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Ver 1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,2. "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified."
Hilary: After the discourse in which the Lord had declared that He should return in splendour, He announces to them His approaching Passion, that they might learn the close connection between the sacrament of the Cross, and the glory of eternity.
Raban.: "All these sayings," i.e. about the consummation of the world, and the day of judgment. Or, "finished," because He had fulfilled in doing and preaching all things from the beginning of the Gospel to His Passion.
Origen: Yet it is not "all" barely, but "all these;" for there were other sayings which He must speak before He should be delivered up.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: We gather from John’s account, that six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, and thence entered Jerusalem sitting upon the ass, after which were done the things related to have been done at Jerusalem. We understand therefore that four days elapsed from His coming to Bethany, to make this two days before the Passover. The difference between the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread is this; the name Passover is given to that one day on which the lamb was slain in the evening, that is, the fourteenth moon of the first month; and on the fifteenth moon, the day that the people came out of Egypt, followed the festival of unleavened bread. But the Evangelists seem to use the terms indifferently. [marg. note: see Acts 12:3]
Jerome: The Passover, called in Hebrew Phase, does not come as most think from ’to suffer,’ but from the Hebrew word signifying ’to pass over;’ because the destroyer passed over when he saw the blood on the doors of the Israelites, and smote them not; or the Lord Himself walked on high, succouring His people.
Remig.: Or, because by the help of the Lord the Israelitish people, freed from Egyptian bondage, passed forth into liberty.
Origen: He said not, "After two days" will be, or will come, "the feast of the Passover," but not meaning the ordinary annual Passover, but that Passover such as had never before been, "the Passover will be offered."
Remig.: Mystically, that is called the Passover, because on that day Christ passed out of the world to His Father, from corruption to incorruption, from life to death, or because He redeemed the world by causing it savingly to pass from the slavery of the Devil.
Jerome: After the two days of the shining light of the Old and of the New Testament, the true Passover is slain for the world. Also our Passover is celebrated when we leave the things of earth, and hasten to the things of heaven.
Origen: He foretels His crucifixion to His disciples, adding, "And the Son of Man shall be delivered to be crucified;" thus fortifying them against that shock of surprise, which the sight of their Master, led forth to crucifixion, would otherwise have occasioned them. And He expresses it impersonally "shall be delivered," because God delivered Him up in mercy to the human race, Judas from covetousness, the Priest for envy, the Devil through fear that through His teaching the human race would be plucked out of His hand, little aware how much more that would be effected by His death, than either by His teaching or miracles.
Ver 3. Then assembled together the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiaphas,4. And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.5. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Gloss., non occ.: Then the Evangelist lays before us the hidden springs and machinery by which the Lord’s Passion was brought to pass.
Remig.: This, "then," is to be referred to the preceding words, and means before the Feast of the Passover.
Origen: Not true Priests and elders, but Priests and elders of what seemed the people of God, but was indeed the people of Gomorrah; these, not knowing God’s High Priest, laid a plot against Him, not recognizing "the firstborn of the whole creation, [Col 1:15] yea, even against Him that was elder than them all, did they take counsel.
Chrys.: With such ill designs they came to the chief Priest, seeking a sanction whence a prohibition should have issued. There were at that time several Chief Priests, while the Law allowed but of one, whence it was manifest that the dissolution of the Jewish state was having its beginning. For Moses had commanded that there should be one Chief Priest, whose office should be filled up at death; but in process of time it grew to be annual. All those then who had been Chief Priests [marg. note: ] are here called "Chief Priests."
Remig.: They are condemned both because they were gathered together, and because they were the Chief Priests; for the more the numbers, and the higher the rank and station of those who band together for any villainy, the greater the enormity of what they do, and the heavier the punishment stored up for them. To shew the Lord’s innocence and openness, the Evangelist adds, "that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him."
Chrys.: For what then did they conspire, to seize Him secretly, or put Him to death? For both; but they feared the people, and therefore waited till the feast was over, for "they said, not on the feast-day." For the Devil would not that Christ should suffer at the Passover, that His Passion might not be notorious. The Chief Priests had no fear in respect of God, namely, that their guilt might be aggravated by the season, but took into account human things only, "Lest there be an uproar among the people."
Origen: By reason of the parties among the populace, those who favoured and those who hated Christ, those who believed and those who believed not.
Leo, Serm. 58, 2: This precaution of the Chief Priests arose not from reverence for the festival, but, from care for the success of their plot; they feared an insurrection at that season, not because of the guilt the populace might thereby incur, but because they might rescue Christ.
Chrys.: But their fury set aside their caution, and finding a betrayer, they put Christ to death in the middle of the feast.
Leo, Serm. 58, 1: We recognise here a providential arrangement whereby the chief men of the Jews, who had often sought occasion of effecting their cruel purposes against Christ, could never yet succeed till the days of the paschal celebration. For it behoved that the things which had long been promised in symbol and mystery should be accomplished in manifest reality, that the typical lamb should be displaced by the true, and one sacrifice embrace the whole catalogue of the varied victims. That shadows should give way to substance, and copies to the presence of the original; victim is commuted for victim, blood is abolished by blood, and the festival of the Law is at once fulfilled and changed.
Ver 6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,7. There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.8. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, "To what purpose is this waste?9. For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor."10. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, "Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.11. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.12. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.13. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
Gloss, non. occ.: Having set before us the counsels of the chief of the Jews concerning the death of Christ, the Evangelist would proceed to follow out their execution, and to relate the bargain of Judas with the Jews to deliver Him up, but be first shews the cause of this betrayal. He was grieved that the ointment which the woman poured upon Christ’s head had not been sold that he might have carried off something out of the price it brought, and to make up this loss he was willing to betray his Master. And therefore he proceeds, "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper."
Jerome: Not that he was a leper yet, but having been so, and having been healed by the Saviour, be retained the appellation to shew forth the power of Him who healed him.
Raban.: "Alabaster" is a kind of marble, white but marked with veins of different colours, which was in use for vessels to hold ointment, because it was said to preserve it from corruption.
Jerome: Another Evangelist instead of ’alabastruin’ has ’nardum pisticam,’ that is, genuine, unadulterated. [marg. note: John 12:3]
Raban.: From the Greek, faith, whence ’pisticus,’ faithful. For this ointment was pure, unadulterated.
Origen: Some one may perhaps think that there are four different women of whom the Evangelists have written, but I rather agree with those who think that they are only three; one of whom Matthew and Mark wrote, one of whom Luke, another of whom John.
Jerome: For let no one think that she who anointed His head and she who anointed His feet were one and the same; for the latter washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, and is plainly said to have been a harlot. But of this woman nothing of this kind is recorded, and indeed a harlot could not have at once been made deserving of the Lord’s head.
Ambrose, Ambros. in Luc. 7, 37: It is possible therefore that they were different persons, and so all appearance of contradiction between the Evangelists is removed. Or it is possible that it was the same woman at two different times and two different stages of desert; first while yet a sinner, afterwards more advanced.
Chrys., Hom. lxxx: And in this way it may be the same in the three Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And not without good reason does the Evangelist mention Simon’s leprosy, to shew what gave this woman confidence to come to Christ. The leprosy was an unclean disease; when then she saw that Jesus had healed the man with whom He now lodged, she trusted that He could also cleanse the uncleanness of her soul; and so whereas other women came to Christ to be healed in their bodies, she came only for the honour and the healing of her soul, having nothing diseased in her body; and for this she is worthy our highest admiration. But she in John is a different woman, the wonderful sister of Lazarus.
Origen: Matthew and Mark relate that this was done in the house of Simon the leper; but John says that Jesus came to a house where Lazarus was; and that not Simon, but Mary and Martha served. Further, according to John, six days before the Passover, He came to Bethany where Mary and Martha made Him a supper. But here it is in the house of Simon the leper, and two days before the Passover.
And in Matthew and Mark, it is the disciples that have indignation with a good intent; in John, Judas alone with intent to steal; in Luke, no one finds fault.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxiii, 1: Or, we may think that this is the same woman whom Luke calls a "sinner," and John names Mary.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 79: Though the action described in Luke is the same as that described here, and the name of him with whom the Lord supped is the same, for Luke also names Simon; yet because it is not contrary to either nature or custom for two men to bear the same name, it is more probable that this was another Simon, not the leper, in whose house in Bethany these things were done.
