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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 26:14-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

14. “Then,” may have no reference whatever to time, and may simply mean, that on account of this tacit reproach, addressed to him by our Redeemer, while defending the act of the woman, and seeing all hopes of securing the price of the precious ointment baffled, Judas, out of a spirit of revenge, and blinded by avarice, resolved to betray Him. Or, if “then” refers to time, it has reference to what is recorded (v. 3), the intermediate account of the anointing of our Saviour’s feet, being merely parenthetically introduced.

One of the twelve,” shows the magnitude of his guilt and ingratitude, since it was not even one of the seventy-two disciples; but, one of His constant companions, a member of His own family, whom He destined to be one of the future pillars of His Church. This circumstance, however, rendered him a fit instrument for betraying our Lord, as being well acquainted with His domestic habits, His going out and coming in.

Who was called Judas Iscariot.” He mentions his name, “Judas,” to save the character of the other Apostles. “Iscariot,” to distinguish him from Jude, the author of the Catholic Epistle (John 14:22).

Went,” spontaneously, of his own accord; “the devil having entered into him” (Luke 22:3), instigating him, and acting on his blind passions and perverted will, urged him on to this mad act. St. John more clearly expresses it (13:2), “the devil put it into the heart of Judas … to betray Him.”

To the Chief Priests,” to which St. Luke adds, “and to the magistrates” (22:4). This refers to the meeting mentioned (v. 3). Very likely, he went into Jerusalem, on Wednesday morning, under pretext of some business, and hearing of the assembly of the High Priests, &c. (v. 3), he conjectured what the cause of their meeting was, for, he knew that “the Pharisees and High Priests gave a command, that if any one knew where our Lord was, he should tell, in order that they might apprehend Him” (John 11:56).

15. “And he said to them,” &c. It is most likely, that Judas, before making the base offer of betraying his Master, made some charge against Him, in order to palliate his own treachery, and to make it appear that he was himself trustworthy, such as allowing Himself the luxury of having His head and feet anointed, to which he may have added other charges, not recorded by the Evangelists.

What will you give me?” &c. These words are interpreted by some (among the rest, St. Jerome), to convey, that Judas regarded our Redeemer of such little value, as to leave it to themselves to give what they pleased; that he would receive any price for Him. Others understand the words to mean, that Judas wished to know, if they meant to give a suitable, a sufficiently large price for Him; and, that he would betray Him, if they meant to compensate him as was fit for them to do. “The wretch,” says St. Jerome, “wished to indemnify himself for the loss of the price of the ointment, by the price of his Master.” He is so blinded by avarice, that he merely bargains for the money, regardless of how they would afterwards treat his Master. So blinded, that he forgets every feeling of humanity, gratitude, friendship; nay, the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus, of which he had already witnessed so many proofs. “They appointed him,” which some understand to mean, measured out to him, actually gave him. Others, more probably; they promised to give, they covenanted with him for, “thirty pieces of silver.” There is a diversity of opinion as to the precise value of this sum. It is, however, generally maintained, that whenever there is mention of αργυριον (argenteus, Vulgate) in the New Testament, it means, the Jewish silver sicle, which was equivalent to the Greek stater, and was equal to two didrachmas, or four Attic drachmas. Hence (Exodus 21:32), for “thirty sicles of silver,” according to the Hebrew reading, the Septuagint have, “thirty didrachmas of silver,” the price of a slave among the Jews (Exodus 21:32). The value of a “silver piece,” or sicle, was something about 2s. 6d. of our money. Hence, the price set on our Redeemer was something under £3, 15s, of our money, the price of n common slave. This sum, though small, was still, considering the increased value of money in these early days, sufficient to purchase the potter’s field (27:7). It is probable, this field was in a most wretched condition, the best part of the soil having been taken away from it. Moreover, its extent is not stated in SS. Scripture, nor is it said, that this sum was exclusively appropriated to the purchase.

16. “From thenceforth”—this happened on Wednesday morning—“he sought an opportunity,” both as to time and place, “to betray Him” into the hands of His enemies. Instigated by the spirit of avarice, he watched our Redeemer, when, on the following (Thursday) night, he proceeded to the garden of Gethsemani, and there found the desired opportunity of privately betraying Him, and thus securing the price of innocent blood. Base ingratitude of Judas; yet, how often may not we have sold the Son of God, not once, but hundreds of times, and handed Him over to the devil, not for even thirty crowns, but for a base, brutal passion. Hence, when contemplating the perfidy of Judas, and viewing with horror all its circumstances, we may justly apply to ourselves the words of Nathan to David, “Thou art the man” (2 Kings 12:7). For, we are assured by the Holy Ghost, that as often as we commit mortal sin, which does not so much as gain us thirty pieces of silver, “we crucify again the Son of God, and make a mockery of Him.” (Heb. 6) How frequently should we not exclaim from the bottom of our hearts, and in a truly penitential spirit, “Miserere mei Deus,” &c. “Tibi soli peccavi … peccatum meum contra me est semper.”

17. “And on the first day of Azymes,” that is, of unleavened bread, which commenced with the Paschal solemnity, viz., on the evening of the 14th Nisan. On that evening, they should eat the Paschal lamb with unleavened bread (Exod. 12:8). On that evening commenced the feast of unleavened bread, called also the Feast of the Pasch, which continued seven days. The 14th Nisan is called the first day of Azymes, because the Feast of Azymes, or the Pasch, which was celebrated on the 15th Nisan, commenced, according to the Jewish computation of festivals, from sunset to sunset, on the previous evening of the 14th. Hence, the first day of the Feast of Azymes, or Pasch, may be said to be the 14th or 15th Nisan; for, it commenced at sunset of the 14th, and ended at the sunset of the 15th. The feast continued for seven days.

But, as our Lord sent His two disciples into Jerusalem, to prepare the Pasch at an earlier date than that on which the festival of the following day commenced, a question may arise, how could it be said that, at the hour they were sent in, it was the first day of Azymes? The answer commonly given is, that the Jews, as may be seen from their records, were wont to clear their houses of all leaven, early on the 14th, in preparation for the festival; the 14th was, therefore, popularly termed the first day of Azymes, as all leaven was entirely removed from their houses, from an early part of the day.

The disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where,” &c. There is some difference between the narration of St. Luke and that of St. Matthew. The most probable way of reconciling both is, that our Redeemer first, put His disciples in mind, as St. Luke relates (22:8), of preparing for the coming Pasch; and that they, then, asked Him, as is given by the three Evangelists. “Where wilt Thou, that we prepare for Thee to eat the Pasch?

The disciples came to Jesus,” after having been sent for. St. Mark (14:13) says, “two of His disciples;” and these, St. Luke (22:8) says, were “Peter and John.”

Where,” that is, in what house; for, Jerusalem alone was appointed by law (Deut. 16:5, 6, 7), to be the place to which all the Jews should resort for celebrating the Paschal solemnity.

Wilt Thou we prepare for Thee the Pasch?” According to some writers, not the Priests alone, but those also who were deputed by the heads of a family, as Peter and John were deputed here (Luke 22:8) by our Lord, were allowed to sacrifice the Paschal lamb at home, to roast it and prepare it for consumption. For this, these writers quote the authority of Philo. Others, more probably, maintain, with Patrizzi (de Evangeliis) that the Priests alone could receive the blood of the victims, and, with it, sprinkle the rim of the altar.

18. “Go ye into the city”—hence, He was by this time at Bethania—“to a certain man.” He points out the man without naming him, on account of the presence of Judas, lest he might prematurely, or in any unseemly way, interrupt the solemnity of the Last Supper. Both St. Mark (14) and St. Luke (22) give a more particular account of the man in question, or rather, of the circumstances, that distinguished him from any other. On entering the city, they were to meet a man carrying a pitcher of water; they should follow him into the house he was to enter, and there addressing the master of the house, who was clearly different from the man carrying the water, they were to address him in these words: “The Master saith, My time is at hand,” My time for leaving this world, and, after redeeming mankind, and leaving them the most affecting proof of My love, to return to My Father.

I will keep the Pasch,” &c. This He adds, to let him know the number, thirteen, for whom he was to provide suitable accommodation. It is generally supposed, that this man was one of our Saviour’s followers. The word “Master,” a common designation of our Lord among His followers, would seem to confirm this opinion. There is a tradition, that this was the house of John Mark, the companion of St. Paul and Barnabas, in preaching the Gospel. There, the Apostles lay concealed after our Redeemer’s death. There, He appeared to them on the evening of His resurrection. There, they received the Holy Ghost on Pentecost Sunday. Thither, St. Peter repaired after his liberation by the Angel. Some are of opinion, that our Redeemer had previously arranged with him, to celebrate the Pasch in his house. Others seem to think, that there was no such previous arrangement, but that, as our Lord had exerted His power, and shown His dominion in the case of the owner of the ass and the colt, who at once gave them up; so, here also, without any previous concert, and, in order to confirm the faith of His Apostles, He wishes to show His power and authority in influencing the mind of the householder to comply with His wishes.

It seems, that this man made becoming preparation for them, for, “he had a large dining-room furnished.” The Greek—ανωγεων—would imply, in the upper part of the house. This was prepared, either in consequence of a previous understanding with our Redeemer; or, having it prepared already, for some other party, he placed it at once at the service of our Lord.

19. The disciples, viz., Peter and John—his most confidential and intimate friends among the Apostles—went “and prepared the Pasch,” that is, got ready everything necessary for eating the Paschal lamb. They had the lamb itself, a male of one year, without blemish, duly sacrificed and prepared, through the intervention of the Priests, who received the blood of the lamb between the two evenings, sprinkled the altar with it, and placed the victim on the altar, and then returned it to the families who offered it. That this was the rite of sacrifice, we are informed by Josephus (De Bello, Lib. 6, c. 1), who tells us, that, in reply to the question of Cestius, regarding the number of Jews who assembled at Jerusalem, the Priests, in order to determine this exactly, as ten persons should partake of each lamb, told precisely the number of lambs sacrificed, which they could not do, unless the lambs were prepared, and the sacerdotal services performed at the stated hour. The Apostles also got ready unleavened bread, and wild lettuces. After the sacrificing of the Paschal lamb, the Jews could not have leaven in their houses for seven days. The use of unleavened bread continued from the evening of the 14th Nisan till the evening of the 21st of the same month (Exod. 12:18).

20. “Now when it was evening,” after sunset. The lamb was immolated between the third hour of the day and sunset, but not eaten till after sunset. The Hebrew in Exodus (12:6) Ben-arbaiim, which St. Jerome translates, “ad vesperam,” “in the evening,” or rather, “towards evening,” signifies, between the two evenings, that is, between the ninth hour, or three o’clock of our day, when the sun begins to decline, and sunset. This time was set apart for sacrificing the Paschal lamb, which corresponds with the hour at which the true Paschal Lamb was sacrificed (Matt. 27:46). After sunset, “when it was evening;” or, as St. Luke has it (22:14), “when the hour was come, He sat down to eat it with His twelve disciples.” They constituted His family, who were to eat the Paschal lamb with Him. It is insinuated, that all were present, not excepting the traitor, Judas. We are informed by Philo (Lib. de Sacrif. Cain and Abel), that the Jewish Pasch was partaken of by men in a standing posture. The law, however, does not command this, although it implies it (Exod. 12:11). The words of St. Matthew, “He sat down,” merely convey, that He partook of food, without determining the posture, in which He did so, whether standing or reclining.

Possibly, our Redeemer might have partaken of the Paschal lamb in a standing posture. Others maintain, that He had partaken of the Jewish supper, and other viands, served up on that occasion, in a reclining posture. This is held by St. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others (John 13:4).

In describing banquets in our day, we commonly say, a man sat down to dinner, accommodating ourselves to the ordinary forms of expression, although, in that particular instance, He might have been standing, while partaking of it. Calmet (in hunc locum) says, the Jews of his day, eat the Pasch in a sitting posture; perhaps, because they regarded a standing posture commanded in Exodus (12:1) as appertaining only to the first occasion of the institution of the Pasch by Moses. St. Hilary is the only one among the Fathers, who denies that Judas was present. That he was, is clear from Matthew 26:21; Mark 14:18; Luke 22:21; John 13:11, 26, 30.

21. St. Luke (22:21), says, these words were used by our Redeemer, not before, as here, but after, the institution of the adorable Eucharist. And this seems more likely, as our Redeemer would hardly have disturbed the minds of His Apostles before preparing for this solemn supper, by the announcement recorded here. Hence, St. Matthew records the matter here by anticipation. Others, however (St. Augustine, &c.), say, that our Redeemer twice alluded to His betrayal, before the Last Supper, and after it. He alluded to it in a very general way before the Last Supper, not naming the traitor. Then the Apostles, having asked who it was, He, still in a very indefinite way, describes him to be the party who dipped his hand in the dish with Him (v. 23). This, however, is intended more to show the close intimacy existing, and the consequent aggravated guilt of the traitor, than to determine the person. After that, He institutes the Eucharist, and then declares, the traitor was with Him at the table (Luke 22:21; John 13:21). Then, St. Peter beckoned to St. John, who was reclining on our Redeemer’s breast, to ask who it was; and it was told him in reply, that it was the person to whom He would give bread dipped (John 13:26); after which, Judas left to consummate his wickedness.

Amen I say to you.” He premises a solemn asseveration, as the matter seemed so incredible. “One of you,” My chosen friends, whom I have thus honoured and exalted, “will betray Me.” He often before predicted, that He would be delivered to the Gentiles, &c.; but, it is only now He predicts by whom this was to be done. And this He does, to show them, that He was fully conscious of all that was to happen, and that He was freely to undergo death. He did not expressly name Judas, in order, by this consideration for his feelings, to incline him to repent for the wicked deed he meditated—to teach us, how to act towards occult sinners—and, also, lest the Apostles might lay violent hands on him, in vindicating the honour of their Master.

22. They were very much terrified, from a consciousness of their own weakness, however, and a dread of the secret judgments of God, although not conscious to themselves of any wicked design against their Divine Master, whose assurance, they could not call in question.

23. The same is given (Mark 14:20). Our Redeemer still refrains from naming him; and He mentions the circumstance of great intimacy and familiarity, to aggravate the guilt and ingratitude of the party. The mention of “his hand” is very significant, as if to say, the hand that is in the dish with Me, the same it is, that shall betray Me. It may be, that in the word, “dish,” we have the container for the thing contained, so that the words would mean: the man who uses the same food and table with Me, he it is that is to betray Me. This is conformable to the words of the Psalmist (40:10), “qui edebat panes meos,” &c. (Mark 14:18; Luke 22:21.) Hence, in this answer, our Redeemer does not say, who is, or who is not to betray Him. He only repeats His former assertion, adding a circumstance implying great familiarity, calculated to aggravate and heighten the guilt of the traitor.

24. Meekness having failed, He now has recourse to threats of punishment, in order to incline him to repentance. “The Son of man goeth,” that is, leaving the world, He “goeth” to death, of His own free will, and returns to His Father, in accordance with the predictions of the Prophets and the determined decree of Heaven (Luke 22:22). But, although immense advantage shall accrue to the human race from My death, and great glory to My Father, still, “woe,” eternal torture shall be the fate of the wretch “by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed.” He is not, on that account, to be reputed guiltless. Although the human race may profit by it; still, it were better for him, that he were never born, than be tortured for all eternity.

25. The traitor, fearing discovery from his silence, also asked, with the others, and in terms of greater respect, “Is it I, Rabbi?” while the others addressed Him, as “Lord.” The holy Fathers here express their amazement at the cool effrontery of Judas. It does not seem likely, that he asked our Redeemer separately from the others, after He said (verse 23), “he that dippeth his hand,” &c., as the account given here by St. Matthew would seem to indicate; for, otherwise, the Apostles could have clearly seen he was the party alluded to, but, that he asked the question with the others (verse 22). Others, however, are of opinion that Judas asked this question, after our Redeemer intimated to St. John, who it was, by giving him the morsel of bread.

