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 26th, 2016

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 3:11-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 26, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s very brief analysis of Acts chapter 3, followed by his comments on verses 11-26. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter we have an account of the miraculous cure, by St. Peter, of a lame man, with several accompanying circumstances, which placed the reality of the miracle beyond all cavil or dispute, and elicited the wonder and amazement of the people (1–12). The address of Peter, showing that this miracle was brought about, not by human agency, but by the power of Christ and by faith in Him (12–17). His exhortation to penance recommended on several grounds (19–26).

Act 3:11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran to them, to the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

“Held Peter and John.” Closely clinging to them in token of gratitude as they were leaving the Temple after prayer.

“All the people” moved by curiosity at what occurred assembled in this place of public resort at the hour of prayer, which furnished St. Peter with a suitable opportunity of preaching the truth of the Christian faith. “Porch,” a covered passage on the east side of the Temple, “of Solomon.” This was a part of the great Temple of Solomon, which escaped demolition at the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Nabuchodonozor (2 Kings 25:15). It was to the East of the Temple. Hence, called by Josephus the Oriental Portico (Antiq. xx. 9, 7).

Act 3:12 But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? Or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk?

“Made answer,” does not always mean a reply to a question. Frequently it is used, as here, to signify making a statement or entering on a discourse with or without a previous question.

“Strength or power.” The Greek word for “power” means piety or religious merit. This is preferred by some, as the Vulgate reading would seem to be a more tautology. The Vulgate, however, is preferred by many eminent commentators, as more emphatically describing the feelings of the people who regarded not the piety or personal merits of the Apostles, but their power only.

Act 3:13 The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released.

“The God of Abraham,” &c. The friend, the protector and bountiful rewarder of Abraham, &c. Speaking to Moses (Exod. 3:6, &c.) God first called Himself by that epithet.

“The God of our Fathers.” He it is that performed this wonder (v. 16).

“Hath glorified,” honoured His Son, Jesus. “Whom you delivered up” to the Romans to be crucified, “and denied” to be your Messiah, your promised deliverer, “before the face of Pilate,” who, convinced of His innocence, “for he could find no cause in Him,” judged that He should be released. Against the deliberate judgment of a Pagan judge, who through fear afterwards consented to condemn Him, they insisted on His death, thus displaying the intensity of their malice and deliberate hate.

Act 3:14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just: and desired a murderer to be granted unto you.

“The Holy One.” An epithet frequently applied to our Lord (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). The article prefixed in the Greek designates Him as “Holy” of His own essence and Divine nature. Infinite sanctity itself.

“A murderer,” Barabbas. Here their conduct is powerfully contrasted with that of Pilate, a pagan, not favoured with the lights vouchsafed to them.

Act 3:15 But the author of life you killed, whom God hath raised from the dead: of which we are witnesses.

“Author of life.” Our Lord is the source of all life, physical and spiritual. A powerful contrast here between Barabbas, the destroyer of life, and Jesus, the source of it in all.

“God raised from the dead.” The Resurrection of Christ, the foundation of all Christian faith, is frequently insisted on in several passages of the New Testament.

“We are witnesses.” The Apostles, disciples, and several followers of our Lord, amounting to a vast number, saw our Lord after His Resurrection, and conversed with Him. God Himself confirmed their testimony regarding this fundamental truth, with miracles.

Act 3:16 And in the faith of his name, this man, whom you have seen and known, hath his name strengthened. And the faith which is by him hath given this perfect soundness in the sight of you all.

“In the faith,” &c. The faith of Peter and John. It don’t appear the man cured had any faith or knowledge of Him previously.

“Hath his name,” that is, himself, “strengthened,” by our power and strength, “whom you have seen and known” to be a cripple from his birth.

“Faith which is in Him.” In our Lord Jesus Christ, as author and finisher of our faith.

“Perfect soundness.” The Greek conveys complete restoration to the use of his limbs.

“In the sight of you all.” It is incontestible, and will stand the test of investigation.

Act 3:17 And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance: as did also your rulers.

After having proved, by a freedom of speech truly Apostolic, that they were guilty of the hideous crime of Deicide, and uttered hard truths. He now wishes to extenuate their guilt, addressing them “as brethren,” and by kindness He wishes to inspire them with hope of pardon. He puts forward the same excuse, “ignorance,” which our Lord Himself advanced in their behalf—“they know not what they do.” He by no means insinuates that they were innocent. He had stated the contrary (v. 14). But, with a view of moving them to repentance by the hope of pardon, He says, their crime, in itself enormous, was extenuated by the fact of their not knowing Him to be their long-expected Messiah.