I would only suppose that the woman who on that occasion came near to Jesus’ feet, and this woman, were not two different persons, but that the same Mary did this twice. The first time is that narrated by Luke; for John mentions it in praise of Mary before Christ’s coming to Bethany, "It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick." [John 11:2] Mary therefore had done this before. That she did afterwards in Bethany is distinct from Luke’s account, but is the same event that is recorded by all three, John, Matthew, and Mark. That Matthew and Mark say it was the Lord’s head that she anointed, and John His feet, is reconciled by supposing that she anointed both.
Against this one might raise a cavil from what Mark says, that she anointed His head by breaking the box over it, so that there could be none of the ointment left with which to anoint His feet also. Let such caviller understand, that His feet were first anointed before the box was broken, and there remained in it, yet whole, enough wherewith to anoint the head by breaking the box and shedding the contents.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., iii, 12: But let not any suppose that the Lord’s feet were by this woman bathed in ointment after the manner which the luxurious and debauched use. In all things of this nature, it is not the thing itself, but the mind of him who uses it, that is in fault. Whoso uses things after such sort as to pass the bounds observed by good men with whom he lives, either has some meaning [marg. note: aliquid significat] in what he does, or is vicious. What then is vice in others, in a divine or prophetic person is a sign of some great thing.
The good odour is the good report which one has gained by the works of a good life, and in following Christ’s footsteps sheds a most precious odour on His feet.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: Still there may seem to be some discrepancy between the narrative of Matthew and Mark, who say, that "after two days is the feast of the Passover," and then bring Jesus to Bethany; and that of John, who, relating this history of the ointment, says "Six days before the Passover."
They who urge this do not understand that the events in Bethany are in Matthew and Mark inserted out of their place, a little later than the time of their occurrence. Neither of them, it is to be observed, introduce their account with ’afterwards.’
Chrys.: The disciples had heard their Master say, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," [Matt 9:13] wherefore they thought among themselves, If He accepts not burnt-offerings, much less will He the application of such ointment as this.
Jerome: I know that some raise a cavil here, because John says that Judas alone was grieved because he had the bag, and was a thief from the beginning; but Matthew, that all the disciples were sorrowful. These know not the figure syllepsis, by which one name is put for many, and many for one; as Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews says, "They were sawn asunder," [Heb 11:37] when it is thought that one only, Esaias namely, was so.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 79: We may however understand that the other disciples thought or said the same, or that they assented to what Judas said, and thus Matthew and Mark have described their common consent. But Judas said it because he was a thief, the others out of their care for the poor; and John desired to mention it only in the case of him whose thievish propensity he thought ought to be recorded.
Chrys.: The disciples then thought thus, but Jesus, who saw the thoughts of the woman, suffered it. For her piety was great, and her ardour unspeakable, wherefore He condescended to suffer her to pour the ointment on His head. As the Father admitted the smoke and odour of the slain victim, so also Christ admitted this votive anointing of His head, though the disciples, who saw not her heart, murmured.
Remig.: He clearly shews that the Apostles had uttered something harsh against her, when He says, "Why trouble ye the woman?" And beautifully He adds, "She hath wrought a good work in me;" as much as to say, It is not a waste of ointment, as ye say, but a good work, that is, a service of piety and devotion.
Chrys.: And He says not merely, "She hath wrought a good work," but says first, "Why trouble ye the woman?" to teach us that every good act that is wrought by any, even though it lack somewhat of exact propriety, yet we ought to receive, cherish, and cultivate it, and not to require strict correctness in a beginner. If He had been asked before this was done by the woman, He would not have directed its doing; but when it was done, the rebuke of the disciples had no longer any place, and He Himself to guard the woman from importunate attacks speaks these things for her comfort.
Remig.: "For the poor ye have ever with you." The Lord shews in these words as of set purpose, that they were not to be blamed who ministered of their substance to Him while He dwelt in a mortal body; forasmuch as the poor were ever in the Church, to whom the believers might do good whensoever they would, but He would abide in the body with them but a very short time. Whence it follows, "But me ye shall not have always."
Jerome: Here a question arises how the Lord should have said elsewhere to His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world;" [Matt 28:20] but here, "Me ye shall not have always."
I suppose that in this place He speaks of His bodily presence, which shall not be with them after the resurrection in daily intercourse and friendship, as it is now.
Remig.: Or, it is to be explained by supposing this spoken to Judas only; and He said not, Ye have not, but "Ye shall not have," because this was spoken in the person of Judas to all his followers. And He says, "Not always," though they have it at no time, because the wicked seem to have Christ in this present world, while they mix among His members and approach His table, but they shall not always so have Him when He shall say to His elect, "Come, ye blessed of my Father." [Matt 25:34]
It was the custom among this people to embalm the bodies of the dead with divers spices, to the end that they might be kept from corruption as long as possible. And as this woman was desirous of embalming the Lord’s dead Body, and would not be able because she would be anticipated by His resurrection, it was therefore arranged by Divine Providence that she should anoint the Lord’s living Body. This then is what He says, "In that she hath poured," that is, By anointing My living Body she shews forth My death and burial.
Chrys.: That this mention of His death and burial might not cause her to despond, He comforts her by what follows, "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever &c."
Raban.: That is, To whatsoever place throughout the whole world the Church shall be propagated, there this also that she hath done shall be told. That also that is added signifies, that as Judas by his reproof of her has earned evil character of treachery, so has she also earned the glory of pious devotedness.
Jerome: Note His knowledge of things to come, how though about to suffer death within two days, He knows that His Gospel will be preached throughout the whole world.
Chrys.: Behold the accomplishment of this saying; to whatsoever part of the world you go, you will find this woman famous, and this has been wrought by the power of Him who spake this word. How many victories of kings and captains have passed into oblivion; how many who built cities and enslaved many nations are now known neither by report nor by name; but the deed of this woman pouring forth ointment in the house of a leper in the presence of twelve men, this resounds throughout the world, and though so much time has elapsed, the memory of that which was done is not effaced.
But why promised He no spiritual gift to this woman, but everlasting remembrance only? Because this He did promise made her confident of receiving the other also; whereas she wrought a good work, it is clear that she shall receive an adequate reward.
Jerome: Mystically; The Lord, about to suffer for the whole world, sojourns in Bethany, in the house of obedience, which once was that of Simon the leper. Simon also is interpreted ’obedient,’ or, according to another interpretation, ’the world,’ in whose house the Church is healed.
Origen: Oil is throughout Scripture put for the work of mercy, with which the lamp of the word is fed; or for doctrine, the hearing of which sustains the word of faith when once kindled. All with which men anoint is comprehensively called oil; and one kind of oil is unguent, and one kind of unguent is precious. So all righteous acts are called good works; and of good works there is one kind which we do for, or to, men; another which we do for, or to, God. And this likewise that we do for God, in part only advances the good of men, in part, the glory of God.
For example, one does a kindness to a man out of feelings of natural righteousness, not for God’s sake, as the Gentiles sometime did; such a work is common oil of no fine savour, yet is it acceptable to God, forasmuch, as Peter says in Clement, the good works that the unbelievers do, profit them in this world, but avail not to gain them eternal life in another. They who do the same for God’s sake, profit thereby not in this world only but in the next also, and that they do is ointment of good savour.
Another sort is that done for the good of men, as alms, and the like. He who does this to Christians, anoints the Lord’s feet, for they are the Lord’s feet; and this penitents are most found to do for remission of their sins. He who devotes himself to chastity, and continues in fastings and prayers, and other things which conduce to God’s glory only, this is the ointment which anoints the Lord’s head, and with whose odour the whole Church is filled; this is the work meet not for penitents, but for the perfect, or the doctrine which is necessary for men; but the acknowledgment of the faith which belongs to God alone, is the ointment with which the head of Christ is anointed, with which we "are buried together with Christ by baptism into death." [Rom 6:4]
Hilary: In this woman is prefigured the people of the Gentiles, who gave glory to God in Christ’s passion; for she anointed His head, but the head of Christ is God, and ointment is the fruit of good works. But the disciples, anxious for the salvation of Israel, say that this ought to have been sold for the use of the poor; designating by a prophetic instinct the Jews, who lacked faith, by the name of the poor. The Lord answers that there is abundant time in which they may shew their care for the poor, but that salvation cannot be extended to the Gentiles but by obedience to His command, if, that is, by the pouring out of this woman’s ointment they are buried together with Him, because regeneration can only be given to those who are dead in the profession of baptism. And this her work shall be told wherever this Gospel is preached, because when Israel draws back, the glory of the Gospel is preached by the belief of the Gentiles.