He saith: Thou hast said it”—a mild form of saying: Yes, thou art the man. This is also the signification the words bear when addressed to Caiphas (verse 64), whilst St. Mark says, “I am He” (14:62). It is most likely, that our Lord said this, in so low a tone of voice, as to escape the notice of the other Apostles, who were thrown into confusion by the announcement (verse 21). For, we find, that even after our Lord had given a definite sign to St. John, and told Judas, “quod facis, fac citius” (John 13:27); still, they did not understand what was meant (28, 29).

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 26:14-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

14. Then went one of the twelve.] δ. The traitor. The first gospel first determines the person of the traitor; secondly, it records his compact with the enemies; thirdly, it tells of the subsequent state of his mind.

[1] The traitor is Judas Iscariot [10:4], who is called by all evangelists one of the twelve, probably in order to emphasize the sad contrast between his state and his sin [Chrys.]. Moreover, the gospels describe the internal state of the traitor: according to Jn. 6:71 he had ceased to be a true believer about a year before his treason, after the Eucharistic discourse of our Lord; the hope to enrich himself by stealing from the common purse [Jn. 12:6] had kept him thus long in the company of Jesus and his apostles. At the supper in Bethany he murmured against the action of Mary, because the alms which he ostensibly desired to give to the poor did not pass through his hands and afford him the occasion of a new theft. That this was the final occasion for his defection follows from the unchronological order of the supper in the first gospel [against Schegg and Wichelhaus], and the connection the evangelist establishes between the departure of Judas to the chief priests by means of the particle “then”; for it follows from what has been said about the time of the supper that “then” is no mere adverb of time in this passage. Though Strauss, Meyer, etc. see an inexplicable contradiction between Jn. 13:27 on the one hand and Mt. 26:14 and Lk. 22:3 on the other, it must be kept in mind that the fourth gospel speaks already in 13:2 of Judas’ yielding to the snares of the enemy, so that it tells implicitly what the other gospels state explicitly. In any case, the traitor went to the chief priests after their council against Jesus, because his offer changed their manner of proceeding.

[2] The contract. Though any member of the Synagogue not believing in the Messiasship of Jesus was obliged to deliver Jesus into the hands of his enemies, if he could conveniently do so [Jn. 11:56], Judas’ avarice shut his eyes to this duty. Far from acting through any love of Jesus, or any desire of advancing his Messianic claims, as some modern writers have believed, Judas has not even the merit of a blind religious fanatic. The chief priests on their part “appointed” [Vulg. Theoph. Bisp. Arn. Fil.]. or “weighed out” [Schanz, P. Keil, Weiss] for him thirty silver shekels, or $17–20.00 in our money. The idea of weighing in the foregoing verb alludes to Zach. 11:12, which prophecy is fulfilled in the present event; the verb was used on account of the ancient custom of weighing the money instead of counting it, and was retained even when coined money had been introduced. The sum itself was the common price of a slave, whether bought in the market [Lightfoot, Schöttgen, Wetstein, in l.], or paid for by way of restitution [Ex. 21:32]. Mk. 14:11 and Lk. 22:5 show that payment was not then made to Judas. According to Lk. 22:6, Judas had the meanness to give his express assent to the offer of the chief priests.

[3] The subsequent state of Judas’ mind is that required for a continuous act of treason and false friendship. Without assuming that he foresaw or intended all the consequences of his treason, he remained permanently in the condition implied by the question, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” This is a fit conclusion to the history of the preparation of the enemies for the passion of Jesus, since it describes the state of Christ’s enemies in all ages.

17. And on the first day of the Azymes.] b.] Preparation of the disciples for the passion. This section contains first an introduction, vv. 17–20; secondly, the prediction of the betrayal, vv. 21–25; thirdly, the institution of the Holy Eucharist, vv. 26–29; fourthly, the prediction of the scandal and of the denial, vv. 30–35.

a. Introduction. This contains first the question of the disciples, v. 17; secondly, the answer of Jesus, v. 18; thirdly, the subsequent action of the disciples, v. 19; fourthly, the action of our Lord and his disciples, v. 20.

[1] The question of the disciples. [a] The literal meaning of this verse does not give us much difficulty. According to Ex. 22:6, the paschal lamb must be immolated on the fourteenth day of the first month [Nisan], and v. 18 of the same chapter enjoins that azymes must be eaten from the evening of the fourteenth to that of the twenty-first day of Nisan. Lev. 23:5 states in the same manner that the Passover of the Lord is on the evening of the fourteenth day, and the solemnity of the Azymes on the fifteenth; unleavened bread must be eaten for seven days, and the first day is to be especially solemn and sacred, so that no servile work must be done on it. Similar injunctions are contained in Num. 28:16–18. According to these texts it would appear that the fifteenth day is the first day of Azymes; but since unleavened bread had to be eaten with the paschal lamb, and since all leaven had to be removed from the houses after noon on the fourteenth, this day was called the first day of Azymes [Jos. Antiq. II. xv. 1; III. x. 5]. According to Lk. 22:8 it is our Lord who gives first the command to Peter and John to go and prepare the pasch; the question of the disciples follows the words of Jesus.

[b] That the pasch must be taken in its usual sense of paschal lamb is clear from the words of the evangelists [Mt. 26:19; Mk. 14:12, 16; Lk. 22:13], of the two disciples [Mt. 26:17; Mk. 14:12; Lk. 22:13], and of our Lord himself [Mt. 26:18; Mk. 14:14; Lk. 22:8, 11, 15], who agree in calling it “the pasch” without any qualification; the owner of the supper-room in Jerusalem understands it in the same manner as the three synoptists imply. Besides, the first day of Azymes [Mt. 26:17], or the fourteenth day of Nisan, was the day on which the paschal lamb was eaten, so that Jesus cannot have referred to a paschal supper different from the legal one. That the first day of Azymes cannot be taken as the thirteenth day of Nisan, or signify “before the first day of Azymes,” follows from the third gospel [Lk. 22:7], wherein the day of Azymes is determined by the clause “on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed”; for this was legally done on the fourteenth. Again, it follows from the second gospel [Mk. 14:12] that the Jews did not postpone their pasch to the fifteenth day of Nisan in the year of our Lord’s death, since it determines the first day of Azymes as that “on which they sacrifice their pasch.”

[c] The opinion of the Fathers on the question we are now considering may be reduced to certain heads: Apollinaris, Clement of Alexandria, and Hippolytus, fragments of whose writings are preserved in the Chronicon Paschale [cf. ed. Dindorf, t. i. p. 13 ff.], contend that our Lord did not celebrate a paschal supper in the last year of his life, but that he suffered on the fourteenth day of Nisan. We have seen that the gospels do not allow us to deny the celebration of the paschal supper in the last year of Christ’s life. The foregoing writers impugned the Judaizing Quartodecimans, and in their zeal to abolish the celebration of the Jewish paschal supper in the Christian community, they exceeded the bounds of truth, while the very existence of their adversaries attests and ancient tradition in the church that Jesus had eaten the pasch on the fourteenth day of Nisan. This error on the part of the orthodox champions must have arisen from the principle that Jesus is our true pasch, stated by St. Paul [1 Cor. 5:7], and repeated by St. Justin [c. Tryph. c. 40, 111] and St. Irenæus [adv. hær. iv. 10; cf. II. xxii. 3]. But as it does not follow from this that our Lord died in the temple where the paschal lamb was immolated, so it does not follow that he died precisely on the day when the immolation of the Jewish pasch happened. But even the temporal coincidence of the eating of the pasch and the death of Jesus may be admitted; for since the pasch was eaten after sunset on the fourteenth day, according to Jewish computation it fell in the beginning of the fifteenth day, towards the end of which our Lord died. Tertullian [adv. Jud. c. 8] could therefore maintain that Jesus died on the first day of Azymes, since his Jewish adversaries were accustomed to begin their fifteenth day with the evening of the fourteenth, on which unleavened bread was eaten with the pasch. This computation of the day, together with the foregoing statement of St. Paul, gave rise to the orthodox Quartodecimans in Asia Minor, who celebrated the commemoration of our Lord’s death on the fourteenth day of Nisan [Epiph. hær. 50, 1, 2; Theodoret.]. The statement of Julius Africanus [M. 10, 89], Ps. Chrys. [M. 59, 747], the Chron. pasch. [M. 92, 537, 541], and of certain other writers [ibid. 536, 537, 1133, qu. 55] is explained in the same manner. Chrys. [in Jo. hom. lxxxiii. 3; in Mat. hom. lxxxiv. al. lxxxv. 2], Epiph. [hær. li. 26], and all the Latin writers [Hilarian. Chronograph. Petr. Damian etc.] that place the death of Jesus on the fourteenth of the month, are really in favor of assigning the crucifixion to the fifteenth; for the Latins call the fourteenth the day of the Full Moon, which according to the Hebrew calculation falls on the fifteenth [Petav. doctr. temp. l. v. c. 16; cf. patr. de evgg. diss. 59; Knab. etc.]. While, therefore, a number of Fathers plainly assert that Jesus ate the supper on the fourteenth and died on the fifteenth day of Nisan; and others, “a priori,” as it were, defend against the Judaizing Quartodecimans that Jesus must have died on the fourteenth; and others again, according to the Jewish manner of computation, begin the day on which Jesus died on the evening of our fourteenth; and still others, following the Roman manner of nomenclature, called the Jewish fifteenth day of the month the fourteenth,—there may be some few who were induced by the apparent doctrine of the fourth gospel to place the day of our Lord’s death on the day on which the Jews ate their pasch [cf. Lact. epit. div. instit. c. 45]. But the authority of these is practically obliterated by that of the foregoing classes.

[d] If we consult the opinion of commentators on the question, we find four principal classes of opinions: First, a number of rationalistic and Protestant writers contend that no harmony between the fourth and the first three gospels is possible: Bretschneider, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Schenkel, etc. follow the synoptic gospels in placing the paschal supper on the fourteenth and the death of our Lord on the fifteenth day of Nisan, while Lücke, Bleek, Meyer, Hase, Ewald, Schleiermacher, Weiss, Beyschlag, Delitzsch, Orelli, Godet, pretend to follow the fourth gospel by placing our Lord’s death on the fourteenth day of Nisan.

Secondly, the other extreme is defended by Lightfoot, Bengel, Kayser, etc. who contend that the supper recorded by Jn. 13 ff. is wholly distinct from that called the pasch by the synoptists; this is not only improbable from an exegetical point of view, but does not even escape the main difficulty, because in Jn. 18:28 the Jews do not wish to enter Pilate’s house for fear of legal uncleanness and consequent impossibility to eat the pasch.

Thirdly, the record of the synoptic gospels must be brought into agreement with the fourth gospel, so that Jesus died on the day on which the Jews ate the pasch: this day is the fourteenth of Nisan, and the supper, which was not the regular pasch, took place on the thirteenth [Calmet, Lang, Erasm. Kuinoel, Winer, Alford, Weizsäcker, Pfleiderer, Grotius, Caspari, Sepp, Lamy, Fouard, Sidney Smith [cf. The Month, March, 1891, p. 377]; or the supper was the real pasch, but happened on the thirteenth, while Jesus died on the fourteenth day of the month [Arn. Schanz, Mansel, Aberle; cf. Tübinger, Quartalschr. 1863, pp. 84 ff.]; or again, the supper was the real pasch and happened on the fourteenth day of Nisan, while the Jews for some reason or other transferred their paschal supper to the fifteenth [Jans. Mald. Petav. Calv. Sealig. Knab. Cornely, Grimm, Ebrard, Milligan; cf. Contemporary Review, 1868, nn. 8, 11]. This last opinion coincides with that we are now defending, excepting the translation of the Jewish paschal supper to the fifteenth day of Nisan which, we shall see, is not required by the fourth gospel.

The fourth opinion harmonizes the fourth gospel with the synoptists, so that the paschal supper falls on the fourteenth day of Nisan, and the death of our Lord on the fifteenth [Schegg, Lichtenstein, patr. Langeu, Tholuck, Hengstenb. Hofmann, Lange, Luthardt, Wieseler, Tolet. Fil. Keil, Corluy, Nösgen, etc.]. The testimony of the synoptists and the patristic view of the matter have already been considered. It only remains to state its agreement with the fourth gospel and with the festal regulations of the Jews.

[e] The fourth gospel favors the opinion that Jesus ate the paschal supper on the fourteenth of Nisan, and died on the fifteenth. For according to Jn. 13:1 the supper was held “before the festival day of the pasch,” i. e. not on the festival day of the pasch [12:1], but on the first day of Azymes; even those who do not admit such a distinction between the festival day and the first day of Azymes must grant that after his residence of many years among Gentiles, and for the sake of his Gentile readers, St. John did not compute his days according to the Hebrew manner of reckoning, so that he expressed the first day of Azymes, and not the thirteenth day of Nisan, by his day “before the festival day of the pasch.”

This is confirmed by an occurrence during the supper [13:29]: When Judas left the supper-room, the disciples believed that he went out to buy the necessaries for the feast; now if the supper took place on the evening of the thirteenth according to our manner of reckoning, why should Judas buy in the night the necessaries for the second day after that time, i. e. for the feast that fell on the fifteenth? To give this passage a reasonable meaning, the feast must have occurred the day after the supper according to our manner of speaking, so that the supper took place on the evening of the fourteenth.

St. John adds a third expression which forces us to place the supper on the fourteenth [18:28]: When the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate, they went not into the hall “that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch.” The reader knows that this event happened the morning after the paschal supper celebrated by Jesus and his apostles; but the words show that it must have taken place on the morning of the fifteenth day of Nisan. Therefore the paschal supper had been eaten by our Lord on the evening of the fourteenth. But how can we show that this happened on the morning of the fifteenth? The Jews feared to contract a legal impurity that would prevent them from eating the pasch, i. e. from eating either the paschal lamb on the evening of the fourteenth or the offerings called also Chagigah, which were also eaten during the course of the fifteenth [cf. Deut. 16:1, 2; 2 Par. 35:7; 30:22; Mischna, Pesachim, vi. 4; Thesaur. Ugolini, t. ix. pp. 948, 949; Lightfoot, Hor. hebr. in Mt. 26; etc.]. Now the legal impurity they would have contracted by entering Pilate’s house could not have prevented them from eating the paschal lamb, since this was eaten in the evening, after the impurity had ceased [cf. Lev. 15:5 f.; 19 f.; Maimonides, Pesachim, vi. 1]. Hence they feared the impurity, because it would prevent them from eating the Chagigah on the fifteenth, and therefore they brought Jesus to Pilate in the morning of the fifteenth, so that the disciples had eaten the passover with their Master on the fourteenth day of Nisan.

A fourth indication requiring us to place the death of Jesus on the fifteenth, and the paschal supper on the fourteenth, is contained in Jn. 19:14, 31, where Jesus is said to have died on the parasceve of the pasch. Had the evangelist intended to place our Lord’s death on the afternoon of the fourteenth, he could not have placed it on the parasceve of the pasch, because in that supposition Jesus died while the pasch was actually immolated in the temple, and therefore not while it was in course of preparation. Since it is generally acknowledged that both parasceve and its Hebrew and Chaldee equivalent are the common name for Friday, and as, on the other hand, this appellation is not applied to the day before the solemn feast of the Azymes except in the present Jewish calendar and in the Midrash Ruth, there is no reason for departing from the common meaning of the expression in the foregoing passages of St. John.

Finally, the parasceve of the pasch suggests that the solemn feast fell in that year on the parasceve or Friday, just as our Easter Sunday implies the identity of the two solemnities [Jn. 19:31]; the parasceve is followed not by a day of only relative rest, as was the solemn day of the Azymes, but by “a great sabbath-day” on which the regular sabbath rest was observed, a circumstance which again points to Friday as the less rigorous sabbath-day, and therefore the solemnity of the Azymes or the fifteenth day of Nisan.

