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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 19:24b-37

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2018

Ver 24b. These things therefore the soldiers did.25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he says to his mother, Woman, behold your son!27. Then says he to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

THEOPHYL. While the soldiers were doing their cruel work, He was thinking anxiously of His mother: These things therefore the soldiers did.  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

AMBROSE. Mary the mother of our Lord stood before the cross of her Son. None of the Evangelists hath told me this except John. The others have related how that at our Lord’s Passion the earth quaked, the heaven was overspread with darkness, the sun fled, the thief was taken into paradise after confession. John hath told us, what the others have not, how that from the cross whereon He hung, He called to His mother. He thought it a greater thing to show Him victorious over punishment, fulfilling the offices of piety to His mother, than giving the kingdom of heaven and eternal life to the thief. For if it was religious to give life to the thief, a much richer work of piety it is for a son to honor his mother with such affection. Behold, He says, your son; behold your mother. Christ made His Testament from the cross, and divided the offices of piety between the Mother and the disciples. Our Lord made not only a public, but also a domestic Testament. And this His Testament John sealed a witness worthy of such a Testator. A good testament it was, not of money, but of eternal life, which was not written with ink, but with tile spirit of the living God: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Mary, as became the mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled and With pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son. For she looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world; end perhaps knowing that her Son’s death would bring this salvation, she who had been the habitation of the King, thought that by her death she might add to that universal gift.

But Jesus did not need any help for saving the v world, as you read in the Psalm, I have been even as a man with no help, free among the dead. He received indeed the affection of a parent, but He did not seek another’s help. Imitate her, you holy matrons, who, as towards here only most beloved Son, has set you an example of such virtue: for you have not sweeter sons, nor did the Virgin seek consolation in again becoming a mother.

JEROME. The Mary which in Mark and Matthew is called the mother of James and Joses was the wife of Alpheus, and sister of Mary the mother of our Lord: which Mary John here designates of Cleophas, either from her father, or family, or for some other reason. She need not be thought a different person, because she is called in one place Mary the mother of James the less, and here Mary of Cleophas, for it is customary in Scripture to give different names to the same person.

CHRYS. Observe how the weaker sex is the stronger; standing by the cross when the disciples fly.

AUG. If Matthew and Mark had not mentioned by name Mary Magdalene, we should have thought that there were two parties, one of which stood far off, and the other near. But how must we account for the same Mary Magdalene and the other women standing afar off, as Matthew and Mark say, and being near the cross, as John says? By supposing that they were within such a distance as to be within sight of our Lord, and yet sufficiently far off to be out of the way of the crowd and Centurion, and soldiers who were immediately about Him. Or, we e may suppose that after our Lord had commended His mother to the disciple, they retired to be out of the way of the crowd, and saw what took place afterwards at a distance: so that those Evangelists who do not mention them till after our Lord’s death, describe them as standing afar off. That some women are mentioned by all alike, others not, makes no matter.

CHRYS. Though there were other women by, He makes no mention of any of them, but only of His mother, to show us that v, e should specially honor our mothers. Our parents indeed, if they actually oppose the truth, are not even to be known: but otherwise we should pay them all attention, and honor them above all the world beside: When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He says to His mother, Woman, behold your son!

BEDE. By the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Evangelist means himself; not that the others were not loved, but he was loved more intimately on account of his estate of chastity; for a Virgin our Lord called him, and a Virgin he ever remained.

CHRYS. Heavens! what honor does He pay to the disciple; who however conceals his name from modesty. For had he wished to boast, he would have added the reason why he was loved, for there must have been something great and wonderful to have caused that love. This is all He says to John; He does not console his grief, for this was a time for giving consolation. Yet was it no small one to be honored with such a charge, to have the mother of our Lord, in her affliction, committed to his care by Himself on His departure: Then says He to the disciple, Behold your mother!

AUG. This truly is that hour of the which Jesus, when about to change the water into wine, said, Mother, what have I to do with you? Mine hour is not yet come. Then, about to act divinely, He repelled the mother of His humanity, of His infirmity, as if He knew her not: now, suffering humanly, He commends with human affection her of whom He was made man. Here is a moral lesson. The good Teacher shows us by His example how that pious sons should take care of their parents. The cross of the sufferer, is the chair of the Master.

CHRYS. The shameless doctrine of Marcion is refuted here. For if our Lord were not born according to the flesh, and had not a mother, why did He make such provision for her? Observe how imperturbable He is during His crucifixion, talking to the disciple of His mother, fulfilling prophecies, airing good hope to the thief; whereas before His crucifixion, He seemed in fear. The weakness of His nature was strewn there, the exceeding greatness of His power here. He teaches us too herein, not to turn back, because we may feel disturbed at the difficulties before us for when we are once actually under the trial, all will be; light and easy for us.

AUG. He does this to provide as it were another son for His mother in his place; And from that hour that disciple took her to his own. To his own what? Was not John one of those who said, Lo, we have left all, and followed You? He took her then to his own, i. e not to his farm, for he had none, but to his care, for of this he was master.

BEDE. Another reading is, Accepy eam disciplus in suam, his own mother some understand, but to his own care seems better.

Ver 28. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst.29. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.30. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

AUG. He who appeared man, suffered all these things, He who was God, ordered them: After this Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished; i.e. knowing the prophecy in the Psalms, And when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink, said, I thirst: As if to say, you have not done all give me yourselves: for the Jews were themselves vinegar having degenerated from the wine of the Patriarchs and the Prophets.

Now there was a vessel full of vinegar: they had drunk from the wickedness of the world, as from a full vessel, and their heart was deceitful, as it were a sponge full of caves and crooked hiding places: And they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

CHRYS. They were not softened at all by what they saw, but were the more enraged, and gave Him the cup to drink, as they did to criminals, i.e. with a hyssop.

AUG. The hyssop around which they put the sponge full of vinegar, being a mean herb, taken to purge the breast, represents the humility of Christ, which they hemmed in and thought they had circumvented. For we are made clean by Christ s humility. Nor let it perplex you that they were able to reach His mouth when He was such a height above the ground: for we read in the other Evangelists, what John omits to mention, that the sponge was put upon a reed.

THEOPHYL. Some say that the hyssop is put here for reed, its leaves being like a reed.  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished.

AUG. viz. what prophecy had foretold so long before.

BEDE. It may be asked here, why it is said, When Jesus had received the vinegar, when another Evangelists says, He would not drink. But this is easily settled. He did not receive the vinegar, to drink it, but fulfill the prophecy.

AUG. Then as there was nothing left Him to do before He died, it follows, And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost, only dying when He had nothing more to do, like Him who had to lay down His life, and to take it up again.

GREG. Ghost is put here for soul: for had the Evangelist meant any thing else by it, though the ghost departed, in the soul might still have remained.

CHRYS. He did not bow His head because He gave up the ghost, but He gave up the ghost because at that moment He bowed His head. Whereby the Evangelist intimates that He was Lord of all.

AUG. For whoever had such power to sleep when he wished, as our Lord had to die when He wished? What power must He have, for our good or evil, Who had such power dying?

THEOPHYL. Our Lord gave up His ghost to God the Father, showing that the souls of the saints do not remain in the tomb, but go into the hand of the Father of all while sinners are reserved – for the place of punishment, i.e. hell.

Ver  31. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath clay, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.32. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him,33. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs:34. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.35. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knows that he says true, that you might believe.36. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.37. And again another Scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

CHRYS. The Jews who strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel after their audacious wickedness, reason scrupulously about the day: The Jews therefore because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath.

BEDE. Parasceue, i. e. preparation: the sixth day was so called because the children of Israel prepared twice the number of loaves on that day. For that Sabbath day was an high day, i. e. on account of the feast of the passover.  Besought Pilate that their legs might be broken.

AUG. Not in order to take away the legs, but to cause death, that they might be taken down from the cross, and the feast day not be defiled by the sight of such horrid torments.

THEOPHYL. For it was commanded in the Law that the sun should not set on the punishment of anyone; or they were unwilling to appear tormentors and homicides on a feast day.

CHRYS. How forcible is truth: their own devices it is that accomplish the fulfillment of prophecy: Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him.

But when they came to Jesus, an saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs:  but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side.

THEOPHYL. To please the Jews, they pierce Christ, thus insulting even His lifeless body. But the insult issues in a miracle: for a miracle it is that blood should flow from a dead body.

AUG. The Evangelist has expressed himself cautiously; not struck, or wounded, but opened His side: whereby was opened the gate of life, from whence the sacraments of the Church flowed, without which we cannot enter into that life which is the true life: And forthwith came thereout blood and water. That blood was shed for the remission of sins, that water tempers the cup of salvation. This it was which was prefigured when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, by which the animals that were not to perish by the deluge entered; which animals prefigured the Church. To shadow forth this, the woman was made out of the side of the sleeping man; for this second Adam bowed His head, and slept on the cross, that out of that which came therefrom, there might be formed a wife for Him. O death, by which the dead are quickened, what can be purer than that blood, what more salutary than that wound!

CHRYS. This being the source whence the holy mysteries are derived, when you approach the awful cup, approach it as if you were about to drink out of Christ’s side.

THEOPHYL. Shame then upon them who mix not water with the wine in the holy mysteries: they seem as if they believed not that the water flowed from the side. Had blood flowed only, a man might have said that there was some life left in the body, and that that was as why the blood flowed. But the water flowing is an irresistible miracle, and therefore the Evangelist adds, And he that saw it bare record.

CHRYS. As if to say, I did not hear it from others, but saw it with mine own eyes. And his record is true, he adds, not as if he had mentioned something so wonderful that his account would be suspected, but to stop the mouths of heretics, and in contemplation of the deep value of those mysteries which he announces.  And he knows that he says true, the you might believe.

AUG. He that saw it knows; let him that saw not believe his testimony. He gives testimonies from the Scriptures to each of these two things he relates. After, they brake not His legs, He adds, For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken, a commandment which applied to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb under the old law, which sacrifice foreshadowed our Lord’s. Also after, One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, then follows another Scripture testimony; And again another Scripture said, They shall look on Him whom they pierced, a prophecy which implies that Christ will come in the very flesh in which He was crucified.

JEROME. This testimony is taken from Zacharias.

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Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 17:11-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 24, 2018

ANALYSIS OF JOHN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

In this chapter, we have the solemn prayer addressed to His heavenly Father, by our Lord when about to enter on His Sacred Passion. 1st. For Himself, to receive due glory in compensation for His humiliations, and in return for the glory He had given His Father (1–5). 2ndly. For His disciples, to obtain for them perseverance in faith, preservation from evil, and sanctification in truth (6–19). 3rdly. For the faithful, who are to receive the faith through the preaching of the Apostles (20). Finally, He prays for all together; He asks for the entire Church, the gift of perfect union among themselves, similar to the union existing among the Persons of the Adorable Trinity, and the ineffable blessings of eternal happiness (21–26).

COMMENTARY ON JOHN 17:11-19

11 And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me: that they may be one, as we also are.

He gives a reason for praying fervently now, especially for His disciples. “Now I am not in the world.” I am shortly to leave this earth and withdraw My visible presence, “and these are in the world.” These remain after Me, exposed to all the dangers, temptations, and persecutions, cast in their way by a perverse world, without the aid of My personal advice and protection. “because I come to Thee.” I return to Thee by My death and Resurrection. I, therefore, specially commend them to Thee.

Holy Father.” He calls Him “holy,” as He was the fountain of holiness and sanctity, which He prayed for on behalf of His disciples.

Keep them in Thy name,” which some interpret, by Thy gract and power, preserve them in My love and service. Others, keep them in the confession of Thy name and truth. Others, keep them in Thy grace, for the honour of Thy name.

Whom Thou hast given Me.” There is a diversity of reading in the Greek. For, “whom” (ὅυς) some read (ω) (which). The reading adopted by the Vulgate is considered preferable. It is the reading employed next verse (12).

That they may be one,” united in love and affection, in some measure, similar to the union that essentially and inseparably exists between the Persons of the Godhead. The essential unity of the Godhead is incommunicable. What He prays for here is the most perfect supernatural union that can exist among men, modelled, in a finite and limited degree on the unity of the Divine nature, unity of intellect, or faith, unity of will, or supernatural charity, unity of subordination in the entire Church between pastors and people. This is a comparison and no more, since the unity of the Godhead is incommunicable. It is a similarity of union, in a limited degree. Man can never attain the Divine unity.

12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept: and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition: that the scripture may be fulfilled.

While I was with them,” visibly and corporally conversing with them. In the Greek, is added “in the world.” “I kept them in Thy name,” by Thy power and authority, attached to Me as Thy Legate. I kept them in Thy service and in the confession of Thy name.

Those whom Thou gavest Me,” as My disciples and chose followers, “have I kept” firm in Thy love and service, and preserved them from all harm, either in regard to soul or body.

And none of them is lost” eternally, or has sustained bodily harm, “but” (except) traitorous Judas, “the son of perdition,” who is irrecoverably doomed, through his own perversity, to eternal perdition; so “that” as a consequence of his previous obstinacy and ingratitude, “the Scripture,” or Divine prediction regarding him, “may be fulfilled” (Psa. 108:8). “Dum judicatur exeat condemnatus, Episcopatum ejus accipiat alter.” This passage, St. Peter (Acts, 1:20), applies literally to Judas.

13 And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.

 “And now,” leaving them, “I come to Thee.” I return to Thee, after My death and Resurrection. Deprived of My presence, instruction and personal protection, I earnestly commend them to Thee, to watch over them and specially guard them.

And these things I speak in the world.” These words I address to Thee in their behalf, while I am yet “in the world.”

So that they may have My joy,” which the knowledge of their union and charity causes Me, “filled in themselves.” Fully shared in by themselves, by witnessing My Resurrection, Ascension, and sending down the Holy Ghost—a subject of great joy—and also by the firm hope of hereafter following Me and participating in My joys, in My heavenly kingdom.

14 I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them: because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

. “I have given them Thy word,” preached to them Thy doctrines, meant by Thee for the world. They have faithfully attended to them (verse 8).

And the world hath hated them, because they are not of this world,” their affections, pursuits, aims and morals are quite dissimilar. “As I am not of this world,” and hence, for a like reason, hated by them (20:18, 19).

15 I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil.

 “I pray not, that Thou wouldst take them out of the world,” by a holy death, and transfer them at once, to Thy kingdom. This would not be expedient, or, in accordance with Thy Providence, by which it is arranged, that they would battle with the world, suffer persecution, and thus spread the Gospel, and by the exhibition of Christian virtues, and by bravely enduring death for Thy sake, promote the glory of Thy name.

But that “Thou wouldst keep them,” whilst conversing in the world, “from evil,” by which some understand the evil one, the devil, the prince of this world. Others, understand it of evil in general, especially sin, and departure from the true faith.

16 They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

He repeats what He said in verse 14, as a motive for obtaining the following request, as neither He nor they are of the world.

17 Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth.

 Therefore, “sanctify them in truth.” “Sanctify” may mean, to confirm them in sanctity and increase the sanctity they already possess; infuse into them by the Holy Ghost, perfect evangelical truth, so that, replete with sanctity and wisdom, they may become teachers of the world, breathing sanctity in every word and act.

Others, by “sanctify,” understand, to set them apart for the ministry of preaching Thy Gospel, “in truth,” in the doctrine of truth, which I delivered to them in Thy name, and which they are to teach others. “In truth,” as preachers of Thy word. For, “Thy word is truth,” without the least admixture of error. It is the true, real fulfilment of the types and empty figures of the old law. Likely, both meanings are intended, viz., that God would bestow on them an increase of interior sanctity and set them apart for His ministry.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

 As Thou hast sent Me into the world,” to save souls by dispensing doctrine and grace; to repair and sanctify a world lost in sin.

I also have sent them.” etc., for the same object, to be achieved by the same means. Therefore, prepare them for it, lest they fall away either on account of blandishments or the force of persecution.

19 And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

And for them,” in order to sanctify and consecrate them irrevocably for Thy service.

I sanctify Myself,” consecrating and offering Myself up to God, in a few hours, as a victim of atonement on the altar of the cross, holy, pleasing in all things.

That they also may be sanctified in truth,” that through the merits of My death, of My immolation in sacrifice, they also may be consecrated and set apart, and by advancing still more in real, internal sanctity, may be rendered fit to preach the Gospel of truth, throughout the earth, and by their evangelical labours and final sufferings, be themselves victims agreeable in Thy sight.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 3:19-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018

19. —— And they went into an house.

20. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

22. And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Bede. (ubi sup.) The Lord leads the Apostles, when they were elected, into a house, as if admonishing them, that after having received the Apostleship, they should retire to look on their own consciences. Wherefore it is said, And they came into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not eat bread.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Ungrateful indeed were the multitudes of princes, whom their pride hinders from knowledge, but the grateful multitude of the people came to Jesus.

Bede. (ubi sup.) And blessed indeed the concourse of the crowd, flocking together, whose anxiety to obtain salvation was so great, that they left not the Author of salvation even an hour free to take food. But Him, whom a crowd of strangers loves to follow, his relations hold in little esteem: for it goes on: And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold upon him. For since they could not take in the depth of wisdom, which they heard, they thought that He was speaking in a senseless way, wherefore it continues, for they said, He is beside himself.

Theophylact. That is, He has a devil and is mad, and therefore they wished to lay hold upon Him, that they might shut Him up as one who had a devil. And even His friends wished to do this, that is, His relations, perchance His countrymen, or His brethren.1But it was a silly insanity in them, to conceive that the Worker of such great miracles of Divine Wisdom had become mad.

Bede. (ubi sup.) Now there is a great difference between those who do not understand the word of God from slowness of intellect, such as those, who are here spoken of, and those who purposely blaspheme, of whom it is added, And the Scribes which came down from Jerusalem, &c. For what they could not deny, they endeavour to pervert by a malicious interpretation, as if they were not the works of God, but of a most unclean spirit, that is, of Beelzebub, who was the God of Ekron. For ‘Beel’ means Baal himself, and ‘zebub’ a fly; the meaning of Beelzebub therefore is the man of flies, on account of the filth of the blood which was offered, from which most unclean rite, they call him prince of the devils, adding, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Pseudo-Jerome. But mystically, the house to which they came, is the early Church. The crowds which prevent their eating bread are sins and vices; for he who eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself. (1 Cor. 11:29)

Bede. (ubi sup.) The Scribes also coming down from Jerusalem blaspheme. But the multitude from Jerusalem, and from other regions of Judæa, or of the Gentiles, followed the Lord, because so it was to be at the time of His Passion, that a crowd of the people of the Jews should lead Him to Jerusalem with palms and praises, and the Gentiles should desire to see Him; but the Scribes and Pharisees should plot together for His death.

23. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

24. And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

28. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

30. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The blasphemy of the Scribes having been detailed, our Lord shews that what they said was impossible, confirming His proof by an example. Wherefore it says, And having called them together unto him, he said unto them in parables. How can Satan cast out Satan? As if He had said, A kingdom divided against itself by civil war must be desolated, which is exemplified both in a house and in a city. Wherefore also if Satan’s kingdom be divided against itself, so that Satan expels Satan from men, the desolation of the kingdom of the devils is at hand. But their kingdom consists in keeping men under their dominion. If therefore they are driven away from men, it amounts to nothing less than the dissolution of their kingdom. But if they still hold their power over men, it is manifest that the kingdom of evil is still standing, and Satan is not divided against himself.

Gloss. (non occ.) And because He has already shewn by an example that a devil cannot cast out a devil, He shews how he can be expelled, saying, No man can enter into a strong man’s house, &c.

Theophylact. The meaning of the example is this: The devil is the strong man; his goods are the men into whom he is received; unless therefore a man first conquers the devil, how can he deprive him of his goods, that is, of the men whom he has possessed? So also I who spoil his goods, that is, free men from suffering by his possession, first spoil the devils and vanquish them, and am their enemy. How then can ye say that I have Beelzebub, and that being the friend of the devils, I cast them out?

Bede. (in Marc. i. 17) The Lord has also bound the strong man, that is, the devil: which means, He has restrained him from seducing the elect, and entering into his house, the world; He has spoiled his house, and his goods, that is men, because He has snatched them from the snares of the devil, and has united them to His Church. Or, He has spoiled his house, because the four parts of the world, over which the old enemy had sway, He has distributed to the Apostles and their successors, that they may convert the people to the way of life. But the Lord shews that they committed a great sin, in crying out that that which they knew to be of God, was of the devil, when He subjoins, Verily I say unto you, All sins are forgiven, &c. All sins and blasphemies are not indeed remitted to all men, but to those who have gone through a repentance in this life sufficient for their sins; thus neither is Novatusm right, who denied that any pardon should be granted to penitents, who had lapsed in time of martyrdom; nor Origen, who asserts that after the general judgment, after the revolution of ages, all sinners will receive pardon for their sins, which error the following words of the Lord condemn, when He adds, But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, &c.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) He says indeed, that blasphemy concerning Himself was pardonable, because He then seemed to be a man despised and of the most lowly birth, but, that contumely against God has no remission. Now blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is against God, for the operation of the Holy Ghost is the kingdom of God; and for this reason, He says, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost cannot be remitted. Instead, however, of what is here added, But will be in danger of eternal damnation, another Evangelist says, Neither in this world, nor in the world to come. By which is understood, the judgment which is according to the law, and that which is to come. For the law orders one who blasphemes God to be slain, and in the judgment of the second law he has no remission.nHowever, he who is baptized is taken out of this world; but the Jews were ignorant of the remission which takes place in baptism. He therefore who refers to the devil miracles, and the casting out of devils which belong to the Holy Ghost alone, has no room left him for remission of his blasphemy. Neither does it appear that such a blasphemy as this is remitted, since it is against the Holy Ghost. Wherefore he adds, explaining it, Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Theophylact. We must however understand, that they will not obtain pardon unless they repent. But since it was at the flesh of Christ that they were offended, even though they did not repent, some excuse was allowed them, and they obtained some remission.

Pseudo-Jerome. Or this is meant; that he will not deserve to work out repentance, so as to be accepted, who, understanding who Christ was, declared that He was the prince of the devils.

Bede. (ubi sup.) Neither however are those, who do not believe the Holy Spirit to be God, guilty of an unpardonable blasphemy, because they were persuaded to do this by human ignorance, not by devilish malice.

Augustine. (Serm. 71, 12, 21) Or else impenitence itself is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost which hath no remission. For either in his thought or by his tongue, he speaks a word against the Holy Ghost the forgiver of sins, who treasures up for himself an impenitent heart. But he subjoins, Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit, that he might shew that His reason for saying it, was their declaring that He cast out a devil by Beelzebub, not because there is a blasphemy, which cannot be remitted since even this might be remitted through a right repentance: but the cause why this sentence was put forth by the Lord, after mentioning the unclean spirit, (who as our Lord shews was divided against himself,) was, that the Holy Ghost even makes those whom He brings together undivided, by His remitting those sins, which divided them from Himself, which gift of remission is resisted by no one, but him who has the hardness of an impenitent heart. For in another place, the Jews said of the Lord, that He had a devil, (John 7:20.) without however His saying any thing there about the blasphemy against the Spirit; and the reason is, that they did not there cast in His teeth the unclean spirit, in such a way, that that spirit could by their own words be shewn to be divided against Himself, as Beelzebub was here shewn to be, by their saying, that it might be he who cast out devilso.

31. There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

32. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

33. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34. And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Theophylact. Because the relations of the Lord had come to seize upon Him, as if beside Himself, His mother, urged by the sympathy of her love, came to Him; wherefore it is said, And there came unto him his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

Chrysostom. (non occ.) From this it is manifest that His brethren and His mother were not always with Him; but because He was beloved by them, they come from reverence and affection, waiting without. Wherefore it goes on, And the multitude sat about him, &c.

Bede. (ubi sup.) The brothers of the Lord must not be thought to be the sons of the ever-virgin Mary, as Helvidius sayp, nor the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, as some think, but rather they must be understood to be His relations.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) But another Evangelist says, that His brethren did not believe on Him. With which this agrees, which says, that they sought Him, waiting without, and with this meaning the Lord does not mention them as relations. Wherefore it follows, And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother or my brethren? (John 7:5) But He does not here mention His mother and His brethren altogether with reproof, but to shew that a man must honour his own soul above all earthly kindred; wherefore this is fitly said to those who called Him to speak with His mother and relations, as if it were a more useful task than the teaching of salvation.

Bede. (Ambr in Luc. 6, 36. Bede ubi sup.) Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body. Wherefore it goes on, And looking round about on them which sat about him, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren.

Chrysostom. (non occ.) By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Himq; for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers.

Pseudo-Jerome. But let us be assured that we are His brethren and His sisters, if we do the will of the Father; that we may be joint-heirs with Him, for He discerns us not by sex but by our deeds. Wherefore it goes on: Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.

Theophylact. He does not therefore say this, as denying His mother, but as shewing that He is worthy of honour, not only because she bore Christ, but on account of her possessing every other virtue.

Bede. (ubi sup.) But mystically, the mother and brother of Jesus means the synagogue, (from which according to the flesh He sprung,) and the Jewish people who, while the Saviour is teaching within, come to Him, and are not able to enter, because they cannot understand spiritual things. But the crowd eagerly enter, because when the Jews delayed, the Gentiles flocked to Christ; but His kindred, who stand without wishing to see the Lord, are the Jews who obstinately remained without, guarding the letter, and would rather compel the Lord to go forth to them to teach carnal things, than consent to enter in to learn spiritual things of Him. (Ambr in Luc. 6, 37.). If therefore not even His parents when standing without are acknowledged, how shall we be acknowledged, if we stand without? For the word is within and the light within.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 10, 2018

Practices of the New Kingdom, 6:1–7:12

After describing the character of the citizens of the Messianic Kingdom and their influence on others, after stating the perfection of the Christian law both in general and in particular obligations, our Lord proceeds to develop the practice of the New Testament virtues. This practice concerns first our acts of devotion [6:1–18], secondly, our private life [6:19–34], and thirdly, our relation to our neighbor [7:1–12].

1 Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Take heed that you do not do your justice.] 1. Acts of devotion, 6:1–18. This section considers first, alms-deeds, 1–4; secondly, prayer, 5–15; thirdly, fasting, 16–18. That these works were considered in the Old Testament as belonging to the substance of perfection is plain from Tob. 12:8, 9; besides, there is a number of passages in which the three works are recommended singly: the giving of alms is spoken of Deut. 15:7; Pss. 40:2; 111:5; Prov. 11:25; 19:17; Is. 58:7, 8; prayer was practiced both publicly and privately, Gen. 18:23; 20:17; 1 Sam 1:10; 2:1; 8:6; Deut. 26:3 14; 1 Kings 8:56 ff.; Ps. 54:18; fasting, too, was well known, and at certain times even prescribed, Jud. 20:26; 1 Sam 7:6; 2 Sam 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Est. 4:1; Ps. 34:13; Dan. 9:3; Joel 2:13; Lev. 16:29; 23:27; Zach. 7:3, 5; 8:19. It is also to be kept in mind that at the time of the exile, prayer was often recurred to instead of the legal sacrifices; but no certain posture of the body was determined as obligatory. Our Lord therefore does not introduce new practices of devotion in the following discourse, but teaches the proper method of performing the customary ones. He comprises them under the name of “justice” and warns in general that they are not to be performed through vainglory. It is true that Maldonado, etc. regard “justice” as synonymous with the following “alms-deed,” but Tob. 4:10 and Prov. 10:2; 11:4 show that it had also the wider meaning. It is not the mere publicity of the good works that robs them of their merit, but the intention of the doer to gain human praise thereby. Whatever may have been the views of the Jews concerning future retribution, our Lord here speaks of the “reward of your Father who is in heaven.”

2 Therefore when thou dost an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

 Therefore, when thou dost an alms-deed.] a. Alms-deeds. Here Jesus teaches first, what to avoid, then, how to give alms, and thirdly, he adds the motive. a. We must avoid the way of the hypocrites in the synagogues and the streets. In classical language “hypocrites” were those that acted the part of another person, the beginning of their performance being announced by the sound of a trumpet. Owing to this custom, gl. ord. Bruno of Segni, Tostatus, Cajetan, Jansenius [cf. Euthymius, Maldonado Lapide] contend that our Lord warns here literally against having one’s alms-deeds announced by trumpet-sound in streets and synagogues, thus merely acting the part of a friend to the poor. But Lightfoot, Schöttgen, etc. maintain that there is no vestige of any such custom among the ancient Hebrews. Since our Lord must have alluded to an evil that was then well known, Edersheim [i. pp. 196, 539] believes that he borrows his language from the trumpet-shaped collection boxes in which the alms were received in both temple and synagogues; but Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Barradas, Sylveira, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion Knabenbauer, etc. rightly see in the language of our Lord a merely figurative expression, in which he warns against ostentation and external show in our works of mercy [cf. Cicero, ep. ad divers, vi. 21]. The use of trumpets in the temple service was sufficiently well known to render our Lord’s words fully intelligible [cf. Joel 2:15].

3 But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.
4 That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

But when thou dost alms.] β. How to give alms. We need not notice the view of Paulus and de Wette who think that Jesus warns against first counting the money, or the alms we give, in the left hand; Chrysostom and Augustine, have rejected the explanation that the “left hand” means the wicked and the unbelieving; Augustine qualifies the view that the “left hand” signifies the wife, as absurd and ridiculous, because our Lord cannot be supposed to allude to the parsimoniousness of the wife, and the domestic struggles that would follow, if the wife were to know the generous acts of mercy done by the husband; nor can it be maintained that the “left hand” signifies either pleasure or our lower appetite, because this interpretation does not fit into the context; the view of Maldonado, who considers the language of Jesus as a rhetorical exaggeration, deserves more commendation than any of the foregoing, though the “left hand” may also signify those most closely connected with us [cf. Mt. 5:29, 30]. At any rate, our alms-deeds must be done with as little ostentation as possible.

γ. The motive. The secret charity we thus exercise becomes more precious [cf. Sirach. 29:15], and our reward will be not that of this earth, but that of heaven [cf. Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 1:12, 18; 4:8]. But even in this life, we thus spare the feelings of the poor, and have God “who seeth in secret” for the witness of our charity. The foregoing doctrine is of precept, in so far as it teaches that our intention in doing good must always be pure; it is of counsel, in so far as it warns us to avoid all occasion of vanity in which our corrupt human nature might be conquered [Jansenius, Knabenbauer].

5 And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

And when you pray.] b. Prayer. In this section our Lord first warns against the vice of the Pharisees [5, 6], then against the misconception of the heathens [7, 8], and finally he gives a formula of a perfect prayer [9–15]. a. The Old Testament passages referring to prayer have been given above [v. 1]. It may be supposed that public prayer was not only joined with the two daily sacrifices [cf. Ps. 72:20; 136], but also that it took place about the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour [cf. Ps. 54:18]. Acts 3:1; 10:9 seems to confirm the latter supposition. Though a kneeling and prostrate posture was not unknown among the Jews [1 Kings 8:54; 19:18; Dan. 6:10; Lk. 22:41; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5], they commonly stood erect during prayer [1 Kings 1:26; Dan. 9:20; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 18:11, 13; Philo, Vit. contempl. opp. ii. 481; Light. f.], so that “to stand” was almost synonymous with “to pray.” At the stated times of prayer there was naturally a greater concourse on the streets leading to the temple, and especially at the corners where two or three streets crossed each other. The warning of our Lord against standing and praying in the synagogues or at the corners of the streets is therefore a warning against ostentation in our prayer. The retirement in which we ought to pray is described by the chamber and the shut doors [Mt. 24:26; Lk. 12:3; Tob. 7:15]; Jesus does not necessarily speak of the upper chamber, though the prayer was often performed in it [Dan. 6:11; Judith 8:5; Tob. 3:12; Acts 1:13]. Whether the passage be explained literally as a rhetorical exaggeration, or metaphorically, the spiritual lesson contained in it is the same. The manner in which Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Opus Imperfectum, apply the passage to spiritual recollection during time of prayer is rather pious than accurate. That public and common prayer was not prohibited by these words of Jesus is seen from Acts 1:24; 3:1; 4:24; 6:6; 12:12; 1 Tim. 2:8. The precept contained in these words may be complied with in public, and may be transgressed in secret, since it is only the intention, and not the outward circumstances, that Jesus regulates. The counsel contained in the words is again calculated to remove us from all occasion of vainglory.

16 And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

And when you fast.] c. Fasting. The law ordained only one yearly fast-day, the Day of Atonement [Lev. 16:29; 23:27]. Zach. 7:3, 5; 8:19 knows of four national fast-days. About the time of the exile private fasts became quite numerous, so that many fasted every Friday, and the Pharisees every Monday and Thursday. The Essenes and the Therapeutæ especially distinguished themselves by their rigorous fasts [cf. Josephus, Jewish Wars. II. viii. 2–14; Philo, De vit. cont. ii. 471 f.]. The one-day’s fast consisted in the total abstinence from food and drink; its penitential character was emphasized by additional austerities, by rending of the garments, wearing of haircloth, or sprinkling of ashes. Our Lord tells his hearers first, how not to fast, secondly, how to fast.

α. How not to fast. Jesus here returns to the principal theme of this part of his discourse, warning us against all vain ostentation in the performance of our good works. We are not to fast like the hypocrites, who merely act, as it were, the part of devout men; we must not neglect our hair or our face, or put on other signs of mourning, thus betraying our practice of fasting; if we do this, we have received our reward.

β. How to fast. The positive precept of our Lord concerning the manner of fasting tends to make us avoid the notice and praise of men. The anointing of the head may be regarded as a hyperbolical expression based on Oriental manners [cf. Ruth 3:3; 2 Kings 12:20; etc.]; it signifies that when we fast, we must appear outwardly the same as usual. Augustine, Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, refer the anointing of the head and the washing of the face to the inner man, so that our Lord, according to these writers, recommended a special care of purity of soul during the days of fasting. If Keil were right in inferring a prohibition of fasting itself from the words of our Lord, one might also infer a general prohibition of alms-deeds and prayer from the warning of Jesus not to perform these actions through vainglory.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 12:20-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 10, 2018

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

Certain Gentiles.” In Greek, “certain Hellenists, or Greeks.” The Greek language was the most extensively used among the Gentiles. Hence, the word “Greeks,” was commonly used by the Jews to designate all the Pagan nations; as most of the Pagans, whom they knew, spoke the Greek language. The Apostle (St. Paul), commonly uses the word, when speaking of the Gentile or Pagan world, as contra-distinguished from the Jews. (Rom. 1:16; 11:9), etc. The Evangelist appropriately introduces this, when describing the rage and envy of the Pharisees, to signify, that both Jews and Gentiles were to join in receiving and believing in our Lord.

Who these Gentiles were, cannot be easily determined. Some say, they were Jews who spoke the Greek language, and dwelt in some of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt, where they had their Synagogues. Others say, they were Proselytes, from among the Gentiles. Others, Gentiles and idolaters, who came to bring offerings to the God of Israel and worship Him. These holding, that there was one God, and seeing Him adored, with such majesty, by the Jews in the glorious Temple of Jerusalem, came to join in his worship, and present their gifts. The Temple was greatly venerated by Pagan Monarchs, who bestowed on it the richest gifts. Cyrus (1 Esdras; Darius Hystaspes, c. 6), and other Kings of Asia. (2 Machabees 3.) The neighbouring Pagans frequently attended the great feasts of the Jews. Hence, the outer Court of the Temple was called, the Court of the Gentiles.

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

They came to Philip, either because he was the first of our Lord’s disciples they met: or, because they knew him before. Some say, the mention of his native place, “Bethsaida of Galilee,” would show that these dwelt in the neighbourhood of Galilee; and hence, knew Philip, who was a Galilean. This is not likely; as among the disciples, there were other Galileans also.

Besides, knowing that the Jews would not wish to hold converse with Gentiles, the Gentiles in question had the deepest feelings of reverence for our Lord, and would not presume to approach Him in person. Hence, they employ Philip as an intermediary. “We wish to see,” that is, converse with “Jesus,” For, as regards “seeing,” all could see Him, as He was preaching. It means, therefore, to converse with Him.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Philip declined the task of introducing them, and had recourse to Andrew, his countryman, for the purpose. Andrew, it seems, enjoyed greater influence with our Lord, being His oldest disciple. It was he introduced Peter, his brother (1:40). Likely, Philip’s hesitation may have resulted from our Lord’s command, “in viam Gentium, ne abieritis.” Before exposing themselves to transgress, in any way, our Lord’s wish in this matter, they both lay the matter before our Lord.

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

Jesus answered them.” Likely, the Gentiles, too, were near, and within hearing, as we find no other answer made to Philip’s appeal, which would seem not to be unacceptable to our Lord. Whether He admitted them to conversation with Him is not stated. He, however, granted them more than was asked (v. 23–28).

The hour is come,” the appointed time for His death, which was to be followed by His Resurrection, Ascension, “is come,” so near at hand, that it may be said to have come, “that the Son of Man,” whose name the Pharisees would fain blot out from the minds of mankind and utterly obliterate.

Should be glorified,” made known to the Gentile world, of whom these are the first fruits; and after His Glorious Resurrection, Ascension, and sending down of the Holy Ghost, joined with the preaching of the Gospel, throughout the world, he would be acknowledged, adored and proclaimed by the entire earth, Jew and Gentile, as the Eternal Son of God. Our Lord frequently employs this epithet, “the Son of Man,” rather than the “Son of God,” as denoting His union with human nature, which He so honoured, denoting also His humble lowliness, in which through His humiliation, He was to receive the honours due to the Messiah; glory being exchanged, as its reward, for humiliation. (Philip. 2.)

Some Expositors (among whom Patrizzi), say, the “hour,” refers to the present day, on which He was so honoured, by the multitude, and on which a glorious testimony was soon to be borne to Him by His Father (v. 28), in the hearing of so many; the day whereon He was approaching Jerusalem, to enter on that course of suffering so often predicted by Him (Matthew 20:17–19; Mark 10:32; Luke 18:31–34), as the prelude to His glory.

Most likely, it refers to the testimony rendered to Him by His Father, in His Resurrection, Ascension, preaching of the Gospel, which would make known to all, the economy of Redemption, founded chiefly on His humiliation and death.

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

As His glorification was the fruit and reward of His humiliation and death (Philip. 2), which was now at hand, He illustrates the subject by a familiar similitude, and thus removes any grounds of offence or scandal which it might create in their minds. This being an important and solemn utterance, He prefaces it, with “Amen, amen,” usual with Him in such cases. His death would purchase a vast harvest of worshippers from all nations and peoples and tongues, etc. (Apoc. 7). For this, His death was necessary, just as it was necessary, in order that from a grain of corn, a crop or harvest would proceed, that the grain should first die and be dissolved, after being committed to the bosom of the earth. Unless it dies, it produces no fruit. It remains sterile and alone. But, if it dies, it produces much fruit When, after I die, I am committed to the earth, an uncommon harvest of faithful followers shall rise up, who are, in some limited sense, to partake of My nature, by a communication of My choicest graces, as the harvest is of the same nature with the seed. These shall proclaim My glory throughout the world.

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 wishes to fortify them against the sufferings and persecutions in store for His followers who are destined to tread the same path that He has trodden. Sufferings and trials and mortification are the only means of securing eternal happiness.

He that loveth his life,” with an inordinate, sensual love, at the expense of the law of God, which he hesitates not to violate in order to save His life, “shall lose it,” shall lose his soul in the world to come. It is clear from the following clause, that to this clause, “he that loveth his life” should be added (in this world) shall lose it in the world to come.

And he that hateth,” etc. (See Matthew 10:39; 16:25, Commentary on.) This was a favourite principle or kind of axiom with our Lord. It is the compendium of a Christian life.

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.

Our Lord insinuates, that He Himself would lose His life in this world; that the triumphs He was now enjoying would not last; that sufferings and death were near; and, then, He exhorts His followers to follow His example and walk in His footsteps.

If any man minister to Me,” etc., or, would wish to show himself My minister and true disciple, “let him follow Me,” imitate Me, in My disregard for temporal life, in order to secure life eternal (Matthew 10:38). By following Me, he shall not lose His life in the world to come. He shall be sharer with Me in everlasting happiness. “Where I am,” being now, as to My Divinity, in heaven; and sure to ascend there shortly, in My human nature, “there also shall My minister be,” sharing with Me, the ineffable joys of heaven.

This true minister and faithful persevering follower in humiliation, sorrows and death, here, shall be exalted and honoured hereafter by My Father in heaven, before the angels and the blessed, by rendering him a partaker of the glory, which shall be the reward of My humiliation, sufferings and death.

I am,” clearly shows our Lord was then in heaven. This, of course, refers to His Divine nature; at a future day, He will ascend there, in His glorified humanity.

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,” etc. The reference to the grain, which dies in the earth, to which He compared Himself, brought before our Lord’s mind, the horrors of His approaching death, its tortures and gloomy accompaniments. Thus, in order to show that He Himself endured what He encouraged others to endure after Him; and also, to prove His human nature, and point out what we are to do, when terrified by death, impending evils, viz., to have recourse to God; He voluntarily permits His human nature and inferior faculties to be disturbed; to shrink from the contemplation of His impending Passion, and to endure in some measure beforehand, the agony He endured in the garden. (See Matthew 26:38; Luke 22:42–44, Commentary on.)

Likely this “man of sorrows,” often during life, voluntarily permitted the inferior faculties of His human nature to be troubled at the foresight and anticipation of His Passion and final suffering on earth

And what shall I say?” Expresses His doubts, fears and perplexity, as if deliberating within Himself, if He could endure this torture; or, if the work of Redemption should be given up, and He should call on God to rescue Him (Luke 22:42).

Father, save Me from this hour.” These words, in this Indicative form, contain a petition to save Him (Matthew 26:39), in which He at once checks Himself. Some read them, as the Greek admits, interrogatively, “Shall I say, Father, save Me?” Shall I ask of God to rescue Me? Or, shall I submit to these tortures? The former reading is preferable, as it better expresses the parallelism between these words and His prayer in the garden.

From this hour,” from this agony which awaits Me, at the time fixed in the Divine decrees.

But, for this cause,” as if correcting His inferior appetite, which naturally shrank from death, He, at once, absolutely wishes, in His superior faculties, will and intellect, that the desires of His inferior appetite should not be complied with; and that He would go forward to certain death. Similar are His words and feelings (Matthew 26.)—“Non mea, sed tua voluntas fiat.” “Transeat a me calix iste.” Here it is, “Nunc turbata est anima mea.” In the garden, He prayed, “transfer calicem istum.” Here, “Pater, Salvifica me ex hac hora.” In the garden, He subjected His natural desire of life to His Father’s will, “Non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu.” Here, “clarifica nomen tuum.”

But for this cause,” for the purpose of dying to save mankind, have I reached this hour of agony and suffering.

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,” by My death, which is to be cheerfully undergone in obedience to Thy will. By it, Thy name shall be celebrated all over the earth. The words convey the same signification as, “Nevertheless, not My will; but, Thine be done.”

Then came a voice from heaven: I have both glorified it,” by My testimony at your Baptism. “This is My beloved Son,” etc., by the stupendous miracles wrought through you, by your preaching, doctrines, etc.

And I shall glorify it again,” by Thy death and the wonders that shall take place thereat; by thy subsequent glory and exaltation, in thy Resurrection and Ascension. By our Lord’s death and exaltation, the faith and worship of God was propagated among Jews and Gentiles, and His name thus glorified. As an angel from heaven was sent by the Heavenly Father to strengthen our Lord in His agony in the garden; so here too, was a voice sent from above to sustain Him, in His troubles.

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

Very likely this trumpet voice from heaven was distinctly heard by all, uttering an articulate sound. For, “it was for their sakes it came” (v. 30). Some of them, on account of its loudness, pronounced it to be thunder; and possibly, said so out of envy, not wishing to attend to the testimony it bore. Hence, they would wish to regard it, as a natural phenomenon. Others, better disposed, regarded it as uttered by the trumpet voice of an angel. The Evangelist conveys, that all heard it, as it sounded so loud and clear.

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

Not for Me,” as if I needed to be assured that My Father hears Me. For, I know that He always hears me (11:42).

But for your sakes,” that you may learn from it and believe, that I am sent from God the Father, and that the same glory is common to us both.

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

He points out the mode in which His Father is to glorify Him.

Now is the judgment of the world.” “Now,” at My approaching death, a judgment of condemnation shall be passed on those obstinate unbelievers, who reject Me, and after so many splendid proofs, refuse to believe in Me; nay, go so far as to put Me unjustly to death. The signal vengeance of God, shall, therefore, be justly visited on them.

Now shall the Prince of this world,” that is, Satan, who exercised unbounded sway over mankind, by holding them captive in the chains of sin, shall now be dislodged, by the powerful grace merited by My death, from the hearts of men, as from a citadel in which he ruled. Others, understand it of a judgment or sentence of remission or absolution, thus: now shall a sentence of remission be pronounced in favour of men who hitherto were kept bound in the chains of sin. This remission shall be obtained by My death; whereby, I ransom them, pay their debt, and set them free from the tyranny of sin and Satan, who shall himself be dethroned and dislodged from the citadel and stronghold he possessed in the souls of men. Thus shall the name of God be glorified; His Attributes, Mercy, Power, etc., proclaimed throughout the world. The devil is often called in SS. Scripture, “the Prince of the Power of this air,” etc., on account of the dominion he exercises over the children of unbelief. His dominion was destroyed by the death of Christ, on whom, though innocent, the punishment of sin was inflicted (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14), and although Satan still exercises power over men; still, it is owing to their own fault. So far as the liberation through Christ is concerned, it embraces all, who do not obstinately resist the influences of Divine grace. Now, that the Liberator and Saviour of the human race has appeared, the effusion of grace is universal.

Formerly, in regard to the just of old, it was only partial; and that, in virtue of the future merits of Christ now purchased by the blood of the cross.

And,” the same as, for, “if,” (whereas),—“I be lifted up from the earth,” raised aloft on the tree of the cross (John 3:14; 8:28), which is clearly referred to, next verse. He shows how the devil is to be cast out and stripped of his power, viz., by His death.

I shall draw all things to Myself.” “All things,” all men, of every description, from every clime and country, Jews and Gentiles. The neuter form, “all things,” “omnia,” is a more emphatic way of expressing universal subjection to Christ. “Shall draw,” voluntarily, as regards man; forcibly, as regards the demon snatching forcibly his prey from His hands. “Draw,” expresses the resistance of the devil and the superior power of the grace of Christ, forcibly wresting men from the tyrannical grasp and dominion of Satan.

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

The word of this verse are not the words of our Lord; but, of the Evangelist, and should be enclosed in a parenthesis, and interpreted as such

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:14-20~The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry and the Call of the First Disciples

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2018

JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY

Mar 1:14  And after that John was delivered up, Jesus came in Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 

Galilee. This was the most northern and most populous of the divisions of Palestine. The others were Samaria (central) and Judea (in the south). Jesus now begins His ministry in Galilee.

the gospel of the kingdom of God. The redemption wrought by Jesus Christ, the establishment of the Church on earth. Jesus takes up and continues the ministry of St John the Baptist.

Mar 1:15  And saying: The time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel: 

The time is accomplished. The time of grace and salvation fore told by the prophets has now arrived. The Messiah has come.

repent. A command to do penance, to regret the past, and amend. Penitence is a condition of forgiveness.

believe. An exhortation to believe the Gospel. Faith and repentance are essential for salvation.

JESUS CALLS THE FIRST DISCIPLES

Mar 1:16  And passing by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother, casting nets into the sea for they were fishermen.

the Sea of Galilee. It had various names, drawn chiefly from the towns or localities on its shores (see Geog. Notes, p. 84).

He saw Simon. Not for the first time. He was already our Lord s
disciple (St John 1:40-42).

casting nets. There were two kinds of nets used by fishermen. The casting net and the bag or hand net. The casting net is here spoken of. It was circular in shape and had weights attached to make it sink. It was probably at this time, before the call of the first four Apostles, that the first miraculous draught of fishes took place (St Luke 5:1).

Order of events:
(a) Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee.
(b) The crowds press around Him.
(c) He enters Peter s boat and preaches to the people.
(d) The miraculous draught of fishes was caught.
(e) Jesus calls the four Apostles.

saw Simon, etc., casting nets. Doubtless the net was cast in obedience to our Lord’s command.

Mar 1:17  And Jesus said to them: Come after me; and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Mar 1:18  And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him. 

Come after me, i.e. “Follow Me,” as a disciple accompanies his master.

Fishers of men, i.e. men chosen to bring souls into the Church of Christ by their preaching and holy lives. Hence the Pope, the successor of St Peter, signs, “under the seal of the Fisherman.” Of old, God promised,.Behold, I will send many fishers …. and they shall fish them(Jer 16:16).

Mar 1:19  And going on from thence a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who also were mending their nets in the ship:

in the ship, i.e. in their fishing boat.

Mar 1:20  And forthwith he called them. And leaving their father Zebedee in the ship with his hired men, they followed him. 

hired men. From the fact that Zebedee owned two boats and employed paid hands, we may safely conclude that he was not poor. Also we find later that his son St John was known to the high-priest (St John 18:15).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 1:6-8, 19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 27, 2017

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

There was,” etc. The object of the Evangelist here may be to correct an error which seemed to prevail, that the Baptist was the Messiah (Luke 3:15; John 1:19). While correcting this error, the Evangelist adduces John, who was commonly supposed to be a Prophet (Matthew 21:26), as an important witness to prove that Jesus was the Christ, “the Son of God,” which was the chief design of this gospel (John 20:31).

The Evangelist may also have in view to show that, while obstinate unbelievers rejected our Lord, God had employed, on His part, the most effectual means to dispose men to receive Him; among the rest, He employed the ministry and testimony of the Baptist, so much prized and valued by the Jews. The Evangelist commends his ministry and testimony by saying he “was sent from God” divinely commissioned.

7 This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.

He came for a witness,” etc. In preceding verse, he points out John’s Divine mission; in this, the object of that Divine mission, which was to give testimony regarding our Lord (“of the light”) as the long expected Messiah, thus to prepare the people to receive Him (Matthew 3). He also pointed Him out after He had come. “Ecce agnus Dei,” etc. (John 1:31). He extols John’s character and Divine mission, beyond others who were not selected by God for so high an office.

Light” refers to the person of our Lord, “through Him,” through John’s testimony and preaching.

While extolling John in the preceding verse, he here lowers him in comparison with the Word, whose herald he was.

8 He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.

He was not the light.” Although, in some finite respect, a light, the Baptist was not the immense, increated light of which we speak, but the herald and witness of the light, not the sun, but the precursor of the Sun of Justice, “a burning and shining light,” enkindled by the great increated light and true lamp of creation. The Evangelist thus removes any false opinions which the people or the disciples might entertain regarding John as the long expected promised Messiah.

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?

And this is the testimony,” etc. Some Commentators hold that the testimony spoken of Him was given after the Baptism of our Lord by the Baptist. The testimony given before His Baptism, is, according to them, recorded by the other Evangelists: and hence, not referred to by St. John, in this Gospel.

The words of this verse are connected by some Expositors with vv. 7 and 15, where there is made a general allusion to John’s testimony regarding our Lord’s Divinity. These say, we have here a more definite and specific description of John’s testimony borne by him on the occasion of the deputation referred to.

Others connect the words with the foregoing verse, thus: He alone who was in the bosom of the Father, could disclose all regarding Him. For, as regards John, He disclaimed all pretensions to superior excellence on this occasion.

Others say, there is question of a new testimony borne by John.

The Jews … from Jerusalem”—the most distinguished men of the nation—“sent Priests and Levites.” The highest ecclesiastical representatives. The object of this embassy was “to ask Him who art thou?” “Who,” what quality or character dost thou bear or assume? This deputation, no doubt, represented, or were sent by, the Sanhedrim, the Supreme Jewish Council, to whom it belonged to judge of true or false prophets, and in general, of all things appertaining to religion. Some say, they were influenced by jealousy towards John, whose sanctity of life and preaching seemed to lower them in public estimation. Others say, the jealousy was towards our Redeemer, to whose superiority John had so openly testified. It was a subject of doubt, all things considered, if John were not the Messiah, at least, in the minds of the people (Luke 3:15), whether reasonably or not, whether in accordance with the ancient prophecies or not, is another question. But, the fact is recorded by St. Luke, as above; and in this state of doubt, they send forward this solemn embassy to inquire into John’s claims to be considered their long-expected Messiah, the term of whose coming was now accomplished. John’s manner of life and preaching created this doubt, and, likely, it was to clear it up—all feelings of jealousy apart—they deputed these men to make inquiry. This was a very solemn embassy considering all its circumstances. The persons sent, Priests and Levites. The authority by whom sent, the Sanhedrim, from Jerusalem. The grave subject of inquiry, John’s office and authority.

John’s evidence was given publicly and openly to this embassy, of select ecclesiastical personages, who were well able to judge, and not before the crowd, who might misunderstand it. Hence, the Evangelist minutely details every circumstance of it.

The Priests and Levites were taken from the Tribe of Juda. The Priests, from the family of Aaron alone.

These latter were consecrated by a more solemn rite, and exercised more exalted functions in connexion with the service of the Temple and the offering of sacrifice. The Levites were taken from the other families of the Tribe of Juda, consecrated in a less solemn manner, and told off for the inferior functions in the Temple.

20 And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.

The question which they were deputed to ask him was, “Who art thou?” From the first reply which he gave them, “I am not the Christ,” it seemsclear, that after asking him, in a general way who he was, they at once ask him, “Art thou the Christ?” For, otherwise, the Baptist could not, with any sense of propriety say, unasked, “I am not the Christ,” as if the people could have so exalted an idea of him, or he could himself have imagined it.

And he confessed and denied not,” a Hebrew form of conveying most empathically, as well positively as negatively, a full explicit reply to a question, and of conveying a full, open declaration. “He confessed” the truth, “and denied not,” that he was not the Christ.

21 And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.

Art thou Elias?” In the Prophecy of Malachias (c. 4:5, 6), it is stated that Elias, who had been taken up into heaven, is to precede the coming of our Redeemer. In this passage of Malachias, there is question of his coming at the end of time in glory and majesty. But, he was also to come before this last coming in meekness and humility (Malachias 3:1; Zacharias 9:9). The Jews made no distinction between his first and second coming. They ignored this first coming; and hence, they supposed, that Elias, who was taken up into heaven (4 Kings 2:11), would precede our Redeemer whenever He came. This gave rise to the question, “Art thou Elias?”

I am not.” True, he was not Elias, the Thesbite, in person, to whom their question had reference, although, he came in the spirit and power of Elias (Luke 1:17), to discharge the same office of precursor at our Lord’s first coming, that Elias is to discharge at His second (see Matthew 17:2; Mark 10:9, Commentary on).

The Prophet (ὅ προφητης) whom the Jews, from an erroneous interpretation of Deuteronomy (18:15), supposed to precede as well as Elias, the coming of our Lord, or rather accompany Him. The passage in Deuteronomy referred, no doubt, to our Lord Himself (Acts 3:23; 7:37). But, the Jews understood it otherwise; and hence, John though a Prophet, and more than a Prophet, denies that he was “the Prophet” they referred to, or the Prophet in the sense of their question (see Matthew 11:9, Commentary on).

22 They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?

Their opinion of the Baptist was so exalted as to make them fancy that if he were not the Messiah, he must be one of the two great Prophets who were expected about the time of the Messiah’s coming. Finding he was neither, they content themselves with a general question, as to who he was. With what authority or power was he invested? What mission did he receive, to be exercised? This they want to know, in order to bring back word or return a satisfactory answer to the Sanhedrim, by whom they were deputed to wait on the Baptist.

23 He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.

See Matthew 3:3, Commentary on. Having already declared what he was not, he now declares in very distinct terms, what he was, thus meaning to show the nothingness of his origin, compared with the Messiah.

24 And they that were sent were of the Pharisees.

Those sent were of the sect of the Pharisees, while in dignity Priests and Levites. Who the Pharisees were (see Matthew 3:7). The reason why the Evangelist makes special mention of them here was, that besides being the most powerful party in the Sanhedrim, they were overbearing and haughty; glorying in their knowledge of the law and affected sanctity of life, which will account for their captious questioning, recorded in next verse. Likely, they were not commissioned by those who sent them to question the Baptist further than was necessary to know who he was, by what authority he acted; or if he was the Christ, as the people generally thought in their hearts regarding him (Luke 3:15).

25 And they asked him and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?

Why therefore,” etc.? By what authority, then, dost thou baptize publicly and with a show of authority, the people flocking to you in crowds, whom you wish to subject to the Baptism of Penance? This they regard as audacious on the part of John, after the declarations elicited from him. The Prophets foretold that at the coming of Christ, Baptism was to be administered to the people (Ezech. 36:25; Zach. 13:1). The Pharisees learned in the law knew this. They thought, however, that it was only by the Messiah or His accompanying Prophet this could lawfully be done.

26 John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.

I baptize in water.” I am commissioned and sent by God—the Jews themselves would not deny that John’s Baptism was from heaven—to “baptize in water” only, as a preparation for the Baptism of the Messiah. Hence, I don’t assume the office which He is to discharge. For, His Baptism will be quite different both in itself and in its effects. Most likely, the Baptist added, “He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire.” The Evangelist omits this part as it was fully given by the other Evangelists. The effects and the end of both Baptisms are quite different.

He is not far off from you, whose precursor I am, whose Baptism will perfect mine, He is “in your midst, whom you know not,” whose exalted dignity you are ignorant of. Hence, their culpability in not finding Him and not believing in Him.

27 The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.

(See v. 15, also Matthew 3:2). “He shall come after me” in his public manifestation, when I shall have discharged the office of precursor. But, “He is preferred before Me” in dignity, a dignity so great, that “I,”—whom you seem to esteem so much—“am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe,” unworthy to discharge in His regard the most menial and servile offices, the distance between us being infinite. He, true God; I, a creature.

28 These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

For “Bethania,” several writers, Origen, Chrysostom, etc., read “Bethabara.” But “Bethania” is the more common reading of MSS. Both words, probably, refer to the same place. Bethabara signifying the house or place of passage, as it was there, the Hebrews first crossed the Jordan on coming up from Egypt, and it was a place for crossing the Jordan from Perea into Judea. “Bethania” signifies a ferry passage, or house of boats, which were always kept in readiness there, for ferrying passengers across the Jordan. If the words do not denote the same place, the places were quite close to one another on the banks of the Jordan. This “Bethania” is by no means to be confounded with the dwelling-place of Mary and Martha, near Jerusalem. John selected this place for his Baptism, as crowds used to resort to it, when crossing the Jordan. The Evangelist refers to this place of public resort to show, that the testimony of John was publicly given so as to leave no room for afterwards questioning it.

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Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 1:6-8, 19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 27, 2017

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

There was a man sent from God, &c. He was sent, as Luke says, (3:1), “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar: and the Word of God came to him in the wilderness.” “Thou, then,” says Chrysostom, “when thou understandest that he was sent from God, do not think that anything merely human is being announced, but that all is Divine. He does not declare anything of his own, but the secrets of Him who sends him. Therefore he, John, is called an angel, that is, a messenger. It is the office of a messenger to know nothing of himself.”

7 This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.

The man came for a witness, &c. Namely, that he might bear witness that Jesus is the true Light of the world, and that we must look for, and ask of Him all the light of faith, and all the knowledge of salvation.

Observe that in Greek the article is prefixed to light, as it were that light meaning the spiritual and Divine light, that which shineth of itself, and is essentially light, and the source of all enlightenment, which is as it were a Divine Sun, in respect of which John the Baptist was but as the moon, or the day-star. For as the morning star goes before the sun, so did John precede Christ the Sun of righteousness. The meaning is as follows—Inasmuch as the light of the Godhead was hidden in the humanity of Christ, as in a lantern dark and shaded, so that men discerned it not, therefore did God send John, that he might uncover and make this light manifest, and testify that Jesus was the very Son of God, the Teacher and Redeemer of the world. For, as Paul saith (1 Tim. 6:16), God “inhabiteth the unapproachable light, whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” And again, the Son “is the splendour of His glory, and the form of the substance” of God the Father (Heb. 1:3, Vulg.)

And again, the same is “the brightness of eternal light, and the spotless mirror of the majesty of God, and the image of His goodness” (Wisd. 7:26).

That all men might believe through him: that is, believe in the Light, and so be justified and saved. Through him, namely, John, who as it were with his finger pointed out Christ, saying: “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.”

8 He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.

He was not the Light, &c. The Jews and the Scribes thought, because of the preaching and heavenly life of John in the wilderness, that he was himself the Light, i.e., Christ. John the Evangelist by these words destroys such an idea. He was not the Light. That is, he was not the Saviour of the world, but only His witness, who received all his own light of knowledge and prophecy and grace from Christ. Wherefore in Jn 5:35, he is called “a burning and a shining lamp.” “But,” says Origen. “he did not burn by his own fire, nor shine by his own light.”

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?

Ver. 19.—And this is the witness of John, &c. John the Baptist often bare witness to Jesus, that He was the Messias, or the Christ, both before and after His baptism. John the Evangelist therefore, omitting in this place the testimony which the Baptist bore to Jesus before His baptism, which had been related by the three other Evangelists, gives his testimony concerning Him after he had baptized Him. For this testimony was public, judicial, and most celebrated. It had been judicially demanded by the chief priests and magistrates, and had been received by them through the ambassadors whom they sent to John. The reason of this embassy was because the chief priests saw John leading in the desert an angelic life, preaching with great power, baptizing, and moving men to repentance, as none of the other prophets had done. The chief priests thought therefore that it was their duty to ask him who he was, especially because they knew that the sceptre had passed from Judah to Herod, and the seventy weeks of Daniel being completed, the coming of Messias must be nigh at hand. Wherefore, suspecting that John was the Messias, they ask him, Who art thou?

S. Chrysostom gives another reason—that they asked out of envy and hatred of Jesus, in order that they might show that Jesus was not the Messiah. They would have preferred to bestow the title upon John. They disliked John’s preferring Jesus to himself, and calling Him the Messias or Christ. But although there might be some envy mingled with it, the true reason was, as I have said, that it was the counsel of God so to exalt John, that the chief priests might be driven to ask him whether he were the Christ or not, that being asked he might authoritatively answer that which was the truth, namely, that not he, but Jesus, was the Messias, and that, being convicted by this testimony of John, they might be compelled either to receive Jesus as the Messias or to be without excuse.

Who art thou? The chief priests appear tacitly at least to have inquired of John, whether he were the Christ or not; for John replies, I am not the Christ.

Moreover, they were aware that John was the son of the priest Zacharias, and therefore a priest himself. When therefore they say, Who art thou? they ask virtually. What office hast thou received from God? With what object has God sent thee to preach and baptize? For God was wont to commit greater offices to priests.

Tropologically, let every one often ask himself, Who art thou? Firstly, as regards our substance. Listen to thy conscience making answer to thyself—the name of God my Creator is, I Am that I Am (Exod. 3). My name therefore as a creature is “I am that am not,” because I am nothing of myself, but out of my nothingness have been brought forth by God, and made a man. Wherefore my body and soul are not my own, but God’s, who has given them, or rather lent them, to me. As S. Francis was wont to say, “Who art Thou, Lord? Who am I? Thou art an abyss of wisdom and long-suffering, and all goodness. I am an abyss of ignorance, weakness, of all evil and wretchedness. Thou art an abyss of being, I of nothingness.” So when Christ appeared to S. Catherine of Sienna, He said, “Blessed art thou if thou knowest who I am, and who thou art. I am He who is, thou art she who is not.”

Secondly, as to quality. Who? that is, of what sort art thou? Answer, As regards my body, I am weak, miserable, and wretched. As to my soul, as regards my reason, I am like unto the angels. As regards my sensual appetite, and concupiscence, I am like the brutes. Therefore I will follow my reason, and so become assimilated to the angels.

Thirdly, as regards relation. Who? that is, whose son art thou? Reply, I am the son of Adam, the first sinner, and therefore being born in sin, I am living in sin, and must die in sin, unless the grace of Christ rescue me from my sins, and sanctify and save me.

Fourthly, as regards employment. Who art thou? what trade or profession art thou? I am a carpenter, a baker, a governor, a shepherd, a lawyer. See then that thou exercise thyself in thy calling, whatsoever it be, as the law of God requires, namely, in such wise that thou live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope, and the coming of the glory of the great God, that thou mayest so pass through things temporal, that thou lose not, but gain the things eternal. Work, study, live for eternity. As S. Bernard was wont often to say to himself, “Bernard, tell me, wherefore art thou here?” And with this goad, as it were, he stirred himself up to zeal for all virtues.

Fifthly, as regards suffering. Who art thou? that is to say, what dost thou suffer? Reply, In the body I suffer hunger, thirst, disease, continual afflictions, so that there is scarcely the smallest space of time in which I have not many things to bear. As regards my soul, I have far greater and more bitter afflictions, griefs, and anguish, anxieties, sorrows, angers, indignation, darkness, fear, &c., so that I seem to be, as it were, a mark at which all afflictions hurl their darts, and thrust me through with their arrows. Be thou therefore a very adamant of patience, that thou mayest patiently and generously endure all things, and win the everlasting crown of patience in heaven.

Sixthly, as regards place. Who? that is, where art thou? Answer, I am on earth, placed between heaven and hell, in such wise, that if I live holily, I may pass to heaven, if wickedly, to hell. Live therefore carefully, warily, and holily, that not hell, but heaven may receive thee, when this short mortal life is over.

Seventhly, as regards time. Who art thou? When wast thou born? How long hast thou lived? When shalt thou die? Answer, Born yesterday, to-day I live, to-morrow I die. “For we are of yesterday, and know nothing; all our days upon the earth are but a shadow” (Job 8:9). Therefore despise all things temporal, which fly past as a bird doth. Love and covet heavenly things, which endure for ever with God and the angels. So shalt thou, being eternal, be happy eternally, and abide in everlasting delights. For as S. Gregory says, “That we may be eternal, and happy eternally, let us imitate eternity. And this is to us a great eternity, even the imitation of eternity.”

Lastly, as regards posture and clothing. Who art thou? that is, what posture, or clothing hast thou? Reply, I stand, I sit, I lie, I wear the habit of a Christian, a priest, a bishop, a religious. Take heed then that thou live conformably to thy habit. For it is not the habit which makes the Christian, or the monk, but purity of life, humility, charity.

20 And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.

And he confessed, &c. That is, publicly, plainly, and fully that he was not the Christ. For when the Hebrews wished very strongly to assert anything, they doubled the affirmative, and trebled the negative. Observe the great humility of S. John: how firmly he refused the name of Christ when it was offered to him. For he loved the truth, and Jesus, to whom this name belonged. Men of the world love to boast, and say, I am a nobleman, a governor, a canon, a bishop. But John teaches us to say, “I am nothing,” because if I am anything, I have it from God.

21 And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.

And they asked him, &c. When John denied that he was the Christ, the messengers asked him if he were Elias. For him God took away, that he might be the forerunner of Christ. And of him they were then in expectation, according to the words of Malachi (4:5), “Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord come,” meaning the day of judgment, when Christ shall return to be the Judge of all. But the Scribes did not understand this. They thought that there would be but one advent of Christ, and that a glorious one, the precursor of which would be Elias. Thus the Jews think even now that Christ has not yet come, but is about to come with Elias. And yet they ought to have known from the same Malachi (3:1) that there would be another precursor of Christ’s first coming in the flesh, even John the Baptist. “For I,” saith the Lord, “do send My messenger, and he shall prepare My way before My face.”

Art thou the prophet? Greek, ὁ προφήτης, the prophet par excellence. “Art thou a new and great prophet, such an one as we think will come with Messiah, to be His herald?” So SS. Chrysostom and Cyril. But they (the Jews) were in error. For Christ needed not a prophet, as Moses, who was not eloquent, needed Aaron. But Christ was His own prophet, herald, priest, and lawgiver. Moreover John was not a prophet in the sense that he foretold things to come. But he pointed out with his finger, as it were, Christ present. Therefore was he more than a prophet, as Christ says in the 11th of Matthew.

22 They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.

I am the Voice, &c. (Isa. 40:3), where I have expounded the meaning. Listen to what the Fathers say about it. “I am a servant, and prepare paths, your hearts, for the Lord,” says Theophylact. “I come, he says, to say that He is at the doors who is expected, that you may be prepared to go whithersoever He may bid you,” says Cyril.

24 And they that were sent were of the Pharisees.

And they that were sent, &c. John adds this, to suggest the occasion why they examined John the Baptist concerning baptism. These messengers who were sent to John were Pharisees, and therefore were well versed in the Scriptures. Consequently they knew that Messiah would baptize for the remission of sins, because Ezekiel (36:25) and Zechariah (13:1) had predicted that He would do so. But concerning other prophets and saints they had not read in Scripture that they would baptize. They ask John therefore to tell them by what authority he baptized, especially since he not only asserted that he was not Christ, but not even a prophet.

25 And they asked him and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?

And they asked him, &c. “These Pharisees,” says S. Cyril, “in their arrogancy insult John, as though they said, Neither Elias, nor Eliseus, nor any of the other prophets dared to take upon themselves the office of baptizing. With what face then, or boldness, dost thou, who art not a prophet, arrogate this office to thyself?”

26 John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.

John answered them, &c. As though he had said, “God hath sent me to baptize with water, that I might stir you up to repentance and tears, so as to fit you for Christ’s baptism. For He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, for the remission of sins,” as the remaining three Evangelists declare. Therefore John is silent about this.

There hath stood one, &c. That is, Christ is living in the midst of you, and yet ye know Him not. That is, you do not recognise Him as Messiah, but look upon Him as a mere man, as vile and abject.

27 The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.

The same is he that shall come after me, &c. After me Christ shall come to baptize you, that by His baptism He may perfect mine, and may wash and justify them that are penitent. As S. Cyril paraphrases, “I in preparation wash with water those who are polluted with sins as a beginning of repentance, and by this means leading you from what is lower I prepare you for more lofty things. For He who is the giver of greater things, and of the highest perfection, is about to come after me.” Or, as S. Chrysostom says, “My baptism is only a disposition and preparation for the baptism of Christ. Mine is of water and corporeal, Christ’s is of fire and spiritual.”

The latchet of whose shoe, &c. As though he said, “I am not worthy to be reckoned amongst the last of the servants of Christ, on account of the greatness of the Deity which is in Him.”

28 These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

These things were done in, &c. Bethany is the reading of the Latin, Syriac, Arabic versions, of many codices, including the Vatican, of Bede, Alcuin, the Gloss, &c. But instead of Bethany, Origen, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, S. Epiphanius, and S. Jerome (in loc. Heb.) read Bethabara, where Gideon slew the Midianites. I observe with Toletus that Bethany and Bethabara were one and the same place, or at least that one was nigh the other, or on opposite banks of the Jordan. This was the place in which the Hebrews, when they came out of Egypt, first crossed the Jordan under the leadership of Joshua, to enter the promised land. For Bethabara means in Hebrew a house of passage; Bethany, a house of ships. For vessels were waiting here to carry passengers over Jordan. This Bethany is derived from Beth, a house, and any, spelt with alpha, a ship. The Bethany of Martha and Lazarus was a different place, and spelt differently in Hebrew. That Bethany means the house of humility, from Beth, a house, and any, spelt with ain, humility.

John, then, chose this place wherein to baptize for several reasons, because of the abundance of water, also in memory of the ancient passage of the Israelites. S. Jerome says (loc. Hebrœis), “Even at this present time many of our brethren who believe, desiring there to be born again, are baptized in the life-giving flood.” They did this in memory of Christ, who was there baptized by John. This place is distant about four leagues from the Dead Sea.

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

St Augustine’s Tractates on John 1:6-8, 19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 27, 2017

TRACTATE TWO
Jn 1:6-8

It is fitting, brethren, that as far as possible we should treat of the text of Holy Scripture, and especially of the Holy Gospel, without omitting any portion, that both we ourselves may derive nourishment according to our capacity, and may minister to you from that source from which we have been nourished. Last Lord’s day, we remember, we treated of the first section; that is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was nothing made. That which was made, in Him is life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” So far, I believe, had I advanced in the treatment of the passage: let all who were present recall what was then said; and those of you who were not present, believe me and those who chose to be present. Now therefore,—because we cannot always be repeating everything, out of justice to those who desire to hear what follows, and because repetition of the former thought is a burden to them and deprives them of what succeeds,—let those who were absent on the former occasion refrain from demanding repetition, but, together with those who were here, listen to the present exposition.

2. It goes on, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” Truly, brethren beloved, those things which were said before, were said regarding the ineffable divinity of Christ, and almost ineffably. For who shall comprehend “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God”? And do not allow the name word to appear mean to you, through the habit of daily words, for it is added, “and the Word was God.” This Word is He of whom yesterday we spoke much; and I trust that God was present, and that even from only thus much speaking something reached your hearts. “In the beginning was the Word.” He is the same, and is in the same manner; as He is, so He is always; He cannot be changed; that is, He is. This His name He spoke to His servant Moses: “I am that I am; and He that is hath sent me.”1 Who then shall comprehend this when you see that all mortal things are variable; when you see that not only do bodies vary as to their qualities, by being born, by increasing, by becoming less, by dying, but that even souls themselves through the effect of divers volitions are distended and divided; when you see that men can obtain wisdom if they apply themselves to its light and heat, and also lose wisdom if they remove themselves from it through some evil influence? When, therefore, you see that all those things are variable, what is that which is, unless that which transcends all things which are so that they are not? Who then can receive this? Or who, in what manner soever he may have applied the strength of his mind to touch that which is, is, can reach to that which he may in any way have touched with his mind? It is as if one were to see his native land at a distance, and the sea intervening; he sees whither he would go, but he has not the means of going. So we desire to arrive at that our stability where that which is, because this alone always is as it is: the sea of this world interrupts our course, even although already we see whither we go; for many do not even see whither they go. That there might be a way by which we could go, He has come from Him to whom we wished to go. And what has He done? He has appointed a tree by which we may cross the sea. For no one is able to cross the sea of this world, unless borne by the cross of Christ. Even he who is of weak eyesight sometimes embraces this cross; and he who does not see from afar whither he goes, let him not depart from it, and it will carry him over.

3. Therefore, my brethren, I would desire to have impressed this upon your hearts: if you wish to live in a pious and Christian manner, cling to Christ according to that which He became for us, that you may arrive at Him according to that which is, and according to that which was. He approached, that for us He might become this; because He became that for us, on which the weak may be borne, and cross the sea of this world and reach their native country; where there will be no need of a ship, for no sea is crossed. It is better then not to see with the mind that which is, and yet not to depart from the cross of Christ, than to see it with the mind, and despise the cross of Christ. It is good beyond this, and best of all, if it be possible, that we both see whither we ought to go, and hold fast that which carries us as we go. This they were able to do, the great minds of the mountains, who have been called mountains, whom the light of divine justice pre-eminently illuminates; they were able to do this, and saw that which is. For John seeing said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” They saw this, and in order that they might arrive at that which they saw from afar, they did not depart from the cross of Christ, and did not despise Christ’s lowliness. But little ones who cannot understand this, who do not depart from the cross and passion and resurrection of Christ, are conducted in that same ship to that which they do not see, in which they also arrive who do see.

4. But truly there have been some philosophers of this world who have sought for the Creator by means of the creature; for He can be found by means of the creature, as the apostle plainly says, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and glory; so they are without excuse.” And it follows, “Because that, when they knew God;” he did not say, Because they did not know, but “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” How darkened? It follows, when he says more plainly: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”2 They saw whither they must come; but ungrateful to Him who afforded them what they saw, they wished to ascribe to themselves what they saw; and having become proud, they lost what they saw, and were turned from it to idols and images, and to the worship of demons, to adore the creature and to despise the Creator. But these having been blinded did those things, and became proud, that they might be blinded: when they were proud they said that they were wise. Those, therefore, concerning whom he said, “Who, when they had known God,” saw this which John says, that by the Word of God all things were made. For these things are also found in the books of the philosophers: and that God has an only-begotten Son, by whom are all things. They were able to see that which is, but they saw it from afar: they were unwilling to hold the lowliness of Christ, in which ship they might have arrived in safety at that which they were able to see from afar; and the cross of Christ appeared vile to them. The sea has to be crossed, and dost thou despise the wood? Oh, proud wisdom! thou laughest to scorn the crucified Christ; it is He whom thou dost see from afar: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” But wherefore was He crucified? Because the wood of His humiliation was needful to thee. For thou hadst become swollen with pride, and hadst been cast out far from that fatherland; and by the waves of this world has the way been intercepted, and there is no means of passing to the fatherland unless borne by the wood. Ungrateful one! thou laughest Him to scorn who has come to thee that thou mayest return: He has become the way, and that through the sea:1 thence He walked in the sea to show that there is a way in the sea. But thou who art not able in any way thyself to walk in the sea, be carried in a ship, be carried by the wood: believe in the crucified One, and thou shalt arrive thither. On account of thee He was crucified, to teach thee humility; and because if He should come as God, He would not be recognized. For if He should come as God, He would not come to those who were not able to see God. For not according to His Godhead does He either come or depart; since He is everywhere present, and is contained in no place. But, according to what did He come? He appeared as a man.

5. Therefore, because He was so man, that the God lay hid in Him, there was sent before Him a great man, by whose testimony He might be found to be more than man. And who is this? “He was a man.” And how could that man speak the truth concerning God? “He was sent by God.” What was he called? “Whose name was John.” Wherefore did he come? “He came for a witness, that he might bear witness concerning the light, that all might believe through him.” What sort of man was he who was to bear witness concerning the light? Something great was that John, vast merit, great grace, great loftiness! Admire, by all means, admire; but as it were a mountain. But a mountain is in darkness unless it be clothed with light. Therefore only admire John that you may hear what follows, “He was not that light;” lest if, when thou thinkest the mountain to be the light, thou make shipwreck on the mountain, and find not consolation. But what oughtest thou to admire? The mountain as a mountain. But lift thyself up to Him who illuminates the mountain, which for this end was elevated that it might be the first to receive the rays, and make them known to your eyes. Therefore, “he was not that light.”

6. Wherefore then did he come? “But that he might bear witness concerning the light.” Why so? “That all might believe through him.” And concerning what light was he to bear witness? “That was the true light.” Wherefore is it added true? Because an enlightened man is also called a light; but the true light is that which enlightens. For even our eyes are called lights; and nevertheless, unless either during the night a lamp is lighted, or during the day the sun goes forth, these lights are open in vain. Thus, therefore, John was a light, but not the true light; because, if not enlightened, he would have been darkness; but, by enlightenment, he became a light. For unless he had been enlightened he would have been darkness, as all those once impious men, to whom, as believers, the apostle said, “Ye were sometimes darkness.” But now, because they had believed, what?—“but now are ye light,” he says, “in the Lord.”2 Unless he had added “in the Lord,” we should not have understood. “Light,” he says, “in the Lord:” darkness you were not in the Lord. “For ye were sometimes darkness,” where he did not add in the Lord. Therefore, darkness in you, light in the Lord. And thus “he was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of the light.”

TRACTATE FOUR
Jn 1:19-28

You have very often heard, holy brethren, and you know well, that John the Baptist, in proportion as he was greater than those born of women, and was more humble in his acknowledgment of the Lord, obtained the grace of being the friend of the Bridegroom; zealous for the Bridegroom, not for himself; not seeking his own honor, but that of his Judge, whom as a herald he preceded. Therefore, to the prophets who went before, it was granted to predict concerning Christ; but to this man, to point Him out with the finger. For as Christ was unknown by those who did not believe the prophets before He came, He remained unknown to them even when present. For He had come humbly and concealed from the first; the more concealed in proportion as He was more humble: but the people, despising in their pride the humility of God, crucified their Saviour, and made Him their condemner.

2. But will not He who at first came concealed, because humble, come again manifested, because exalted? You have just listened to the Psalm: “God shall come manifestly, and our God shall not keep silence.”1 He was silent that He might be judged, He will not be silent when He begins to judge.2 It would not have been said, “He will come manifestly,” unless at first He had come concealed; nor would it have been said, “He shall not keep silence,” unless He had first kept silence. How was He silent? Interrogate Isaiah: “He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth.” “But He shall come manifestly, and shall not keep silence.” In what manner “manifestly”? “A fire shall go before Him, and round about Him a strong tempest.”3 That tempest has to carry away all the chaff from the floor, which is now being threshed; and the fire has to burn what the tempest carries away. But now He is silent; silent in judgment, but not silent in precept. For if Christ is silent, what is the purpose of these Gospels? what the purpose of the voices of the apostles, what of the canticles of the Psalms, what of the declarations of the prophets? In all these Christ is not silent. But now He is silent in not taking vengeance: He is not silent in not giving warning. But He will come in glory to take vengeance, and will manifest Himself even to all who do not believe on Him. But now, because when present He was concealed, it behoved that He should be despised. For unless He had been despised, He would not have been crucified; if He had not been crucified, He would not have shed His blood—the price by which He redeemed us. But that He might give a price for us, He was crucified; that He might be crucified, He was despised; that He might be despised, He appeared in humility.

3. Yet because He appeared as it were in the night, in a mortal body, He lighted for Himself a lamp by which He might be seen. That lamp was John,4 concerning whom you lately heard many things: and the present passage of the evangelist contains the words of John; in the first place, and it is the chief point, his confession that he was not the Christ. But so great was the excellence of John, that men might have believed him to be the Christ: and in this he gave a proof of his humility, that he said he was not when he might have been believed to have been the Christ; therefore, “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?” But they would not have sent unless they had been moved by the excellence of his authority who ventured to baptize. “And he confessed, and denied not.” What did he confess? “And he confessed, I am not the Christ.”

4. ‘And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias?” For they knew that Elias was to precede Christ. For to no Jew was the name of Christ unknown. They did not think that he was the Christ; but they did not think that Christ would not come at all. When they were hoping that He would come, they were offended at Him when He was present, and stumbled at Him as on a low stone. For He was as yet a small stone, already indeed cut out of the mountain without hands; as saith Daniel the prophet, that he saw a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. But what follows? “And that stone,” saith he “grew and became a great mountain, and filled the whole face of the earth.”5 Mark then, my beloved brethren, what I say: Christ, before the Jews, was already cut out from the mountain. The prophet wishes that by the mountain should be understood the Jewish kingdom. But the kingdom of the Jews had not filled the whole face of the earth. The stone was cut out from thence, because from thence was the Lord born on His advent among men. And wherefore without hands? Because without the cooperation of man did the Virgin bear Christ. Now then was that stone cut out without hands before the eyes of the Jews; but it was humble. Not without reason; because not yet had that stone increased and filled the whole earth: that He showed in His kingdom, which is the Church, with which He has filled the whole face of the earth. Because then it had not yet increased, they stumbled at Him as at a stone: and that happened in them which is written, “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever that stone shall fall, it will grind them to powder.”6 At first they fell upon Him lowly: as the lofty One He shall come upon them; but that He may grind them to powder when He comes in His exaltation, He first broke them in His lowliness. They stumbled at Him, and were broken; they were not ground, but broken: He will come exalted and will grind them. But the Jews were to be pardoned because they stumbled at a stone which had not yet increased. What sort of persons are those who stumble at the mountain itself? Already you know who they are of whom I speak. Those who deny the Church diffused through the whole world, do not stumble at the lowly stone, but at the mountain itself: because this the stone became as it grew. The blind Jews did not see the lowly stone: but how great blindness not to see the mountain!

5. They saw Him then lowly, and did not know Him. He was pointed out to them by a lamp. For in the first place he, than whom no greater had arisen of those born of women, said, “I am not the Christ.” It was said to him, “Art thou Elias? He answered, I am not.” For Christ sends Elias before Him: and he said, “I am not,” and occasioned a question for us. For it is to be feared lest men, insufficiently understanding, think that John contradicted what Christ said. For in a certain place, when the Lord Jesus Christ said certain things in the Gospel regarding Himself, His disciples answered Him: “How then say the scribes,” that is, those skilled in the law, “that Elias must first come?” And the Lord said, “Elias is already come, and they have done unto him what they listed;” and, if you wish to know, John the Baptist is he.1 The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Elias is already come, and John the Baptist” is he; but John, being interrogated, confessed that he was not Elias, in the same manner that he confessed that he was not Christ. And as his confession that he was not Christ was true, so was his confession that he was not Elias. How then shall we compare the words of the herald with the words of the Judge? Away with the thought that the herald speaks falsehood; for that which he speaks he hears from the Judge. Wherefore then did he say, “I am not Elias;” and the Lord, “He is Elias”? Because the Lord Jesus Christ wished in him to prefigure His own advent, and to say that John was in the spirit of Elias. And what John was to the first advent, that will Elias be to the second advent. As there are two advents of the Judge, so are there two heralds. The Judge indeed was the same, but the heralds two, but not two judges. It was needful that in the first instance the Judge should come to be judged. He sent before Him His first herald; He called him Elias, because Elias will be in the second advent what John was in the first.

6. For mark, beloved brethren, how true it is what I say. When John was conceived, or rather when he was born, the Holy Spirit prophesied that this would be fulfilled in him: “And he shall be,” he said, “the forerunner of the Highest, in the spirit and power of Elias.”2 What signifieth “in the spirit and power of Elias”? In the same Holy Spirit in the room of Elias. Wherefore in room of Elias? Because what Elias will be to the second, that John was to the first advent. Rightly therefore, speaking literally, did John reply. For the Lord spoke figuratively, “Elias, the same is John:” but he, as I have said, spoke literally when he said, “I am not Elias.” Neither did John speak falsely, nor did the Lord speak falsely; neither was the word of the herald nor of the Judge false, if only thou understand. But who shall understand? He who shall have imitated the lowliness of the herald, and shall have acknowledged the loftiness of the Judge. For nothing was more lowly than the herald. My brethren, in nothing had John greater merit than in this humility, inasmuch as when he was able to deceive men, and to be thought Christ, and to have been received in the place of Christ (for so great were his grace and his excellency), nevertheless he openly confessed and said, “I am not the Christ.” “Art thou Elias?” If he had said I am Elias, it would have been as if Christ were already coming in His second advent to judge, not in His first to be judged. As if saying. Elias is yet to come, “I am not,” said he, “Elias.” But give heed to the lowly One before whom John came, that you may not feel the lofty One before whom Elias came. For thus also did the Lord complete the saying: “John the Baptist is he which is to come.” He came as a figure of that in which Elias is to come in his own person. Then Elias will in his own proper person be Elias, now in similitude he was John. Now John in his own proper person is John, in similitude Elias. The two heralds gave to each other their similitudes, and kept their own proper persons; but the Judge is one Lord, whether preceded by this herald or by that.

7. “And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he said, No. And they said unto him, Art thou a prophet? and he answered, No! They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He saith, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”3 That said Isaiah. This prophecy was fulfilled in John, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Crying what? “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God.” Would it not have seemed to you that a herald would have cried, “Go away, make room.” Instead of the herald’s cry “Go away,” John says “Come.” The herald makes men stand back from the judge; to the Judge John calls. Yes, indeed, John calls men to the lowly One, that they may not experience what He will be as the exalted Judge. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.” He did not say, I am John, I am Elias, I am a prophet. But what did he say? This I am called, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord: I am the prophecy itself.”

8. “And they which were sent were of the Pharisees,” that is, of the chief men among the Jews; “and they asked him and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, nor a prophet?” As if it seemed to them audacity to baptize, as if they meant to inquire, in what character baptizest thou? We ask whether thou art the Christ; thou sayest that thou art not. We ask whether thou perchance art His precursor, for we know that before the advent of Christ, Elias will come; thou answerest that thou art not. We ask, if perchance thou art some herald come long before, that is, a prophet, and hast received that power, and thou sayest that thou art not a prophet. And John was not a prophet; he was greater than a prophet. The Lord gave such testimony concerning him: “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” Of course implying that he was not shaken by the wind; because John was not such an one as is moved by the wind; for he who is moved by the wind is blown upon by every seductive blast. “But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment?” For John was clothed in rough garments; that is, his tunic was of camel’s hair. “Behold, they who are clothed in soft raiment are in kings’ houses.” You did not then go out to see a man clothed in soft raiment. “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, one greater than a prophet is here;”1 for the prophets prophesied of Christ a long time before, John pointed Him out as present.