Ver 14. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the Chief Priests,15. And said unto them, "What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?" And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.16. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Gloss., non. occ.: Having described the occasion of his treachery, the Evangelist proceeds to recount the manner of it.
Chrys.: "Then," when, that is, he heard that this Gospel should be preached every where; for that made him afraid, as it was indeed a mark of unspeakable power.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 78: The order of the narrative is this. The Lord says, "Ye know that after two days will be the feast of the Passover; . . . then assembled together the Chief Priests and Scribes; . . . then went one of the twelve."
Thus the narrative of what took place at Bethany is inserted by way of digression, respecting an earlier time between that, "Lest there be an uproar," and, "Then one of the twelve."
Origen: "Went," against that one high priest, who was made a Priest for ever, to many high priests, to sell for a price Him who sought to redeem the whole world.
Raban.: "Went," he says, because he was neither compelled, nor invited, but of his own free will formed the wicked design.
Chrys.: "One of the twelve," as much as to say, of that first band who are elected for preeminent merit.
Gloss, non. occ: He adds his distinctive appellation, "Scarioth," for there was another Judas.
Remig.: So called from the village Scariotha, from which he came.
Leo, Serm., 60, 4: He did not out of any fear forsake Christ, but through lust of money cast Him off; for in comparison of the love of money all our affections are feeble; the soul athirst for gain fears not to die for a very little; there is no trace of righteousness in that heart in which covetousness has once taken up its abode. The traitor Judas, intoxicated with this bane, in his thirst for lucre was so foolishly hardened, as to sell his Lord and Master.
Jerome: The wretched Judas would fain replace, by the sale of his Master, that loss which he supposed he had incurred by the ointment. And he does not demand any fixed sum, lest his treachery should seem a gainful thing, but as though delivering up a worthless slave, he left it to those who bought, to determine how much they would give.
Origen: The same do all who take any material or worldly things to cast out of their thoughts the Saviour and the word of truth which was in them. "And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver," as many pieces as the Saviour had dwelt years in the world.
[ed. note: i.e. Before He began His ministry, as what follows in Origen shews. For though Origen had at one time considered the duration of Our Lord’s ministry not to have exceeded one year and a few months, he had changed that opinion before this commentary on S. Matt. was written. In it he more than once mentions three years as the probable period. vid. Comm. in Matt. Ser., sect 40]
Jerome: Joseph was not sold as many, following the LXX [septuagint], think for twenty pieces of gold, but as the Hebrew text has for twenty pieces of silver, [marg. note: Gen 37:28] for it could not be that the servant should be more valuable than his Master.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 41: That the Lord was sold for thirty pieces of silver by Judas, denotes the unrighteous Jews, who pursuing things carnal and temporal, which belong to the five bodily senses, refuse to have Christ; and forasmuch as they did this in the sixth age of the world, their receiving five times six as the price of the Lord is thus signified; and because the Lord’s words are silver, but they understood even the Law carnally, they had, as it were, stamped on silver the image of that worldly dominion which they held to when they renounced the Lord.
Origen: The "opportunity" which Judas sought is further explained by Luke, "how he might betray him in the absence of the multitude;" [Luke 22:6] when the populace was not with Him, but He was withdrawn with His disciples. And this he did, delivering Him up after supper, when He was withdrawn to the garden of Gethsemane. And from that time forward, such has been the season sought for by those that would betray the word of God in time of persecution, when the multitude of believers is not around the word of truth.
Ver 17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, "Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?"18. And he said, "Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples."19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
Gloss., non occ.: The Evangelist having gone through the events preliminary to the Passion, namely, the announcement of the counsel of the Chief Priests, and the covenant for His betrayal, prosecutes the history in the order of events, saying, "On the first day of unleavened bread."
Jerome: The first day of unleavened bread is the fourteenth day of the first month, when the lamb is killed, the moon is at full, and leaven is put away.
Remig.: And observe that with the Jews, the Passover is celebrated on the first day, and the following seven are called the days of unleavened bread; but here the first day of unleavened bread means the day of the Passover.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxi: Or, by "the first day," he means the day before the days of unleavened bread. For the Jews always reckoned their day from the evening; and this day of which he speaks was that on the evening of which they were to kill the Passover, namely, the fifth day of the week.
[ed. note: This passage has been altered by the text of S. Chrys. The Catena has, ’Vel hanc primam diem azymorum dicit quia septem dies azymorum erant."]
REMIG. But perhaps some one will say, If that typical lamb bore a type of this the true lamb, how did not Christ suffer on the night on which this was always killed? It is to be noted, that on this night, He committed to His disciples the mysteries of His flesh and blood to be celebrated, and then also being seized and bound by the Jews, He hallowed the commencement of His sacrifice, i.e. His Passion. "The disciples came" unto him;" among these no doubt was the traitor Judas.
Chrys.: Hence it is evident that He had neither house nor lodging. Nor, I conclude, had the disciples any, for they would surely have invited Him thither.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 80: "Go into the city to such a man," Him whom Mark and Luke call "the good-man of the house," or "the I master of the house." And when Matthew says, "to such a man," he is to be understood to say this as from himself for brevity’s sake; for every one knows that no man speaks thus, "Go ye to such a man." And Matthew adds these words, "to such a man," not that the Lord used the very expression, but to convey to us that the disciples were not sent to any one in the city, but to some certain person.
Chrys.: Or, we may say that this, "to such a man," shews that He sent them to some person unknown to them, teaching them thereby that He was able to avoid His Passion. For He who prevailed with this man to entertain Him, how could He not have prevailed with those who crucified Him, had He chosen not to suffer? Indeed, I marvel not only that he entertained Him, being a stranger, but that he did it in contempt of the hatred of the multitude.
Hilary: Or, Matthew does not name the man in whose house Christ would celebrate the Passover, because the Christian name was not yet held in honour by the believers.
Raban.: Or, he omits the name, that all who would fain celebrate the true Passover, and receive Christ within the dwelling place of their own minds, should understand that the opportunity is afforded them.
Jerome: In this also the New Scripture observes the practice of the Old, in which we frequently read, ’He said unto him,’ and ’In this or that place,’ without any name of person or place.
Chrys.: "My time is at hand," this He said, both by so manifold announcements of His Passion, fortifying His disciples against the event, and at the same time shewing that He undertook it voluntarily. "I will keep the Passover at thy house," wherein we see, that to the very last day He was not disobedient to the Law. "With my disciples," He adds, that there might be sufficient preparation made, and that he to whom He sent might not think that He desired to be concealed.
Origen: Some one may argue [marg. note: e.g. The Ebionites], that because Jesus kept the Passover with Jewish observances, we ought to do the same as followers of Christ, not remembering that Jesus was "made under the Law," though not that He should leave "under the Law" [Gal 4:4] those who were under it, but should "lead them out" of it; how much less fitting then is it, that those who before were without the Law, should afterwards enter in? We celebrate spiritually the things which were carnally celebrated in the Law, keeping the Passover "in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," [1 Cor 5:8] according to the will of the Lamb, who said, "Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall not have life in you." [John 6:53]
Ver 20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.21. And as they did eat, he said, "Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, "Lord, is it I?"23. And he answered and said, "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.24. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born."25. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, "Master, is it I?" He said unto him, "Thou hast said."
Jerome: The Lord had above foretold His Passion, He now foretels who is to be the traitor; thus giving him place of repentance, when he should see that his thoughts and the secret designs of his heart were known.Remig.: "With the twelve," it is said, for Judas was personally among them, though he had ceased to be so in merit.
Jerome: Judas acts in every thing to remove all suspicion of his treachery.
Remig.: And it is beautifully said, "When even was come," because it was in the evening that the Lamb was wont to be slain.