“As did also your rulers.” The chief men among the Jews were more guilty than the masses of the people. From the evidences placed before them, they could have known that He was their long expected Messiah. Blinded by passion, they, in their fury, proceeded to compass the death of a just man, whom a pagan judge pronounced innocent. Had they known Him to be the long expected Deliverer of their nation, they would not have treated Him as they had done. Still, they were not innocent or free from guilt.

Act 3:18 But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Anticipating an objection that might suggest itself—viz., if Christ were the Messiah, why suffer Himself to be thus treated? St. Peter shows, if He did not, He could not be regarded as the Messiah at all, since, all the prophets concurred in predicting his death and sufferings. All these occurrences were predicted beforehand, and God caused them to be fulfilled in the manner predicted. Without altogether excusing them or pronouncing them innocent—for they were afterwards called upon to repent for their wickedness—St. Peter prudently mitigates the hard sentence passed upon them, and wishes to excite them to sorrow and the hope of pardon, from the consideration that, although sinning, they were the instruments in carrying out the merciful design of God in the way in which it occurred—viz., through Jewish malice, the redemption of all mankind, themselves included. The foreknowledge of God did not diminish their guilt. For God foresaw it in the way it was to happen—viz., freely, through their deliberate guilt and malice. The Apostle mentions it to inspire them with the hope of pardon. How all the prophets foretold is not so clear. It is understood of the prophets in a general way, or taken on the whole, without stating that each individual prophet foretold it. However, it may be said that they all either literally or mystically, explicitly or implicitly, foretold it. Hence, of our Lord on His way to Emmaus, it is said that “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded the things said concerning Him” (Luke 24:27).

Act 3:19 Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.

“Therefore,” as your sin so heinous, though extenuated by ignorance, resulted in the redemption of mankind, “repent and be converted” to the Lord, who mercifully ransomed you, in order that, with the hope of pardon in your hearts, “your sins may be blotted out” and cleansed away by a full remission. The idea, according to some, is borrowing from the practice among the ancients of effacing with the blunt end of the stylus, characters impressed on soft wax by the sharp point of same. It also is allusion to the act of creditors blotting out debts due (Coll. 2:14). According to others, the idea is borrowed from the practice of washing parchment and effacing the characters impressed. This would very appropriately apply to the remission of sins in the waters of Baptism.

Act 3:20 That when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send him who hath been preached unto you, Jesus Christ.

“When the times,” &c. The Greek for “when” is ὁπως—that, or, in order that, signifying the final cause. The passage, which is not free from difficulties in its construction, would mean—in order that the times of refreshment would be accelerated when, after the toils and warfare of this life, they shall be admitted to that everlasting rest, that sabbatism which God enjoys and shares with His servants (Heb. 4:3–7); a refreshment which “shall come from the presence of the Lord.” “Presence of the Lord,” by a Hebrew idiom means the Lord Himself, who is to confer it.

“And He shall send Him,” His eternal Son, “Jesus Christ,” who hath been preached to you.” The Greek word for “preached” means pre-ordained, or marked out by God, at the end of time, at his second coming to judgment, to confirm the promises made your Fathers (Rom. 15:8). The final end of all things is not to arrive, till after the conversion of the Jews (Rom. 11:26–29). The passage would then seem to convey, that the conversion of the Jewish people would have the effect of bringing on the final end of all things sooner, than would otherwise occur, in the designs of God’s Providence.

Act 3:21 Whom heaven indeed must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world.

“Whom heaven, indeed, must receive.” It was a common belief among the Jews, that the Messiah would reign on earth for ever (John 12:34). St. Peter meets this prejudice by declaring he ascended into Heaven, as seen by the Apostles and others.

“Until the time of the restoration of all things,” the full restoration of all things had already commenced with our Lord’s coming, to be completed on the day of judgment (2 Peter 3:13). It would be a “restoration” of mankind to the condition destined for them, if man had not fallen.

The visible creation has been deteriorated by sin. It now groans and yearns for its emancipation from the slavery of corruption, to the full enjoyment of the liberty suited to the Sons of God (Rom. 8; 2 Peter 3:10–13). The Apostle in this passage wishes to convey, that if the Jewish nation became repentant and turned to God, the end of all things would soon come, and the human race put in the enjoyment of peace and rest, after being restored to the condition they would have been in, had man originally not fallen, and continued faithful to God.

Act 3:22 For Moses said: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him you shall hear according to all things whatsoever he shall speak to you.

“For, Moses,” &c. Among the other Prophets who prophesied regarding our Lord as their Messiah, was Moses whose authority, as their Lawgiver, was of the greatest weight with the Jews. St. Peter shows here that far from opposing or giving up the Law of Moses—in preaching our Lord, they are only carrying out the express commands of Moses, who himself uttered a prediction regarding Him and inculcated obedience to Him.

