsemane is interpreted, ‘The rich valley;’ and there He bade His disciples sit a little while, and wait His return whilst He prayed alone for all.

Origen: For it was not fitting that He should be seized in the place where He had sate and eaten the Passover with His disciples. Also He must first pray, and choose a place pure for prayer.

Chrys., Hom. lxxxiii: He says, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder,” because the disciples adhered inseparably to Christ; but it was His practice to pray apart from them, therein teaching us to study quiet and retirement for our prayers.

Damascenus, de Fid. Orth., iii, 24: But seeing that prayer is the sending up the understanding to God, or the asking of God things fitting, how did the Lord pray? For His understanding needed not to be lifted up to God, having been once united hypostatically to God the Word. Neither could He need to ask of God things fitting, for the One Christ is both God and Man. But giving in Himself a pattern to us, He taught us to ask of God, and to lift up our minds to Him. As He took on Him our passions, that by triumphing over them Himself, He might give us also the victory over them, so now He prays  to open to us the way to that lifting up to God, to fulfil for us all righteousness, to reconcile His Father to us, to pay honour to Him as the First Cause, and to shew that He is not against God.

Raban.: When the Lord prayed in the mountain, He taught us to make supplication for heavenly things; when He prays in the garden, He teaches us to study humility in our prayer. And beautifully, as He draws near His Passion, does He pray in the ‘valley of fatness’ shewing that through the valley of humility, and the richness of charity, He took upon Him death for our sakes.

The practical instruction which we may also learn from this is, that we should not suffer our heart to dry up from the richness of charity.

Remig.: He had accepted the disciples’ faith and the devotedness of their will, but He foresaw that they would be troubled and scattered abroad, and therefore bade them sit still in their places; for to sit belongs to one at ease, but they would be grievously troubled that they should have denied Him.

In what fashion He went forward it describes, “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and very heavy;” the same to whom He had shewn His glory in the mount.

Hilary: These words, He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, are interpreted by heretics that fear of death assailed the Son of God, being (as they allege) neither begotten from eternity, nor existing in the Father’s infinite substance, but produced out of nothing by Him who created all things; and that hence He was liable to anguish of grief, and fear of death. And He who can fear death can also die; and He who can die, though He shall exist after death, yet is not eternal through Him who begot Him in past time.

Had these faith to receive the Gospels, they would know that the Word was in the beginning God, and from the beginning with God, and that the eternity of Him who begets and Him who is begotten is one and the same. But if the assumption of flesh infected with its natural infirmity the virtue of that incorruptible substance, so that it became subject to pain, and shrinking from death, it would also become thereby liable to corruption, and thus its immortality being changed into fear, that which is in it is capable of at some time ceasing to be. But God ever is without measure of time, and such as He is, He continues to  be eternally. Nothing then in God can die, nor can God have any fear springing out of Himself.

Jerome, Hieron. non. occ: But we say that passible man was so taken by God the Son, that His Deity remained impassible. Indeed the Son of God suffered, not by imputation but actually, all that Scripture testifies, in respect of that part of Him which could suffer, viz. in respect of the substance that He had taken on Him.

Hilary, de Trin., x, 10: I suppose that there are some who offer here no other cause of His fear than His passion and death. I ask those who think thus, whether it stands with reason that He should have feared to die, who banished from the Apostles all fear of death, and exhorted them to the glory of martyrdom?

How can we suppose Him to have felt pain and grief in the sacrament of death, who rewards with life those who die for Him? And what pangs of death could He fear, who came to death of the free choice of His own power? And if His Passion was to do Him honour, how could the fear of His Passion make Him sorrowful?

Hilary, in loc.: Since then we read that the Lord was sorrowful, let us discover the causes of His agony. He had forewarned them all that they would be offended, and Peter that he would thrice deny his Lord; and taking him and James and John, He began to be sorrowful. Therefore He was not sorrowful till He took them, but all His fear began after He had taken them; so that His agony was not for Himself, but for them whom He had taken.

Jerome: The Lord therefore sorrowed not from fear of suffering, for for this cause He had come that He should suffer, and had rebuked Peter for his fearfulness; [marg. note: Matt 14:40] but for the wretched Judas, for the offence of the rest of the Apostles, for the rejection and reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the overthrow of unhappy Jerusalem.

Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 23: Or otherwise; All things which have not yet been brought into existence by their Maker have a natural desire of existence, and naturally shun non-existence. God the Word then, having been made Man, had this desire, through which He desired food, drink, and sleep, by which life is supported, and naturally used them, and contrariwise shunned the things that are destructive of life. Hence in the season of His Passion which He endured voluntarily, He had the natural fear and sorrow for death. For there is a natural fear wherewith the soul shrinks  from separation from the body, by reason of that close sympathy implanted from the first by the Maker of all things.

Jerome: Our Lord therefore sorrowed to prove the reality of the Man which He had taken upon Him; but that passion might bear no sway in His mind, “He began to be sorrowful” by pro-passion [ed. note: see ch. 5, page 185]; for it is one thing to be sorrowful, and another to be very sorrowful.

Remig.: By this place are overthrown the Manichaeans, who said that He took an unreal body; and those also who said that He had not a real soul, but His Divinity in place of a soul. [marg. note: e.g. Apollinaris]

Aug., Lib. 83 Quaest. Q80: We have the narratives of the Evangelists, by which we know that Christ was both born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was seized by the Jews, scourged, crucified, put to death, and buried in a tomb, all which cannot be supposed to have taken place without a body, and not even the maddest will say that these things are to be understood figuratively, when they are told by men who wrote what they remembered to have happened.

These then are witnesses that He had a body, as those affections which cannot be without mind prove Him to have had a mind, and which we read in the accounts of the same Evangelists, that Jesus wondered, was angry, was sorrowful.

Aug., City of God, book xiv, ch. 9: Since then these things are related in the Evangelists, they are not surely false, but as when He willed He became Man, so likewise when He willed He took into His human soul these passions for the sake of adding assurance to the dispensation. We indeed have these passions by reason of the weakness of our human nature; not so the Lord Jesus, whose weakness was of power.

Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 20: Wherefore the passions of our nature were in Christ both by nature and beyond nature. By nature, because He left His flesh to suffer the things incidental to it; beyond nature, because these natural emotions did not in Him precede the will. For in Christ nothing befel of compulsion, but all was voluntary; with His will He hungered, with His will He feared, or was sorrowful.

Here His sorrow is declared, “Then saith he unto them, My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”

Ambrose, in Luc. 23, 43: He is sorrowful, yet not Himself, but His soul; not His Wisdom, not His divine Substance, but His soul, for He took upon Him  my soul, and my body.

Jerome: He is sorrowful not because of death, but “unto death,” until He has set the Apostles free by His Passion. Let those who imagine Jesus to have taken an irrational soul, say how it is that He is thus sorrowful, and knows the season of His sorrow, for though the brute animals have sorrow, yet they know neither the causes of it, nor the time for which it must endure.

Origen: Or otherwise; “My soul is sorrowful even unto death;” as much as to say, Sorrow is begun in me, but not to endure for ever, but only till the hour of death; that when I shall die for sin, I shall die also to all sorrow, whose beginnings only are in me. “Tarry ye here, and watch with me;” as much as to say, The rest I bade sit yonder as weak, removing them from this struggle; but you I have brought hither as being stronger, that ye may toil with me in watching and prayer. But abide you here, that every man may stay in his own rank and station; since all grace, however great, has its superior.

Jerome: Or the sleep which He would have them forego is not bodily rest, for which at this critical time there was no room, but mental torpor, the sleep of unbelief.

Ver  39. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”40. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”43. And he came and found them asleep again for their eyes were heavy.44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Origen: He took with Him the self-confident Peter, and the others, that they might see Him falling on His face and praying, and might learn not to think great things, but little things of themselves, and not to be hasty in promising, but careful in prayer. And therefore, “He went forward a little,” not to go far from them, but that He might be near them in His prayer.

Also, He who had said above, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart,” now commendably humbling Himself, falls on His face. But He shews His devotion in His prayer, and as beloved and well-pleasing to His Father, He adds, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” teaching us that we should pray, not that our own will, but that God’s will, should be done.

And as He began to have fear and sorrow, He prays accordingly that the cup of His Passion may pass from Him, yet not as He wills, but as His Father wills; wills, that is, not according to His Divine and impassible Substance, but according to His human and weak nature. For in taking upon Him the nature of human flesh, He fulfilled all the properties thereof, that it might be seen that He had flesh not in appearance only, but in reality.

The believer indeed must in the first instance be loth to incur pain, seeing it leads to death, and he is a man of flesh; but if it be God’s will, he acquiesces because he is a believer. For as we ought not to be too confident that we may not seem to make a boast of our own strength; so neither ought we to be distrustful, lest we should seem to charge God our helper with weakness.

It is to be observed that Mark and Luke write the same, but John does not introduce this prayer of Jesus’, that this cup may pass from Him, because the first three are rather occupied about Him, according to His human nature, John according to His divine.  Otherwise; Jesus makes this petition, because He sees what the Jews will suffer for requiring His death.

Jerome: Whence He says emphatically, “This cup,” that is, of this people of the Jews, who, if they shall put Me to death, can have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing they have the Law and the Prophets, who speak of Me.

Origen: Then again considering the benefit that would accrue to the whole world from His Passion, He says, “But not as I will, but as thou wilt;” i.e. If it be possible for all these benefits which shall result from My Passion to be procured without it, let it pass from Me, and both the world be saved, and the Jews not be condemned in putting Me to death.

But if the salvation of many cannot be procured without the destruction of a few, saving Thy justice, let it not pass away. Scripture, in many places, speaks of passion as a cup that is drained; and it is drained by him, who in testimony suffers whatever is inflicted upon him. He sheds it, on the contrary, who denies in order to avoid suffering.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: And that none might think that He limited His Father’s power, He said not, “If thou canst do it,” but “If it may be,” or, “If it be possible;” as much as to say, If thou wilt. For whatever God wills can be done, as Luke expresses more plainly; for he says not, “If it be possible,” but “If thou wilt.”

Hilary: Otherwise; He says not, Let this cup pass away from Me, for that would be the speech of one who feared it; but He prays that it may pass not so as that He should be passed over, but that when it has passed from Him, it may go to another. His whole fear then is for those who were to suffer, and therefore He prays for those who were to suffer after Him, saying, “Let this cup pass from me,” i.e. as it is drunk by Me, so let it be drunk by these, without mistrust, without sense of pain, without fear of death. He says, “If it be possible,” because flesh and blood shrink from these things, and it is hard for human bodies not to sink beneath their infliction. That He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” He would fain indeed that they should not suffer, lest their faith should fail in their sufferings, if indeed we might attain to the glory of our joint inheritance with Him without the hardship of sharing in His Passion.

He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” because it is the Father’s will that strength to drink of the cup should pass from Him to them, that the Devil might be vanquished not so much by Christ as by His disciples also.

Aug., in Ps. 32, enar. 2: Christ thus as man shews a certain private human will, in which He who is our head figures both His own will and ours when He says, “Let it pass from me.” For this was His human will choosing something as apart for Himself. But because as man He would be righteous and guide Himself by God’s will, He adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt;” as much as to say to us, Man, behold thyself in Me, that thou canst will somewhat apart of thyself, and though God’s will is other, this is permitted to human frailty.

Leo, Serm., 58, 5: This speech of the Head is the health of the whole body, this saying is instruction to the faithful, animates the confessor, crowns the martyr. For who could vanquish the hatred of the world, or the whirlwind of temptations, or the terrors of the persecutors, if Christ did not in all and for all say to the Father, “Thy will be done.”

Let all the sons of the Church then utter this prayer, that when the pressure of some mighty temptation lies upon them, they may embrace endurance of the suffering, disregarding its terrors.

