The Divine Lamp

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Archive for March 18th, 2013

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 12:10-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

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.

Went away-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.”

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.
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.
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.

On the next day, i.e. on Palm Sunday, five days before the Passover; the tenth day of the month Nizan, on which day the Lamb (the type of Christ) was to be procured, and on the fourteenth to be brought to Jerusalem. (Exo 12:3.) See notes to Matt 21:7.

Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him. Upon hearing that Jesus was approaching Jerusalem a great crowd comes forth, apparently from that city (cf. Jn 11:55-56), to greet him with shouts of “Hosanna” (Greek: ὡσαννά, Hebrew: נא  ישׁע “save us, we pray”). They are hailing him as a conquering, military messiah and acting accordingly. The phrase took branches (τα βαια) is found in the Greek Septuagint only in 1 Macc 13:51  where the people celebrate Simon Maccabeus’ taking of the Citadel in Jerusalem. From that time forward the palm branch became associated with the nationalistic militarism of the Maccabean age. Indeed, shortly after the capture of the citadel, the Maccabees began to mint coins bearing the image of the palm branch with an inscription reading, “For the Liberation of Israel.”

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.The first part of this acclamation, and the earlier cry of “hosanna,”  come from Psalm 118:25-26 which many scholars think was a thanksgiving hymn for a victory. The phrase “king of Israel” is from Zephaniah 3:14-15 which refers to the the King of Israel (i.e., the Lord’s) removal of judgement and enemies from his people.

And (δε) Jesus found a young ass. The Greek particle here translated as “and” (δε) should be translated as “but,” for it intends to draw a contrast and separation between Jesus action and the people’s words and actions. Jesus is protesting the crowds understanding of his kingship (see Jesus’ reaction to the people attempt to make him king in John 6:14-15). Jesus’ sitting upon the animal fulfills a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9~Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.  Jesus here imitates the leaders of old who rode on asses and blessed the Lord for his just deeds (not for the leaders military prowess!) which brought freedom to Israel (see Judges 5:9-11).

The context of Zechariah 9:9 is important for John, for the text goes on to say of the King of Israel (the Lord): he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth (Zech 9:10). Jesus’ peace and power will find effect among the Gentiles not by military conquest, but by his death (see Jesus’ response to hearing the Greeks want to speak with him in John 12:20-26. See also his words “when I am lifted up,” by being crucified, “I will draw all men to myself” John 12:32).

Joh 12:17  The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with him, when he called Lazarus out of the grave and raised him from the dead.

The multitude therefore gave testimony, &c., to the raising of Lazarus. This group of people is apparently different than the one mentioned in verse 12 as coming out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus (see the next verse).

Joh 12:18  For which reason also the people came to meet him, because they heard that he had done this miracle.

The people who were present at the raising of Lazarus spread abroad the miracle, affirming that they had seen it. And the strangeness of it so excited the people (i.e., the pilgrims already in Jerusalem) that they ran in crowds to meet Jesus, and to hail Him as the Messiah.

Joh 12:19  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after him.

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how that ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him. This is an hyperbole. But a large body, of every age, sex, and rank had gone after Him, old and young, Jews and Gentiles. S. Cyril observes that the Pharisees tacitly prophesied that all the world would be converted to Christ, though they themselves did not understand this.

S. Chrysostom and Theophylact consider that they who spoke thus were believers in Christ, or anyhow disposed to believe in Him, and that they addressed in these words those who disbelieved in Him.

But S. Cyril, Euthymius, and others, think that they were unbelievers, and enemies of Christ, explaining it thus:—We have all of us decided to put Jesus to death. Why do we delay? We have gained nothing by it. It would have been far better, if we had put Him to death at once, before His party had increased, and become so well known. What now is our course of duty? To carry out our intention as quickly as possible. Why do we delay? lf we delay much longer all will go after Him. We shall be beaten by numbers, unless we prevail by craft.

Joh 12:20  Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day.

