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Ver 1. After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the Chief Priests and the Scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death.2. But they said, "Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people."
Pseudo-Jerome: Let us now sprinkle our book, and our thresholds, with blood, and put the scarlet thread around the house of our prayers, and bind scarlet on our hand, as was done to Zarah [Genesis 38:30], that we may be able to say that the red heifer [Numbers 19:2] is slain in the valley [Deuteronomy 21:4]. For the Evangelist, being about to speak of the slaying of Christ, premises, "After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread."
Bede, Marc., iv, 43: Pascha, which in Hebrew is, phase, is not called from Passion, as many think, but from passing over, because the destroyer, seeing the blood on the doors of the Israelites, passed by them, and did not smite them; or the Lord Himself, bringing aid unto His people, walked above them.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, phrase, is interpreted as a passing over, but Pascha means sacrifice. In the sacrifice of the lamb, and the passing of the people through the sea, or through Egypt, the Passion of Christ is prefigured, and the redemption of the people from hell, when He visits us after two days, that is, when the moon is most full, and the age of Christ is perfect, that when no part at all of it is dark, we may eat the flesh of the Lamb without spot, Who taketh away the sins of the world, in one house, that is, in the Catholic Church, shod with charity, and armed with virtue.
Bede: The difference according to the Old Testament between the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread was, that the day alone on which the lamb was slain in the evening, that is, the fourteenth moon of the first month, was called Passover. But on the fifteenth moon, when they came out of Egypt, the feast of unleavened bread came on, which solemn time was appointed for seven days, that is, up to the twenty-first day of the same month in the evening. But the Evangelists indifferently use the day of unleavened bread for the Passover, and the Passover for the days of unleavened bread. Wherefore Mark also here says, "After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread," because the day of the Passover was also ordered to be celebrated on the days of unleavened bread, and we also, as it were, keeping a continual passover, ought always to be passing out of this world.
Pseudo-Jerome: But iniquity came forth in Babylon from the princes, who ought to have purified the temple and the vessels, and themselves according to the law, in order to eat the lamb.
Wherefore there follows: "And the Chief Priests and the Scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put him to death."
Now when the head is slain, the whole body is rendered powerless, wherefore these wretched men slay the Head. But they avoid the feast day, which indeed befits them, for what feasting can there be for them, who have lost life and mercy?
Wherefore it goes on: "But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people."
Bede: Not indeed, as the words seem to imply, that they feared the uproar, but they were afraid lest He should be taken out of their hands by the aid of the people.
Theophylact: Nevertheless, Christ Himself had determined for Himself the day of His Passion; for He wished to be crucified on the Passover, because He was the true Passover.
Ver 3. And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very [p. 275]; and she brake the box, and poured it on His head.4. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, "Why was this waste of the ointment made?"5. "For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor." And they murmured against her.6. And Jesus said, "Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me."7. "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always."8. "She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My Body to the burying."9. "Verily I say unto, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial to her."
Bede: The Lord when about to suffer for the whole world, and to redeem all nations with His Blood, dwells in Bethany, that is, in the house of obedience.
Wherefore it is said, "And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman."
Pseudo-Jerome: For the fawn amongst the stags ever comes back to his couch, that is, the Son, obedient to the Father even unto death, seeks for obedience from us.
Bede: He says "of Simon the leper", not because he remained still a leper at that time, but because having once been such, he was healed by Our Saviour; his former name is left, that the virtue of the Healer may be made manifest.
Theophylact: But although the four Evangelists record the anointing by a woman, there were two women and not one; one described by John, the sister of Lazarus; it was she who six days before the Passover anointed the feet of Jesus; another described by the other three Evangelists. Nay, if you examine, you will find three; for one is described by John, another by Luke, a third by the other two. For that one described by Luke is said to be a sinner and to have come to Jesus during the time of His preaching; but this other described by Matthew and Mark is said to have come at the time of the Passion, nor did she confess that she had been a sinner.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 79: I however think that nothing else can be meant, but that the sinner who then came to the feet of Jesus was none other than the same Mary who did this twice; once, as Luke relates it, when coming for the first time with humility and tears she merited the remission of her sins. For John also relates this, when he began to speak of the raising of Lazarus before He came to Bethany, saying, "It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick." [John 11:2]
But what she again did at Bethany is another act, unrecorded by Luke, but mentioned in the same way by the other three Evangelists. In that therefore Matthew and Mark say that the head of the Lord was anointed by the woman, whilst John says the feet, we must understand that both the head and the feet were anointed by the woman. Unless because Mark has said that she broke the box in order to anoint His head, any one is so fond of cavilling as to deny that, because the box was broken, any could remain to anoint the feet of the Lord. But a man of a more pious spirit will contend that it was not broken so as to pour out the whole, or else that the feet were anointed before it was broken, so that there remained in the unbroken box enough to anoint the head.
Bede: Alabaster is a sort of white marble, veined with various colors which is often hollowed out for boxes of ointment, because it keeps things of that nature most uncorrupt. Nard is an aromatic shrub of a large and thick root, but short, black and brittle; though unctuous, it smells like cypress, and has a sharp taste, and small and dense leaves. Its tops spread themselves out like ears of corn, therefore, its gift being double, perfumers make much of the spikes and the leaves of the nard. And this is what is meant by Mark, when he says "spikenard very precious", that is, the ointment which Mary brought for the Lord was not made of the root of nard, but even, what made it more precious, by the addition of the spikes and the leaves, the gratefulness of its smell and virtue was augmented.
Theophylact, Matthew 26:2: Or as is said in Greek, of pistic nard, that is, faithful, because the ointment of the nard was made faithfully and without counterfeit.
Augustine, de Con. Evan. ii, 78: It may appear to be a contradiction, that Matthew and Mark after mentioning "two days" and "the Passover", and afterwards that Jesus was in Bethany, where that precious ointment is mentioned; whilst John, just before he speaks of the anointing, says, that Jesus came into Bethany six days before the feast. [John 12:1] But those persons who are troubled by this, are not aware that Matthew and Mark do not place that anointing in Bethany immediately after that two days of which he foretold, but by way of recapitulation at the time when there were yet six days to the Passover.
Pseudo-Jerome: Again in a mystic sense, Simon the leper means the world, first infidel, and afterwards converted, and the woman with the alabaster box, means the faith of The Church, who says, My spikenard sendeth forth its smell. It is called pistic nard, that is, faithful and precious. The house filled with the smell of it is heaven and earth; the broken alabaster box is carnal desire, which is broken at the Head, from which the whole body is framed together, whilst He was reclining, that is, humbling Himself, that the faith of the sinner might be able to reach Him, for she went up from the feet to the head, and down from the head to the feet by faith, that is, to Christ and to His members.
It goes on: "And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this loss of the ointment?"
