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

Haydock Bible Commentary on Matthew 28:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 19, 2017

Mat 28:1  And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.

And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. According to the letter, in the evening of the sabbath, which began to dawn on the first of the sabbath; (or of the sabbaths in the common Greek copies.) This latter translation, which is that of the Rheims Testament, is certainly more according to the letter, and more obscure than it need to be. First, by translating, on the first of the sabbath, where sabbath is taken for a week, as in other places, Luke 18:12. Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2. It may therefore here be literally translated, on the first day of the week. Secondly, By the evening, is here meant the night: for in the Scriptures, both the Latin and Greek word, which we find in this place, not only signifies that time which we commonly call the evening, but is also put for the whole night itself, and for the time from sunset to sunrise next morning. Thus it is taken in the first chapter of Genesis, where, in the computation of natural days of 24 hours, all the hours in which it was dark, are called vespere, in the Sept. And all the hours in which it was light, are called mane, πρωι. et factum est vespere & mane dies unus, i.e. primus. And from the fourth day, on which were created sun and moon, by vespere was understood all the time from the sun setting on such parts of the earth, to its rising to them again: and mane signified all the day, or the hours that the sun appeared to the like parts of the earth. Therefore, the literal and proper sense of the verse is: in the night, i.e. in the latter part of the night of the sabbath, or after the sabbath, towards the morning of the first day of the week. And that in this place is signified the latter part of the night, and not what is commonly called the evening, appears first by the following words, when it began to dawn, or to be light. Secondly, It appears by the other evangelists. S. Mark (16:1) says, when the sabbath was past … very early in the morning. S. Luke says, (24:1,) very early in the morning. S. John (20:1) says of Mary Magdalene, that she came in the morning, when it was yet dark. From all which it is plain, that Mary Magdalene, and the other pious women, came to the sepulchre at the end of the night after the sabbath-day, or when it began to be light, and about sunrise on the first day of the week, on our Sunday.—There may indeed be some doubt whether the Latin word vesperè be not an adverb, corresponding to the Greek οψε, serò. And then it may be translated with Dr. Wells: late in the night after the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. But this makes no difference at all as to the sense. And the other Mary, &c. S. Mark says, Mary, the mother of James and Salome. S. Luke also names Joanna, who was wife to Chusa, Herod’s steward. These women had rested the sabbath, and as soon as it was over, i.e. after sunset, they bought spices, and prepared them in the night, in order to embalm the body next morning. Wi.

Mat 28:2  And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and coming rolled back the stone and sat upon it.

Behold … an angel. The angel did not remove the stone to afford a passage to Christ when he arose; for Christ most certainly arose before the angel appeared; but he removed the stone to prepare the way for the women, and to shew the soldiers that Christ was arisen. He sat on the stone, that the women might know he had removed it; and, in the second place, that they might not be terrified at the appearance of the soldiers; for he exhorted them not to fear, but to come and see; and lastly, to prevent the soldiers from putting in another body, had they been so disposed. The holy women seem not to have known that there were guards placed near the sepulchre; otherwise they would not have been so solicitous who should roll away the stone for them, as how they should deceive the guards and break the seal. Tirinus.—For an angel of the Lord. This angel, who came to testify Christ’s resurrection, removed the great stone; but Christ was risen before, who according to all the fathers, says Estius, rose, the sepulchre being yet shut.[2]—S. Matthew and S. Mark name but one angel; S. Luke and S. John name two. It may be answered, that the women saw one at one time, and two at another: one upon the stone, out of the monument; (which also frightened the guards) afterwards this angel disappeared, and the women coming near, and looking into the vault, saw two angels, when he that was on the right side said, why seek you him that is living, among the dead?—Another difference to be observed, is, that S. Matthew, Mark and John tell us, that the angel, or angels, sat; and S. Luke, that they stood: they might sit at one time, and stand at another. Besides that in the style of the Scriptures, standing, or sitting, many times imply no more than that they were present there.—In the third place, we take notice that Mary Magdalene seems to have come running to S. Peter, and S. John, as soon as she saw the stone removed, with these words, They have taken away the Lord … and we know not where they have laid him: John 20:2, we do not there read that she said any thing of the angels. Or perhaps S. Peter and S. John ran away before they heard all that Magdalene had to say. In all these there is no contradiction; and the difficulties rise only from this, that each evangelist does not relate all the circumstances. Wi.

Mat 28:3  And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow. 

Haydock provides no commentary on this verse. The reference to the angel’s countenance recalls Daniel’s vision of the heavenly being in Dan 10:6 (the angel Gabriel? cf. Dan 9:21).

His raiment as snow. Associated with God (“the Ancient of Days” in Dan 9:7); the Son of Man (Rev 1:14-15); Jesus at the Transfiguration (Matt 17:2); angels at the Ascension (Acts 1:10); the Twenty-four Elders in Heaven (Rev 4:4); those who will be resurrected to heavenly glory (Rev 3:4-5; 6:11; 7:9, 13). 