Now there were certain Greeks, &c. Some strangely suppose these to have been Jews who lived among the Gentiles, when S. John expressly says that they were Gentiles. These were partly proselytes, who had already embraced Judaism, or at least were thinking about it (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius), and partly Gentiles, who believed that there was One God, and who on seeing Him worshipped so reverently in the Temple, and by such multitudes at the Passover, resolved to do the same, being specially attracted by the fame of Christ’s holiness and miracles, and being desirous of seeing Him. So S. Cyril, Leontius, and Theophylact. Just as the Eunuch of Queen Candace went up to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27); and Gentile kings also reverenced the Temple of Jerusalem and sent offerings to it, as Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 1. and 6.), Seleucus, and other kings of Asia (2 Macc 3:3). The word here translated as “now” is the Greek participle δε which, as mentioned earlier in relation to verse 14, is intended to provide a contrast. The fact that the “whole world”, Jew and Greek, are flocking to Jesus does not sit well with the Pharisees whose animosity stands in marked contrast to the desire of the Greeks.

Joh 12:21  These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus.

They went to Philip, in preference to the other Apostles, either because he was known to them, or was the first they met, or because in his voice and bearing he exhibited greater affability and candour, which attracted all men to him. For they did not venture as Gentiles to approach Jesus Himself, a person of such great holiness, and a Prophet, and moreover a Jew, say S. Cyril, Chrysostom, and Leontius. They request Philip therefore to mediate in their behalf. It is interesting to note that Philip and Andrew (see next verse) both have Greek names. Both foreshadow the mission of the Church in chapter one. There we see Andrew bringing his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus (Jn 1:40-41), and Philip inviting Nathaniel to “come and see” concerning Jesus (Jn 1:45-47). In John 6:5-9 Philip and Andrew are also closely connected to one another.

Joh 12:22  Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Andrew had the greater authority with Jesus, as having been the first called, and as having brought to Him his brother Peter. Having consulted together, they mention the whole matter to Jesus before introducing the Gentiles: for they had heard Jesus say, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt 10:5). Andrew took the initiative in the testing of Philip in John 6:5-9 and it may very well be that this accounts for Philip’s approaching Andrew first.

Joh 12:23  But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.

But Jesus answered them, &c. Do not drive away the Gentiles from me, but bring them to me. What I said before was at the beginning of my preaching, which was intended for the Jews only; but now, when my preaching as well as my life is coming to an end, and the Jews reject my preaching, I will pass over to the Gentiles. For the hour is coming, when I shall be glorified, not only by the Jews, but also by the Gentiles, throughout the whole world; I shall be acknowledged, that is, as the Messiah and the Saviour, and worshipped and adored by means of your preaching in every place. Once again John employs the Greek particle δε, drawing a contrast between his words and the actions of the two disciples. The action of Philip implied reticence, perhaps also shared by Andrew. The fact that they themselves were probably thinking of Jesus in terms of a military messiah may be behind their reluctance to fulfill the Greek’s request (recall that in Jn 12:16 the disciples did not understand Jesus prophetic action in riding the ass, and notice that these two disciples did not bring the Greek’s with them when they approached Jesus).

Moreover, the glorification of Christ is the glorification of all Christians. For S. Augustine says (Serm. clxxvi. de temp.)—The Death of Christ hath quickened us; His Resurrection hath raised us up; His Ascension hath dedicated us; and (Serm. clxxxiv.) the Lord Jesus Christ ascends, the Holy Spirit descends [Both these, not S. Augustine].

Joh 12:24  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die,

 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat, &c.  Christ teaches us that His glorification would come to Him through the death of the Cross, lest the Apostles and the faithful should be offended at it. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “Jesus by this meant Himself. For He was the grain of wheat which had to die, and be multiplied; to die through the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied by the faith of all people.” This means, that as a grain of wheat thrown into the ground does not germinate except it die, but if it die it germinates and brings forth much fruit; so, in like manner, I must needs die, that by the merits and through the example of my death, I may bring forth many eminent and striking fruits of virtue and faith: I mean the many thousands of Martyrs, Virgins, Doctors, and Confessors, all over the world in the present and future ages. This also comes to pass in the death of Martyrs, when one dies, and many spring up in his place, and embrace the faith of Christ. The Church reads this passage on the Feast of S. Lawrence, and other Martyrs. Tertullian truly says (in fin. Apol.), “The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church,” and adds, “Torture us, rack us, condemn us, crush us: your iniquity is the proof of our innocence.” And again, “The more exquisite your cruelty, the more does it attract to our sect; we increase in number the oftener you mow us down.” S. Gregory (Dialog. lib. iii. cap. 39) gives a remarkable instance in S. Hermengild. He was killed by his father Leovigild, an Arian king, and thus won the king himself and his brother Recared, and the whole nation of the Visigoths, to the orthodox faith. “One, then,” says S. Gregory, “died in that nation, that many might live; and while one grain fell to the ground in faith, to win the faith of souls, an abundant harvest sprang up.”