“A Prophet shall the Lord your God,” &c., “raise up,” commission, authorize to come to you.

Looking to the context of Deut., whence these words are taken (18:15–17) several commentators include under the word “Prophet” a series of authorized teachers, whom God would, from time to time, send to withhold the Jewish people from the false teachers, Diviners, &c., of the neighbouring Idolotrous Gentiles. Whatever may be the truth of that opinion, the word admittedly, refers to our Lord, who was by excellence the greatest among these teachers. The Jews themselves would seem to understand it so. “Art thou the Prophet?” (John 1.) Moses commands them to obey Him, which they can still do, since He lives and exercises supreme authority in Heaven. They should, therefore, attend to the injunctions of Moses in reference to Him.

“Of your own brethren,” your own race and nation, “like unto me.” There are several points of similarity, not equality. They were not, however, similar in all things, but only in some points, especially as to making known the will of God to the people, both being “raised up,” or commissioned by God to do this. The comparison can be urged no further, nor in other respects. The difference between both being infinite (Heb. 3:3, 7).

Act 3:23 And it shall be, that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.

“It shall be.” It will surely, and, of necessity, take place, St. Peter quotes from Deuteronomy not literally, but only the meaning.

“Which will not hear,” or obey, that Prophet commissioned with authority to declare the will of God.

“Shall be destroyed.” For which it is in Hebrew. “I shall require it of him,” that is, make him answer for it. In the Septuagint, it is, “I shall be present, as an avenger,” shall punish him. The usual way for punishing grievous sinners among the Jews was, by exterminating them from among the people, subjecting them to all the penalties of excommunication; thus depriving them of all the privileges of the Jewish people and cutting them off, which was the greatest punishment inflicted by Jewish law. From this, those present could see that by continuing to disobey our Lord, they would be subjected to the heaviest punishment here and hereafter. Here, in the utter destruction of their city and the attendant horrors, which the Christians being forwarned, escaped by flying to Pella. But as he speaks of the punishment at the final restoration of all things, most likely, there is question of their punishment hereafter, in the day of judgment and the Eternal tortures of Hell. As they could now have recourse to him, although in Heaven, they should do so and repent of their sins.

Act 3:24 And all the prophets, from Samuel and afterwards, who have spoken, have told of these days.

“And.” In Greek means, nay even. Not only Moses, who holds the highest place, but, “all the Prophets,” denoting many of them, in general, without specifying them individually, “from Samuel,” who with all the Prophets that succeeded him, “have told, of those days.” Have distinctly foretold the several occurrences that took place in connection with Jesus of Nazareth, all the events of His life from His birth, from the commencement of His reign on earth, till the final consummation of all things. To these predictions the Jews should pay heed. Likely, from Moses to Samuel no Prophet arose, God was consulted in the interim and gave His responses through Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:30; Numbers 27:21).

We have hardly any Prophecy of Samuel relating to our Lord, unless it be the famous Prophecy of Nathan, recorded (2 Kings 7:13, 14), which the Jews called and Samuel, (as they considered 1st and 2nd Kings, was written by Samuel, at least in part); and, hence, as recorded by him, this is called Samuel’s prediction. Or, it may be St. Peter refers to some Prophecy of Samuel relating to our Lord, not written, but, known to the Jews.

Act 3:25 You are the children of the prophets and of the testament which God made to our fathers, saying to Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

“The children” (in Greek, sons) “of the Prophets,” not that they were the lineal descendants of the prophets. The Hebrew words often mean, as here, those to whom any thing belongs, whether by inheritance or otherwise. The meaning, then, is, they, it is, to whom the oracles of the Prophets appertain, also the Covenant made by God with their Fathers, Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 26:4), Isaac and Jacob.

“Saying to Abraham.” To him were the promises first made. He was the Father of the faithful. “Thy seed,” posterity. This is applied by St. Paul (Galatians 3:15) to our Lord, as it is here by St. Peter.

“Kindreds.” The Greek (πατριαι) those deriving their origin from one common parent, Jews as well as Gentiles. These latter were the spiritual sons of Abraham, no less than the Jews, “blessed,” rendered happy. They should, therefore, by embracing their Messiah, avail themselves of the promises made, which promises, strictly speaking, could not be a Covenant as between God and His creatures. The solemn promises made by God were, however, called a Covenant, to show their firmness and solemnity.

Act 3:26 To you first, God, raising up his Son, hath sent him to bless you: that every one may convert himself from his wickedness.

To you first,” &c. In the order of God’s Providence, the Gospel was to be first preached to the Jews, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

“Raising up” does not refer to our Lord’s Resurrection; it only signifies commissioning him, sending him, with authority, as in v. 22.