Raban.: For this reason also, because in Christ’s Passion, wherein the true sun hasted to his setting, eternal refreshment was made ready for all believers.
Chrys.: The Evangelist relates how as they sat at meat, Jesus declares Judas’ treachery, that the wickedness of the betrayer may be more apparent from the season and the circumstances.
Leo, Serm. 58, 3: He shews that the conscience of His betrayer was known to Him, not meeting his wickedness with a harsh and open rebuke, that penitence might find a readier way to one who had not been disgraced by public dismissal.
Origen: Or, He spoke generally, to prove the nature of each of their hearts, and to evince the wickedness of Judas, who would not believe in One who knew his heart. I suppose that at first he supposed that the thing was hid from Him, deeming Him man, which was of unbelief; but when he saw that his heart was known, he embraced the concealment offered by this general way of speaking, which was shamelessness.
This also shews the goodness of the disciples, that they believed Christ’s words more than their own consciences, "for they began each to say, Lord, is it I?" For they knew by what Jesus had taught them that human nature is readily turned to evil, and is in continual struggle with "the rulers of the darkness of this world;" [Eph 6:12] whence they ask as in fear, for by reason of our weakness the future is an object of dread to us.
When the Lord saw the disciples thus alarmed for themselves, He pointed out the traitor by the mark of the prophetic declaration, "He that hath eaten bread with me hath wantonly overthrown me." [Ps 41:9]
Jerome: O wonderful endurance of the Lord, He had said before, "One of you shall betray me." The traitor perseveres in his wickedness; He designates him more particularly, yet not by name. For Judas, while the rest were sorrowful, and withdrew their hands, and bid away the food from their months, with the same hardihood and recklessness which led him to betray Him, reached forth his hand into the dish with his Master, passing off his audacity as a good conscience.
Chrys.: I rather think that Christ did this out of regard for him, and to bring him to a better mind.
Raban.: What Matthew calls ’paropsis,’ Mark calls ’catinus.’ The ’paropsis’ is a square dish for meat, ’catinus,’ an earthen vessel for containing fluids; this then might be a square earthen vessel.
Origen: Such is the wont of men of exceeding wickedness, to plot against those of whose bread and salt they have partaken, and especially those who have no enmity against them. But if we take it of the spiritual table, and the spiritual food, we shall see the more abundant and overflowing measure of this man’s wickedness, who called to mind neither his Master’s love in providing carnal goods, nor His teaching in things spiritual. Such are all in the Church who lay snares for their brethren whom they continually meet at the same table of Christ’s Body.
Jerome: Judas, not withheld by either the first or second warning, perseveres in his treachery; the Lord’s long-suffering nourishes his audacity. Now then his punishment is foretold, that denunciations of wrath may correct where good feeling has no power.
Remig.: It belongs to human nature to come and go, Divine nature remains ever the same. So because His human nature could suffer and die, therefore of the Son of Man it is well said that "he goeth." He says plainly, "As it is written of him," for all that He suffered had been foretold by the Prophets.
Chrys.: This He said to comfort His disciples, that they might not think that it was through weakness that He suffered; and at the same time for the correction of His betrayer. And notwithstanding His Passion had been foretold, Judas is still guilty; and not his betrayal wrought our salvation, but God’s providence, which used the sins of others to our profit.
Origen: He said not, By whom "the Son of Man is betrayed," but "through whom," [John 13:2] pointing out another, to wit the Devil, as the author of His betrayal, Judas as the minister. But woe also to all betrayers of Christ! and such is every one who betrays a disciple of Christ.
Remig.: Woe also to all who draw near to Christ’s table with an evil and defiled conscience! who though they do not deliver Christ to the Jews to be crucified, deliver Him to their own sinful members to be taken. He adds, to give more emphasis, "Good were it for that man if he had never been born."
Jerome: We are not to infer from this that man has a being before birth; for it cannot be well with any man till he has a being; it simply implies that it is better not to be, than to be in evil.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 40: And if it be contended that there is a life before this life, that will prove that not only not for Judas, but for none other is it good to have been born. Can it mean, that it were better for him not to have been born to the Devil, namely, for sin? Or does it mean that it had been good for him not to have been born to Christ at his calling, that he should now become apostate?
Origen: After all the Apostles had asked, and after Christ had spoken of him, Judas at length enquired of himself, with the crafty design of concealing his treacherous purpose by asking the same question as the rest; for real sorrow brooks not suspense.
Jerome: His question feigns either great respect, or a hypocritical incredulousness. The rest who were not to betray Him, said only "Lord;" the actual traitor addresses Him as "Master," as though it were some excuse that he denied Him as Lord, and betrayed a Master only.
Origen: Or, out of sycophancy he calls Him Master, while be holds Him unworthy of the title.
Chrys.: Though the Lord could have said, Hast thou covenanted to receive silver, and darest to ask Me this? But Jesus, most merciful, said nothing of all this, therein laying down for us rules and landmarks of endurance of evil. "He saith unto him, Thou hast said."
Remig.: Which may be understood thus; Thou sayest it, and thou sayest what is true; or, Thou hast said this, not I; leaving him room for repentance so long as his villainy was not publicly exposed.
Raban.: This might have been so said by Judas, and answered by the Lord as not to be overheard by the rest.
Ver 1a. 26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body."
Jerome: When the typical Passover was concluded, and He had partaken of the Lamb with His Apostles, He comes to the true paschal sacrament; that, as Melchisedech [marg. note: Gen 14:18], Priest of the most high God, had done in foreshadowing Christ, offering bread and wine, He also should offer the present verity of His Body and Blood.
[ed. note: Many of the passages here quoted appear to have been taken by S. Thomas from the Decretum of Gratian, though the Catena gives no reference to this compilation. Whenever they can be found, the originals are referred to in the margin, and the important differences or additions are noticed in the note. The present passage from S. Jerome (in Joe.) is found in Gratian. de Cons. ii. 88; that which follows from S. Augustine, ibid, 53. The next passage headed ’Gloss.’ cannot be found any where.]
Aug., Ep. 54, 7: "And as they were eating," whereby it is clearly seen that at their first partaking of the Lord’s Body and Blood, the disciples did not partake fasting. But are we therefore to except against the practice of the whole Church, of receiving fasting? It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that for the better honour of so great a Sacrament, the Lord`s Body should enter the Christian’s mouth before other food. For to commend more mightily the depth of this mystery, the Saviour chose this as the last thing He would imprint on the hearts and memory of His disciples, from whom He was to depart to His Passion. But He did not direct in what order it should thenceforth be taken, that He might reserve that for the Apostles by whom He would regulate His Church.
Gloss., non occ.: Christ delivered to us His Flesh and Blood under another kind, and ordained them to be thenceforth so received, that faith might have its merit, which is of things that are not seen.
Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., vi, 1 [ed. note: S. Ambrose’s name has been retained at the head of the passages out of the Treatise ’De Sacramentis,’ because it is placed in the Ben. ed. among the genuine works of S. Ambrose, and not in the Appendix. But there seems to be little doubt of its spuriousness. See Jenkyns’ note to Cranmer’s ’Defence, &c.’ in Cranmer’s Works, ii. 326]: And that we might not be shocked by the sight of blood, while it at the same time wrought the price of our redemption.
Aug., in Joan. Tr. 26, 17, cf Serm. 227, 1: The Lord committed His Body and Blood to substances which are formed a homogeneous compound out of many. Bread is made of many grains, wine is produced out of many berries. Herein the Lord Jesus Christ signified us, and hallowed in His Own table the mystery of our peace and unity.
Remig.: Fittingly also did He offer fruit of the earth, to shew thereby that He came to take away the curse wherewith the earth was cursed for the sin of the first man. Also He bade be offered the produce of the earth, and the things for which men chiefly toil, that there might be no difficulty in procuring them, and that men might offer sacrifice to God of the work of their hands.
Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., iv, 3: Hence learn that the Christian mysteries were before the Jewish. Melchisedech offered bread and wine, being in all things like the Son of God, to Whom it is said, "Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech;" [Ps 110:4] and of Whom it is here said, "Jesus took bread." [John 12:24]
Gloss., non occ.: [ed. note: This Gloss is partly from the Gloss on Gratian de Cons. d. ii. c. 5. The next passage is headed ’Gregorius in Registro’ in the editions, and is so quoted by S. Thomas, Summa 3. q. 74. art. 4. but cannot be found in S. Greg.]