By the figure synecdoche, one is put for many, and many for one; for it is the lost Judas who finds loss in salvation; thus in the fruitful vine rises the snare of death. Under the cover of his avarice, however, the mystery of faith speaks; for our faith is bought for three hundred pence, in our ten senses (denarii, i.e. ten senses), that is, our inward and outward senses which are again trebled by our body, soul and spirit.
Bede: and in that he says, "And they murmured against her," we must not understand this to be spoken of the faithful Apostles, but rather of Judas mentioned in the plural.
Theophylact: Or else, it appears to be aptly implied that many disciples murmured against the woman, because they had often heard our Lord talking of alms. Judas, however, was indignant, but not with the same feeling, but on account of his love of money, and filthy gain; wherefore John also records him alone, as accusing the woman with a fraudulent intent. But he says, "They murmured against her," meaning that they troubled her with reproaches, and hard words. Then Our Lord reproves His disciples, for throwing obstacles against the wish of the woman.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus said, Let her alone, why trouble ye her?" For after she had brought her gift, they wished to prevent her purpose by their reproaches.
Origen, on Matthew, 35: For they were grieved at the waste of the ointment, which might be sold for a large sum and given to the poor. This however ought not to have been, for it was right that it should be poured over the head of Christ, with a holy and fitting stream; wherefore it goes on, "She hath wrought a good work on me."
And so effectual is the praise of this good work, that it ought to excite all of us to fill the head of the Lord with sweet-smelling and rich offerings, that of us it may be said that we have done a good work over the head of the Lord. For we always have with us, as long as we remain in this life, the poor who have need of the care of those who have made progress in the word, and are enriched in the wisdom of God; they are not however able always day and night to have with them the Son of God, that is, the Word and Wisdom of God.
For it goes on: "For ye have the poor always with you, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always.
Bede: To me, indeed, He seems to speak of His bodily presence, that He should by no means be with them after His Resurrection, as He then was living with them in all familiarity.
Pseudo-Jerome: He says also, "She hath wrought a good work on me," for whosoever believes on the Lord, it is counted unto Him for righteousness. For it is one thing to believe Him, and to believe on Him, that is, to cast ourselves entirely upon Him.
It goes on: "She hath done what she could, she is come aforehand to anoint My Body to the burying."
Bede: As if the Lord said, What ye think is a waste of ointment is the service of my burial.
Theophylact: For "She is come aforehand" as though led by God "to anoint my body", as a sign of my approaching burial; by which He confounds the traitor, as if He said, With what conscience canst thou confound the woman, who anoints my body to the burial, and dost not confound thyself, who wilt deliver me to death? But the Lord makes a double prophecy; one that the Gospel shall be preached over the whole world, another that the dead of the woman shall be praised.
Wherefore it goes on: "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her."
Bede: Observe, also, that as Mary won glory throughout the whole world for the service which she rendered to the Lord, so, on the contrary, he who was bold enough to reprove her service, is held in infamy far and wide; but the Lord in rewarding the good the due praise has passed over in silence the future shame of the impious.
Ver 10. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the Chief Priests, to betray Him unto them.11. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.
Bede: The unhappy Judas wishes to compensate with the price of his Master for the loss which he thought he had made by the pouring out of the ointment.
Where it is said: "And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the Chief Priests to betray Him unto them."
Chrysostom, de Prod. Jud., Homily 1: Why dost thou tell me of his country? would that I could also have been ignorant of his existence. But there was another disciple called Judas the zealot, the brother of James, and lest by calling him by this name there should arise a confusion between the two, he separates the one from the other. But he says not Judas the traitor, that he may teach us to be guiltless of detraction, and to avoid accusing others. In that however he says, "one of the twelve", he enhanced the detestable guilt of the traitor; for there were seventy other disciples, these however were not so intimate with Him, nor admitted to such familiar intercourse. But these twelve were approved by Him, these were the regal band, out of which the wicked traitor came forth.
Pseudo-Jerome: But he was one of the twelve in number, not in merit, one in body, not in soul. But he went to the Chief Priests after he went out and Satan entered into him. Every living thing unites with what is like itself.
Bede: But by the words, "he went out", it is shown that he was not invited by the Chief Priests, nor bound by any necessity, but entered upon this design from the spontaneous wickedness of his own mind.
Theophylact: It is said, to "betray him unto them", that is, to announce to them when He should be alone. But they feared to rush upon Him when He was teaching, for fear of the people.
Pseudo-Jerome: And he promises to betray Him, as his master the devil said before, "All this power I will give thee." [Luke 4:6]
It goes on, "And when they heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money." They promise him money, and they lose their life, which he also loses on receiving the money.
Chrysostom: Oh! the madness, yes, the avarice of the traitor, for his covetousness brought forth all the evil. For covetousness retains the souls which it has taken, and confines them in every way when it has bound them, and makes them forget all things, maddening their minds. Judas, taken captive by this madness of avarice, forgets the conversation, the table of Christ, his own discipleship, Christ’s warnings and persuasion.
For there follows, "And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him."
Pseudo-Jerome: No opportunity for treachery can be found, such that it can escape vengeance here or there.
Bede: Many in this day shudder at the crime of Judas in selling his Master, his Lord and his God, for money, as monstrous and horrible wickedness. They however do not take heed, for when the sake of gain they trample on the rights of charity and truth, they are traitors to God, Who is Charity and Truth.
Ver 12. And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, His disciples said unto Him: Where wilt Thou that we go and prepare that Thou mayest eat the Passover?13. And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them: Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water - follow him.14. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is [p. 281] the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples?15. And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.16. And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover
Chrysostom: Whilst Judas was plotting how to betray Him, the rest of the disciples were taking care of the preparation of the Passover: where it is said, "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, His disciples said unto Him, ’Where wilt thou that we go and prepare where thou mayest eat the Passover?’ "
Bede: He means by the first day of the Passover the fourteenth day of the first month, when they throw aside leaven, and were wont to sacrifice, that is, to kill the lamb at even. The Apostle explaining this says, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." [1 Corinthians 5:7].
For although He was crucified on the next day, that is, on the fifteenth moon, yet on the night when the lamb was offered up, He committed to His disciples the Mysteries of His Body and Blood, which they were to celebrate, and was seized upon and bound by the Jews; thus He consecrated the beginning of His Sacrifice, that is, of His Passion.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the unleavened bread which was eaten with bitterness, that is with bitter herbs, is our redemption, and the bitterness is the Passion of Our Lord.
Theophylact: From the words of the disciples, "Where wilt thou that we go?", it seems evident that Christ had no dwelling-place, and that the disciples had no houses of their own; for if so, they would have taken Him thither.
Pseudo-Jerome: For they say, "Where wilt thou that we go?", to shew us that we should direct our steps according to the Will of God. But the Lord points out with whom He would eat the Passover, and after His custom He sends two disciples, which we have explained above; wherefore it goes on, "And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and He saith unto them, ’Go ye into the city.’ "
Theophylact: He sent two of His disciples, that is, Peter and John, as Luke says, to a man unknown to Him, implying by this that He might, if He had pleased, have avoided His Passion. For what could not He work in other men, who influenced the mind of a person unknown to Him, so that he received them? He also gives them a sign how they were to know the house, when He adds, "And there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water."
Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 80: Mark says a pitcher, Luke a two-handed vessel; one points out the kind of vessel, the other the mode of carrying it; both however mean the same truth.
Bede: And it is a proof of the presence of His divinity, that in speaking with His disciples, He knows what is to take place elsewhere; wherefore it follows, "And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them; and they made ready the Passover."
Chrysostom: Not our Passover, but in the meanwhile that of the Jews; but He did not only appoint ours, but Himself became our Passover. Why too did He eat it? Because He was "made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law," [Galatians 4:4] and Himself gave rest to the Law. And lest any one should say that He did away with it, because He could not fulfil its hard and difficult obedience, He first Himself fulfilled it, and then set it to rest.
Pseudo-Jerome: And in a mystical sense the city is The Church, surrounded by the wall of faith, the man who meets them is the primitive people, the pitcher of water is the law of the letter.
Bede: Or else, the water is the laver of grace, the pitcher points out the weakness of those who were to shew that grace to the world.
Theophylact: He who is baptized carries the pitcher of water, and he who bears baptism upon him comes to his rest, if he lives according to his reason; and he obtains rest, as being in the house. Wherefore it is added, "Follow Him."
Pseudo-Jerome: That is, him who leads to the lofty place, where is the refreshment prepared by Christ. The lord of the house is the Apostle, Peter, to who the Lord has entrusted His house, that there may be one faith under one Shepherd. [ref John 21:15] The large upper-room is the wide-spread Church, in which the Name of the Lord is spoken of, prepared by a variety of powers and tongues.
Bede: Or else, the large upper-room is spiritually the Law, which comes forth from the narrowness of the letter, and in a lofty place, that is, in the lofty chamber of the soul, receives [p.283] the Saviour. But it is designedly that the names both of the bearer of the water, and of the lord of the house, are omitted, to imply that power is given to all who wish to celebrate the true Passover, that is, to be embued with the Sacraments of Christ, and to receive Him in the dwelling-place of their mind.
Theophylact: Or else, the lord of the house is the intellect, which points out the large upper room, that is, the loftiness of intelligences, and which, though it be high, yet has nothing of vain glory, or of pride, but is prepared and made level by humility. But there, that is, in such a mind Christ’s Passover is prepared by Peter and John, that is by action and contemplation.
Ver 17. And in the evening He cometh with The Twelve.18. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, one of you which eateth with me shall betray me."19. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, "Is it I?" And another said, "Is it I?"20. And He answered and said unto them, "It is one of The Twelve, that dippeth with Me in the dish."21. "The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."
Bede: The Lord Who had foretold His Passion, prophesied also of the traitor, in order to give him room for repentance, that understanding that his thoughts were known, he might repent. Wherefore it is said, "And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me."
Chrysostom: Where it is evident that He did not proclaim him openly to all, lest He should make him the more shameless; at the same time He did not altogether keep it silent, lest thinking that he was not discovered, he should boldly hasten to betray Him.
Theophylact: But how could they eat reclining, when the law ordered that standing and upright they should eat the Passover? It is probable that they had first fulfilled the legal Passover, and had reclined, when He began to give them His own Passover.
Pseudo-Jerome: The evening of the day points out the evening of the world; for the last, who are the first to receive the penny of eternal life, come about the eleventh hour. All the disciples then are touched by the Lord; so that there is amongst them the harmony of the harp, all the well attuned strings answer with accordant tone; for it goes on: "And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, Is it I?"
One of them however, unstrung, and steeped in the love of money, said, "Is it I, Lord?", as Matthew testifies.
Theophylact: But the other disciples began to be saddened on account of the word of the Lord; for although they were free from this passion, yet they trust Him Who knows all hearts, rather than themselves.
It goes on: "And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish."
Bede: That is, Judas, who when the others were sad and held back their hands, puts forth his hand with his Master into the dish. And because He had before said, One of you shall betray me, and yet the traitor perseveres in his evil, He accuses him more openly, without however pointing out his name.
Pseudo-Jerome: Again, He says, "One out of the twelve", as it were, separate from them, for the wolf carries away from the flock the sheep which he has taken, and the sheep which quits the fold lies open to the bite of the wolf. But Judas does not withdraw his foot from his traitorous design though once and again pointed at, wherefore his punishment is foretold, that the death denounced upon him might correct him, whom shame could not overcome; wherefore it goes on: "The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him."
Theophylact: The word here used, "goeth", shews that the death of Christ was not forced, but voluntary.
Pseudo-Jerome: But because many do good, in the way that Judas did, without its profiting them, there follows: "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."
Bede: Woe, too, to that man, today and forever, who comes to the Lord’s table with an evil intent. For he, after the example of Judas, betrays the Lord, not indeed to Jewish sinners, but to his own sinning members.
It goes on: "Good were it for that man if he had never been born."
Pseudo-Jerome: That is, hidden in his mother’s inmost womb, for it is better for a man not to exist than to exist for torments.
Theophylact: For as respects the end for which he was designed, it would have been better for him to have been born, if he had not been the betrayer, for God created him for good works; but after he had fallen into such dreadful wickedness, it would have been better for him never to have been born.
Ver 22. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, "Take, eat: This is My Body."23. and He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank of it.24. And He said unto them, "This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many."25. "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink It new in the Kingdom of God."
Bede: When the rites of the old Passover were finished, He passed to the new, in order, that is, to substitute the Sacrament of His own Body and Blood, for the flesh and blood of the lamb. Wherefore there follows: "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread"; that is, in order to shew that He, Himself, is that person to whom the Lord swore, "Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedec." [Psalms 100:4] There follows: "And blessed, and brake it."
Theophylact: That is, giving thanks, He brake it, which we also do, with the addition of some prayers.
Bede: He Himself also breaks the bread, which He gives to His disciples, to shew that the breaking of His Body was to take place, not against His Will, nor without His intervention; He also blessed it, because He with the Father and the Holy Spirit filled His human nature, which He took upon Him in order to suffer, with the grace of Divine power. He blessed bread and brake it, because He deigned to subject to death His manhood, which He had taken upon Him in such a way as to shew that there was within it the power of Divine immortality, and to teach them that therefore He would the more quickly raise it from the dead.
There follows: "And gave to them, and said, ’Take, eat: This is My Body.’ "
Theophylact: That, namely, which I now give and which ye take. But the bread is not a mere figure of the Body of Christ, but is changed into the very Body of Christ. For the Lord said, "The bread which I give you is My Flesh." But the Flesh of Christ is veiled from our eyes on account of our weakness, for bread and wine are things to which we are accustomed, if however we saw flesh and blood we could not bear to take them. For this reason the Lord bending Himself to our weakness keeps the forms of bread and wine, but changes the bread and wine into the reality of His Body and Blood.