Anagogically: Bede says, “Jesus was sown of the seed of the Patriarchs, on the field of this world, that is, He was incarnate: He died Himself alone, He arose in company with many.” Hear S. Bernard (Serm. xv. in Cant.), “Let the grain die; let the harvest of the Gentiles spring up. It was needful that Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name, not to Judea only, but to all nations; to the end that from that one Name of Christ thousands of thousands should be called Christians, and say ‘Thy Name is as ointment poured forth.’” (Song 1:3).

Joh 12:25  Itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.

He that loveth his life, &c. He that so preferreth his life to my Faith and its profession, as rather to deny the Faith than lose his life, shall incur eternal death. But he who hateth his life, so as to prefer losing it to losing the Faith, will live in eternal happiness in heaven. Again, the same is true of those who prefer their own evil desires to my Law: and of those who hate their life by resisting its desires which are contrary to God’s Law, and thus keep it unto life eternal. Such as Martyrs, Anchorites, “Religious,” and all other holy people. Either meaning is suitable, and was intended by Christ. Both meanings are conjoined by SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. For Christ foresaw that the Apostles, and Christians in general, would after His death suffer persecution, and accordingly He here wished to forewarn and forearm them. Again, Christ wished to teach all Christians, that they should constantly resist all evil desires and strive against them. (See Gal 5:17; Matt 10:39, Matt 16:25; Sirach18:30. See notes on this last passage.)

But the Circumcelliones misinterpreted this passage, for, as S. Augustine testifies (in loc), they used to kill themselves in order to obtain the eternal life here promised by Christ. For it is one thing to hate one’s life, and another to make away with it, an act forbidden by every law.

Lastly, hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “He that loveth his life shall lose it. Which can be understood in two ways. He who loves will lose; i.e., if thou lovest, thou wilt lose: if thou wishest to have life in Christ, fear not to die for Christ. Or, in the other sense, love not thy life, lest thou lose it,—love it not in this life, lest thou lose it in life eternal. This latter meaning more accords with the mind of the Gospel.” And a few sentences after, “A great and marvellous saying, that a man should so love his life as to lose it, and so hate it as not to lose it. If thou hast loved it ill, then dost thou hate it; if thou hast hated it rightly, then hast thou loved it. Happy they who hate their souls and keep them, that they lose them not by loving them.” And then he concludes, “When therefore it comes to the point, that we must either do contrary to the commandment of God, or else depart this life, and a man is obliged to choose either the one or the other, when the persecutor threatens his death, let him rather choose to die through loving God, than to die through offending Him. Let him hate his life in this world, that he may keep it unto life eternal.” Hear S. Chrysostom, “He loves his life in this world, who obeys its unseemly desires. He hates it, who yields not to its hurtful desires. He says ‘hate’ because as we cannot bear to hear the voice of those we hate, so should a soul resolutely turn away from one who wishes what is contrary to God.” And Theophylact adds (by way of consolation, and as knowing how grievous it is to hate one’s soul), “In this world,” indicating the shortness of the time, and speaking of the eternal reward. S. Chrysostom adds, “that Christ, when He saw that His disciples would be saddened at his death, raised up their thoughts to higher things, as if He said —If ye will not bear my death manfully, no benefit will accrue to you unless ye die yourselves. These words of Christ are an axiom, and a summary of a Christian’s life. It is the root and foundation of all virtues, which are deduced from it, as conclusions from their premises. He therefore who wishes to become specially learned and perfect in the school of Christ, should constantly ruminate on this saying, weigh it, impress it on his will and carry it out in act, try all his actions by it as a touchstone, adapt and conform himself to it. For thus will he become a pre-eminently true disciple and follower of Christ, and in return for this brief life which he counts but nought, will obtain the joys of life eternal.