This, we must understand to be wheat bread for the Lord compared Himself to a grain of wheat, saying, "Except a corn fall into the ground &c." Such bread also is suitable for the Sacrament, because it is in common use; bread of other kinds being only made when this fails. But forasmuch as Christ up to the very last day, to use the words of Chrysostom as above [marg. note: shewed that He did nothing contrary to the Law, and the Law commanded that unleavened bread should be eaten in the evening when the Passover was slain, and that all leavened should be put away, it is manifest that the bread which the Lord took and gave to His disciples was unleavened.
Greg., non occ.: It has given trouble to divers persons, that in the Church some offer unleavened and others leavened bread. The Roman Church offers unleavened, because the Lord took flesh without any pollution [marg. note: commixtione]; other [marg. note: Graecaesc] Churches offer leavened bread, because the Word of the Father took flesh upon Him, and is Very God, and Very Man; and so the leaven is mingled with the flour. But whether we receive leavened or unleavened, we are made one body of the Lord our Saviour.
Ambrose, Ambr. de Sacr., iv, 4: This bread before the sacramentary words, is the bread in common use; after consecration it is made of bread Christ’s flesh. And what are the words, or whose are the phrases of consecration, save those of the Lord Jesus? For if His word had power to make those things begin to be which were not, how much rather will it not be efficacious to cause them to remain what they are, while they are at the same time changed into somewhat else? For if the heavenly word has been effectual in other matters, is it ineffectual in heavenly sacraments? Therefore of the bread is made the Body of Christ, and the wine is made blood by the consecration of the heavenly word.
[ed. note: ap. Grat. ibid. 54. On this remarkable passage it may be observed, first, S. Ambrose is referring to the creation, and his meaning is, "If his word had power to make these things," i.e. heaven and earth, "begin to be, which were not, how much rather is it not efficacious to make those things," i.e. the bread, not begin, but "continue to be, which were already, and are but changed into something else?"
2. Next he illustrates the change by our own change in regeneration. "Tu ipse eras, sed eras vetus creatura; postea quam consecratus es, nova creatura esse cepisti."
3. There is no introduction of the word "substance," i.e. no assertion of transubstantiation.]
Dost thou enquire after the manner? Learn. The course of nature is, that a man is not born but of man and woman, but by God’s will Christ was born of the Holy Spirit and a Virgin.
Paschasius: As then real flesh was created by the Holy Spirit without sexual union, so by the same Holy Spirit the substance of bread and wine are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ. And because this consecration is made by the Lords word, it is added, "He blessed."
[ed. note: This passage is quoted in the Bodl. MS. and early editions of the Cat., as ’Augustinus in Verb. Dom.’ Gratian also (de Cons. d. ii. 72.) gives it as Augustine’s, but the earliest author in whom it is found is Paschasius Radbertus, Abbot of Corbey, and a well-known writer of the ninth century, ’De Corpore et Sanguine Dom.’ 4.]
Remig.: Hereby He shewed also that He together with the Father and the Holy Spirit has filled human nature with the grace of His divine power, and enriched it with the boon of immortality. And to shew that His Body was not subject to passion but of His own will, it is added, "And brake."
Lanfranc: When the host is broken, when the blood is poured from the cup into the mouth of the faithful, what else is denoted but the offering of the Lord’s Body on the cross, and the shedding of His Blood out of His side?
[ed. note: This is quoted in the early editions, and in Gratian de Cons. ii. 37. as Augustinus ’in Libro Sent. Prosper.’ but does not occur in that collection of Prosper as we have it. It is found in Lanfranc cont. Bereng. 13.]
Dionysius, Eccl. Hier., 3, in fin: In this is also shewn, that the one and uncompounded Word of God came to us compounded and visible by taking human nature upon Him, and drawing to Himself our society, made us partakers of the spiritual goods which He distributed, as it follows, "And gave to his disciples."
Leo, Serm. 58, 3: Not excluding the traitor even from this mystery, that it might be made manifest that Judas was provoked by no wrong, but that he had been foreknown in voluntary impiety.
Aug., in Joan Tr., 59: Peter and Judas received of the same bread, but Peter to life, Judas to death.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxii: And this John shews when be says "After the sop, Satan entered into him." [John 13:27] For his sin was aggravated in that he came near to these mysteries with such a heart, and that having come to them, he was made better neither by fear, kindness, nor honour. Christ hindered him not, though He knew all things, that you may learn that He omits nothing which serves for correction.
Remig.: In so doing He left an example to the Church, that it should sever no one from its fellowship, or from the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, but for some notorious and public crime.
Hilary: Or, The Passover was concluded by the taking the cup and breaking the bread without Judas, for he was unworthy the communion of eternal sacraments. And that he had left them we learn from thence, that he returns with a multitude.
Aug.: [ed. note: This passage, headed ’Augustinus’ in the Bodl. MS., and ’Aug de Verb. Dom.’ in the earlier editions, is apparently taken from two canons in the 3d pt. of Gratian, viz. c. 70. and c. 58. to which Augustine’s name is there prefixed. It has not been found in S. Augustine’s works. But it is found in Bede on I Cor. x. who also quotes it from ’Aug. de verb. Evang.’]
"And said, Take, eat;" The Lord invites His servants to set before them Himself for food. But who would dare to eat his Lord? This food when eaten refreshes, but fails not; He lives after being eaten, Who rose again after being put to death. Neither when we eat Him do we divide His substance; but thus it is in this Sacrament. The faithful know how they feed on Christ’s flesh, each man receives a part for himself. He is divided into parts in the Sacrament, yet He remains whole; He is all in heaven, He is all in thy heart.
They are called Sacraments, because in them what is seen is one thing, what is understood is another; what is seen has a material form, what is understood has spiritual fruit.
Aug., in Joan. Tr., 27, 11: Let us not eat Christ’s flesh only in the Sacrament, for that do many wicked men, but let us eat to spiritual participation, that we may abide as members in the Lord’s body, that we may be quickened by His Spirit.
Ambrose, de Sacr., iv, 5: Before consecration, it is bread; after Christ’s words, "This is my body," have been pronounced, it is Christ’s Body.
Ver 27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it;28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom."
Remig.: The Lord having given His disciples His Body under the element of bread [marg. note: sub specie panis], well gives the cup of His Blood to them likewise; shewing what joy He has in our salvation, seeing He even shed His Blood for us.
Chrys.: He gave thanks to instruct us after what manner we ought to celebrate this mystery, and shewed also thereby that He came not to His Passion against His will. Also He taught us to bear whatsoever we suffer with thanksgiving, and infused into us good hopes.
For if the type of this sacrifice, to wit, the offering of the paschal lamb, became the deliverance of the people from Egyptian bondage, much more shall the reality thereof be the deliverance of the world.
"And gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it." That they should not be distressed at hearing this, He first drank His own blood to lead them without fear to the communion of these mysteries.
Jerome, Hieron. Ep. 120, ad Hedib: Thus then the Lord Jesus was at once guest and feast, the eater and the things eaten. [ed. note: ap. Grat. do Consecr. d. ii. 87.]
Chrys.: "This is my blood of the new testament;" that is, the new promise, covenant, law; for this blood was promised from of old, and this guarantees the new covenant; for as the Old Testament had the blood of sheep and goats, so the New has the Lord’s Blood.
Remig.: For thus it is read, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you." [Ex 24:8]
Chrys.: And in calling it blood, He foreshews His Passion, "My blood ... which shall be shed for many." Also the purpose for which He died, adding, "For the remission of sins;" as much as to say, The blood of the lamb was shed in Egypt for the salvation of the first born of the Israelites, this My Blood is shed for the remission of sins.
Remig.: And it is to be noted, that He says not, For a few, nor, For all, but, "For many;" because He came not to redeem a single nation, but many out of all nations.
Chrys.: Thus saying, He shews that His Passion is a mystery of the salvation of men, by which also He comforts His disciples. And as Moses said, "This shall be an ordinance to thee for ever," [Ex 12:24] so Christ speaks as Luke relates, "This do in remembrance of me." [Luke 22:19]
Remig.: And He taught us to offer not bread only, but wine also, to shew that they who hungered and thirsted after righteousness were to be refreshed by these mysteries.