[f] To show that the death could happen on the fifteenth day of Nisan, we need only point to the authorities according to which the trial, the scourging, the crucifixion, and the burial could take place on the solemn day of Azymes without violation of the Jewish law. No law prohibited trials on feast-days, as may be inferred from Jom Tob, 5:2; Shabbath, i. ff.; the contrary practice actually prevailed, as is seen from repeated occurrences told in the gospels: Mk. 3:1; Mt. 12:9; Lk. 4:29; Jn. 7:31, 32, 45; 10:31, 36. As to the scourging, it was expressly stated that it might take place on a feast-day, but not on a sabbath [Jerusal. Talm. Betza, 5:2]. If the execution of condemned criminals could not have taken place on the feast-day, why should the Jews have adopted the solemn resolution at their council, two days before the pasch, not to kill Jesus on the festival day; for that would have been a matter of course. Besides, why should they have added the reason, “lest a tumult should arise among the people,” if the law provided them with the most effective reason? Moreover, the Mischna [Sanhedrin, x. 3, 4] gives a decree that a certain class of criminals—offenders against legal traditions—should suffer punishment on a festival day, thus interpreting the law of Deut. 17:12, 13. It may be added that most of the actual labor involved in all that has been thus far considered was performed by the Romans. Finally, executed criminals not only could be buried on a festival day, but they had to be buried according to the Mekilta Nezikin 4, and the law of Deut. 21:2, 3. The supper must, therefore, have taken place on the fourteenth, and the death of our Lord on the fifteenth day of Nisan.

18. But Jesus said.] [2] The answer of Jesus. The words “go ye into the city” show that the speakers were not in Jerusalem, but perhaps either in Bethany or on the way [Mald.]. “To a certain man” says the evangelist by way of summary. [Aug. Pasch.], the manner in which the man was determined is described by the other two evangelists [Mk. 14:13, 14; Lk. 22:10, 11]. Jesus employs this manner of determination not to conceal the place of his last supper from Judas [Euth. Fil. Ed. 2. p. 482], but to show his unlimited foreknowledge. It is hard to determine who was the host of our Lord on this occasion; some think of Joseph of Arimathea, others of Nicodemus, others again of Mary the mother of Mark. At any rate, the room appears to be identical with that in which Jesus appeared after his resurrection, in which the Holy Ghost descended on the disciples, and which formed in fact the first Christian church; its traditional site is on Mount Sion, alongside the tomb of David, in a building now occupied by Mohammedan dervishes. Since the unnamed man acknowledged Jesus as “the Master,” he must have been a disciple; “my time” signifies the time fixed by the Father for my passion [Jn. 7:30; 8:20; 13:1]. “With thee,” not, however, with thy family, but “with my disciples,” I make the pasch. These words were calculated to prevent the impression that our Lord wished to join the company of the owner of the house [cf. Jos. B. J. VI. ix. 3].

19. And the disciples did.] [3] Action of the disciples. [a] The paschal lamb. Lk. 22:8 tells us that the disciples were Peter and John. Both Mk. 14:15 and Lk. 22:12 show that the preparations, as far as the room was concerned, were mostly made before the two apostles arrived. The lamb, too, must have been ready, since according to the primitive law it had to be set apart on the tenth day of Nisan [Ex. 12:3]. But the lamb must be presented in the temple between the two evenings, i. e. between three and six o’clock in the afternoon of the fourteenth, where the householder himself slew it. The priests, standing in a row extending to the altar, received the blood in silver basins, which they passed from hand to hand, until at the foot of the altar the blood was poured out, whence it flowed by an underground conduit into the brook Kedron. This took the place of the sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts. The householder then removed the skin and fat from the lamb; the fat was burned on the altar by the priest, the skin was carried home bound about the lamb. As the number of lambs was very great, the persons bringing them were admitted in detachments [Schaff]. The paschal lamb was roasted on a spit made of pomegranate wood, the spit passing right through from mouth to vent. In roasting, the lamb must not touch the oven, otherwise the part touched had to be cut away. The lamb was not to be sodden at all with water, not a bone of it was to be broken, and nothing of it was to remain until the morning.

[b] Ritual observances. Three large unleavened cakes, wrapped in the folds of a napkin, are laid on a salver; on them are ranged the seven articles needed for the passover: a roasted egg instead of the fourteenth day Chagigah; the charoseth, a reddish sweet sauce, made of almonds, nuts, figs, and other fruits, commemorating, it is said, by its color, the hard labor of brick-making imposed on the Israelites, and by its taste, the divine alleviations which Jehovah mingled with the miseries of his people; salt water; the roasted shank-bone of a lamb instead of the paschal lamb; the bitter herbs, lettuce, endive, succory, charchavina, horehound; chervil and parsley. The use of wine, though not mentioned in the law, was strictly enjoined by tradition; even the poorest Israelite must have, at least, four cups, though he were to receive the money for it from the poor-box, or by selling or pawning his coat [Pes. x. 1]. Red wine alone was to be used, but always mixed with water; each of the four cups must contain, at least, the fourth of a quarter of an hin, a hin being equivalent to about one gallon and two pints.

20. But when it was evening, he sat down.] [4] The action of Jesus. [a] The gospel events. It was probably as the sun was beginning to decline that Jesus with ten disciples descended once more over the Mount Olivet into the Holy City [Ed. Temple, its Ministry, etc. p. 194]. It may be well to give here a general view of what the gospels tell us concerning the last supper: 1. Jesus expresses his great desire [Lk. 22:15, 16]; 2. the strife among the disciples [Lk. 24:24–30]; 3. the washing of feet [Jn. 13:1–17]; 4. the announcement of the traitor [Mt. 26:21–25; Mk. 14:18–21; Lk. 22:21–23]; 5. institution of the Holy Eucharist [Mt. 26:26–29; Mk. 14:22–25; Lk. 22:15–20; Jn. 13:31–35]; 6. announcement of the denial [Mt. 26:30–35; Mk. 14:26–31; Lk. 21; 22:31–34; Jn. 13:36–38]; 7. the last words of Jesus [Lk. 22:34–38; Jn. 14 ff.].

[b] Harmony of gospel and ritual. We may now endeavor to combine the gospel incidents with the ritual observances of the Jews.

1. The expression of the desire probably accompanied the entrance of Jesus into the supper-room, or followed this event immediately [Lk. 22:15, 16]. 2. Next, the cups were filled with wine, and Jesus, holding his cup in his hand, pronounced the customary blessing over it [cf. Ed. l. c. pp. 204 f.]; the first cup of wine was then drunk, and each washed his hands by dipping, not by having water poured over them [ibid. p. 204]. When the company took places at table, the strife arose among the disciples [Lk. 24:24–30], and Jesus washed their feet to give an example of humility [Jn. 13:1–17]. 3. The paschal table was then brought forward, and our Lord took some of the bitter herbs, dipped them in the salt water, ate of them, and gave to the others; after this, not to mention the customary breaking of the middle cake, the paschal table is, at present, removed again, so as to excite the curiosity and wonder of the guests. The cup is filled the second time. 4. After the question, “Why is this night distinguished from all other nights?” the difference is explained by the head of the party or family, who tells the national story from Terah to the deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the law. 5. The paschal table is then brought in again, and the paschal lamb, the bitter herbs, and the unleavened bread are explained, the exposition ending with an exhortation to give thanks and praise to the Lord. Hence the company sings the Hallel, or rather its first part, consisting of Pss. 112, 113. [Heb. 113, 114]. 6. Upon this the second cup of wine is blessed and drunk, and the hands are washed the second time [Ed. ibid. p. 207]. 7. One of the unleavened cakes is then broken and thanks given; since at the institution of the Holy Eucharist Jesus first gave thanks and then brake [Mt. 26:26; Mk. 14:22; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24], he cannot have consecrated at this point of time. Pieces of the broken cake, with bitter herbs between them and dipped in the charoseth, are handed to the company. The supper itself, consisting of the unleavened bread with bitter herbs, the so-called Chagigah or festive offering, and of the paschal lamb itself, proceeded now in its regular course, and conversation flowed freely. Not even the wine drunk during this time of the meal was regarded as belonging to the four cups. 8. During this period of the supper, Jesus predicted the treason of Judas [Mt. 26:21–25, Mk. 14:18–21, Lk. 22:21–23]. Since it is probably the unleavened bread with the bitter herbs dipped in the charoseth that the fourth gospel designates as the morsel [Jn. 13:27], the traitor must have left before even partaking of the paschal lamb proper. For the flesh of the lamb was the last meat partaken of; after it nothing more was to be eaten. At present, the Jews conclude the paschal supper with a piece of unleavened cake, which they call the Aphikomen or after-dish. 9. The hands are washed again, the third cup is mixed, grace is said, the wine is blessed and drunk. 10. The door is opened, a prayer against the heathen pronounced, the fourth cup filled, over which they pronounce the second part of the Hallel, consisting of Pss. 114–117. [Heb. 115–118.]. 11. The Hallel is followed by the blessing of the fourth cup and its consumption. The great Hallel was usually sung after the Hallel, though it is not certain of what particular psalms the great Hallel consisted. Opinions vary between Pss. 135. [Heb. 136], 133–135. [Heb. 134–136], 134:4–135. [Heb. 135:4–136]; in any case, Ps. 134. [Heb. 135] seems to be included in the great Hallel. At times, a fifth cup was added, but this is nowhere mentioned in the Talmud. How the gospel narrative must be combined with these latter events will be seen in the respective passages.

21. And whilst they were eating.] β. Announcement of the betrayal. The present section contains first, the general announcement; secondly, the questions of the disciples; thirdly, the specification of the traitor together with the description of his punishment; fourthly, the individual traitor is pointed out.

[1] The general announcement of the betrayal is placed in the time “whilst they were eating,” which agrees exactly with the foregoing harmony. From the bitterness of soul signified by the bitter herbs, Jesus may have taken occasion to express his own bitterness of heart caused by the treason of his disciple. He does not name the betrayer, in order to give him the opportunity of repenting in secret [Chrys. Jer. Theoph. Mald.].

22. And they being very much troubled.] [2] The question of the disciples. The apostles are troubled over the impending misfortune of their Master, and though severally conscious of their innocence, they know the mutability of the human will, and trust the veracity of Jesus more than their own constancy [Or. Jer. Mald.].

23. But he answering, said.] [3] Jesus first specifies the traitor, and then predicts his punishment. [a] The words of Jesus allude to Ps. 40:10; 54:14 [cf. Jn. 13:18; Cyr. Jans. Arn. Fil. P. Schegg]. That Judas became clearly known as the traitor by these words, because he dipped his hand with Jesus in the dish either through impudence [Jer. Bed. Pasch. Theoph. Euth.], or by mere accident [Calm.], cannot be admitted, since according to Jn. 13:25 the traitor was made known to the disciple of love alone. We may therefore suppose that Jesus pointed in these words to one of his immediate surrounding, to one so near that he ate out of the same dish with him. Those at the further end of the table were thus reassured. This supposition is confirmed by the form of the table at which the supper was served. According to almost general custom, it was a quadrangle open on one side for the convenience of the waiters. Our Lord naturally occupied the place of honor, i. e. the middle place on the upper couch. Though Ex. 12:11 enjoins that the supper is to be eaten standing, this law was understood as applying only to the first Passover in Egypt, while in Palestine the supper was eaten reclining in token of the national liberty. Since the guests reclined on the left side, so as to have the right hand free for eating, and since St. John must have occupied the place in front of Jesus, leaning “on his breast at supper” [Jn. 21:20], Judas may have reclined behind our Lord, and Peter next to John on the right side of the quadrangle. The traitor therefore literally dipped his hand in the same dish as our Lord.

[b] Though the son of man freely submits to the fulfilment of the prophecies in which not only his death, but also his betrayal by a disciple is predicted [Ps. 40:10; cf. Jn. 13:18], the punishment of the traitor shall be inevitable nevertheless. Jer. sees here another appeal to the heart of Judas to repent in time. We cannot interpret the words “it were better for him if that man had not been born” as indicating that Judas’ soul existed separately before his conception, and that he would have been happier if he had remained in that state [cf. Jer.]; or that it had been better for Judas to have died in the womb of his mother, before his birth, so as to endure the eternal pain of loss only [Euth. Caj.]; the words mean that Judas’ punishment shall be so great that he himself shall prefer not to exist at all [Mald. cf. Jer.]. This preference of Judas was shown even in this life, by his suicide [cf. Schegg]; but since the words, “it were better for him if that man had not been born,” would not be strictly true, if he ever attained to the beatific vision, they implicitly predict the eternal damnation of the traitor [Br. Pasch. Alb. Thom. Dion. Caj. Jans. Mald. Lap. Calm. Fil. P.; cf. Arn. Schanz].

25. And Judas that betrayed him.] [4] In this last part we have first the question of Judas; secondly, the answer of Jesus. [a] The impudence of Judas in asking the question has been pointed out by Chrys. Br. Jans. It is heightened still more by his addressing Jesus not as “Lord,” but as “Rabbi”; he had lost his faith in Jesus about a year before this time [cf. Jn. 6:71]. Again, the question was probably asked after Jesus had given him the morsel by which he pointed out the traitor to St. John [Jn. 13:26 ff.]; Judas then said in feigned surprise: What, “is it I, Rabbi?” [cf. Mald. Lap. Yprens. Arn. Schegg, Schanz].

[b] Jesus answers in a low tone, so as not to be heard by the other disciples, “Thou hast said it,” and immediately adds in a loud tone of voice, “that which thou dost, do quickly” [Jn. 13:27]. The apostles could therefore justly suppose that Judas went to buy the necessaries for the feast, or to give alms to the poor [Jn. 13:29]. The words “thou hast said it” are not ambiguous in their meaning, but they affirm what Judas had intimated in his question, as is seen in Mt. 26:64; 27:11 [cf. Schöttgen; Lightfoot, Chorographia, c. 82].

[c] Finally, it is commonly asked whether Judas left before the institution of the Holy Eucharist, or received holy communion and was ordained priest. We shall give first the reasons for Judas’ presence at holy communion; secondly, those for his absence; and thirdly, draw attention to the comparative cogency of the arguments.

1. The arguments for the affirmative are drawn from three sources, from Scripture, the Fathers, and the commentators. As to Scripture, it is especially St. Luke who favors the presence of Judas at the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The order of events in his gospel [desire of the pasch, institution of the Eucharist, prediction of the betrayal, strife for the first place, prediction of the denial] implies that Judas left after holy communion; moreover, Jesus says after the consecration of the chalice [Lk. 22:21], “Yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.” Among the Fathers, Jer. Cyr. of Jerusal. Chrys. Ambr. Cypr. Aug. Leo, etc. assume that Judas received communion before his departure. Finally, most of the older commentators agree with this opinion: Jans. Mald. Lap. etc.; the same view is expressed in the hymn “Pange lingua,” where we read: “cibum turbæ duodenæ se dat suis manibus.”

2. The negative answer to the question also is based on Holy Scripture, on the Fathers, and the commentators. As to Scripture, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John imply that Judas left before the institution of the Holy Eucharist: for Matthew and Mark arrange the events thus: prediction of the betrayal, institution of the Holy Eucharist, abbreviated part containing the desire of the pasch, prediction of the fall of Peter; hence the departure of Judas is implicitly placed between the prediction of his treason and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The order of the fourth gospel proceeds thus: washing of the feet, prediction of the betrayal and departure of Judas, prediction of the denial, consolatory address; the discourse after Judas’ departure is such that it almost demands the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Besides, we can hardly imagine that Jesus would have given the command, “Drink ye all of it” so peremptorily, if Judas had been in the company. This is the more improbable, because in other passages our Lord is careful to denote the sinfulness of Judas [Jn. 13:11, 18; 6:71]. Among the Fathers, Tatian, Ammonius, Jacob Nisib. [or Aphraates, serm. de pasch. 15], Constit. apostol. [v. 14], Hil. [in Mat.], Rupert, Petr. Comestor, Innocent iii. [De alt. myster. iv. 13], Cyril of Alex. maintain that Judas departed before the distribution of holy communion [cf. Corluy, in Jn. c. xiii. pp. 321 ff.]. Among the commentators, Turrianus, Salm. Bar. Lam. Cornely, Knab. Corluy, etc. defend the same negative view. The arguments advanced, more from a psychological and “a priori” than an exegetical point of view, we shall not here state. They may be seen in the work of Salmeron for the negative side, and in the works of St. Thomas [p. 3 qu. 81, a. 2] and Suarez [in 3am part. disp. 41, sect. 3] for the affirmative.

