The Divine Lamp

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Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 8:46-59

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 12, 2017

Ver. 46.—Which of you, &c. This is to anticipate an objection of the Jews. For they might say, “We do not believe thee, because thou art a violater of our law, in healing the sick on the Sabbath-day.” Produce any other charge against Me, and I will submit to your disbelieving Me. My healing on the Sabbath was not a violation, but a sanctification of the Sabbath. I leave any further charge to be decided by you who are my sworn enemies. So confident was Christ in His innocence that no one could lay anything to His charge which bore the slightest resemblance to sin. For He was Himself sinless, both on account of the Beatific Vision which He enjoyed, as the Blessed in heaven are incapable of sin for the same reason (for seeing God to be the Supreme Good, they necessarily love Him with all their strength, and hate whatever displeases Him) and likewise from the hypostatical union with the Word. For because His humanity existed in the Person of the Word, the Word kept His humanity free from all sin, and in perfect holiness. For if the humanity of Christ had sinned, the Person of the Word would have sinned; which is impossible. For virtuous or vicious actions relate to persons, and are attributed to them. Hence S. Ambrose (on Ps. 40:13) brings in God the Father thus addressing Christ, “Thou wert conversant with sinners, Thou didst take on Thee the sins of all, Thou wast made sin for all, but yet no practice of sin could reach Thee. Thou didst dwell among men, as if among angels, Thou madest earth to be like heaven, that even there also Thou mightest take away sin.”

If I say the truth, &c. He here shuts out another objection of the Jews. For they could have said, We believe Thee not, not for any sin which Thou hast committed, but because the things Thou sayest and teachest are not true.” Christ meets the objection by saying, “I have proved to you My doctrine by so many arguments and miracles, that no prudent person who is not blinded by hatred could question its perfect truth. If then My life is most innocent, and My doctrine most true, why do ye not believe Me?” Receive then the truth not as a bare assertion, but as demonstrated by reason.

Ver. 47.—He that is of God, &c. He here assigns the true reason for the unbelief of the Jews, because they were born not of God, but of the devil; that is, ye do not listen to the spirit and instinct of God, but of the devil. For the devil has blinded your hearts with covetousness, hatred, and envy of Me. And ye therefore listen not to the words of God which I, who am sent from Him, announce to you, because ye will not hear and understand them. Because then ye are not the children of God who is true, but of the devil who is a liar, ye listen to his lying suggestions, but will not give a hearing to the true words of God which are uttered by Me.

Moreover S. Augustine and S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.) understand these words of the elect and reprobate. He who is predestinated and elected hears the words of God, ye hear them not because ye are reprobate. But this is not the literal and genuine sense of the word, but merely an adapted one. For as Toletus and Maldonatus observe, many of those who at that time did not believe in Christ afterwards believed at the preaching of S. Peter and the Apostles; and on the other hand, some who then believed in Christ afterwards fell away from the faith, and became reprobates (see John 6:67).

Lastly, the Manichees inferred wrongly from the passage (as S. Augustine asserts) that some men are good by their own nature, as created by the good God, but others are naturally evil, as created by the evil principle.

Morally:—S. Gregory infers thus from this saying of Christ: “Let each one ask himself if he takes in the word of God with the ear of his heart, and he will understand whence it is. The truth bids us long for the heavenly country, to crush the desires of the flesh, to shun the glory of the world, not to covet others’ goods, to be liberal with one’s own. Let each one of you consider with himself if this voice of God has prevailed in the ear of his heart, and he will acknowledge that it is from God.” And just below, “There are some who willingly listen to the words of God so as to be moved by compunction even to tears, but who after their tears go back again to their sin. And these assuredly hear not the words of God, because they scorn to carry them out in deed.” Hence S. Gregory infers that it is a mark of divine predestination if a man obeys the holy inspirations of God, and of reprobation if he rejects them (see Prov. 1:24). And John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice.” They who hear the voice of Christ their Shepherd are saved, they who hear not are devoured by the devil. So too Christ says plainly, “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:25). And S. Bernard (Serm. I, in Septuag.) tells his monks that the greatest proof of predestination is the profitable hearing of the word of God. For it was their constant food, by reading and meditation and prayer, to examine whatever proceeds from the mouth of God, and to fulfil it in their lives.

Ver. 48.—The Jews answered and said, &c. They used to say it, though it is written nowhere else. But why did they call Him a Samaritan? (1.) Because He associated with the Samaritans. (2.) Because He came from Galilee, which was near Samaria. (3.) Because the Samaritans were partly Jews and partly Gentiles, and Christ seemed to them to be the same, as bringing in a new faith and religion; and He thus seemed to be mixing up the traditions of the elders with the Gospel. (4.) And lastly, because He seemed to be making a schism, like the Samaritans. A Samaritan was, more over, a term of reproach.

And hast a devil. (1.) Because they said He cast out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. (2.) Because He made Himself God, transferring to Himself the glory due to God, as Lucifer strove to do. So Leontius. Our Lord so understood it, and answered, “I seek not My own glory.” (3.) Thou art mad, like lunatics, and those possessed with devils (see 10:20, and 7:20). This was an atrocious blasphemy. How wondrous, then, the patience of Christ! For He answered,

Ver. 49.—I have not a devil, &c. As loving truth He denies the false charge, but though all-powerful He returns not their reproach. “God, though receiving an injury, replies not with words of contumely; and thou, when insulted by thy neighbours, shouldest abstain from their evil words, lest the exercise of just reproof should be turned into weapons of anger.” And Chrysostom, “When it was necessary to teach, and to inveigh against their pride, He was severe. But in bearing with those who reproached Him, He exercised great gentleness, to teach us to resent any wrongs done to God, to overlook the wrongs done to ourselves.” And S. Augustine, “Let us imitate His patience, that we may attain to His powers.”

Christ took no notice of the term Samaritan, because it was a reproach directed only against Himself, and not against God. He refused therefore to avenge His own wrongs, but would defend the honour of God. All knew He was a Galilean, and not a Samaritan, and by saying that He had not a devil, He refuted at the same time the charge of being a Samaritan. For the Samaritans, as schismatics, were the bond slaves of the devil. S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.) gives a mystical reason for His silence. “A Samaritan,” he says, “means a guardian, and He is truly our guardian, of whom the Psalmist speaks, ‘Except the Lord keep the city, they watch in vain who guard it’ (Ps. 127:2); to whom moreover it is said by Isaiah, ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ He would not therefore say, ‘I am not a Samaritan,’ lest he should deny also that He was our guardian.”

I have not a devil. But ye have one. So far from detracting from the glory of God, or claiming it for Myself, as Lucifer did, I continually honour the Father and say that I derive everything from Him, that I am sent from Him, that I obey Him in all things, that I refer everything I have to Him, and direct everything to His honour and glory. But ye rather dishonour God the Father, because ye dishonour Me, and assail Me with most bitter reproaches, through I am His Son, and His ambassador in the world. So Leontius. Others explain it more generally of sin—I honour My Father by good works, ye dishonour Him by your sins. So S. Augustine.

Ver. 50.—I seek not, &c. It is God the Father who will most sharply punish those who seek not My glory, but in every way dishonour and discredit Me. S. Chrysostom.

It may be said, “This is contrary to what Christ says (v. 22), The Father judgeth no man.” But there Christ speaks of the public and general judgment, here He speaks of the private and daily judgment with which He avenges the wrongs done to His Son and His saints, as by the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus for the death of Christ; as He here seems to hint. So Maldonatus and others. But the Gloss says, “There is one that judgeth who distinguishes My glory from yours; as David says, ‘Judge Me, O God, and distinguish My cause from that of the ungodly people’ ” (Ps. 43:1, Vulg.)

Ver. 51.—Verily, verily, I say. He says this not from indignation but from pity of the Jews, showing that He is seeking not His own glory, but their salvation. “I say in very truth,” and as S. Augustine thinks, he means I swear, “that if ye keep My commandments ye shall never die the death of the soul; ye shall never sin, for sin is the death of the soul. But ye shall ever live, here in the grace of God, and in heaven is His glory. Ye shall die indeed in the body, but I will raise you up in the day of judgment, and ye shall live in happiness of body and spirit for all eternity.” So S. Augustine.

Ver. 52.—Now we know, &c. “The devil suggests to Thee such proud and absurd boasting, that Thy word will drive away death from those who believe in Thee, when we see that Prophets and holy men, as Abraham, all died. But as says S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.), looking only to the death of the body, they were dark to the word of truth. For as Bede saith, “Abraham, though dead in the body, was alive in his soul.” Learn from this, thou Religious, thou Preacher, thou Christian, from thy Master to receive calumnies for thy good deeds, curses and ill-will for thy kindnesses. Learn also to be good to the ungrateful. For Christ, though unweariedly teaching the Jews, healing them, delivering them from evil spirits, yet patiently endured these contumelies and reproaches, ingratitude in return for kindnesses, blasphemies for miracles, and for His teaching derision and reprehension, and yet did not cease to benefit those who were ungrateful, the very highest point of patience and charity.

Abraham is dead, &c. Thou blasphemest then, in making thyself greater than Abraham and the Prophets, yea, even greater than God Himself, since the word of God could not deliver Abraham and the Prophets from the death. But yet the word of God, promulged by the lips of Christ, was more powerful than the word of God which was uttered to Abraham and the Prophets. And, moreover, Abraham and the Prophets were not dead in their souls, and though dead in the body were to be raised up by Christ to eternal life.

Ver. 53.—Art thou greater? &c. They considered it most absurd, and even blasphemous, for Christ to prefer Himself to Abraham, as He really did; for He was both God and man, though the Jews knew it not, or rather refused to believe it.

Ver. 54.—Jesus answered, &c. This was in answer to their question, Whom makest thou Thyself? He refers all His glory to His Father from whom He is, and who is God. What I say of Myself is of no value or weight, and that not only with you, as S. Chrysostom says, but with others. For in every court no one is believed on his own word but on the testimony of others, who witness for him (see chap. 5:31). Solomon also says, “Let another praise thee, and not thine own lips” (Prov. 27:2). The Arians objected that the Father glorifies the Son. He is therefore greater than the Son. S. Augustine replies, “Thou heretic, readest thou not that the Son Himself said that He glorifies His Father? But He also glorifies the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father. Put aside thy pernicious teaching, acknowledge their equality, correct thy perversity.”

Ver. 55.—Yet ye have not known Him, &c. (1.) Ye know not the true God whom ye worship; ye know Him not to be one in essence and threefold in person, for ye think Him to be one in Person, as He is one in essence. Ye know not that God is a Father, and that He begat Me His Son, and that we two by our Breath produced the Holy Ghost. For had ye known it, ye would certainly have known and believed Me to be the Messiah, the Son of God; and conversely, “if ye had known Me, ye would assuredly have known My Father,” says S. Chrysostom.

(2.) S. Augustine says, Ye believe that there is one God, though ye neither see nor hear Him (see chap. 5:37). Ye ought therefore equally to believe in Me His Son, on account of the many signs and wonders which I work, though ye see not the Godhead which is hid within. (3.) Ye have not known Him, ye have not believed His testimony, This is My beloved Son; for ye know not, or rather would not know, that this was the true voice of God. (4.) Euthymius explains, “Ye have not shown that ye know Him, because ye live wickedly, not as worshippers of God, but like idolatrous Gentiles, professing, as S. Paul says, to know Him (Tit. 1:16), but in works denying Him.”

And if I say, &c. Maldonatus thinks that Christ called the Jews “liars,” because they said to Him, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.” For these were two most gross falsehoods, nay even blasphemies. But S. Chrysostom, Ammonius, and Theophylact are more to the point in asserting that they were called “liars,” because they lied in saying that they knew God. For they believed not that He had a Son, and was threefold in His personality.

But I know Him, &c. Theophylact explains it thus, “I show by my life and conduct that I know, reverence, and worship God, because I reverently observe and constantly fulfil His word. Or it may be explained, even better, in this way. Because I acknowledge God the Father, and clearly perceive His Majesty, Power, and Holiness; I therefore, as man, greatly reverence Him, and clearly and fully observe His precept, which ye Jews do not observe, because ye know not nor comprehend His Majesty, and therefore do not reverence it.” So Theophylact. Moreover, S. Augustine says, “He spake as the Son, the Word of the Father, and was the very Word of the Father Who spake to men.” And He fitly said the “word,” not the “precept,” because He Himself was the Word of the Father, and the Father had ordered Him to announce to men that very truth, that they should acknowledge, believe, and worship God the Father and God the Son.

Ver. 56.—Your father Abraham, &c. He longed for it with exulting mind; “He feared not, but exulted,” says S. Augustine. “Believing he exulted with hope, that he might see by understanding.” It is a catachresis. But what day? S. Augustine understands by it, that day of all eternity, wherein from all eternity the Son was begotten of the Father. “He wished to know My eternal generation and My Godhead, that he might believe in it, and be thereby saved.” “He saw,” says S. Augustine, “My day, because he acknowledged the mystery of the Trinity.” (Bede follows him, as usual.) S. Jerome (on Dan. 8.) and S. Gregory (in loc.) say that it was the day when, by the three angels that appeared to him, only one of whom spoke to him, the mystery of the Trinity was by symbols revealed to him; he saw three but adored one (Gen. 18:2).

(1.) But others generally refer it to the day of His Humanity, and thus understand it of the day of His Passion, Crucifixion, and death. See S. Chrysostom, &c. (2.) It is more simple to understand it of the day of His Incarnation. For all the Prophets and Patriarchs earnestly longed for the coming of Christ, to free them from their sins and from their imperfect state (limbo). “To see” (says John Alba) “is to enjoy the happiness and blessings brought by Christ.” The word has often that meaning, as in the Psalm “to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” i.e., to enjoy it.

He saw it. By faith, and again in a figure when he was commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac, which was a type of Christ’s offering on the Cross. So S. Chrysostom and S. Augustine, and S. Bernard (Serm. vi. de. Vigil Natalis) adds that by smiting on his thigh he signified that Christ was to come from his race.

(2.) He knew by prophetical revelation. But this would not be “seeing.”

(3.) The genuine meaning is, he saw from his own place (in limbo). He knew the day when Christ was incarnate and was born, not only from what Simeon told him, when he met him in the place below (in limbo), but also from what Anna the Prophetess, Zacharias, Anna the Virgin’s Mother, and S. John the Baptist told him, but he saw it by intuitive perception. He saw all, just as the Blessed in heaven behold all things on earth and under the earth, and as S. Anselm saw with his eyes lifted up by God what was doing behind a wall. Abraham longingly desired to see this, as if present. For the promise that Christ should be born of him had been frequently made him by God. And it was due to him, in consequence of his faith, obedience, and many merits, that as the father of the faithful, who for so long a time, without any fault of his own, was so long detained in prison (limbo), most eagerly looking for Christ to deliver him, might for his own consolation, and that of his fellow-patriarchs, and in solace of their long and anxious expectation, know the very day when Christ was Incarnate and born. For two thousand years had he eagerly waited for Christ and sighed for His birth. And therefore God revealed it to him by His Spirit, and then Abraham and all the Saints in prison rejoiced and were glad. So Jansen, Maldonatus, and others. Lastly, the angels who comfort souls in Purgatory, much more consoled the souls of Abraham and the Patriarchs (in limbo), even as the same angels announced that much longed-for birth to the shepherds. Christ said this, (1.) To show that He was greater than Abraham, and that He was God, (2.) to show how highly He was valued, though absent, by Abraham, though the Jews despised Him when present among them. (3.) And also to prick their consciences indirectly in this way: “Abraham had so great a longing for Me, but ye have rejected Me. Ye are therefore not true children of Abraham, but spurious and degenerate.” He says “Abraham your father,” whose children ye glory in being, though I do not glory in him, but he rather glories and exults in Me.

Ver. 57.—Thou art not yet, &c. So that Abraham on his part could have seen Thee, and rejoiced at the sight. Irenæus hence infers that Christ lived fifty years on earth (adv. Hœr. ii. 39, 40). But it is the common opinion that He was on earth for only thirty-four (and those not complete) years. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius read forty years, but the common reading is fifty. The Jews seem to have been thinking of the Jubilee. “Thou hast not reached one Jubilee, how then canst Thou say that Thou hast seen Abraham, who lived forty Jubilees before?” (So Severus of Antioch in Catena.) But Euthymius thinks that Christ seemed to the Jews, by reason of the maturity of His judgment and the gravity of His bearing, and also from the labours He had undergone in journeying and preaching, to be fifty years old. But you may easily say that the Jews, in order to avoid exception or mistake, put His age much higher than they knew He had attained to.

Ver. 58.—Jesus said, &c. That is, I am God. The word am denotes eternity, which is ever present, and has no past or future. I am eternal, immutable, and ever the same. So S. Augustine, Bede, S. Gregory. I as God exceed the age of Abraham not by fifty years, but by infinite durations of years. For as Tertullian (de Trinit.) says, unless He had been God, He could not, as being descended from Abraham, have been before him. Hear S. Augustine on this passage, “Before Abraham was made, that refers to human nature, but I am pertains to the Divine Substance; was made (Vulg.), because Abraham was a creature. He said not, ‘Before Abraham was, I am,’ but Before Abraham was made, I am. Nor did He say, ‘Before Abraham was made, I was made.’ For in the beginning God made heaven and earth; for in the beginning was the Word. Before Abraham was made, I am. Acknowledge the Creator, distinguish the creature. He who spake was made of the seed of Abraham; and in order that Abraham might be made, He was (existed) before Abraham.”

Ver. 59.—Then they took up, &c., as a blasphemer, who placed Himself above Abraham, and made Himself equal to God. Blasphemers were ordered to be stoned (Lev. 26:16). It is clear that these Jews were not those who were said to have believed in Him (as Theophylact supposes), but the others who were opposed to Christ. “And to what should such hardness betake itself but to stones?” says. S. Augustine (in loc.) “They sought to crush Him, whom, they could not understand,” says S. Gregory (Hom. xviii.)

But Jesus hid Himself, &c. He made Himself invisible, and thus passed unharmed through the midst of them. So Leontius and others. S. Gregory says, “Had He willed to exercise His power, He would have bound them in their sins, or would have plunged them into the pains of eternal death. But He who came to suffer, would not exercise judgment.” And S. Augustine, “He would rather commend to us His patience, than exercise His power. He forsakes them, since they would not accept His correction. He hides not Himself in a corner of the temple, as if afraid, or running into a cottage, or turning aside behind a wall or column: but by His Divine Power making Himself invisible, He passed through their midst. As man He fled from the stones, but woe to them from whose stony hearts God flies away.

Morally, we are taught by this example (says S. Gregory) humbly to avoid the anger of the proud, even when we have the power to resist them.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 11:1-46

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2017

11:1–5

1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

3. Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

Bede. (non occ.) After our Lord had departed to the other side of Jordan, it happened that Lazarus fell sick: A certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany. In some copies the copulative conjunction precedes, to mark the connection with the words preceding. (ἢν δέ τις, now a certain man.) Lazarus signifies helped. Of all the dead which our Lord raised, he was most helped, for he had lain dead four days, when our Lord raised him to life.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 1.) The resurrection of Lazarus is more spoken of than any of our Lord’s miracles. But if we bear in mind who He was who wrought this miracle, we shall feel not so much of wonder, as of delight. He who made the man, raised the man; and it is a greater thing to create a man, than to revive him. Lazarus was sick at Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. The place was near Jerusalem.

Alcuin. And as there were many women of this name, He distinguishes her by her well-known act: It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

Chrysostom. (Greg. Hom. lxii. 1.) First we are to observe that this was not the harlot mentioned in Luke, but an honest woman, who treated our Lord with marked reverence.

Augustine. (de Con. Ev. ii. lxxix.) John here confirms the passage in Luke (Luke 7:38), where this is said to have taken place in the house of one Simon a Pharisee: Mary had done this act therefore on a former occasion. That she did it again at Bethany is not mentioned in the narrative of Luke, but is in the other three Gospels.

Augustine. (de Verb. Dom. s. lii) A cruel sickness had seized Lazarus; a wasting fever was eating away the body of the wretched man day by day: his two sisters sat sorrowful at his bedside, grieving for the sick youth continually. They sent to Jesus: Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold he whom Thou lovest is sick.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 5.) They did not say, Come and heal; they dared not say, Speak the word there, and it shall be done here; but only, Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. As if to say, It is enough that Thou know it, Thou art not one to love and then to desert whom Thou lovest.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) They hope to excite Christ’s pity by these words, Whom as yet they thought to be a man only. Like the centurion and nobleman, they sent, not went, to Christ; partly from their great faith in Him, for they knew Him intimately, partly because their sorrow kept them at home.

Theophylact. And because they were women, and it did not become them to leave their home if they could help it. Great devotion and faith is expressed in these words, Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. Such was their idea of our Lord’s power, that they were surprised, that one, whom He loved, could be seized with sickness.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 6.) When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death. For this death itself was not unto death, but to give occasion for a miracle; whereby men might be brought to believe in Christ, and so escape real death. It was for the glory of God, wherein observe that our Lord calls Himself God by implication, thus confounding those heretics who say that the Son of God is not God. For the glory of what God? Hear what follows, That the Son of God might be glorified thereby, i. e. by that sickness.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) That here signifies not the cause, but the event. The sickness sprang from natural causes, but He turned it to the glory of God.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 7.) He is sick, they sorrowful, all beloved. Wherefore they had hope, for they were beloved by Him Who is the Comforter of the sorrowful, and the Healer of the sick.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii non occ. v. lxii. 3.) Wherein the Evangelist instructs us not to be sad, if sickness ever falls upon good men, and friends of God.

11:6–10

6. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

7. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judæa again.

8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

Alcuin. Our Lord heard of the sickness of Lazarus, but suffered four days to pass before He cured it; that the recovery might be a more wonderful one. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the place where He was.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) To give time for his death and burial, that they might say, he stinketh, and none doubt that it was death, and not a trance, from which he was raised.

Then after that saith He to His disciples, Let us go into Judæa again.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 7.) Where He had just escaped being stoned; for this was the cause of His leaving. He left indeed as man: He left in weakness, but He returns in power.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) He had not as yet told His disciples where He was going; but now He tells them, in order to prepare them beforehand, for they are in great alarm, when they hear of it: His disciples say unto Him, Master, the Jews sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again? They feared both for Him, and for themselves; for they were not yet confirmed in faith.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 8.) When men presumed to give advice to God, disciples to their Master, our Lord rebuked them: Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? He shewed Himself to be the day, by appointing twelve disciples: i. e. reckoning Matthias in the place of Judas, and passing over the latter altogether. The hours are lightened by the day; that by the preaching of the hours, the world may believe on the day. Follow Me then, saith our Lord, if ye wish not to stumble: If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world: But if a man walk in the night he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) As if to say, The upright need fear no evil: the wicked only have cause to fear. We have done nothing worthy of death, and therefore are in no danger. Or, If any one seeth this world’s light, he is safe; much more he who is with Me.

Theophylact. Some understand the day to be the time preceding the Passion, the night to be the Passion. In this sense, while it is day, would mean, before My Passion; Ye will not stumble before My Passion, because the Jews will not persecute you; but when the night, i. e. My Passion, cometh, then shall ye be beset with darkness and difficulties.

11:11–16

11. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.

12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15. And I am glad for your sakes I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) After He has comforted His disciples in one way, He comforts them in another, by telling them that they were not going to Jerusalem, but to Bethany: These things saith He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep: as if to say, I am not going to dispute again with the Jews, but to awaken our friend. Our friend, He says, to shew how strongly they were bound to go.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. c. 9.) It was really true that He was sleeping. To our Lord, he was sleeping; to men who could not raise him again, he was dead. Our Lord awoke him with as much ease from his grave, as thou awakest a sleeper from his bed. He calls him then asleep, with reference to His own power, as the Apostle saith, But I would not have you to be ignorant, concerning them which are asleep. (1 Thess. 4:13) Asleep, He says, because He is speaking of their resurrection which was to be. But as it matters to those who sleep and wake again daily, what they see in their sleep, some having pleasant dreams, others painful ones, so it is in death; every one sleeps and rises again with his own account.a

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) The disciples however wished to prevent Him going to Judæa: Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Sleep is a good sign in sickness. And therefore if he sleep, say they, what need to go and awake him.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) The disciples replied, as they understood Him: Howbeit Jesus spake of his death; but they thought that He had spoken of taking rest in sleep.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) But if any one say, that the disciples could not but have known that our Lord meant Lazarus’s death, when He said, that I may awake him; because it would have been absurd to have gone such a distance merely to awake Lazarus out of sleep; we answer, that our Lord’s words were a kind of enigma to the disciples, here as elsewhere often.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) He then declares His meaning openly: Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) But He does not add here, I go that I may awake him. He did not wish to anticipate the miracle by talking of it; a hint to us to shun vain glory, and abstain from empty promises.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) He had been sent for to restore Lazarus from sickness, not from death. But how could the death be hid from Him, into whose hands the soul of the dead had flown?

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that ye might believe; i. e. seeing My marvellous power of knowing a thing I have neither seen nor heard. The disciples already believed in Him in consequence of His miracles; so that their faith had not now to begin, but only to increase. That ye might believe, means, believe more deeply, more firmly.

Theophylact. Some have understood this place thus. I rejoice, He says, for your sakes; for if I had been there, I should have only cured a sick man; which is but an inferior sign of power. But since in My absence he has died, ye will now see that I can raise even the dead putrefying body; and your faith will be strengthened.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) The disciples all dreaded the Jews; and especially Thomas; Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. But he who was now the most weak and unbelieving of all the disciples, afterwards became stronger than any. And he who dared not go to Bethany, afterwards went over the whole earth, in the midst of those who wished his death, with a spirit indomitable.

Bede. The disciples, checked by our Lord’s answer to them, dared no longer oppose; and Thomas, more forward than the rest, says, Let us also go that we may die with him. What an appearance of firmness! He speaks as if he could really do what he said; unmindful, like Peter, of his frailty.

11:17–27

17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Alcuin. Our Lord delayed His coming for four days, that the resurrection of Lazarus might be the more glorious: Then when Jesus came, He found that He had lain in the grave four days already.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Our Lord had stayed two days, and the messenger had come the day before; the very day on which Lazarus died. This brings us to the fourth day.

Augustine. (Tract. xlix. 12.) Of the four days many things may be said. They refer to one thing, but one thing viewed in different ways. There is one day of death which the law of our birth brings upon us. Men transgress the natural law, and this is another day of death. The written law is given to men by the hands of Moses, and that is despised—a third day of death. The Gospel comes, and men transgress it—a fourth day of death. But Christ doth not disdain to awaken even these.

Alcuin. The first sin was elation of heart, the second assent, the third act, the fourth habit.

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Two miles. This is mentioned to account for so many coming from Jerusalem: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. But how could the Jews be consoling the beloved of Christ, when they had resolved that whoever confessed Christ should be put out of the synagogue? Perhaps the extreme affliction of the sisters excited their sympathy; or they wished to shew respect for their rank. Or perhaps they who came were of the better sort; as we find many of them believed. Their presence is mentioned to do away with all doubt of the real death of Lazarus.

Bede. Our Lord had not yet entered the town, when Martha met Him: Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Martha does not take her sister with her, because she wants to speak with Christ alone, and tell Him what has happened. When her hopes had been raised by Him, then she went her way, and called Mary.

Theophylact. At first she does not tell her sister, for fear, if she came, the Jews present might accompany her. And she did not wish them to know of our Lord’s coming.

Then saith Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) She believed in Christ, but she believed not as she ought. She did not speak as if He were God: If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Theophylact. She did not know that He could have restored her brother as well absent as present.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) Nor did she know that He wrought His miracles by His own independent power: But I know that even now, whatsoever Thou will ask of God, God will give it Thee. She only thinks Him some very gifted man.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 13.) She does not say to Him, Bring my brother to life again; for how could she know that it would be good for him to come to life again; she says, I know that Thou canst do so, if Thou wilt; but what Thou wilt do is for Thy judgment, not for my presumption to determine.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) But our Lord taught her the truths which she did not know: Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Observe, He does not say, I will ask God, that he may rise again, nor on the other hand does He say, I want no help, I do all things of Myself; a declaration which would have been too much for the woman; but something between the two, He shall rise again.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 14.) Shall rise again, is ambiguous: for He does not say, now. And therefore it follows: Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day: of that resurrection I am certain; of this I am doubtful.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) She had often heard Christ speak of the resurrection. Jesus now declares His power more plainly: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life. He needed therefore none to help Him; for if He did, how could He be the resurrection. And if He is the life, He is not confined by place, but is every where, and can heal every where.

Alcuin. I am the resurrection, because I am the life; as through Me he will rise at the general resurrection, through Me he may rise now.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) To Martha’s, Whatsoever Thou shall ask, He replies, He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: shewing her that He is the Giver of all good, and that we must ask of Him. Thus He leads her to the knowledge of high truths; and whereas she had been enquiring only about the resurrection of Lazarus, tells her of a resurrection in which both she and all present would share.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 15.) He that believeth in Me, though he were dead: i. e. though his flesh die, his soul shall live till the flesh rise again, never to die more. For faith is the life of the soul.

And whosoever liveth, in the flesh, and believeth in Me, though he die for a time in the flesh, shall not die eternally.

Alcuin. Because He hath attained to the life of the Spirit, and to an immortal resurrection. Our Lord, from Whom nothing was hid, knew that she believed, but sought from her a confession unto salvation: Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) She seems not to have understood His words; i. e. she saw that He meant something great, but did not see what that was. She is asked one thing, and answers another.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 15.) When I believed that Thou wert the Son of God, I believed that Thou wert the resurrection, that Thou wert lifeb; and that he that believeth in Thee, though he were dead, shall live.

11:28–32

28. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29. And as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) Christ’s words had the effect of stopping Martha’s grief. In her devotion to her Master she had no time to think of her afflictions: And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) Silently1, i. e. speaking in a low voice. For she did speak, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) She calls her sister secretly, in order not to let the Jews know that Christ was coming. (non occ.). For had they known, they would have gone, and not been witnesses of the miracle.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) We may observe that the Evangelist has not said, where, or when, or how, the Lord called Mary, but for brevity’s sake has left it to be gathered from Martha’s words.

Theophylact. Perhaps she thought the presence of Christ in itself a call, as if it were inexcusable, when Christ came, that she should not go out to meet Him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) While the rest sat around her in her sorrow, she did not wait for the Master to come to her, but, not letting her grief detain her, rose immediately to meet Him; As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. non occ.) So we see, if she had known of His arrival before, she would not have let Martha go without her.

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) He went slowly, that He might not seem to catch at an occasion of working a miracle, but to have it forced upon Him by others asking. Mary, it is said, arose quickly, and thus anticipated His coming. The Jews accompanied her: The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she arose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) The Evangelist mentions this to shew how it was that so many were present at Lazarus’ resurrection, and witness of that great miracle.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) She is more fervent than her sister. Forgetful of the crowd around her, and of the Jews, some of whom were enemies to Christ, she threw herself at her Master’s feet. In His presence all earthly things were nought to her; she thought of nothing but giving Him honour.

Theophylact. But her faith seems as yet imperfect: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Alcuin. As if to say, Lord, while Thou wert with us, no disease, no sickness dared to shew itself, amongst those with whom the Life deigned to take up His abode.

Augustine. (de Verb. Dom. s. lii) O faithless assembly! Whilst Thou art yet in the world, Lazarus Thy friend dieth! If the friend dies, what will the enemy suppose? Is it a small thing that they will not serve Thee upon earth? lo, hell hath taken Thy beloved.

Bede. Mary did not say so much as Martha, she could not bring out what she wanted for weeping, as is usual with persons overwhelmed with sorrow.

11:33–41

33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35. Jesus wept.

36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37. And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) Christ did not answer Mary, as He had her sister, on account of the people present. In condescension to them He humbled Himself, and let His human nature be seen, in order to gain them as witnesses to the miracle: When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in His spirit, and was troubled.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix.) For who but Himself could trouble Him? Christ was troubled, because it pleased Him to be troubled; He hungered, because it pleased Him to hunger. It was in His own power to be affected in this or that way, or not. The Word took up soul and flesh, and whole man, and fitted it to Himself in unity of person. And thus according to the nod and will of that higher nature in Him, in which the sovereign power resides, He becomes weak and troubled.

Theophylact. To prove His human nature He sometimes gives it free vent, while at other times He commands, and restrains it by the power of the Holy Ghost. Our Lord allows His nature to be affected in these ways, both to prove that He is very Man, not Man in appearance only; and also to teach us by His own example the due measures of joy and grief. For the absence altogether of sympathy and sorrow is brutal, the excess of them is womanly.

Augustine. (de Ver. Dom. s. lii) And said, Where have ye laid him? He knew where, but He asked to try the faith of the people.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) He did not wish to thrust the miracle upon them, but to make them ask for it, and thus do away with all suspicions.

Augustine. (lib. 83. Quæst. qu. lxv.) The question has an allusion too to our hidden calling. That predestination by which we are called, is hidden; and the sign of its being so is our Lord asking the question: He being as it were in ignorance, so long as we are ignorant ourselves. Or because our Lord elsewhere shews that He knows not sinners, saying, I know you not, (Matt. 7:23) because in keeping His commandments there is no sin.

They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) He had not yet raised any one from the dead; and seemed as if He came to weep, not to raise to life. Wherefore they say to Him, Come and see.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 20.) The Lord sees when He pities, as we read, Look upon my adversity and misery, and forgive me all my sin. (Ps. 25:18.)

Jesus wept.

Alcuin. Because He was the fountain of pity. He wept in His human nature for him whom He was able to raise again by His divine.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. non occ.) Wherefore did Christ weep, but to teach men to weep?

Bede. It is customary to mourn over the death of friends; and thus the Jews explained our Lord’s weeping: Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 21.) Loved him. Our Lord came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. And some of them said, Could not this Man which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? He was about to do more than this, to raise him from death.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) It was His enemies who said this. The very works, which should have evidenced His power, they turn against Him, as if He had not really done them. This is the way that they speak of the miracle of opening the eyes of the man that was born blind. They even prejudge Christ before He has come to the grave, and have not the patience to wait for the issue of the matter. Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself, cometh to the grave. That He wept, and He groaned, are mentioned to shew us the reality of His human nature. John who enters into higher statements as to His nature than any of the other Evangelists, also descends lower than any in describing His bodily affections.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix.) And do thou too groan in thyself, if thou wouldest rise to new life. To every man is this said, who is weighed down by any vicious habit. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. The dead under the stone is the guilty under the Law. For the Law, which was given to the Jews, was graven on stone. And all the guilty are under the Law, for the Law was not made for a righteous man.

Bede. A cave is a hollow in a rock. It is called a monument, because it reminds us of the dead.

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 2.) But why did He not raise him without taking away the stone? Could not He who moved a dead body by His voice, much more have moved a stone? He purposely did not do so, in order that the miracle might take place in the sight of all; to give no room for saying, as they had said in the case of the blind man, This is not he. Now they might go into the grave, and feel and see that this was the man.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. c. 22.) Take ye away the stone; mystically, Take away the burden of the law, proclaim grace.

Augustine. (lib. 83. Quæst. qu. 61.) Perhaps those are signified who wished to impose the rite of circumcision on the Gentile converts; or men in the Church of corrupt life, who offend believers.

Augustine. (de Ver. Dom. serm. lii) Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, though they had often seen Christ raise the dead, did not fully believe that He could raise their brother; Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days.

Theophylact. Martha said this from weakness of faith, thinking it impossible that Christ could raise her brother, so long after death.

Bede. (non occ. [Nic.]) Or, these are not words of despair, but of wonder.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 2.) Thus every thing tends to stop the mouths of the unbelieving. Their hands take away the stone, their ears hear Christ’s voice, their eyes see Lazarus come forth, they perceive the smell of the dead body.

Theophylact. Christ reminds Martha of what He had told her before, which she had forgotten: Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii.) She did not remember what He said above, He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. To the disciples He had said, That the Son of God might be glorified thereby; here it is the glory of the Father He speaks of. The difference is made to suit the different hearers. Our Lord could not rebuke her before such a number, but only says, Thou shalt see the glory of God.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix.) Herein is the glory of God, that he that stinketh and hath been dead four days, is brought to life again.

Then they took away the stone.

Origen. (tom. in Joan. xxviii.) The delay in taking away the stone was caused by the sister of the dead, who said, By this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days. If she had not said this, it would not be said, Jesus said, Take away the stone. Some delay had arisen; it is best to let nothing come between the commands of Jesus and doing them.

11:41–46

41. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Alcuin. Christ, as man, being inferior to the Father, prays to Him for Lazarus’s resurrection; and declares that He is heard: And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me.

Origen. (tom. xxviii.) He lifted up His eyes; mystically, He lifted up the human mind by prayer to the Father above. We should pray after Christ’s pattern, Lift up the eyes of our heart, and raise them above present things in memory, in thought, in intention. If to them who pray worthily after this fashion is given the promise in Isaiah, Thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am; (Isa. 58:9) what answer, think we, our Lord and Saviour would receive? He was about to pray for the resurrection of Lazarus. He was heard by the Father before He prayed; His request was granted before made. And therefore He begins with giving thanks; I thank Thee, Father, that Thou hast heard Me.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiv. 2.) i. e. There is no difference of will between Me and Thee. Thou hast heard Me, does not shew any lack of power in Him, or that He is inferior to the Father. It is a phrase that is used between friends and equals. That the prayer is not really necessary for Him, appears from the words that follow, And I knew that Thou heardest Me always: as if He said, I need not prayer to persuade Thee; for Ours is one will. He hides His meaning on account of the weak faith of His hearers. For God regards not so much His own dignity, as our salvation; and therefore seldom speaks loftily of Himself, and, even when He does, speaks in an obscure way; whereas humble expressions abound in His discourses.

Hilary. (lib. x. de Trin.) He did not therefore need to pray: He prayed for our sakes, that we might know Him to be the Son: But because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me. His prayer did not benefit Himself, but benefited our faith. He did not want help, but we want instruction.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiv. 2.) He did not say, That they may believe that I am inferior to Thee, in that I cannot do this without prayer, but, that Thou hast sent Me. He saith not, hast sent Me weak, acknowledging subjection, doing nothing of Myself, but hast sent Me in such sense, as that man may see that I am from God, not contrary to God; and that I do this miracle in accordance with His will.

Augustine. (de Verb. Dom. Serm. lii) Christ went to the grave in which Lazarus slept, as if He were not dead, but alive and able to hear, for He forthwith called him out of his grave: And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. He calls him by name, that He may not bring out all the dead.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiv. 2.) He does not say, Arise, but, Come forth, speaking to the dead as if he were alive. For which reason also He does not say, Come forth in My Father’s name, or, Father, raise him, but throwing off the whole appearance of one praying, proceeds to shew His power by acts. This is His general way. His words shew humility, His acts power.

Theophylact. The voice which roused Lazarus, is the symbol of that trumpet which will sound at the general resurrection. (He spoke loud, to contradict the Gentile fable, that the soul remained in the tomb. The soul of Lazarus is called to as if it were absent, and a loud voice were necessary to summon it.) And as the general resurrection is to take place in the twinkling of an eye, so did this single one: And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Now is accomplished what was said above, The hour is coming, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. (5:25)

Origen. (t. xxviii.) His cry and loud voice it was which awoke him, as Christ had said, I go to awake him. The resurrection of Lazarus is the work of the Father also, in that He heard the prayer of the Son. It is the joint work of Father and Son, one praying, the other hearing; for as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. (5:21)

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiv.) He came forth bound, that none might suspect that he was a mere phantom. Besides, that this very fact, viz. of coming forth bound, was itself a miracle, as great as the resurrection. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, that by going near and touching him they might be certain he was the very person. And let him go. His humility is shewn here; He does not take Lazarus about with Him for the sake of display.

Origen. (t. xxviii. 10.) Our Lord had said above, Because of the people that stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me. It would have been ignorance of the future, if He had said this, and none believed, after all. Therefore it follows: Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their way to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. It is doubtful from these words, whether those who went to the Pharisees, were of those many who believed, and meant to conciliate the opponents of Christ; or whether they were of the unbelieving party, and wished to inflame the envy of the Pharisees against Him. The latter seems to me the true supposition; especially as the Evangelist describes those who believed as the larger party. Many believed; whereas it is only a few who go to the Pharisees: Some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Augustine. (lib. lxxxiii. Quæst. q. 65.) Although according to the Gospel history, we hold that Lazarus was really raised to life, yet I doubt not that his resurrection is an allegory as well. We do not, because we allegorize facts, lose our belief in them as facts.

Augustine. (Tr. super Joan. xlix. 3.) Every one that sinneth, dies; but God, of His great mercy, raises the soul to life again, and does not suffer it to die eternally. The three miraculous resurrections in the Gospels, I understand to testify the resurrection of the soul.

Gregory. (iv. Moral. c. xxix.) The maiden is restored to life in the house, the young man outside the gate, Lazarus in his grave. She that lies dead in the house, is the sinner lying in sin: he that is carried out by the gate is the openly and notoriously wicked.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 3.) Or, it is death within; when the evil thought has not come out into action. But if thou actually do the evil thing, thou hast as it were carried the dead outside the gate.

Gregory. (v. Moral.) And one there is who lies dead in his grave, with a load of earth upon him; i. e. who is weighed down by habits of sin. But the Divine grace has regard even unto such, and enlightens them.

Augustine. (lib. lxxxii. Quæst. q. lxv.) Or we may take Lazarus in the grave as the soul laden with earthly sins.

Augustine. (in Joan. Tr. xlix.) And yet our Lord loved Lazarus. For had He not loved sinners, He would never have come down from heaven to save them. Well is it said of one of sinful habits, that He stinketh. He hath a bad report1 already, as it were the foulest odour.

Augustine. (lib. lxxxiii. Quæst. q. 65.) Well may she say, He hath been dead four days. For the earth is the last of the elements. It signifies the pit of earthly sins, i. e. carnal lusts.

Augustine. (Tract. in Joan. xlix. 19.) The Lord groaned, wept, cried with a loud voice. It is hard for Him to arise, who is bowed down with the weight of evil habits. Christ troubleth Himself, to signify to thee that thou shouldest be troubled, when thou art pressed and weighed down with such a mass of sin. Faith groaneth, he that is displeased with himself groaneth, and accuseth his own evil deeds; that so the habit of sin may yield to the violence of repentance. When thou sayest, I have done such a thing, and God has spared me; I have heard the Gospel, and despised it; what shall I do? then Christ groaneth, because faith groaneth; and in the voice of thy groaning appeareth the hope of thy rising again.

Gregory. (xxii. Moral.) Lazarus is bid to come forth, i. e. to come forth and condemn himself with his own mouth, without excuse or reservation: that so he that lies buried in a guilty conscience, may come forth out of himself by confession.

Augustine. (lib. lxxxiii. Quæst. q. 65.) That Lazarus came forth from the grave, signifies the soul’s deliverance from carnal sins. That he came bound up in grave clothes means, that even we who are delivered from carnal things, and serve with the mind the law of God, yet cannot, so long as we are in the body, be free from the besetments of the flesh. That his face was bound about with a napkin means, that we do not attain to full knowledge in this life. And when our Lord says, Loose him, and let him go, we learn that in another world all veils will be removed, and that we shall see face to face.

Augustine. (Tr. xlix.) Or thus: When thou despisest, thou liest dead; when thou confessest, thou comest forth. For what is to come forth, but to go out, as it were, of thy hiding place, and shew thyself? But thou canst not make this confession, except God move thee to it, by crying with a loud voice, i. e. calling thee with great grace. But even after the dead man has come forth, he remains bound for some time, i. e. is as yet only a penitent. Then our Lord says to His ministers, Loose him, and let him go, i. e. remit his sins: Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 18:18)

Alcuin. Christ awakes, because His power it is which quickens us inwardly: the disciples loose, because by the ministry of the priesthood, they who are quickened are absolved.

Bede. By those who went and told the Pharisees, are meant those who seeing the good works of God’s servants, hate them on that very account, persecute, and calumniate them.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, 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 11:1-45

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2017

1 Now there was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and of Martha her sister.

It is supposed generally that an interval of about three months elapsed between this and the occurrences recorded in the last chapter, at the Feast of the Renovation. These took place about the middle of December—and those mentioned in this chapter, took place about the middle of March, at the near approach of the Pasch, when our Lord was put to death.

Now there was a certain man sick named Lazarus,” etc. He was supposed to be in good circumstances, quite different from the Lazarus mentioned in connexion with the rich glutton. (Luke 16.) “Of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha, her sister.” These latter words are put in apposition to the former, meaning, “Bethania,” that is to say, the town or village in which Martha and Mary lived, just as Bethsaida is called, “the town of Peter and Andrew” (1:41), not that they were owners of it, but only lived there. This Bethania was about two miles from Jerusalem, to the east of Mount Olivet. The Evangelist narrates every thing in detail, connected with the great miracle, which He is about to describe.

2 (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

The more probable opinion, though warmly disputed (see Corlui, in hunc locum) is, that Mary Magdalen (Luke 8:2; Matthew 28:5, 6, and 7), the Mary referred to here, the sister of Lazarus, as also in Luke 10:38; John 12:3–8, and the sinful woman, Luke 7:36–50, are one and the same person (see Matthew 26:7, Commentary on).

3 His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

The sisters of Lazarus respectfully hint, or rather modestly request, that our Lord would cure their sick brother. This expresses their great faith in our Lord, their confidence and love. Their faith, shown in their belief that our Lord, though absent, could cure him. Their hope, in the expectation that, on receiving the message, He would restore him. Their charity—“behold whom Thou lovest,” etc., which implied reciprocal great love on their part. They say, “whom Thou lovest,” etc., not Lazarus; not our brother, to excite our Lord’s tender compassion and pity, the more effectually, to move Him to cure their brother.

4 And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.

Said to them,” viz., the sisters, through the messenger, “not unto death,” will not terminate in death, but has for object, the glory of God; or, is not meant to end in the death which, as you apprehend, will close his mortal life; since, he was to be soon again resuscitated.

But for the glory of God.” To promote and manifest God’s glory; when men seeing the miracle, would believe in our Lord, as Son of God, and thus glorify the Father and the Son. This is explained in the following words, “that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” The glory of the Father and of the Son is the same. The death and resuscitation of Lazarus was meant for a signal display of the glory of God, by proving the Divine mission of His Son.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus.

He loved them with an eternal love, as God; with a human love, as good, virtuous people, and also on account of their singular love devotion and liberality, in hospitably entertaining Himself and His disciples, on several occasions.

6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days.

He did not wish to go to Bethania till Lazarus would be some time dead, and no cavilling questions raised about the reality of his death, and the subsequent miracle of his resuscitation. It is likely, that Lazarus died soon after the messengers left our Lord, on their return home. The circumstance of our Lord’s remaining two days at Bethabara, thirty miles from Bethania, where this disconsolate family lived, whom He knew to be plunged in the deepest sorrow, would seem to indicate, that He meant to compensate for this apparent indifference in remaining so long away, by raising him, as He did, from the grave.

7 Then after that, he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again.

Then after that.” After the lapse of two days, from the departure of the messengers. Up to that, He said nothing of His intended journey, or of the death of Lazarus.

Let us go into Judea”—the portion occupied by the Tribes of Juda and Benjamin—“again.” They had left it not long before when the Jews meant to stone Him (10:31–39). He knew the disciples had no wish to return to Judea, from a sense of danger. He now prepares them for it by this announcement of His intention.

8 The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee. And goest thou thither again?

His disciples, who were ignorant of His design to die, wish to dissuade Him from encountering certain death. They knew not His designs of Redemption, which was now on the eve of accomplishment.

9 Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world:
10 But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him.

Since the return from the Babylonish captivity, the Jews divided their days from sunrise to sunset into twelve parts, which were longer or shorter, according to the season of the year. This was the division in use among the Romans, to whom the Jews were now subject. Our Lord means to employ an allegory wherein the twelve hours of the day denote the period of human life; the night, death. He, therefore, means to convey, that as a man walking in day-time, is sure to avoid all obstacles, against which he might impinge, and thus stumble, because he has the light of the day to guide him; so, as there is a certain time marked out for Him in the decrees of His heavenly Father to continue in life, they need not fear any danger till “His hour is come,” and the time has expired. Now that time will expire then only, when He shall voluntarily hand Himself over to His cruel executioners. Hence, they need be under no apprehension in accompanying Him now into Judea.

11 These things he said; and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.

After having strengthened them against indulging in fear, He announces the death of Lazarus. “Sleepeth.” Death is but a kind of sleep. The SS. Scriptures often term it such, in view of the future general Resurrection.

Awake him.” He thus modestly refers to the exercise of His Almighty power, soon to be displayed in the resuscitation of Lazarus.

12 His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 But Jesus spoke of his death: and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep.

If he only sleeps, he is sure of recovery. Let us allow him to sleep. It would seem that by the observation, “he shall do well,” they meant to dissuade our Lord from undertaking an unnecessary journey.

14 Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead.

The messenger only spoke of Lazarus’s illness. Our Lord showed His Divine insight into secret, hidden events, by saying, “plainly,” literally, without any figure, “Lazarus is dead.”

15 And I am glad, for your sakes; that I was not there, that you may believe. But, let us go to him.

I am glad … not there,” because, if there at the time of Lazarus’s death, He would have been moved by the tears and entreaties of his sisters to ward off death, or to raise him up at once. Neither course would so strongly contribute to the faith of His Apostles, as did what took place in his resuscitation, after he was in the grave for some time. “That you may believe,” that is, be more and more confirmed in your faith.

16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Thomas, called Didymus.” The word, “Thomas,” translated into Greek, means, “Didymus,” or twin, just as Cephas, in Greek, means, Petros or rock.

Let us go and die,” etc. He did not seem to understand our Saviour’s words (verses 9 and 10). Hence, fancying our Lord meant to go to death, he intrepidly encourages his fellow Apostles to share in his fate.

17 Jesus therefore came: and found that he had been four days already in the grave.

Four days already in the grave.” Commentators explain it thus: most likely, Lazarus died on the day the messenger was despatched to our Lord, and was buried the following day. Our Lord set out from Bethabara the third day after Lazarus’s death, and the second of his burial. The distance was rather long; and our Lord, on the third day of Lazarus’s burial, travelled leisurely, delivering instructions as He went along. Most likely, He remained for the night at some midway place. The following or fourth day He arrived near Bethany about mid-day. It would not be congruous, that the miracle, with all its circumstances, should occur at any other time save the day time.

18 (Now Bethania = Bethnay was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.)

Bethany was about two miles distant from Jerusalem.

19 And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

The family of Lazarus likely occupied a respectable position, and had many friends in the neighbouring city; probably, men of eminence and learning. They came out to condole with the sisters of the deceased. The testimony of these, some of them, no doubt, hostile to our Lord, would have great weight in regard to the stupendous miracle of which they were witnesses.

20 Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home.

It is clear our Lord did not, at this time, reach the house of Martha; but only came to the place of the sepulchre, which was outside the town or village, according to the custom of the Jews. “Martha,” to whom, as mistress of the house (Luke 10:38), the tidings of our Lord’s arrival was communicated, on hearing of His approach went out at once—without waiting to intimate it to her sister—to meet our Lord, sure to receive greater and more practical consolation than she could expect from any of the sympathizing Jews.

But Mary sat at home,” receiving the expression of condolence from those who came to sympathize with them. Likely, too, she had not at once heard of our Lord’s arrival (v. 28), and Martha, in her hurry, did not tell her at the time. Moreover, had she left, all the Jews in the house would have followed: and confusion at their meeting our Lord, to whom some of them were hostile, might ensue.

21 Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Martha’s faith in our Lord’s power was somewhat imperfect, since He could as easily operate when absent, as when present. And although she believed Him to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 27); still, it is likely she did not clearly apprehend His identity of nature and power with the Father; since, she regards His power as dependent on the Father, who would surely grant all His petitions. She does not say, if Thou wilt, Thou canst raise my brother. It may be, she tacitly expects He would, in virtue of His acceptance with His Father, raise her brother again, relying on the message received from Him (v. 4. He had already cured men on the point of death. Hence, she says, if present, He would have cured her brother. It is hardly likely, that she hoped, He would perform the stupendous miracle of raising the dead to life. The words of this verse, clearly denote that she expected our Lord would obtain any thing from God necessary to console them in their affliction. Possibly, even to the extent of raising up her brother, though, it does not seem clear that she expected this (vv. 24–39).

23 Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day.

Thy brother shall rise again.” Our Lord, while referring to the near resurrection of Lazarus, uses ambiguous language, which would apply to the General Resurrection, as Martha understood it, possibly in order to prepare her for the miracle He was about to perform, and to elicit from her the act of faith she expressed in reply to His question, arising out of this subject (v. 27). Martha heard our Lord often treating of the General Resurrection of all men; and now she hears Him in language harmonizing with His former teaching, proclaim the same doctrine, but, in her words, would seem to be implied, the latent or suppressed complaint, viz.: what particular consolation does this bring us now in our excessive grief? What particular or special favour is now conferred on us?

25 Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live:

Our Lord then said to her, “I am the Resurrection,” etc. I am the cause, the power by which all men are raised from the dead, raising up and giving life to whom I will—“the life,” the source of life eternal to all the good who deserve it. For, as regards the life to which the reprobate are restored, this is but a living death, a perpetuation of everlasting torture. Better for them, they were never born (“Melius illi fuisset si natus non esset iste homo”—Matthew 26:24), never raised to life. By saying, He is “the Resurrection and the life,” our Lord wishes to convey, that every one who is resuscitated, is raised by Him and Him alone; that every one, who lives, lives by Him alone. Hence, it would be just as easy for Him now to raise up Lazarus, as it will be to raise up all men, at the General Resurrection.

He that believeth in Me,” etc. In this, He points out the means of securing a happy Resurrection and everlasting glory. This means is faith. He that hath faith in Him, with the other dispositions, during life, “although now dead—in the body”—“shall live,” shall be raised to a life of everlasting glory, both in regard to soul and body.

26 And every one that liveth and believeth in me shall not die for ever. Believest thou this?

And every one that liveth,” etc.—now living in the body—“and believeth in Me,” although his body may soon return to earth, still, “he shall not die for ever.” The bodies and souls of men, like him who believes, shall, after a time, be restored to a life of glorious immortality. Our Lord wishes to convey a proof, not only of His Omnipotent Power in restoring to life all who die; but, a still greater manifestation of His Power and boundless beneficence as well, in bestowing on them everlasting happiness. Hence, as Martha’s brother, though now dead, believed, and had faith in our Lord, she should not be disturbed at what has taken place, she should expect for him a glorious immortality; nay, perhaps, a near resurrection.

Believest thou this?” That is to say, My assertion regarding Myself, as the source of Resurrection and life?

27 She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.

Martha, not fully understanding what our Lord wished her to believe and profess, makes an act of faith which fully contained all she was asked. She professes to have believed Him to be the natural, genuine Son of God, God Himself; and that, therefore, every thing He taught was true, and that He was, therefore, as He asserted, “the Resurrection and the life.”

I have believed,” heretofore, and my faith still continues the same, “that Thou art the Christ,” the promised Messiah, nay, more, “the Son of the living God,” the true, genuine, natural Son of God, “who art come,” or as the Greek has it, “who was to come,” long before predicted and expected, “into this world,” to enlighten and save the entire human race, Jew and Gentile alike.

Some Commentators, think that Martha did not believe as St. Peter did (Matthew 16.), though the form of words is similar. While expressing her belief in Him as the Son of God, she did not distinguish whether He was the natural or adopted Son of God. (St. Chrysostom, etc.) They in proof of this refer to Martha’s words (v. 22).

28 And when she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come and calleth for thee.

She went,” evidently at our Lord’s instance. “The Master is come, and calleth thee.” But for brevity sake, it is omitted here by the Evangelist, that our Lord suggested this to Martha, “secretly,” to escape being noticed by the Jews, who were with her.

29 She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly and cometh to him.
30 For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but he was still in that place where Martha had met him.

Our Lord remained outside the village near the tomb, which, according to Jewish custom, was outside the town or village. He did not wish to go to the house of Mary, in the first instance, as He should return again to perform the miracle at the grave.

31 The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there.

When they saw that she rose up speedily,” as Martha had whispered into her ear the tidings of our Lord’s arrival, “followed her.” It was thus providentially arranged, that they should witness the miracle.

32 When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet and saith to him. Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Fell down at His feet,” in testimony of her great reverence and gratitude for His having rescued her from her passions and sins. This she did, regardless of the presence of the Jews, who entertained hostile feelings against our Lord.

33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her weeping, groaned in the spirit and troubled himself,

Groaned in spirit and troubled Himself.” There is a great diversity of opinion regarding the meaning of these words, owing to the peculiar signification of the Greek word ενεβριμησατο), which generally means, to be indignant. However, this word, rigorously speaking, denotes the commotion or excitement of any of the violent passions, anger, sorrow, etc. Looking to the context, the circumstances of the people weeping around Him, it, most likely, denotes the commotion of tenderness and sympathetic sorrow caused by our Lord’s seeing the tears and affliction of those present, and especially of His dear friends, who were plunged in sorrow; and by His own free will, which always kept in check all His passions, He excited Himself to feelings of tenderness and humanity, which manifested themselves afterwards in tears. Some who understand, “groaned in spirit,” to mean indignation, say, He was indignant at the hypocritical expression of sorrow on the part of the Jews, mingling with the sincere lamentation of Mary. He always showed His horror of hypocrisy.

34 And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see.

Where have you laid him?” He spoke thus, as if He were acting in a human way. For, He knew it Himself. He wishes to excite their attention to the great miracle about to be performed.

Lord, come and see.” They went before Him to point out the precise spot.

35 And Jesus wept.

Jesus wept,” in sympathy with His friends, to show His true humanity and sympathetic feelings of tenderness. He conformed to the admonition, “lugere cum lugentibus” (Rom. 12:15). As He meant to display His Divinity in the miracle He was about performing; so, He here manifests His humanity in sentiments of tenderness and compassion, proving He had not a hard, unfeeling heart.

Only on three occasions have we any record of our Lord’s weeping. 1. Here. 2. When weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). 3. On the cross (Heb. 5., “Cum clamore magno et lacrymis”). No doubt, in each case, there were strong mystical reasons. Most likely, He wept over the dreadful evil of sin, the havoc it wrought, and over the ingratitude of man.

36 The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him.

Some of the Jews, who were well affected towards our Lord. said, “Behold,” etc. Tears, in a grown man, are a great sign of sorrow. These Jews admired our Lord’s fast friendship and humanity.

37 But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind have caused that this man should not die?

But others, who were unfriendly and unfavourably disposed, attributed it to weakness. If He had the power of warding off death from this man, and did not do it, why now weep over what He could have prevented? They sneeringly ask, “Could not He that opened the eyes,” a more difficult thing, do what was easier, viz., cure this infirm man and ward off death? All admit the death of Lazarus. All admit the cure of the blind man. Yet still they refer to it, out of malice, in a sneering, sarcastic manner.

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it.

Groaning in Himself.” The near approach to the grave excited His sensibility and compassionate tenderness.

It was a cave,” sunk into the earth, “a stone laid over it.” unlike the grave of our Lord, which was over ground, and “a stone rolled to the mouth of the sepulchre.”

39 Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days.

Take away the stone.” He might, if He pleased, have removed it by the sole act of His will, and have raised up Lazarus without removing it. But, He preferred calling on them to remove it, to leave no possibility of doubt regarding the identity and death of Lazarus. Martha imagined our Lord only wished to see the remains. It would seem she did not anticipate or expect that He could raise him up in this state of decomposition. Hence, the reproach addressed by our Lord to her in the following verse. All these circumstances detailed by the Evangelist take away all grounds for suspecting imposture.

40 Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God?

Did I not say to thee?” It is disputed at what time He said this. Some say, through the messenger (v. 4). “His sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God.” etc. Others refer it to verse 25. “Thou shalt see the glory of God,” which shall be manifested in the great miracle of the resuscitation of Lazarus. This shall promote My glory, by showing the power I possess, and the proof it gives of My Divine mission. He confirms the faith of Martha, which would seem, at this critical point, to be somewhat wavering (v. 41).

41 They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes, said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me.

The removal of the stone left no doubt of the identity and death of Lazarus, his remains approaching a state of decomposition.

Lifting up His eyes,” to heaven, to His Eternal Father, thus showing whence the power of performing the great miracle emanated—and referring all to Him. said: “Father, I give Thee thanks, that Thou hast heard Me,” in regard to the resuscitation of Lazarus. It may be, too, that whilst He groaned in spirit, He prayed to His Father—the Evangelist makes no special mention of any expressed prayer—or, He may have simply wished it in His heart, and His Father attended to this desire, “desiderium animœ ejus tribuisti ei” (Psa. 9:1). Our Lord teaches us how to commence our petitions to God. It is, by thanking Him for past favours, so as to render Him propitious and bountiful in granting those we now ask.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

It was not on My own account, I thanked Thee, for hearing Me. This is not new to Me. For, “I knew that Thou always hearest Me;” “but, because of the people who stand about have I said it,” that is, have I said the words. “I give Thee thanks”—uttering them aloud—“that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me,” on beholding the miracle, I am now about to perform by Thy Divine power, in proof of My mission from Thee to earth.

43 When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth.

With a loud voice,” to render those present more attentive, and to demonstrate His own great power and authority, whereby this miracle was accomplished; and some add, to show that He summoned the soul of Lazarus from afar, from Limbo, where it reposed in the bosom of Abraham; or, it may be, that he spoke in a loud voice, as to a dead man, just as we speak in a loud voice to the deaf. Theophylact observes, that this loud voice of our Redeemer was a symbol of the loud trumpet of the Archangel, which is to sound at the General Resurrection.

Lazarus, come forth.” He mentions him by name, lest it might be supposed that any of the others who might have been laid in the tomb, answered the Divine call and command. “Lazarus,” the person of Lazarus, soul and body, “come forth,” from the tomb. This implied his resurrection, the union of soul and body, effected by our Lord’s power. For, He invokes no other power to assist Him. He does it all by His own sole command and authority. “Come forth,” and show yourself, resuscitated by My power, to all here present.

44 And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands. And his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him and let him go.

And presently,” without any delay, the power of our Lord producing an instantaneous effect.

He that was dead,” Lazarus, who in person, was summoned by the voice of God, burst forth at once from the embrace of death.

Bound hand and feet with winding bands,” according to the custom of the Jews, in burying their dead. “And his face was bound about with a napkin,” quite common among the Jews in preparing their dead for burial.

45 Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.

Believed in Him.” On seeing the proof they just saw of His Divinity. They were aided by Divine grace.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 9:1-41

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 26, 2017

1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvi. 1.) The Jews having rejected Christ’s words, because of their depth, He went out of the temple, and healed the blind man; that His absence might appease their fury, and the miracle soften their hard hearts, and convince their unbelief. And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. It is to be remarked here that, on going out of the temple, He betook Himself intently to this manifestation of His power. He first saw the blind man, not the blind man Him: and so intently did He fix His eye upon him, that His disciples were struck, and asked, Rabbi, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

Bede. Mystically, our Lord, after being banished from the minds of the Jews, passed over to the Gentiles. (non occ.). The passage or journey here is His descent from heaven to earth, where He saw the blind man, i. e. looked with compassion on the human race.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 1, 2.) For the blind man here is the human race. Blindness came upon the first man by reason of sin: and from him we all derive it: i. e. man is blind from his birth.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 1, 2.) Rabbi is Master. They call Him Master, because they wished to learn: they put their question to our Lord, as to a Master.

Theophylact. This question does not seem a proper one. For the Apostles had not been taught the fond notion of the Gentiles, that the soul has sinned in a previous state of existence. It is difficult to account for their putting it.

Chrysostom. (Hom. liv. 1. c. 5.) They were led to ask this question, by our Lord having said above, on healing the man sick of the palsy, Lo, thou art made whole; sin no more. Thinking from this that the man had been struck with the palsy for his sins, they ask our Lord of the blind man here, whether he did sin, or his parents; neither of which could have been the reason of his blindness; the former, because he had been blind from his birth; the latter, because the son does not suffer for the father.

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 3) Was he then born without original sin, or had he never added to it by actual sin? Both this man and his parents had sinned, but that sin was not the reason why he was born blind. Our Lord gives the reason; viz. That the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvi. 1, 2.) He is not to be understood as meaning that others had become blind, in consequence of their parents’ sins: for one man cannot be punished for the sin of another. But had the man therefore suffered unjustly? Rather I should say that that blindness was a benefit to him: for by it he was brought to see with the inward eye. At any rate He who brought him into being out of nothing, had the power to make him in the event no loser by it. Some too say, that the that here, is expressive not of the cause, but of the event, as in the passage in Romans, The law entered that sin might abound; (Rom. 5:20) the effect in this case being, that our Lord by opening the closed eye, and healing other natural infirmities, demonstrated His own power.

Gregory. (in Præf. Moral. c. 5.) One stroke falls on the sinner, for punishment only, not conversion; another for correction; another not for correction of past sins, but prevention of future; another neither for correcting past, nor preventing future sins, but by the unexpected deliverance following the blow, to excite more ardent love of the Saviour’s goodness.

Chrysostom. (Hom. liv. 2.) That the glory of God should be made manifest, He saith of Himself, not of the Father; the Father’s glory was manifest already. I must work the works of Him that sent Me: i. e. I must manifest Myself, and shew that I do the same that My Father doeth.

Bede. For when the Son declared that He worked the works of the Father, He proved that His and His Father’s works were the same: which are to heal the sick, to strengthen the weak, and enlighten man.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 4.) By His saying, Who sent Me, He gives all the glory to Him from Whom He is. The Father hath a Son Who is from Him, but hath none from whom He Himself is.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvi. 2.) While it is day, He adds; i. e. while men have the opportunity of believing in Me; while this life lasts; The night cometh, when none can work. Night here means that spoken of in Matthew, Cast him into outer darkness. (Mat. 22:13) Then will there be night, wherein none can work, but only receive for that which he has worked. While thou livest, do that which thou wilt do: for beyond it is neither faith, nor labour, nor repentance.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 5.) But if we work now, now is the day time, now is Christ present; as He says, As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. This then is the day. The natural day is completed by the circuit of the sun, and contains only a few hours: the day of Christ’s presence will last to the end of the world: for He Himself has said, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Mat. 28:20)

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvi. 2.) He then confirms His words by deeds: When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. He who had brought greater substances into being out of nothing, could much more have given sight without the use of any material: but He wished to shew that He was the Creator, Who in the beginning used clay for the formation of man. (Hom. lvii. 1). He makes the clay with spittle, and not with water, to make it evident that it was not the pool of Siloam, whither He was about to send him, but the virtue proceeding from His mouth, which restored the man’s sight. And then, that the cure might not seem to be the effect of the clay, He ordered the man to wash: And He said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. The Evangelist gives the meaning of Siloam, which is by interpretation, Sent, to intimate that it was Christ’s power that cured him even there. As the Apostle says of the rock in the wilderness, that that Rock was Christ, (1 Cor. 10:14) so Siloam had a spiritual character: the sudden rise of its water being a silent figure of Christ’s unexpected manifestation in the flesh. But why did He not tell him to wash immediately, instead of sending him to Siloam? That the obstinacy of the Jews might be overcome, when they saw him going there with the clay on his eyes. Besides which, it proved that He was not averse to the Law, and the Old Testament. And there was no fear of the glory of the case being given to Siloam: as many had washed their eyes there, and received no such benefit. And to shew the faith of the blind man, who made no opposition, never argued with himself, that it was the quality of clay rather to darken, than give light, that He had often washed in Siloam, and had never been benefited; that if our Lord had the power, He might have cured him by His word; but simply obeyed: he went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (Hom. lvi. 2). Thus our Lord manifested His glory: and no small glory it was, to be proved the Creator of the world, as He was proved to be by this miracle. For on the principle that the greater contains the less, this act of creation included in it every other. Man is the most honourable of all creatures; the eye the most honourable member of man, directing the movements, and giving him sight. The eye is to the body, what the sun is to the universe; and therefore it is placed aloft, as it were, upon a royal eminence.

Theophylact. Some think that the clay was not laid upon the eyes, but made into eyes.

Augustine. (Tr. xlv. 2.) Our Lord spat upon the ground, and made clay of the spittle, because He was the Word made flesh. The man did not see immediately as he was anointed; i. e. was, as it were, only made a catechumen. But he was sent to the pool which is called Siloam, i. e. he was baptized in Christ; and then he was enlightened. The Evangelist then explains to us the name of this pool: which is by interpretation, Sent: for, if He had not been sent, none of us would have been delivered from our sins.

Gregory. (viii. Moral. c. xxx. [49.].) Or thus: By His spittle understand the savour of inward contemplation. It runs down from the head into the mouth, and gives us the taste of revelation from the Divine splendour even in this life. The mixture of His spittle with clay is the mixture of supernatural grace, even the contemplation of Himself with our carnal knowledge, to the soul’s enlightenment, and restoration of the human understanding from its original blindness.

8. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9. Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
10. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
11. He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
12. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
14. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
17. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. s. 1.) The suddenness of the miracle made men incredulous: The neighbours therefore, and they which had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Wonderful clemency and condescension of God! Even the beggars He heals with so great considerateness: thus stopping the mouths of the Jews; in that He made not the great, illustrious, and noble, but the poorest and meanest, the objects of His providence. Indeed He had come for the salvation of all. Some said, This is he. The blind man having been clearly recognised in the course of his long walk to the pool; the more so, as people’s attention was drawn by the strangeness of the event; men could no longer say, This is not he; Others said, Nay, but he is like him.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 8.) His eyes being opened had altered his look. But he said, I am he. He spoke gratefully; a denial would have convicted Him of ingratitude.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. s. 2.) He was not ashamed of his former blindness, nor afraid of the fury of the people, nor averse to shew himself, and proclaim his Benefactor. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? How they were, neither he nor any one knew: he only knew the fact; he could not explain it. He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes. Mark his exactness. He does not say how the clay was made; for he could not see that our Lord spat on the ground; he does not say what he does not know; but that He anointed him he could feel. And said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash. This too he could declare from his own hearing; for he had heard our Lord converse with His disciples, and so knew His voice. Lastly, he shews how strictly he had obeyed our Lord. He adds, And I went, and washed, and received sight.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. s. 8.) Lo, he is become a proclaimer of grace, an evangelist, and testifies to the Jews. That blind man testified, and the ungodly were vexed at the heart, because they had not in their heart what appeared upon his countenance. Then said they unto him, Where is He?

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. 2.) This they said, because they were meditating His death, having already begun to conspire against Him. Christ did not appear in company with those whom He cured; having no desire for glory, or display. He always withdrew, after healing any one; in order that no suspicion might attach to the miracle. His withdrawal proved the absence of all connexion between Him and the healed; and therefore that the latter did not publish a false cure out of favour to Him. He said, I know not.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 8.) Here he is like one anointed, but unable yet to see: he preaches, and knows not what he preaches.

Bede. Thus he represents the state of the catechumen, who believes in Jesus, but does not, strictly speaking, know Him, not being yet washed. It fell to the Pharisees to confirm or deny the miracle.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. 2.) The Jews, whom they asked, Where is He? were desirous of finding Him, in order to bring Him to the Pharisees; but, as they could not find Him, they bring the blind man. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind; i. e. that they might examine him still more closely. The Evangelist adds, And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes; in order to expose their real design, which was to accuse Him of a departure from the law, and thus detract from the miracle: as appears from what follows, Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. But mark the firmness of the blind man. To tell the truth to the multitude before, from whom he was in no danger, was not so great a matter: but it is remarkable, now that the danger is so much greater, to find him disavowing nothing, and not contradicting any thing that he said before: He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. He is more brief this time, as his interrogators were already informed of the matter: not mentioning the name of Jesus, nor His saying, Go, and wash; but simply, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see; the very contrary answer to what they wanted. They wanted a disavowal, and they receive a confirmation of the story.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 9.) Some, not all: for some were already anointed. But they, who neither saw, nor were anointed, said, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Rather He kept it, in that He was without sin; for to observe the sabbath spiritually, is to have no sin. And this God admonishes us of, when He enjoins the sabbath, saying, In it thou shall do no servile work. (Exod. 20:10) What servile work is, our Lord tells us above, Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. (c. 8:34) They observed the sabbath carnally, transgressed it spiritually.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. 2.) Passing over the miracle in silence, they give all the prominence they can to the supposed transgression; not charging Him with healing on the sabbath, but with not keeping the sabbath. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? They were impressed by His miracles, but only in a weak and unsettled way. For whereas such might have shewn them, that the sabbath was not broken; they had not yet any idea that He was God, and therefore did not know that it was the Lord of the sabbath who had worked the miracle. Nor did any of them dare to say openly what his sentiments were, but spoke ambiguously; one, because he thought the fact itself improbable; another, from his love of station. It follows, And there was a division among them. That is, the people were divided first, and then the rulers.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 4, 5) It was Christ, who divided the day into light and darkness.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 1.) Those who said, Can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? wishing to stop the others’ mouths, make the object of our Lord’s goodness again come forward; but without appearing to take part with Him themselves: They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of Him, that He hath opened thine eyes?

Theophylact. See with what good intent they put the question. They do not say, What sayest thou of Him that keepeth not the sabbath, but mention the miracle, that He hath opened thine eyes; meaning it would seem, to draw out the healed man himself; He hath benefited them, they seem to say, and thou oughtest to preach Him.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 9.) Or they sought how they could throw reproach upon the man, and cast him out of their synagogue. He declares however openly what he thinks: He said, He is a Prophet. Not being anointed yet in heart, he could not confess the Son of God; nevertheless, he is not wrong in what he says: for our Lord Himself says of Himself, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. (Luke 4:24)

18. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
19. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
20. His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
21. But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
22. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
23. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 1.) The Pharisees being unable, by intimidation, to deter the blind man from publicly proclaiming his Benefactor, try to nullify the miracle through the parents: But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they had called the parents of him that had received his sight.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. s. 10.) i. e. had been blind, and now saw.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 3.) But it is the nature of truth, to be strengthened by the very snares that are laid against it. A lie is its own antagonist, and by its attempts to injure the truth, sets it off to greater advantage: as is the case now. For the argument which might otherwise have been urged, that the neighbours knew nothing for certain, but spoke from a mere resemblance, is cut off by introduction of the parents, who could of course testify to their own son. Having brought these before the assembly, they interrogate them with great sharpness, saying, Is this your son, (they say not, who was born blind, but) who ye say was born blind? Say. Why what father is there, that would say such things of a son, if they were not true? Why not say at once, Whom ye made blind? They try two ways of making them deny the miracle: by saying, Who ye say was born blind, and by adding, How then doth he now see?

Theophylact. Either, say they, it is not true that he now sees, or it is untrue that he was blind before: but it is evident that he now sees; therefore it is not true that he was born blind.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 2.) Three things then being asked,—if he were their son, if he had been blind and how he saw,—they acknowledge two of them: His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. But the third they refuse to speak to: But by what means he now seeth, we know not. The enquiry in this way ends in confirming the truth of the miracle, by making it rest upon the incontrovertible evidence of the confession of the healed person himself; He is of age, they say, ask him; he can speak for himself.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 10.) As if to say, We might justly be compelled to speak for an infant, that could not speak for itself: but he, though blind from his birth, has been always able to speak.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lvii. 2.) What sort of gratitude is this in the parents; concealing what they knew, from fear of the Jews? as we are next told; These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews. And then the Evangelist mentions again what the intentions and dispositions of the Jews were: For the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 10.) It was no disadvantage to be put out of the synagogue: whom they cast out, Christ took in.

Therefore said his parents, He is of age, ask him.

Alcuin. The Evangelist shews that it was not from ignorance, but fear, that they gave this answer.

Theophylact. For they were fainthearted; not like their son, that intrepid witness to the truth, the eyes of whose understanding had been enlightened by God.

24. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
26. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
27. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
28. Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.
29. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
30. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
32. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
33. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
34. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 2.) The parents having referred the Pharisees to the healed man himself, they summon him a second time: Then again called they the man that was blind. They do not openly say now, Deny that Christ has healed thee, but conceal their object under the pretence of religion: Give God the praise, i. e. confess that this man has had nothing to do with the work.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. s. 11.) Deny that thou hast received the benefit. This is not to give God the glory, but rather to blaspheme Him.

Alcuin. They wished him to give glory to God, by calling Christ a sinner, as they did: We know that this man is a sinner.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 2.) Why then did ye not convict Him, when He said above, Which of you convinceth Me of sin? (c. 8:46)

Alcuin. The man, that he might neither expose himself to calumny, nor at the same time conceal the truth, answers not that he knew Him to be righteous, but, Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 2.) But how comes this, whether He be a sinner, I know not, from one who had said, He is a Prophet? did the blind fear? far from it: he only thought that our Lord’s defence lay in the witness of the fact, more than in another’s pleading. And he gives weight to his reply by the mention of the benefit he had received: One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see: as if to say, I say nothing as to whether He is a sinner; but only repeat what I know for certain. So being unable to overturn the fact itself of the miracle, they fall back upon former arguments, and enquire the manner of the cure: just as dogs in hunting pursue wherever the scent takes them: Then said they to him again, What did He do to thee? How opened He thine eyes? i. e. was it by any charm? For they do not say, How didst thou see? but, How opened He thine eyes? to give the man an opportunity of detracting from the operation. So long now as the matter wanted examining, the blind man answers gently and quietly; but, the victory being gained, he grows bolder: He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? i. e. Ye do not attend to what is said, and therefore I will no longer answer you vain questions, put for the sake of cavil, not to gain knowledge: Will ye also be His disciples?

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. s. 11.) Will ye also? i. e. I am already, do ye wish to be? I see now, but do not envy (video, non invideo). He says this in indignation at the obstinacy of the Jews; not tolerating blindness, now that he is no longer blind himself.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 2.) As then truth is strength, so falsehood is weakness: truth elevates and ennobles whomever it takes up, however mean before: falsehood brings even the strong to weakness and contempt.

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art His disciple.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 12.) A malediction only in the intention of the speakers, not in the words themselves. May such a malediction (ἐλοιδόρησαν, maledixerunt, Vulg.) be upon us, and upon our children! It follows: But we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses. But ye should have known, that our Lord was prophesied of by Moses, after hearing what He said, Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. (c. 5:46) Do ye follow then a servant, and turn your back on the Lord? Even so, for it follows: As for this fellow, we know not whence He is.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. s. 3.) Ye think sight less evidence than hearing; for what ye say, ye know, is what ye have heard from your fathers. But is not He more worthy of belief, who has certified that He comes from God, by miracles which ye have not heard only, but seen? So argues the blind man: The man answered and said, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes. He brings in the miracle every where, as evidence which they could not invalidate: and, inasmuch as they had said that a man that was a sinner could not do such miracles, he turns their own words against them; Now we know that God heareth not sinners; as if to say, I quite agree with you in this opinion.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. s. 13.) As yet however He speaks as one but just anointed1, for God hears sinners too. Else in vain would the publican cry, God be merciful to me a sinner. (Luke 18:13) By that confession he obtained2 justification, as the blind man had his sight.

Theophylact. Or, that God heareth not sinners, means, that God does not enable sinners to work miracles. When sinners however implore pardon for their offences, they are translated from the rank of sinners to that of penitents.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 3.) Observe then, when he said above, Whether He be a sinner, I know not, it was not that he spoke in doubt; for here he not only acquits him of all sin, but holds him up as one well pleasing to God: But if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth. It is not enough to know God, we must do His will. Then he extols His deed: Since the world began, was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind: as if to say, If ye confess that God heareth not sinners; and this Man has worked a miracle, such an one, as no other man has; it is manifest that the virtue whereby He has wrought it, is more than human: If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 13.) Freely, stedfastly, truly. For how could what our Lord did, be done by any other than God, or by disciples even, except when their Lord dwelt in them?

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 3.) So then because speaking the truth he was in nothing confounded, when they should most have admired, they condemned him: Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 14.) What meaneth altogether? That he was quite blind. Yet He who opened his eyes, also saves him altogether.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lviii. 3.) Or, altogether, that is to say, from thy birth thou art in sins. They reproach his blindness, and pronounce his sins to be the cause of it; most unreasonably. So long as they expected him to deny the miracle, they were willing to believe him, but now they cast him out.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 14.) It was they themselves who had made him teacher; themselves, who had asked him so many questions; and now they ungratefully cast him out for teaching.

Bede. It is commonly the way with great persons to disdain learning any thing from their inferiors.

35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
37. And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
38. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
39. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see: therefore your sin remaineth.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1.) Those who suffer for the truth’s sake, and confession of Christ, come to greatest honour; as we see in the instance of the blind man. For the Jews cast him out of the temple, and the Lord of the temple found him; and received him as the judge doth the wrestler after his labours, and crowned him: Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He saith unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? The Evangelist makes it plain that Jesus came in order to say this to him. He asks him, however, not in ignorance, but wishing to reveal Himself to him, and to shew that He appreciated his faith; as if He said, The people have cast reproaches on Me, but I care not for them; one thing only I care for, that thou mayest believe. Better is he that doeth the will of God, than ten thousand of the wicked.

Hilary. (vi. de Trin. circa fin.) If any mere confession whatsoever of Christ were the perfection of faith, it would have been said, Dost thou believe in Christ? But inasmuch as all heretics would have had this name in their mouths, confessing Christ, and yet denying the Son, that which is true of Christ alone, is required of our faith, viz. that we should believe in the Son of God. But what availeth it to believe on the Son of God as being a creature, when we are required to have faith in Christ, not as a creature of God, but as the Son of God.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1.) But the blind man did not yet know Christ, for before he went to Christ he was blind, and after his cure, he was taken hold of by the Jews: He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? The speech this of a longing and enquiring mind. He knows not who He is for whom he had contended so much; a proof to thee of his love of truth. The Lord however says not to him, I am He who healed thee; but uses a middle way of speaking, Thou hast both seen Him.

Theophylact. This He says to remind him of his cure, which had given him the power to see. And observe, He that speaks is born of Mary, and the Son is the Son of God, not two different Persons, according to the error of Nestorius: And it is He that talketh with thee.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 15.) First, He washes the face of his heart. Then, his heart’s face being washed, and his conscience cleansed, he acknowledges Him as not only the Son of man, which he believed before, but as the Son of God, Who had taken flesh upon Him: And he said, Lord, I believe. I believe, is a small thing. Wouldest thou see what he believes of Him? And falling down, he worshipped Him. (Vulgate)

Bede. An example to us, not to pray to God with uplifted neck, but prostrate upon earth, suppliantly to implore His mercy.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1.) He adds the deed to the word, as a clear acknowledgment of His divine power. The Lord replies in a way to confirm His faith, and at the same time stirs up the minds of His followers: And Jesus said, For judgment have I come into this world.

Augustine. (Tr. xliv. 16, 17.) The day then was divided between light and darkness. So it is rightly added, that they which see not, may see; for He relieved men from darkness. But what is that which follows: And that they which see might he made blind. Hear what comes next. Some of the Pharisees were moved by these words: And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said unto Him, Are we blind also? What had moved them were the words, And that they which see might be made blind. It follows; Jesus saith unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; i. e. If ye called yourselves blind, and ran to the physician. But now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth: for in that saying, We see, ye seek not a physician, ye shall remain in your blindness. This then which He has just before said, I came, that they that see not might see; i. e. they who confess they cannot see, and seek a physician, in order that they may see: and that they which see not may be made blind; i. e. they which think they can see, and seek not a physician, may remain in their blindness. This act of division He calls judgment, saying, For judgment have I come into this world: not that judgment by which He will judge quick and dead at the end of the world.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1.) Or, for judgment, He saith; i. e. for greater punishment, shewing that they who condemned Him, were the very ones who were condemned. Respecting what He says, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind; it is the same which St. Paul says, The Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (Rom. 9:30, 31)

Theophylact. As if to say, Lo, he that saw not from his birth, now sees both in body and soul; whereas they who seem to see, have had their understanding darkened.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1.) For there is a twofold vision, and a twofold blindness; viz. that of sense, and that of the understanding. But they were intent only on sensible things, and were ashamed only of sensible blindness: wherefore He shews them that it would be better for them to be blind, than seeing so: If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; your punishment would be easier; But now ye say, We see.

Theophylact. Overlooking the miracle wrought on the blind man, ye deserve no pardon; since even visible miracles make no impression on you.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lix. 1, 2.) What then they thought their great praise, He shews would turn to their punishment; and at the same time consoles him who had been afflicted with bodily blindness from his birth. For it is not without reason that the Evangelist says, And some of the Pharisees which were with him, heard these words; but that he may remind us that those were the very persons who had first withstood Christ, and then wished to stone Him. For there were some who only followed in appearance, and were easily changed to the contrary side.

Theophylact. Or, if ye were blind, i. e. ignorant of the Scriptures, your offence would be by no means so heavy a one, as erring out of ignorance: but now, seeing ye call yourselves wise and understanding in the law, your own selves condemn you.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentaries on John 4:5-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2017

Ver. 5, 6. “He cometh to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there.”

Why is the Evangelist exact about the place? It is, that when thou hearest the woman say, “Jacob our father gave us this well,” thou mayest not think it strange. For this was the place where Levi and Simeon, being angry because of Dinah, wrought that cruel slaughter. And it may be worth while to relate from what sources the Samaritans were made up; since all this country is called Samaria. Whence then did they receive their name? The mountain was called “Somor” from its owner (1 Kings 16:24): as also Esaias saith, “and the head of Ephraim is Somoron” (Isa. 7:9, LXX.), but the inhabitants were termed not “Samaritans” but “Israelites.” But as time went on, they offended God, and in the reign of Pekah, Tiglath-Pileser came up, and took many cities, and set upon Elah, and having slain him, gave the kingdom to Hoshea.10 (2 Kings 15:29.) Against him Shalmaneser came and took other cities, and made them subject and tributary. (2 Kings 17:3.) At first he yielded, but afterwards he revolted from the Assyrian rule, and betook himself to the alliance of the Ethiopians.11 The Assyrian learnt this, and having made war upon them and destroyed their cities, he no longer allowed the nation to remain there, because he had such suspicions that they would revolt. (2 Kings 17:4.) But he carried them to Babylon and to the Medes, and having brought thence nations from divers places, planted them in Samaria, that his dominion for the future might be sure, his own people occupying the place. After this, God, desiring to show that He had not given up the Jews through weakness, but because of the sins of those who were given up, sent lions against the foreigners,1 who ravaged all their nation. These things were reported to the king, and he sent a priest to deliver to them the laws of God. Still not even so did they desist wholly from their impiety, but only by halves. But as time went on, they in turn abandoned2 their idols, and worshiped God. And when things were in this state, the Jews having returned, ever after entertained a jealous feeling towards them as strangers and enemies, and called them from the name of the mountain, “Samaritans.” From this cause also there was no little rivalry between them. The Samaritans did not use all the Scriptures, but received the writings of Moses only, and made but little account of those of the Prophets. Yet they were eager to thrust themselves into the noble Jewish stock, and prided themselves upon Abraham, and called3 him their forefather, as being of Chaldæa; and Jacob also they called their father, as being his descendant. But the Jews abominated them as well as all (other nations). Wherefore they reproached Christ with this, saying, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.” (c. 8:48.) And for this reason in the parable of the man that went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, Christ makes the man who showed pity upon him to have been “a Samaritan” (Luke 10:33), one who by them was deemed mean, contemptible, and abominable. And in the case of the ten lepers, He calls one a “stranger” on this account, (for “he was a Samaritan,”) and He gave His charge to the disciples in these words, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” (Matt. 10:5.)

[3.] Nor was it merely to describe the place that the Evangelist has reminded us of Jacob, but to show that the rejection of the Jews had happened long ago. For during the time of their forefathers these Jews possessed the land, and not the Samaritans; and the very possessions which not being theirs, their forefathers had gotten, they being theirs, had lost by their sloth and transgressions. So little4 is the advantage of excellent ancestors, if their descendants be not like them. Moreover, the foreigners when they had only made trial of the lions, straightway returned to the right worship5 of the Jews, while they, after enduring such inflictions, were not even so brought to a sound mind.

To this place Christ now came, ever rejecting a sedentary and soft6 life, and exhibiting7 one laborious and active. He useth no beast to carry Him, but walketh so much on a stretch, as even to be wearied with His journeying. And this He ever teacheth, that a man should work for himself, go without superfluities, and not have many wants. Nay, so desirous is He that we should be alienated from superfluities, that He abridgeth many even of necessary things. Wherefore He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” (Matt. 8:20.) Therefore He spent most of His time in the mountains, and in the deserts, not by day only, but also by night. And this David declared when he said, “He shall drink of the brook in the way” (Ps. 110:7): by this showing His frugal8 way of life. This too the Evangelist shows in this place.

Ver. 6, 7, 8. “Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus by the well; and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink. For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat.”

Hence we learn His activity in journeying, His carelessness about food, and how He treated it as a matter of minor importance.9 And so the disciples were taught to use the like disposition themselves; for they took with them no provisions for the road. And this another Evangelist declares, saying, that when He spake to them concerning “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6), they thought that it was because they carried no bread; and when he introduces them plucking the ears of corn, and eating (Matt. 12:1), and when he saith that Jesus came to the fig-tree by reason of hunger (Matt. 21:18), it is for nothing else but only to instruct us by all these to despise the belly, and not to deem that its service is anxiously to be attended to. Observe them, for instance, in this place neither bringing anything with them, nor because they brought not anything, caring for this at the very beginning and early part of the day, but buying food at the time when all other people were taking their meal.10 Not like us, who the instant we rise from our beds attend to this before anything else, calling cooks and butlers, and giving our directions with all earnestness, applying ourselves afterwards to other matters, preferring temporal things to spiritual, valuing those things as necessary which we ought to have deemed of less importance.11 Therefore all things are in confusion. We ought, on the contrary, making much account of all spiritual things, after having accomplished these, then to apply ourselves to the others.

And in this place it is not His laboriousness alone that is shown, but also His freedom from pride; not merely by His being tired, nor by His sitting by the way-side, but by His having been left alone, and His disciples having been separated1 from Him. And yet it was in His power, if He had willed it, either not to have sent them all away, or when they departed to have had other ministers. But He would not; for so He accustomed His disciples to tread all pride beneath their feet.

“And what marvel,” saith one, “if they were moderate in their wishes, since they were fishermen and tentmakers?” Yes! Fishermen and tentmakers they were; but they had in a moment2 mounted even to the height of heaven, and had become more honorable than all earthly kings, being deemed worthy to become the companions of the Lord of the world, and to follow Him whom all beheld with awe. And ye know this too, that those men especially who are of humble origin, whenever they gain distinction, are the more easily lifted up to folly, because they are quite ignorant how to bear their sudden3 honor. Restraining them therefore in their present humblemindedness, He taught them always to be moderate,4 and never to require any to wait upon them.

“He therefore,” saith the Evangelist, “being wearied with His journey, sat5 thus at the well.”6

Seest thou that His sitting was because of weariness? because of the heat? because of his waiting for His disciples? He knew, indeed, what should take place among the Samaritans, but it was not for this that He came principally; yet, though He came not for this, it behooved not to reject the woman who came to Him, when she manifested such a desire to learn. The Jews, when He was even coming to them, drove Him away; they of the Gentiles, when He was proceeding in another 1direction, drew Him to them. They envied, these believed on Him. They were angry with, these revered and worshiped Him. What then? Was He to overlook the salvation of so many, to send away such noble zeal? This would have been unworthy of His lovingkindness. Therefore He ordered all the matter in hand with the Wisdom which became Him. He sat resting His body and cooling It by the fountain; for it was the very middle of the day, as the Evangelist has declared, when he says,

“It was about the sixth hour.”

He sat “thus.” What meaneth “thus”? Not upon a throne, not upon a cushion, but simply, and as He was,7 upon the ground.

Ver. 7. “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water.”

[4.] Observe how he declareth that the woman came forth for another purpose, in every way silencing the shameless gainsaying of the Jews, that none might say that He acted in opposition to His own command, bidding (His disciples) not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, yet conversing with Samaritans. (Matt. 10:5.) And therefore the Evangelist has put,

Ver. 8. “For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat.”8

Bringing in many reasons for His conversation with her. What doth the woman? When she heard, “Give Me to drink,”9 she very wisely makes the speech of Christ an occasion for a question, and saith,

Ver. 9. “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a Samaritan? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”

And whence did she suppose Him to be a Jew? From His dress, perhaps, and from His dialect. Observe, I pray you, how considerate the woman was. If there was need of caution, Jesus needed it, not she. For she doth not say, “The Samaritans have no dealings with the Jews,” but, “The Jews do not admit the Samaritans.” Yet still, although free herself from blame,10 when she supposed that another was falling into it she would not even so hold her peace, but corrected, as she thought, what was done unlawfully. Perhaps some one may ask how it was that Jesus asked drink of her, when the law11 did not permit it. If it be answered that it was because He knew beforehand that she would not give it, then for this very reason He ought not to have asked. What then can we say? That the rejecting such observances as these was now a matter of indifference to Him; for He who induced others to do them away, would much more Himself pass them by. “Not that which goeth in,” saith He, “defileth a man, but that which goeth out.” (Matt. 15:11.) And this conversation with the woman would be no slight charge against the Jews. For often did He draw them to Himself, both by words and deeds, but they would not attend; while observe how she is detained by a simple request.12 For He did not as yet enter on the prosecution of this business,13 nor the way,14 yet if any came to Him He did not prevent them. And to the disciples also He said thus, “Into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” He did not say, “And when they come to you, reject them”; that would have been very unworthy of His lovingkindness. And therefore He answered the woman, and said,

Ver. 10. “If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.”

First, He showeth that she is worthy to hear and not to be overlooked, and then He revealeth Himself. For she, as soon as she had learnt who He was, would straightway hearken and attend to Him; which none can say of the Jews, for they, when they had learned, asked nothing of Him, nor did they desire to be informed on any profitable matter, but insulted and drove Him away. But when the woman had heard these words, observe how gently she answers:

Ver. 11. “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that living water?”

Already He hath raised her from her low opinion of Him, and from deeming that He is a common man. For not without a reason doth she here call Him, “Lord”;1 but assigning to Him high honor. That she spake these words to honor Him, is plain from what is said afterwards, since she did not laugh nor mock, but doubted for a while. And wonder not if she did not at once perceive all, for neither did Nicodemus. What saith he? “How can these things be?” and again, “How can a man be born when he is old?” and again, “Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” But this woman more reverently: “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that living water?” Christ said one thing, and she imagined another, hearing nothing beyond the words, and as yet unable to form any lofty thought. Yet, had she spoken hastily, she might have said, “If thou hadst had that living water, thou wouldest not have asked of me, but wouldest rather have provided for thyself. Thou art but a boaster.” But she said nothing like this; she answers with much gentleness, both at first and afterwards. For at first she saith, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me?” she saith not, as though speaking to an alien and an enemy, “Far be it from me to give to thee, who art a foe and a stranger to our nation.” And afterwards again, when she heard Him utter great words, a thing at which enemies are most annoyed, she did not mock nor deride2; but what saith she?

Ver. 12. “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”

Observe how she thrusts herself into the noble stock of the Jews. For what she saith is somewhat of this kind: “Jacob used this water, and had nothing better to give us.” And this she said showing that from the first answer (of Christ) she had conceived a great and sublime thought; for by the words, “he drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle,” she implies nothing else, than that she had a notion of a better Water, but that she3 never found it, nor clearly knew it. More clearly to explain what she means to say, the sense of her words is this: “Thou canst not assert that Jacob gave us this well, and used another himself; for he and his children drank of this one, which they would not have done if they had had another and a better. Now of the water of this well it is not in thy power to give me, and thou canst not have another and a better, unless thou dost confess that thou art greater than Jacob. Whence then hast thou that water which thou promisest that thou wilt give us?” The Jews did not converse with Him thus mildly, and yet He spake to them on the same subject, making mention of the like water, but they profited nothing; and when He made mention of Abraham, they even attempted to stone Him. Not so does this woman approach Him; but with much gentleness, in the midst of the heat, at noon, she with much patience saith and hears all, and does not so much as think of what the Jews most probably would have asserted, that “This fellow is mad, and beside himself: he hath tied me to this fount and well, giving me nothing, but using big words”; no, she endures and perseveres until she has found what she seeks.

[5.] If now a woman of Samaria is so earnest to learn something profitable, if she abides by Christ though not as yet knowing Him, what pardon shall we obtain, who both knowing4 Him, and being not by a well, nor in a desert place, nor at noon-day, nor beneath the scorching sunbeams, but at morning-tide, and beneath a roof like this, enjoying shade and comfort,5 yet cannot endure to hear anything that is said, but are wearied6 by it. Not such was that woman; so occupied was she by Jesus’ words, that she even called others to hear them. The Jews, on the contrary, not only did not call, but even hindered and impeded those who desired to come to Him,7 saying, “See, have any of the rulers believed on him? but this people, which knoweth not the Law, are cursed.”8 Let us then imitate this woman of Samaria; let us commune with Christ. For even now He standeth in the midst of us, speaking to us by the Prophets and Disciples; let us hear and obey. How long shall we live uselessly and in vain? Because, not to do what is well-pleasing to God is to live uselessly, or rather not merely uselessly, but to our own hurt; for when we have spent the time which has been given us on no good purpose, we shall depart this life to suffer severest punishment for our unseasonable extravagance. For it can never be that a man who has received money to trade with, and then has eaten it up, shall have it1 required at his hands by the man who intrusted it to him; and that one who has spent such a life as ours to no purpose shall escape punishment. It was not for this that God brought us into this present life, and breathed into us a soul, that we should make use of the present time only,2 but that we should do all our business with a regard to the life which is to come. Things irrational only are useful for the present life; but we have an immortal soul, that we may use every means to prepare ourselves for that other life. For if one enquire the use of horses and asses and oxen, and other such-like animals, we shall tell him that it is nothing else but only to minister to the present life; but this cannot be said of us; our best condition is that which follows on our departure hence; and we must do all that we may shine there, that we may join the choir of Angels, and stand before the King continually, through endless3 ages. And therefore the soul is immortal, and the body shall be immortal too, that we may enjoy the never-ending blessings. But if, when heavenly things are proffered thee, thou remainest nailed to earth, consider what an insult is offered to thy Benefactor, when He holdeth forth to thee things above, and thou, making no great account of them choosest earth instead. And therefore, as despised by thee, He hath threatened thee with hell; that thou mayest learn hence of what great blessings thou deprivest thyself. God grant that none make trial of that punishment, but that having been well-pleasing to Christ, we may obtain everlasting blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXXII

John 4:13, 14.

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life.”

[1.] Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes “Fire,” sometimes “Water,” showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one John declares, speaking thus, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire” (Matt. 3:11): the other, Christ, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38.) “But this,” saith John, “spake He of the Spirit, which they should receive.” So also conversing with the woman, He calleth the Spirit water;4 for, “Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” So also He calleth the Spirit by the name of “fire,” alluding to the rousing and warming property of grace, and its power of destroying transgressions; but by that of “water,” to declare the cleansing wrought by it, and the great refreshment which it affordeth to those minds which receive it. And with good reason; for it makes the willing soul like some5 garden thick with all manner of trees fruitful and ever-flourishing, allowing it neither to feel despondency nor the plots of Satan, and quenches6 all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And observe, I pray you, the wisdom of Christ,7 how gently He leads on8 the woman; for He did not say at first, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink,” but when He had given her an occasion of calling Him “a Jew,” and brought her beneath the charge of having done so, repelling the accusation He saith, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him”; and having compelled her by His great promises to make mention9 of the Patriarch, He thus alloweth the woman to look through,10 and then when she objects, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” He saith not, “Yea, I am greater,” (for He would have seemed but to boast, since the proof did not as yet appear,) but by what He saith He effecteth this. For He said not simply, “I will give thee water,” but having first set that given by Jacob aside, He exalteth that given by Himself, desiring to show from the nature of the things given, how great is the interval and difference between the persons of the givers,1 and His own superiority to the Patriarch. “If,” saith He, “thou admirest Jacob because he gave thee this water, what wilt thou say if I give thee Water far better than this? Thou hast thyself been first to confess that I am greater than Jacob, by arguing against Me, and asking, ‘Art thou greater than Jacob, that thou promisest to give me better water?’ If thou receivest that Water, certainly thou wilt confess that I am greater.” Seest thou the upright judgment of the woman, giving her decision from facts, both as to the Patriarch, and as to Christ? The Jews acted not thus; when they even saw Him casting out devils, they not only did not call Him greater than the Patriarch but even said that He had a devil. Not so the woman, she draws her opinion whence Christ would have her, from the demonstration afforded by His works. For by these He justifieth Himself, saying, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, if ye believe not Me, believe the works.” (c. 10:37, 38.) And thus the woman is brought over to the faith.

Wherefore also He, having heard, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob,” leaveth Jacob, and speaketh concerning the water, saying, “Whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again”; and He maketh His comparison, not by depreciating one, but by showing the excellence of the other; for He saith not, that “this water is naught,” nor “that it is inferior and contemptible,” but what even nature testifies that He saith: “Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the Water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” The woman before this had heard of “living Water” (v. 10), but had not known its meaning. Since because that water is called “living” which is perennial and bubbles up unceasingly from uninterrupted springs, she thought that this was the water meant. Wherefore He points out this more clearly by speaking thus, and establishing by a comparison the superiority (of the water which He would give). What then saith He? “Whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” This and what was said next especially showed the superiority, for material water possesses none of these qualities. And what is it that follows? “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” For as one that hath a well within him could never be seized by thirst, so neither can he that hath this Water.

The woman straightway believed, showing herself much wiser than Nicodemus, and not only wiser, but more manly. For he when he heard ten thousand such things neither invited any others to this hearing, nor himself spake forth openly; but she exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus, and drawing a whole city forth to Him. Nicodemus when he had heard said, “How can these things be?” And when Christ set before him a clear illustration, that of “the wind,” he did not even so receive the Word. But the woman not so; at first she doubted, but afterwards receiving the Word not by any regular demonstration, but in the form of an assertion, she straightway hastened to embrace it. For when Christ said, “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life,” immediately the woman saith,

Ver. 15. “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

Seest thou how little by little she is led up to the highest doctrines? First she thought Him some Jew who was transgressing the Law; then when He had repelled that accusation, (for it was necessary that the person who was to teach2 her such things should not be suspected,) having heard of “living water,” she supposed that this was spoken of material water; afterwards, having learnt that the words were spiritual, she believed that the water could remove the necessity caused by thirst, but knew not yet what this could be; she still doubted, deeming it indeed to be above material things, but not being exactly informed. But here having gained a clearer insight, but not yet fully perceiving the whole, (for she saith, “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,”) she for the time preferreth Him to Jacob. “For” (saith she) “I need not this well if I receive from thee that water.” Seest thou how she setteth Him before the Patriarch? This is the act of a fairly-judging3 soul. She had shown how great an opinion she had of Jacob, she saw One better than he, and was not held back by her prepossession. Thus this woman was neither of an easy temper, (she did not carelessly receive what was said, how can she have done so when she enquired with so great exactness?4) nor yet disobedient, nor disputatious, and this she showed by her petition. Yet to the Jews once He said, “Whosoever shall eat of My flesh5 shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (c. 6:35); but they not only did not believe, but were offended at Him. The woman had no such feeling, she remains and petitions. To the Jews He said, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst”; not so to the woman, but more grossly, “He that drinketh of this Water shall never thirst.” For the promise referred to spiritual and unseen1 things. Wherefore having raised her mind by His promises, He still lingers among expressions relating to sense, because she could not as yet comprehend the exact expression of spiritual things. Since had He said, “If thou believest in Me thou shalt not thirst,” she would not have understood His saying, not knowing who it could be that spake to her, nor concerning what kind of thirst He spake. Wherefore then did He not this in the case of the Jews? Because they had seen many signs, while she had seen no sign, but heard these words first. For which reason He afterwards reveals His power by prophecy, and does not directly introduce His reproof,2 but what saith He?

Ver. 16–19. “Go, call thy husband, and come thither. The woman answered and said I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a Prophet.”

[2.] O how great the wisdom of the woman! how meekly doth she receive the reproof! “How should she not,” saith some one? Tell me, why should she? Did He not often reprove the Jews also, and with greater reproofs than these? (for it is not the same to bring forward the hidden thoughts of the heart, as to make manifest a thing that was done in secret; the first are known to3 God alone, and none other knoweth them but he who hath them in his heart; the second, all who were sharers in it know;) but still when reproved did not bear it patiently. When He said, “Why seek ye to kill me?” (c. 7:19), they not only did not admire as the woman did but even mocked at and insulted Him; yet they had a demonstration from other miracles, she had only heard this speech. Still they not only did not admire, but even insulted Him, saying, “Thou hast a demon, who seeketh to kill thee?” While she not only doth not insult but admires, and is astonished at Him, and supposes Him to be a Prophet. Yet truly this rebuke touched the woman more than the other touched them; for her fault was hers alone, theirs was a general one; and we are not so much stung by what is general as by what is particular. Besides they thought they should be gaining a great object if they could slay Christ, but that which the woman had done was allowed by all to be wicked; yet was she not indignant, but was astonished and wondered. And Christ did this very same thing in the case of Nathanael. He did not at first introduce the prophecy, nor say, “I saw thee under the fig-tree,” but when Nathanael said, “Whence knowest thou me?” then He introduced this. For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached4 by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He doth here also; for to have charged her first of all that, “Thou hast no husband,” would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer.

“And what kind of connection,” saith some one, “is there in the saying, ‘Go, call thy husband’?” The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ saith, “Call thy husband,” showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive5 (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, “I have no husband.” Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom6 she now would hide. What then did the woman? she was not annoyed, nor did she leave Him and fly, nor deem the thing an insult, but rather admired Him, and persevered the more. “I perceive,” saith she, “that Thou art a Prophet.” Observe her prudence; she did not straightway run to Him, but still considers Him, and marvels at Him. For, “I perceive,” means, “Thou appearest to me to be a Prophet.” Then when she suspected this, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, not concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines. For what saith she?

Ver. 20. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,” (meaning Abraham and his family, for thither they say that he led up his son,) “and how say ye7 that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship?”

[3.] Seest thou how much more elevated in mind she has become? She who was anxious that she might not be troubled for thirst, now questions concerning doctrines. What then doth Christ? He doth not resolve the question, (for to answer simply to men’s words was not His care, for it was needless,8) but leads the woman on to the greater height, and doth not converse with her on these matters, until she has confessed that He was a Prophet, so that afterwards she might hear His Word with abundant belief; for having been persuaded of this, she could no longer doubt concerning what should be said to her.

Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book1 in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given2 at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts.3 And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it may be purified when it receiveth the meaning of the writing.4 For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature,5 ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. The Scriptures6 are divine charms, let us then apply to ourselves and7 to the passions of our souls the remedies to be derived from them. For if we understand what it is that is read, we shall hear it with much readiness. I am always saying this, and will not cease to say it. Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If thou pursuest those worldly things for pleasure, I will show thee that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of thy race victorious? These wrestlings let us look on, these, which also it is seemly and profitable to imitate, and which imitating, we may be8 crowned; but not those in which emulation brings shame to him who imitates them. If thou beholdest the one kind of contest, thou beholdest it with devils; the other, with Angels and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels. Say now, if thou wert allowed to sit with governors and kings, and to see and enjoy the spectacle, wouldest thou not deem it to be a very great honor? And here when thou art a spectator in company with the King of Angels, when thou seest the devil grasped by the middle of the back,9 striving much to have the better, but powerless, dost thou not run and pursue after such a sight as this? “And how can this be?” saith some one. If thou keep the Bible in thy hands; for in it thou shalt see the lists, and the long races, and his grasps,10 and the skill of the righteous one. For by beholding these things thou shalt learn also how to wrestle so thyself, and shalt escape clear of devils; the performances of the heathen are assemblies of devils, not theaters of men. Wherefore I exhort you to abstain from these Satanic assemblies;11 for if it is not lawful to enter into an idol’s house, much less to Satan’s festival. I shall not cease to say these things and weary you, until I see some change; for to say these things, as saith Paul, “to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Phil. 3:1.) Be not then offended at my exhortation. If any one ought to be offended, it is I who often speak and am not heard, not you who are always hearing and always disobeying. God grant that you be not always liable to this charge, but that freed from this shame you be deemed worthy to enjoy the spiritual spectacle,1 and the glory which is to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY XXXIII

John 4:21, 22.

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”

[1.] Everywhere, beloved, we have need of faith, faith the mother of blessings, the medicine of salvation; and without this it is impossible to possess any one of the great doctrines. Without this, men are like to those who attempt to cross2 the open sea without a ship, who for a little way hold out by swimming, using both hands and feet, but when they have advanced farther, are quickly swamped by the waves: in like manner they who use their own reasonings, before they have learnt anything, suffer shipwreck; as also Paul saith, “Who concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Tim. 1:19.) That this be not our case, let us hold fast the sacred anchor by which Christ bringeth over the Samaritan woman now. For when she had said, “How say ye3 that Jerusalem is the place in which men ought to worship?” Christ replied, “Believe Me, woman, that the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in Jerusalem, nor yet in this mountain, worship the Father.” An exceedingly great4 doctrine He revealed to her, and one which He did not mention either to Nicodemus or Nathanael. She was eager to prove her own privileges more honorable than those of the Jews; and this she subtly argued from the Fathers, but Christ met not this question. For it was for the time distracting5 to speak on the matter, and to show why the Fathers worshiped in the mountain, and why the Jews at Jerusalem. Wherefore on this point He was silent, and having taken away from both places priority in dignity, rouses her soul by showing that neither Jews nor Samaritans possessed anything great in comparison with that which was to be given; and then He introduceth the difference. Yet even thus He declared that the Jews were more honorable, not preferring place to place, but giving them the precedence because of their intention. As though He had said, “About the ‘place’ of worship ye have no need henceforth to dispute, but in the ‘manner’ the Jews have an advantage over you Samaritans, for ‘ye,’ He saith, ‘worship ye know not what; we know what we worship.’ ”

How then did the Samaritans “know not” what they worshiped? Because they thought that God was local and partial; so at least they served Him, and so they sent to the Persians, and reported that “the God of this place is wroth with us” (2 Kings 17:26.), in this respect forming no higher opinion of Him than of their idols. Wherefore they continued to serve both Him and devils, joining things which ought not to be joined. The Jews, on the contrary, were free from this supposition, at least the greater part of them, and knew that He was God of the world. Therefore He saith, “Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship.” Do not wonder that He numbereth Himself among Jews, for He speaketh to the woman’s opinion of Him as though He were a Jewish Prophet, and therefore He putteth, “we worship.” For that He is of the objects of worship is clear to every one, because to worship belongs to the creature, but to be worshiped to the Lord of the creature. But for a time He speaketh as a Jew; and the expression “we” in this place meaneth “we Jews.” Having then exalted what was Jewish, He next maketh Himself credible, and persuadeth the woman to give the greater heed to His words, by rendering His discourse above suspicion, and showing that He doth not exalt what belongs to them by reason of relationship6 to those of His own tribe. For it is clear, that one who had made these declarations concerning the place on which the Jews most prided themselves, and thought that they were superior to all, and who had taken away their high claims, would not after this7 speak to get favor of any, but with truth and prophetic power. When therefore He had for a while removed her from such reasonings,8 saying, “Woman, believe Me,” and what follows, then He addeth, “for salvation is of the Jews.” What He saith is of this kind: neither, that blessings to the world came from them, (for to know God and condemn idols had its beginning, from them, and with you the very act of worship, although ye do it not rightly, yet received its origin from them,) or else, He speaketh of His own Coming. Or rather, one would not be wrong in calling both these things “salvation” which He said was “of the Jews”; which Paul implied when he said, “Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all.” (Rom. 9:5.) Seest thou how He commendeth1 the old Covenant, and showeth that it is the root of blessings, and that He is throughout not opposed to the Law, since He maketh the groundwork2 of all good things to come from the Jews?

Ver. 23. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father.”

“We, O woman,” He saith, “excel you in the manner of our worship, but even this shall henceforth have an end. Not the places only, but even the manner of serving God shall be changed. And this change is at your very doors. ‘For the hour cometh, and now is.’ ”

[2.] For since what the Prophets said they said long before the event, to show that here it is not so,3 He saith, “And now is.” Think not, He saith, that this is a prophecy of such a kind as shall be accomplished after a long time, the fulfillment is already at hand and at your very doors, “when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” In saying “true,”4 He excludeth Jews as well as Samaritans; for although the Jews be better than the Samaritans, yet are they far inferior to those that shall come, as inferior as is the type to the reality. But He speaketh of the Church, that she5 is the “true” worship, and such as is meet for God.

“For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”

If then He in times past sought such as these, He allowed to those others their way of worship, not willingly,6 but from condescension, and for this reason,7 that He might bring them in also. Who then are “the true worshipers”? Those who confine not their service by place, and who serve God in spirit; as Paul saith, “Whom I serve in my spirit8 in the Gospel of His Son”: and again, “I beseech you that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service.” (Rom. 1:9 and 12:1.) But when he saith,

Ver. 24. “God is a Spirit” [God is spirit].

He declareth nothing else than His incorporeal Nature. Now the service of that which is incorporeal must needs be of the same character, and must be offered by that in us which is incorporeal, to wit, the soul, and purity of mind. Wherefore He saith, “they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” For because both Samaritans and Jews were careless about the soul, but took great pains about the body, cleansing it in divers ways, it is not, He saith, by purity of body, but by that which is incorporeal in us, namely the mind, that the incorporeal One is served. Sacrifice then not sheep and calves, but dedicate thyself to the Lord; make thyself a holocaust, this is to offer a living sacrifice. Ye must worship “in truth”9; as former things were types, such as circumcision, and whole burnt offerings, and victims, and incense, they now no longer exist, but all is “truth.” For a man must now circumcise not his flesh, but his evil thoughts, and crucify himself, and remove and slay his unreasonable desires.” The woman was made dizzy by His discourse, and fainted10 in at the sublimity of what He said, and, in her trouble, hear what she saith:

Ver. 25, 26. “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I am that speak unto thee.”

And whence came the Samaritans to expect the coming of Christ, seeing that they received Moses only?11 From the writings of Moses themselves. For even in the beginning He revealed the Son. “Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness” (Gen. 1:26), was said to the Son. It was He who talked with Abraham in the tent. (Gen. 18.) And Jacob prophesying concerning Him said, “A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until He come for whom it is reserved,12 and He is the expectation of nations.” (Gen. 18.) And Moses himself saith, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto you a Prophet of your brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken.” (Deut. 18:15.) And the circumstances attending the serpent, and the rod of Moses, and Isaac, and the sheep, and many other things they who chose might select as proclaiming His coming.

“And why, pray,” saith one, “did not Christ lead on the woman by these means? why did He instance the serpent to Nicodemus, and mention prophecy to Nathanael, but to her say nothing of the kind? For what reason, and why?” Because they were men, and were versed in these things, she a poor ignorant woman unpracticed in the Scriptures. Wherefore He doth not speak to her from them, but draweth her on by the “water” and by prophecy, and bringeth her to make mention of Christ and then revealeth Himself; which had He at first told the woman when she had not questioned Him, He would have seemed to her to trifle and talk idly, while as it is by bringing her little by little to mention Him, at a fitting time He revealed Himself. To the Jews, who continually said, “How long dost Thou make us to doubt? tell us if Thou art the Christ” (c. 10:24), to them1 He gave no clear answer, but to this woman He said plainly, that He is. For the woman was more fair-minded than the Jews; they did not enquire to learn, but always to mock at Him, for had they desired to learn, the teaching which was by His words, and by the Scriptures, and by His miracles would have been sufficient. The woman, on the contrary, said what she said from an impartial judgment and a simple mind, as is plain from what she did afterwards; for she both heard and believed, and netted2 others also, and in every circumstance we may observe the carefulness and faith of the woman.

Ver. 27. “And upon this came His disciples,” (very seasonably did they come when the teaching was finished,) “and marveled that He talked with the woman, yet no man said, What seekest Thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?”

[3.] At what did they marvel? At His want of pride and exceeding humility, that looked upon as He was, He endured with such lowliness of heart to talk with a woman poor, and a Samaritan. Still in their amazement the); did not ask Him the reason, so well were they taught to keep the station of disciples, so much did they fear and reverence Him. For although they did not as yet hold the right opinion concerning Him, still they gave heed unto Him as to some marvelous one, and paid Him much respect. Yet they frequently are seen to act confidently; as when John lay upon His bosom, when they came to Him and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Matt. 18:1), when the sons of Zebedee entreated Him to set one of them on His right hand, and the other on His left. Why then did they not here question Him? Because since all those instances related to themselves, they had need to enquire into them, while what here took place was of no such great importance to them. And indeed John did that a long time after towards the very end, when He enjoyed greater confidence, and was bold in the love of Christ; for he it was,3 he saith, “whom Jesus loved.” What could equal such blessedness?

But, beloved, let us not stop at this, the calling the Apostle blessed, but let us do all things that we also may be of the blessed, let us imitate the Evangelist, and see what it was that caused such great love. What then was it? He left his father, his ship, and his net, and followed Jesus. Yet this he did in common with his brother, and Peter, and Andrew, and the rest of the Apostles. What then was the special4 thing which caused this great love? Shall we discover it? He saith nothing of this kind about himself, but only that he was beloved; as to the righteous acts for which he was beloved he has modestly been silent. That Jesus loved him with an especial love was clear to every one; yet John doth not appear conversing with or questioning Jesus privately, as Peter often did, and Philip, and Judas, and Thomas, except only when he desired to show kindness and compliance to his fellow Apostle; for when the chief5 of the Apostles by beckoning constrained him, then he asked. For these two had great love each for the other. Thus, for instance, they are seen going up together into the Temple and speaking in common to the people. Yet Peter in many places6 is moved, and speaks more warmly than John. And at the end he hears Christ say, “Peter,7 lovest thou Me more than these?” (c. 21:15.) Now it is clear that he who loved “more than these” was also beloved. But this in his case was shown by loving Jesus, in the case of the other by being beloved by Jesus8

What then was it which caused this especial love? To my thinking, it was that the man displayed great gentleness and meekness, for which reason he doth not appear in many places speaking openly. And how great a thing this is, is plain also from the case of Moses. It was this which made him such and so great as he was. There is nothing equal to lowliness of mind. For which cause Jesus with this began the Beatitudes, and when about to lay as it were the foundation and base of a mighty building, He placed first lowliness of mind. Without this a man cannot possibly be saved; though he fast, though he pray, though he give alms, if it be with a proud spirit, these9 things are abominable, if humility be not there; while if it be, all these things are amiable and lovely, and are done with safety. Let us then be modest,1 beloved, let us be modest; success is easy, if we be sober-minded. For after all what is it, O man, that exciteth thee to pride? Seest thou not the poverty of thy nature? the unsteadiness2 of thy will? Consider thine end, consider the multitude of thy sins. But perhaps because thou doest many righteous deeds thou art proud. By that very pride thou shall undo them all. Wherefore it behoveth not so much him that has sinned3 as him that doeth righteousness to take pains to be humble. Why so? Because the sinner is constrained by conscience, while the other, except he be very sober, soon caught up as by a blast of wind is lifted on high, and made to vanish like the Pharisee. Dost thou give to the poor? What thou givest is not thine, but thy Master’s, common to thee and thy fellow-servants. For which cause thou oughtest especially to be humbled, in the calamities of those who are thy kindred foreseeing thine own, and taking knowledge of thine own nature in their cases. We ourselves perhaps are sprung from such ancestors; and if wealth has shifted to you, it is probable that it will leave you again. And after all, what is wealth? A vain4 shadow, dissolving smoke, a flower of the grass, or rather something meaner than a flower. Why then art thou high-minded over grass? Doth not wealth fall to thieves, and effeminates, and harlots, and tomb-breakers? Doth this puff thee up, that thou hast such as these to share in thy possession? or dost thou desire honor? Towards gaining honor nothing is more serviceable than almsgiving. For the honors arising from wealth and power are compulsory, and attended with hatred, but these others are from the free wilt and real feeling of the honorers; and therefore those who pay them can never give them. Now if men show such reverence for the merciful, and invoke all blessings upon them, consider what return, what recompense they shall receive from the merciful God. Let us then seek this wealth which endureth forever, and never deserts5 us, that, becoming great here and glorious there, we may obtain everlasting blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXXIV

John 4:28, 29.

“The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?”

[1.] We require much fervor and uproused zeal, for without these it is impossible to obtain the blessings promised to us. And to show this, Christ at one time saith, “Except a man take6 up his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38); at another, “I am come to send fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?” (Luke 12:49); by both these desiring to represent to us a disciple full of heat and fire, and prepared for every danger. Such an one was this woman. For so kindled was she by His words, that she left her water pot and the purpose for which she came, ran into the city, and drew all the people to Jesus. “Come,” she saith, “see a Man which told me all things that ever I did.”

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, she after that despised the material one; teaching us even by this trifling instance when we are listening to spiritual matters to overlook the things of this life, and make no account of them. For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also.7 They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy8 performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.

Observe too how prudently she speaks; she said not, “Come and see the Christ,” but with the same condescension9 by which Christ had netted her she draws the men to Him; “Come,” she saith, “see a Man who told me all that ever I did.” She was not ashamed to say that He “told me all that ever I did.” Yet she might have spoken otherwise, “Come, see one that prophesieth”; but when the soul is inflamed with holy fire, it looks then to nothing earthly, neither to glory nor to shame, but belongs to one thing alone, the flame which occupieth it.

“Is not this the Christ?” Observe again here the great wisdom of the woman; she neither declared the fact plainly, nor was she silent, for she desired not to bring them in by her own assertion, but to make them to share in this opinion by hearing Him; which rendered her words more readily acceptable to them. Yet He had not told all her life to her, only from what had been said she was persuaded (that He was informed) as to the rest. Nor did she say, “Come, believe,” but, “Come, see”.; a gentler1 expression than the other, and one which more attracted them. Seest thou the wisdom of the woman? She knew, she knew certainly that having but tasted that Well, they would be affected in the same manner as herself. Yet any one of the grosser sort would have concealed the reproof which Jesus had given; but she parades her own life, and brings it forward before all men, so as to attract and capture all.

Ver. 31. “In the mean time His disciples asked2 Him, saying, Master, eat.” “Asked,” here is “besought,” in their native language; for seeing Him wearied with the journey, and the oppressive heat, they entreated Him; for their request concerning food proceeded not from hastiness, but from loving affection for their Teacher? What then saith Christ?

Ver. 32, 33. “I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore” (saith the Evangelist) “said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?”

Why now wonderest thou that the woman when she heard of “water,” still imagined mere water to be meant, when even the disciples are in the same case, and as yet suppose nothing spiritual, but are perplexed? though they still show their accustomed modesty and reverence toward their Master, conversing one with the other, but not daring to put any question to Him. And this they do in other places, desiring to ask Him, but not asking. What then saith Christ?

Ver. 34. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.”

He here calleth the salvation of men “meat,” showing what an earnest desire He hath of providing for us;3 for as we long for food, so He that we may be saved. And hear how in all places He revealeth not all off-hand, but first throweth the hearer into perplexity, in order that having begun to seek the meaning of what has been said, and then being perplexed and in difficulty, he may when what he sought appears, receive it the more readily, and be made more attentive to listening. For wherefore said He not at once, “My meat is to do the will of My Father?” (though not even this would have been clear, yet clearer than the other.) But what saith He? “I have meat to eat that ye know not of”; for He desireth, as I said, first to make them more attentive through their uncertainty, and by dark sayings like these to accustom them to listen to His words. But what is “the will of the Father”? He next speaketh of this, and explaineth.

Ver. 35. “Say ye not, that there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest.”

[2.] Behold, He again by familiar words leadeth them up to the consideration of greater matters; for when He spoke of “meat,” He signified nothing else than the salvation of the men who should come to Him; and again, the “field” and the “harvest” signify the very same thing, the multitude of souls prepared for the reception of the preaching; and the “eyes” of which He speaketh are those both of the mind and of the body; (for they now beheld the crowd of Samaritans advancing;) and the readiness of their will He calleth, “fields already white.” For as the ears of corn, when they have become white, and are ready for reaping, so these, He saith, are prepared and fitted for salvation.

And wherefore instead of calling them “fields” and “harvest,” did He not plainly say, that “the then were coming to believe and were ready to receive the Word, having been instructed by the Prophets; and now bringing forth fruit”? What mean these figures used by Him? for this He doth not here only, but through all the Gospel; and the Prophets also employ the same method, saying many things in a metaphorical manner. What then may be the cause of this? for the grace of the Spirit did not ordain it to be so without a reason, but why and wherefore? On two accounts; one, that the discourse may be more vivid, and bring what is said more clearly before our eyes. For the mind when it has laid hold on a familiar image of the matters in hand, is more aroused, and beholding them as it were in a picture, is occupied by them to a greater degree. This is one reason; the other is, that the statement may be sweetened, and that the memory of what is said may be more lasting. For assertion does not subdue and bring in an ordinary hearer so much as narration by objects, and the representation of experience.4 Which one may here see most wisely effected by the parable.

Ver. 36. “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.”

For the fruit of an earthly harvest profiteth not to life eternal, but to this which is for a time; but the spiritual fruit to that which hath neither age nor death. Seest thou that the expressions are of sense, but the thoughts spiritual, and that by the very words themselves He divideth things earthly from heavenly? For when in discoursing of water He made this the peculiar property of the heavenly Water, that “he who drinketh it shall never thirst,” so He doth here also when He saith, “that this fruit is gathered unto eternal life.”

“That both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

Who is “he that soweth”? Who “he that reapeth”? The Prophets are they that sowed but they reaped not, but the Apostles. “Yet not on this account are they deprived of the pleasure and recompense of their labors, but they rejoice and are glad with us, although they reap not with us. For harvest is not such work as sowing. I therefore have kept you for that in which the toil is less and the pleasure greater, and not for sowing because in that there is much hardship and toil. In harvest the return is large, the labor not so great; nay there is much facility.”1 By these arguments He here desireth to prove, that “the wish of the Prophets is, that all men should come to Me.” This also the Law was engaged in effecting; and for this they sowed, that they might produce this fruit.2 He showeth moreover that He sent them also, and that there was a very intimate connection between the New Covenant and the Old, and all this He effecteth at once by this parable. He maketh mention also of a proverbial expression generally circulated.

Ver. 37. “Herein,” He saith, “is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth.”

These words the many used whenever one party had supplied toil and another had reaped the fruits; and He saith, “that the proverb is in this instance especially true, for the Prophets labored, and ye reap the fruits of their labors.” He said not “the rewards,” (for neither did their great labor go unrewarded,) but “the fruits.” This also Daniel did, for he too makes mention of a proverb, “Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked”; and David in his lamenting makes mention of a similar proverb.3 Therefore He said beforehand, “that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” For since He was about to declare, that “one hath sowed and another reapeth,” lest any one should deem that the Prophets were deprived of their reward, He asserteth something strange and paradoxical, such as never chanceth in sensual things, but is peculiar to spiritual only. For in things of sense, if it chance that one sow and another reap, they do not “rejoice together,” but those who sowed are sad, as having labored for others, and those who reap alone rejoice. But here it is not so, but those who reap not what they sowed rejoice alike with those who reap; whence it is clear that they too share the reward.

Ver. 38. “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labors; other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.”

By this He the more encourageth them; for when it seemed a very hard matter to go through all the world and preach the Gospel, He showeth them that it is even most4 easy. The very difficult work was that other, which required great labor, the putting in the seed, and introducing the uninitiated soul to the knowledge of God. But wherefore uttereth He these sayings? It is that when He sendeth them to preach they may not be confounded, as though sent on a difficult task. “For that of the Prophets,” He saith, “was the more difficult, and the fact witnesseth to My word, that ye are come to what is easy; because as in harvest time the fruits are collected with ease, and in one moment the floor is filled with sheaves, which await5 not the revolutions of the seasons, and winter, and spring, and rain, so it is now. The facts proclaim it aloud.” While He was in the midst of saying these things, the Samaritans came forth, and the fruit was at once gathered together. On this account6 He said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white.” Thus He spake, and the fact was clear, and the words seen (true) by the event. For saith St. John,

Ver. 39. “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did.”

They perceived7 that the woman would not from favor have admired One who had rebuked her sins, nor to gratify another have paraded her own course of life.

[3.] Let us then also imitate this woman, and in the case of our own sins not be ashamed of men, but fear, as is meet, God who now beholdeth what is done, and who hereafter punisheth those who do not now repent. At present we do the opposite of this, for we fear not Him who shall judge us, but shudder at those who do not in anything hurt us, and tremble at the shame which comes from them. Therefore in the very thing which we fear, in this do we incur punishment. For he who now regards only the reproach of men, but when God seeth is not ashamed to do anything unseemly, and who will not repent and be converted, in that day will be made an example, not only before one or two, but in the sight of the whole world. For that a vast assembly is seated there to behold righteous actions as well as those which are not such, let the parable of the sheep and the goats teach thee, as also the blessed Paul when He saith, “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10), and again, “Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness.” (1 Cor. 4:5.) Hast thou done or imagined any evil thing, and dost thou hide it from man? yet from God thou hidest it not. But for this thou careth nothing; the eyes of men, these are thy fear. Think then that thou wilt not be able to escape the sight even of men in that day1; for all things as in a picture shall then be set before our very eyes, so that each shall be self-condemned. This is clear even from the instance of Dives, for the poor man whom he had neglected, Lazarus I mean, he saw standing before his eyes, and the finger which he had often loathed, he intreats may become a comfort to him then. I exhort you therefore, that although no one see what we do, yet that each of us enter into his own conscience, and set reason for his judge, and bring forward his transgressions, and if he desire them not to be exposed to public view then in that fearful day, let him now heal his wounds, let him apply to them the medicines of repentance. For it is in the power, yea, it is in the power of one full of ten thousand wounds to go hence whole. For “if ye forgive,” He saith, “your sins are forgiven unto you.”2 (Matt. 6:14, not verbally quoted.) For as sins buried3 in Baptism appear no more, so these4 also shall disappear, if we be willing to repent. And repentance is the not doing the same again; for he that again puts his hand to the same, is like the dog that returneth to his own vomit, and like him in the proverb who cards wool into the fire,5 and draws water into a cask full of holes. It behooves therefore to depart both in action and in thought from what we have dared to do, and having departed, to apply to the wounds the remedies which are the contraries of our sins. For instance: hast thou been grasping and covetous? Abstain from rapine, and apply almsgiving to the wound. Hast thou been a fornicator? Abstain from fornication, and apply chastity to the wound. Hast thou spoken ill of thy brother, and injured him? Cease finding fault,6 and apply kindness. Let us thus act with respect to each point in which we have offended, and let us not carelessly pass by our sins, for there awaiteth us hereafter, there awaiteth us a season of account. Wherefore also Paul said, “The Lord is at hand: be careful for nothing.” (Phil. 4:5, 6.) But we perhaps must add the contrary of this, “The Lord is at hand, be careful.” For they might well hear, “Be careful for nothing,” living as they did in affliction, and labors, and trials; but they who live by rapine, or in luxury, and who shall give a grievous reckoning, would in reason hear not this, but that other, “The Lord is at hand, be careful.” Since no long time now remains until the consummation, but the world is hastening to its end; this the wars declare, this the afflictions, this the earthquakes, this the love which hath waxed cold. For as the body when in its last gasp and near to death, draws to itself ten thousand sufferings; and as when a house is about to fall, many portions are wont to fall beforehand from the roof and walls; so is the end of the world nigh and at the very doors, and therefore ten thousand woes are everywhere scattered abroad. If the Lord was then “at hand,” much more is He now “at hand.” If three hundred7 years ago, when those words were used, Paul called that season “the fullness of time,” much more would he have called the present so. But perhaps for this very reason some disbelieve, yet they ought on this account to believe the more. For whence knowest thou, O man, that the end is not “at hand,” and the words shortly to be accomplished? For as we speak of the end of the year not as being the last day, but also the last month, though it has thirty days; so if of so many years I call even four hundred years “the end,” I shall not be wrong; and so at that time Paul spoke of the end by anticipation. Let us then set ourselves in order, let us delight in the fear of God; for if we live here without fear of Him, His coming will surprise us suddenly, when we are neither careful, nor looking for Him. As Christ declared when He said, “For as in the days of Noah, and as in the days of Lot, so shall it be at the end of this world.” (Matt. 24:37, not verbally quoted.) This also Paul declared when he said, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child.” (1 Thess. 5:3.) What means, “as travail upon a woman with child”? Often have pregnant women when sporting, or at their meals, or in the bath or market-place, and foreseeing nothing of what was coming, been seized in a moment by their pains. Now since our case is like theirs, let us ever be prepared, for we shall not always hear these things, we shall not always have power to do them. “In the grave” saith David, “who shall give Thee thanks?”1 (Ps. 6:5.) Let us then repent here, that so we may find God merciful unto us in the day that is to come, and be enabled to enjoy abundant forgiveness; which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXXV

John 4:40–43.

“So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own Word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee.”

Nothing is worse than envy and malice, nothing more mischievous than vainglory; it is wont to mar ten thousand good things. So the Jews, who excelled the Samaritans in knowledge, and had been always familiar with2 the Prophets, were shown from this cause inferior to them. For these believed even on the testimony of the woman, and without having seen any sign, came forth beseeching Christ to tarry3 with them; but the Jews, when they had beheld His wonders, not only did not detain Him among them, but even drove Him away, and used every means to cast Him forth from their land, although His very Coming4 had been for their sake. The Jews expelled Him, but these even entreated Him to tarry with them. Was it not then rather fitting, tell me, that He should receive those who asked and besought Him, than that He should wait upon those who plotted against and repulsed Him, while to those who loved and desired to retain Him He gave not Himself? Surely this would not have been worthy of His tender care;5 He therefore both accepted6 them, and tarried with them two days. They desired to keep Him among them continually, (for this the Evangelist has shown by saying, that “they besought Him that He would tarry with them,”) but this He endured not, but stayed with them only two days; and in these many more believed on Him. Yet there was no likelihood that these would have believed, since they had seen no sign, and had hostile feelings towards the Jews; but still, inasmuch as they gave in sincerity their judgment on His words, this stood not in their way, but they received a notion which surmounted their hindrances, and vied with each other to reverence Him the more. For, saith the Evangelist, “they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” The scholars overshot their instructress. With good reason might they condemn the Jews, both by their believing on, and their receiving Him. The Jews, for whose sake He had contrived7 the whole scheme,8 continually were for stoning Him,9 but these, when He was not even intending to come to them, drew Him to themselves. And they, even with signs, remain uncorrected; these, without signs, manifested great faith respecting Him, and glory in this very thing that they believe without them; while the others ceased not asking10 for signs and tempting Him.

Such need is there everywhere of an honest soul; and if truth lay hold on such an one, she easily masters it; or if she masters it not, this is owing not to any weakness of truth, but to want of candor11 in the soul itself. Since the sun too, when he encounters clear eyes, easily enlightens them; if he enlightens them not, it is the fault of their infirmity, not of his weakness.

Hear then what these say; “We know that this is of a truth the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” Seest thou how they at once understood that He should draw the world to Him, that He came to order aright12 our common salvation, that He intended not to confine His care to the Jews, but to sow His Word everywhere? The Jews did not so, but going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not themselves to the righteousness of God; while these confess that all are deserving of punishment, declaring with the Apostle, that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace.” (Rom. 3:23, 24.) For by saying that He was “the Saviour of the world,” they showed that it was of a lost world,1 and He not simply a Saviour, but one of the very mightiest. For many had come to “save,” both Prophets and Angels2; but this, saith one, is the True Saviour, who affordeth the true salvation, not that which is but for a time. This proceeded from pure faith. And in both ways are they admirable; because they believed, and because they did so without signs, (whom Christ also calleth “blessed,” saying, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,”) (c. 20:29,) and because they did so sincerely. Though they had heard the woman say doubtfully, “Is not this the Christ?” they did not also say, “we too suspect,” or, “we think,”3 but, “we know,” and not merely, “we know,” but, “we know that this is of a truth the Saviour of the world.” They acknowledged Christ not as one of the many,4 but as the “Saviour” indeed. Yet whom had they seen saved? They had but heard His words, and yet they spake as they would have spoken had they beheld many and great marvels. And why do not the Evangelists tell us these words, and that He discoursed admirably? That thou mayest learn that they pass by many important matters, and yet have declared the whole to us by the event. For He persuaded an entire people and a whole city by His words. When His hearers are not persuaded, then the writers are constrained to mention what was said, lest any one from the insensibility of the hearers should give a judgment against Him who addressed them.

“Now after two days He departed thence and went into Galilee.”

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St Augustine’s Tractate on John 4:1-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 25, 2017

1. It is nothing new to your ears, beloved, that the Evangelist John, like an eagle, takes a loftier flight, and soars above the dark mist of earth, to gaze with steadier eyes upon the light of truth. From his Gospel much has already been treated of and discussed through our ministry, with the Lord’s help; and the passage which has been read to-day follows in due order. What I am about to say, with the Lord’s permission, many of you will hear in such wise that you will be reviewing what you know, rather than learning what you know not. Yet, for all that, your attention ought not to be slack, because it is not an acquiring, but a reviewing, of knowledge. This has been read, and we have in our hands to discourse upon this passage—that which the Lord Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The things spoken there are great mysteries, and the similitudes of great things; feeding the hungry, and refreshing the weary soul.

2. Now when the Lord knew this, “when He had heard that the Pharisees had learned that He was making more disciples than John, and baptized more (though Jesus baptized not, but His disciples), He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.” We must not discourse of this too long, lest, by dwelling on what is manifest, we shall lack the time to investigate and lay open what is obscure. Certainly, if the Lord saw that the fact of their coming to know that He made more disciples, and baptized more, would so avail to salvation to the Pharisees in following Him, as to become themselves His disciples, and to desire to be baptized by Him; rather would He not have left Judea, but would have remained there for their sakes. But because He knew their knowledge of the fact, and at the same time knew their envy, and that they learned this, not to follow, but to persecute him, He departed thence. He could, indeed, even when present, cause that He should not be taken of them, if He would not; He had it in His power not to be put to death, if He would not, since He had the power not to be born, if He would not. But because, in everything that He did as man, He was showing an example to them who were to believe on Him (that any one servant of God sinneth not if he retire into another place, when he sees, it may be, the rage of his persecutors, or of them that seek to bring his soul into evil; but if a servant of God did this he might appear to commit sin, had not the Lord led the way in doing it), that good Master did this to teach us, not because He feared it.

3. It may perhaps surprise you why it is said, that “Jesus baptized more than John;” and after this was said, it is subjoined, “although Jesus baptized not, but His disciples.” What then? Was the statement made false, and then corrected by this addition? Or, are both true, viz. that Jesus both did and also did not baptize? He did in fact baptize, because it was He that cleansed; and He did not baptize, because it was not He that touched. The disciples supplied the ministry of the body; He afforded the aid of His majesty. Now, when could He cease from baptizing, so long as He ceased not from cleansing? Of Him it is said by the same John, in the person of the Baptist, who saith, “This is He that baptizeth.” Jesus, therefore, is still baptizing; and so long as we continue to be baptized, Jesus baptizeth. Let a man come without fear to the minister below; for he has a Master above.

4. But it may be one saith, Christ does indeed baptize, but in spirit, not in body. As if, indeed, it were by the gift of another than He that any is imbued even with the sacrament of corporal and visible baptism. Wouldest thou know that it is He that baptizeth, not only with the Spirit, but also with water? Hear the apostle: “Even as Christ,” saith he, “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, purifying it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”Eph. 5:25–27.

“>1 Purifying it. How? “With the washing of water by the Word.” What is the baptism of Christ? The washing of water by the Word. Take away the water, it is no baptism; take away the Word, it is no baptism.

5. This much, then, on the preliminary circumstances, by occasion of which He came to a conversation with that woman, let us look at the matters that remain; matters full of mysteries and pregnant with sacraments. “And He must needs pass through Samaria. He cometh then to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s fountain was there.” It was a well; but every well is a fountain, yet not every fountain a well. For where the water flows from the earth, and offers itself for use to them that draw it, it is called a fountain; but if accessible, and on the surface, it is called only a fountain: if, however, it be deep and far down, it is called a well, but in such wise as not to lose the name of fountain.

6. “Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour.” Now begin the mysteries. For it is not without a purpose that Jesus is weary; not indeed without a purpose that the strength of God is weary; not without a purpose that He is weary, by whom the wearied are refreshed; not without a purpose is He weary, by whose absence we are wearied, by whose presence we are strengthened. Nevertheless Jesus is weary, and weary with His journey; and He sits down, and that, too, near a well; and it is at the sixth hour that, being wearied, He sits down. All these things hint something, are intended to intimate something, they make us eager, and encourage us to knock. May Himself open to us and to you; He who has deigned to exhort us, so as to say, “Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” It was for thee that Jesus was wearied with His journey. We find Jesus to be strength, and we find Jesus to be weak: we find a strong and a weak Jesus: strong, because “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.” Wouldest thou see how this Son of God is strong? “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made:” and without labor, too, were they made. Then what can be stronger than He, by whom all things were made without labor? Wouldest thou know Him weak? “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The strength of Christ created thee, the weakness of Christ created thee anew. The strength of Christ caused that to be which was not: the weakness of Christ caused that what was should not perish. He fashioned us by His strength, He sought us by His weakness.

7. As weak, then, He nourishes the weak, as a hen her chickens; for He likened Himself to a hen: “How often,” He saith to Jerusalem, “would I have gathered thy children under my wings, as a hen her chickens; but thou wouldest not!”Matt. 23:37.

“>1 And you see, brethren, how a hen becomes weak with her chickens. No other bird, when it is a mother, is recognized at once to be so. We see all kinds of sparrows building their nests before our eyes; we see swallows, storks, doves, every day building their nests; but we do not know them to be parents, except when we see them on their nests. But the hen is so enfeebled over her brood, that even if the chickens are not following her, if thou see not the young ones, yet thou knowest her at once to be a mother. With her wings drooping, her feathers ruffled, her note hoarse, in all her limbs she becomes so sunken and abject, that, as I have said, even though thou seest not her young, yet thou perceivest her to be a mother. In such manner was Jesus weak, wearied with His journey. His journey is the flesh assumed for us. For how can He, who is present everywhere, have a journey, He who is nowhere absent? Whither does He go, or whence, but that He could not come to us, except He had assumed the form of visible flesh? Therefore, as He deigned to come to us in such manner, that He appeared in the form of a servant by the flesh assumed, that same assumption of flesh is His journey. Thus, “wearied with His journey,” what else is it but wearied in the flesh? Jesus was weak in the flesh: but do not thou become weak; but in His weakness be strong, because what is “the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

8. Under this image of things, Adam, who was the figure of Him that was to be, afforded us a great indication of this mystery; rather, God afforded it in him. For he was deemed worthy to receive a wife while he slept, and that wife was made for him of his own rib: since from Christ, sleeping on the cross, was the Church to come,—from His side, namely, as He slept; for it was from His side, pierced with the spear, as He hung on the cross, that the sacraments of the Church flowed forth. But why have I chosen to say this, brethren? Because it is the weakness of Christ that makes us strong. A remarkable figure of this went before in the case of Adam. God could have taken flesh from the man to make of it a woman, and it seems that this might have been the more suitable. For it was the weaker sex that was being made, and weakness ought to have been made of flesh rather than of bone; for the bones are the stronger parts it the flesh. He took not flesh to make of it a woman; but took a bone, and of the bone was the woman shaped, and flesh was filled in into the place of the bone. He could have restored bone for bone; He could have taken, not a rib, but flesh, for the making of the woman. What, then, did this signify? Woman was made, as it were, strong, from the rib; Adam was made, as it were, weak, from the flesh. It is Christ and the Church; His weakness is our strength.

9. But why at the sixth hour? Because at the sixth age of the world. In the Gospel, count up as an hour each, the first age from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the removing to Babylon; the fifth, from the removing to Babylon to the baptism of John: thence is the sixth being enacted. Why dost thou marvel? Jesus came, and, by humbling Himself, came to a well. He came wearied, because He carried weak flesh. At the sixth hour, because in the sixth age of the world. To a well, because to the depth of this our habitation. For which reason it is said in the psalm: “From the depth have I cried unto Thee, O Lord.”Ps. 130:1.

“>2 He sat, as I said, because He was humbled.

10. “And there came a woman.” Figure of the Church not yet justified, but now about to be justified: for this is the subject of the discourse. She comes ignorant, she finds Him, and there is a dealing with her. Let us see what, and wherefore. “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water.” The Samaritans did not belong to the nation of the Jews: they were foreigners, though they inhabited neighboring lands. It would take a long time to relate the origin of the Samaritans; that we may not be detained by long discourse of this, and leave necessary matters unsaid, suffice to say, then, that we regard the Samaritans as aliens. And, lest you should think that I have said this with more boldness than truth, hear the Lord Jesus Himself, what He said of that Samaritan, one of the ten lepers whom He had cleansed, who alone returned to give thanks: “Were there not ten cleansed? And where are the nine? There was not another to give glory to God, save this stranger.”Luke 17:17.

“>3 It is pertinent to the image of the reality, that this woman, who bore the type of the Church, comes of strangers: for the Church was to come of the Gentiles, an alien from the race of the Jews. In that woman, then, let us hear ourselves, and in her acknowledge ourselves, and in her give thanks to God for ourselves. For she was the figure, not the reality; for she both first showed forth the figure and became the reality. For she believed on Him who, of her, set the figure before us. “She cometh, then, to draw water.” Had simply come to draw water, as people are wont to do, be they men or women.

11. “Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat. Then saith the Samaritan woman unto Him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” You see that they were aliens: indeed, the Jews would not use their vessels. And as the woman brought with her a vessel with which to draw the water, it made her wonder that a Jew sought drink of her,—a thing which the Jews were not accustomed to do. But He who was asking drink was thirsting for the faith of the woman herself.

12. At length, hear who it is that asketh drink: “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest, it may be, have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” He asks to drink, and promises to give drink. He longs as one about to receive; He abounds as one about to satisfy. “If thou knewest,” saith He, “the gift of God.” The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. But as yet He speaks to the woman guardedly, and enters into her heart by degrees. It may be He is now teaching her. For what can be sweeter and kinder than that exhortation? “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc.: thus far He keeps her in suspense. That is commonly called living water which issues from a spring: that which is collected from rain in pools and cisterns is not called living water. And it may have flowed from a spring; yet if it should stand collected in some place, not admitting to it that from which it flowed, but, with the course interrupted, separated, as it were, from the channel of the fountain, it is not called “living water:” but that is called living water which is taken as it flows. Such water there was in that fountain. Why, then, did He promise to give that which He was asking?

13. The woman, however, being in suspense, saith to Him, “Lord, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.” See how she understood the living water, simply the water which was in that fountain. “Thou wouldst give me living water, and I carry that with which to draw, and thou dost not. The living water is here; how art thou to give it me?” Understanding another thing, and taking it carnally, she does in a manner knock, that the Master may open up that which is closed. She was knocking in ignorance, not with earnest purpose; she is still an object of pity, not yet of instruction.

14. The Lord speaks somewhat more clearly of that living water. Now the woman had said, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, his children, and his cattle?” Thou canst not give me of the living water of this well, because thou hast nothing to draw with: perhaps thou promisest another fountain? Canst thou be better than our father, who dug this well, and used it himself, and his? Let the Lord, then, declare what He called living water. “Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but he that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst forever; but the water which I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.” The Lord has spoken more openly: “It shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life. He that drinketh of this water shall not thirst forever.” What more evident than that it was not visible, but invisible water, that He was promising? What more evident than that He was speaking, not in a carnal, but in a spiritual sense?

15. Still, however, the woman has her mind on the flesh: she is delighted with the thought of thirsting no more, and fancies that this was promised to her by the Lord after a carnal sense; which it will be indeed, but in the resurrection of the dead. She desired this now. God had indeed granted once to His servant Elias, that during forty days he neither hungered nor thirsted. Could not He give this always, seeing He had power to give it during forty days? She, however, sighed for it, desiring to have no want, no toil. To be always coming to that fountain, to be burdened with a weight with which to supply her want, and, when that which she had drawn is spent, to be obliged to return again: this was a daily toil to her; because that want of hers was to be relieved, not extinguished. Such a gift as Jesus promised delighted her; she asks Him to give her living water.

16. Nevertheless, let us not overlook the fact that it is something spiritual that the Lord was promising. What means, “Whoso shall drink of this water shall thirst again?” It is true as to this water; it is true as to what the water signified. Since the water in the well is the pleasure of the world in its dark depth: from this men draw it with the vessel of lusts. Stooping forward, they let down the lust to reach the pleasure fetched from the depth of the well, and enjoy the pleasure and the preceding lust let down to fetch it. For he who has not despatched his lust in advance cannot get to the pleasure. Consider lust, then, as the vessel; and pleasure as the water from the depth of the well: when one has got at the pleasure of this world, it is meat to him, it is drink, it is a bath, a show, an amour; can it be that he will not thirst again? Therefore, “Whoso shall drink of this water,” saith He, “will thirst again;” but if he shall receive water of me, “he shall never thirst.” “We shall be satisfied,” it saith, “with the good things of Thy house.”Ps. 65:4.

“>1 Of what water, then, is He to give, but of that of which it is said, “With Thee is the fountain of life”? For how shall they thirst, who “shall be drunk with the fatness of Thy house”?Ps. 36:9, 10.

“>2

17. What He was promising them was a certain feeding and abundant fullness of the Holy Spirit: but the woman did not yet understand; and not understanding, how did she answer? “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” Want forced her to labor, and her weakness was pleading against the toil. Would that she heard the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you!”Matt. 11:28.

“>3 This is, in fact, what Jesus was saying to her, that she might no longer labor: but she did not yet understand.

18. At length, wishing her to understand, “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” What means this, “Call thy husband”? Was it through her husband that He wished to give her that water? Or, because she did not understand, did He wish to teach her through her husband? Perhaps it was as the apostle says concerning women, “If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” But this the apostle says of that where there is no Jesus present to teach. It is said, in short, to women whom the apostle was forbidding to speak in the Church.1 Cor. 14:34.

“>4 But when the Lord Himself was at hand, and in person speaking to her, what need was there that He should speak to her by her husband? Was it through her husband that he spoke to Mary, while sitting at His feet and receiving His word; while Martha, wholly occupied with much serving, murmured at the happiness of her sister?Luke 10:40.

“>5 Wherefore, my brethren, let us hear and understand what it is that the Lord says to the woman, “Call thy husband.” For it may be that He is saying also to our soul, “Call thy husband.” Let us inquire also concerning the soul’s husband. Why, is not Jesus Himself already the soul’s real husband? Let the understanding be present, since what we are about to say can hardly be apprehended but by attentive hearers: therefore let the understanding be present to apprehend, and perhaps that same understanding will be found to be the husband of the soul.

19. Now Jesus, seeing that the woman did not understand, and willing her to understand, says to her, “Call thy husband.” “For the reason why thou knowest not what I say is, because thy understanding is not present: I am speaking after the Spirit, and thou art hearing after the flesh. The things which I speak relate neither to the pleasure of the ears, nor to the eyes, nor to the smell, nor to the taste, nor to the touch; by the mind alone are they received, by the understanding alone are they drawn up: that understanding is not with thee, how canst thou apprehend what I am saying? ‘Call thy husband,’ bring thy understanding forward. What is it for thee to have a soul? It is not much, for a beast has a soul. Wherein art thou better than the beast? In having understanding, which the beast has not.” Then what is “Call thy husband”? “Thou dost not apprehend me, thou dost not understand me: I am speaking to thee of the gift of God, and thy thought is of the flesh; thou wishest not to thirst in a carnal sense, I am addressing myself to the spirit: thy understanding is absent. ‘Call thy husband.’ Be not as the horse and mule, which have no understanding.” Therefore, my brethren, to have a soul, and not to have understanding, that is, not to use it, not to live according to it, is a beast’s life. For we have somewhat in common with the beasts, that by which we live in the flesh, but it must be ruled by the understanding. For the motions of the soul, which moves after the flesh, and longs to run unrestrainedly loose after carnal delights, are ruled over by the understanding. Which is to be called the husband?—that which rules, or that which is ruled? Without doubt, when the life is well ordered the understanding rules the soul, for itself belongs to the soul. For the understanding is not something other than the soul, but a thing of the soul: as the eye is not something other than the flesh, but a thing of the flesh. But whilst the eye is a thing of the flesh, yet it alone enjoys the light; and the other fleshy members may be steeped in light, but they cannot feel the light: the eye alone is both bathed in it, and enjoys it. Thus in our soul there is a something called the understanding. This something of the soul, which is called understanding and mind, is enlightened by the higher light. Now that higher light, by which the human mind is enlightened, is God; for “that was the true light which enlighteneth every man coming into this world.” Such a light was Christ, such a light was speaking with the woman: yet she was not present with the understanding, to have it enlightened with that light; not merely to have it shed upon it, but to enjoy it. Therefore the Lord said, “Call thy husband,” as if He were to say, I wish to enlighten, and yet there is not here whom I may enlighten: bring hither the understanding through which thou mayest be taught, by which thou mayest be ruled. Thus, put the soul without the understanding for the woman; and having the understanding as having the husband. But this husband does not rule the wife well, except when he is ruled by a higher. “For the head of the woman is the man, but the head of the man is Christ.”1 Cor. 11:3.

“>1 The head of the man was talking with the woman, and the man was not present. And so the Lord, as if He said, Bring hither thy head, that he may receive his head, says, “Call thy husband, and come hither;” that is, Be here, be present: for thou art as absent, while thou understandest not the voice of the Truth here present; be thou present here, but not alone; be thou here with thy husband.

20. And, the husband being not yet called, still she does not understand, still she minds the flesh; for the man is absent: “I have not,” saith she, “a husband.” And the Lord proceeds and utters mysteries. Thou mayest understand that woman really to have had at that time no husband; she was living with some man, not a lawful husband, rather a paramour than a husband. And the Lord said to her, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband.” How then didst Thou say, “Call thy husband”? Now hear how the Lord knew well that she had not a husband. “He says to her,” etc. In case the woman might suppose that the Lord had said, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband,” just because He had learned this fact of her, and not because he knew it by His own divinity, hear something which thou hast not said: “For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; this thou hast said truly.”

21. Once more He urges us to investigate the matter somewhat more exactly concerning these five husbands. Many have in fact understood, not indeed absurdly, nor so far improbably, the five husbands of this woman to mean the five books of Moses. For the Samaritans made use of these books, and were under the same law: for it was from it they had circumcision. But since we are hemmed in by what follows, “And he whom thou now hast is not thy husband,” it appears to me that we can more easily take the five senses of the body to be the five former husbands of the soul. For when one is born, before he can make use of the mind and reason, he is ruled only by the senses of the flesh. In a little child, the soul seeks for or shuns what is heard, and seen, and smells, and tastes, and is perceived by the touch. It seeks for whatever soothes, and shuns whatever offends, those five senses. At first, the soul lives according to these five senses, as five husbands; because it is ruled by them. But why are they called husbands? Because they are lawful and right: made indeed by God, and are the gifts of God to the soul. The soul is still weak while ruled by these five husbands, and living under these five husbands; but when she comes to years of exercising reason, if she is taken in hand by the noble discipline and teaching of wisdom, these five men are succeeded in their rule by no other than the true and lawful husband, and one better than they, who both rules better and rules for eternity, who cultivates and instructs her for eternity. For the five senses rule us, not for eternity, but for those temporal things that are to be sought or shunned. But when the understanding, imbued by wisdom, begins to rule the soul, it knows now not only how to avoid a pit, and to walk on even ground—a thing which the eyes show to the soul even in its weakness; nor merely to be charmed with musical voices, and to repel harsh sounds; nor to delight in agreeable scents, and to refuse offensive smells; nor to be captivated by sweetness, and displeased with bitterness; nor to be soothed with what is soft, and hurt with what is rough. For all these things are necessary to the soul in its weakness. Then what rule is made use of by that understanding? Not one to discern between black and white, but between just and unjust, between good and evil, between the profitable and the unprofitable, between chastity and impurity, that it may love the one and avoid the other; between charity and hatred, to be in the one, not to be in the other.

22. This husband had not yet succeeded to those five husbands in that woman. And where he does not succeed, error sways. For when the soul has begun to be capable of reason, it is ruled either by the wise mind or by error: but yet error does not rule but destroys. Wherefore, after these five senses was that woman still wandering, and error was tossing her to and fro. And this error was not a lawful husband, but a paramour: for that reason the Lord saith to her, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband. For thou hast had five husbands.” The five senses of the flesh ruled thee at first; thou art come to the age of using reason, and yet thou art not come to wisdom, but art fallen into error. Therefore, after those five husbands, “this whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” And if not a husband, what was he but a paramour? And so, “Call,” not the paramour, but “thy husband,” that thou mayest receive me with the understanding, and not by error have some false notion of me. For the woman was still in error, as she was thinking of that water; whilst the Lord was now speaking of the Holy Ghost. Why was she erring, but because she had a paramour, not a husband? Put away, therefore, that paramour who corrupts thee, and “go, call thy husband.” Call, and come that thou mayest understand me.

23. “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I see that thou art a prophet.” The husband begins to come, he is not yet fully come. She accounted the Lord a prophet, and a prophet indeed He was; for it was of Himself He said, that “a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.”Luke 4:24.

“>1 Again, of Him it was said to Moses, “A Prophet will I raise up to them of their brethren, like unto thee.”Deut. 18:18.

“>2 Like, namely, as to the form of the flesh, but not in the eminence of His majesty. Accordingly we find the Lord Jesus called a Prophet. Hence this woman is now not far wrong. “I see,” she saith, “that thou art a prophet.” She begins to call the husband, and to shut out the paramour; she begins to ask about a matter that is wont to disquiet her. For there was a contention between the Samaritans and the Jews, because the Jews worshipped God in the temple built by Solomon; but the Samaritans, being situated at a distance from it, did not worship there. For this reason the Jews, because they worshipped God in the temple, boasted themselves to be better than the Samaritans. “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans:” because the latter said to them, How is it you boast and account yourselves to be better than we, just because you have a temple which we have not? Did our fathers, who were pleasing to God, worship in that temple? Was it not in this mountain where we are they worshipped? We then do better, say they, who pray to God in this mountain, where our fathers prayed. Both peoples contended in ignorance, because they had not the husband: they were inflated against each other, on the one side in behalf of the temple, on the other in behalf of the mountain.

24. What, however, does the Lord teach the woman now, as one whose husband has begun to be present? “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me.” For the Church will come, as it is said in the Song of Songs, “will come, and will pass over from the beginning of faith.”Cant. 4:8, LXX.

“>3 She will come in order to pass through; and pass through she cannot, except from the beginning of faith. Rightly she now hears, the husband being present: “Woman, believe me.” For there is that in thee now which can believe, since thy husband is present. Thou hast begun to be present with the understanding when thou calledst me a prophet. Woman, believe me; for if ye believe not, ye will not understand.Isa. 7:9, LXX.

“>4 Therefore, “Woman, believe me, for the hour will come when ye shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we worship what we know; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour will come.” When? “And now is.” Well, what hour? “When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” not in this mountain, not in the temple, but in spirit and in truth. “For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” Why does the Father seek such to worship Him, not on a mountain, not in the temple, but in spirit and in truth? “God is Spirit.” If God were body, it were right that He should be worshipped on a mountain, for a mountain is corporeal; it were right He should be worshipped in the temple, for a temple is corporeal. “God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25. We have heard, and it is manifest; we had gone out of doors, and we are sent inward. Would I could find, thou didst say, some high and lonely mountain! For I think that, because God is on high, He hears me the rather from a high place. Because thou art on a mountain, dost thou imagine thyself near to God. and that He will quickly hear thee, as if calling to Him from the nearest place? He dwells on high, but regards the lowly. “The Lord is near.” To whom? To the high, perhaps? “To them who are contrite of heart.”Ps. 34:18.

“>1 ’Tis a wonderful thing: He dwelleth on high, and yet is near to the lowly; “He hath regard to lowly things, but lofty things He knoweth from afar;”Ps. 138:6.

“>2 He seeth the proud afar off, and He is the less near to them the higher they appear to themselves to be. Didst thou seek a mountain, then? Come down, that thou mayest come near Him. But wouldest thou ascend? Ascend, but do not seek a mountain. “The ascents,” it saith, “are in his heart, in the valley of weeping.”Ps. 84:6.

“>3 The valley is humility. Therefore do all within. Even if perhaps thou seekest some lofty place, some holy place, make thyself a temple for God within time. “For the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye.”1 Cor. 3:17.

“>4 Wouldest thou pray in a temple? Pray in thyself. But be thou first a temple of God, for He in His temple heareth him that prays.

26. “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. We worship that which we know: ye worship ye know not what; for salvation is of the Jews.” A great thing has He attributed to the Jews; but do not understand Him to mean those spurious Jews. Understand that wall to which another is joined, that they may be joined together, resting on the corner-stone, which is Christ. For there is one wall from the Jews, another from the Gentiles; these walls are far apart, only until they are united in the Corner. Now the aliens were strangers and foreigners from the covenants of God.Eph. 2:11–22.

“>5 According to this, it is said, “We worship what we know.” It is said, indeed, in the person of the Jews, but not of all Jews, not of reprobate Jews, but of such as were the apostles, as were the prophets, as were all those saints who sold all their goods, and laid the price of their goods at the apostles’ feet. “For God hath not rejected His people which He foreknew.”Rom. 11:2.

“>6

27. The woman heard this, and proceeded. She had already called Him a prophet; she observes that He with whom she was speaking uttered such things as still more pertained to the prophet; and what answer did she make? See: “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias will come, who is called Christ: when He then is come, He will show us all things.” What is this? Just now she saith, The Jews are contending for the temple, and we for this mountain: when He has come, He will despise the mountain, and overthrow the temple; He will teach us all things, that we may know how to worship in spirit and in truth. She knew who could teach her, but she did not yet know Him that was now teaching her. But now she was worthy to receive the manifestation of Him. Now Messias is Anointed: Anointed, in Greek, is Christ; in Hebrew, Messias; whence also, in Punic, Messe means Anoint. For the Hebrew, Punic and Syriac are cognate and neighboring languages.

28. Then, “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias will come, who is called Christ: when He then is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak with thee am He.” She called her husband; he is made the head of the woman, and Christ is made the head of the man. Now is the woman constituted in faith, and ruled, as about to live rightly. After she heard this, “I that speak with thee am He,” what further could she say, when the Lord Jesus willed to manifest Himself to the woman, to whom He had said, “Believe me?”

29. “And immediately came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman.” That He was seeking her that was lost, He who came to seek that which was lost: they marvelled at this. They marvelled at a good thing, they were not suspecting an evil thing. “Yet no man said, What seekest Thou, or why talkest Thou with her?”

30. “The woman then left her water-pot.” Having heard, “I that speak with thee am He,” and having received Christ the Lord into her heart, what could she do but now leave her water-pot, and run to preach the gospel? She cast out lust, and hastened to proclaim the truth. Let them who would preach the gospel learn; let them throw away their water-pot at the well. You remember what I said before of the water-pot: it was a vessel with which the water was drawn, called hydria, from its Greek name, because water is hydor in Greek; just as if it were called aquarium, from the Latin. She threw away her water-pot then, which was no longer of use, but a burden to her, such was her avidity to be satisfied with that water. Throwing her burden away, to make known Christ, “she ran to the city, and says to those men, Come, and see a man that told me all things that ever I did.” Step by step, lest those men should get angry and indignant, and should persecute her. “Is this Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came to Him.”

31. “And in the meanwhile His disciples besought Him, saying, Master, eat.” For they had gone to buy meat, and had returned. “But He said, I have meat to eat which ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?” What wonder if that woman did not understand about the water? See; the disciples do not yet understand the meat. But He heard their thoughts, and now as a master instructs them, not in a round-about way, as He did the woman while He still sought her husband, but openly at once: “My meat,” saith He, “is to do the will of Him that sent me.” Therefore, in the case of that woman, it was even His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him. That was the reason why He said, “I thirst, give me to drink;” namely, to work faith in her, and to drink of her faith, and to transplant her into His own body, for His body is the Church. Therefore He saith, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.”

32. “Say ye not, that there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” He was aglow for the work, and was arranging to send forth laborers. You count four months to the harvest; I show you another harvest, white and ready. Behold, I say unto you, “Lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are already white for the harvest.” Therefore He is going to send forth the reapers. “For in this is the saying true, that one reapeth, another soweth: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. I have sent you to reap that on which ye have not labored: others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor.” What then? He sent reapers; sent He not the sowers? Whither the reapers? Where others labored already. For where labor had already been bestowed, surely there had been sowing; and what had been sown had now become ripe, and required the sickle and the threshing. Whither, then, were the reapers to be sent? Where the prophets had already preached before; for they were the sowers. For had they not been the sowers, whence had this come to the woman, “I know that Messias will come”? That woman was now ripened fruit, and the harvest fields were white, and sought the sickle. “I sent you,” then. Whither? “To reap what ye have not sown: others sowed, and ye are entered into their labors.” Who labored? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Read their labors; in all their labors there is a prophecy of Christ, and for that reason they were sowers. Moses, and all the other patriarchs, and all the prophets, how much they suffered in that cold season when they sowed! Therefore was the harvest now ready in Judea. Justly was the corn there said to be as it were ripe, when so many thousands of men brought the price of their goods, and, laying them at the apostles’ feet, having eased their shoulders of this worldly baggage, began to follow the Lord Christ. Verily the harvest was ripe. What was made of it? Of that harvest a few grains were thrown out, and sowed the whole world; and another harvest is rising which is to be reaped in the end of the world. Of that harvest it is said, “They that sow in tears shall reap with joy.”Ps. 126:5.

“>1 But to that harvest not apostles, but angels, shall be sent forth. “The reapers,” saith He, “are the angels.”Matt. 13:39.

“>2 That harvest, then, is growing among tares, and is awaiting to be purged in the end of the world. But that harvest to which the disciples were sent first, where the prophets labored, was already ripe. But yet, brethren, observe what was said: “may rejoice together, both he that soweth and he that reapeth.” They had dissimilar labors in time, but the rejoicing they shall enjoy alike equally; they shall receive for their wages together eternal life.

33. “And many Samaritans of that city believed on Him, because of the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that ever I did. And when the Samaritans came to Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them; and He tarried there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy words; for we have heard Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” This also must be slightly noticed, for the lesson is come to an end. The woman first announced Him, and the Samaritans believed her testimony; and they besought Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days, and many more believed. And when they had believed, they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of thy word; but we are come to know Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world:” first by report, then by His presence. So it is to-day with them that are without, and are not yet Christians. Christ is made known to them by Christian friends; and just upon the report of that woman, that is, the Church, they come to Christ, they believe through this report. He stays with them two days, that is, gives them two precepts of charity; and many more believe, and more firmly believe, on Him, because He is in truth the Saviour of the world.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 3:5-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2017

This post contains two homilies by St John Chrysostom. The first is a complete homily on John 3:5; the second is on 3:6-8 and has been excerpted from a longer sermon. The remainder of that sermon will be used with tomorrow’s reading on 3:7b-11.

HOMILY XV
John 3:5

“Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

[1.] LITTLE children who go daily to their teachers receive their lessons, and repeat1 them, and never cease from this kind of acquisition, but sometimes employ nights as well as days, and this they are compelled2 to do for perishable and transient things. Now we do not ask of you who are come to age such toil as you require of your children; for not every day, but two days only in the week do we exhort you to hearken to our words, and only for a short portion of the day, that your task may be an easy one. For the same reason also we divide3 to you in small portions what is written in Scripture, that you may be able easily to receive and lay them up in the storehouses of your minds, and take such pains to remember them all, as to be able exactly to repeat them to others yourselves, unless any one be sleepy, and dull, and more idle than a little child.

Let us now attend to the sequel of what has been before said. When Nicodemus fell into error and wrested the words of Christ to the earthly birth, and said that it was not possible for an old man to be born again, observe how Christ in answer more clearly reveals the manner of the Birth, which even thus had difficulty for the carnal enquirer, yet still was able to raise the hearer from his low opinion of it. What saith He? “Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” What He declares is this: “Thou sayest that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved.” For necessary things God hath made exceedingly easy also. The earthly birth which is according to the flesh, is of the dust, and therefore heaven4 is walled against it, for what hath earth in common with heaven? But that other, which is of the Spirit, easily unfolds to us the arches5 above. Hear, ye as many as are unilluminated,6 shudder, groan, fearful is the threat, fearful the sentence.7 “It is not (possible),” He saith, “for one not born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of heaven”; because he wears the raiment of death, of cursing, of perdition, he hath not yet received his Lord’s token,8 he is a stranger and an alien, he hath not the royal watchword. “Except,” He saith, “a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”

Yet even thus Nicodemus did not understand. Nothing is worse than to commit spiritual things to argument; it was this that would not suffer him to suppose anything sublime and great. This is why we are called faithful, that having left the weakness of human reasonings below,9 we may ascend to the height of faith, and commit most of our blessings to her10 teaching;11 and if Nicodemus had done this, the thing would not have been thought by him impossible. What then doth Christ? To lead him away from his groveling imagination, and to show that He speaks not of the earthly birth, He saith, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” This He spoke, willing to draw him to the faith by the terror of the threat, and to persuade him not to deem the thing impossible, and taking pains to move him from his imagination as to the carnal birth. “I mean,” saith He, “another Birth, O Nicodemus. Why drawest thou down the saying to earth? Why subjectest thou the matter to the necessity of nature? This Birth is too high for such pangs as these; it hath nothing in common with you; it is indeed called ‘birth,’ but in name only has it aught in common, in reality it is different. Remove thyself from that which is common and familiar; a different kind of childbirth bring I into the world; in another manner will I have men to be generated: I have come to bring a new manner of Creation. I formed (man) of earth and water; but that which was formed was unprofitable, the vessel was wrenched awry;12 I will no more form them of earth and water, but ‘of water’ and ‘of the Spirit.’ ”

And if any one asks, “How of water?” I also will ask, How of earth? How was the clay separated into different parts? How was the material uniform, (it was earth only,) and the things made from it, various and of every kind? Whence are the bones, and sinews, and arteries, and veins? Whence the membranes, and vessels of the organs, the cartilages, the tissues, the liver, spleen, and heart? whence the skin, and blood, and mucus, and bile? whence so great powers, whence such varied colors? These belong not to earth or clay. How does the earth, when it receives the seeds, cause them to shoot, while the flesh receiving them wastes them? How does the earth nourish what is put into it, while the flesh is nourished by these things, and does not nourish them? The earth, for instance, receives water, and makes it wine; the flesh often receives wine, and changes it into water. Whence then is it clear that these things are formed of earth, when the nature of the earth is, according to what has been said;1 contrary to that of the body? I cannot discover by reasoning, I accept it by faith only. If then things which take place daily, and which we handle, require faith, much more do those which are more mysterious and more spiritual than these. For as the earth, which is soulless and motionless, was empowered by the will of God, and such wonders were worked in it; much more when the Spirit is present with the water, do all those things so strange and transcending reason, easily take place.

[2.] Do not then disbelieve these things, because thou seest them not; thou dost not see thy soul, and yet thou believest that thou hast a soul, and that it is a something different besides2 the body.

But Christ led him not in by this example, but by another; the instance of the soul, though it is incorporeal, He did not adduce for that reason, because His hearer’s disposition was as yet too dull. He sets before him another, which has no connection with the density of solid bodies, yet does not reach so high as to the incorporeal natures; that is, the movement of wind. He begins at first with water, which is lighter than earth, but denser than air. And as in the beginning earth was the subject material,3 but the whole4 was of Him who molded it; so also now water is the subject material, and the whole5 is of the grace of the Spirit: then, “man became a living soul,” (Gen. 2:7); now he becomes “a quickening Spirit.” But great is the difference between the two. Soul affords not life to any other than him in whom it is; Spirit not only lives, but affords life to others also. Thus, for instance, the Apostles even raised the dead. Then, man was formed last, when the creation had been accomplished; now, on the contrary, the new man is formed before the new creation; he is born first, and then the world is fashioned a new. (1 Cor. 15:45.) And as in the beginning He formed him entire, so He creates him entire now. Then He said, “Let us make for him a help” (Gen. 2:18, LXX.), but here He said nothing of the kind. What other help shall he need, who has received the gift of the Spirit? What further need of assistance has he, who belongs to6 the Body of Christ? Then He made man in the image of God, now He hath united7 him with God Himself; then He bade him rule over the fishes and beasts, now He hath exalted our first-fruits above the heavens; then He gave him a garden for his abode,8 now He hath opened heaven to us; then man was formed on the sixth day, when the world9 was almost finished; but now on the first, at the very beginning, at the time when light was made before. From all which it is plain, that the things accomplished belonged to10 another and a better life, and to a condition11 having no end.

The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of12 any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature;13 how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen14 generation15 by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments16 for that strange and marvelous Birth?17 Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, worketh all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God’s Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence may well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is A GENERATION. If any ask, “How,” stop his mouth with the declaration of God,18 which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, “Why is water included?” let us also in return ask, “Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man?” for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious.

That the need of water is absolute and indispensable,1 you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47.)

What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery.2 There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God;3 burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever;4 then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead.5 As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfilleth all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, “We are buried with Him by Baptism into death”: and again, “Our old man is crucified with Him”: and again, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death.” (Rom. 6:4, 5, 6.) And not only is Baptism called a “cross,” but the “cross” is called “Baptism.” “With the Baptism,” saith Christ, “that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized” (Mark 10:39): and, “I have a Baptism to be baptized with” (Luke 12:50) (which ye know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.

[3.] Let us then who have been deemed worthy of such mysteries show forth a life worthy of the Gift, that is, a most excellent conversation;6 and do ye who have not yet been deemed worthy, do all things that you may be so, that we may be one body, that we may be brethren. For as long as we are divided in this respect, though a man be father, or son, or brother, or aught else, he is no true kinsman, as being cut off from that relationship which is from above. What advantageth it to be bound by the ties of earthly family, if we are not joined by those of the spiritual? what profits nearness of kin on earth, if we are to be strangers in heaven? For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He hath not the same Head, he hath not the same Father, he hath not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food7 of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms’ work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other. Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? Did we remove the same pangs,8 did we come forth from the same womb? This has nothing to do with that most perfect relationship. Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city which is above. How long do we tarry over the border,9 when we ought to reclaim our ancient country? We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated,10 though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble. But God grant that none of those who hear these words experience that punishment! And this will be, if having been deemed worthy of the sacred mysteries, we build upon that foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones; for so after our departure hence we shall be able to appear in that place rich, when we leave not our riches here, but transport them to inviolable treasuries by the hands of the poor, when we lend to Christ. Many are our debts there, not of money, but of sins; let us then lend Him our riches, that we may receive pardon for our sins; for He it is that judgeth. Let us not neglect Him here when He hungereth, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. If here we give Him drink, we shall not with the rich man say, “Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my broiling11 tongue.” If here we receive Him into our house, there He will prepare many mansions for us; if we go to Him in prison, He too will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He also will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.

Let us then, as receiving great things though we give but little, still give the little that we may gain the great. While it is yet time, let us sow, that we may reap. When the winter overtakes us, when the sea is no longer navigable, we are no longer masters of this traffic. But when shall the winter be? When that great and manifest Day is at hand. Then we shall cease to sail this great and broad sea, for such the present life resembles. Now is the time of sowing, then of harvest and of gain. If a man puts not in his seed at seed time and sows in harvest, besides that he effects nothing, he will be ridiculous. But if the present is seed time, it follows that it is a time not for gathering together, but for scattering; let us then scatter, that we may gather in, and not seek to gather in now, lest we lose our harvest; for, as I said, this season summons us to sow, and spend, and lay out, not to collect and lay by. Let us not then give up the opportunity, but let us put in abundant seed, and spare none of our stores, that we may receive. them again with abundant recompense, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XVI
John 3:6-8

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

[1.] GREAT mysteries are they, of which the Only-begotten Son of God has counted us worthy; great, and such as we were not worthy of, but such as it was meet for Him to give. For if one reckon our desert, we were not only unworthy of the gift, but also liable to punishment and vengeance; but He, because He looked not to this, not only delivered us from punishment, but freely gave us a life much more bright1 than the first, introduced us into another world, made us another creature; “If any man be in Christ,” saith Paul, “he is a new creature.” (2 Cor. 5:17.) What kind of “new creature”? Hear Christ Himself declare; “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” Paradise was entrusted to us, and we were shown unworthy to dwell even there, yet He hath exalted us to heaven. In the first things we were found unfaithful, and He hath committed to us greater; we could not refrain from a single tree, and He hath provided for us the delights2 above; we kept not our place in Paradise, and He hath opened to us the doors of heaven. Well said Paul, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom. 11:33.) There is no longer a mother, or pangs, or sleep, or coming together, and embracings of bodies; henceforth all the fabric3 of our nature is framed above, of the Holy Ghost and water. The water is employed, being made the Birth to him who is born; what the womb is to the embryo, the water is to the believer; for in the water he is fashioned and formed. At first it was said, “Let the waters bring forth the creeping things that have life” (Gen. 1:20, LXX.); but from the time that the Lord entered the streams of Jordan, the water no longer gives forth the “creeping thing that hath life,” but reasonable and Spirit-bearing souls; and what has been said of the sun, that he is “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber” (Ps. 18:6), we may now rather say of the faithful, for they send forth rays far brighter than he. That which is fashioned in the womb requires time, not so that in water, but all is done in a single moment. Here our life is perishable, and takes its origin from the decay of other bodies; that which is to be born comes slowly, (for such is the nature of bodies, they acquire perfection by time,) but it is not so with spiritual things. And why? Because the things made are formed perfect from the beginning.

When Nicodemus still hearing these things was troubled, see how Christ partly opens to him the secret of this mystery, and makes that clear which was for a while obscure to him. “That which is born,” saith He, “of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” He leads him away from all the things of sense, and suffers him not vainly to pry into the mysteries revealed with his fleshly eyes; “We speak not,” saith He, “of flesh, but of Spirit, O Nicodemus,” (by this word He directs him heavenward for a while,) “seek then nothing relating to things of sense; never can the Spirit appear to those eyes, think not that the Spirit bringeth forth the flesh.” “How then,” perhaps one may ask, “was the Flesh of the Lord brought forth?” Not of the Spirit only, but of flesh; as Paul declares, when he says, “Made of a woman, made under the Law” (Gal. 4:4); for the Spirit fashioned Him not indeed out of nothing, (for what need was there then of a womb?) but from the flesh of a Virgin. How, I cannot explain unto you; yet it was done, that no one might suppose that what was born is alien to our nature. For if even when this has taken place there are some who disbelieve in such a birth, into what impiety would they not have fallen had He not partaken of the Virgin’s flesh.

“That which is born1 of the Spirit is spirit.” Seest thou the dignity of the Spirit? It appears performing the work of God; for above he said of some, that, “they were begotten of God,” (c. 1:13,) here He saith, that the Spirit begetteth them.

“That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” His meaning is of this kind; “He that is born2 of the Spirit is spiritual.” For the Birth which He speaks of here is not that according to essence,3 but according to honor and grace. Now if the Son is so born also, in what shall He be superior to men so born? And how is He, Only-begotten? For I too am born of God, though not of His Essence, and if He also is not of His Essence, how in this respect does He differ from us? Nay, He will then be found to be inferior to the Spirit; for birth of this kind is by the grace of the Spirit. Needs He then the help of the Spirit that He may continue a Son? And in what do these differ from Jewish doctrines?
Christ then having said, “He that is born of the Spirit is spirit,” when He saw him again confused, leads His discourse to an example from sense, saying,

Ver. 7, 8. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.4 The wind bloweth where it listeth.”
For by saying, “Marvel not,” He indicates the confusion of his soul, and leads him to something lighter than body. He had already led him away from fleshly things, by saying, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit”; but when Nicodemus knew not what “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” meant, He next carries him to another figure, not bringing him to the density of bodies, nor yet speaking of things purely incorporeal, (for had he heard he could not have received this,) but having found a something between what is and what is not body, namely, the motion of the wind, He brings him to that next. And He saith of it,

“Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.”

Though He saith, “it bloweth where it listeth,” He saith it not as if the wind had any power of choice, but declaring that its natural motion cannot be hindered, and is with power. For Scripture knoweth how to speak thus of things without life, as when it saith, “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly.” (Rom. 8:20.) The expression therefore, “bloweth where it listeth,” is that of one who would show that it cannot be restrained, that it is spread abroad everywhere, and that none can hinder its passing hither and thither, but that it goes abroad with great might, and none is able to turn aside its violence.

[2.] “And thou hearest its voice,”5 (that is, its rustle, its noise,) “but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Here is the conclusion of the whole matter. “If,” saith He, “thou knowest not how to explain the motion nor the path of this wind6 which thou perceivest by hearing and touch, why art thou over-anxious about the working of the Divine Spirit, when thou understandest not that of the wind, though thou hearest its voice?” The expression, “bloweth where it listeth,” is also used to establish the power of the Comforter; for if none can hold the wind, but it moveth where it listeth, much less will the laws of nature, or limits of bodily generation, or anything of the like kind, be able to restrain the operations of the Spirit.

That the expression, “thou hearest its voice,” is used respecting the wind, is clear from this circumstance; He would not, when conversing with an unbeliever and one unacquainted with the operation of the Spirit, have said, “Thou hearest its voice.” As then the wind is not visible, although it utters a sound, so neither is the birth of that which is spiritual visible to our bodily eyes; yet the wind is a body, although a very subtle one; for whatever is the object of sense is body. If then you do not complain because you cannot see this body, and do not on this account disbelieve, why do you, when you hear of “the Spirit,” hesitate and demand such exact accounts, although you act not so in the case of a body? What then doth Nicodemus? still he continues in his low Jewish opinion, and that too when so clear an example has been mentioned to him. Wherefore when he again says doubtingly,

 

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St Augustine’s Tractates on John 3:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2017

The following post contains all of St Augustine’s Tractate # 11 on Jn 2:23-3:5. It includes an excerpt from Tractate # 12 on Jn 3:6-8.

TRACTATE XI
CHAPTER 2:23–25; 3:1–5.

1. OPPORTUNELY has the Lord procured for us that this passage should occur in its order to-day: for I suppose you have observed, beloved, that we have undertaken to consider and explain the Gospel according to John in due course. Opportunely then it occurs, that to-day you should hear from the Gospel, that, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he shall not see the kingdom of God.” For it is time that we exhort you, who are still catechumens, who have believed in Christ in such wise, that you are still bearing your sins. And none shall see the kingdom of heaven while burdened with sins; for none shall reign with Christ, but he to whom they have been forgiven: but forgiven they cannot be, but to him who is born again of water and of the Holy Spirit. But let us observe all the words what they imply, that here the sluggish may find with what earnestness they must haste to put off their burden. For were they bearing some heavy load, either of stone, or of wood, or even of some gain; if they were carrying corn, or wine, or money, they would run to put off their loads: they are carrying a burden of sins, and yet are sluggish to run. You must run to put off this burden; it weighs you down, it drowns you.

2. Behold, you have heard that when our Lord Jesus Christ “was in Jerusalem at the Passover, on the feast day, many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did.” “Many believed in His name;” and what follows? “But Jesus did not trust Himself to them.” Now what does this mean, “They believed,” or trusted, “in His name;” and yet “Jesus did not trust Himself to them;”? Was it, perhaps, that they had not believed on Him, but were feigning to have believed, and that therefore Jesus did not trust Himself to them? But the evangelist would not have said, “Many believed in His name,” if he were not giving a true testimony to them. A great thing, then, it is, and a wonderful thing: men believe on Christ, and Christ trusts not Himself to men. Especially is it wonderful, since, being the Son of God, He of course suffered willingly. If He were not willing, He would never have suffered, since, had He not willed it, He had not been born; and if He had willed this only, merely to be born and not to die, He might have done even whatever He willed, because He is the almighty Son of the almighty Father. Let us prove it by facts. For when they wished to hold Him, He departed from them. The Gospel says, “And when they would have cast Him headlong from the top of the mountain, He departed from them unhurt.”1 And when they came to lay hold of Him, after He was sold by Judas the traitor, who imagined that he had it in his power to deliver up his Master and Lord, there also the Lord showed that He suffered of His own will, not of necessity. For when the Jews desired to lay hold of Him, He said to them, “Whom seek ye? But they said, Jesus of Nazareth. And said He, I am He. On hearing this saying, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”2 In this, that in answering them He threw them to the ground, He showed His power; that in His being taken by them He might show His will. It was of compassion, then, that He suffered. For “He was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.”3 Hear His own words: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again: no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself, that I may take it again.”1 Since, therefore, He had such power, since He declared it by words, showed it by deeds, what then does it mean that Jesus did not trust Himself to them, as if they would do Him some harm against His will, or would do something to Him against His will, especially seeing that they had already believed in His name? Moreover, of the same persons the evangelist says, “They believed in His name,” of whom he says, “But Jesus did not trust Himself to them.” Why? “Because He knew all men, and needed not that any should bear witness of man: for Himself knew what was in man.” The artificer knew what was in His own work better than the work knew what was in itself. The Creator of man knew what was in man, which the created man himself knew not. Do we not prove this of Peter, that he knew not what was in himself, when he said, “With Thee, even to death”? Hear that the Lord knew what was in man: “Thou with me even to death? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”2 The man, then, knew not what was in himself; but the Creator of the man knew what was in the man. Nevertheless, many believed in His name, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. What can we say, brethren? Perhaps the circumstances that follow will indicate to us what the mystery of these words is. That men had believed in Him is manifest, is true; none doubts it, the Gospel says it, the truth-speaking evangelist testifies to it. Again, that Jesus trusted not Himself to them is also manifest, and no Christian doubts it; for the Gospel says this also, and the same truth-speaking evangelist testifies to it. Why, then, is it that they believed in His name, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them? Let us see what follows.

3. “And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus by name, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Him by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi (you already know that Master is called Rabbi), we know that Thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these signs which Thou doest, except God be with him.” This Nicodemus, then, was of those who had believed in His name, as they saw the signs and prodigies which He did. For this is what he said above: “Now, when He was in Jerusalem at the passover on the feast-day, many believed in His name.” Why did they believe? He goes on to say, “Seeing His signs which He did.” And what says he of Nicodemus? “There was a ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus by name the same came to Him by night, and says to Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God.” Therefore this man also had believed in His name. And why had he believed? He goes on, “For no man can do these signs which Thou doest, except God be with him.” If, therefore, Nicodemus was of those who had believed in His name, let us now consider, in the case of this Nicodemus, why Jesus did not trust Himself to them. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Therefore to them who have been born again doth Jesus trust Himself. Behold, those men had believed on Him, and yet Jesus trusted not Himself to them. Such are all catechumens: already they believe in the name of Christ, but Jesus does not trust Himself to them. Give good heed, my beloved, and understand. If we say to a catechumen, Dost thou believe on Christ? he answers, I believe, and signs himself; already he bears the cross of Christ on his forehead, and is not ashamed of the cross of his Lord. Behold, he has believed in His name. Let us ask him, Dost thou eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink the blood of the Son of man? he knows not what we say, because Jesus has not trusted Himself to him.

4. Therefore, since Nicodemus was of that number, he came to the Lord, but came by night; and this perhaps pertains to the matter. Came to the Lord, and came by night; came to the Light, and came in the darkness. But what do they that are born again of water and of the Spirit hear from the apostle? “Ye were once darkness, but now light in the Lord; walk as children of light;”3 and again, “But we who are of the day, let us besober.”4 Therefore they who are born again were of the night, and are of the day; were darkness, and are light. Now Jesus trusts Himself to them, and they come to Jesus, not by night, like Nicodemus; not in darkness do they seek the day. For such now also profess: Jesus has come near to them, has made salvation in them; for He said, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him.”5 And as the catechumens have the sign of the cross on their forehead, they are already of the great house; but from servants let them become sons. For they are something who already belong to the great house. But when did the people Israel eat the manna? After they had passed the Red Sea. And as to what the Red Sea signifies, hear the apostle: “Moreover, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea.” To what purpose passed they through the sea? As if thou wert asking of him, he goes on to say, “And all were baptized by Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”1 Now, if the figure of the sea had such efficacy, how great will be the efficacy of the true form of baptism! If what was done in a figure brought the people, after they had crossed over, to the manna, what will Christ impart, in the verity of His baptism, to His own people, brought over through Himself? By His baptism He brings over them that believe; all their sins, the enemies as it were that pursue them, being slain, as all the Egyptians perished in that sea. Whither does He bring over, my brethren? Whither does Jesus bring over by baptism, of which Moses then showed the figure, when he brought them through the sea? Whither? To the manna. What is the manna? “I am,” saith He, “the living bread, which came down from heaven.”2 The faithful receive the manna, having now been brought through the Red Sea? Why Red Sea? Besides sea, why also “red”? That “Red Sea” signified the baptism of Christ. How is the baptism of Christ red, but as consecrated by Christ’s blood? Whither, then, does He lead those that believe and are baptized? To the manna. Behold, “manna,” I say: what the Jews, that people Israel, received, is well known, well known what God had rained on them from heaven; and yet catechumens know not what Christians receive. Let them blush, then, for their ignorance; let them pass through the Red Sea, let them eat the manna, that as they have believed in the name of Jesus, so likewise Jesus may trust Himself to them.

5. Therefore mark, my brethren, what answer this man who came to Jesus by night makes. Although he came to Jesus, yet because he came by night, he still speaks from the darkness of his own flesh. He understands not what he hears from the Lord, understands not what he hears from the Light, “which lighteth every man that cometh into this world.”3 Already hath the Lord said to him, “Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born again when he is old?” The Spirit speaks to him, and he thinks of the flesh. He thinks of his own flesh, because as yet he thinks not of Christ’s flesh. For when the Lord Jesus had said, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him,” some who followed Him were offended, and said among themselves, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” For they fancied that, in saying this, Jesus meant that they would be able to cook Him, after being cut up like a lamb, and eat Him: horrified at His words, they went back, and no more followed Him. Thus speaks the evangelist: “And the Lord Himself remained with the twelve; and they said to Him, Lo, those have left Thee. And He said, Will ye also go away?”—wishing to show them that He was necessary to them, not they necessary to Christ. Let no man fancy that he frightens Christ, when he tells Him that he is a Christian; as if Christ will be more blessed if thou be a Christian. It is a good thing for thee to be a Christian; but if thou be not, it will not be ill for Christ. Hear the voice of the psalm, “I said to the Lord, Thou art my God, since Thou hast no need of my goods.”4 For that reason, “Thou art my God, since of my goods Thou hast no need.” If thou be without God, thou wilt be less; if thou be with God, God will not be greater. Not from thee will He be greater, but thou without Him wilt be less. Grow, therefore, in Him; do not withdraw thyself, that He may, as it were, diminish. Thou wilt be renewed if thou come to Him, wilt suffer loss if thou depart from Him. He remains entire when thou comest to Him, remains entire even when thou fallest away. When, therefore, He had said to His disciples, “Will ye also go away?” Peter, that Rock, answered with the voice of all, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Pleasantly savored the Lord’s flesh in his mouth. The Lord, however, expounded to them, and said, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” After He had said, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him,” lest they should understand it carnally, He said, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing: the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and life.”5

6. This Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night, did not savor of this spirit and this life. Saith Jesus to him, “Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God.” And he, savoring of his own flesh, while as yet he savored not of the flesh of Christ in his mouth, saith, “How can a man be born a second time, when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” This man knew but one birth, that from Adam and Eve; that which is from God and the Church he knew not yet: he knew only those parents that bring forth to death, knew not yet the parents that bring forth to life; he knew but the parents that bring forth successors, knew not yet the ever-living parents that bring forth those that shall abide.
Whilst there are two births, then, he understood only one. One is of the earth, the other of heaven; one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one of mortality, the other of eternity; one of male and female, the other of God and the Church. But these two are each single; there can be no repeating the one or the other. Rightly did Nicodemus understand the birth of the flesh; so understand thou also the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus understood the birth of the flesh. What did Nicodemus understand? “Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Thus, whosoever shall tell thee to be spiritually born a second time, answer in the words of Nicodemus, “Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” I am already born of Adam, Adam cannot beget me a second time. I am already born of Christ, Christ cannot beget me again. As there is no repeating from the womb, so neither from baptism.

7. He that is born of the Catholic Church, is born, as it were, of Sarah, of the free woman; he that is born of heresy is, as it were, born of the bond woman, but of Abraham’s seed. Consider, beloved, how great a mystery. God testifies, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Were there not other patriarchs? Before these, was there not holy Noah, who alone of the whole human race, with all his house, was worthy to be delivered from the flood,—he in whom, and in his sons, the Church was prefigured? Borne by wood, they escaped the flood. Then afterwards great men whom we know, whom Holy Scriptures commends, Moses faithful in all his house.1 And yet those three are named, just as if they alone deserved well of him: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is my name for ever.”2 Sublime mystery! It is the Lord that is able to open both our mouth and your hearts, that we may speak as He has deigned to reveal, and that you may receive even as it is expedient for you.

8. The patriarchs, then, are these three, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You know that the sons of Jacob were twelve, and thence the people Israel; for Jacob himself is Israel, and the people Israel in twelve tribes pertaining to the twelve sons of Israel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob three fathers, and one people. The fathers three, as it were in the beginning of the people; three fathers in whom the people was figured: and the former people itself the present people. For in the Jewish people was figured the Christian people. There a figure, here the truth; there a shadow, here the body: as the apostle says, “Now these things happened to them in a figure.” It is the apostle’s voice: “They were written,” saith he, “for our sakes, upon whom the end of the ages is come.”3 Let your mind now recur to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the case of these three, we find that free women bear children, and that bond women bear children: we find there offspring of free women, we find there also offspring of bond women. The bond woman signifies nothing good: “Cast out the bond woman,” saith he, “and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free.” The apostle recounts this; and he says that in those two sons of Abraham was a figure of the two Testaments, the Old and the New. To the Old Testament belong the lovers of temporal things, the lovers of the world: to the New Testament belong the lovers of eternal life. Hence, that Jerusalem on earth was the shadow of the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all, which is in heaven; and these are the apostle’s words.4 And of that city from which we are absent on our sojourn, you know much, you have now heard much. But we find a wonderful thing in these births, in these fruits of the womb, in these generations of free and bond women: namely, four sorts of men; in which four sorts is completed the figure of the future Christian people, so that what was said in the case of those three patriarchs is not surprising, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” For in the case of all Christians, observe, brethren, either good men are born of evil men, or evil men of good; or good men of good, or evil men of evil: more than these four sorts you cannot find. These things I will again repeat: Give heed, keep them, excite your hearts, be not dull; take in, lest ye be taken, how of all Christians there are four sorts. Either of the good are born good, or of the evil, are born evil; or of the good are born evil, or of the evil good. I think it is plain. Of the good, good; if they who baptize are good, and also they who are baptized rightly believe, and are rightly numbered among the members of Christ. Of the evil, evil; if they who baptize are evil, and they who are baptized approach God with a double heart, and do not observe the morals which they hear urged in the Church, so as not to be chaff, but grain, there. How many such there are, you know, beloved. Of the evil, good; sometimes an adulterer baptizes, and be that is baptized is justified. Of the good, evil; sometimes they who baptize are holy, they who are baptized do not desire to keep the way of God.

9. I suppose, brethren, that this is known in the Church, and that what we are saying is manifest by daily examples; but let us consider these things in the case of our fathers before us, how they also had these four kinds. Of the good, good; Ananias baptized Paul. How of the evil, evil? The apostle declares that there were certain preachers of the gospel, who, he says, did not use to preach the gospel with a pure motive, whom, however, he tolerates in the Christian society, saying, “What then, notwithstanding every way, whether by occasion or in truth, Christ is preached, and in this I rejoice.”1 Was he therefore malevolent, and did he rejoice in another’s evil? No, but rejoiced because through evil men the truth was preached, and by the mouths of evil men Christ was preached. If these men baptized any persons like themselves, evil men baptized evil men: if they baptized such as the Lord admonishes, when He says, “Whatsoever they bid you, do; but do not ye after their works,”2 they were evil men that were baptizing good. Good men baptized evil men, as Simon the sorcerer was baptized by Philip, a holy man.3 Therefore these four sorts, my brethren, are known. See, I repeat them again, hold them, count them, think upon them; guard against what is evil; keep what is good. Good men are born of good, when holy men are baptized by holy; evil men are born of evil, when both they that baptize and they that are baptized live unrighteously and ungodly; good men are born of evil, when they are evil that baptize, and they good that are baptized; evil men are born of good, when they are good that baptize, and they evil that are baptized.

10. How do we find this in these three names, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? We hold the bond women among the evil, and the free women among the good. Free women bear the good; Sarah bare Isaac: bond women bear the evil; Hagar bare Ishmael. We have in the case of Abraham alone the two sorts, both when the good are of the good, and also when the evil are of the evil. But where have we evil of good figured? Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, was a free woman: read, She bare twins; one was good, the other evil. Thou hast the Scripture openly declaring by the voice of God, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”4 Rebecca bare those two, Jacob and Esau: one of them is chosen, the other is reprobated; one succeeds to the inheritance, the other is disinherited. God does not make His people of Esau, but makes it of Jacob. The seed is one, those conceived are dissimilar: the womb is one, those born of it are diverse. Was not the free woman that bare Jacob, the same free woman that bare Esau? They strove in the mother’s womb; and when they strove there, it was said to Rebecca, “Two peoples are in thy womb.” Two men, two peoples; a good people, and a bad people: but yet they strive in one womb. How many evil men there are in the Church! And one womb carries them until they are separated in the end: and the good cry out against the evil, and the evil in turn cry out against the good, and both strive together in the bowels of one mother. Will they be always together? There is a going forth to the light in the end; the birth which is here figured in a mystery is declared; and it will then appear that “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

11. Accordingly we have now found, brethren, of the good, good—of the free woman, Isaac; and of the evil, evil—of the bond woman, Ishmael; and of the good, evil—of Rebecca, Esau: where shall we find of the evil, good? There remains Jacob, that the completion of these four sorts may be concluded in the three patriarchs. Jacob had for wives free women, he had also bond women: the free bear children, as do also the bond, and thus come the twelve sons of Israel. If you count them all, of whom they were born, they were not all of the free women, nor all of the bond women; but yet they were all of one seed. What, then, my brethren? Did not they who were born of the bond women possess the land of promise together with their brethren? We have there found good sons of Jacob born of bond women, and good sons of Jacob born of free women. Their birth of the wombs of bond women was nothing against them, when they knew their seed in the father, and consequently they held the kingdom with their brethren. Therefore, as in the case of Jacob’s sons, that they were born of bond women did not hinder their holding the kingdom, and receiving the land of promise on an equality with their brothers; their birth of bond women did not hinder them, but the father’s seed prevailed: so, whoever are baptized by evil men, appear as if born of bond women; nevertheless, because they are of the seed of the Word of God, which is figured in Jacob, let them not be cast down, they shall possess the inheritance with their brethren. Therefore, let him who is born of the good seed be without fear; only let him not imitate the bond woman, if he is born of a bond woman. Do not thou imitate the evil, proud, bond woman. For how came the sons of Jacob, that were born of bond women, to possess the land of promise with their brethren, whilst Ishmael, born of a bond woman, was cast out from the inheritance? How, but because he was proud, they were humble? He proudly reared his neck, and wished to seduce his brother while he was playing with him.

12. A great mystery is there. They were playing together, Ishmael and Isaac: Sarah sees them playing, and says to Abraham, “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” And when Abraham was sorrowful, the Lord confirmed to him the saying of his wife. Now here is evidently a mystery, that the event was somehow pregnant with something future. She sees them playing, and says, “Cast out the bond woman and her son.” What is this, brethren? For what evil had Ishmael done to the boy Isaac, in playing with him? That playing was a mocking; that playing signified deception. Now attend, beloved, to this great mystery. The apostle calls it persecution; that playing, that play, he calls persecution: for he says, “But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also now;” that is, they that are born after the flesh persecute them that are born after the Spirit. Who are born after the flesh? Lovers of the world, lovers of this life. Who are born after the Spirit? Lovers of the kingdom of heaven, lovers of Christ, men that long for eternal life, that worship God freely. They play, and the apostle calls it persecution. For after he said these words, “And as then be that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also now;” the apostle went on, and showed of what persecution, he was speaking: “But what says the Scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”1 We search where the Scripture says this, to see whether any persecution on Ishmael’s part against Isaac preceded this; and we find that this was said by Sarah when she saw the boys playing together. The playing which Scripture says that Sarah saw, the apostle calls persecution. Hence, they who seduce you by playing, persecute you the more. “Come,” say they, “Come, be baptized here, here is true baptism for thee.” Do not play, there is one true baptism; that other is play: thou wilt be seduced, and that will be a grievous persecution to thee. It were better for thee to make Ishmael a present of the kingdom; but Ishmael will not have it, for he means to play. Keep thou thy father’s inheritance, and hear this: “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”

13. These men, too, dare to say that they are wont to suffer persecution from catholic kings, or from catholic princes. What persecution do they bear? Affliction of body: yet if at times they have suffered, and how they suffered, let themselves know, and settle it with their consciences; still they suffered only affliction of body: the persecution which they cause is more grievous. Beware when Ishmael wishes to play with Isaac, when he fawns on thee, when he offers another baptism: answer him, I have baptism already. For if this baptism is true, he who would give thee another would be mocking thee. Beware of the persecution of the soul. For though the party of Donatus has at times suffered somewhat at the hands of catholic princes, it was a bodily suffering, not the suffering of spiritual deception. Hear and see in the very facts of Old Testament history all the signs and indications of things to come. Sarah is found to have afflicted her maid Hagar: Sarah is free. After her maid began to be proud, Sarah complained to Abraham, and said, “Cast out the bond woman;” she has lifted her neck against me. His wife complains of Abraham, as if it were his doing. But Abraham, who was not bound to the maid by lust, but by the duty of begetting children, inasmuch as Sarah had given her to him to have offspring by her, says to her: “Behold, she is thy handmaid; do unto her as thou wilt.” And Sarah grievously afflicted her, and she fled from her face. See, the free woman afflicted the bond woman, and the apostle does not call that a persecution; the slave plays with his master, and he calls it persecution: this afflicting is not called persecution; that playing is. How does it appear to you, brethren? Do you not understand what is signified? Thus, then, when God wills to stir up powers against heretics, against schismatics, against those that scatter the Church, that blow on Christ as if they abhorred Him, that blaspheme baptism, let them not wonder; because God stirs them up, that Hagar may be beaten by Sarah. Let Hagar know herself, and yield her neck: for when, after being humiliated, she departed from her mistress, an angel met her, and said to her, “What is the matter with thee, Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid?” When she complained of her mistress, what did she hear from the angel? “Return to thy mistress.”1 It is for this that she is afflicted, that she may return; and would that she may return, for her offspring, just like the sons of Jacob, will obtain the inheritance with their brethren.

14. But they wonder that Christian powers are roused against detestable scatterers of the Church. Should they not be moved, then? How otherwise should they give an account of their rule to God? Observe, beloved, what I say, that it concerns Christian kings of this world to wish their mother the Church, of which they have been spiritually born, to have peace in their times. We read Daniel’s visions and prophetical histories. The three children praised the Lord in the fire: King Nebuchadnezzar wondered at the children praising God, and at the fire around them doing them no harm: and whilst he wondered, what did King Nebuchadnezzar say, he who was neither a Jew nor circumcised, who had set up his own image and compelled all men to adore it; but, impressed by the praises of the three children when he saw the majesty of God present in the fire what said he? “And I will publish a decree to all tribes and tongues in the whole earth.” What sort of decree? “Whosoever shall speak blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut off, and their houses shall be made a ruin.”2 See how an alien king acts with raging indignation that the God of Israel might not be blasphemed, because He was able to deliver the three children from the fire: and yet they would not have Christian kings to act with severity when Christ is contemptuously rejected, by whom not three children, but the whole world, with these very kings, is delivered from the fire of hell! For those three children, my brethren, were delivered from temporal fire. Is He not the same God who was the God of the Maccabees and the God of the three children? The latter He delivered from the fire; the former did in body perish in the torments of fire, but in mind they remained steadfast in the ordinances of the law. The latter were openly delivered, the former were crowned in secret.3 It is a greater thing to be delivered from the flame of hell than from the furnace of a human power. If, then, Nebuchadnezzar praised and extolled and gave glory to God because He delivered three children from the fire, and gave such glory as to send forth a decree throughout his kingdom, “Whosoever shall speak blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut off, and their houses shall be brought to ruin,” how should not these kings be moved, who observe, not three children delivered from the flame, but their very selves delivered from hell, when they see Christ, by whom they have been delivered, contemptuously spurned in Christians, when they hear it said to a Christian, “Say that thou art not a Christian”? Men are willing to do such deeds, but they do not wish to suffer, at all events, such punishments.

15. For see what they do and what they suffer. They slay souls, they suffer in body: they cause everlasting deaths, and yet they complain that they themselves suffer temporal deaths. And yet what deaths do they suffer? They allege to us some martyrs of theirs in persecution. See, Marculus was hurled headlong from a rock; see, Donatus of Bagaia was thrown into a well. When have the Roman authorities decreed such punishments as casting men down rocks? But what do those of our party reply? What was done I know not; what, however, do ours tell? That they lung themselves headlong and cast the infamy of it upon the authorities. Let us call to mind the custom of the Roman authorities, and see to whom we are to give credit. Our men declare that those men cast themselves down headlong. If they are not the very disciples of those men, who now cast themselves down precipices, while no man persecutes them, let us not credit the allegation of our men: what wonder if those men did what these are wont to do? The Roman authorities never did employ such punishments: for had they not the power to put them to death openly? But those men, while they wished to be honored when dead, found not a death to make them more famous. In short, whatever the fact was, I do not know. And even if thou hast suffered corporal affliction, O party of Donatus, at the hand of the Catholic Church, as an Hagar thou hast suffered it at the hand of Sarah; “return to thy mistress.” A point which it was indeed necessary to discuss has detained us somewhat too long to be at all able to expound the whole text of the Gospel Lesson. Let this suffice you in the meantime, beloved brethren, lest, by speaking of other matters, what has been spoken might be shut out from your hearts. Hold fast these things, declare such things; and while yourselves are inflamed, go your way thither, and set on fire them that are cold.

TRACTATE 12 (Excerpt)
Chapter 3:6-8

1. WE observe, beloved, that the intimation with which we yesterday excited your attention has brought you together with more alacrity, and in greater number than usual; but meanwhile let us, if you please, pay our debt of a discourse on the Gospel Lesson, which comes in due course. You shall then hear, beloved, as well what we have already effected concerning the peace of the Church, and what we hope yet further to accomplish. For the present, then, let the whole attention of your hearts be given to the gospel; let none be thinking of anything else. For if he who attends to it wholly apprehends with difficulty, must not he who divides himself by diverse thoughts let go what he has received? Moreover, you remember, beloved, that on the last Lord’s day, as the Lord deigned to help us, we discoursed of spiritual regeneration. That lesson we have caused to be read to you again, so that what was then left unspoken, we may now, by the aid of your prayers in the name of Christ, fulfill.