Gloss., non occ.: As the refreshment of the body is wrought by means of meat and drink, so under the form of meat and drink the Lord has provided for us spiritual refreshment. And it was suitable that for the shewing forth the Lord’s Passion this Sacrament should be instituted under both kinds.
For in His Passion He shed His Blood, and so His Blood was separated from His Body. It behoved therefore, that for representation of His Passion, bread and wine should be separately set forth, which are the Sacrament of the Body and Blood. But it should be known, that under both kinds the whole of Christ is contained; under the bread is contained the Blood, together with the Body; under the wine, the Body together With the Blood.
Ambrosiaster, in 1 Cor 11:26 : And for this reason also in do we celebrate under both kinds, because that which we receive avails for the preservation of both body and soul.
Cyprian, Ep. 63, ad Caecil.: The cup of the Lord is not water only, or wine only, but the two are mixed; so the Lord’s Body cannot be either flour only, or water only, but the two are combined.
[ed. note: To signify, as S. Cyprian proceeds to say, the union between Christ and His faithful people; "For if one offer wine only, the blood of Christ begins to be without us; if water only, the people begin to be without Christ." This passage of Cyprian is quoted in Gratian. de Cons ii. 7.]
Ambrose, de Sacr., v. 1: If Melchisedech offered bread and wine, what means this mixing of water? Hear the reason. Moses struck the rock, and the rock gave forth abundance of water, but that rock was Christ. Also one of the soldiers with his spear pierced Christ’s side, and out of His side flowed water and blood, the water to cleanse, the blood to redeem.
[ed. note: ap. Gratian de Cons. d ii, 83, cf. Paschas de Corp. et Sang. 11]
Remig.: For it should be known, that as John speaks, "The many waters are nations and people." [Rev 17:15] And because we ought always to abide in Christ and Christ in us, wine mixed with water is offered, to shew that the bead and the members, that is, Christ and the Church, are one body; or to shew that neither did Christ suffer without a love for our redemption, nor we can be saved without His Passion.
Chrys.: And having spoken of His Passion and Cross, He proceeds to speak of His resurrection, "I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth, &c." By the "kingdom" He means His resurrection. And He speaks this of His resurrection, because He would then drink with the Apostles, that none might suppose His resurrection a phantasy.
Thus when they would convince any of His resurrection, they said, "We did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." [Acts 10:41] This tells them that they shall see Him after He is risen, and that He will be again with them.
That He says, "New," is plainly to be understood, after a new manner, He no longer having a passible body, or needing food. For after His resurrection He did not eat as needing food, but to evidence the reality of the resurrection. And forasmuch as there are some heretics who use water instead of wine in the sacred mysteries [ed. note: e.g. The Encratites, followers of Saturnius and Tatian in the second century. See Can. Apost. 43 and 45 of Johnson’s Translation.], He shews in these words, that when He now gave them these holy mysteries, He gave them wine, and drank the like after He was risen; for He says, "Of this fruit of the vine," but the vine produces wine, and not water.
Jerome: Or otherwise; From carnal things the Lord passes to spiritual. Holy Scripture speaks of the people of Israel as of a vine brought up out of Egypt; [marg. note: Ps 80:8, Jer 2:21] of this vine it is then that the Lord says He will drink no more except in His Father’s kingdom. His Father’s kingdom I suppose to mean the faith of the believers. When then the Jews shall receive His Father’s kingdom, then the Lord will drink of their vine. Observe that He says, "Of my Father," not, Of God, for to name the Father is to name the Son. As much as to say, When they shall have believed on God the Father, and He has brought them to the Son.
Remig.: Or otherwise; "I will not drink of the fruit of this vine," i.e. I will no longer take pleasure in the carnal oblations of the Synagogue, among which the immolation of the Paschal lamb held an eminent place. But the time of My resurrection is at hand, and the day in which exalted in the Father’s kingdom, that is, raised in immortal glory, "I shall drink it new with you," i.e. I shall rejoice as with a new joy in the salvation of that people then renewed by the water of baptism.
Aug., Quaest. Ev. i, 43: Or otherwise; When He says, "I shall drink it new with you," He gives us to understand that this is old. Seeing then that He took body of the race of Adam, who is called the old man, and was to give up to death that Body in His Passion, (whence also He gave us His Blood in the sacrament of wine,) what else can we understand by the new wine than the immortality of renewed bodies?
In saying, "I will drink it with you," He promises to them likewise a resurrection of their bodies for the putting on of immortality. "With you" is not to be understood of time, but of a like renewal, as the Apostle speaks, that "we are risen with Christ," the hope of the future bringing a present joy. That which He shall drink new shall also be "of this fruit of the vine," signifies that the very same bodies shall rise after the heavenly renewal, which shall now die after the earthly decay.
Hilary: It seems from this that Judas had not drunk with Him, because He was not to drink hereafter in the kingdom; but He promises to all who partook at this time of this fruit of the vine that they should drink with Him hereafter.
Gloss., non occ.: But in support of the opinion of other saints, that Judas did receive the sacraments from Christ, it is to be said, that the words "with you" may refer to the greater part of them, and not necessarily to the whole.
Ver 30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.31. Then saith Jesus unto them, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.32. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee."33. Peter answered and said unto him, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."34. Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."35. Peter said unto him, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee." Likewise also said all the disciples.
Origen: When the disciples had eaten the bread of blessing, and drunk of the cup of thanksgiving, the Lord instructs them in return for these things to sing a hymn to the Father. And they go to the Mount of Olives, that they may pass from height to height, because the believer can do nought in the valley.
[ed. note: The passages (Bede and Rabanus, below, and more further on) between the brackets are not found in the earlier Editions of the Catena, in the ED. PR. nor the Bodl. MS. They appear to have been inserted by Nicolai.]
[Bede, in Luc., 22, 39: Beautifully after the disciples have been filled with the Sacraments of His Body and Blood, and commended to the Father in a hymn of pious intercession, does He lead them into the mount of Olives; thus by type teaching us how we ought, by the working of His Sacraments, and the aid of His intercession, mount up to the higher gifts of the virtues and the graces of the Holy Spirit, with which we are anointed in our hearts.
Raban.: This hymn may be that thanksgiving which in John, Our Lord offers up to the Father, when He lifted up His eyes and prayed for His disciples, and those who should believe through their word. This is that of which the Psalm speaks, "The poor shall eat and be filled, they shall praise the Lord." Ps 22:26]
Chrys.: Let them hear this, who like swine with no thought but of eating rise from the table drunk, when they should have given thanks, and closed with a hymn. Let them hear who will not tarry for the final prayer in the sacred mysteries; for the last prayer of the mysteries represents that hymn. He gave thanks before He delivered the holy mysteries to the disciples, that we also might give thanks; He sung a hymn after He had delivered them, that we also should do the like.
Jerome: After this example of the Saviour, whosoever is filled and is drunken upon the bread and cup of Christ, may praise God and ascend the Mount of Olives, where is refreshment after toil, solace of grief, and knowledge of the true light.
Hilary: Hereby He shews that men confirmed by the powers of the Divine mysteries, are exalted to heavenly glory in a common joy and gladness.
Origen: Suitably also was the mount of mercy chosen whence to declare the offence of His disciples’ weakness, by One even then prepared not to reject the disciples who forsook Him, but to receive them when they returned to Him.
Jerome: He foretels what they should suffer, that they might not after it had befallen them despair of salvation; but doing penitence might be set free.
Chrys.: In this we see what the disciples were both before and after the cross. They who could not stand with Christ whilst He was crucified, became after the death of Christ harder than adamant. This flight and fear of the disciples is a demonstration of Christ’s death against those who are infected with the heresy of Marcion. If He had been neither bound nor crucified, whence arose the terror of Peter and the rest?
Jerome: And He adds emphatically, "this night," because as "they that are drunken are drunken by night," [1 Thess. 5:7] so they that are scandalized are scandalized by night, and in the dark.
Hilary: The credit of this prediction is supported by the authority of old prophecy; "It is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
Jerome: This is found in Zacharias in words different; it is said to God in the person of the Prophet, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered abroad." [Zech 13:7] The good Shepherd is smitten, that He may lay down His life for His sheep, and that of many flocks of divers errors should be made one flock, and one Shepherd.