Joh 12:26  If any man minister to me, let him follow me: and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.

If any man minster to  Me, let him follow Me. “Let him imitate Me by death and mortification, and by good works,” says S. Chrysostom, “walk in my ways, and not his own, and not seeking his own, but the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Phil 2:21); and whatever good he does, either in temporal or spiritual things, doing it for Him.”

And where I am, there also shall my minister be. “Behold the fruit and the reward,”  S. Augustine proceeds; “He is loved freely, and the reward of His ministration is to be with Him, to be adopted by Him to whom he is united, in heaven, i.e. in the vision and possession of God, in happiness and joy eternal.” So S. Chrysostom. See notes on Luke 22:7.

If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour, with heavenly honour, before the angels and the whole world. He says not, “I will honour him, for they had not yet attained a right knowledge of Him, but thought more of the Father,” says S. Chrysostom.

Joh 12:27  Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour.

Now is My soul troubled. Because He had mentioned His approaching death, He allowed the natural dread of it to be aroused in His mind (as is the case with ourselves), and so was troubled. “Father,” He said, “save Me from this hour.” Just as in the garden he prayed, “Let this cup pass from Me.”

(1.) S. Chrysostom gives the reason, “Having exhorted His disciples to follow Him even to death, for fear they should say that He could easily philosophize about death, He showed that He was in an agony, and yet that He did not refuse to die, to teach us to do the same, when dreading death and self-denial.

(2.) S. Cyril says, He did it to show that He was not only God, but true man, subject to all our passions and sorrows.

(3.) S. Augustine, and after him Bede, “that Christ by taking on Him our infirmities might heal and strengthen us. Thou tellest my soul to follow Thee. But I see that thy soul is troubled. What foundation shall I seek, if the Rock gives way? But I recognise thy compassion therein. For by being thus troubled by thy voluntary act of love, Thou comfortest the weak, lest they should perish through despair. Our Head took on Himself the feelings of His members.” And again, “As He has raised us up to things which are highest, so does He feel sympathy for us in those which are lowest.” And he brings in Christ as thus speaking “Thou hast heard my mighty voice addressed to thee. Thou hast heard in Me the voice of thine own weakness: I give thee strength that thou mayest run; I check not thy speed, but I take upon Myself thy fear, and make a way for thee to pass over.”

And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. Theophylact and Leontius explain thus: “I know not what to do or say. Shall I say then, Father, save Me from this hour? Shall I shrink from death? By no means, I will master my agony, I will go willingly to meet my death.”

Others express it more simply and plainly, as expressing His natural dread of death, corrected at once by the exercise of His superior will. As in the Agony in the garden. For He immediately adds,

But for this cause have I come unto this hour. Though I naturally dread death, yet I do not wish this natural desire of Mine to be fulfilled. For I came into the world for the very purpose of drinking this cup of the Passion. So S. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, and others.

Joh 12:28  Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.

Father, glorify thy Name. That in My death, which I willingly undertake, I may glorify thy Name, by the entire obedience and devotion with which I will offer myself as a Victim for the sins of the whole world, thus restoring to the life of grace men who were lost in sin, reconciling them to Thee, and taking them to heaven to glorify Thee for ever. So S. Augustine, Chrysostom, Euthymius. It was said in like manner to S. Peter, that He would by his death glorify God (John 21:19). Hear S. Augustine: “Glorify Me by my Passion and Resurrection.” And S. Chrysostom: “His dying for the truth He calls ‘the glory of God:’ for after His death the Name of God would be acknowledged by the world.” And the gloss, “I seek salvation, but I refuse not to suffer, and for the sake of this passion glorify Me, for that is the glory of thy Name.”

In saying glorify Thy Name it is as if he were saying: Glorify Me at this very instant; that both Gentiles and Jews may acknowledge that I have been sent by Thee to redeem man, and will therefore glorify Thee for thy goodness. So Theodore of Heraclæa.

