Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 12:12-16 for the Procession of the Palms
Posted by Dim Bulb on March 27, 2012
Actually, this post is on verses 12-19.
Ver 12. On the next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,13. Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.14. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,15. Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, your King comes, sitting on an ass’s colt.16. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him.17. The people therefore that were with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record.18. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.19. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.
CHRYS. The Law enjoined, that on the tenth day of the first month a lamb or a kid should be shut up in the house, and be kept to the fourteenth day of the same month, on the evening of which day it was sacrificed. In accordance with this law, the Elect Lamb, the Lamb without spot, when He went up to Jerusalem to be immolated for the sanctification of the people, went up five days before, i.e. on the tenth day.
AUG. See how great was the fruit of His preaching and how large a flock of the lost sheep of the house of Israel heard the voice of their Shepherd: On the next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, tookbranches of palm trees. The branches of palms are songs of praise, for the victory which our Lord was about to obtain by Hisdeath over death, and His triumph over the devil, the prince of death, by the trophy of the cross.
CHRYS. They showed now at last that they thought Him greater than a prophet: And went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that comes in the name of the Lord.
AUG. Hosanna is a simple exclamation, rather indicating some excitement of the mind, than having any particular meaning; like many interjections that we have in Latin.
BEDE. It is a compound of two words; Hosi is shortened into save; Anna a mere exclamation, complete. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord here is the name of God the Father; though we may understand it as His own name; inasmuch as He also is the Lord. But the former sense agrees better with the text above, I am come in My Father’s name. He does not lose His divinity, when He teaches us humility.
CHRYS. This is what more than anything made men believe in Christ, viz. the assurance, that He was not opposed to God, that He came from the Father. The words show us the divinity of Christ. Hosanna is, Save us; and salvation in Scripture is attributed to God alone. And comes, it is said, not is brought: the former befits a lord, the latter a servant. In the name of the Lord, goes to prove the same thing. He does not come in the name of a servant, but in the name of the Lord.
AUG. It were a small thing to the King eternal to be made a human king. Christ was not the King of Israel, to exact tribute, and command armies, but to direct souls, and bring them to the kingdom of heaven. For Christ then to be King of Israel, w as a condescension, not an elevation, a sign of His pity, not an increase of His power. For He who was as called on earth the King of the Jews, is in heaven the King of Angels.
THEOPHYL. The Jews, when they called Him King of Israel, dreamed of an earthly king. They expected a king to arise, of more than human greatness, who would deliver them from the government of the Romans. But how did our Lord come? The next words tell us; And Jesus when He had found a. young ass, sat thereon.
AUG. John relates the matter briefly, the other Evangelists are more full. The ass, we read in them, was the foal of an ass on which no man had sat: i.e. the Gentile world, who had not received our Lord. The other ass, which was brought, (not the foal, for there were two,) is the believing Jew.
CHRYS. He did this prophetically, to figure the unclean Gentiles being brought into subjection to the Gospel; and also as a fulfillment of prophecy.
AUG. This act of our Lord’s is pointed to in the Prophets, though the malignant rulers of the Jews did not see in it any fulfillment of prophecy: As it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Sion, behold your King comes sitting on an ass’s colt.” Yea, in that nation though reprobate, though blind, there remained still the daughter of Sion; even Jerusalem. To her it is said, Fear not, acknowledge Him whom you praise, and tremble not when He suffers. That blood it is which shall wipe away your sins, and redeem your life
CHRYS. Or thus: Whereas they had had wicked kings, who had subjected them to wars, He said to them, Trust Me, I am not such as they, but gentle and mild: which He showed by the manner of His entrance. For He did not enter at the head of an army, but simply riding on an ass. And observe the philosophy of the Evangelist, who is not ashamed of confessing his ignorance at the time of what these things meant:These things understood not the disciple at the first, but when Jesus was glorified.
AUG. i.e. When He showed the power of His resurrection, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him, i.e. those things that were written of Him.
CHRYS. Our Lord had not then revealed these things to them. Indeed it would have been a scandal to them had they known Him to be King at the time of His sufferings. Nor would they have understood the nature of His kingdom, but have mistaken it for a temporal one.
THEOPHYL. See then the consequences of our Lord’s passion. It was not to no purpose that He had reserved His greatest miracle for the last. For the resurrection of Lazarus it was that made the crowd believe in Him. The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record.
For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.
Hence the spite and plotting of the Pharisees: The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? behold the world is gone after Him.
AUG. The crowd was disturbed by the crowd. But why grudge that blind crowd, that the world should go after Him, by Whom the world was made?
CHRYS. The world means here the crowd. This seems to be the speech of that part who were sound in their faith, but dared not profess it. They try to deter the rest by exposing the insuperable difficulties they would have to contend with.
THEOPHYL. As if they said, The more you attack Him, the more will His power and reputation increase. What use then of these attempts?