3. If we summarize the foregoing statements, we see that most ancient commentators defend the affirmative side, most modern the negative; from the Fathers we cannot establish an unexceptionable tradition for either side of the question. It is true that St. Luke follows a more accurate chronological order in the arrangement of the larger sections of our Lord’s life; but in detail, the order of the other evangelists, especially of the eyewitnesses Matthew and John, is preferable to that of Luke alone, and this the more because they agree with the faithful report of the third principal eyewitness, St. Peter. Judas therefore neither received holy communion nor holy orders before leaving the apostolic college.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 13:21-33, 36-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

Jn 13:21. “When Jesus said these things, He was troubled in spirit.” He voluntarily permitted the inferior faculties of His soul to feel sorrow and indignation at the criminal treachery of Judas, which he was soon to carry into effect, as well as his base ingratitude. No doubt, the fore-knowledge of his damnation, which was to follow his act of suicide in hanging himself with a halter, deeply affected the merciful soul of our Divine Lord. (For a full explanation of this passage to v. 30, see Matthew 26:21–26, Commentary.)

And He testified,” openly declared what He before had only insinuated (v. 19), “and said,” adding, solemnly, to His seemingly incredible declaration, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you shall betray Me.”

When did our Lord say this? Was it before the institution of the Blessed Eucharist? Some hold it was. Others, following the order of narrative given by St. Luke (22:21), hold that it was after the institution, He uttered these words; and that Matthew and Mark describe this by anticipation. St. Augustine (Lib. 3, de Consensi Evang. c. 1), and other Expositors, reconcile the narrative of the Evangelists, by saying, our Lord referred to the treason of Judas both before and after the institution of the Blessed Eucharist. The order of events was, probably, as follows: after the Paschal supper was over, and when the common Jewish supper, which succeeded it, had commenced, our Lord rose from table, while they were engaged at the common supper, and washed His disciples’ feet, and then reclining, said all that is recorded in this chapter from verse 12 to this verse 21. Then, troubled in spirit, He refers to the traitor, and on each one asking, “Is it I, Lord?” and Jesus replying, “Thou hast said it” (Matthew 26:25), He instituted the Blessed Eucharist. After which, He again refers to the traitor, as in Luke (22:21). Then, Peter asked John, to know of whom He spoke, and our Lord answers, “to whom I shall reach bread dipped” (v. 26). Whereupon, Judas, on receiving the morsel at our Lord’s hands, after the devil had entered into Him, withdraws. After that, our Lord delivered the following beautiful discourse to His disciples.

Jn 13:22. The disciples, in their terror and anxious state of perplexity, each asked, “Is it I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22).

Jn 13:23. Our Lord then institutes the Blessed Sacrament, and this is omitted by St. John, as this Adorable Institution is fully recorded by the three other Evangelists. St. John fully details (6.), the promise of this institution, with all its circumstances. After the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, our Lord again refers to the treason of Judas, and the events occurred, which are recorded in this verse (23), and the subsequent part of this chapter.

Leaning on Jesus’s bosom.” This happened owing to the mode of sitting or reclining at table, according to the custom then prevalent in Judea. It does not mean, that he was actually lying on our Saviour’s bosom; but, that he sat next Him, so that his head naturally fell back on our Saviour’s bosom, when he spoke to Him. This was a mark of special favour.

One of His disciples whom Jesus loved.” This refers to St. John himself. He omits expressly mentioning his own name, out of a feeling of modest humility.

Jn 13:24. “Beckoned to him,” either by signs, or in a very low tone of voice, so as not to be heard by others. Peter may, possibly, have in view, to prevent the actual betrayal of our Lord, if necessary, by force, as in the case of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant.

Jn 13:25. “He, therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus.” From the position John held at table next to our Lord, he had his head quite near the breast of his Divine Master (v. 23). Now, on being asked by Peter, he turned towards him, and again leaning on the breast of Jesus, questioned Him, “Who is it?” It would appear from verses 28, 29, that all this was said in so low a tone of voice, as not to reach the other Apostles.

Jn 13:26. “Bread dipped.” The prevalent custom in the East was to use the hand as the instrument for conveying food to the mouth. It was also customary to have a dish filled with some sauce, into which all were wont, in common, to dip pieces of bread before eating it. Hence, when our Lord says, “he that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish,” etc. (Matthew 26:23), He only refers to the traitor, in a general way, as forming part of the company, and as one of His intimate friends. Now, He gives a secret, special intimation by saying, “he, to whom I shall reach bread dipped,” and suiting the action to the word, handed it to Judas Iscariot. From this, St. John clearly saw Judas was the person referred to. Very likely, Judas, purse-bearer and almoner to our Lord and to the Apostolic College, occupied a place near our Lord, St. John being on the other side of Him, as it would be difficult to reach a morsel except to one immediately near Him. This distinction both as to the place he held, and the handing a morsel dipped, which was also regarded as a privilege and mark of special favour, only helped to aggravate the heinous ingratitude of Judas.

Jn 13:27. “Satan entered into him.” Already had Judas yielded to the suggestions and temptations of the devil (v. 2). But now, the fiend takes full possession of him, rendering him utterly reprobate, driving him on recklessly to destruction. Judas now becomes a tool in his hands, to perpetrate the greatest crime, the betrayal of his Divine Master and benefactor. The communication between our Lord and St. John relative to the horrid treason of Judas was conducted in an under-tone, unperceived by others. Now, our Lord, in an audible tone, addresses Judas, “that which thou dost, do it quickly.” This is permissive, not mandatory, as if He said in the language of stern, indignant reproach: I know your wicked designs; I fear not your worst; I am prepared for the consequences of your base treason. “What you do,” you are prepared and determined to do, you may as well do at once.

Jn 13:28, 29. Although some at least may have known, that Judas was the traitor referred to; still, they did not understand the words of our Lord to convey that the execution of his treasonable designs was so near at hand. They thought that Judas was only commissioned to procure at once what might be required for the coming week or seven days of the Paschal solemnity, or to distribute alms to the poor.

Jn 13:30. The two preceding verses, 28, 29, would seem to convey, parenthetically an observation of the Evangelist, who returns to the narrative regarding Judas. He, on receiving the morsel, and being informed by our Lord, in reply to his question (Matthew 26:25), that it was to him reference was made, “went out immediately,” on seeing that his treasonable design was discovered, and that he was excluded by our Lord from His society for ever. He may have been resolved on losing no time; lest our Redeemer might possibly arrange to escape, as He often did before; and so, he would lose the stipulated sum of thirty pieces of silver. He may have been also apprehensive that the other Apostles, on discovering his wicked designs, might lay violent hands on him.

And it was night.” A time well suited for carrying out treasonable designs.

From this, to chapter 18:, the Evangelist records the beautiful discourse, which our Lord delivered as a valedictory address to His beloved disciples, on the eve of His departure from them, full of tenderness, and replete with solid instruction as to their line of action in the future circumstances of difficulty and peril which awaited them, when His visible presence would be withdrawn from them.

Jn 13:31. “When, therefore, he was gone out.” The Evangelist refers to this circumstance, solely for the purpose of accurately noting the time.

Glorified,” or shortly to be glorified. The past tense is put, to denote what would certainly take place in the future, just at hand. The Son of Man was to be glorified in His Passion, through which the redemption of man was to be accomplished, and His victory over death, sin and hell brought about.

He was also to be “glorified” in the wonderful events that were to occur at His death—the darkness, the earthquake—which proclaimed that God was suffering; also in the events that were to succeed it, His glorious Resurrection and Ascension, the sending down of the Holy Ghost as promised, all which proclaimed Him to be God. Now, this Passion, the source of His glory, was about to commence, owing to the betrayal of His apostate disciple.

And God is glorified in Him,” since, by Him and His Sacred Passion, the leading Attributes of God, His justice, and hatred of sin, His eternal mercy and love for His creatures, are set forth in the clearest light.

Jn 13:32. “And if God is glorified in Him.” “If,” means since—since God is glorified in Him … “will also (in time) glorify Him,” render this Son of Man and his humanity, glorious, “in Himself,” by Himself, since the latent Deity, to which his humanity is united, will display itself and show Him to be the Son of God; and that, “immediately,” in the miraculous and stupendous events accompanying His Passion now at hand, and in the wonderful events, which are to succeed, to be completed by His Assumption, or, rather, Ascension, when He shall enter into the glory of His Father.

Jn 13:33. “Little children.” This is the consoling language of endearment and tender affection expressed by Him, now on the point of leaving them.

Yet a little while,” etc. He refers to His approaching Passion just at hand, which had virtually commenced with the treason of Judas, who had just left, to put in execution his criminal designs. In these words, He confirms His assertion that He was to be glorified immediately. Some understand, “yet a tittle while,” of the interval that was to elapse between this and His Ascension. But, as His intercourse with them between His Resurrection and Ascension was that of an Immortal and Divine Being, rather than of a mortal man, and as He will not be with them then in His usual mortal condition and familiarity as heretofore; hence, His words are generally understood of His approaching Passion.

You shall ask Me,” in your difficulties and perplexities, with view of receiving strength, advice and consolation, “and as I said to the Jews,” meaning the Jewish people generally, or their chief men in Jerusalem, on two occasions (7:34; 8:21, and on the last occasion, repeating the dreadful prediction of their reprobation, “you shall die in your sins.” “Whither I go, you cannot come.” The Apostles will be anxious to follow Him to heaven and share in His glory, and rest from their labours. But, they will not be able to attain to it “now,” as they are destined to spread the Gospel throughout the earth. It is only after great labours, persecution and suffering, to be completed by shedding their blood, they will be allowed to follow Him and share in His rest. Unlike the Jews, who would not find Him, and die in their sins, He consoles His disciples, His “own children,” with the assurance that, after having passed through the gates of death and an ordeal of suffering, final glory and rest shall be their assured portion (v. 36).

Some Expositors connect “now,” not with, “I say to you,” but with “come.” “You cannot come now,” implying, as He says, verse 36, “Thou shalt follow hereafter.”

Jn 12:36. St. Peter, absorbed in the thought that his Master was to depart from him, and seemingly listening in a heedless way, to the rest of the discourse, now with characteristic ardour, joined to great love for his Divine Master, asks, “Lord, whither goest Thou?” Our Lord, answering not Peter’s question regarding the place; but, replying to Peter’s intention of following Him to danger, even to death, tells how “he cannot follow Him now.” He is not yet prepared to die. His faith is not sufficiently strong to enable him to face death, now. So his hour is not yet come. His work for the Gospel is still before him; and his death, which will not be unlike that of his Divine Master, will open for him the gates of everlasting bliss. He will follow Him, hereafter, at some future day.

Jn 13:37. In the fulness of his love and zeal, and over confident in his own strength, which was partly the cause of his fall, by exposing himself unnecessarily to the proximate occasion of sinning against faith, he professes himself ready and willing to follow his Master to any place, ever so beset with danger: nay, ready to lay down his life for Him.

Jn 13:38. Our Lord tells Peter that far from going to death with Him, he will deny Him, and that before dawn of the following morning (see Matthew 26:34). Likely, our Lord predicted this twice, 1st, in the Supper Hall, as here, and Luke (22:34); 2ndly, on their way to Gethsemane, after leaving the Supper Hall, as in Matthew and Mark (14:30). St. Mark says, “before the cock crows twice,” referring to the first and second crowing of the cock. The first crowing of the cock occurred at midnight; and took place after Peter’s first denial. The second, at day dawn. This latter took place after Peter’s third denial—so that before the second crowing of the cock, Peter denied Him thrice, as is here clearly predicted.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15 and 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

Psalm 71

Title: LXX. and Vulgate: A Psalm of David, of the sons of Jonadab, and of the first captives. Without title in the Hebrew.

Argument

Arg. Thomas. That Christ opens our lips to declare the glory of His Name. The Voice of Christ to the Father. The Voice of Christ to the Father against the Jews, concerning the Resurrection. The Prophet concerning the Passion and Advent of Christ.

Ven. Bede. The Prophet Jeremiah mentions that Jonadab was a priest of God, who had commanded his sons not to drink wine, and not to dwell in houses, but in tents, and that they found great favour with the Lord for their obedience in these respects; and they are now put for faithful and devout persons. Whence Jonadab is interpreted The voluntary one of the Lord, who can say, An offering of a free heart will I give Thee. With whom the former captives also shed tears, that is, they who were first made captives and then ransomed, who, made captive by sinning, but ransomed by repenting, say, And Thou broughtest me from the deep of the earth again. A representative person is introduced, who, freed from the captivity of sins, remained firm in the Divine commands, preaching to us the mighty love of Christ the Lord, which is always freely bestowed on us, with no previous merits of our own. In the first part of the Psalm this person intreats that he may always be delivered from human iniquities, that he may give thanks unto the Lord. O God, in Thee have I trusted. In the second place, he prays that he may not be deprived in old age of His bounties, by Whose help he was guarded in his youth, Cast me not away in the time of age. Thirdly; numbering His gifts, he promises ever to give thanks. Thy righteousness, O God, is very high, &c.

Syriac Psalter. Composed by David, when Saul warred against the house of David. Also a prophecy of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. Christ’s Sufferings and Resurrection.

S. Athanasius A Psalm in solitary address.

Various Uses

Gregorian. Thursday. Matins. [Maundy Thursday. I. Nocturn.]

Monastic. Wednesday. Matins. [Maundy Thursday. I. Nocturn.]

Parisian. Friday. Lauds.

Lyons. Thursday. Compline.

Ambrosian. Monday of Second Week. III. Nocturn.

Quignon. Friday. Matins.

Eastern Church. [vv. 1–9.] Prime.

Antiphons

Gregorian. Ferial. Be Thou * my protecting God. [Maundy Thursday. O my God * deliver me out of the hand of the ungodly.]

Monastic. Ferial. Thou art my helper and redeemer * O Lord, make no long tarrying. [Maundy Thursday. As Gregorian.]

Parisian. O my God * deliver me out of the hand of the ungodly, for Thou art my patience.

Ambrosian. As Psalm 69.

1–2 (1) In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me never be put to confusion: but rid me, and deliver me, in thy righteousness; incline thine ear unto me, and save me.

This Psalm of David belongs to the close of his life and reign, and it may be noted that it is, in great part, a cento from previous Psalms, as 22, 25, 31, 35, 38, 40, although the noble passage vv. 13–20 is new. It has been also frequently grouped with the preceding Psalm, and counted as part of it. They see in it the pilgrimage of the Church from the days of Adam to those of Antichrist, (P.) counting the seven ages of man’s estate in this wise. From the Fall to the Incarnation are three periods,—infancy, childhood, and youth, typified by exile, the patriarchal dispensation, and the Law. From the first to the second Advent are four stages: early manhood, from the Ascension, through the ten persecutions to the accession of Constantine the Great; the prime of life, through the Arian troubles, till Justinian; middle age, during which the yet unended power of Mohammedanism sprang up; and that eld during which the Church still waits in dread for the coming of Antichrist; and the Psalm contains petitions apt for each of these troubles in turn. In thee, O Lord, have I trusted. Once I trusted in myself, (R.) and then I was confounded; now I have turned to Thee, and I shall never be confounded again. (Cd.) And that because, as the Apostle tells us, “Hope maketh not ashamed,”* following therein the saying of another wise man: “Look at the generations of old, and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?”* Rightly so, (D. C.) since in trusting Him, we are not merely relying on Almighty power, but on infinite love, on purest bounty, on the merit of Christ’s Passion. Let me never be confounded. That in this world, however I may seem to be brought low and despised, I may feel myself strong in Thee at all times. Or, if we take the Vulgate, confounded eternally, it will be a prayer against condemnation in the doom. In the mouth of Christ, the words are but another way of putting what Isaiah prophesied: “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not My face from shame and spitting; for the Lord God will help Me, therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set My face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”* The insults of the soldiers, of Herod, of the Jews, may fall on the Man of Sorrows, but they cannot touch the Eternal Word, and therefore, observes S. Bruno, (B.) Our Lord trusts in the immortality and impassibility of His Godhead, derived from that Father in Whom He trusted. Deliver me in Thy righteousness. When the sinner utters this prayer, he beseeches God to deliver him by Him Whom He hath made Judge of all the world,* because He is the Justice of God, the King Who reigneth in righteousness, and executes judgment and justice in the earth. And our claim on God’s justice is based on our trust in His promise, (G.) which He binds Himself to fulfil, that He may be justified in His sayings. What we say by reason of our sin, Christ speaks by reason of His innocence. His claim for deliverance is that in Him His enemies find no fault at all, and therefore justice demands that He should go free. Incline Thine ear unto me, and save me. It is the cry, says Gerhohus, of one lying sick and wounded, unable to rise, and asking the Physician to bend over him to listen to his account of his sufferings, (G.) asking the good Samaritan to stoop down and save him, by pouring oil and wine into his wounds.