A voice therefore came from heaven, &c. I have glorified It—(1) By communicating to Him, as my only begotten Son, my majesty, glory, and Godhead from all eternity. As He said John 17:5. So S. Augustine and Bede.

(2.) In creating the world, and all things therein by Him. So Rupertus.

(3.) Most sensibly. By the voice from heaven at His Baptism, and by the miracles and mighty works which He wrought. And also by the voice at this time uttered from heaven. He glorified Him also by His death and resurrection, His ascension, His sending the Holy Spirit, by the preaching of the Apostles, and the miracles, which will lead all nations to acknowledge, worship, love and adore Him as the Son of God. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others.

Joh 12:29  The multitude therefore that stood and heard said that it thundered. Others said: An angel spoke to him.

The multitude therefore that stood and heard (this trumpet voice of God the Father) said that it thundered. Because it was very loud and resonant. Or perhaps because it was not articulate, but like the confused sound of thunder.  S. Chrysostom says, “The voice was clear and significant enough, but they being dull and carnal, it soon passed away, and they retained merely the sound of it.” And further on, “They knew it was articulate, but did not take in its meaning.” But the truer meaning, Rupertus, and after him Maldonatus, say is this, “That they all heard this articulate voice and understood its meaning, viz., that Jesus was the Son of God; but that on account of the loudness of the voice they could not persuade themselves it was really a voice, but that either it was thunder, and that they were mistaken in supposing they had heard an articulate voice as of a man, or that it was certainly the voice of an angel.” They thought also that the Evangelist mentioned this, in order to show that it was not a low or indistinct voice, such as Christ only could hear, and that there were no other witnesses, but that it was so loud and so clear that they not only all heard it, but heard it so plainly that some thought it was thunder, some the voice of an angel, while none considered it to be the voice of a man. And this consequently proved that what they considered thunder was in truth the voice of God, for thunder is commonly spoken of as His voice.

Symbolically: This thunder signified that Jesus was the Son of God, who thunders from heaven, and consequently that He Himself was God. For the thunder’s voice refers us back to its source, and leads us to venerate Him, and announce Him to the Gentiles. Again, it signified that Jesus, even as man, not merely thundered Himself with His mouth and flashed forth from His heart, to move hard hearts to penitence and to warm cold hearts with love; but also that He caused the Apostles and His followers to thunder and lighten. In fact, He gave that name to James and John, calling them Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). And S. Paul is called by S. Jerome (Epist. lxi.) “The trumpet of the Gospel, the roaring of our Lion, the thunder of the Gentiles,” adding, “for as often as I read him, I seem not to hear words only, but thunder.” Hear S. Chrysostom (Hom. xxxii. in Rom.), “Thunder is not so terrible, as was his voice to the devils. For if they dreaded his garments, much more did they dread his voice. For it led them bound and captive, it purified the world, it cured diseases, it expelled vice, it brought in truth; it had Christ dwelling within. For He accompanied him everywhere, and just as were the Cherubim, so also was the voice of Paul. For as God sat in the midst of these heavenly Powers, so sat He on the tongue of S. Paul.” And Nazianzen (Orat. xx.) says, “The words of S. Basil were as thunder, because his example shone as lightning.” Hence the voice of Christ is compared to the voice of many waters (Rev 1:15) and to the voice of a multitude (Dan 10:6).

Others said, an angel spake to Him. For this voice was more dignified than that of a man. It was therefore angelic, or rather divine. For an angel, assuming the Person of God the Father, had uttered it.

Joh 12:30  Jesus answered and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. In order that ye may believe in Me, and be saved. I need not this voice for my own sake, for I am the Word of the Father, whom the Father and the Holy Spirit glorify with increate and boundless glory. But ye need it, because some of you object, that I am not the Son of God, nor sent by God; others have doubts on the matter. But this voice of the Father proclaims the contrary of both these statements, so as to remove all doubt. So SS. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, &c