Origen: And though Jesus went but a “little forward,” they could not watch one hour in His absence; let us therefore pray that Jesus may never depart even a little from us.

Chrys.: He “finds them sleeping,” both because it was a late hour of the night, and their eyes were heavy with sorrow.

Hilary: When then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, He rebukes Peter, “Could ye not watch one hour with me?” He addresses Peter rather than the rest, because be had most loudly boasted that he would not be offended.

Chrys.: But as they had all said the same, He charges them all with weakness; they had chosen to die with Christ, and yet could not even watch with Him.

Origen: Finding them thus sleeping, He rouses them with a word to hearken, and commands them to watch; “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation;” that first we should watch, and so watching pray. He watches who does good works, and is careful that He does not run into any dark doctrine, for so the prayer of the watchful is heard.

Jerome: It is impossible that the human mind should not be tempted, therefore He says not “Watch and pray” that ye be not tempted, but “that ye enter not into temptation,” that is, that temptation vanquish you not.

Hilary: And why He thus encouraged them to pray that they might not enter into temptation, He adds, “For the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;” this He says not of Himself, but addresses them.

Jerome: This is against those rash persons who think that whatever they believe they can perform. The more confident we are of our zeal, the more mistrustful should we be of the frailty of the flesh.

Origen: Here it should be enquired, whether as all men’s flesh is weak, so all men’s spirit is willing, or whether only that of the saints; and whether in unbelievers the spirit is not also dull, as the flesh is weak. In another sense the flesh of those only is weak whose spirit is willing, and who with their willing spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh. These then He would have watch and pray that they should not enter into temptation, for the more spiritual any one may be, the more careful should he be that his goodness should not suffer a great fall.

Remig.: Otherwise; In these words He shews that He took real flesh of the Virgin, and had a real soul, saying that His spirit is willing to suffer, but His flesh weak in fearing the pain of Passion.

Origen: There were, I conclude, two ways in which this cup of Passion might pass from the Lord. If He should drink it, it would pass away from Him, and afterwards from the whole race of mankind also; if He should not drink it, it would perhaps pass from Him, but from men it would not pass. He would fain therefore that it should so pass from Him as that He should not at all taste its bitterness, yet only if it were possible, saving the righteousness of God. If it were not possible, He was rather willing to drink it, that so it might pass from Him, and from the whole race of mankind rather than against His Father’s will shun the drinking thereof.

Chrys.: That He prays for this a second and a third time, comes of the feelings belonging to human frailty, through which also He feared death, thus giving assurance that He was truly made man. For in Scripture when any thing is repeated a second and third time, that is the greatest proof of its truth and reality; as, for example, when Joseph says to Pharaoh, “And for that thou sawedst it twice, it is proof of the thing being established by God.” [Gen 41:32]

Jerome: Or otherwise; He prays a second time that if Nineveh, or the Gentile world, cannot be saved unless the gourd, i.e. the Jews, be withered, His Father’s will may be done, which is not contrary to the Son’s will, who Himself speaks by the Prophet, “I am content to do thy will, 0 God.” [Ps 40:8]

Hilary: Otherwise, He bare in His own body all the infirmities of us His disciples who should suffer, and nailed to His cross all wherein we are distressed; and therefore that cup cannot pass from Him, unless He drink it, because we cannot suffer, except by His passion.

Jerome: Christ singly prays for all,as He singly suffers for all. “Their eyes were heavy,” i.e. an oppression and stupefaction came on as their denial drew near.

Origen: And I suppose that the eyes of their body were not so much affected as the eyes of their mind, because the Spirit was not yet given them. Wherefore He does not rebuke them, but goes again and prays, teaching us that we should not faint but should persevere in prayer, until we obtain what we have begun to ask.

Jerome: He prayed the third time, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established.

Raban: Or, The Lord prayed thrice, to teach us to pray for pardon of sins past, defence against present evil, and provision against future perils, and that we should address every prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that our spirit, soul, and body should be kept in safety.

Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 47: Nor is that an absurd interpretation which makes Our Lord pray thrice because of the threefold temptation of His Passion. To the temptation of curiosity is opposed the fear of death; for as the one is a yearning for the knowledge of things, so the other is the fear of losing such knowledge. To the desire of honour or applause is opposed the dread of disgrace and insult. To the desire of pleasure is opposed the fear of pain.

Remig.: Or, He prays thrice for the Apostles, and for Peter in particular, who was to deny Him thrice.

Ver  45. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”

Hilary: After His persevering prayer, after His departures and several returns, He takes away their fear, restores their confidence, and exhorts them to “sleep on, and take their rest.”

Chrys.: Indeed it behoved them to watch, but He said this to shew that the prospect of coming evils was more than they would bear, that He had no need of their aid, and that it must needs be that He should be delivered up.

Hilary: Or, He bids them “sleep on, and take their rest,” because He now confidently awaited His Father’s will concerning the disciples, concerning which He had said, “Thy will be done,” and in obedience to which He drunk the cup that was to pass from Him to us, diverting upon Himself the weakness of our body, the terrors of dismay, and even the pains of death itself.

Origen: Or, the sleep He now bids His disciples take is of a different sort from that which is related above to have befallen them. Then He found them sleeping, not taking repose, but because their eyes were heavy, but now they are not merely to sleep, but to “take their rest,” that this order may be rightly observed, namely, that we first watch with prayer that we enter not into temptation, and afterwards sleep and take our rest, when having “found a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob,” we may “go up into our bed, and give sleep to our eyes.” [Ps 132:3]

It may be also that the soul, unable to sustain a continual energy by reason of its union with the flesh, may blamelessly admit some relaxations, which may be the moral interpretation of slumbers, and then again after due time be quickened to new energy.