“That everyone may convert himself,” &c. Here, the prospect of pardon and forgiveness is held out to them, which they may obtain by penance and conversion to God. The Apostle wishes to convey to them, that now, the Messiah having come, they, as well as all the other “kindreds” of the earth, by being converted to Him, may look for happiness, and the pardon of all their sins.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 20:10-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 26, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of John 20, followed by his comments on verses 10-18. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter, we have an account of Magdalen’s arrival at our Lord’s sepulchre, at twilight, on the first day of the week; finding the stone removed, she hastens to inform Peter and John (1, 2). They coming in haste, saw from the linen cloths and bandages that were scattered about, that the Resurrection had taken place. John, in consequence, believed in the Resurrection. After that, they retired to their respective homes (3–11).

Magdalen returning to the sepulchre had a vision of angels. She had, moreover, the ineffable happiness of being met by our Lord Himself, who making Himself known to her, addressed her in consoling language, and instructed her to inform His brethren of it, which she faithfully did (11–18).

Late, on the evening of the same day, after the disciples had returned from Emmaus, our Lord entering the chamber, where the disciples were gathered together, the doors being shut, communicates His peace, imparts the Holy Ghost, and gives power to remit and retain sins. Thomas was absent, this time (19, 23).

The incredulity of Thomas, which our Lord, at His apparition on the eighth day after the Resurrection, mercifully removes, by condescendingly giving Thomas the proofs he desired of our Lord’s real Resurrection (24–28). Thomas’s ardent faith, and profession in our Lord’s Divinity and Humanity (28).

Our Lord’s commendation of the faith of the simple believers (29).

The Evangelist declares his reason for writing this Gospel (30, 31).

Joh 20:10  The disciples therefore departed again to their home.Joh 20:11  But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre.

“They retired to their homes;” Peter, in a state of admiration; John, believing (see 8-9); Magdalen remaining alone at the sepulchre, lovingly anxious to inquire further about what was done with the body of her Lord, whom she so ardently loved—“weeping” over His death, and the loss of His sacred body.

Joh 20:12  And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid.

Although she had already looked into the sepulchre, she did not fail to do so again, out of anxiety, and was favoured with a vision of angels, in reward for her faith and anxiety. Her companions were similarly favoured (Luke 24:4).

Joh 20:13  They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord: and I know not where they have laid him.

“Why weepest thou?” This is no time for weeping, but a time for joy. The reply of Magdalen, “because, they have taken away,” etc., would argue weak and confused ideas regarding our Lord’s Resurrection.

Joh 20:14  When she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing: and she knew not that it was Jesus.

“She turned back and saw Jesus standing.” It may be, as many suppose, that the angels who were before her, showed signs of reverence to our blessed Lord. This made Magdalen look back to see what it meant; or, some noise may have been made, which would cause her to look back.

Joh 20:15  Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, thinking that it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him: and I will take him away.

Our Lord in His glorified body, presented a different appearance from what He had in His mortal state. Here, He had the appearance of one whom she took for the gardener, in charge of the garden in which the holy sepulchre was placed, from His appearing there at such an early hour. At another time, He had the appearance of a stranger; as when He appeared to the Apostles on their way to Emmaus.

“And I will take Him away.” Possibly, Magdalen’s eyes were held, like the disciples at Emmaus, so that she could not know Him (Luke 24:16). The excess of her love makes all things possible. On any other principle, it is hard to see how a feeble, weak woman could speak in such a way. It was the excess of holy love.

“If thou hast taken Him hence.” She is so taken up with the idea of our Lord, that she can think of nothing else. She fancies nobody could think of any one else; that all are entirely engrossed, like herself, with the one great object of love.

Joh 20:16  Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master).

“Mary,” addressing her in His natural, well-known tone of voice.

“Rabboni,” which is understood by some to mean, “my master;” by others, “master, like Rabbi.” It would seem to be a more august and respectful term than Rabbi, applied to our Lord, only after His Resurrection. “She turning.” Likely, as our Lord, whom she took for the gardener, gave her no reply, she turned to the angels to inquire who He was; and, then, on hearing His familiar, well-known tone of voice, she turned to Him. Others understand, “turned,” recovered from the stupor she was in, like Peter (Acts 22:5).

Joh 20:17  Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me: for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.

Possibly, Magdalen on discovering it to be her loving Lord, in an ecstasy of love, made signs (as St. Gregory infers, Hom. 25), of Her desire to embrace His knees and kiss His feet, and reverently adore Him, as was permitted afterwards (Matthew 28:9). Seeing this, or knowing it, our Lord prohibits her from remaining there. He, therefore, tells her to go at once, and announce to the brethren all she saw.