Joh 12:31  Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

Now is the judgment of the world, &c. Judgment here signifies condemnation, the condemnation of the Jews for condemning Me to death. So SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. But others understand it to mean judgment in favour of the innocent. It means, in this sense, the time is at hand for the deliverance of the world from the tyranny of Satan. For my death is at hand, by which this deliverance will be effected, and Satan will be cast out of the hearts of the faithful. Rupertus acutely observes, “Two worlds are here spoken of, one the enemy of God, the other reconciled to Him —the one lost, the other saved.” He founds this distinction on the absence or the presence of the article [but this does not appear in the Greek]. But what then is the judgment of this world, and the casting out of the prince of this world? Surely the coming Passion of Him who is speaking: for that is the judgment of this world, its salvation indeed, as separating from the reprobate the whole body of the elect from the beginning of the world to the hour of His Passion: and the casting out of the prince of this world, holding sway over the lovers of the world, is the reconciliation of the elect Gentiles. “Christ therefore here signifies (1) that He would by His death free the world (that is the Gentiles who would believe in Him) from sin and the devil; (2) that He would drive out the devil from the hearts of the faithful, and also from the temples, that the true God might be worshipped therein; (3) that He would deprive the devil of the power he had heretofore exercised in tempting men, and would also bestow all-powerful grace, by which, if they willed, they would be able to resist temptation; (4) Christ cast out many devils from the bodies of men, and consigned them to hell. So Prosper (in Dem. Temp.); and see Luke 8:31. S. Augustine writes, “He foresaw that after His Passion and glorification many people throughout the whole world would believe on Him, out of whose hearts the devil is cast when they renounce him by their faith. He was also cast out of the hearts of righteous men of old. But it is said here that he will be cast out, because that which then took place in a very few cases, would hereafter take place in many and great multitudes. He is cast out, but yet ceases not to tempt. But it is one thing to rule within, and another to assail from without.” S. Chrysostom in like manner says, “As if a man who assaults his debtors and casts them into prison, and with like madness throws another into prison, who owes him nothing at all, will have to pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done; so will the devil pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done us, by his bold, assaults against Christ.” Just as He Himself says, Luke 11:21-22.

Christ, therefore, knowing that the Gentiles longed to see Him, was grieved that the whole world was overwhelmed with heathenism, and therefore wishes His death to be hastened, in order that He might obtain for them faith and grace from God, and might send His apostles to convert them to God.

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

Lifted up from the earth. ”Exalted by my resurrection and ascension,” says S. Chrysostom. But other commentators refer it to the Cross, as S. John himself explains it. “Christ,” says Maldonatus, “speaks of Himself as a soldier contending with the devil. For as a soldier has an advantage over his enemy if he is on higher ground, so would He, from His Cross, as from a very high and well-defended post, fight against the devil and overcome him. And therefore He called this kind of death an exaltation. When exalted He drew all to Himself, as an eagle carries his prey aloft with him.”

In like manner Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa in Syria, when lifted up on high, and besmeared with honey to attract the bees, laughed at his torturers, and said that they were grovelling on the earth, while he was lifted up above them. (See Theodoret, Hist. iii. 7, Soz. v. 10.) But Christ alludes to the lifting up of the brazen serpent (see chap. iii. 14), and thus teaches us that the Cross is not to be dreaded, but desired, for it alone exalts.

A1l things. (1) “Soul and body,” say S. Augustine and Bede. (2) But Rupertus says: “Heaven and earth, men, angels, and devils. Because I will cause ‘every knee to bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth’” (Phil 2:10). (3) All men who will believe in Me, all nations of men. The Greek Fathers read πάντας. [But Cornelius prefers the Vulgate “omnia” as more expressive, signifying all the choicest things of the world, all the spoils of the devil-editor]. The Arabic version has “each one,” the Syriac “all.”

Draw. Will withdraw from the devil against his will, and not against their own will. For I will sweetly allure, and effectually draw them to Myself, and make them My brethren; nay more, My children, that as I am the Son of God by nature, so they may be the sons of God by adoption. The Greek word έλκύσω means, I will draw them by force, snatch them out of the power of the devil against his will, and strengthen men, moreover, to withstand their several temptations. See Matt 11:12.