Chrysostom: Even now also that Christ is close to us; He Who prepared that table, Himself also consecrates it. For it is not man who makes the offerings to be the Body and Blood of Christ, but Christ Who was crucified for us. The words are spoken by the mouth of the Priest, and are consecrated by the power and the grace of God. By this word which He spoke, "This is My Body", the offerings are consecrated; and as that word which says, "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth," [Genesis 1:28] was sent forth but once, yet has its effect throughout all time, when nature does the work of generation; so also that voice was spoken once, yet gives confirmation to the Sacrifice through all the tables of The Church even to this day, even to His advent.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense, the Lord transfigures into bread His Body, which is the present Church, which is received in faith, is blessed in its number, is broken in its sufferings, is given in its examples, is taken in its doctrines; and He forms His Blood in the chalice of water and wine mingled together, that by one we may be purged from our sins, by the other redeemed from their punishment [formans sanguinem suum ap. I’seudo-Hier]. For by the blood of the lamb our houses are preserved from the smiting of the Angel, and our enemies perish in the waters of the Red Sea, which are the Sacraments of the Church of Christ.Wherefore it goes on: "And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them." For we are saved by the grace of the Lord, not by our own deserts.
Gregory, Mor. ii, 37: When His Passion was approaching, He is said to have taken bread and given thanks. He therefore gave thanks, Who took upon Him the stripes of other men’s wickedness; He Who did nothing worthy of smiting, humbly gives a blessing in His Passion, to shew us, what each should do when beaten for his own sins, since He Himself bore calmly the stripes due to the sin of others; furthermore to shew us, what we who are the subjects of the Father should do under correction, when He Who is His equal gave thanks under the lash.
Bede: The wine of the Lord’s cup is mixed with water, because we should remain in Christ and Christ in us. For on the testimony of John, the waters are the people, [Revelation 17:15] and it is not lawful for any one to offer either wine alone, or water alone, lest such an oblation should mean that the head may be severed from the members, and either that Christ could suffer without love for our redemption, and that we can be saved or be offered to the Father without His Passion. It goes on: "And they all drank of it."
Pseudo-Jerome: Happy intoxication, saving fulness, which the more we drink gives the greater sobriety of mind!
Theophylact: Some say that Judas did not partake in these Mysteries, but that he went out before the Lord gave the Sacrament. Some again say that He gave him also of that Sacrament.
Chrysostom: For Christ offered His Blood to him who betrayed Him, that he might have remission of his sins, if he had chosen to cease to be wicked.
Pseudo-Jerome: Judas therefore drinks and is not satisfied, nor can he quench the thirst of the everlasting fire, because he unworthily partakes of the Mysteries of Christ. There are some in The Church whom the Sacrifice does not cleanse, but their foolish thought draws them on to sin, for they have plunged themselves in the stinking slough of cruelty.
Chrysostom: Let there not be therefore a Judas at the table of the Lord; this Sacrifice is spiritual food, for as bodily food, working on a belly filled with humours which are opposed to it, is hurtful, so this spiritual food if taken by one polluted with wickedness, rather brings him to perdition, not by its own nature, but through the fault of the recipient. Let therefore our mind be pure in all things, and our thought pure, for that Sacrifice is pure.
There follows: "And He said unto them, ’This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.’ "
Bede: This refers to the different circumstances of the Old Testament, which was consecrated by the blood of calves and of goats; and the lawgiver said in sprinking it, "This is the blood of the Testament which God has injoined unto you." [Hebrews 9:19-20, ref. Exodus 24:8] It goes on: "Which is shed for many."
Pseudo-Jerome: For it does not cleanse all.It goes on: "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Theophylact: As if He had said, I will not drink wine until the Resurrection; for He calls His Resurrection "the kingdom", as He then reigned over death. But after His Resurrection He ate and drank with His disciples, shewing that it was He Himself who had suffered. But He drank it "new", that is, in a new and strange manner, for He had not a body subject to suffering, and requiring food, but immortal and incorruptible.
We may also understand it in this way. The vine is the Lord Himself. By the offspring (genimen) of the vine is meant mysteries, and the secret understanding, which He Himself begets (gererat), Who teaches man knowledge. But in the kingdom of God, that is, in the world to come, He will drink with His disciples mysteries and knowledge, teaching us new things, and revealing what He now hides.
Bede: Or else, Isaiah testifies that the synagogue is called the vine or the vineyard of the Lord, saying, "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel." [Isaiah 5:7] The Lord therefore when about to go to His Passion, says, "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine," as if He had said openly, I will no longer delight in the carnal rites of the synagogue, in which also these rites of the Paschal Lamb have held the chief place. For the time of My Resurrection shall come, that day shall come, when in the kingdom of Heaven, that is, raised on high with the glory of immortal life, I will be filled with a new joy, together with you, for the salvation of the same people born again of the fountain of spiritual grace.
Pseudo-Jerome: But we must consider that here the Lord changes the sacrifice without changing the time; so that we never celebrate the Caena Domini before the fourteenth moon. He who celebrates the Resurrection on the fourteenth moon, will celebrate the Caena Domini on the eleventh moon, which was never done in either Old or New Testament.
Ver 26. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.27. And Jesus saith unto them, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."28. "But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee."29. But Peter said unto Him, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I."30. And Jesus saith unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."31. But he spake the more vehemently, "If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise." Likewise, also, said they all.
Theophylact: As they returned thanks, before they drank, so they return thanks after drinking; wherefore it is said, "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives," to teach us to return thanks both before and after our food.
Pseudo-Jerome: For by a hymn he means the praise of the Lord, as is said in the Psalms [Ps 22, 26, 29], "The poor shall eat and be satisfied; they that seek after the Lord shall praise Him." And again, "All such as be fat upon earth have eaten and worshipped."
Theophylact: He also shews by this that He was glad to die for us, because when about to be betrayed, He deigned to praise God. He also teaches us when we fall into troubles for the sake of the salvation of many, not to be sad, but to give thanks to God, Who through our distress works the salvation of many.
Bede: That hymn in the Gospel of John may also be meant, which the Lord sang, returning thanks to the Father, in which also He prayed, raising His eyes to Heaven, for Himself and His disciples, and those who were to believe, through their word.
Theophylact: Again, He went out into a mountain, that they might come to Him in a lonely place, and take Him without tumult. For if they had come to Him, whilst He was abiding in the city, the multitude of the people would have been in an uproar, and then His enemies, who took occasion against Him, should seem to have slain Him justly, because He stirred up the people.
Bede: Beautifully also does the Lord lead out His disciples, when they had tasted His Sacraments, into the mount of Olives, to shew typically that we ought through the reception of the Sacraments to rise up to higher gifts of virtue, and graces of the Holy Ghost, that we may be anointed in heart.