“I am not yet ascended,” etc., as if to say, a sufficiently long interval will elapse before I ascend to My Father; so that you will have time enough to exhibit due reverence to Me in person. Therefore, delay not in enjoying the spiritual delights and pleasures now communicated to you. But go at once, and inform My brethren, that I am, soon after My Resurrection, to “ascend to My Father,” who is your Father also, “to My God,” who is your God also.

This is the common interpretation and connexion of the words, “Do not touch Me.”

Joh 20:18  Mary Magdalen cometh and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord; and these things he said to me.

This was Magdalen’s second journey. In the former, she announced the taking away of the Sacred Body; in this, the glorious tidings of the Resurrection communicated to her by our Lord Himself. The other Evangelists record the two journeys as one. The disciples did not believe Magdalen (Mark 16:1), nor the other women (Luke 24:11).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 28:8-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 26, 2016

This post opens with a brief analysis of the entire chapter, followed by Fr. MacEvilly’s comments on verses 8-15. Text in red, if any, ae my additions.


In this chapter, the Evangelist gives an account of our Lord’s resurrection, on Easter morning, and of the wonderful occurrences that took place in connexion with it—the earthquake, the appearance of angels at the tomb, the terror and stupefaction that seized on the guards (1–4). The consoling assurances on this head, given to the pious women, who came early to the sepulchre, by the angel who also instructed them to go at once and inform His disciples of the fact. On their way home, our Lord Himself meets them, and dispels all their fears (5–10). The obstinate impenitence of the Chief Priests, and their determined resistance to the known truth, in bribing the soldiers, with a large sum of money, to tell an unmeaning lie, viz., that the disciples came while they were asleep, and stole away our Lord’s body (11–15). The apparition of our Lord to His Apostles on a mountain of Galilee, where He communicates to them the plenitude of His authority, armed with which they are commanded to go forth, as His legates, to preach the glad tidings of Redemption, to the end of time, to the entire world. He further promises them and their successors, to the end of the world, His never-ceasing, uninterrupted protection, to guard them against error and tenure them against failure, while engaged in their glorious work, of saving the world.

Mat 28:8 And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples.

“With fear,” or rather, awe, produced by the appearance of the Angels at the sepulchre, and the announcement of the resurrection of their Lord, and anxiety lest these things might be spectral appearances, rather than realities. “And great joy,” caused by the joyous tidings they heard. They felt mingled sensations of awe and joy.

“Running to tell His disciples,” viz., “to the eleven, and to all the rest” (Luke 24:9). What they announced to the eleven, St. Matthew does not say, but St. Luke tells us, “they told all these things,” viz., the apparition of the Angels, and the taking away of our Lord’s body (John 20:2).

The apparent discrepancy between the account of what the women announced, as recorded in St. Luke (24), and St. John (20:2), is easily cleared up. The women being timid, and in doubt whether the whole thing was a reality or not, said nothing of it on their way back (Mark 16:8), and when they reached the Apostles, they informed them alternately of what they saw and heard, and of their own doubts and fears on the subject, which made them imagine our Lord’s body was taken away. This latter point, regarding their doubts, is recorded by St. John only (20:2), and omitted by the other Evangelists. The Apostles, too, in the first instance, regarded the women’s account “as an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11).

Here, we must insert what is described by St. John (20:2–19), in order to fill up the Gospel narrative, and remove the apparent discrepancies in the narratives of the Evangelists. Magdalen and her companions, in obedience to the Angels injunctions, hasten to Jerusalem from the sepulchre, to announce to the Apostles what they saw and heard (Luke 24:9). While doing this, they give expression to their own fears and doubts (John 20:2). (Some expositors hold that at her first visit Magdalen did not wait for the vision of Angels seen by the other women, she at once, on seeing the stone removed, hastened back to tell the Apostles. This opinion is not easily reconciled with Luke 24:9, 10.) Immediately, Peter and John hasten to the sepulchre, followed by Magdalen and her companions. Peter and John enter the sepulchre, and return home, wondering at what they saw. The companions of Magdalen also return, leaving Magdalen behind them, weeping from fear, and a desire to find the body of our Lord. While stooping down and looking into the sepulchre, she saw two Angels, who were exhibiting reverence to our Lord, who was standing behind Magdalen. On looking behind her, to see who it was that the Angels were reverencing, she saw our Lord, and mistook Him for the gardener in charge of the garden where the sepulchre was. But immediately after recognizing Him, from His usual tone of voice, when pronouncing her name, she would lay hold of His feet (verse 9), which in Scripture denotes a species of adoration; but this He would not allow. Magdalen was, then, the first to whom, according to the Gospel History, our Lord showed Himself after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). She merited this favour by her love and affection, owing to which she clung to the sepulchre where His sacred body had been deposited. After this, overtaking the other women on their way (verse 9), she had the privilege of seeing Him a second time, in company with these others. It is supposed by many, as a matter of congruity—although the Gospel makes no mention of it—that He appeared first of all to His Blessed Mother, on the day of His resurrection.