Hear S. Leontius (Serm. viii. de Pass.), treating this whole passage with grace and tenderness. “0 wondrous power of the Cross! 0 ineffable glory of the Passion, wherein is seen the tribunal of Christ, the judgment of the world and the power of the Crucified! For Thou didst draw, 0 Lord, all things unto Thee. And when Thou didst stretch forth Thine hands all the day to a disobedient and gainsaying people, the whole world felt the force of Thine acknowledged Majesty. Thou didst draw all things to thyself, 0 Lord, when in execration of the sin of the Jews all the elements pronounced one and the same sentence, when the luminaries of heaven were obscured, and night was turned into day, the earth also was shaken with unwonted quakings, and the whole creation refused its aid to the service of the wicked.” He afterwards follows up the subject, and urges it still more forcibly. “Thou hast drawn all things to Thee, 0 Lord. When the veil of the temple was rent, and the holy of holies withdrawn from the unworthy priesthood, in order that the figure might be changed into Truth, prophecy into manifestation, and the Law into the Gospel. Thou didst draw all things to Thee, in order that that which was kept hid in the Jewish temple, by shadows and outward signs, the devotion of all nations might everywhere set forth in its full sacramental force before the eyes of all. For now there is a more illustrious order of Levites, a higher dignity of elders, and a more sacred unction of priests. Because thy Cross is the Fount of all blessings, the Source of all graces, and by it believers obtain strength out of weakness, glory out of shame, and life out of death.”

Moreover, Christ, when exalted on the Cross, between heaven and earth, drew all things to Himself. (1) Because He reconciled heaven and earth, Angels to the Gentiles, Gentiles to Jews, and God to men. For He is our peace, &c., Eph_2:14. (2) Because He drew all nations of the world to the faith and love of Himself. He drew them from the earth to the Cross; to penitence, that is, to continual mortification and martyrdom; and from the Cross to heaven. He drew them by the merits and price of His Blood; by His example, and by His Blood. For if Christ, of His own accord, died for us on the Cross, who would not love Him in return? Who would not say with S. Ignatius among the lions, “My love is crucified?” See Zech 13:6 on the words, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (3) Christ on the Cross drew all things to Himself, i.e. the Creator and His creatures. For God by this sacrifice was propitiated towards men, the sun and the heavens were astonished, and as though bewailing the death of their Creator, withdrew their rays from the earth, the air was involved in the thickest darkness, the whole earth, convulsed and shaken, trembled from its very centre; the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, that both the dead as well as the living might bewail the death of Christ. All creatures therefore looked up towards Christ crucified, as if in amazement, and as offering themselves to fight in His behalf against His murderers and to scatter them abroad.

The Origenists wrongly inferred from this passage, that Christ brought the lost out of hell, and saved them. But as S. Gregory explains (Epist. lib. vi. 15), Christ drew all, that is, the elect. “For a man cannot be drawn to God after death who has separated himself from God by his evil life.”

Symbolically. S. Bernard (Serm. xxi. in Cant.) applies Christ’s words to himself, and all “Religious.” For they, by contempt of earthly and love of heavenly things, are lifted up from the earth, and therefore draw all things to them. For all things, whether adverse or prosperous, work together for their good: and they themselves possess a source of wealth by trampling it as it were under foot. “For to a faithful man the whole word is full of riches.”

Joh 12:33  (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.)

The death of the Cross. These are the words of S. John inserted parenthetically.

Joh 12:34  The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever. And how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?

The Jews understood that Christ spake of His death on the Cross. How then does He say that He would die, when the Law says that He would not die?  S. Augustine says, “They understood Him to mean the very thing which they were contemplating. It was not inspired wisdom, but the sting of their conscience which disclosed to them the meaning of these obscure words.”

Out of the Law. By the Law is meant the whole of the Old Testament. They understood this from the following passages, Micah 5:2;  Ps 110:14, Ps 90:30, Ps 90:38, Ps 72:5;  Isa 9:7, Isa 40:8;  Ezekiel 37:27;  Dan 9:26. But these passages speak of the kingdom of Christ after His ascension. This kingdom will be eternal. But Christ elsewhere foretold His death. See Isa 53:3;  Ps 22:12Ps 22:17;  Dan 9:26;  Jer 11:19.