Hilary: And whereas, when He returned and found them sleeping, He rebukes them the first time, the second time says nothing, the third time bids them take their rest; the interpretation of this is, that at the first after His resurrection, when He finds them dispersed, distrustful, and timorous, He rebukes them; the second time, when their eyes were heavy to look upon the liberty of the Gospel, He visited them, sending them the Spirit, the Paraclete; for, held back by attachment to the Law, they slumbered in respect of faith; but the third time, when He shall come in His glory, He shall restore them to quietness and confidence.

Origen: When He had roused them from sleep, seeing in the Spirit Judas drawing near to betray Him, though the disciples could not yet see him, He says, “Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

Chrys.: The words, “the hour is at hand,” point out that all that has been done was by Divine interference; and that, “into the hands of sinners,” shew that this was the work of their wickedness, not that He was guilty of any crime.

Origen: And even now Jesus “is betrayed into the hands of sinners,” when those who seem to believe in Jesus, continue to sin while they have Him in their hands. Also whenever a righteous man, who has Jesus in Him, is put into the power of sinners, Jesus is delivered into the hands of sinners.

Jerome: Having concluded His third prayer, and having obtained that the Apostles’ terror should be corrected by subsequent penitence, He goes forth undaunted by the prospect of His own Passion to meet His pursuers, and offers Himself voluntarily to be sacrificed.

“Arise, let us be going;” as much as to say, Let them not find you trembling, let us go forth willingly to death, that they may see us confident and rejoicing in suffering; “Lo, he that shall betray me draweth near.”

Origen: He says not, Draws near to thee, for indeed the traitor was not near Him, but had removed himself far off through his sins.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: This speech as Matthew has it seems self-contradictory. For how could He say, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” and immediately continue, “Rise, let us be going.” This contradiction some have endeavoured to reconcile by supposing the words, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” to be an ironical rebuke, and not a permission; it might be rightly so taken if need were. But as Mark records it, when He had said, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” He added, “it is enough,” and then continued, “The hour is come, behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners;” [Mark 14:41] we clearly understand the Lord to have been silent some time after He had said, “Sleep on,” to allow of their doing so, and then after some interval to have roused them with, “Behold, the hour is at hand.” And as Mark fills up the sense with, “it is enough,” that is, ye have had rest enough.

Ver  47. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the Chief Priests and elders of the people.48. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.”49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, “Hail, Master;” and kissed him.50. And Jesus said unto him, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

Gloss., non occ.: Having said above that the Lord offered Himself of His own accord to His pursuers, the Evangelist proceeds to relate how He was seized by them.

Remig.: “One of the twelve,” by association of name, not of desert. This shews the monstrous wickedness of the man who from the dignity of the Apostleship became the traitor. To shew that it was out of envy that they seized Him, it is added, “A great multitude sent by the Chief Priests and elders of the people.”

Origen: Some may say that a great multitude came, because of the great multitude of those who already believed, who, they feared, might rescue Him out of their hands; but I think there is another reason for this, and that is, that they who thought that He cast out daemons through Beelzebub, supposed that by some magic He might escape the hands of those who sought to hold Him. Even now do many fight against Jesus with spiritual weapons, to wit, with divers and shifting dogmas concerning God.

It deserves enquiry why, when He was known by face to all who dwelt in Judaea, he should have given them a sign, as though they were unacquainted with His person. But a tradition to this effect has come down to us, that not only had He two different forms, one under which He appeared to men, the other into which He was transfigured before His disciples in the mount, but also that He appeared to each man in such degree as the beholder was worthy; in like manner as we read of the manna, that it had a flavour adapted to every variety of use, and as the word of God shews not alike to all. They   required therefore a sign by reason of this His transfiguration.

Chrys.: Or, because whenever they had hitherto attempted to seize Him, He had escaped them they knew not how; as also He might then have done had He been so minded.

Raban.: The Lord suffered the traitor’s kiss, not to teach us to dissemble, but that He might not seem to shrink from His betrayal.

Origen: If it be asked why Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, according to some it was because He desired to keep up the reverence due to his Master, and did not dare to make an open assault upon Him; according to others, it was out of fear that if he came as an avowed enemy, be might be the cause of His escape, which he believed Jesus had it in His power to effect.

But I think that all betrayers of truth love to assume the guise of truth, and to use the sign of a kiss. Like Judas also, all heretics call Jesus Rabbi, and receive from Him mild answer.

“And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?” He says, “Friend,” upbraiding his hypocrisy; for in Scripture we never find this term of address used to any of the good, but as above, “Friend, how camest thou in hither?” [Matt 22:12] and, “Friend, I do thee no wrong.” [Matt 20:13]

Aug., non occ.: He says, “Wherefore art thou come?” as much as to say, Thy kiss is a snare for Me; I know wherefore thou art come; thou feignest thyself My friend, being indeed My betrayer.

Remig.: Or, after “Friend, for what thou art come,” that do, is understood. “Then came they, and laid their hands on Jesus, and held him.”

“Then,” that is, when He suffered them, for ofttimes they would have done it, but were not able.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. de Symb. ad Catech. 6: Exult, Christian, you have gained by this bargain of your enemies; what Judas sold, and what the Jews bought, belongs to you.

Ver  51. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest’s, and smote off his ear.52. Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.53. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?54. But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

Chrys., Hom. lxxxiv: So Luke relates, the Lord had said to His disciples at supper, “He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one;” [Luke 22:36] and the disciples answered, “Lo, here are two swords.”

It was natural that there should be swords there for the paschal lamb which they had been eating. Hearing then that the pursuers were coming to apprehend Christ, when they went out from supper they took these swords, as though to fight in defence of their Master against His pursuers.

Jerome: In another Gospel [marg. note: John 18:19], Peter is represented as having done this, and with his usual hastiness; and that the servant’s name was Malchus, and that the ear was the right ear. In passing we may say, that Malchus, i.e. one who should have been king of the Jews, was made the slave of the ungodliness and the greediness of the Priests, and lost his right ear so that he might hear only the worthlessness of the letter in his left.

Origen: For though they seem even now to hear the Law, yet is it only with the left ear that they hear the shadow of a tradition concerning the Law, and not the truth. The people of the Gentiles is signified by Peter; for by believing in Christ, they become the cause of cutting off the Jews’ right ear.