Pseudo-Jerome: Jesus also is held captive on the mount of Olives, whence He ascended to Heaven, that we may know, that we ascend into Heaven from that place in which we watch and pray; there we are bound and do not tend back again to earth.
Bede: But the Lord foretells to His disciples what is about to happen to them, that when they have gone through it, they may not despair of salvation, but work out their repentance, and be freed.
Wherefore there follows: "And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night."
Pseudo-Jerome: All indeed fall, but all do not remain fallen. For shall not he who sleeps also rise up again? [Psalms 40:9] It is a carnal thing to fall, but devilish to remain lying when fallen.
Theophylact: The Lord allowed them to fall that they might not trust in themselves, and lest He should seem to have prophesied, what He had said, as an open accusation of them, He brings forward the witness of Zechariah the Prophet; wherefore it goes on: "For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." [Zechariah 13:7]
Bede: This is written in different words in Zecharias, and in the person of the Prophet it is said to the Lord, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."
Pseudo-Jerome: For the Prophet prays for the Passion of the Lord, and the Father answers, I will smite the shepherd according to the prayers of those below. The Son is sent and smitten by the Father, that is, He is made Incarnate and suffers.
Theophylact: But the Father say, "I will smite the shepherd," because He permitted him to be smitten. He calls the [p. 291] disciples sheep, as being innocent and without guile. At last He consoles them, by saying, "But after that I am risen I will go before you into Galilee."
Pseudo-Jerome: In which the true Resurrection is promised, that their hope may not be extinguished. There follows: "But Peter said unto Him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I." Lo a bird unfledged strives to raise itself on high; but the body weighs down the soul, so that the fear of the Lord is overcome by the fear of human death.
Bede: Peter then promised in the ardour of his faith, and the Saviour as God knew what was to happen.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."
Augustine, de Con. Even. iii, 2: Though all the Evangelists say that the Lord foretold that Peter was to deny before the cock crew, Mark alone has related it more minutely, wherefore some from inattention suppose that he does not agree with the others.
For the whole of Peter’s denial is threefold; if it had begun altogether after the cock crew, the other three Evangelist would seem to have spoken falsely, in saying, that before the cock crew, he would deny Him thrice. Again, if he had finished the entire threefold denial before the cock began to crow, Mark would in the person of the Lord seem to have said needlessly, "Before the cock crow twice, thou shall deny Me thrice."
But because that threefold denial began before the first cock-crowing, the other three did not notice when Peter was to finish it, but how great it was to be, that is, threefold, and when it was to begin, that is, before the cock crew, although the whole was conceived in his mind, even before the first cock crew; but Mark has related more plainly the interval between his words themselves.
Theophylact: We are to understand that it happened thus; Peter denied once, then the cock crew for the second time.
Pseudo-Jerome: Who is the cock, the harbinger of day, but the Holy Ghost? by whose voice in prophecy, and in the Apostles, we are roused from our threefold denial, to most bitter tears after our fall, for we have thought evil of God, spoken evil of our neighbours, and done evil to ourselves.
Bede: The faith of the Apostle Peter, and his burning love for our Lord, is shewn in what follows.
For it goes on: "But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise."
Theophylact: The other disciples also shewed a fearless zeal. For there follows, "Likewise also said they all," but nevertheless they acted against the truth, which Christ had prophesied.
Ver 32. And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to His disciples, "Sit ye here, while I shall pray."33. And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;34. And saith unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch."35. And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.36. And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.37. And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, "Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?"38. "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."39. And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.40. And when He returned, He found them asleep, again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer Him.41. And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." 42. "Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand."
Gloss: After that the Lord had foretold the offence of His disciples, the Evangelist gives an account of His prayer, in which He is supposed to have prayed for His disciples; and first describing the place of prayer, he says, "And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane."
Bede: The place Gethsemane, in which the Lord prayed, is shewn up to this day at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The meaning of Gethsemane is, the valley of the fat, or of fatness. Now when our Lord prays on a mountain, He teaches us that we should when we pray ask for lofty things; but by praying in the valley of fatness, He implies that in our prayer humility and the fatness of interior love must be kept. He also by the valley of humility and the fatness of charity underwent death for us.
Pseudo-Jerome: In the valley of fatness also, the fat bulls beset Him. There follows, "And He saith to His disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray;" they are separated from Him in prayer, who are separated in His Passion; for He prays, they sleep, overcome by the sloth of their heart.
Theophylact: It was also His custom always to pray by Himself, in order to give us an example, to seek for silence and solitude in our prayers. There follows: "And He taketh with Him Peter, and James and John." He takes only those who had been witnesses of His glory on Mount Tabor, that they who had seen His glory might also see His sufferings, and learn that He is really man, in that He is sorrowful.
Wherefore there follows: "And began to be sore amazed, and very heavy." For since He had taken on Himself the whole of human nature, He took also those natural things which belong to man, amazement, heaviness, and sorrow; for men are naturally unwilling to die.
Wherefore it goes on: "And He saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death."
Bede: As being God, dwelling in the body, He shews the frailty of flesh, that the blasphemy of those who deny the Mystery of His Incarnation might find no place; for having taken up a body, He must needs also take up all that belongs to the body, hunger, thirst, pain, grief; for the Godhead cannot suffer the changes of those affections.
Theophylact: but some have understood this, as if He had said, I am sorrowful, not because I am to die, but because the Jews, My countrymen, are about to crucify Me, and by these means to be shut out from the kingdom of God.
Pseudo-Jerome: By this also we are taught to fear and to be sorrowful before the judgment of death, for not by ourselves, but by Him only, can we say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." [John 14:30] There follows: "Tarry ye, here, and watch."
Bede: He does not mean natural sleep by the sleep which He forbids, for the time of approaching danger did not allow of it, but the sleep of unfaithfulness, and the torpor of the mind. But going forward a little, He falls on His face, and shews His lowliness of mind, by the posture of His body.
Wherefore there follows: "And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him."
Augustine, de Con. iii, iv: He said not, if He could do it, but if it could be done; for whatever He wills is possible. We must therefore understand, "if it be possible," as if it were; if He is willing. And lest any one should suppose that He lessened His Father’s power, He shews in what sense the words are to be understood; for there follows, "And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee."
By which He sufficiently shows that the words, "if it be possible," must be understood not of any impossibility, but of the Will of His Father. As to what Mark relates that He said not only Father, but "Abba, Father", Abba is the Hebrew for Father. And perhaps the Lord said both words, on account of some Sacrament contained in them; wishing to shew that He had taken upon Himself that sorrow in the person of His body, The Church, to which He was made the chief cornerstone, and which came to Him, partly from the Hebrews, who are represented by the word, "Abba", partly from the Gentiles, to whom "Father" belongs.
Bede: But He prays, that the cup may pass away, to shew that He is very man, wherefore He adds: "Take away this cup from Me." But remembering why He was sent, He accomplishes the dispensation for which He was sent, and cries out, "But not what I Will, but what Thou Wilt." As if He had said, If death can die, without My dying according to the flesh, let this cup pass away; but since this cannot be otherwise, "not what I Will, but what Thou Wilt."