Mat 28:4  And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men.

The guards were struck, &c. Fear and astonishment seized upon them, because they had not that charity for our Redeemer, of which he is so deserving; and they became petrified, like statues, at the thought that the crucified Jesus was arisen from the sepulchre. For these men guarded the sacred tomb, actuated more by passion and cruelty than by any sentiment of love and duty. Rabanus.

Mat 28:5  And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

It is not yours to fear, who love Jesus Christ: let those rather fear, who through hatred have crucified Jesus. All such, if they do not repent of their wickedness, must have to undergo the greatest extremities of pain. S. Chrys. hom. xc.—Those miscreants fear, because they have not charity, but fear not you; for I know you seek him that was crucified, who is risen, as he promised you. These affectionate women sought Jesus among the dead, who was then among the living. The recent storm of calamities had nearly overwhelmed their faith, and the weight of temptations had so enfeebled their understanding, that they came to seek the Lord of heaven as one dead among the dead. S. Jerom.—The angel blushes not to style Jesus the crucified; for this is now the height and perfection of all good. By these glad tidings he endeavoured to expel their fears, speaking with a smiling countenance, as the messenger of the most joyful news. S. Chrys. hom. xc.

Mat 28:6  He is not here. For he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.

He is risen, as he said. This is to put them in mind of what they ought to have remembered, and believed.—S. Luke is more particular; and tells us the angel said: remember how he spoke to you, when he was yet in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Wi.—By this the angel give them to understand, that if they would not believe him upon his own testimony, they should at least on the testimony of their Redeemer’s promises, who had frequently assured them that on the third day he should rise again. S. Chrys. hom. xc.

Mat 28:7  And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen. And behold he will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.

Into Galilee. It is not without reason that the angel informs the women that he will go before them into Galilee; for Galilee is interpreted a transmigration, or a passage. O happy women, who merited the glorious ministry of announcing to a sunk and distressed world the triumphant resurrection of our Redeemer. But thrice happy those souls, who in the day of judgment shall deserve to sing in everlasting canticles, the joy you now conceive in your breasts at the happy resurrection of Jesus. Ven. Bede.—Moreover, the disciples being Galileans, it was natural for them to return to Galilee, after the festival week of the Passover. V.

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

Haydock offers no comments on this verse.

They went out quickly. Having been bidden to go quickly to the disciples (verse 7) the women obey.

With fear and great joy. Matthew downplays the harsher description of the women found in Mark 16:8. This is in keeping with his overall treatment of the disciples.

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

Jesus met them. According to S. Mark, Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene; and the particulars are related by S. John. She at first did not know him, but took him for the gardener: then he called her by her name Mary, and she knew him: he said to her, touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; i.e. according to the common exposition, I have not ascended, nor am yet going to ascend; thou mayest see me again before I ascend: this is not the last time.—We also read here, (v. 9,) that he appeared to some of the other women, as they were returning to Jerusalem from the sepulchre, and that they laid hold on his feet, and adored him; nor is it said that he hindered them. Wi.—They were then returning to carry the news to the disciples, when they laid hold of his feet. To touch the feet, was in the Scripture a species of veneration; (see Exod. 4:25. 4 Kings 4:27) as among the Greeks, the touching of the knees. Thus Homer’s Illiad, b. i.,

Και ρα παροιθ αυτοιο Καθεζετο, Και λαβε γουνων. v 500. And again, v. 512; ως ηψατο γουνων.

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

There they shall see me. Our Saviour, on the day of his resurrection, shewed himself alive five different times: 1. to Mary Magdalene; 2. to the women leaving the sepulchre; 3. to S. Peter; 4. to the two disciples going to Emmaus; 5. to the disciples assembled together, when the two returned from Emmaus. And after the day of his resurrection, before he ascended into heaven, he appeared other five times: 1. after eight days, when Thomas was present; 2. when the seven disciples were fishing on the sea of Tiberias; (S. John c. 21) 3. to the eleven on Mount Thabor; 4. in Jerusalem, on the day of his ascension; and 5. on the same day on Mount Olivet, when he was taken from them. Dion. Carth.—The seventh apparition of Jesus, which was by the sea or lake of Tiberias, S. John calls the third, which may mean in any numerous assembly of his disciples; the first being on the day of his resurrection, and the second the Sunday following. This may also be referred to the number of days. He first appeared to different persons on the very day of his resurrection; secondly, eight days afterwards, and then a third time. S. Aug.—The history of our Lord’s different apparitions in not very clear, and it is necessary to have recourse to the first chapter of the Acts, and to the 15th chapter of S. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. S. Austin says, (l. iii. de cons. Evang. c. xxv,) that there are ten apparitions of our Lord recorded in the four evangelists, which he specifies; but Maldonatus, on the 28th chap. of S. Mat. enumerates 13 different apparitions.

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