Mat 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet and adored him.

“And Jesus met them saying,” &c. This occurred on their second return from the sepulchre, after the Apostles had left, Mary Magdalen remaining alone after them at the tomb. That it could not refer to the first time they ran back in haste to inform the Apostles of what they saw and heard, expressing at the same time their anxious doubts about His sacred body, appears clear from the fact, that from SS. Mark and John, it is certain that our Lord appeared to Magdalen first, early on the morning of His resurrection, and that at the tomb, not on the road. Moreover, the women said nothing of our Lord appearing to them, when first they announced these things to the Apostles (John 20:2; Luke 24:9, &c. 23, 24). It was on their return, after the Apostles had examined the tomb, that this apparition occurred to the women, and to Mary Magdalen, who had overtaken them, after having seen Him already alone at the sepulchre.

Maldonatus, quoting the authority of St. Athanasius, holds, that the apparition referred to is the same as that in Mark (16:9; John 20:16), which was made to Magdalen only; and that Magdalen alone is mentioned by St. Mark as having been first favoured with the apparition of our Lord, not in opposition to the other women, but to the Apostles; or, that she was the first among them who saw Him, and to her alone did He speak; and that she is spoken of alone out of the rest, because she was the most prominent among them for her love and deep affection for Him.

“All hail”— the Greek χαιρετε (chaire)—is a common Hebrew form of salutation, expressive of peace, and embracing all blessings. It means, rejoice at the glad event, which has thrown open the gates of heaven, after the triumph over death and hell, and has reversed the malediction entailed by the first woman. Hence, as death commenced with the female sex, it was congruous, that the message of the resurrection—the triumph over death—should be first announced to the same (St. Hilary).

“They came up,” after recognizing Him, “and took hold of His feet,” out of modesty and reverence; they decline embracing His person. Among the Jews, it was a kind of reverence and adoration, particularly on the part of women towards men, to touch their feet (Exod. 4:25); also the case of the woman of Sunamis (4 Kings 4:27; also Luke 7:38; John 11:32). The women here touch His feet, with the view of adoring Him, which is afterwards explained. “And adored Him.” It is said, that He forbade Magdalen on the occasion of His first apparition (John 20:17) to touch Him. Whether He did so here, and that the women, in the excess of their love, still touched Him, thinking they were doing Him honour, as in the case of the blind men in the Gospel, who proclaimed His goodness, nothwithstanding His prohibition (9:30, 31), is not mentioned by the Evangelist. Neither does St. John say whether Magdalen touched Him or not. St. John tells us, He told Magdalen not to touch Him; whether she actually did so or not, he does not say. St. Matthew tells us here, that the other women actually took hold of His feet; whether they were prohibited from doing so or not, is not mentioned by him.

Mat 28:10 Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee. There they shall see me.

Whilst they were engaged in reverently and affectionately adoring their Lord with mingled feelings of awe and affection, “Jesus said to them: Fear not.” The presence of spiritual and supernatural beings is calculated to inspire mortal man with awe and terror. Hence, the awe and fear which the women felt at the presence of their Lord risen from the tomb. Most likely, also, their fears arose from the apprehension, as in the case of the Angels, lest what they saw might be a phantom rather than a reality. Our Redeemer, addressing them, dispels their fears, from whatever cause proceeding, and tells them:

“Go, tell My brethren that they go into Galilee,” &c. By “His brethren,” are meant all His Apostles, including those who were nearly allied to Him by kindred. Our Redeemer is supposed here to allude to the words of the Psalm (21:23), “Narrabo nomen tuum fratribus meis,” quoted by St. Paul (Heb. 2:12). During His mortal life, He called them His disciples and friends; now, risen glorious and immortal from the dead, He designates them by the tender and endearing appellation of “brethren,” to assuage their grief for His death, strengthen their minds, and inspire them with confidence; to show, that, although He is now glorious, still He participates in the same human nature; and also to suggest to them, that while He is the natural Son of God, the first-born among many brethren, they are the adoptive sons of God, heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ. He transmits the same message, that had been already given by the Angels (verse 7) to confirm the testimony of the Angels, and to show that His words and theirs perfectly agreed.

“There they shall see Me” (verse 7). He manifested Himself to them shortly after this in Jerusalem, but it was only in a passing, transient way: whereas, in Galilee He remained many days, freely conversing with them on all matters pertaining to the future government of His Church, &c.