2. Spiritual regeneration is one, just as the generation of the flesh is one. And Nicodemus said the truth when he said to the Lord that a man cannot, when he is old, return again into his mother’s womb and be born. He indeed said that a man cannot do this when he is old, as if he could do it even were he an infant. But be he fresh from the womb, or now in years, he cannot possibly return again into the mother’s bowels and be born. But just as for the birth of the flesh, the bowels of woman avail to bring forth the child only once, so for the spiritual birth the bowels of the Church avail that a man be baptized only once. Therefore, in case one should say, “Well, but this man was born in heresy, and this in schism:” all that was cut away, if you remember what was debated to you about our three fathers, of whom God willed to be called the God, not that they were thus alone but because in them alone the figure of the future people was made up in its completeness. For we find one born of a bond woman disinherited, one born of a free woman made heir: again, we find one born of a free woman disinherited, one born of a bond woman made heir. Ishmael, born of a bond woman, disinherited; Isaac, born of a free woman, made heir: Esau, born of a free woman, disinherited; the sons of Jacob, born of bond women, made heirs. Thus, in these three fathers the figure of the whole future people is seen: and not without reason God saith, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this,” saith He, “is my name for ever.”1 Rather let us remember what was promised to Abraham himself: for this was promised to Isaac, and also to Jacob. What do we find? “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.”2 At that time the one man believed what as yet he saw not: men now see, and are blinded. What was promised to the one man is fulfilled in the nations; and they who will not see what is already fulfilled, are separating themselves from the communion of the nations. But what avails it them that they will not see? See they do, whether they will or no; the open truth strikes against their closed eyes.

3. It was in answer to Nicodemus, who was of them that had believed on Jesus, that it was said, And Jesus did not trust Himself to them. To certain men, indeed, He did not trust Himself, though they had already believed on Him. Thus it is written, “Many believed in His name, seeing the signs which He did. But Jesus did not trust Himself to them. For He needed not that any should testify of man; for Himself knew what was in man.” Behold, they already believed on Jesus, and yet Jesus did not trust Himself to them. Why? because they were not yet born again of water and of the Spirit. From this have we exhorted and do exhort our brethren the catechumens. For if you ask them, they have already believed in Jesus; but because they have not yet received His flesh and blood, Jesus has not yet trusted Himself to them. What must they do that Jesus may trust Himself to them? They must be born again of water and of the Spirit; the Church that is in travail with them must bring them forth. They have been conceived; they must be brought forth to the light: they have breasts to be nourished at; let them not fear lest, being born, they may be smothered; let them not depart from the mother’s breasts.

4. No man can return into his mother’s bowels and be born again. But some one is born of a bond woman? Well, did they who were born of bond women at the former time, return into the wombs of the free to be born anew? The seed of Abraham was in Ishmael also; but that Abraham might have a son of the bond maid, it was at the advice of his wife. The child was of the husband’s seed, not of the womb, but at the sole pleasure of the wife. Was his birth of a bond woman the reason why he was disinherited? Then, if he was disinherited because he was the son of a bond woman, no sons of bond women would be admitted to the inheritance. The sons of Jacob were admitted to the inheritance; but Ishmael was put out of it, not because born of a bond woman, but because he was proud to his mother, proud to his mother’s son; for his mother was Sarah rather than Hagar. The one gave her womb, the other’s will was added: Abraham would not have done what Sarah willed not: therefore was he Sarah’s son rather. But because he was proud to his brother, proud in playing, that is, in mocking him; what said Sarah? “Cast out the bond woman and her son; for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”1 It was not, therefore, the bowels of the bond woman that caused his rejection, but the slave’s neck. For the free-born is a slave if he is proud, and, what is worse, the slave of a bad mistress, of pride itself. Thus, my brethren, answer the man, that a man cannot be born a second time; answer fearlessly, that a man cannot be born a second time. Whatever is done a second time is mockery, whatever is done a second time is play. It is Ishmael playing, let him be cast out. For Sarah observed them playing, saith the Scripture, and said to Abraham, “Cast out the bond woman and her son.” The playing of the boys displeased Sarah. She saw something strange in their play. Do not they who have sons like to see them playing? She saw and disapproved it. Something or other she saw in their play; she saw mockery in it, observed the pride of the slave; she was displeased with it, and she cast him out. The children of bond women, when wicked, are cast out; and the child of the free woman, when an Esau, is cast out. Let none, therefore, presume on his birth of good parents; let none presume on his being baptized by holy men. Let him that is baptized by holy men still beware lest he be not a Jacob, but an Esau. This would I say then, brethren, it is better to be baptized by men that seek their own and love the world, which is what the name of bond woman imports, and to be spiritually seeking the inheritance of Christ, so as to be as it were a son of Jacob by a bond woman, than to be baptized by holy men and to become proud, so as to be an Esau to be cast out, though born of a free woman. Hold ye this fast, brethren. We are not coaxing you, let none of your hope be in us; we flatter neither ourselves nor you; every man bears his own burden. It is our duty to speak, that we be not judged unhappily: yours to hear, and that with the heart, lest what we give be required of you; nay, that when it is required, it may be found a gain, not a loss.

5. The Lord says to Nicodemus, and explains to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Thou, says He, understandest a carnal generation, when thou sayest, Can a man return into his mother’s bowels? The birth for the kingdom of God must be of water and of the Spirit. If one is born to the temporal inheritance of a human father, be he born of the bowels of a carnal mother; if one is born to the everlasting inheritance of God as his Father, be he born of the bowels of the Church. A father, as one that will die, begets a son by his wife to succeed him; but God begets of the Church sons, not to succeed Him, but to abide with Himself. And He goes on: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We are born spiritually then, and in spirit we are born by the word and sacrament. The Spirit is present that we may be born; the Spirit is invisibly present whereof thou art born, for thou too must be invisibly born. For He goes on to say: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth.” None sees the Spirit; and how do we hear the Spirit’s voice? There sounds a psalm, it is the Spirit’s voice; the gospel sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice; the divine word sounds, it is the Spirit’s voice. “Thou hearest its voice, and knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” But if thou art born of the Spirit, thou too shalt be so, that one who is not born of the Spirit knows not, as for thee, whence thou comest, or whither thou goest. For He said, as He went on, “So is also every one that is born of the Spirit.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 20:19-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2017

19 Now when it was late the same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them: Peace be to you.

 “Late that same day,” not at night time, but in the evening of Resurrection day, “the first of the week,” after the disciples had, in the evening, returned from Emmaus. There is reference to the same apparition, as in Luke 24:26; Mark 16:14.

And the doors were shut … for fear of the Jews.” Our Lord’s disciples still timorous and terrified at the cruel treatment inflicted by the Jews on their Divine Master, were in dread of similar treatment themselves. Hence, “the doors” of the apartment in which they were assembled, “were shut,” as a security against attack.

Jesus came,” entered the apartment, in virtue of the gift of subtility appertaining to His glorified body, “and stood in their midst, and said to them. Peace be to you.” This was a form of salutation common among the Jews, implying the plenitude of all benedictions, temporal and spiritual. It was meant here, to inspire the disciples with confidence and consolation, in their present depressed and dejected condition.

20 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

He showed them His hands and His side,” as a proof of His identity. The traces and marks of the wounds in His sacred body, would show He was the same whose hands and side were perforated on the cross. Whether they touched His hands and feet, is disputed.

The disciples, therefore, were glad.” Joy succeeded sadness, “when they saw the Lord,” and had no doubts of His identity. He now fulfils the promise made them on a former occasion, that “He would again see them, and their sorrow would be turned into joy” (16:22).

21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.

 “He said, therefore, to them again. Peace be to you.” Now being convinced that it was the Lord, they were, therefore, somewhat confused and disturbed at their inconstancy and want of firm faith. Hence, compassionating their weakness, He removes their uneasiness, and addresses them in words of consolation, giving them His peace; thus, remitting their own sins, receiving them back into favour, and preparing them for the great spiritual gift of remitting the sins of others. Also, about to send them into the entire world, He communicates His peace, which they were to impart to a world of unrest and sin.

As the Father hath sent Me,” to redeem mankind, to sanctify and save them. He was thus constituted by His Father, an Apostle, which means, “one sent”—St. Paul terms Him (Heb. 3:1), “the Apostle of our Confession”—“I also send you,” thus constituting them His Apostles and vicars, with full power to apply the merits of His Redemption, by preaching His Gospel including the precepts of faith and morals, by instituting in His name, or at least, inculcating the necessity of, the Sacraments. They were also to edify the world by the example of good and holy lives. In a word, He sends them to perfect the work of Redemption, achieved by Him, at such sacrifices, privations, and sufferings, including even the ignominious death of the cross; and communicates to them, all the authority in its fulness that the Father gave Him. The parallelism is remarkable in all the words. “The Father” (who is God), “I” (who also am God), “sent,” “send” (with the fulness and plenitude of authority), “Me,” “you.”

Catholic Tradition enables us to specify what amount of the authority here communicated, in regard to the remission of sin, was reserved for the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles to the consummation of ages; and what amount for the priests, to whom also was communicated the radical power of remitting sin, with some limitations, as to its actual exercise. The word, “as,” does not express full equality; as if the Apostles received the same amount of authority, and in the same way, as He received from His Father; but, only similarity, in many respects.

22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

Breathed on them.” This breathing on the Apostles was an exterior sign of His communicating of the Holy Ghost which He was about giving them—a Spirit who proceeds from the Father and Him. This breathing denotes, that as God, in the original creation, breathed into man the soul, which was the principle of natural life; so, the same God, now in the second creation and regeneration of man, breathes into him the Holy Spirit, who is the principle of spiritual and everlasting life.

Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” It is quite clear He now actually imparts to them His Holy Spirit. It was, however, for a certain purpose, and in reference to a certain special gift, viz., the remission of sins, the only means for securing peace and reconciliation to sinful man. This gift, although given by the Father also, is attributed by appropriation to our Lord, who died for sin and specially merited this power. The full abundance of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the working of miracles, the gift of tongues, etc., etc., was reserved for the day of Pentecost, and not publicly given, until after He ascended to the Father, as He Himself declared (16:7). But here, although the Apostles had previously received the Holy Ghost in the gift of sanctifying grace, a special gift was granted which they had not before, viz., the power to remit sin, after He Himself had paid a full ransom for sin, on the tree of the cross. It was a partial concession at present of the gifts given in their plenitude on Pentecost; just as the Apostles had previously, in receiving sanctifying grace, received the Holy Ghost. This was not publicly given, with great external show and display, as on the day of Pentecost. The power to remit sin belonged to God only, who was offended by sin. But this power is communicated by Him to the Apostles. Hence, in receiving it, they are said to “receive the Holy Ghost.”

23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.” The power here given, as to the number or quality of sins is universal and without exception. All depends, so far as its efficacious exercise is concerned, on the dispositions and qualities of the subject, as is clear from the words, “whose sins,” etc. It is also clear, that they to whom this power is given, to the end of time, do actually remit sin and, not declare them remitted, as the Innovators teach. They remit on earth; and the sins thus remitted by a subordinate, delegated, ministerial exercise of power, are remitted by the sovereign power of God, in the High Court of Heaven. Similar are the words, “Whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven” (Matthew 17:18).

Similar is the power given to Peter (Matthew 16:19). “Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

And whose sins you shall retain,” when in the exercise of judicial discretion, you declare the subjects unfit for absolution, undeserving of receiving pardon from God, from want of proper dispositions, wanting contrition, wanting in a sincere desire to make reparation, and the other required conditions.

This two-fold power of remitting and retaining, which was not to be exercised capriciously, but with a just discretion, considering the merits of each case, shows the necessity of the confession of all sins; otherwise the party exercising would not know the case. Many grievous sins are occult—there are also sins of wicked thoughts. Neither could the dispositions of the sinner be known, save from his own confession. Hence, the necessity of a full and distinct confession of sins for the just exercise of the power here granted by our Lord to His Church (see Matthew 3:6, Commentary).

The Council of Trent defines, that the words of this verse are to be understood of the power of remitting and retaining sins in the Sacrament of Penance, as the Catholic Church always understood from the beginning; and anathematizes any one who, denying this, would wrest them, contrary to the institution of this Sacrament, to the authority of preaching the Gospel. (SS. xiv. Canon iii.)

They also condemn any one who, confounding the Sacraments, shall say that Baptism itself is the Sacrament of Penance, as if these two Sacraments were not distinct. (SS. xiv. Canon 2).

Thomas was absent when this power was given (v. 24). Some, however, maintain, that although absent, being a member of the Apostolic College, the gifts bestowed on his colleagues, as a body, were communicated to him; just as of old, the spirit of prophecy given through Moses to the Seventy of the Ancients of Israel, was given to Eldad and Medad, who were numbered among them, although absent when the gift of prophecy was given to the Seventy (Numbers 11:27).

Others, considering Thomas’s incredulity at the time, hold that this power of forgiving sins, etc., was given him after he made a full profession of faith (v. 28).

From Catholic Tradition we learn that the words, “receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins,” etc., were confined, from among those present, to the Apostles, to whom He addressed the words, “as the living Father sent Me,” etc. From the words thus understood, is proved the Sacrament of Penance and the necessity of confession (as above). The words also prove, that confession of sins with the absolution of the Priests, is the only ordinary means for the remission of sins; otherwise, it would not be true to say, “whose sins you shall retain,” etc. I say, ordinary; because, from other passages of Sacred Scripture, we know that perfect contrition, including perfect love of God, remits sin. But this contrition including the love of God involves a resolution to observe God’s commandments. Now, one of God’s commandments is, to have recourse, when convenient, to the Priests of the Church for absolution and remission of sin. On the observance of this precept, when practicable, the remission of sins, by means of contrition, is dependent and conditional. To it is it subordinate. (See Treatises on Theology, passim).

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

Thomas, one of the twelve.” He says, “one of the twelve,” although the Apostolic College was now reduced to eleven, because “twelve” was the original number, just as in the case of the “Decemvirs,” they would be thus termed, although only nine out of the ten were present on a particular occasion.

Who is called Didymus.” “Didymus” is not a sirname, but, only a Greek rendering of the term, “Thomas,” which, in Hebrew, means what Didymus signifies, in Greek, that is to say, “twin,” probably, because he was one of two who were born at the same birth.

Some Commentators seem to think Thomas was present; because, St. Luke (24:33), informs us, that when the disciples returned from Emmaus, they found “the eleven gathered together” where our Lord appeared to them. But, as the Apostolic College went by the name of “the eleven,” after our Lord’s death, they might be called “the eleven,” even if any of them were absent on any particular occasion. The words of this verse very clearly state that Thomas was absent on this occasion. It may be, he did not return after the flight of the Apostles at our Lord’s Passion; or, he may have gone out on some business, and be absent when our Lord appeared. Possibly, the account given by the disciples, who returned that evening from Emmaus, may have been too much for his incredulity; and he may, becoming impatient at their recital, have left the chamber.

25 The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Our Lord, as we learn from St. Luke (24:40), showed them His feet also. Hence, not only His hands were each perforated with a rough nail; but, His feet also—“foderunt manus meas et pedes meos.” Whether two distinct nails were used for His feet, a nail for each, or only one for both feet, is disputed. In this is displayed the obstinate incredulity of Thomas.

Our Lord mercifully permitted this hesitation on the part of Thomas, in order to strengthen our faith, and remove all doubt on our part, “Plus enim nobis Thomœ infidelitas ad fidem, quam fides credentium discipulorum profuit. Quia, dum ille ad fidem palpando reducitur, nostra mens omni dubitatione posthabita, in fide solidatur”—(St. Gregory, Homil. in Evangel. 26).

26 And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said: Peace be to you.

The disciples were within.” It is disputed whether this took place in the same room at Jerusalem, where He appeared before, or in Galilee, whither He ordered them to repair. (Matthew 28) It seems more likely, that it occurred at Jerusalem, as the Apostles, who were well known, and would be closely watched by the persecuting Jews, would hardly venture much out at this time, while the memory of recent events was still fresh in men’s minds. Moreover, the uniformity of narrative in regard to this and the preceding apparition would indicate the same place. There was no reason for assembling with closed doors in Galilee. The eighth day was selected, as likely having been assembled on the preceding Sabbath, they did not depart all at once. Our Lord wished to appear when they were together, so that in bestowing the faith on Thomas, He could confirm the faith of all the rest.

27 Then he said to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither and see my hands. And bring hither the hand and put it into my side. And be not faithless, but believing.

Then He saith to Thomas,” specially addressing Him, whose infidelity he came to cure. He employs the language of doubt used by Thomas, thereby showing His Divinity and Omniscience, conveying to him, that, although absent when Thomas used the language of unbelief, He still knew what he said. Hence, with merciful condescension, He said to him: as you would not believe unless you saw the prints of the nails in My hands, etc., thus irreverently dictating to Me what proof of My Resurrection I was to adduce, as if I could not bring home conviction by the sole act of My will; come now, do what you said, and, by touching Me, “see My hands,” etc.

We cannot but admire the wonderful love and condescension of our Lord in coming to bring about the conversion of His unbelieving Apostle. It is likely, though others think He durst not do it, that Thomas did actually touch our Lord’s hands and feet, which, although now glorified, were, by divine dispensation, made sensible to the sense of touch. “See My hands,” etc. The sense of seeing is made to comprise all the other senses.

And be not faithless, but believing,” as if He said, thou didst say that unless thou hadst seen My perforated hands and side, thou wouldst not believe. Now, thou hast seen them; I have done My part, by exhibiting My wounds for your inspection, with the merciful design of curing thy blindness and unbelief. Do thou, therefore, thy part; give up thy incredulity, and become a sincere believer.

St. Thomas, it is thought, was guilty of the sin of disbelieving our Lord’s Resurrection. As regards His Divinity, he would seem to have very unsettled and hazy notions. He was guilty of pride, obstinacy and self-conceit, from which his sin of incredulity sprang.

28 Thomas answered and said to him: My Lord and my God.

Thomas”—addressing our Lord—“said to Him, My Lord,” etc. This short incisive sentence, clearly expresses Thomas’s earnestness. It was a clear confession, on the part of Thomas, of our Lord’s humanity, through which He accomplished Redemption, and thus became, by purchase, Thomas’s “Lord” and Master; and of His Divinity, “my God.” In these words, Thomas acknowledges our Lord to be Man and God, and, that not only did He rise again, but raised Himself up by His own power.

The attempt on the part of some to evade the force of these words, which, in their plain and literal import, clearly denote faith in our Lord’s Divinity and humanity; by saying they were a mere exclamation, “O, My God,” as the Pagans used to exclaim, “Mi Hercle,” etc., is more deserving of ridicule than refutation, as Patrizzi (in hunc locum) observes.

The language is addressed to our Lord Himself. “Thomas … said to Him,” without reproof from our Lord, who, far from reproving him for this irreverent exclamation, as He would have done were it so; on the contrary, commends His faith, of which these words are the only expression on record.

Moreover, it would have been a shocking profanity on the part of Thomas—a thing held in horror by the Jews—to invoke the name of God, so inconsiderately. These words are, therefore, an expression of faith on the part of St. Thomas, in our Lord’s Divinity, accepted and commended by our Lord as such.

29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and have believed.

Because thou hast seen Me … thou hast believed.” Our Lord clearly commends the faith of Thomas, who, having seen the proofs of His Resurrection, aided by God’s grace, believed in His invisible Divinity, and also believed in what he did not see. viz., that His Resurrection was brought about by His own Divine power. This followed from his believing Him to be his “God.” Our Lord does not reprimand Thomas’s faith, but accepts it. Hence, He accepts his profession, that He was Himself God by nature, and not by participation. He was his “Lord” in right of Redemption, thus indicating His human nature. His “God,” in whom the Divine nature and all the Divine attributes were essentially resplendent.

The words, “thou hast believed,” may be understood of faith in our Lord’s Resurrection. Thomas did not believe in our Lord’s Resurrection, until he had the testimony of the senses and his own experience in proof of it. But, then, having experimental knowledge of the fact, he believed in it, not on account of his knowledge; but, on account of the authority of God revealing it. For His Resurrection proved Him to be God. Our Lord had frequently predicted His own Resurrection. The truth of this Revelation at once dawned on Thomas, and aided by Divine grace, he believed in our Lord’s Resurrection. He believed in His Divinity and Humanity, believed in all He revealed and disclosed. While our Lord commends the faith of Thomas, He tacitly reproaches him for his mode of believing, for his tardiness, and for not simply confiding in the narrative of the other Apostles, who declared they saw Him. In contrast with the obstinate tardiness of Thomas, He praises the simple faith of the others.

Blessed are they that have not seen.” Under the past, by a Hebrew idiom, often used by the prophets in expressing future events in a past form, is, as if they had actually occurred, included the present, and not the Apostles alone, but, all future believers, such as are referred to, who have not seen.”

Blessed,” is used in a comparative sense, a thing, by no means unusual in Scriptures—more blessed. For, Thomas himself was “blessed,” in his faith, “credidisti,” which faith our Lord commends.

The faith of these simple believers referred to by our Lord, is deserving of higher commendation, who, without waiting for the argument of experience and demonstration, as a motive of credibility, accept the proposed truths at once on competent authority propounding them.

30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

Many other signs,” etc. Some understood these words of all the miracles performed by our Lord both during His mortal life and after His Resurrection, of which this is a brief epitome. Others, more probably understand those of the miracles He wrought after His Resurrection in presence of His disciples, in order to confirm their faith in His Resurrection, the foundation of all Christian faith. The miracles performed during His missionary life were performed in presence of others, as well as “in the sight of His disciples.” “Which are not written in the book;” these are recorded partly by the other Apostles. Hence, it is not necessary to repeat them here; as those already recorded are sufficient to prove His Resurrection.

31 But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.

But these,” viz., the things recorded in this Gospel, “are written,” not only that you may have a record of them, but also, and chiefly, “that you may believe, that Jesus.” the man so called, whose history I have written, “is the Christ,” the promised Messias, “the (natural) Son of God;” and, therefore, consubstantial, and of the same identical Divine nature, with His Father.

And that (thus) believing, you may have life,” the supernatural life of grace here, and the eternal life of glory, hereafter. “In His name,” through His merits and the redemption wrought by Him. To prove our Lord’s Divinity was the whole scope and end St. John had in view in writing this Gospel. With this theme he commenced, and now with the same he almost concludes his Gospel. He also had in view, as he says here, to bring conviction and faith to the minds of all; and thus to secure for them, life eternal. This design is strictly adhered to throughout the entire Gospel. The record of the miraculous works, arguments and discourses of our Blessed Lord had this clearly in view throughout.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 20:24-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2017

The following is excerpted from St John’s 87th Homily on the Gospel of St John.
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands1—I will not believe.”
[1.] AS to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, “We have seen the Lord”; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he saith not, “I do not believe you,” but, “Except I put my hand—I do not believe.” But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when thou seest the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and cometh in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, “Except I see,” but, “Except I handle,” he saith, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.

And why doth He not appear to him straight way, instead of “after eight days”?3 (Ver. 26.) In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others’, but record them with great veracity.

Jesus again presenteth himself to them, and waiteth not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spake those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,

Ver. 26. “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side”; He added,

“And be not faithless, but believing.”

Seest thou that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.

And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,

Ver. 28. “My Lord, and my God,” He saith,
Ver. 29. “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1.) And here He pronounceth blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. “Yet;” saith some one, “the disciples saw and believed.” Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, “I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles,” let them reflect, that, “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density1; but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose2 bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eateth. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, “We, who did eat and drink with Him.” (Acts 10:41.) As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore3 corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.

Ver. 30. “And many other signs truly did Jesus.”

[2.] Since this Evangelist hath mentioned fewer than the others, he tells us that neither have all the others mentioned them all, but as many as were sufficient to draw the hearers to belief. For, “If,” it saith, “they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books.” (c. 21:25.) Whence it is clear, that what they have mentioned they wrote not for display, but only for the sake of what was useful. For how could they who omitted the greater part, write these others4 for display? But why went they not through them all? Chiefly on account of their number; besides, they also considered, that he who believed not those they had mentioned, would not give heed to a greater number; while he who received these, would have no need of another in order to believe. And here too he seems to me to be for the time speaking of the miracles after the Resurrection. Wherefore He saith,

“In the presence of His disciples.”5

For as before the Resurrection it was necessary that many should be done, in order that they might believe that He was the Son of God, so was it also after the Resurrection, in order that they might admit that He had arisen. For another reason also he has added, “In the presence of His disciples,” because He conversed with them alone after the Resurrection; wherefore also He said, “The world seeth Me no more.” (c. 14:19.) Then, in order that thou mayest understand that what was done was done only for the sake of the disciples, he added,

Ver. 31. “That believing ye might have life in His Name.”6

Speaking generally to mankind, and showing that not on Him who is believed on, but on ourselves, he bestows a very great favor. “In His Name,” that is, “through Him”; for He is the Life.

[3.] Perhaps when ye heard these things, ye glowed, and called those happy who were then with Him, and those who shall be with Him at the day of the general Resurrection. Let us then use every exertion that we may see that admirable Face. For if when now we hear we so burn, and desire to have been in those days which He spent upon earth, and to have heard His Voice, and seen His face, and to have approached, and touched, and ministered unto Him; consider how great a thing it is to see Him no longer in a mortal body, nor doing human actions, but with a body guard of Angels, being ourselves also in a form of unmixed purity, and beholding Him, and enjoying the rest of that bliss which passes all language. Wherefore, I entreat, let us use every means, so as not to miss such glory. For nothing is difficult if we be willing, nothing burdensome if we give heed. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” (2 Tim. 2:12.) What then is, “If we endure”? If we bear tribulations, if persecutions, if we walk in the strait way. For the strait way is by its nature laborious, but by our will it is rendered light, from the hope of things to come. “For our present light affliction worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen.” (2 Cor. 4:17, 18.) Let us then transfer our eyes to heaven, and continually imagine “those” things, and behold them. For if we always spend our time with them, we shall not be moved to desire the pleasures of this world, nor find it hard to bear its sorrows; but we shall laugh at these and the like, and nothing will be able to enslave or lift us up, if only we direct our longing thither,10 and look to that love.11 And why say I that we shall not grieve at present troubles? We shall henceforth not even appear to see them. Such a thing is strong desire.12 Those, for instance, who are not at present with us, but being absent are loved, we image every day. For mighty is the sovereignty of love,1 it alienates the soul from all things else, and chains to the desired object. If thus we love Christ, all things here will seem to be a shadow, an image, a dream. We too shall say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress?” (Rom. 8:35.) He said not, “money, or wealth, or beauty,” (these are very mean and contemptible,) but he hath put the things which seem to be grievous, famines, persecutions, deaths. He then spat on these even, as being nought; but we for the sake of money separate ourselves from our life, and cut ourselves off from the light. And Paul indeed prefers “neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature,” to the love which is towards Him; but we, if we see a little portion of gold, are fired, and trample on His laws. And if these things are intolerable when spoken of, much more are they so when done.2 For the terrible thing is this, that we shudder to hear, but do not shudder to do: we swear readily, and perjure ourselves, and plunder, and exact usury, care nothing for sobriety, desist from exactness in prayer, transgress most of the commandments, and for the sake of money make no account of our own members.3 For he that loves wealth will work ten thousand mischiefs to his neighbor, and to himself as well. He will easily be angry with him, and revile him, and call him fool, and swear and perjure himself, and does not4 even preserve the measures of the old law. For he that loves gold will not love his neighbor; yet we, for the Kingdom’s sake, are bidden to love even our enemies. Now if by fulfilling the old commandments, we shall not be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven, unless our righteousness exceed and go beyond them, when we transgress even these, what excuse shall we obtain? He that loves money, not only will not love his enemies, but will even treat his friends as enemies.
[4.] But why speak I of friends? the lovers of money have often ignored nature itself. Such a one knows not kindred, remembers not companionship, reverences not age, has no friend, but will be ill-disposed towards all, and above all others to himself, not only by destroying his soul, but by racking himself with ten thousand cares, and toils, and sorrows. For he will endure foreign travels, hatreds, dangers, plots, anything whatever, only that he may have in his house the root of all evil, and may count much gold. What then can be more grievous than this disease? It is void of any luxury or pleasure, for the sake of which men often sin, it is void of honor or glory. For the lover of money suspects that he has tens of thousands, and really has many, who accuse, and envy, and slander, and plot against him. Those whom he has wronged hate him as having been ill-used; those who have not yet suffered, fearing least they may suffer, and sympathizing with those who have, manifest the same hostility; while the greater and more powerful, being stung and indignant on account of the humbler sort, and at the same time also envying him, are his enemies and haters. And why speak I of men? For when one hath God also made his enemy, what hope shall there then be for him? what consolation? what comfort? He that loves riches will5 never be able to use them; he will be their slave and keeper, not their master. For, being ever anxious to make them more, he will never be willing to spend them; but he will cut short himself, and be in poorer state than any poor man, as nowhere stopping in his desire. Yet riches are made not that we should keep, but that we should use them; but if we are going to bury them for others, what can be more miserable than we, who run about desiring to get together the possessions of all men,6 that we may shut them up within, and cut them off from common use? But there is another malady not less than this. Some men bury their money in the earth, others in their bellies, and in pleasure and drunkenness; together with injustice adding to themselves the punishment of wantonness. Some minister with their substance to parasites and flatterers, others to dice and harlots, others to different expenses of the same kind, cutting out for themselves ten thousand roads that lead to hell, but leaving the right and sanctioned road which leads to heaven. And yet it hath not greater gain only, but greater pleasure than the things we have mentioned. For he who gives to harlots is ridiculous and shameful, and will have many quarrels, and brief pleasure; or rather, not even brief, because, give what he will to the women his mistresses, they will not thank him for it; for, “The house of a stranger is a cask with holes.” (Prov. 23:27, LXX.) Besides, that sort of persons is impudent,7 and Solomon hath compared their love to the grave; and then only do they stop, when they see their lover stripped of all. Or rather, such a woman doth not stop even then, but tricks herself out the more, and tramples on him when he is down, and excites much laughter against him, and works him so much mischief, as it is not possible even to describe by words. Not such is the pleasure of the saved; for neither hath any one there a rival, but all rejoice and are glad, both they that receive blessings, and they that look on. No anger, no despondency, no shame, no disgrace, besiege the soul of such a one, but great is the gladness of his conscience, and great his hope of things to come; bright his glory, and great his distinction; and more than all is the favor and safety which is from God, and not one precipice, nor suspicion, but a waveless harbor, and calm. Considering therefore all these things, and comparing pleasure with pleasure, let us choose the better,1 that we may obtain the good things to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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