Many still are sad at the prospect of death, but let them keep their heart right, and avoid death as much as they can; but if they cannot, then let them say what the Lord said of us.
Pseudo-Jerome: By which also He ceases not up to the end to teach us to obey our fathers, and to prefer their will to ours. There follows: "And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping." For as they are asleep in mind, so also in body.
Theophylact: But after His prayer, the Lord coming, and seeing His disciples sleeping, rebukes Peter alone. Wherefore it goes on: "And saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch with me one hour?
As if He had said, If thou couldest not watch one hour with me, how wilt thou be able to despise death, thou who promisest to die with Me?
It goes on: "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation," that is, the temptation of denying Me.
Bede: He does not say, Pray that ye may not be tempted, because it is impossible for the human mind not to be tempted, but that ye enter not into temptation, that is, that temptation may not vanquish you.
Pseudo-Jerome: But he is said to enter into temptation, who neglects to pray.
There follows: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Theophylact: As if He had said, Your spirit indeed is ready not to deny me, and for this reason ye promise; but your flesh is weak, in that unless God give power to your flesh through prayer, ye shall enter into temptation.
Bede: He here represses the rash, who think that they can compass whatever they are confident about. But in proportion as we are confident from the ardour of our mind, so let us fear from the weakness of our flesh.
For this place makes against those, who say that there was but one operation in the Lord and one Will. For He shews two wills, one human, which from the weakness of the flesh shrinks from suffering; one divine, which is most ready.
It goes on: "And again He went away and prayed, and spake the same words."
Theophylact: That by His second prayer He might shew Himself to be very man. It goes on: "And when He returned, He found them asleep again;" He however did not rebuke them severely. "For their eyes were heavy, (that is, with sleep,) neither wist they what to answers Him." By this learn the weakness of men, and let us not, whom even sleep can overcome, promise things which are impossible to us. Therefore He goes away the third time to pray the prayer mentioned above.
Wherefore it goes on: "And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest." He is not vehement against them, though after His rebuke they had done worse, but He tells them ironically, "Sleep on now, and take your rest," because He knew that the betrayer was now close at hand. And that He spoke ironically is evident, by what is added; "It is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." He speaks this, as deriding their sleep, as if He had said; Now indeed is a time for sleep, when the traitor is approaching.
Then He says; "Arise, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand."
Augustine: Or else; In that it is said, that after He had spoken these words, "Sleep on now, and take your rest," He added, "It is enough," and then, "the hour is come; behold, the Son of Man is betrayed," we must understand that after saying, "Sleep on now, and take your rest," our Lord remained silent for a short time, to give space for that to happen, which He had permitted; and then that He added, "the hour is come;" and therefore He puts in between, "it is enough," that is, your rest has been long enough.
Pseudo-Jerome: The threefold sleep of the disciples points out the three dead, whom our Lord raised up; the first, in a house; the second, at the tomb; the third, from the tomb. And the threefold watch of the Lord teaches us in our prayers, to beg for the pardon of past, future and present sins.
Ver 43. And immediately, while He yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the Chief Priests and the Scribes and the elders.44. And he that betrayed Him had given them a token, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely."45. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to Him, and saith, "Master, master;" and kissed Him.46. And they laid their hands on Him, and took Him.47. And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear.48. And Jesus answered and said unto them, "Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?"49. "I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took Me not: but the Scriptures must be fulfilled."50. And they all forsook Him, and fled.51. And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:52. And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
Bede: After that our Lord had prayed three times, and had obtained by His prayers that the fear of the Apostles should be amended by future repentance, He, being tranquil as to His Passion, goes to His persecutors, concerning the coming of whom the Evangelist says, "And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas Iscariot, on of the twelve."
Theophylact: This is not put without reason, but to the greater conviction of the traitor, since though he was of the chief company amongst the disciples, he turned himself to furious enmity against our Lord.
There follows: "And with him a great multitude with swords and staves from the Chief Priests and the Scribes and the elders."
Pseudo-Jerome: For he who despairs of help from God, has recourse to the power of the world.
Bede: But Judas had still something of the shame of a disciple, for he did not openly betray Him to His persecutors, but by the token of a kiss.
Wherefore it goes on: "And he that betrayed Him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely."
Theophylact: See how in his blindness he thought to deceive Christ by the kiss, so as to be looked upon by Him as His friend. But if thou wert a friend, Judas, how didst thou come with His enemies? But wickedness is ever without foresight.
It goes on: "And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to Him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed Him."
Pseudo-Jerome: Judas gives the kiss as a token, with poisonous guile, just as Cain offered a crafty, reprobate sacrifice.
Bede: With envy and with a wicked confidence, he calls Him master, and gives Him a kiss, in betraying Him. But the Lord receives the kiss of the traitor, not to teach us to deceive, but lest he should seem to avoid betrayal, and at the same time to fulfil that Psalm, "Among them that are enemies unto peace, I labour for peace." [Psalms 120:5]
It goes on: "And they laid hands on Him, and took Him."
Pseudo-Jerome: This is the Joseph who was sold by his brethren [Psalms 105:18], and into whose soul the iron entered. [note: this passage not found in the Venice ed. of the Pseudo-Jerome]
There follows: "And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear."
Bede: Peter did this, as John declares, with the same ardent mind with which he did all things; for he knew how Phineas had by punishing sacrilegious persons received the reward of righteousness and of perpetual priesthood.
Theophylact: Mark conceals his name, lest he should seem to be praising his master for his zeal for Christ. Again, the action of Peter points out that they were disobedient and unbelieving, despising the Scriptures; for if they had ears to hear the Scriptures, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But he cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest, for the Chief Priests especially passed over the Scriptures, like disobedient servants.
It goes on: "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?"Bede: As if He had said, it is foolish to seek with swords and staves Him, who offers Himself to you of His own accord, and to search, as for one who hides Himself, by night and by means of a traitor, for Him who taught daily in the temple.
Theophylact: This, however, is a proof of His divinity, for when He taught in the temple they were unable to take Him, although He was in their power, because the time of His Passion had not yet come; but when He Himself was willing, then He gave Himself up, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, "for he was led as a lamb to the slaughter," not crying nor raising His voice, but suffering willingly. It goes on: "And they all forsook Him and fled."
Bede: In this is fulfilled the word, which the Lord had spoken, that all His disciples should be offended in Him that same night.
There follows: "And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body," that is, he had no other clothing but this linen cloth.
It goes on: "And they laid hold on him, and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked." That is, he fled from them, whose presence and whose deeds he abhorred, not from the Lord, for Whom his love remained fixed in his mind, when absent from Him in body.
Pseudo-Jerome: Just as Joseph left his mantle behind him, and fled naked from the wanton woman; so also let him, who would escape the hands of the evil ones, quit in mind all that is of the world, and fly after Jesus.