Our Redeemer manifested Himself several times in Judea. On the day of His resurrection, He showed Himself five different times—1st, to Magdalen (Mark 16:9; John 20:16)—most probably, before all, He appeared to His Virgin Mother; 2nd, to the women (verse 9); 3rd, to Peter (Luke 24:34); 4th, to the disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24:36); 5th, to the ten assembled disciples, after the return of the two from Emmaus (Luke 24:36), Thomas being absent.

After the day of His resurrection, He appeared five other times before His ascension—1st. After eight days, when Thomas was present (John 20:26). 2nd. When the seven disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:2). 3rd. To the eleven on a mountain of Galilee, generally supposed to be Thabor (Matt. 28:16). Most likely, this is the apparition referred to by St. Paul (1 Cor. 15:6), where “He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once.” The Evangelist only makes mention of the eleven, who saw Him by appointment; he does not, however, say by how many more He was seen, on that occasion. 4th. He appeared to St. James (1 Cor. 15:7); this is not mentioned in the Gospel. 5th. To all the Apostles and others, on Mount Olivet, at His Ascension (Acts 1:9). He appeared to St. Paul afterwards (Acts 9:3; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8).

The apparition of our Lord at the Sea of Tiberias, is called by St. John (21:14), the “third;” but, this probably means, the third public appearance, in an assembly of His disciples, or, it may refer to the number of the days He appeared. He appeared, first, on the day of His resurrection, to several persons; secondly, eight days afterwards; and then on a third day, referred to here by St. John.

Mat 28:11 Who when they were departed, behold, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests all things that had been done.

“Who when they were departed.” This, according to some (Jansenius, &c.) refers to the first departure of the women to announce to Peter and the Apostles the vision of Angels, the absence of the body, &c., although recorded after the second departure of the women, when the Apostles had returned home, on seeing the truth of the accounts given by the women.

“Some of the guards came into the city,” &c. These, most likely, proceeded in the name of the entire, to announce what they witnessed about the vision of Angels, the earthquake, &c. It is most likely, however, that it refers to the second return, or departure of the women after the Apostles had been at the tomb. It was only after the Apostles had departed, and the women followed them, that the terror which the soldiers conceived from the appearance of the Angels had left them, God so arranging it, that they were, as it were, kept spell-bound, during the entire time, so that they would not interfere with the Apostles, any more than they had done with the women, on their first approach, at early dawn, and would be in a position to give unquestionable testimony regarding all the circumstances, which placed beyond doubt, the truth of the resurrection. It was when the women and the Apostles departed, and the terror of the soldiers was removed, that “some of the guards” went to announce all they saw to the Chief Priests, by whom they were appointed, with Pilate’s sanction, to guard the sepulchre. “Some of them,” but not all, as otherwise they would have violated the duty of watching the sepulchre till the end of the third day, the morning of which had then arrived. They “told, the Chief Priests all the things that had been done,” already narrated by the Evangelists, regarding the vision of Angels, the earthquake, the removal of the stone, the absence of the body, &c., all which, very likely, they themselves, before leaving, most closely examined and ascertained. This they did, for two reasons—1st, to render an account of their own duty, lest they might be accused of neglect, or perfidy, or corruption before the Governor; and, 2ndly, to give the Chief Priests, &c., an opportunity of devising by what means they could prevent the rumour, relative to the resurrection, from being circulated among the people.

Mat 28:12 And they being assembled together with the ancients, taking counsel, gave a great sum of money to the soldiers,

“Together with the ancients.” The Scribes also were there assembled, as one of the three orders which composed the Chief Council among the Jews. They adopted the wicked design of bribing the soldiers into falsehood. “A great sum of money,” such a sum as would exceed that promised for guarding the sepulchre, and would tell on the avaricious minds of the soldiery. “To the soldiers,” all the soldiers who were stationed at the tomb, were witnesses of the truth of the things related by those who came to the High Priests. These princes of the Jewish nation, persisting in their malice, refused to turn to God, and wished to persuade the world that Jesus was not risen; and sacrificed to the purposes of falsehood, the money given for the use of the temple. As they gave Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray his Master, so they now offer a large sum of money to suppress a truth so useful and so necessary for man (St. Jerome).

Mat 28:13 Saying: Say you, His disciples came by night and stole him away when we were asleep.

Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the blind and inexcusable perversity of the Jewish princes, than their conduct in reference to the soldiers; whose testimony was irrefragable, and beyond all suspicion; and, yet, far from yielding, they oppose the known truth, and wilfully endeavour to corrupt the minds of the soldiery, to testify to what they knew to be false. Moreover, they exhibit, in the clearest light, their own stupid folly. They prevail on the soldiers to testify to what, according to their own admission, they were in a condition to know nothing of, “Testes dormientes adhibes?” (“You use sleeping witnesses) jeeringly exclaims St. Augustine, in a tone of merited scorn, “vere tu ipse obdormisti, qui scrutando talia defecisti,” in Psalm 63 (But in truth you yourselves slept by failing to search out these things). The whole story of the soldiers was most absurd, and carried with it its own refutation, and, in truth, furnished an additional argument of our Redeemer’s resurrection. It shows the utter desperation the Jewish princes must have been reduced to, when they had recourse to so ridiculous a device. If the Priests themselves were not convinced of the fact, would they not, instead of bribing the soldiers to dissemble, have accused them before Pilate of a breach of military duty? It is preposterous to suppose, that weak, timid men, who dared not defend their Master, nay, who deserted Him while alive, would come, in defiance of an armed soldiery, to steal away His body, and remove the stone, which it required a good many hands to remove; and this with the foolish view of causelessly perpetuating an impudent fraud of which themselves would have been, in the supposition made, the deluded victims. Why not steal away His body on Friday night, before the guards were set to watch it on Saturday? The mouth of the sepulchre was also sealed. Why not take away the clothes which St. Peter saw lying in the sepulchre, and avoid the delay of taking off His clothes and the napkin that bound His head? The removal of these clothes, particularly as they must have adhered to His body, which was anointed, would cause much delay and danger to themselves.

The story of the soldiers, so clumsily invented, only rendered the fact of the resurrection the more certain; for, it admitted the body was not in the tomb. Hence, the fears and doubts of the disciples, joined to the foolish story of the soldiers, demonstrate most clearly, that the whole affair of the stealing of the body was a clumsy, unmeaning invention. Moreover, how could it be possible that Roman soldiers would all have slept, when their lives were in danger? and even, had they slept, that they would not be roused by the noise which the removal of the stone must have caused? Avarice blinded the soldiers to give circulation to this absurd story, as it had blinded the unhappy Judas, “avaritia illa quæ captivavit discipulum, comitem Christi, captivavit et militem custodem sepulchri” (But that covetousness which possessed the disciple that was the companion of Christ, blinded also the soldiers that were the guards of His sepulcher~St. Augustine).

It is likely, the princes of the Jews persuaded them, that, although our Lord had risen, still it was to a spiritual mode of living; that He would no more appear in His natural form; and, hence, there was no fear of their story being contradicted by His future appearance among the people.

Mat 28:14 And if the governor shall hear of this, we will persuade him and secure you.

They promised them security, in case of any investigation as to their dereliction of duty. Most likely, the Governor who had shown such weakness in condemning Jesus, whom he knew to be innocent, would be easily prevailed upon by the same influences to pardon the soldiers, in case any question were raised on the subject. But, that the soldiers secretly told the entire truth to Pilate, and testified to the truth of our Lord’s resurrection, and that Pilate informed Tiberius of the whole affair, who, therefore, wished to have Christ enrolled among the gods, is expressly stated by Hegesippus, in Anaceph. It is also stated by Tertullian (in Apologet. c. 5), and by Eusebius (in Chronico A. Christi. 38, Histor. Liber. ii., c. 2), that Pilate informed Tiberius of the matter, who threatened the accusers of the Christians with death, although, by a decree of the Fathers, it was fixed that the Christians should be driven from the city.

Mat 28:15 So they taking the money, did as they were taught: and this word was spread abroad among the Jews even unto this day.

The soldiers, taking the money, did as the High Priests told them, viz., they declared that the body was stolen while they were asleep.

“And this word,” this ridiculous story about the stealing of the body of our Lord by His disciples, while the guard were asleep, which was put into the mouths of the soldiers, “was spread abroad among the Jews,” believed by most of them. He opposes “the Jews,” the unbelieving mass of the Jewish people, to the Christians converted from Judaism, and who were comparatively few. “Even unto this day,” nearly eight years after our Lord’s resurrection, when St. Matthew’s Gospel was written. The Jews, blinded by their passions, continued still in their obstinacy. Having refused to acknowledge the Divinity of our Lord, they denied the truth of His resurrection; and this blindness and hardness of heart shall continue among that accursed race, until the end of the world, when, according to the general belief, the veil shall be removed from their eyes, and the remnant of Israel shall be saved—“There shall come out of Sion He that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Rom. 11:26).

Others, by “this word,” understand, not the foolish tale regarding the stealing of our Lord’s body, but, the rumour about the bribing of the soldiers with money, to induce them to tell a lie regarding the stealing of our Redeemer’s body (Maldonatus).

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