Raban.: Or, Peter does not take away the sense of understanding from them that hear, but opens to the careless that which by a divine sentence was taken away from them; but this same right ear is restored to its original function in those who out of this nation believed.

Hilary: Otherwise; The ear of the High Priest’s servant is cut off by the Apostle, that is, Christ’s disciple cuts off the disobedient hearing of a people which were the slaves of the Priesthood, the ear which had refused to hear is cut off so that it is no longer capable of hearing.

Leo, Serm. 22: The Lord of the zealous Apostle will not suffer his pious feeling to proceed further, “Then saith Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place.” For it was contrary to the sacrament of our redemption that He, who had come to die for all, should refuse to be apprehended. He gives therefore licence to their fury against Him, lest by putting off the triumph of His glorious Cross, the dominion of the Devil should be made longer, and the captivity of men more enduring.

Raban.: It behoved also that the Author of grace should teach the faithful patience by His own example, and should rather train them to endure adversity with fortitude, than incite them to self-defence.

Chrys.: To move the disciple to this, He adds a threat, saying, “All they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword.”

Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 70: That is, every one who uses the sword. And he uses the sword, who, without the command or sanction of any superior, or legitimate authority, arms himself against man’s life. For truly the Lord had given commandment to His disciples to take the sword, but not to smite with the sword. Was it then at all unbeseeming that Peter after this sin should become ruler of the Church, as Moses after smiting the Egyptian was made ruler and chief of the Synagogue? For both transgressed the rule not through hardened ferocity, but through a warmth of spirit capable of good; both through hatred of the injustice of others; both sinned through love, the one for his brother, the other for his Lord, though a carnal love.

Hilary: But all who use the sword do not perish by the sword; of those who have used the sword either judicially, or in self-defence against robbers, fever or accident carries off the greater part. Though if according to this every one who uses the sword shall perish by the sword, justly was the sword now drawn against those who were using the same for the promotion of crime.

Jerome: With what sword then shall he perish, that takes the sword? By that fiery sword which waves before the gate of paradise, and that sword of the Spirit which is described in the armour of God.

Hilary: The Lord then bids him return his sword into its sheath, because He would destroy them by no weapon of man, but by the sword of His mouth.

Remig.: Otherwise; Every one who uses the sword to put man to death perishes first by the sword of his own wickedness.

Chrys.: He not only soothed His disciples, by this declaration of punishment against His enemies, but convinced them that it was voluntarily that He suffered, “Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, &c.” Because He had shewn many qualities of human infirmity, He would have seemed to say what was incredible, if He had said that He had power to destroy them, therefore He says, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?”

Jerome: That is to say, I need not the aid of the Apostles, though all the twelve should fight for me, seeing I could have twelve legions of the Angelic army. The complement of a legion among the ancients was six thousand men; twelve legions then are seventy-two thousand Angels, being as many as the divisions of the human race and language.

[ed. note: It was generally supposed that in the dispersion at Babel, mankind was divided into seventy-two nations, each speaking a different language. For that is the number of the heads of families enumerated in the genealogy, in Gen. xi. See Aug. de Civ. Dei, xvi. 6.]

Origen: This shews that the armies of heaven have divisions into legions like earthly armies, in the warfare of the Angels against the legions of the daemons. This He said not as though He needed the aid of the Angels, but speaking in accordance with the supposition of Peter, who sought to give Him assistance. Truly the Angels have more need of the help of the Only-begotten Son of God, than He of theirs.

Remig.: We might also understand by the Angels the Roman armies, for with Titus and Vespasian all languages had risen against Judaea, and that was fulfilled, “The whole world shall fight for him against those foolish men.” [Wisdom 5:21]

Chrys.: And He quiets their fears not thus only, but by reference to Scripture, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?”

Jerome: This speech shews a mind willing to suffer; vainly would the Prophets have prophesied truly, unless the Lord asserts their truth by His suffering.

Ver  55. In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.56. But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.57. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the High Priest, where the Scribes and the elders were assembled.58. But Peter followed him afar off unto the High Priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

Origen: Having commanded Peter to put up his sword, which was an instance of patience, and having (as another Evangelist writes [marg. note: Luke 22:51]) healed the ear that was cut off, which waS an instance of the greatest mercy, and of Divine power, it now follows, “In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, (to the end that if they could not remember His past goodness, they might at least confess His present,) Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?”

Remig.: As much as to say, Robbers assault and study concealment; I have injured no one, but have healed many, and have ever taught in your synagogues.

Jerome: It is folly then to seek with swords and staves Him who offers Himself to your hands, and with a traitor to hunt out, as though lurking under cover of night, one who is daily teaching in the temple.

Chrys.: They did not lay hands on Him in the temple because they feared the multitude, therefore also the Lord went forth that He might give them place and opportunity to take Him. This then teaches them, that if He had not suffered them of His own free choice, they would never have had strength to take Him. Then the Evangelist assigns the reason why the Lord was willing to be taken, adding, “All this was done that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled.”

Jerome: “They pierced my hands and my feet;” [Ps 22:16] and in another place, “He is led as a sheep to the slaughter;” and, “By the iniquities of my people was He led to death.” [Isa 53:7-8]

Remig.: For because all the Prophets had foretold Christ’s Passion, he does not cite any particular place, but says generally that the prophecies of all the Prophets were being fulfilled.

Chrys.: The disciples who had remained when the Lord was apprehended, fled when He spoke these things to the multitudes, “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled;” for they then understood that He could not escape but rather gave Himself up voluntarily.

Remig.: In this act is shewn the Apostles’ frailty; in the first ardour of their faith they had promised to die with Him, but in their fear they forgot their promise and fled. The same we may see in those who undertake to do great things for the love of God, but fail to fulfil what they undertake; they ought not to despair, but to rise again with the Apostles, and recover themselves by penitence.