Chrys.: He produces this prophecy to teach them to attend to the things that are written, and to shew that His crucifixion was according to the counsel of God, and (as He does throughout) that He was not a stranger to the Old Testament, but that it prophesied of Him.
But He did not suffer them to continue in sorrow, but announces glad tidings, saying, "When I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." After His resurrection He does not appear to them immediately from heaven, nor depart into any far country, but in the very same nation in which He was crucified, almost in the very place, giving them thereby assurance, that He who was crucified was the same as He who rose again, thereby to cheer their cast-down countenances. He fixes upon Galilee, that, being delivered from fear of the Jews, they might believe what He spoke to them.
Origen: Also He foretels this to them, that they who now were somewhat dispersed in consequence of the offence, should be after gathered together by Christ rising again, and going before them into Galilee of the Gentiles.
Hilary: But Peter was carried so far by his zeal and affection for Christ, that he regarded neither the weakness of his flesh nor the truth of the Lord’s words; as if what He spake must not come to pass, "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."
Chrys.: What sayest thou, Peter? The Prophet says, "The sheep shall be scattered abroad," and Christ has confirmed it, yet thou sayest, Never. When He said, "One of you shall betray me," thou fearedst for thyself, although thou wert not conscious of such a thought; now when He openly affirms, "All ye shall be offended," you deny it. But because when he was relieved of the anxiety he had concerning the betrayal, he grew confident concerning the rest, he therefore says thus, "I will never be offended."Jerome: It is not wilfulness, not falsehood, but the Apostle’s faith, and ardent attachment towards the Lord his Saviour.
Remig.: What the One affirms by His power of foreknowledge, the other denies through love; whence we may take a practical lesson, that in proportion as we are confident of the warmth of our faith, we should be in fear of the weakness of our flesh. Peter seems culpable, first, because he contradicted the Lord’s words; secondly, because he set himself before the rest; and thirdly, because he attributed every thing to himself as though he had power to persevere strenuously. His fall then was permitted to heal this in him; not that be was driven to deny, but left to himself, and so convinced of the frailty of his human nature. [ed. note: Remigius has borrowed this from S. Chrysostom, in loc.]
Origen: Whence the other disciples were offended in Jesus, but Peter was not only offended, but what is much more, was suffered to deny Him thrice.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: Perplexity may be occasioned to some by the great difference, not in words only, but in substance, of the speeches in which Peter is forewarned by Our Lord, and which occasion his presumptuous declaration of dying with or for the Lord. Some would oblige us to understand that he thrice expressed his confidence, and the Lord thrice answered him that he would deny Him thrice before cock-crowing; as after His resurrection He thrice asked him if he loved Him, and as often gave him command to feed His sheep.
For what in language or matter has Matthew like the expressions of Peter in either Luke or John? Mark indeed relates it in nearly the same words as Matthew, only marking more precisely in the Lord’s words the manner in which it should fall in, "Verily, I say unto thee, that this day, in the night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." [Mark 14:30]
Whence some inattentive persons think that there is a discrepancy between Mark and the rest. For the sum of Peter’s denials is three; if the first then had been after the first cock-crowing, the other three Evangelists must be wrong when they make the Lord say that Peter should deny Him before the cock crow. But, on the other hand, if be had made all three denials before the cock began to crow, it would be superfluous in Mark to say, "Before the cock crow twice." Forasmuch as this threefold denial was begun before the first cock-crow, the three Evangelists have marked, not when it was to be concluded, but how often it was to happen, and when to begin, that is, before cock-crow.
Though indeed if we understand it of Peter’s heart we may well say, that the whole denial was complete before the first cock-crow, seeing that before that his mind was seized with that great fear which wrought upon him to the third denial. Much less therefore ought it to disquiet us, how the three-fold denial in three distinct speeches was begun, but not finished before cock-crow. Just as though one should say, Before cock-crow you will write me a letter, in which you will revile me three times; if the letter were begun before any cock-crow, but not finished till after the first, we should not therefore say that the prediction was false.
Origen: But you will ask, whether it were possible that Peter should not have been offended, when once the Saviour had said, "All ye shalt be offended in me." To which one will answer, what is foretold by Jesus must of necessity come to pass; and another will say, that He who at the prayer of Ninevites turned away the wrath He had denounced by Jonas, might also have averted Peter’s offence at his entreaty. But his presumptuous confidence, prompted by zeal indeed but not a cautious zeal, became the cause not only of offence but of a thrice repeated denial. And since He confirmed it with the sanction of an oath, some one will say that it was not possible that he should not have denied Him. For Christ would have spoken falsely when he, said, "Verily I say unto thee," if Peter’s assertion, "I will not deny thee," had been true.
It seems to me that the other disciples having in view not that which was first said, "All ye shall be offended," but that which was said to Peter, "Verily I say unto thee, &c." made a like promise with Peter because they were not comprehended in the prophecy of denial. "Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
Here again Peter knows not what he says; he could not die with Him who was to die for all mankind, who were all in sin, and had need of some one to die for them, not that they should die for others.
Raban.: Peter understood the Lord to have foretold that he should deny Him under terror of death, and therefore he declares that though death were imminent, nothing could shake him from his faith; and the other Apostles in like manner in the warmth of their zeal, valued not the infliction of death, but human presumption is vain without Divine aid.
Chrys.: [I suppose also that Peter fell into these words through ambition and boastfulness. And they had disputed at supper which of them should be greatest, whence we see that the love of empty glory disturbed them much. And so to deliver him from such passions, Christ withdrew His aid from him. Moreover observe how after the resurrection, taught by his fall, he speaks to Christ more humbly, and does not any more resist His words. All this his fall wrought for him; for before he had attributed all to himself, when he ought rather to have said, I will not deny Thee if Thou succour me with Thy aid. But afterwards he shews that every thing is to be ascribed to God, "Why look ye so earnestly upon us, as though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk?" [Acts 3:12] ]
Hence then we learn the great doctrine, that man’s wish is not enough, unless he enjoys Divine support.
Ver 36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.37. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.38. Then saith he unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."
Remig.: The Evangelist had said a little above, that "when they had sung an hymn they went out to the mount of Olives;" to point out the part of the mount to which they took their way, he now adds, "Then came Jesus with them to a garden called Gethsemane."
Raban.: Luke says, "To the mount of Olives," [Luke 22:39] and John, "Went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden," [John 18:1] which is the same as this Gethsemane, and is a place where He prayed at the foot of mount Olivet, where is a garden, and a Church now built. [ed. note: This is probably from Areulfus’ account in Adamnantus de Locis Sanctis, c. 23 (ap. Act. Benedict. iv 502) as he quoted him by name, above, p. 95]
Jerome: Gethsemane is interpreted, ’The rich valley;’ and there He bade His disciples sit a little while, and wait His return whilst He prayed alone for all.
Origen: For it was not fitting that He should be seized in the place where He had sate and eaten the Passover with His disciples. Also He must first pray, and choose a place pure for prayer.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiii: He says, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder," because the disciples adhered inseparably to Christ; but it was His practice to pray apart from them, therein teaching us to study quiet and retirement for our prayers.
Damascenus, de Fid. Orth., iii, 24: But seeing that prayer is the sending up the understanding to God, or the asking of God things fitting, how did the Lord pray? For His understanding needed not to be lifted up to God, having been once united hypostatically to God the Word. Neither could He need to ask of God things fitting, for the One Christ is both God and Man. But giving in Himself a pattern to us, He taught us to ask of God, and to lift up our minds to Him. As He took on Him our passions, that by triumphing over them Himself, He might give us also the victory over them, so now He prays to open to us the way to that lifting up to God, to fulfil for us all righteousness, to reconcile His Father to us, to pay honour to Him as the First Cause, and to shew that He is not against God.
Raban.: When the Lord prayed in the mountain, He taught us to make supplication for heavenly things; when He prays in the garden, He teaches us to study humility in our prayer. And beautifully, as He draws near His Passion, does He pray in the ’valley of fatness’ shewing that through the valley of humility, and the richness of charity, He took upon Him death for our sakes.
The practical instruction which we may also learn from this is, that we should not suffer our heart to dry up from the richness of charity.