9. “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, nor a prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water; but there standeth One among you whom ye know not.” For, very truly, He was not seen, being humble, and therefore was the lamp lighted. Observe how John gives place, who might have been accounted other than he was. “He it is who cometh after me, who is made before me” (that is, as we have already said, is “preferred before me”), whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” How greatly did he humble himself! And therefore he was greatly lifted up; for he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.2 Hence, holy brethren, you ought to note that if John so humbled himself as to say, “I am not worthy to unloose His shoe-latchet,” what need they have to be humbled who say, “We baptize; what we give is ours, and what is ours is holy.” He said, Not I, but He; they say, We. John is not worthy to unloose His shoe’s latchet; and if he had said he was worthy, how humble would he still have been! And if he had said he was worthy, and had spoken thus, “He came after me who is made before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am only worthy to unloose,” he would have greatly humbled himself. But when he says that he is not worthy even to do this, truly was he full of the Holy Spirit, who in such fashion as a servant acknowledged his Lord, and merited to be made a friend instead of a servant.

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

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 1:6-8, 19-28.

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 27, 2017

6, 7 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.

Having before Explained about God the Word, and most accurately gone through the things whereby He is shewn to be by Nature Son of God the Father, he fortifies their faith in what they had already heard by his words. And since (according to what was said by God through Moses), At |70 the mouth of two and three witnesses shall every word be established, wisely does he bring in addition to himself the blessed Baptist, and introduces him along with himself a most noteworthy witness. For he did not suppose that he ought, even if of gravest weight, to demand of the readers in his book concerning our Saviour credence above that of the law, and that they should believe him by himself when declaring things above our understanding and sense.

Therefore the blessed Evangelist himself testifies that The Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and was in the beginning with God and that all things were made by Him, and He was in the things made as Life, and that the Life was the Light of men, that by all these he might shew that the Son is by Nature God. And the Divine Baptist too testifies in addition to him, crying aloud, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. For soothly one will say that He is Very God, in Whom is by Nature inherent the dignity of lordship and it accrues not to any other rightly and truly, since to us there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul saith; and though there be many called gods by grace and lords both in heaven and earth, yet the Son is One with the Father Very God.

Therefore, most noteworthy is the pair of holy witnesses, and credence no longer capable of blame is due to the things said, both as having received the fulness of the law, and supported by the notability of the persons. For the blessed Evangelist then to say ought concerning himself, and to take hold of his own praises, were in truth burdensome and moreover ill-instructed. For he would rightly have heard, Thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true. Therefore he commits to those who know him to form their opinion of him, and goes to his namesake, doing well in this too, and says that he was sent by God. For it behoved him to shew that not of his own accord nor with self-invited zeal does the holy Baptist come to his testimony respecting our Saviour, but yielding to the commands from above, and ministering to the Divine Will of the Father. Wherefore he |71 says, There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

But we must notice how unerringly and fitly he expressed himself as to each, and correspondently to the nature of the things indicated. For in the case of God the Word, was is fitly introduced indicating every way His Eternity, and His being more ancient than all beginning that is in time, and removing the idea of His having been created. For that which always is, how can it be conceived of as originate? But of the blessed Baptist, befittingly does he say, There was a man sent from God, as of a man having an originate nature. And very unerringly does the Evangelist herein seem to me not merely to say that There was, but by adding the word a man, to overthrow the most unadvised surmise of some.

For already was there a report bruited of many, commonly saying that the holy Baptist was not really a man by nature but one of the holy angels in heaven, making use of human body and sent by God to preach. And the plea for this surmise they found in its being said by God, Behold I send, My messenger before Thy Face, which shall prepare Thy way; before Thee. But they err from the truth who imagine thus, not considering that the name of Angel is indicative of ministry rather than of essence, even as in the history of the blessed Job messengers 6 one after the other run to announce . his manifold sufferings and ministering to those incurable afflictions. Something like this does the most wise Paul himself define respecting the holy angels, writing thus: Are l they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

John the blessed Baptist then is called an angel by the mouth of the Lord, not as being actually by nature an angel, but as sent to announce and crying aloud, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Very profitably does he declare moreover that the angel was sent by God, shewing that his witness is most sure. For he that was sent by God to preach, would not |72 utter anything in his teaching that was not wholly according to the will of Him Who put the mission on him. True therefore is the witness as being God-taught. For the most wise Paul also telling us that he was sent by Jesus Christ, affirmed that he learned the power of the mystery not of any other, but by revelation of Him Who sent him, signifying the revelation in sum so to say and briefly, in saying that he was sent by Jesus Christ. Hence the being God-taught wholly follows on being sent by God. And that freedom from lying is wholly the aim of the ministers of the truth is undoubted.

The man’s name he says was John. It needed that he who was sent should be recognized by the mark of the name, which introduces, as I suppose, great authenticity to what is said. For an angel (namely Gabriel that stand in the presence of God, as himself says) when he declared to Zacharias the good tidings of his birth of Elizabeth, added this to what he said, namely that his name shall be John. It is I suppose clear and confessed by all that he was so named of the angel according to the Divine purpose and appointment. How then will not he who was crowned by God with so great honour be conceived of as above all praise? Wherefore the mention of his name is profitably and necessarily brought in.

But since the Evangelist has added that the holy Baptist was sent by God for a witness that all men through him might believe, we will further say when our opponents fall foul and say, “Why did not all believe the God-sent? how came he who was fore-appointed by the decree from above to be powerless to persuade any?”—-It is meet, sirs, that we should not blame John for want of zeal herein, but should exclaim against the obstinacy of those who disbelieved. For so far as pertains to the aim of the herald, and the mode of his apostolate from above, none would have been found imparticipate in the teaching, nor would have remained in unbelief: but since there was diversity of disposition in the hearers and each has power over his own free-choice, some receiving not the faith missed what was profitable. Wherefore we must say to them (as it is in the prophet), He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear. |73

This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.

The word This is full of declaration of virtue and praise of person. For he that was sent, he says, from God, he that with reason struck with astonishment the whole of Judaea, by the gravity of his life and its marvellous exercise in virtue, he that is fore-announced by the voice of the holy Prophets: called by Isaiah, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, and by the blessed David, a lamp fore-ordained for Christ 7; This man came for a witness to hear witness of the Light. He here calls God the Word Light, and shews that He is One and strictly the very actual Light, with Whom there is by nature nought else that has the property of illumining, and that is not lacking light. Therefore foreign and, so to say, of other nature than the creature is the Word of God, since verily and truly is He strictly Light, the creature participate of light. He then that is unclassed with things made, and conceived of therefore as being of other nature than they, how will He be originate, rather how will He not be within the limits of Deity and replete with the Good Nature of Him who begat Him?

8 He was not the Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light.

The Baptist having esteemed desert-abodes above the haunts of the cities, and having shewn forth an unwonted persistence in exercise of virtue, and having mounted to the very summit of the righteousness attainable by man, was most rightly wondered at, and even by some imagined to be Christ Himself. And indeed the rulers of the Jews led by his achievements in virtue to some such notion, send some to him bidding them to inquire if he be the Christ. The blessed Evangelist then not ignorant of the things that were by many bruited of him, of necessity puts, He was not the Light, that he might both uproot the error as to this, and again build up some weight of credence to him who was sent from God for a witness. For how is he not eminent exceedingly, how is he not every way worthy of marvel, who is so clad with great virtue and so illustrious in righteousness as to imitate |74 Christ Himself, and by the choice beauty of his piety, to be even imagined to be the Light Itself?

He was not then, says he, the Light, but sent to bear witness of the Light. In saying the Light, with the addition of the article, he shews that it is really one: for so it is in truth. For that both the blessed Baptist and each of the other saints, may be rightly called light we will not deny, seeing that it is said of them by our Saviour, Ye are the light of the world. And again it is said of the holy Baptist, I have ordained a lamp for My Christ, and, He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But even though the saints be light, and the Baptist a lamp, we are not ignorant of the grace that was given them and of their supply from the Light. For neither is the light in the lamp its own, nor the illumination in the saints, but they are rendered bright and lightsome by the enlightening of the Truth and are lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. And what is the Life, whose word they holding forth are called light, save surely the Only-Begotten, Who saith, I am the Life? Therefore, One of a truth is That Which is verily Light, lighting, not enlightened: and by participation of the One, whatever is called light, will be so deemed of by imitation of It. |75

19, 20  And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

The Evangelist recalls his own words and endeavours to explain to us more fully (doing exceeding well) what he had already told us told us briefly as in summary. For having said There was a man sent from God, whose name was John: the same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, needs does he bring in the mode also of the witness given by him. For when, he says, the chiefs of the Jewish divisions after the Law, sent priests and Levites to him, bidding them ask him, what he would say of himself, then very clearly did he confess, spurning all shame for the truth’s sake. For he said, I am not the Christ. Therefore neither do I, says he, the compiler of this Book, lie saying of him, He was not the Light but to bear witness of the Light.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? and he saith, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered, No.

Having said by way of explanation, he confessed, I am not the Christ; he tries to shew how or in what manner the confession was made; and he appears to me to wish thereby to lay bare the ill-instructedness of the Jews. For professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and puffed up at their knowledge of the Law, and ever putting forward the commandments of Moses and asserting that they were perfectly instructed in the words of the holy Prophets, by their foolish questions they are convicted of being wholly uninstructed. For the hierophant Moses saying that the Lord should be revealed as a Prophet foretold to the children of Israel, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb. The blessed Isaiah, introducing to us the forerunner and fore-messenger, says, The voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight: and in addition to these the Prophet Joel 13 says of |127 the Tishbite (he was Elias) Behold, I send you Elijah the Tishbite 14 who shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

There being then three, who were promised should come, Christ and John and Elias, the Jews expect that more will come, that they may rightly hear, Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures. For when they enquired of the blessed Baptist and learned that he was not the Christ, they answer, What then? art thou Elias? and on his saying I am not, when they ought to have asked respecting the fore-runner (for he it was that remained) they ignorantly return to Christ Himself, Who was revealed through the Law as a Prophet. For see what they say, not knowing what was told them through Moses, Art thou the Prophet? and he answered, No. For he was not the Christ, as he had already before declared.

22, 23 What sayest thou of thyself? I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

He accuses them sharply as knowing nothing, and accredits the design or purpose entrusted to him by Prophetic testimony. For I come, he says, to say nothing else than that He, The Looked for, is at length at the doors, yea rather the Lord within the doors. Be ye ready to go whatsoever way He bids you, ye have gone the way given you through Moses, take up that by Christ: for this the choir of the holy Prophets foretold you.

A setting forth of sayings concerning the way that is after Christ.

Isaiah. Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.

The same. And an highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; no lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, but the redeemed shall walk there. |128

The same. I will give beginning 15 to Sign, and will exhort Jerusalem unto the way.

The same. And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known.

Jeremiah. Stand ye in the ways and see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for you souls.

What then is the good way and that purifies those who walk in it, let Christ Himself say: I am the Way.

24 And they had been sent from the Pharisees. 16 

They who were sent from the Jews (they were Levites and certain of those who belonged to the priesthood) were convicted of asking foolish questions. For supposing that Christ was one person, the Prophet declared by the Law another, they said, after the holy Baptist had said, I am not the Christ, Art thou the Prophet? But lo, the multitude of the Pharisees also is caught in conceit of wisdom rather than having really an accurate knowledge of the Divine oracles. For why, it says, baptizest thou at all, if thou be not the Christ nor Elias neither the Prophet? and they are shewn again to be full of no small senselessness against the Baptist. For they do not, it seems, vouchsafe to put him in the number of those expected, but sick with the haughtiness that was their foster-sister 17, they deem that he is nought, albeit he be fore-announced by the Prophet’s voice. For though they heard, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord: receiving not his word, they rebuke him without restraint saying after this sort: There is nought in thee, Sir, worthy of credit, nor wondrous nor great: why baptizest thou even at all? why dost thou, who art absolutely nothing, take in hand so great a thing? It was the habit of the ungodly Pharisees to act thus, to disparage one who was already |129 come, to pretend to honour one who was to come. For in order that they might always procure for themselves honours at the hand of the Jews, and might procure to themselves incomes of money, they desire that none save themselves should appear illustrious. For thus slew they the heir Himself also, saying Come let us kill Him and let us seize on His inheritance.

26 I baptize with water.

Much enduringly does the blessed Baptist bear with the fault finders: and very seasonably does he make the declaration regarding himself a basis of saving preaching: and teaches those who were sent from the Pharisees now even against their will that Christ was within the doors. For I, he says, am bringing in an introductory Baptism, washing those defiled by sin with water for a beginning of penitence and teaching them to go up from the lower unto the more perfect. For this were to accomplish in act, what I was sent to preach, Prepare ye, I mean, the way of the Lord. For the Giver of the greater and most notable gifts and Supplier of all perfection of good things, standeth among you, unknown as yet by reason of the veil of flesh, but so much surpassing me the Baptist, that I must deem myself not to have the measure even of a servant’s place in His Presence. For this I deem is the meaning of, I am not worthy to unloose His shoe-latchet.

And in saying what is true, he works something else that is useful, for he persuades the haughty Pharisee to think lowlily, and brings himself in as an example of this.

But he says that these things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, putting this too as a sign of accurate and careful narration. For we are all accustomed, so to speak, in our accounts of things that require it to mention also the places where they happened. (source)

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