3 (2) Be thou my strong hold, whereunto I may alway resort: thou hast promised to help me, for thou art my house of defence, and my castle.

In the LXX. and Vulgate the first part of this verse reads differently; Be Thou to me for a protecting [LXX. shield-bearing] God, and for a strong place to save me. And we may see in it the prayer of the Church under two circumstances, when she goes out to aggressive battle against error and sin; and again, when she is compelled by pressure from without to act chiefly on the defensive, as in days of persecution. And thus, (Ay.) as the Carmelite observes, because the Martyrs were so fortified by the grace of God, that the darts of the persecutors could not pierce their hearts, they are mystically called “fenced cities,” as was Jeremiah.* Or, if we look at it from another point of view, the Church intreats for her active and her contemplative members, of whom the former are in the open battles; the latter within the stronghold of the religious life, which Hugh of S. Cher likens to a fortress, for twelve reasons, thus summed up:

Murus, dentales, turris, vigiles, tuba, scuta,*
Mons, aqua, saxa, cibi, machina, fossa, viri.

Thou art my house of defence, and my castle. The first title belongs to God as our Protector; the second as our strong place. And the house of defence will then be His help against peril in this world; the castle, or with the Vulgate, refuge, (C.) the eternal habitation whither no danger can come.

4 (3) Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the ungodly: out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

The words are first those of Christ, enduring the contradiction of sinners. (Ay.) And note, that two kinds of sinners are set before us. The unrighteous (Vulg. transgressor of the law) evil Jews or Christians, who know God’s will, but refuse to do it, and the cruel (or unjust) the heathen who sin through comparative ignorance. And as Christ thus prays for Himself against Caiaphas and Pilate, (G.) so He prays for His Church to be delivered from false brethren and from Pagan oppressors. The Carthusian will have the ungodly to be our ghostly enemy, (D. C.) and yet more, the whole three clauses to apply to the pleading sinner, who makes his prayer to be delivered from himself, (Ay.) his own ungodliness, is own transgressions. And God does save, notes Ayguan, triply.* From the temptation of the flesh, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.” From the snares of the devil, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.”* From the lures of the world, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from the present evil world.”*

5 (4) For thou, O Lord God, art the thing that I long for: thou art my hope, even from my youth.

My patience, is the Vulgate reading in the first clause. And they explain it,* rather frigidly, the cause of my patience. Let us look deeper, and take it with S. Ambrose. Doubtless Christ Himself is slain in the Martyrs, and in them who suffer death, or bonds, or stripes, for the faith, the sufferings are Christ’s, that His life may be manifest in their body.* He then Who endures in them is truly their patience, since it is not their own powers that hold out. From my youth, since I was generated in grace, and not merely from my bodily childhood. And the mediæval writers, looking to the usage of their time, (R.) see here the candidate for Christian chivalry, already following his liege lord to battle, (G.) armed with faith, (Ay.) hope, and charity, but not yet more than an esquire who has still to win his spurs, and to be trained in the pureness of chastity, the prudence of truth, the obedience of humility. And so the prophet speaks, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”*

6 (5) Through thee have I been holden up ever since I was born: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of thee.

They see in the first clause here the mystery of predestination, (Ay.) and the Angelic Doctor adds,* that the task of guardian Angels is intrusted to them even before the birth of the children whose keepers they are to be. My mother’s womb. Literally, (G.) says Gerhohus, because of infant baptism, whereby children of but a few days or hours old, are received in the arms of God. Ayguan, (Ay.) pointing to the same rite, explains the words of our Mother the Church, who bears us to God in the Sacraments. And, applied to Christ, the words may be taken of His Incarnation, and also bear reference to the pious opinion of the Church that the pains of childbirth took no hold on His Virgin-Mother.

Gaude, sine partu tristi
Virgo partum edidisti,*
Immo gaudens protulisti
Prolem mater filia.

Others again give long lists of Saints,* who from early childhood persevered in holiness, as fulfilling this prediction, while Parez and S. Bonaventure explain it of the infancy of the Church in Abel’s days. My praise shall be always of Thee. It is more in the Vulgate, (P.) My singing,* implying not only praise, (B.) but rejoicing for victory. And they take it of Church song, as contrasted with heathen or secular ballads.*

7 (6) I am become as it were a monster unto many: but my sure trust is in thee.

If we take the Prayer Book Version literally as it stands, we may well think on that graffito scrawled by a Pagan hand, and lately discovered, wherein a Christian is seen worshipping a crucified figure, having a man’s body, but an ass’s head, a notion once widely spread, and a serious bar to the reception of the Faith by the Empire. But the word hardly notes so much. It is rather, with the Vulgate and A. V., a wonder, yet still referring to the offence of the Cross, to the astonishment with which the world looked on the life and sufferings of Christ and His Apostles, (C.) regarding even their miracles rather as something to stare at than as proof of a new revelation.* And as Isaiah, walking naked and barefoot for three years was “a sign and wonder,”* so the Apostles, who left all their earthly possessions, and followed Christ during the three years of His earthly ministry, and all Christians who spiritually did the like in the three stages of holiness, the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways, were made, as S. Paul says, “a spectacle unto the world, and angels, and men.”* But we may take the words in another sense of our Lord, Whose Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection have made Him indeed a wonder and a glory to His people,* as well as even to those Jews and heathens who rejected Him.

8 (7) O let my mouth be filled with thy praise: that I may sing of thy glory and honour all the day long.

It is the song of our country, (Ay.) notes the Carmelite, a song ever accompanied with joy. And that joy is threefold, the inner gladness of the heart, the vocal sound of the lips, the tokens of external actions. The words, that I may sing of Thy glory, (from the LXX. and Vulgate,) are not found in the Hebrew, but are none the less dwelt on by the commentators. One, with a quaint literalness of interpretation, explaining the words of the Song of the Church, takes glory to refer to the recitation of the Doxology,* honour, or as the Vulgate reads, magnitude, to that of the Magnificat, which seems to accord with the remark of Cassiodorus that all the day long means the whole twenty-four hours, (C.) as otherwise Vespers and Nocturns would be shut out. (P.) Parez, more happily, takes glory to refer to the Resurrection: honour to the Ascension of Christ.

9 (8) Cast me not away in the time of age: forsake me not when my strength faileth me.

In the time of age. They question in what sense Christ, Who never knew eld of body or soul, can use these words of Himself, (A.) and they explain them differently. They take it either of the physical and mental exhaustion of the Passion, (D. C.) like in its wasting effects to old age, (G.) or, with yet deeper meaning, of His crucifying our old man in His own Person. Again; it is the prayer of the Church, (P.) looking forward to the great apostasy of the latter days, and dreading lest her love, waxing cold, should expose her to yet more terrible losses than she sustained when so many Eastern Communions fell before the advance of Islam, or when the mighty Nestorian Church, once vaster than Greek and Latin together, and ranging from the Yellow Sea to the steppes of Eastern Russia, from Siberia to Ceylon, vanished like a dream before Gengiz-Khan and his successors. It is also the cry of each member of the Church for himself. For, just as we have seen two kinds of youth spoken of above, so there are two kinds of age, decrepitude of body and of soul. The latter exists when the spiritual heat of love waxes cold, (D. C.) and the soul is not renewed by increase of grace, but either grows old in negligence and sin, is bowed down by weary persecutions, or becomes less active in good works. Well may we, with S. Thomas Aquinas, recite this verse with tears of contrition and hope; well may we, with a holy man of a later day, cry, “O fire ever burning, and never waxing low: behold, I am chill and cold, kindle my veins and my heart, that they may burn with love of Thee. For Thou hast come to send fire upon the earth, and what wilt Thou, save that it be kindled?”* So praying, He will hear us, and will give us, even in extreme age, strength to say with His Martyr, S. Polycarp, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”*

10–11 (9) For mine enemies speak against me, and they that lay wait for my soul take their counsel together, saying: God hath forsaken him; persecute him, and take him, for there is none to deliver him.

They take it first of the Passion, of that Council of the Pharisees gathered after the raising of Lazarus, (A.) and of the mockings suffered by Christ upon the Cross, (Ay.) when His cry was, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me”* and theirs was, “He trusted in God that He would deliver Him, let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him.” It is the cry of the Church under the three greatest trials, the Pagan persecutions, (P.) the Mohammedan successes, the rise of the sects, which last in especial say, God hath forsaken her, “with our tongue will we prevail; (L.) we are they that ought to speak; who is lord over us?”*

12 (10) Go not far from me, O God: my God, haste thee to help me.

13 (11) Let them he confounded and perish that are against my soul: let them be covered with shame and dishonour that seek to do me evil.

Again; the words are both of Christ and of the Church. The Lord asks for His members rather than for Himself, that for the elect’s sake the days may be shortened. And note, that whereas type and prophecy both foretold that the Saviour should be three days and three nights in the grave, yet the time was too long for the infant Church to bear, and therefore the Father hasted to help the Son, and raised Him up just after the midnight of Easter Eve, Who had given up the ghost at the ninth hour of Good Friday. Thus the confusion will refer to the alarm caused by the signs at the Crucifixion, the darkness, the earthquake, (D. C.) the rending of the rocks, and still more to the dismay on hearing the news that the sepulchre was void, while the perishing denotes the overthrow of the Jewish nation. The Church, fallen on evil days, intreats for help also. And we may note again, as so often before, the warnings against the persecutors, how they were confounded and perished, as Nero, Julian, Valens; how they were put to shame and dishonour, as Valerian, whom the Persian Sapor made his footstool, and as Eugenius, who was the last to raise the standard of ancient Paganism against the Cross. (G.) Once more, the words are those of the penitent sinner, to whom God is always near, but who feels that he has been departing from God, (D. C.) and going afar off in his wickedness. And the prayer will then be chiefly directed against ghostly enemies, though also against human tempters.

14 (12) As for me, I will patiently abide alway: and will praise thee more and more.
15 (13) My mouth shall daily speak of thy righteousness and salvation: for I know no end thereof.

Rather, with the A. V., LXX. and Vulgate, I will hope continually, and that not merely when I am afflicted by the devil, (G.) with poverty, disease, or lust, but when even the hand of God is heavy against me, I will say with holy Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”* And will praise Thee more and more. The LXX. and Vulgate here read, And will add above all Thy praise. How can this be? ask they all. They answer it diversely. Literally, it may tell us how David was the first to set forth the praises of Christ’s Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension, and Kingdom, for the instruction of the people, whereas the Saints who praised God in former times told far less of these mysteries. (Ay.) And the Carthusian sees in it a promise to persevere in the compositions of fresh songs of praise. (D. C.) Or we may reflect how the Synagogue praised God for temporal blessings, while the Church, (G.) not forgetting such thanksgiving, lauds Him yet more for spiritual gifts. Yet again; S. Augustine remarks that God’s justice deserves all praise, even were He to condemn all mankind, (A.) but seeing that He has shown us mercy, we add that praise to the glory of His Name. When I confess that the Word of God created the heaven and the earth and all that is therein, (C.) observes another, I have praised the Lord with perfect devotion. But when I add that He became incarnate for the salvation of men, I have added to His praise. Once more—and the lesson is a practical one—I will not merely praise Thee in speech and words, (Z.) but with my works also, because the Lord is praised in this wise too, and therefore the Saviour said, “That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”* My mouth shall daily speak of Thy righteousness and salvation. (Ay.) It is the voice of the Bride. The righteousness and salvation is He of whom Paul says that “Christ Jesus of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;”* of whom Simeon said, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.”* Daily. The LXX. and Vulgate read, All the day. That is, adds Ayguan, both in the day of prosperity and the night of sorrow.* Or with the Gloss, All the day means the day with the night, because night serves day, not day night. (G.) The night is our flesh, and the day is righteousness, and whatever is done in the flesh is of the night, while deeds of righteousness belong to the day. And there is yet another meaning, that of the everlasting praise of Christ in the land where is no darkness at all.

Dies sine vesperâ, nocte non sepultus,*
Quem non sol per aëra sed divini vultûs
Illustrat serenitas.

I know no end thereof. More exactly, with the A. V., I know not the numbers. The word סְפֹרוֹת (closely connected as it is with סְפֶר a book or writing) has been rendered by some copies of the LXX. and by the Vulgate similarly, I know not letters. And they take it first of Christ, concerning Whom the Jews said, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”* answering the question by saying that He indeed knew not the letter that killeth, but the Spirit that giveth life. And again they say that the letter means the old Law, (Ay.) which they compare to the staff of Elisha, sent by the hand of a servant to recover the dead child, but vainly, so that Elisha needed to come and lay himself down on the child, (A.) that is, our true Elisha (“God of salvation”) needed to humble Himself and become as a servant, nay, as one dead, to do what Moses failed to accomplish. Or again, the Five Books of Moses are the porches of Bethesda, where men lie waiting and sick. It needed the Angel of the Covenant to come down into the water of the Jewish nation that the sick might be healed. And then they take it of the Church, or of single Christians, saying the like of that which the Lord had said. For there are three kinds of letters, those which puff up, those which make man a servant, and those which make him a son.* They are the secular learning of philosophers, the Jewish law, and the New Testament, the last of which only is needful for the soul to know. The Carthusian adds that the words may be a confession of the utter ignorance of man contrasted with the infinite wisdom of God, (D. C.) or that it may be used of inspired Saints like SS. Peter and John, of whom it was said, truly in one sense, that “they were unlearned and ignorant men.”* S. Augustine, who probably had the reading πραγματείας instead of γραμματείας before him, gives a various translation, (A.) negotiationes, tradings, and dwells on the spiritual dangers which attend on all commerce; (C.) and Cassiodorus follows him, limiting his censure carefully to avarice and fraud. The various reading is said by another to apply to the Church of the last days, resisting the wiles of Antichrist, (P.) who will bring to bear all worldly learning, and even a bare literal rendering of Holy Writ, to aid his cause. And Hugh of S. Victor, taking both readings, sums up the matter by saying that whoso reads the Scripture for mere curiosity and not for edification, knows indeed its letter and its tradings,* but has not the true weight granted to the man who studies it for the savour of godliness.

16 (14) I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God: and will make mention of thy righteousness only.

The LXX. and Vulgate, for go forth read enter in, and more correctly, as the first sense is that of proceeding to the temple to praise God because of His mighty deeds. Euthymius connects the words with those of the preceding verse. I know not letters, that is, (Z.) observes he, the Scribes lay down a rule in their writings that all Jews must enter the temple of Jerusalem thrice a year, but I will go for a better reason, the strength of the Lord. (Ay.) Ayguan, more deeply says, I will go from the mere letter of the Old Testament into its spiritual meaning, the power of Christ. I will not look, adds Gerhohus, to the mere outward rite of even the Gospel Sacraments, (G.) but will enter further into them to find there the saving might of Jesus, Who gives me faith, endurance, and power to fulfil His commands, a triple cord to draw me and bind me to Him. And will make mention of Thy righteousness only. Not of my own, (D. C.) but ascribing all that is good in me, all virtue, and all grace, to Thee; all evil, defective, or sinful, to myself, saying with the Apostle, “By the grace of God, I am what I am;”* and again, “If a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”* Since, as the same Apostle says, such persons “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”* And he says only, because when the soul has left human weakness behind, and entered into the spiritual power of God, it will think no more of the flesh, but will ponder on God alone.*

17 (15) Thou, O God, hast taught me from my youth up until now: therefore will I tell of thy wondrous works.
18 (16) Forsake me not, O God, in mine old age, when I am gray-headed: until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to all them that are yet for to come.

Here, as so often, the words may apply to Christ or to the Church. Thou hast taught Me, is the Lord’s address to His Father, even according to that saying, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.”* And again, “As My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.”* From my youth up, because the human soul of Christ “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”* It is also the voice of the Church. Thou hast taught me; (Ay.) referring all her gifts to Him as her Teacher, Who said, “Neither be ye called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ.”* And that from the youth of the Church, from the time when the Apostles drew their lessons from His lips during His three years’ ministry, when He opened the Scriptures to them after His Resurrection, when He sent the Holy Ghost on them at Pentecost. Therefore will I tell of Thy wondrous works. How Thou rulest me, how Thou hast set me in the way of salvation, how Thou makest me to live whom Thou hast wonderfully quickened in soul. For what greater marvel is there than to quicken those dead in soul? A quickened body lives even when its quickener is absent, as Lazarus did in the corporal absence of Christ, because the life of the body is in the soul. But the quickened soul cannot live thus without God, Who is its life. This then is wondrous grace, which can quicken the dead, and abide with us afterwards, that we die not. Wondrous too are those works whereof the Church tells, the Incarnation of the Word, the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, and that God so loved us that He gave His Only-begotten Son unto death for us. Forsake me not, O God, in mine old age, when I am gray-headed. They take it of the coming of Antichrist in the last times, when the faith of the Church has become weak, and from Augustine in the fifth century to Parez in the fifteenth, each accounts his own days as near the end, and finds all the marks of decrepitude in the belief and lives of Christians, all the signs of growing strength and insolence in the powers of evil. Until I have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power unto all that are yet for to come. The LXX. and Vulgate translate, (Ay.) Until I declare Thine arm to every generation that is to come, and couple the word power with the next verse. Thine arm is the Incarnate Word, and the phrase until notes that the preaching of Him will not be carried beyond this life, because the vision of God in the life to come will supply all spiritual knowledge to the Saints, and there will thus be no preaching in heaven; nor yet in hell, because the time for conversion has gone by. (R.) To every generation, as against the teaching of certain heretics, that the Church was to endure for a time, as the Jewish dispensation did, and then be supplanted by a more perfect revelation.

19 (17) Thy righteousness, O God, is very high: and great things are they that thou hast done; O God, who is like unto thee?

The LXX. and Vulgate couple the first words with the preceding, so that the clause runs [I will declare] Thy power and righteousness, O God, unto the highest, great things which Thou hast done. (Ay.) That is, I will declare the power of Thy justifying grace from its first beginnings in the soul up to its highest achievement in turning sinners into perfect Saints; (R.) or again, (Cd.) I will tell of Thy marvels, not only to Thy humbler creature, man, but I will call on Thy highest works, the Thrones, (B.) Dominations, and Princedoms of the heavenly host to join in the praise which is Thy due. (A.) Higher yet, observes Cassiodorus, (C.) even to that right hand of the Father where the Man of Sorrows is throned. Again; God’s power is shown in His setting man free, (A.) His righteousness in causing His Son to die for us. His power gives man strength to do good works, (L.) His righteousness justifies man. His power is seen in the valiant endurance of the Martyrs, His righteousness in the holy lives of the Confessors. O God, who is like unto Thee? It is the cry of Adam, (A.) after he had sinned by tasting of the fruit, whereof the serpent told him, “In the day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,”* and had thereby lost the likeness which he had before, as being made in the image and likeness of God. And none can answer it, save the Second Adam, because He is the “brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of His Person;”* and He can change our vile body, making it like to His glorious Body, and so “we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”*

20 (18) O what great troubles and adversities hast thou showed me! and yet didst thou turn and refresh me: yea, and broughtest me from the deep of the earth again.

All the bitter sorrows of My Passion, the Agony, the Betrayal, the mocking, (D. C.) scourging, crucifixion, the yet sharper pangs of man’s sin and thanklessness. And refresh me. The LXX., Vulgate, and A. V. more truly, revive Me, raising Me from the grave, where I lay in the deep of the earth. And we may take it next, (A.) with S. Augustine and all who follow him, (G.) of the wretchedness of mankind after the Fall, and the bounty of God in lifting it up from the depth of sin by the message of salvation, (R.) and giving it new life in Christ. And observe, says Cassiodorus, (C.) that there are seven ways in which God gives us remission of our sins. Firstly, in baptism; secondly, by martyrdom; thirdly, by almsgiving; fourthly, by our forgiveness to our debtors; fifthly, by our conversion of our brethren; sixthly, by abundant charity; seventhly, by penance. Again; (Ay.) it is the voice of the Church, thanking God for all her early sufferings and persecutions, when the blood of the Martyrs was the seed of the faithful, and the Gentiles, attracted by their valiant constancy, were turned by God, and brought to life, and out of the abyss of earthly sin. We may see too a literal meaning here which seems to have escaped the commentators, that is, the public recognition of Christian worship after the edict of Constantine, when the Church emerged from the deep of the catacombs into the light of day. Lastly; (D. C.) it is the grateful acknowledgment of every elect soul which God has brought through great tribulation into the kingdom of grace. (Z.) And so Ezekiel says, “O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”*

21 (19) Thou hast brought me to great honour: and comforted me on every side.

Again it is the voice of Christ, speaking of His own Resurrection, (D. C.) Ascension, and of His deliverance from all the liability to suffering which had belonged to His humanity. And this is brought out strongly by the Vulgate reading, Thou hast multiplied Thy magnificence upon me. Multiplied, (Ay.) observes another, because Christ, Who is the magnificence of God, was multiplied, not in person, but in nature, by His Incarnation, where God was made Man, and thus was built up of Godhead, body, and soul. It is the voice of the Church, raised to high dignity of grace, and to the earthly honour of having kings and queens at her feet, and stored with all the gifts of the Comforter. And, lastly, it is the thanksgiving of sinners whom God has first scourged with fatherly chastisement, (G.) and then made kings and priests, clothing them with the garment of salvation, and comforted, as He is the God of Consolation, in all their trouble. For comforted on every side, the Vulgate reads, Thou hast turned and comforted me. Turned, because by Christ’s Incarnation the sternness of the law was turned into the loving tenderness of the Gospel, (Ay.) so that He whom we called Lord in fear, we now call in love, “Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation.”*

22 (20) Therefore will I praise thee and thy faithfulness, O God, playing upon an instrument of music: unto thee will I sing upon the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.

On an instrument of music, LXX. and Vulgate, On the vessels of psalm, which most of them take, as does the A. V., to be the psaltery. And S. Augustine points out that the chief difference between the psaltery and harp is that the former has the hollow sounding-board placed above the strings, and the latter has it below. And because the Spirit is from above, flesh from the earth; there seemeth to be signified by the psaltery the Spirit, by the harp the flesh. And men who are appointed to sing God’s praises with psalmody may be aptly called vessels of psalm; in particular the clergy, some of whom are vessels to honour,* and some to dishonour. Yet again,* our bodies, within which the truth dwells, are its vessels, (C.) and the Psalms themselves are vessels holding the truth, as a pure and fragrant wine. Truth, in three ways, of life,* of righteousness, and of doctrine. O Thou Holy One of Israel. Because all nations will become a part of the true Israel when the fulness of the Gentiles is gathered in. Note too, (P.) that this is the only Psalm of David’s writing which contains this title of God, and as it is the very last of his songs, it looks forward in this wise to the universal kingdom of Christ, as the sea into which all the streams flowing from the vessels of song shall one day empty themselves. That is a poor house, (G.) says Gerhohus, where there are vessels for oil and wine, and nought to put in them, but what is the wretchedness of a house which has not even vessels fit to hold them!

23 (21) My lips will be fain when. I sing unto thee: and so will my soul whom thou hast delivered.

They all agree in seeing here the union of bodily and spiritual praise of God, the harmony of will and deed, of heart and life, when the body is subdued to the spirit, and obeys its rule with gladness. It is the idea which has been expressed by a poet of our own day:

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell,
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster.

Not here,* however, where “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh,” can this harmony be perfectly free from discord. We must look forward to the time of which the next verse tells us.

24 (22) My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded and brought unto shame that seek to do me evil.

In the Land of beauty there will be no false notes to mar the sweet song of praise, because—

Fleshly wars they know no longer,* since with blemish stained is none,
For the spiritual body and the soul at last are one;
Dwell they now in peace eternal, with all stumbling they have done.

All the day long. The unending day of eternity, (D. C.) during which the song of the redeemed shall ever ascend before the throne of God, (G.) when the ghostly enemies of our souls have been brought to everlasting shame.

Pectora plausibus atque canoribus ora parabit,*
Cum sua crimina, lapsaque pristina stans memorabit,
Quo fuit amplior error, iniquior actio mentis,
Laus erit amplior, hymnus et altior, hanc abolentis.

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, from Whom cometh soberness; and to the Son, of Whom is righteousness; and to the Holy Ghost, Whose is loving-kindness.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Collects

Incomprehensible Ruler of the throne on high,* Who sufferest not them that trust in Thee to be condemned to everlasting confusion, fill our lips, we beseech Thee, with Thy praise, and ever inspire us with thoughts of holy things. Through. (1.)

Deliver us, O our God,* out of the hand of the ungodly, Who didst vouchsafe to bear for us the pain of the Cross, that Thou only mayest be our patience, Who for us didst endure the grave. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

Let our tongue, O Lord,* be talking of Thy righteousness, that Thy praise may proceed from our lips all the day long, that inasmuch as the glory of Thy Passion hath been set forth by us, so we may now and ever without end praise Thee in that righteousness whereby we live through faith. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

We beseech Thee,* O Crucified Lord, to be our house of defence and our castle, that delivering us from the hand of the enemy, Thou mayest place us in a stronghold, to receive our crown. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

O God of might,* Who, though Thou wast God, didst willingly suffer Thyself to be seized at the time of Thy Passion, when they took their counsel against Thee, saying, “Let Him deliver Him, if He will have Him;” forsake us not in our trouble, and go not far from us, that Thou only mayest look on us and help us, Who on Thy Cross triumphest over the powers of this world. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

O Jesu,* Son of God, Whom the multitude of Thine enemies vainly persecuted, and drove from themselves the bounty of Thy loving-kindness while taking counsel together against Thee to seize Thee, and sought to take Thy life from Thee, a willing victim, Whom they knew not to be the author of life; Grant that we may with holy devotion in good works follow after Thee, Whom they pursued with ill will, so that wherein Thine enemies shall for ever mourn, therein we may have everlasting joy. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

Let our lips be firm in Thee,* O Lord, with the tidings of truth, that they never be loosed in the vain speech of error, and may ever speak Thy glory and never cry aloud in the unseemly disputes of quarrelling, that our soul which Thou hast redeemed, may, when praising the triumph of Thy Martyr and Forerunner, John Baptist, obtain Thy favour through his intercession. Through Thy mercy. (11.)

We beseech Thee,* O Lord, that our human mouth being filled with Thy praise, we may ever think in our hearts of that which we offer Thee with acceptable voices. Through. (1.)

O God, (D. C.) unspeakable mercy, go not far from us, make haste to help us, and forsake us not in our old age when we are gray-headed, quicken us, and comfort us in Thy love, and grant that we may ever worthily sing the majesty of Thy glory. Through. (1.)

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 12:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

This homily is somewhat fragmented.

Jn 12:3. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

While Martha was serving, Mary anointed the Lord with ointment, thus accomplishing her love towards Him; and by the actions of both, the measure of love was filled up and made perfect.

Jn 12:4-8 Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, which should betray Him, saith, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and had the bag, and took away what was put therein. Jesus therefore said, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this. For the poor ye have always with you; but Me ye have not always.

The traitor rebukes the woman who had shown her devotion towards Christ, and attacks the admirable deed, and affects to blame it out of love towards the poor, because ointment was brought and not money. But it was out of ignorance as to what is really excellent that Judas said this. For the bringing of presents unto God ought to be honoured more than the poor. |139 The Evangelist however sets forth the reason, on account of which Judas said this: it was not that he felt any concern for the poor, but because he was a thief and a sacrilegious person, stealing the money which was dedicated to God. And the Lord also makes it clear that the woman was free from any blame, whereby He covertly rebukes the traitor; not in His good judgment finding fault with things that were worthy of praise, but saying: Let her alone. And He said in defence of the anointing with the ointment, that it had been done, not out of luxu-riousness, but because of a certain mystery which had reference to His burying; although she who did it was unaware of the design of the mystery. For many things have been both said and done with, reference to a mystical type, when they who spoke and acted were unaware of it. Yet here again the Lord rebukes Judas, because he said this not out of piety, but because he was greedy of base gain, and was going for a little gain to betray his Master. For the burying and the allusion thus made to His death indicate this plainly. And the Lord also brings forward an argument which convinces us that nothing is better than devotion towards Him. For, He says, love for the poor is very praiseworthy, only let it be put after veneration of God. And what He says amounts to this: The time, He says, which has been appointed for My being honoured, that is to say, the time of My sojourn on earth, does not require that the poor should be honoured before Me. And this He said with reference to the Incarnation. He does not however in any way forbid the sympathetic person to exercise his love towards the poor. Therefore when there is need of service or of singing, these must be honoured before love towards the poor; for it is possible to do good after the spiritual services are over. He says therefore that it is not necessary always without intermission to devote our time to honouring Himself, or to spend everything upon the priestly service, but to lay out the greatest part upon the poor. Or thus: As He bids His disciples to fast after He had ascended to the Father, |140 so also He says that then they may more freely give attention to the care of the poor, and exercise their love for the poor with less disturbance and more leisure: which indeed was the case. For after the Ascension of the Saviour, when they were no longer following their Master on His journeys, but had leisure; then they eagerly spent all the offerings that were brought to them upon the poor.

Jn 12:9 A great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there: and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead.

Through the strangeness of the sign the multitude are astonished; and that which they heard to have been done they wished also to behold with their eyes, that they might believe it more confidently. And they not only wished to see Lazarus, but also the Christ, the doer of the sign; not then seeing Him for the first time, for they had often seen Him and companied with Him; but inasmuch as He had gone into retirement, that He might not suffer before the proper time, they were seeking again to see Him: and the more reasonable among them even admired Him, as they recognised no fault in Him. With a settled purpose therefore the Lord did not immediately enter into Jerusalem, but remained outside, in order that by the report [which would reach the city] He might draw the common people to a desire of wishing to see Him.

Jn 12:10-11 But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

See now how frantic the rulers seem to become, wildly rushing hither and thither under the influence of their envy, and saying nothing coherently. They seriously meditate murder upon murder, thinking to remove the force of the miraculous deed at the same time with their victim, that they might stop the people running to believe Christ. |141 (source)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 12:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2015

Jn 12:1. “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Pasch.” “Therefore,” because the Pasch was near (11:55), Jesus wished to go Jerusalem; or, “therefore,” on account of the commandment above referred to (11:56), not wishing to come into the power of His enemies before the time appointed had come, He left Ephrem, or Ephraim, where He had been sojourning a few days. “Six days before the Pasch,” at which He was Himself to be sanctified, as the true Paschal Lamb, for the redemption of mankind. Instead of going straightway to Jerusalem, He came to Bethany, where lived Lazarus, who had been resuscitated from the grave. Here, our Lord had many friends, and the recollection of His recent miracle would induce the people to conduct Him in triumph to Jerusalem. on the following Sunday, the third day, after His arrival at Bethany. “Whom Jesus raised to life.” The Greek has not, “Jesus,” but only, “whom He raised from the dead.” “Where Lazarus had been dead.” The Greek has, “Where was Lazarus, who had been dead?

Jn 12:2. St. Matthew (26:6), tells us, this banquet was given in the house of Simon the leper.

On verses 1–8. (See Matthew 26:6–13, Commentary on.) I’ll try to post commentary on that passage beofre Monday.

Jn 12:3. “Anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped,” etc. There is a transposition or inversion of order in this. She first wiped His feet with her hair, removing the dust that adhered to them; and then, as Matthew and Mark tell us, anointed His head, which was usually done. Had she wiped His feet after anointing them, she would be only oiling her own hair; and St. John adds, that, in addition to washing His head, she did what was quite unusual, viz., anointed His feet, in proof of her excessive love, and in gratitude for the remission of her sins, which she obtained at His sacred feet. She did not wipe His feet after anointing them, for the reason already assigned. After anointing His head and feet, she left the oil, without wiping it off, as above explained, to produce the intended effect of anointing in such cases.

Jn 12:4, 5. “Judas Iscariot.” The Greek has, “Judas of Simon or, the son of Simon.” The other Evangelists say, that the other disciples joined in the murmuring. They did so, from feelings of charity; Judas, from avarice, as in next verse.

Jn 12:6 He was entrusted with carrying the common purse, in which were deposited the means contributed as a sort of sustentation fund for the support of our Redeemer and His disciples. Abusing the confidence reposed in him, he used to purloin or carry away stealthily, for his own private use, some of its contents. He felt indignant, that the price of this ointment was not thrown with the rest into the common fund, so that he might thus be enabled to set some of it aside for his own use. While affecting great concern for the poor, the gratification of avarice was his real motive. For the poor he felt no concern whatever. How many hypocritical followers of Judas are to be found, at all times, men who talk loudly in favour of the poor, and never contribute a farthing for their relief?

Matthew and Mark, after giving the history of this banquet, refer to the impious compact entered into by Judas with the Chief Priests, as if he wished to compensate himself for the loss of the price of the ointment, by the amount of the reward secured for his base betrayal of his Master.

Jn 12:7, 8. (See Matthew 26:7–12, Commentary on.) Will try to post by Monday.

Jn 12:9. “A great multitude,” etc. They came out from Jerusalem, not merely out of respect for our Lord, but also, out of a feeling of curiosity to see Lazarus, the fame of whose resuscitation from the grave reached far and near. They wished to see both, Lazarus resuscitated, and Jesus who had raised him.

Jn 12:10. “The Chief Priests thought”—conspired together—“to kill Lazarus also,” as well as our Lord, for the reason assigned in following verse. They were influenced purely by malice and envy, as Lazarus harmed none of them. It may be that the Chief Priests, most of them Sadducees, had another reason. Lazarus now brought back to life, would be a standing, living refutation of their doctrine, that there was no Resurrection (Acts 23:18). This does not imply a formal meeting of the Sanhedrim, as in (11:47). The Pharisees are not mentioned here, though, no doubt, they had a hand in the business. They dreaded the influence which Lazarus, now walking abroad in full life, might have on the crowds, assembled from every quarter for the Pasch.

St. Augustine (Tract 50), jeeringly derides them, and exposes their blind malice and folly, as if our Lord, who raised up the dead Lazarus, could not raise up the murdered Lazarus as well. “O stulta cogitatio ac cæca sævitia! Dominus, Christus, qui suscitare potuit mortuum, non posset occisum.” Here is the Augustine quote in full: “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

Jn 12:11. “Went away,” not out of the Synagogue, but withdrew all connexion with the murderous faction of the High Priests and Pharisees, and adhered to Jesus.

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Commentaries for the Fifth Week of Lent,Year B

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 21, 2015

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR B

Year A: Commentaries and Resources.

Year B: Commentaries and Resources. Please note that the Scrutiny Readings used in Year B are the regular readings used in Year A (see above link).

Year C: Commentaries and Resources.

Last Week’s Posts.

MONDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62. Please note a shorter reading of verses 41-62 is allowed.

St Jerome’s Notes on Today’s 1st Reading Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62. The notes do not deal with all the verses of today’s reading. Please note a shorter reading of verses 41-62 is allowed.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 23.

Pope Benedict’s Commentary on Psalm 23.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 23.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 23.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 8:1-11.

Cornelius a Lapide Commentary on John  8:1-11.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 8:1-11.

TUESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Numbers 21:4-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 21:4-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 102.

Father McSwiney’s Summary of, and Brief Notes on Psalm 102.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 102.

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 8:21-30.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 8:21-30.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 8:21-30.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 8:21-30.

WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Please note that in 2015 this day is March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Commentaries and Resources for it can be found here.

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

St Jerome’s Notes on Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Daniel 3:52-53, 55-56. This post is on verses 52-57.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 8:31-42.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary John 8:31-42.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 8:31-42.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 8:31-42.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 8:31-42.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures John 8:31-42. Scroll down and read lectures 4 & 5.

THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Genesis 17:3-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 105.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 105. Notes on the entire Psalm.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 8:51-59.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 8:51-59. Actually on verses 48-59.

St Augustine’s Comments on John 8:51-59. Actually, this is on verses 46-59.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 8:51-59.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 8:51-59.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on John 8:51-59. Scroll down and read lecture 8.

FRIDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 20:10-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 18.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 18.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 10:31-42.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 10:31-42.

St Thomas Aquinas Lecture John 10:31-42. Scroll down and read lecture 6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 10:31-42.

SATURDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 37:21-28.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Today’s 1stReading (Ezekiel 37:21-28).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on the Respnsorial: Jeremiah 31:10-14.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 11:45-56.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on John 11:47-54. Scroll down and read lectures 7 & 8.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 11:45-56.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 11:45-56.

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD, YEAR B

Commentaries and Resources for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year B.

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Commentaries and Resources for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 21, 2015

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

READINGS AND OFFICE:

Commentary on the Procession with the Palms Reading. One can use either Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16.

On Mark: Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 11:1-10.

On Mark: Fr. Philip’s Podcast Study of Mark’s Gospel. Study begins at 10:40.

On Mark: EWTN Podcast Study of Mark’s Gospel. Listen to episode 11.

UPDATE on Mark: Speaking of Scripture blog on Mark 11:7-9. An excerpt from Mary Healy’s Commentary on Mark, part of a new Series of books entitled Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture.

On John: Navarre Bible Commentary on John 12:12-16.

On John: Word Sunday on John 12:12-16.

On John: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 12:12-16.

On John: Fathers Nolan’s And Brown’s Commentary on John 12:12-16.

On John: St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 12:12-16.

Commentaries on the First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 50: 4-7.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Isaiah 50:4-7.

Commentaries on the Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 22.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 22. Pdf document. The commentary on the text actually begins near the bottom of page 2. What precedes the actual commentary is a presentation of the various uses made of the Psalm in the ancient liturgies and, also, the various antiphons used.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 22.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 22. Latin and English side by side.

Commentaries on the Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 2:6-11.

(1) St John Chrysostom’s First Homiletic on Philippians 2:6-11.

(2) St John Chrysostom’s Second Homiletic on Philippians 2:6-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 2:6-11.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Philippians 2:6-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Philippians 2:6-11.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Philippians 2:6-11.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Philippians 2:6-11.

Commentaries on the Gospel Reading: Allows for a longer (Mark 14:1-15:47) or shorter (Mark 15:1-39) reading.

Longer Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 14:1-15:47.

Pending: Longer Reading: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 14:1-15:47.

Longer Reading: Father Donald Senior (in six parts).A synopsis of his famous THE PASSION OF JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK.

Longer Reading: Haydock Bible Commentary on 14:1-15:47.

Longer Reading: Sunday Gospel Scripture Study Podcast. Video.

Shorter Reading: Word Sunday (in three parts):

Homilies, Podcasts, Other Stuff:

Update: Sacred Page Blog: My God, My God! Why Have You Forsaken Me? Comments and reflections on the readings by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

John Henry Newman’s Homily on Philippians 2:6-11. Text.

Bishop Bonomelli’s Homily on Philippians 2:6-11. Text.

St Martha’s Podcast. Audio. Usually studies the readings in some detail.

Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast. Audio. Available later in the week.

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Audio (text too). Brief, does good job of highlighting the themes.

Father Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily. Audio.

 

EWTN’s Podcast Study of Mark’s Gospel. Listen to episode 13.

 

 

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Commentaries and Resources for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B (With Scrutinies)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2015

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR B

READINGS AND OFFICE: The Scrutiny Readings and commentaries are listed further down, just before the section on the Extraordinary Form.

Mass Readings From The NABRE. The translation used in the USA.

Mass Readings From the New Jerusalem Bible. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Catechism on Jeremiah 31:31-34.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 51.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 51.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 51.

St John Fisher’s Homiletic Commentary on Psalm 51. Psalm number 50 in the Septuagint numbering and in the translation used by Fisher. The commentary in in two parts.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Today’s Psalm (51).

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Hebrews 5:7-9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrew 5:7-9.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9.

Word Sunday’s Notes on the Second Reading Hebrews 5:7-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9.

Homilist’s Catechism on Hebrews 5:7-9.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: John 12:20-33.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 12:20-33.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 12:20-33.

Word Sunday’s Notes on John 12:20-33.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 12:20-33.

Homilist’s Catechism on John 12:20-33.

BLOG POSTS, PODCAST AND VIDEO STUDIES,  COMMENTARIES, HOMILIES:

Update: The Sacred Page: A Grain of Wheat Falls and Dies. Comments and reflections by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Michael Barber.

St Martha’s Podcast. Looks at all the readings in some detail.

Franciscan Sisters Bible Study Podcast. Looks at all the readings. This Sunday’s Study not yet posted.

EWTN’s Podcast Study of John. Listen to episode 10.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on Hebrews. Studies Heb 4:14-5:10.

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Very brief, does good job of highlighting the major theme(s).

Fr. Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily. A well known theologian, author, speaker.

TEXT HOMILIES AND PREPARATIONS:

Sacerdos. Gives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral applications.

Lection Notes. Very brief.

Lector’s Notes. Different from the last link. Gives historical and theological background.

SCRUTINY READINGS:
the Sunday Readings of Year A are used.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Ezekiel 37:12-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on Ezekiel 37:12-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 37:12-14.

Pending: My Notes on Ezekiel 37:12-14.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 130.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 130.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 130.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 130.

Word Sunday Notes on Psalm 130.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 8:8-11.

Father Boylan’s Commentary  on Romans 8:8-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-11.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-11. On 5-11.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-11. On 8-17.

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 8:8-11.

Pending: Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-11.

Pending: Father Boylan’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 8:8-11.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: John 11:1-45 (or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45).

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 11:1-45.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 11:1-45.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 11:1-45.

Pending: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 11:1-45.

Word-Sunday Notes on John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45. Short reading.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 11:1-45.

Numerous Artwork Depicting the Raising of Lazarus. Depicting the subject of the Gospel reading.

A Structural Outline of John 11.

Life Themes in the Gospel of John.

The Story of the Raising of Lazarus. Interesting article from Catholic biblical scholar Michael Barber.

Lazarus, Resurrection & Restoration. By the same author as the previous link.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life. From the blog Speaking Of Scripture. This blog was started by the editors of the CATHOLIC COMMENTARY ON SACRED SCRIPTURE, a new series of commentaries on the NT. You can find the product page for this series here.

Lazarus’ resuscitation compared to Jesus’ Resurrection. From the New Theological Movement blog.

Sermon Excerpt from St Peter Chrysologus. On the raising of Lazarus.

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St Augustine’s Tractate on John 5:1-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 14, 2015

1. IT ought not to be a matter of wonder that a miracle was wrought by God; the wonder would be if man had wrought it. Rather ought we to rejoice than wonder that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was made man, than that He performed divine works among men. It is of greater importance to our salvation what He was made for men, than what He did among men: it is more important that He healed the faults of souls, than that He healed the weaknesses of mortal bodies. But as the soul knew not Him by whom it was to be healed, and had eyes in the flesh whereby to see corporeal deeds, but had not yet sound eyes in the heart with which to recognise Him as God concealed in the flesh, He wrought what the soul was able to see, in order to heal that by which it was not able to see.

He entered a place where lay a great multitude of sick folk—of blind, lame, withered; and being the physician both of souls and bodies, and having come to heal all the souls of them that should believe, of those sick folk He chose one for healing, thereby to signify unity. If in doing this we regard Him with a commonplace mind, with the mere human understanding and wit, as regards power it was not a great matter that He performed; and also as regards goodness He performed too little. There lay so many there, and yet only one was healed, whilst He could by a word have raised them all up. What, then, must we understand but that the power and the goodness was doing what souls might, by His deeds, understand for their everlasting salvation, than what bodies might gain for temporal health? For that which is the real health of bodies, and which is looked for from the Lord, will be at the end, in the resurrection of the dead. What shall live then shall no more die; what shall be healed shall no more be sick; what shall be satisfied shall no more hunger and thirst; what shall be made new shall not grow old. But at this time, however, the eyes of the blind, that were opened by those acts of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, were again closed in death; and limbs of the paralytics that received strength were loosened again in death; and whatever was for a time made whole in mortal limbs came to nought in the end: but the soul that believed passed to eternal life. Accordingly, to the soul that should believe, whose sins He had come to forgive, to the healing of whose ailments He had humbled Himself, He gave a significant proof by the healing of this impotent man. Of the profound mystery of this thing and this proof, so far as the Lord deigns to grant us, while you are attentive and aiding our weakness by prayer, I will speak as I shall have ability. And whatever I am not able to do, that will be supplied to you by Him by whose help I do what I can.

2. Of this pool, which was surrounded with five porches, in which lay a great multitude of sick folk, I remember that I have very often treated; and most of you will with me recollect what I am about to say, rather than gain the knowledge of it for the first time. But it is by no means unprofitable to go back upon matters already known, that both they who know not may be instructed, and they who do know may be confirmed. Therefore, as being already known, these things must be touched upon briefly, not leisurely inculcated. That pool and that water seem to me to have signified the Jewish people. For that peoples are signified under the name of waters the Apocalypse of John clearly indicates to us, where, after he had been shown many waters, and he had asked what they were, was answered that they were peoples.1 That water, then—namely, that people—was shut in by the five books of Moses, as by five porches. But those books brought forth the sick, not healed them. For the law convicted, not acquitted sinners. Accordingly the letter, without grace, made men guilty, whom on confessing grace delivered. For this is what the apostle saith: “For if a law had been given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Why, then, was the law given? He goes on to say, “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”2 What more evident? Have not these words expounded to us both the five porches, and also the multitude of sick folk? The five porches are the law. Why did not the five porches heal the sick folk? Because, “if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Why, then, did the porches contain those whom they did not heal? Because “the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

3. What was done, then, that they who could not be healed in the porches might be healed in that water after being troubled? For on a sudden the water was seen troubled, and that by which it was troubled was not seen. Thou mayest believe that this was wont to be done by angelic virtue, yet not without some mystery being implied. After the water was troubled, the one who was able cast himself in, and he alone was healed: whoever went in after that one, did so in vain. What, then, is meant by this, unless it be that there came one, even Christ, to the Jewish people; and by doing great things, by teaching profitable things, troubled sinners, troubled the water by His presence, and roused it towards His own death? But He was hidden that troubled. For had they known Him, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.1 Wherefore, to go down into the troubled water means to believe in the Lord’s death. There only one was healed, signifying unity: whoever came thereafter was not healed, because whoever shall be outside unity cannot be healed.

4. Now let us see what He intended to signify in the case of that one whom He Himself, keeping the mystery of unity, as I said before, deigned to heal out of so many sick folk. He found in the number of this man’s years the number, so to speak, of infirmity: “He was thirty and eight years in infirmity.” How this number refers more to weakness than to health must be somewhat more carefully expounded. I wish you to be attentive; the Lord will aid us, so that I may fitly speak, and that you may sufficiently hear. The number forty is commended to our attention as one consecrated by a kind of perfection. This, I suppose, is well known to you, beloved. The Holy Scriptures very often testify to the fact. Fasting was consecrated by this number, as you are well aware. For Moses fasted forty days, and Elias as many; and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did Himself fulfill this number of fasting. By Moses is signified the law; by Elias, the prophets; by the Lord, the gospel. It was for this reason that these three appeared on that mountain, where He showed Himself to His disciples in the brightness of His countenance and vesture. For He appeared in the middle, between Moses and Elias, as the gospel had witness from the law and the prophets.2 Whether, therefore, in the law, or in the prophets, or in the gospel, the number forty is commended to our attention in the case of fasting. Now fasting, in its large and general sense, is to abstain from the iniquities and unlawful pleasures of the world, which is perfect fasting: “That, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately, and righteously, and godly in this present world.” What reward does the apostle join to this fast? He goes on to say: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of the blessed God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”3 In this world, then, we celebrate, as it were, the forty days’ abstinence, when we live aright, and abstain from iniquities and from unlawful pleasures. But because this abstinence shall not be without reward, we look for “that blessed hope, and the revelation of the glory of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” In that hope, when the reality of the hope shall have come to pass, we shall receive our wages, a penny (denarius). For the same is the wages given to the workers laboring in the vineyard,4 as I presume you remember; for we are not to repeat everything, as if to persons wholly ignorant and inexperienced. A denarius, then, which takes its name from the number ten, is given, and this joined with the forty makes up fifty; whence it is that before Easter we keep the Quadragesima with labor, but after Easter we keep the Quinquagesima with joy, as having received our wages. Now to this, as if to the wholesome labor of a good work, which belongs to the number forty, there is added the denarius of rest and happiness, that it may be made the number fifty.