Who is this Son of Man? Meaning thereby, “If Thou art that Son of Man, as Thou art wont to call Thyself, how dost Thou wish to be regarded as the Christ? For Christ according to the Scriptures, as has just been said, is eternal, and cannot die. Whereas Thou sayest, on the contrary, that the Son of Man must die and be raised up on the Cross. If there be any other Son of Man, tell us plainly who he is.”. So Toletus and Jansen. Maldonatus somewhat differently; he thinks that the Jews insulted Christ as if they had refuted His claims, and taunted Him, as a conqueror would taunt a king whom he had taken captive. As the Jews afterwards said (tauntingly) to Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Joh 12:35  Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, and the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither be goeth.

Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you, &c. “Christ would not answer their objections directly, as knowing that they deserved not a reply” says S. Cyril. He therefore answers indirectly, that they should use Him as a light; for that that light would be soon extinguished by death, when they would have to seek for Him in vain. But if they desired to use that light they would be enlightened by it, so as to find an answer to their objection, and know other things which were necessary for their salvation. The Latin commentators take the word “modicum” as referring to the light, thus, “a little light.” Ye have but little light in thinking that Christ will abide for ever. But ye know not that He will also die and rise again. Walk therefore while ye have the light. Go on to investigate the truth. Ye will then learn how Christ will die, and yet rise again, and abide for ever. (So S. Augustine, S. Bernard, Serm. xlix. in Song Lyra, and others). But the word “modicum” does not refer to the light, but to the word “time” as is plain in the Greek. He calls Himself the light of the world, for the reasons which are mentioned in notes to chap. i., and also 1 John 1:5.

(1.) S. Chrysostom and Theophylact think that Christ here likened Himself to the Light, or Sun, because as the light of the sun is not extinguished by night, but is only hid for awhile, and rises again in the morning, and shines throughout the day, so He would die and rise again, and reign for ever, which was the very thing the Jews were inquiring about.

(2.) It may be explained more clearly and to the point in this way,—1, Christ, the Light of the world, enlightening it with the doctrine and knowledge of God, of salvation and of things eternal, shall be but a short time (only three days) with you in the body. And, therefore, if ye are wise, as long as you have Me with you, embrace and follow this light, believe in Me, hearken unto Me, question Me, I will resolve all your doubts, especially how Christ will die, and yet abide for ever. But if ye do it not now, the light will shortly be taken from you. I shall soon die, and then the darkness of error will overwhelm you. For though I shall leave the Apostles after Me, to carry on the light of the Gospel which I brought: yet ye will not value them, and will persecute them, and then ye will in vain seek for Me, who am the very source of light. Just as He spake to the same Jews, John 7:33.

Christ calls Himself the Light. Wherefore S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Rupertus less appropriately understand by the light, the life of each faithful Christian, which is as it were to each one his own day. Believe in Me while the light of life lasts, for after it comes the darkness of death, when ye will not be able to believe, and do what is right.

Symbolically: Leontius by darkness understands sins; Rupertus, the sufferings of the lost in outer darkness.

Joh 12:36  Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke: and he went away and hid himself from them.

Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. Believe in Me, who am the light of the world; believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world; believe in Me and my Gospel (so S. Cyril and Theophylact), that ye may be my children, and consequently the children of grace, charity, virtue, and sanctity in this life, and the children of the Resurrection, of happiness, and glory in the next life (see notes on 1 John 1:5, John 1:4, Eph 5:8).

Tropologically: When thou feelest the enlightenment, the emotions, the breath of the Holy Spirit, act on them at once, for they come and go like lightning. As S. Francis, when he heard the voice of God, stopped short even on a journey, that he might listen to it, and at once put it into practice.

These things Jesus spoke: and he went away and hid himself from them. Because He knew that they wished to take Him before the time appointed of the Father. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. He hid Himself, probably at night, for by day He taught in the temple, and at night He withdrew to Mount Olivet, and thence to Bethany (see Luke 21:37).

“He withdrew Himself not,” says S. Augustine and Bede, “from those who began to believe in Him and to love Him. Not from those who came out with palm branches and praises to meet Him. But from those who saw Him indeed, but with an evil eye; because in truth they saw Him not, but in their blindness stumbled at that stone of offence.”

Symbolically: Rupertus says, “He hid Himself from them not in place but in grace; because He left them in their unbelief, He blinded and hardened them.”

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