Raban.: Mystically, As Peter, who by tears washed away the sin of his denial, figures the recovery of those who lapse in time of martyrdom; so the flight of the other disciples suggests the precaution of flight to such as feel themselves unfit to endure torments.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: “They that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the High Priest.” But He was first taken to Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, as John relates. And He was taken bound, there being with that multitude a tribune and cohort, as John also records. [John 18:12]

Jerome: But Josephus writes [ed. note: “Josephus (Ant. xviii. 3 and 4,) twice mentions this Caiaphas as the successor of Simon the son of Camithes, but we do not find that he purchased the High Priesthood of Herod.” Vallarsi.], that this Caiaphas had purchased the priesthood of a single year, notwithstanding that Moses, at God’s command, had directed that High Priests should succeed hereditarily, and that in the Priests likewise succession by birth should be followed up. No wonder then that an unrighteous High Priest should judge unrighteously.

Raban.: And the action suits his name; Caiaphas, i.e. ‘contriving,’ or, ‘politic,’ to execute his villainy; or ‘vomiting from his mouth,’ because of his audacity in uttering a lie, and bringing about the murder. They took Jesus thither, that they might do all advisedly; as it follows, “Where the Scribes and the Elders were assembled.”

Origen: Where Caiaphas the High Priest is, there are assembled the Scribes, that is, the men of the letter [marg. note: literati], who preside over the letter that killeth; and Elders, not in truth, but in the obsolete ancientness of the letter.

It follows, “Peter followed Him afar off,” He would neither keep close to Him, nor altogether leave Him, but “followed afar off.”

Chrys.: Great was the zeal of Peter, who fled not when He saw the others fly, but remained, and entered in. For though John also went in, yet he was known to the Chief Priest. He “followed afar off,” because he was about to deny his Lord.

Remig.: For had he kept close to his Lord’s side, he could never have denied Him. This also shews that Peter should follow his Lord’s Passion, that is, imitate it.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 46: And also that the Church should follow, i.e. imitate, the Lord’s Passion, but with great difference. For the Church suffers for itself, but Christ for the Church.

Jerome: He went in, either out of the attachment of a disciple, or natural curiosity, seeking to know what sentence the High Priest would pass, whether death, or scourging.

Ver  59. Now the Chief Priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;60. But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,61. And said, “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”62. And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, “Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?”63. But Jesus held his peace. And the High Priest answered and said unto him, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”64. Jesus saith unto him, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”65. Then the High Priest rent his clothes, saying, “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.66. What think ye?” They answered and said, He is guilty of death.67. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,68. Saying, “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?”

Chrys.: When the Chief Priests were thus assembled, this conventicle of ruffians sought to give their conspiracy the character of a legal trial. But it was entirely a scene of confusion and uproar, as what follows shews, “Though many false witnesses came, yet found they none.”

Origen: False witnesses have place when there is any good colour for their testimony. But no pretext was found which could further their falsehoods against Jesus; notwithstanding there were many desirous to do a favour to the Chief Priests. This then is a great testimony in favour of Jesus, that He had lived and taught so irreproachably, that though they were many, and crafty, and wicked, they could find no semblance of fault in Him.

Jerome: “At last came two false witnesses.” How are they false witnesses, when they repeat only what we read that the Lord spoke? A false witness is one who takes what is said in a different sense from that in which it was said. Now this the Lord had spoken of the temple of His Body, and they cavil at His expressions, and by a slight change and addition produce a plausible charge. The Lord’s words were, “Destroy this temple;” [John 2:19] this they make into, I can destroy the Temple of God. He said, “Destroy,” not, I will destroy, because it is unlawful to lay hands on ourselves.

Also they phrased it, “And build it again,” making it apply to the temple of the Jews; but the Lord had said, “And I will raise it up again,” thus clearly pointing out a living and breathing temple. For to build again, and to raise again, are two different things.

Chrys.: Why did they not bring forward now His breaking the Sabbath? Because He had so often confuted them on this point.

Jerome: Headlong and uncontrolled rage, unable to find even a false accusation, moves the High Priest from his throne, the motion of his body shewing the emotion of his mind.

“And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee?”

Chrys.: He said this with a design to draw from Him some indefensible answer which might be made a snare for Him. But “Jesus held his peace,” for defence had availed nothing when none would listen to it. For here was only a mockery of justice, it was in truth nothing more than the anarchy of a den of robbers.

Origen: This place teaches us to contemn the clamours of slanderers and false witnesses, and not to consider those who speak unbeseeming things of us worthy of an answer; but then, above all, when it is greater to be manfully and resolutely silent, than to plead our cause in vain.

Jerome: For as God, He knew that whatever He said would be twisted into an accusation against Him. But at this His silence before false witnesses and ungodly Priests, the High Priest was exasperated, and summons Him to answer, that from any thing He says he may raise a charge against Him.

Origen: Under the Law, we do indeed find many instances of this adjuration; but I judge that a man who would live according to the Gospel should not adjure another; for if we are not permitted to swear, surely not to adjure. [marg. note: Numb 5:19, 1 Ki 22:16]

But he that regards Jesus commanding the daemons, and giving His disciples power over them, will say, that to address the daemons by the power given by the Saviour, is not to adjure them. But the High Priest did sin in laying a snare for Jesus; imitating his father, who twice asked the Saviour, “If thou be Christ the Son of God.” Hence one might rightly say, that to doubt concerning the Son of God, whether Christ be He, is the work of the Devil. It was not fit that the Lord should answer the High Priest’s adjuration as though under compulsion, wherefore He neither denied nor confessed Himself to be the Son of God. For he was not worthy to be the object of Christ’s teaching, therefore He does not instruct him, but taking up his own words retorts them upon him. This sitting of the Son of Man seems to me to denote a certain regal security; by the power of God, Who is the only power, is He securely seated to Whom is given by His Father all power in heaven as in earth.

And there will come a time when the enemies shall see this establishment. Indeed this has begun to be fulfilled from the earliest time of the dispensation; for the disciples saw Him rising from the dead, and thereby saw Him seated on the right band of power.