Theophylact: It appears probable that this young man was of that house, where they had eaten the Passover. But some say that this young man was James, the brother of our Lord, who was called Just; who after the ascension of Christ received from the Apostles the throne of the bishopric of Jerusalem.
Greg., Mor. 14, 49: Or, he says this of John, who, although he afterwards returned to the cross to hear the words of the Redeemer, at first was frightened and fled.
Bede: For that he was a young man at that time, is evident from his long sojourn in the flesh. Perhaps he escaped from the hands of those who held him for the time, and afterwards got back his garment and returned, mingling under cover of the darkness with those who were leading Jesus, as though he was one of them, until he arrived at the door of the High Priest, to whom he was known, as he himself testifies in the Gospel. But as Peter, who washed away the sin of his denial with the tears of penitence, shews the recovery of those who fall away in time of martyrdom, so the other disciples who prevented their actual seizure, teach the prudence of flight to those who feel themselves unequal to undergo tortures.
Ver 53. And they led Jesus away to the High Priest: and with him were assembled all the Chief Priests and the elders and the Scribes.54. And Peter followed Him afar off, even into the palace of the High Priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.55. And the Chief Priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death; and found none.56. For many bare false witness against Him, but their witness agreed not together.57. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against Him, saying,58. "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands."59. But neither so did their witness agree together.
Gloss: The Evangelist had related above how our Lord had been taken by the servants of the Priests. Now he begins to relate how He was condemned to death in the house of the High Priest. Wherefore it is said: "And they led Jesus away to the High Priest."
Bede: He means by the High Priest, Caiaphas, who (as John writes) was High Priest that year, of whom Josephus relates that he bought his priesthood of the Roman Emperor. There follows: "And with him were assembled all the Chief Priests and the elders and the scribes."
Pseudo-Jerome: Then took place the gathering together of the bulls among the heifers of the people. [Psalms 67:31, Vulgate]
It goes on: "And Peter followed Him afar off, even into the palace of the High Priest." For though fear holds him back, love draws him on.
Bede: But rightly does he follow afar off, who is just about to betray Him; for he could not have denied Christ if he had remained close to Him. There follows: "And he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire."
Pseudo-Jerome: He warms himself at the fire in the hall, with the servants. The hall of the High Priest is the enclosure of the world, the servants are the devils, with [p. 301] whom whosoever remains cannot weep for his sins; the fire is the desire of the flesh.
Bede: For charity is the fire of which it is said, "I am come to send fire on the earth," [Luke 12:49] which flame coming down on the believers, taught them to speak with various tongues the praise of the Lord. There is also a fire of covetousness, of which it is said, "They are all adulterers as an oven:" [Hosea (Osee) 7:4] this fire, raised up in the hall of Caiaphas by the suggestion of an evil spirit, was arming the tongues of the traitors to deny and blaspheme the Lord. For the fire lit up in the hall amidst the cold of the night was a figure of what the wicked assembly was doing within; for because of the abounding of iniquity the love of many waxes cold. [Matthew 24:12] Peter, who for a time was benumbed by this cold, wished as it were to be warmed by the coals of the servants of Caiaphas, because He sought in the society of traitors the consolation of worldly comfort. It goes on: "And the Chief Priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death."
Theophylact: Though the law commanded that there should be but one High Priest, there were then many put into the office, and stripped of it, year by year, by the Roman emperor. He therefore calls chief priests those who had finished the time alloted to them, and had been stripped of their priesthood. But their actions are a sign of their judgment, which they carried on as they had prejudged, for they sought for a witness, that they might seem to condemn and destroy Jesus with justice.
Pseudo-Jerome: But iniquity lied as the queen did against Joseph, and the priests against Susannah, but a flame goes out, if it has no fuel.
Wherefore it goes on: "And found none. For many bare false witness against Him, but their witness agreed not together." For whatever is not consistent is held to be doubtful.
There follows: "And there arose certain, and bare false witness against Him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands."
It is usual with heretics out of the truth to extract the shadow; He did not say what they said, but something like it, of the temple of His body, which He raised again after two days.
Theophylact: For the Lord had not said, I will destroy, but, "Destroy", nor did He say, made with hands, but, "this temple."
Bede: He had said also, "I will raise up," meaning a thing with life and soul, and a breathing temple. He is a false witness, who understands words in a sense, in which they are not spoken.
Ver 60. And the High Priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, "Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?"61. But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the High Priest asked Him, and said unto Him, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"62. And Jesus said, "I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven."63. Then the High Priest rent his clothes, and saith, "What need we any further witnesses?"64. "Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?" And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.65. And some began to spit on Him, and to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and to say unto Him, "Prophesy:" and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands.
Bede: The more Jesus remained silent before the false witnesses who were unworthy of His answer, and the impious priests, the more the High Priest, overcome with anger, endeavoured to provoke Him to answer, that he might find room for accusing Him, from any thing whatever which He might say.
Wherefore it is said, "And the High Priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?"
The High Priest, angry and impatient at finding no room for accusation against Him, rises from his seat, thus shewing by the motion of his body the madness of his mind.
Pseudo-Jerome: But our God and Saviour Himself, Who brought salvation to the world, and assisted mankind by His love, is led as a sheep to the slaughter, without crying, and remained mute and "kept silence yea even from good words."
Wherefore it goes on, "But He held His peace, and answered nothing."
The silence of Christ is the pardon for the defence or excuse of Adam. [Genesis 3:10]
Theophylact: But He remained silent because He knew that they would not attend to His words, wherefore He answered according to Luke, "If I tell you, ye will not believe." [Luke 22:67]
Wherefore there follows: "Again the High Priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
The High Priest indeed puts this question, not that he might learn of Him and believe, but in order to seek occasion against Him. But he asks, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed," because there were many Christs, that is, anointed persons, as Kings and High Priests, but none of these was called the Son of the Blessed God, that is, the Ever-praised.
Pseudo-Jerome: But they looked from afar off for Him, whom though near they cannot see, as Isaac from the blindness of his eyes does not know Jacob who was under his hands, but prophecies long before things which were to come to him. It goes on: "Jesus said, I am;" namely, that they might be inexcusable.
Theophylact: For He knew that they would not believe, nevertheless He answered them, lest they should afterwards say, If we had heard any thing from Him, we would have believed on Him; but this is their condemnation, that they heard and did not believe.
Augustine, de Con., iii, 6: Matthew, however, does not say that Jesus answered, "I am," but, "Thou has said." But Mark shews that the words "I am" were equivalent to "Thou hast said."
There follows: "And ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." [Matthew 26:64]
Theophylact: As if He had said, Ye shall see Me as the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Father, for He here calls the Father, "power". He will not however come without a body, but as He appeared to those who crucified Him, so will He appear in the judgment.