5. The Lord Jesus Himself showed this also far more openly, when He companied on earth with His disciples during forty days after His resurrection; and having on the fortieth day ascended into heaven, did at the end of ten days send the wages, the Holy Ghost. These were done in signs, and by a kind of signs were the very realities anticipated. By significant tokens are we fed, that we may be able to come to the enduring realities. We are workmen, and are still laboring in the vineyard: when the day is ended and the work finished, the wages will be paid. But what workman can hold out to the receiving of the wages, unless he be fed while be labors? Even thou thyself wilt not give thy workman only wages; wilt thou not also bestow on him that where with he may repair his strength in his labor? Surely thou feedest him to whom thou art to give wages. In like manner also doth the Lord, in those significant tokens of the Scriptures, feed us while we labor. For if that joy in understanding holy mysteries be withdrawn from us, we faint in labor, and there will be none to come to the reward.

6. How, then, is work perfected in the number forty? The reason, it may be, is, because the law was given in ten precepts, and was to be preached throughout the whole world: which whole world, we are to mark, is made up of four quarters, east and west, south and north, whence the number ten, multiplied by four, comes to forty. Or, it may be, because the law is fulfilled by the gospel, which has four books: for in the gospel it is said, “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” Whether, then, it be for this reason or for that, or for some other more probable, which is hid from us, but not from more learned men; certain it is, however, that in the number forty a certain perfection in good works is signified, which good works are most of all practised by a kind of abstinence from unlawful lusts of the world, that is, by fasting in the general sense.

Hear also the apostle when he says, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”1 Whence the love? By the grace of God, by the Holy Spirit. For we could not have it from ourselves, as if making it for ourselves. It is the gift of God, and a great gift it is: for, saith he, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us.”2 Wherefore love completes the law, and most truly it is said, “Love is the perfecting of the law.” Let us inquire as to this love, in what manner the Lord doth commend it to our consideration. Remember what I laid down: I want to explain the number thirty-eight of the years of that impotent man, why that number thirty-eight is one of weakness rather than of health. Now, as I was saying, love fulfills the law. The number forty belongs to the perfecting of the law in all works; but in love two precepts are committed to our keeping. Keep before your eyes, I beseech you, and fix in your memory, what I say; be ye not despisers of the word, that your soul may not become a trodden path, where the seed cast cannot sprout, “and the fowls of the air will come and gather it up.” Apprehend it, and lay it up in your hearts. The precepts of love, given to us by the Lord, are two: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;” and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”3 With good reason did the widow cast “two mites,” all her substance, into the offerings of God: with good reason did the host take “two” pieces of money, for the poor man that was wounded by the robbers, for his making whole: with good reason did Jesus spent two days with the Samaritans, to establish them in love. Thus, whilst a certain good thing is generally signified by this number two, most especially is love in its twofold character set forth to us thereby. If, therefore, the number forty possesses the perfecting of the law, and the law is fulfilled only in the twin precepts of love, why dost thou wonder that he was weak and sick, who was short of forty by two?

7. Therefore let us now see the sacred mystery whereby this impotent man is healed by the Lord. The Lord Himself came, the Teacher of love, full of love, “shortening,” as it was predicted of Him, “the word upon the earth,”4 and showed that the law and the prophets hang on two precepts of love. Upon these hung Moses with his number forty, upon these Elias with his; and the Lord brought in this number in His testimony. This impotent man is healed by the Lord in person; but before healing him, what does He say to him? “Wilt thou be made whole?” The man answered that he had not a man to put him into the pool. Truly he had need of a “man” to his healing, but that “man” one who is also God. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”5 He came, then, the Man who was needed: why should the healing be delayed? “Arise,” saith He; “take up thy bed, and walk.” He said three things: “Arise, Take up thy bed, and Walk.” But that “Arise” was not a command to do a work, but the operation of healing. And the man, on being made whole, received two commands: “Take up thy bed, and Walk.” I ask you, why was it not enough to say, “Walk?” Or, at any rate, why was it not enough to say, “Arise”? For when the man had arisen whole, he would not have remained in the place. Would it not be for the purpose of going away that he would have arisen? My impression is, that He who found the man lacking two things, gave him these two precepts: for, by ordering him to do two things, it is as if He filled up that which was lacking.

8. How, then, do we find the two precepts of love indicated in these two commands of the Lord? “Take up thy bed,” saith He, “and walk.” What the two precepts are, my brethren, recollect with me. For they ought to be thoroughly familiar to you, and not merely to come into your mind when they are recited by us, but they ought never to be blotted out from your hearts. Let it ever be your supreme thought, that you must love God and your neighbor: “God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” These must always be pondered, meditated, retained, practised, and fulfilled. The love of God comes first in the order of enjoying; but in the order of doing, the love of our neighbor comes first. For He who commanded thee this love in two precepts did not charge thee to love thy neighbor first, and then God, but first God, afterwards thy neighbor. Thou however, as thou dost not yet see God, dost earn to see Him by loving thy neighbor; by loving thy neighbor thou purgest thine eye for seeing God, as John evidently says, “If thou lovest not thy brother whom thou seest, how canst thou love God, whom thou dost not see?”1 See, thou art told, “Love God.” If thou say to me, “Show me Him, that I may love Him;” what shall I answer, but what the same John saith: “No man hath seen God at any time”? And, that you may not suppose yourself to be wholly estranged from seeing God, he saith, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.”2 Therefore love thy neighbor; look at the source of thy love of thy neighbor; there thou wilt see, as thou mayest, God. Begin, then, to love thy neighbor. “Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring into thy house him that is needy without shelter; if thou seest the naked, clothe him; and despise not those of the household of thy seed.” And in doing this, what wilt thou get in consequence? “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning light.”3 Thy light is thy God, a “morning light” to thee, because He shall come to thee after the night of this world: for He neither rises nor sets, because He is ever abiding. He will be a morning light to thee on thy return, He who had set for thee on thy falling away from Him. Therefore, in this “Take up thy bed,” He seems to me to have said, Love thy neighbor.

9. But why the love of our neighbor is set forth by the taking up of the bed, is still shut up, and, as I suppose, needs to be expounded: unless, perhaps, it offend us that our neighbor should be indicated by means of a bed, a stolid, senseless thing. Let not my neighbor be angry if he be set forth to us by a thing without soul and without feeling. The Lord Himself, even our Saviour Jesus Christ, is called the corner-stone, to build up two in Himself. He is called also a rock, from which water flowed forth: “And that rock was Christ.”4 What wonder, then, if Christ is called rock, that neighbor is called wood? Yet not any kind of wood whatever; as neither that was any kind of rock soever, but one from which water flowed to the thirsty; nor any kind soever of stone, but a corner-stone, which in itself coupled two walls coming from different directions. So neither mayest thou take thy neighbor to be wood of any kind soever, but a bed. Then what is there in a bed, pray? What, but that the impotent man was borne on it; but, when made whole, he carries the bed? What does the apostle say? “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall ye fulfill the law of Christ.”5 Now the law of Christ is love, and love is not fulfilled except we bear one another’s burdens. “Forbearing,” saith he, “one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”6 When thou wast weak thy neighbor bore thee; thou art made whole, bear thy neighbor. So wilt thou fill up, O man, that which was lacking to thee. “Take up thy bed, then.” But when thou hast taken it up, stay not in the place; “walk.” By loving thy neighbor, by caring for thy neighbor, dost thou perform thy going. Whither goest thy way, but to the Lord God, whom we ought to love with the whole heart, and with the whole soul, and with the whole mind? For we are not yet come to the Lord, but we have our neighbor with us. Bear him, then, when thou walkest, that thou mayest come to Him with whom thou desirest to abide. Therefore, “take up thy bed, and walk.”

10. The man did this, and the Jews were offended. For they saw a man carrying his bed on the Sabbath-day, and they did not blame the Lord for healing him on the Sabbath, that He should be able to answer them, that if any of them had a beast fallen into a well, he would surely draw it out on the Sabbath-day, and save his beast; and so, now they did not object to Him that a man was made whole on the Sabbath-day, but that the man was carrying his bed. But if the healing was not to be deferred, should a work also have been commanded? “It is not lawful for thee,” say they, to do what thou art doing, “to take up thy bed.” And he, in defence, put the author of his healing before his censors, saying, “He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.” Should I not take injunction from him from whom I received healing? And they said, “Who is the man that said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?”

11. “But he that was made whole knew not who it was” that had said this to him. “For Jesus,” when He had done this, and given him this order, “turned away from him in the crowd.” See how this also is fulfilled. We bear our neighbor, and walk towards God; but Him, to whom we are walking, we do not yet see: for that reason also, that man did not yet know Jesus. The mystery herein intimated to us is, that we believe on Him whom we do not yet see; and that He may not be seen, He turns aside in the crowd. It is difficult in a crowd to see Christ: a certain solitude is necessary for our mind; it is by a certain solitude of contemplation that God is seen. A crowd has noise; this seeing requires secrecy. “Take up thy bed”—being thyself borne, bear thy neighbor; “and walk,” that thou mayest come to the goal. Do not seek Christ in a crowd: He is not as one of a crowd; He excels all crowd. That great fish first ascended from the sea, and He sits in heaven making intercession for us: as the great high priest He entered alone into that within the veil; the crowd stands without. Do thou walk, bearing thy neighbor: if thou hast learned to bear, thou, who wast wont to be borne. In a word, even now as yet thou knowest not Jesus, not yet seest Jesus: what follows thereafter? Since that man desisted not from taking up his bed and walking, “Jesus seeth him afterwards in the temple.” He did not see Jesus in the crowd, he saw Him in the temple. The Lord Jesus, indeed, saw him both in the crowd and in the temple; but the impotent man does not know Jesus in the crowd, but he knows Him in the temple. The man came then to the Lord: saw Him in the temple, saw Him in a consecrated, saw Him in a holy place. And what does the Lord say to him? “Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest some worse thing befall thee.”

12. The man, then, after he saw Jesus, and knew Him to be the author of his healing, was not slothful in preaching Him whom he had seen: “He departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus that had made him whole.” He brought them word, and they were mad against him; he preached his own salvation, they sought not their own salvation.

13. The Jews persecuted the Lord Jesus because He did these things on the Sabbath-day. Let us hear what answer the Lord now made to the Jews. I have told you how He is wont to answer concerning the healing of men on the Sabbath-day, that they used not on the Sabbath-day to slight their cattle, either in delivering or in feeding them. What does He answer concerning the carrying of the bed? A manifest corporal work was done before the eyes of the Jews; not a healing of the body, but a bodily work, which appeared not so necessary as the healing. Let the Lord, then, openly declare that the sacrament of the Sabbath, even the sign of keeping one day, was given to the Jews for a time, but that the fulfillment of the sacrament had come in Himself. “My Father,” saith He, “worketh hitherto, and I work.” He sent a great commotion among them: the water is troubled by the coming of the Lord, but yet He that troubles is not seen. Yet one great sick one is to be healed by the troubled water, the whole world by the death of the Lord.

14. Let us see, then, the answer made by the Truth: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Is it false, then, which the Scripture has said, that “God rested from all His works on the seventh day”? And does the Lord Jesus speak contrary to this Scripture ministered by Moses, whilst He Himself says to the Jews, “If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for He wrote of me”? See, then, whether Moses did not mean it to be significant of something that “God rested on the seventh day.” For God had not become wearied in doing the work of His own creation, and needed rest as a man. How can He have been wearied, who made by a word? Yet is both that true, that “God rested from His works on the seventh day;” and this also is true that Jesus saith, “My Father worketh hitherto.” But who can unfold it in words, man to men, weak to weak, unlearned to them that seek to learn; and if he chance to understand somewhat, unable to bring it forth and unfold it to men, who with difficulty, it may be, receive it, even if what is received can possibly be unfolded? Who, I say, my brethren, can unfold in words how God both works while at rest, and rests while working? I pray you to put this matter off while you are advancing on the way; for this seeing requires the temple of God, requires the holy place. Bear your neighbor, and walk. Ye shall see Him in that place where ye shall not require the words of men.

15. Perhaps we can more appropriately say this, that in the saying, “God rested on the seventh day,” he signified by a great mystery the Lord and our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, who spoke and said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” For the Lord Jesus is, of course, God. For He is the Word of God, and you have heard that “in the beginning was the Word;” and not any word whatsoever, but “the Word was God, and all things were made by Him.” He was perhaps signified as about to rest on the seventh day from all His works. For, read the Gospel, and see what great works Jesus wrought. He wrought our salvation on the cross, that all things foretold by the prophets might be fulfilled in Him. He was crowned with thorns; He hung on the tree; said, “I thirst,” received vinegar on a sponge, that it might be fulfilled which was said, “And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”1 And when all His works were completed, on the sixth day of the week, He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, and on the Sabbath-day He rested in the tomb from all His works. Therefore it is as if He said to the Jews, “Why do ye expect that I should not work on the Sabbath? The Sabbath-day was ordained for you for a sign of me. You observe the works of God: I was there when they were made, by me were they all made; I know them. ‘My Father worketh hitherto.’ The Father made the light, but He spoke that there should be light; if He spoke, it was by His Word He made it: His Word I was, I am; by me was the world made in those works, by me the world is ruled in these works. My Father worked when He made the world, and hitherto now worketh while He rules the world: therefore by me He made when He made, and by me He rules while He rules.” This He said, but to whom? To men deaf, blind, lame, impotent, not acknowledging the physician, and as if in a frenzy they had lost their wits, wishing to slay Him.

16. Further, what said the evangelist as he went on? “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father;” not in any ordinary manner, but how? “Making Himself equal with God.” For we all say to God, “Our Father which art in heaven;” we read also that the Jews said, “Seeing Thou art our Father.”2 Therefore it was not for this they were angry, because He said that God was His Father, but because He said it in quite another way than men do. Behold, the Jews understand what the Arians do not understand. The Arians, in fact, say that the Son is not equal with the Father, and hence it is that the heresy was driven from the Church. Lo, the very blind, the very slayers of Christ, still understood the words of Christ. They did not understand Him to be Christ, nor did they understand Him to be the Son of God: but they did nevertheless understand that in these words such a Son of God was intimated to them as should be equal with God. Who He was they knew not; still they did acknowledge such a One to be declared, in that “He said God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” Was He not therefore equal with God? He did not make Himself equal, but the Father begat Him equal. Were He to make Himself equal, He would fall by robbery. For he who wished to make himself equal with God, whilst he was not so, fell, and of an angel became a devil,3 and administered to man that cup of pride by which himself was cast down. For this fallen said to man, envying his standing, “Taste, and ye shall be as gods;”4 that is, seize to yourselves by usurpation that which ye are not made, for I also have been cast down by robbery. He did not put forth this, but this is what he persuaded to. Christ, however, was begotten equal to the Father, not made; begotten of the substance of the Father. Whence the apostle thus declares Him: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” What means “thought it not robbery”? He usurped not equality with God, but was in that equality in which He was begotten. And how were we to come to the equal God? “He emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant.”5 But He emptied Himself not by losing what He was, but by taking to Him what He was not. The Jews, despising this form of a servant, could not understand the Lord Christ equal to the Father, although they had not the least doubt that He affirmed this of Himself, and therefore were they enraged: and yet He still bore with them, and sought the healing of them, while they raged against Him.

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

 
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