Or, In respect of that eternity of duration which is with God, from the beginning of the world to the end of it is but one day; it is therefore no wonder that the Saviour here says, “Shortly,” signifying that there is but short time before the end come. He prophesies moreover, that they should not only see Him “sitting at the right hand of power,” but also “coming in the clouds of heaven.” These clouds are the Prophets and Apostles, whom He commands to rain when it is required, they are the clouds that pass not away, but “bearing the image of the heavenly,” [1 Cor 15:49] are worthy to be the throne of God, as “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” [Rom 8:17]

Jerome: The same fury which drew the High Priest from his seat, impels him now to rend his clothes; for so it was customary with the Jews to do whenever they heard any blasphemy, or any thing against God.

Chrys.: This He did to give weight to the accusation, and to confirm by deeds what He taught in words.

Jerome: And by this rending his garments, he shews that the Jews have lost the priestly glory, and that their High Priest’s throne was vacant. For by rending his garment he rent the veil of the Law which covered him.

Chrys.: Then, after rending his garment, he did not give sentence of himself, but asked of others, saying, “What think ye?” As was always done in undeniable cases of sin, and manifest blasphemy, and as by force driving them to a certain opinion, he anticipates the answer, “What need we any further witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.”

What was this blasphemy? For before He had interpreted to them as they were gathered together that text, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,” [Matt 22:44] and they had held their peace, and had not contradicted Him. How then do they call what He now says blasphemy? “They answered and said, He is guilty of death,” the same persons at once accusers, examiners, and sentencers.

Origen: How great their error! to pronounce the principle of all men’s life to be guilty of death, and not to acknowledge by  the testimony of the resurrection of so many, the Fount of life, from Whom life flows to all that rise again.

Chrys., Hom. lxxxv: As hunters who have started their game, so they exhibit a wild and drunken exultation.

Jerome: “They spit in his face, and buffeted him,” to fulfil the prophecy of Esaias, “I gave my cheek to the smiters, and turned not away my face from shame and spitting.” [Isa 50:6]

Gloss., ord.: “Prophesy unto us” is said in ridicule of His claim to be held as a Prophet by the people.

Jerome: But it would have been foolish to have answered them that smote Him, and to have declared the smiter, seeing that in their madness they seem to have struck Him openly.

Chrys.: Observe how circumstantially the Evangelist recounts all those particulars even which seem most disgraceful, hiding or extenuating nothing, but thinking it the highest glory that the Lord of the earth should endure such things for us. This let us read continually, let us imprint in our minds, and in these things let us boast.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 44: That, “they did spit in his face,” signifies those who reject His proffered grace. They likewise buffet Him who prefer their own honour to Him; and they smite Him on the face, who, blinded with unbelief, affirm that He is not yet come, disowning and rejecting His person.

Ver  69. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, “Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.”70. But he denied before them all, saying, “I know not what thou sayest.”71. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.”72. And again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the man.”73. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, “Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.”74. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying,  “I know not the Man.” And immediately the cock crew.75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: Among the other insults offered to our Lord was the threefold denial of Peter, which the several Evangelists relate in different order. Luke puts Peter’s trial first, and the ill-usage of the Lord after that; Matthew and Mark reverse the order.

Jerome: “Peter sat without,” that he might see the event, and not excite suspicion by any approach to Jesus.

Chrys.: And he, who, when he saw his Master laid hands on, drew his sword and cut off the ear, now when he sees Him enduring such insults becomes a denier, and cannot withstand the taunts of a mean servant girl.

“A damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.”

Raban.: What means this, that a handmaid is the first to tax him, when men would be more likely to recognise him, except that this sex might seem to sin somewhat in the Lord’s death, that they might be redeemed by His passion? “He denied before them all,” because he was afraid to reveal himself; that he said, “I know not,” shews that he was not yet willing to die for the Saviour.

Leo, Serm. 60, 4: For this reason it should seem he was permitted to waver, that the remedy of penitence might be exhibited in the head of the Church, and that none should dare to trust in his own strength, when even the blessed Peter could not escape the danger of frailty.

Chrys.: But not once, but twice and thrice did he deny within a short time.

Aug.: We understand that having gone out after his first denial, the cock crowed the first time as Mark relates.

Chrys.: To shew that the sound did not keep him from denial, nor bring his promise to mind.

Aug.: The second denial was not outside the door, but after he had returned to the fire; for the second maid did not see him after he had gone out, but as he was going out; his getting up to go out drew her attention, and she said to them that were there, that is, to those that were standing round the fire in the hall, “The fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He who had gone out, having heard this returned, that he might by denial vindicate himself. Or, as is more likely, he did not hear what was said of him as he went out, but it was after he came back that the maid, and the other man whom Luke mentions, said to him, “And thou also art one of them.”

Jerome: “And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.” I know that some out of a feeling of piety towards the Apostle Peter have interpreted this place to signify that Peter denied the Man and not the God, as though he meant, ‘I do not know the Man, because I know the God.’ But the intelligent reader will see that this is trifling, for if he denied not, the Lord spoke falsely when He said, “Thou shalt deny me thrice.”

[ed. note: e.g. S. Ambrose (in Luc.) says, He well denied him as man, for he knew him as God.” And S. Hilary, (in loc.) “Almost without sin did he now deny the man, who had been the first to acknowledge him as Son of God; yet seeing through infirmity of the flesh, he had at least doubted, he therefore wept bitterly when he remembered that he had not been able, even after warning, to avoid the sin of that fearfulness.”]

Ambrose, in Luc., 22, 57: I had rather that Peter deny, than that the Lord be made out false.

Raban.: In this denial of Peter we affirm that Christ is denied not only by him who denies that He is Christ, but who denies himself to be a Christian.

Aug.: Let us now come to the third denial; “And after a while came they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them,” (Luke’s words are, “About the space of one hour after, [Luke 22:59]) for thy speech bewrayeth thee.”

Jerome: Not that Peter was of a different speech or nation, but a Hebrew as his accusers were; but every province and every district has its peculiarities, and he could not disguise his native pronunciation.

Remig.: Observe how baneful are communications with evil men; they even drove Peter to deny the Lord whom be had before confessed to be the Son of God.

Raban.: Observe, that he said the first time, “I know not what thou sayest;” the second time, “He denied with an oath;” the third time, “He began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man.” For to persevere in sinning increases sinfulness, and he who disregards light sins, falls into greater.

Remig.: Spiritually; By Peter’s denial before the cock-crow, are denoted those who before Christ’s resurrection did not believe Him to be God, being perplexed by His death. In his denial after the first cock-crow, are denoted those who are in error concerning both Christ’s natures, His human and divine. By the first handmaid is signified desire; by the second, carnal delight; by them that stood by, the daemons; for by them men are led to a denial of Christ.

Origen: Or, By the first handmaid is understood the Synagogue of the Jews, which oft compelled the faithful to deny; by the second, the congregations of the Gentiles, who even persecuted the Christians; they that stood in the hall signify the ministers of divers heresies, who also compel men to deny the truth of Christ.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 45: Also Peter thrice denied, because heretical error concerning Christ is limited to three kinds; they are in error respecting His divinity, His humanity, or both.

Raban.: After the third denial comes the cock-crow; by which we may understand a Doctor of the Church who with chiding rouses the slumbering, saying, “Awake, ye righteous, and sin not.” [1 Cor 15:14] Thus Holy Scripture uses to denote the merit of divers cases [marg. note: meritum causarum] by fixed periods, as Peter sinned at midnight and repented at cock-crow.

Jerome: In another Gospel we read, that after Peter’s denial and thee cock-crow, the Saviour “looked upon Peter,” [Luke 22,61] and by His look called forth those bitter tears; for it might not be that he on whom the Light of the world had looked should continue in the darkness of denial, wherefore, “he went out, and wept bitterly.” For he could not do penitence sitting in Caiaphas’ hall, but went forth from the assembly of the wicked, that he might wash away in bitter tears the pollution of his timid denial.

Leo, Serm. 60, 4: Blessed tears, O holy Apostle, which had the virtue of holy Baptism in washing off the sin of thy denial. The right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ was with thee to hold thee up before thou wast quite thrown down, and in the midst of thy perilous fall, thou receivedst strength to stand. The Rock quickly returned to its stability, recovering so great fortitude, that he who in Christ’s passion had quailed, should endure his own subsequent suffering with fearlessness and constancy.

Proceed to Post 2.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on JOhn 12:12-16 for the Procession with Palms (Palm Sunday)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 27, 2012

Joh 12:12  And on the next day, a great multitude that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Joh 12:13  Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him and cried Hosanna. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.

The multitudes, being more obedient and yielding to the effect of the sign, went to meet the Christ, hymning Him as One Who had conquered death, and carrying palm branches. And they do not praise Him with ordinary language, but quote from the inspired Scripture that which was beautifully spoken with regard to Him; confessing that He was indeed King of Israel, Whom also they called specially their own King, accepting the lordship of the Christ. And the Son, they say, is Blessed: not because He Who blesseth all things and guards them from destruction, and Who is of the ineffable Essence of the Father, receives the blessing which comes from the Father; but because the blessing which is due to One Who is God and Lord by Nature is offered to Him from us, inasmuch as He came in the Name of the Lord. For all the saints did not come with the authority of lordship, but as trusted servants; This One, on the contrary, as Lord. Wherefore the prophetic language was quoted very suitably with regard to Him. For indeed some are called lords, who are not such by nature, but have the honourable name granted to them by favour. As also, to take another case, men are called “true,” when they abstain from falsehood: but this is not the thing to say with regard to Christ; for He is not called “Truth” for the reason that He does not speak falsely, but because He has that Nature which is altogether superior to falsehood.

Joh 12:14  And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it, as it is written:
Joh 12:15  Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

For when a great multitude were escorting Him like a body-guard and shouting His praises, with the most perfect self-restraint He seated Himself upon an ass, teaching |142 us not to be lifted up by praises, and omitting no necessary thing. Matthew therefore related at greater length the circumstances concerning the ass; but John comes at once to the point of the affair that was most suited to the occasion, as it is his custom to do. And since, contrary to His usual habits, on this occasion only, Christ appears seated on an ass, we do not say that He so sat for the reason that it was a long distance to the city; for it was not more than fifteen furlongs off: nor because there was a multitude; for it is certain that on other occasions when He was found with a multitude He did not do this: but He does so, to indicate that He is about to make subject to Himself as a new people the unclean among the Gentiles, and to lead them up to the prerogative of righteousness, and to the Jerusalem above, of which the earthly is a type; into which this people being made clean shall enter with Christ, Who will be hymned by the guileless angels, of whom the babes are a type. And He calls the ass a colt, because the people of the Gentiles had been untrained to the piety which faith produces.

Joh 12:16  These things his disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him and that they had done these things to him.

At first therefore they were ignorant that these words had been written with regard to Him; but after the Resurrection, they did not continue to suffer from the Jewish blindness, but the knowledge of the Divine words was revealed to them through the Spirit. And then was the Christ glorified, when after being crucified He came to life again. And the Evangelist does not blush to mention the ignorance of the disciples, and again their knowledge, since his object was, to take no heed of respect for men, but to plead for the glory of the Spirit; and to show what sort of men the disciples were before the Resurrection, and what sort of men they became after the Resurrection. If therefore these disciples were ignorant, how much more |143 were the other Jews. And after He was crucified, the veil was rent, in order that we may know that nothing any longer remains hidden and concealed from the faithful and godly. They were enlightened therefore with knowledge from the time of the Resurrection, when the Christ breathed into their face, and they became different from the rest of men. And to a still greater extent they were enlightened on the Day of Pentecost, when they were transformed into the power of the Holy Spirit Who came upon them.

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