Bede: If therefore to thee, O Jew, O Pagan, and heretic, the contempt, weakness, and cross in Christ are a subject of scorn, see how by this the Son of Man is to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to come in His majesty on the clouds of heaven.
Pseudo-Jerome: The High Priest indeed asks the Son of God, but Jesus in His answer speaks of the Son of Man, that we may by this understand that the Son of God is also the Son of Man; and let us not make a quaternity (a reference to the charge brought by the Apollinarians against the Catholics, that their doctrine of a divine human substance in our Lord introduced a fourth Person into the Blessed Trinity; it is also answered by St. Ambrose, de Incarnatione, 7, 77 [ed. note?]) in the Trinity, but let man be in God and God in man.
And He said, "Sitting on the right hand of power," that is, reigning in life everlasting, and in the Divine power. He says, "And coming with the clouds of heaven." He ascended in a cloud, He will come with a cloud; that is, He ascended in that body alone, which He took of the Virgin, and He will come to judgment with the whole Church, which is His body and His fulness.
Leo, Sermon 5, de Pass.: But Caiaphas, to increase the odiousness of what they had heard, "rent his clothes," and without knowing what his frantic action meant, by this madness, deprived himself of the honour of the priesthood, forgetting that command, by which it is said of the High Priest, "He shall not uncover his head or rend his clothes." [Leviticus 21:10]
For there follows: "The High Priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?"Theophylact: The High Priest does after the manner of the Jews; for whenever any thing intolerable or sad occurred to them, they used to rend their clothes. In order then to shew that Christ had spoken great and intolerable blasphemy, he rent his clothes.
Bede: But it was also with a higher mystery, that in the Passion of our Lord the Jewish priest rent his own clothes, that is, his ephod, whilst the garment of the Lord could not be rent, even by the soldiers, who crucified Him. For it was a figure that the Jewish priesthood was to be rent on account of the wickedness of the priests themselves. But the solid strength of the Church, which is often called the garment of her Redeemer, can never be torn asunder.
Theophylact: The Jewish priesthood was to be rent from the time that they condemned Christ as guilty of death. Wherefore there follows: "And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death."
Pseudo-Jerome: They condemned Him to be guilty of death, that by His guiltiness He might absolve our guilt.
It goes on: "And some began to spit on Him, and to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and to say unto Him, Prophecy: and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands;" that is, that by being spit upon He might wash the face of our soul, and by the covering of His face, might take away the veil from our hearts, and by the buffets, which were dealt upon His head, might heal the head of mankind, that is, Adam, and by the blows, by which He was smitten with the hands, His great praise might be testified by the clapping of our hands and by our lips, as it is said, "O clap your hands together, all ye people." [Psalms 47:1]
Bede: By saying, "Prophesy, who is he that smote thee," they mean to insult Him, because He wished to be looked upon as a prophet by the people.
Augustine: We must understand by this, that the Lord suffered these things till morning, in the house of the High Priest, whither He had first been brought.
Ver 66. And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the High Priest:67. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, "And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth."68. But he denied, saying, "I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest." And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.69. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, "This is one of them."70. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, "Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto."71. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not this man of whom ye speak."72. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, "Before the cock crew twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Augustine: Concerning the temptation of Peter, which happened during the injuries mentioned, all the Evangelists do not speak in the same order. For Luke first relates the [p. 306] temptation of Peter, then these injuries of the Lord; but John begins to speak of the temptation of Peter, and then puts in some things concerning our Lord’s ill-treatment, and adds, that He was sent from there to Caiaphas the High Priest, and then he goes back to unfold the temptation of Peter, which he had begun.
Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, first notice the injuries done to Christ, then the temptation of Peter.
Concerning which it is said, "And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the High Priest."
Bede: But what can be meant by his being first recognized by a woman, when men were more able to know him, if it be not that that sex might be seen to sin in the death of our Lord, and that sex be redeemed by His Passion? It goes on: "But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest."
Pseudo-Jerome: Peter when he had not the Spirit yielded and lost courage at the voice of a girl, though with the Spirit he was not afraid before princes and kings.
Theophylact: The Lord allowed this to happen to him by His providence, that is, lest he should be too much elated, and at the same time, that he might prove himself merciful to sinners, as knowing from himself the result of human weakness. There follows: "And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew."
Bede: The other Evangelists do not mention this crowing of the cock; they do not however deny the fact, as also some pass over many other things in silence, which others relate. There follows: "And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them."
Augustine [ed. note: for a harmony of this portion of the Gospel, v. Williams on the Passion,: This maid is not the same, but another, as Matthew says. Indeed, we must also understand, that in this second denial he was addressed by two persons, that is, by the maid whom Matthew and Mark mention, and by another person, of whom Luke takes notice. It goes on: "And he denied it again."
Peter had now returned, for John says that he denied Him again standing at the fire; wherefore the maid said what has been mentioned above, not to him, that is, Peter, but to those who, when he went out, had remained, in such a way however that he heard it; wherefore coming back and standing again at the fire, he contradicted them, and denied their words. For it is evident, if we compare the accounts of all the Evangelists on this matter, that Peter did not the second time deny Him before the porch, but within the palace at the fire, whilst Matthew and Mark who mention his having gone out are silent, for the sake of brevity, as to his return.
Bede: By this denial of Peter we learn, that not only he denied Christ, who says that He is not the Christ, but he also, who although he is a Christian, denies himself to be such. For the Lord did not say to Peter, Thou shalt deny thyself to be my disciple, but, "Thou shalt deny me;" he therefore denied Christ, when he said that he was not His disciple.
There follows: "And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them, for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto."
Not that the Galilaeans spoke a different tongue from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for they were both Hebrews, but that each province and region has its own peculiarities, and cannot avoid a vernacular pronunciation.
Theophylact: Therefore Peter was seized with fear, and forgetting the word of the Lord, which said, "Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father," [Matthew 30:32] he denied our Lord.
Wherefore there follows: "But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak."
Bede: How hurtful it is to speak with the wicked. He denies before infidels that he knows the Man, whom amongst the disciples, he had confessed to be God. But the Scripture is wont to point out a Sacrament of the causes of things, by the state of the time; thus Peter, who denied at midnight, repented at cock crew.
Wherefore it is added: "And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word which Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crew twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."
Theophylact: For tears brought Peter by penitence to Christ. Confounded then be the Novatians, who say that he who sins after receiving baptism is not received to the remission of his sin. For behold Peter, who had also received the Body and Blood of the Lord, is received by penitence; for the failings of saints are written, that if we fall by want of caution, we also may be able to run back through their example, and hope to be relieved by penitence.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense, the first maid means the wavering, the second, the assent, the third man is the act. This is the threefold denial which the remembrance of the word of the Lord washes away through tears. The cock then crows for us when some preacher stirs up our hearts by repentance to compunction. We then begin to weep, when we are set on fire within by the spark of knowledge, and we go forth, when we cast out what we were within.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Mark 14". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter