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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 14:21-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 5, 2012

Joh 14:21  He that hath my commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.

He that hath My commandments, &c. As the Gloss says, not only you, 0 ye Apostles, but every one who loveth Me, and keepeth My commandments, shall live and know. Toletus understands this of the ordinary believers, who besides the Apostles in the time of Christ believed on Him, that these were here exhorted to persevere in His faith, love, and obedience. That in so doing they would in return be loved by Him and the Father, and that He would show Himself to them, when He rose again gloriously from the dead. This meaning is true, but too restricted. For Christ is speaking to all the faithful of every age. The meaning is, he that hath My commandments, i.e., he who keeps in his memory and affection the precepts which he has heard of Me, and keepeth them, i.e., fulfils them in deed; he who, as S. Augustine says, keeps them in his life and in his works, and perseveres in so doing, he it is who loveth Me, because he does what is pleasing to Me, what I love and desire to be done by him. A similar phrase occurs in chap. v. 38, Ye have not My word abiding in you. For as S. Gregory says, “The proof of love is the exhibition of work. The love of God is never lazy. If it exists, it worketh great things. But if there be refusal to work, love is not there.”

And he that loveth Me, &c. Because My commandments are the commandments of the Father. Wherefore he who keepeth them, reverences and loves the Father, and does what is most pleasing to Him. Hence he draws His love upon him in return. Loving God the Father, he is beloved by Him. Love is the magnet of love. But here observe, we do not first love God, but God us, and so He inspires us with grace, by which we love Him in return. And if we accept this His love, and begin to love Him, He the more loves us, and pours greater grace and charity upon us.

And I will love him, not only as God, for so I will love him with the same love as the Father: but even as man I will proceed to love him, and to accumulate gifts and graces upon him. As S. Augustine says, “To this end I will love that I may manifest (Myself). Not indeed that He did not love then. He loved us to this end, that we should believe, then that we should see. Now we love by believing in what we shall see, then we shall love by seeing that which we have believed.”

And will manifest Myself to him, by a deeper knowledge from day to day of My mysteries and gifts, not only speculative but practical and experimental knowledge, by which the saints taste and have experience of Christ how sweet He, the Lord, is: and therefore they burst forth in pious affections of gratitude, love, and praise, as S. Paul does in 1Cor 11, and elsewhere. But, above all, this shall take place in heaven.

Joh 14:22  Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?

Judas saith to him, &c. This was Thaddæus, the brother of James the less, the author of the Epistle of Jude. Wherefore is it? The Vulg. has quid factum? which is a literal rendering of the Hebrew expression me haia, i.e., why was it? When Jesus said, The world seeth me no more, but you see me (vs. 19), He spoke of His death and His resurrection, by which He would appear again to His Apostles, but not to the worldly and unbelieving Jews. But Judas did not understand these words, and asked that they might be explained. He asks the reason, says S. Augustine, wherefore He will not manifest Himself to the world, but only to His own. The Lord answers him, Because these love, but the others do not love. Judas uses the word manifest, because Christ had just used the same expression, saying, I will manifest Myself to him. This word therefore dwelt in Judas’ mind, though he is referring to previous words of Christ.

Joh 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him.

Jesus answered, &c. As if He said, “Do not suppose, 0 Judas, that I will appear to thee alone and thy fellow-Apostles after My resurrection, as if the fruit of My life and passion were restricted to you only and the few others, to whom I shall visibly appear. I shall appear, though invisibly, to all those who throughout the world shall receive My faith and doctrine by means of the preaching of thyself and the rest of the Apostles, and shall love and keep it.”

And We will come to Him, I and My Father, and consequently the Holy Ghost. For where there is one Divine Person there are the other two. He means, Be it that after My resurrection I shall appear visibly to you alone, invisibly I shall come by My grace to all the faithful who believe in Me. And as I will come, so also My Father and the Holy Spirit will come to them. And we will dwell in their souls as in our house and temple.

Observe, God, who is everywhere, and therefore immovable, is said to come and abide, not by change of place, but by the fresh working which He effects in such and such a place. So He is here said to come to the faithful and the just by grace and a fresh operation, because He preserves them, and furthers them in justice, and He assists and co-operates with their own free will. For He prevents their understanding with His illumination, and their will by pious affections, by which He impels them to good works, even such as are arduous, and by His concurring grace He labours with them for this accomplishment.

Hear S. Augustine, “Love, which makes men to dwell with one mind in a house, separates the saints from the world. In that house the Father and the Son, who giveth the gift of love, make their dwelling-place. They come to us whilst we come to them. They come by assisting, enlightening, filling. We come by obeying, beholding, receiving.”

Lastly, thus piously writes S. Bernard (Serm. 3, de Advent.), “Blessed is he with whom Thou wilt make Thine abode, 0 Lord Jesu; blessed is he in whom Wisdom builds herself a house, hewing out her seven pillars; blessed is the soul which is the seat of wisdom. What is that soul? It is the soul of the just. Rightly so, for judgment and justice are the preparation of Thy seat. Who is there among you, brethren, who desires to prepare in his soul a seat for Christ? Lo! what are the silks, the tapestry, the cushions, which ought to be prepared? Justice and judgment, He says, are the preparation of Thy seat. Justice is the virtue which is His very own, and which He gives to each. Render thus to each of the three classes of thy superiors, thy equals, thy inferiors, what is due to each. Thus shalt thou worthily celebrate the coming of Christ, and prepare His seat in justice.”

Tropologically, God the Holy Trinity comes to the three faculties of the soul, which He created after His own image, that He may inhabit them, renewing in them His image depraved by concupiscences. To the Father is appropriated memory, because He from fruitful memory conceiving all things, produced the Word, and begat the Son. To the Son is appropriated the understanding, because by the understanding He was begotten, as it were the word of the mind, the idea, image and pattern of all things. To the Holy Spirit is appropriated the will, because He Himself proceeds by the action of the will, i e., the love of the Father and the Son, as it were the love and bond of union of both. The Father therefore reforms the memory when He blots out of it the appearances of vanity, and brings into it the appearances of divine things, so that it should remember only God, His worship and His love. The Son reforms the understanding, so that it should think only of the things which pertain to salvation and holiness. The Holy Spirit reforms the will, so that it should love and desire the same. Wherefore a holy soul continually reflects that it is a temple of the Holy Trinity, as it is said in 2 Cor. vi., “Ye are the temple of the living God.”

There were in the ancient Temple three vessels of service—the altar for burning incense, the candelabrum with its seven burning lamps, and the table of shewbread. There should be in like manner in a holy soul an altar of prayer, breathing out holy praises and pious desires to God. There ought to be a candelabrum brightly shining with the seven gifts of the holy Ghost. And there ought to be a table of beneficence and charity. Then will come to pass that which is written in the Apocalypse, (Rev 21:3), “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself with them shall be their God.” See S. Bernard (Serm. 27, in Cant.) where he teaches that a holy soul is a heaven in which shine the sun of charity, the moon of continence, the stars of the other virtues.

Joh 14:24  He that loveth me not keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me.

He that loveth Me not, &c. The reason then why any one does not keep God’s commandments is because he loveth not God.

And the word which you have heard is not Mine, &c. Listen to S. Augustine, “He said that the word was not His, but the Father’s, intending Himself to be understood, who is the Word, the Image and the Son of the Father. Rightly does He attribute to the Originator what the equal does, from whom the equal has that He is an equal.”

Joh 14:25  These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you.
Joh 14:26  But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

Vers. 25, 26.—These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send, &c. Thus should this passage be pointed with the Roman, Greek, Arabic, and Syriac Versions. Less appropriately S. Chrysostom connects the words, remaining with you with the Paraclete, as though it were meant, “I go away, but the Holy Ghost will remain with you in My place.” But the words should be referred to Christ who went before. He means, “These things which thus far ye have heard from My mouth I have spoken unto you, and taught you, whilst I remained with you, but I know that, either through your own ignorance, or through the strangeness and sublimity of the things which I have spoken, many are not received or understood by you. I will cause therefore that the Father will send you the Holy Ghost, as a Paraclete, i.e. an Instructor and Comforter, who will bring back to your memory, and explain to you all these things which I have said unto you. By His illuminations ye will easily understand all things. He will comfort you when you are sad at My departure, and will strengthen you under the persecution of the Jews, or any other tribulations. That the Holy Ghost did this is seen by the earlier chapters of the Acts of the Apostles and elsewhere. As S. Chrysostom says, “He frequently speaks of the Comforter because of their sadness.”

Whom the Father will send in My name, i.e., says S. Cyril, through Me, because the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Wherefore the Father with the Son, or through the Son, as He breathes, so also He sends the Holy Ghost. 2d. In My name, i.e., for My sake, and because of My merits. 3d. In My name, i.e., for Me in My place, that He may finish My work which I have begun, and by the preaching of the Apostles may disseminate My faith, My doctrine, My Church throughout all nations.

He will teach you all things, which pertain to my advent and Incarnation. All things which are necessary for the foundation, instruction, establishment of the Church. Listen to Didymus (lib. de Spir. Sanc.)—”He shall teach the perfect in the faith of Christ spiritual and intellectual sacraments. But He shall teach by infusing invisibly the knowledge of Divine things into the soul.” And Augustine—”The Son speaketh not without the Holy Ghost: neither doth the Holy Ghost teach without the Son, but the Trinity speaketh and teacheth all things. But unless separate mention were made of each Person, human weakness could not receive these things.”

And bring all things to your mind (suggest, Vulg.) Greek, ύπομνήσει, i.e., shall bring back to memory. So Cyril, Augustine, &c. Wherefore from this passage S. Augustine takes notice that the external voice of an apostle or preacher does not suffice for the understanding or reception of the thing preached, but that this is the work of the Holy Ghost, who inwardly enlightens the mind to understand those things, and inclines the will to embrace them, and strengthens the memory to retain them. An orthodox doctor teaches this. Theophylact says, “The Holy Ghost taught all that Christ had not said to them, as not being able to bear it. Also He brought to mind what the Lord had said, but which they, through its obscurity or the dulness of their understanding, had been unable to remember.”

2 Responses to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 14:21-26”

  1. […] 6 2012 A Practical Commentary on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 Cornelius a Lapide's Commentary on John 15:1-8Cornelius a Lapide's Commentary on John 14:21-26My Notes on Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25 « Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on […]

  2. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 14:21-26). […]

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