Remig.: He had accepted the disciples’ faith and the devotedness of their will, but He foresaw that they would be troubled and scattered abroad, and therefore bade them sit still in their places; for to sit belongs to one at ease, but they would be grievously troubled that they should have denied Him.
In what fashion He went forward it describes, "And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and very heavy;" the same to whom He had shewn His glory in the mount.
Hilary: These words, He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, are interpreted by heretics that fear of death assailed the Son of God, being (as they allege) neither begotten from eternity, nor existing in the Father’s infinite substance, but produced out of nothing by Him who created all things; and that hence He was liable to anguish of grief, and fear of death. And He who can fear death can also die; and He who can die, though He shall exist after death, yet is not eternal through Him who begot Him in past time.
Had these faith to receive the Gospels, they would know that the Word was in the beginning God, and from the beginning with God, and that the eternity of Him who begets and Him who is begotten is one and the same. But if the assumption of flesh infected with its natural infirmity the virtue of that incorruptible substance, so that it became subject to pain, and shrinking from death, it would also become thereby liable to corruption, and thus its immortality being changed into fear, that which is in it is capable of at some time ceasing to be. But God ever is without measure of time, and such as He is, He continues to be eternally. Nothing then in God can die, nor can God have any fear springing out of Himself.
Jerome, Hieron. non. occ: But we say that passible man was so taken by God the Son, that His Deity remained impassible. Indeed the Son of God suffered, not by imputation but actually, all that Scripture testifies, in respect of that part of Him which could suffer, viz. in respect of the substance that He had taken on Him.
Hilary, de Trin., x, 10: I suppose that there are some who offer here no other cause of His fear than His passion and death. I ask those who think thus, whether it stands with reason that He should have feared to die, who banished from the Apostles all fear of death, and exhorted them to the glory of martyrdom?
How can we suppose Him to have felt pain and grief in the sacrament of death, who rewards with life those who die for Him? And what pangs of death could He fear, who came to death of the free choice of His own power? And if His Passion was to do Him honour, how could the fear of His Passion make Him sorrowful?
Hilary, in loc.: Since then we read that the Lord was sorrowful, let us discover the causes of His agony. He had forewarned them all that they would be offended, and Peter that he would thrice deny his Lord; and taking him and James and John, He began to be sorrowful. Therefore He was not sorrowful till He took them, but all His fear began after He had taken them; so that His agony was not for Himself, but for them whom He had taken.
Jerome: The Lord therefore sorrowed not from fear of suffering, for for this cause He had come that He should suffer, and had rebuked Peter for his fearfulness; [marg. note: Matt 14:40] but for the wretched Judas, for the offence of the rest of the Apostles, for the rejection and reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the overthrow of unhappy Jerusalem.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 23: Or otherwise; All things which have not yet been brought into existence by their Maker have a natural desire of existence, and naturally shun non-existence. God the Word then, having been made Man, had this desire, through which He desired food, drink, and sleep, by which life is supported, and naturally used them, and contrariwise shunned the things that are destructive of life. Hence in the season of His Passion which He endured voluntarily, He had the natural fear and sorrow for death. For there is a natural fear wherewith the soul shrinks from separation from the body, by reason of that close sympathy implanted from the first by the Maker of all things.
Jerome: Our Lord therefore sorrowed to prove the reality of the Man which He had taken upon Him; but that passion might bear no sway in His mind, "He began to be sorrowful" by pro-passion [ed. note: see ch. 5, page 185]; for it is one thing to be sorrowful, and another to be very sorrowful.
Remig.: By this place are overthrown the Manichaeans, who said that He took an unreal body; and those also who said that He had not a real soul, but His Divinity in place of a soul. [marg. note: e.g. Apollinaris]
Aug., Lib. 83 Quaest. Q80: We have the narratives of the Evangelists, by which we know that Christ was both born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was seized by the Jews, scourged, crucified, put to death, and buried in a tomb, all which cannot be supposed to have taken place without a body, and not even the maddest will say that these things are to be understood figuratively, when they are told by men who wrote what they remembered to have happened.
These then are witnesses that He had a body, as those affections which cannot be without mind prove Him to have had a mind, and which we read in the accounts of the same Evangelists, that Jesus wondered, was angry, was sorrowful.
Aug., City of God, book xiv, ch. 9: Since then these things are related in the Evangelists, they are not surely false, but as when He willed He became Man, so likewise when He willed He took into His human soul these passions for the sake of adding assurance to the dispensation. We indeed have these passions by reason of the weakness of our human nature; not so the Lord Jesus, whose weakness was of power.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 20: Wherefore the passions of our nature were in Christ both by nature and beyond nature. By nature, because He left His flesh to suffer the things incidental to it; beyond nature, because these natural emotions did not in Him precede the will. For in Christ nothing befel of compulsion, but all was voluntary; with His will He hungered, with His will He feared, or was sorrowful.
Here His sorrow is declared, "Then saith he unto them, My soul is sorrowful even unto death."
Ambrose, in Luc. 23, 43: He is sorrowful, yet not Himself, but His soul; not His Wisdom, not His divine Substance, but His soul, for He took upon Him my soul, and my body.
Jerome: He is sorrowful not because of death, but "unto death," until He has set the Apostles free by His Passion. Let those who imagine Jesus to have taken an irrational soul, say how it is that He is thus sorrowful, and knows the season of His sorrow, for though the brute animals have sorrow, yet they know neither the causes of it, nor the time for which it must endure.
Origen: Or otherwise; "My soul is sorrowful even unto death;" as much as to say, Sorrow is begun in me, but not to endure for ever, but only till the hour of death; that when I shall die for sin, I shall die also to all sorrow, whose beginnings only are in me. "Tarry ye here, and watch with me;" as much as to say, The rest I bade sit yonder as weak, removing them from this struggle; but you I have brought hither as being stronger, that ye may toil with me in watching and prayer. But abide you here, that every man may stay in his own rank and station; since all grace, however great, has its superior.
Jerome: Or the sleep which He would have them forego is not bodily rest, for which at this critical time there was no room, but mental torpor, the sleep of unbelief.
Ver 39. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."40. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."43. And he came and found them asleep again for their eyes were heavy.44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Origen: He took with Him the self-confident Peter, and the others, that they might see Him falling on His face and praying, and might learn not to think great things, but little things of themselves, and not to be hasty in promising, but careful in prayer. And therefore, "He went forward a little," not to go far from them, but that He might be near them in His prayer.
Also, He who had said above, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart," now commendably humbling Himself, falls on His face. But He shews His devotion in His prayer, and as beloved and well-pleasing to His Father, He adds, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," teaching us that we should pray, not that our own will, but that God’s will, should be done.
And as He began to have fear and sorrow, He prays accordingly that the cup of His Passion may pass from Him, yet not as He wills, but as His Father wills; wills, that is, not according to His Divine and impassible Substance, but according to His human and weak nature. For in taking upon Him the nature of human flesh, He fulfilled all the properties thereof, that it might be seen that He had flesh not in appearance only, but in reality.
The believer indeed must in the first instance be loth to incur pain, seeing it leads to death, and he is a man of flesh; but if it be God’s will, he acquiesces because he is a believer. For as we ought not to be too confident that we may not seem to make a boast of our own strength; so neither ought we to be distrustful, lest we should seem to charge God our helper with weakness.
It is to be observed that Mark and Luke write the same, but John does not introduce this prayer of Jesus’, that this cup may pass from Him, because the first three are rather occupied about Him, according to His human nature, John according to His divine. Otherwise; Jesus makes this petition, because He sees what the Jews will suffer for requiring His death.
Jerome: Whence He says emphatically, "This cup," that is, of this people of the Jews, who, if they shall put Me to death, can have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing they have the Law and the Prophets, who speak of Me.
Origen: Then again considering the benefit that would accrue to the whole world from His Passion, He says, "But not as I will, but as thou wilt;" i.e. If it be possible for all these benefits which shall result from My Passion to be procured without it, let it pass from Me, and both the world be saved, and the Jews not be condemned in putting Me to death.
But if the salvation of many cannot be procured without the destruction of a few, saving Thy justice, let it not pass away. Scripture, in many places, speaks of passion as a cup that is drained; and it is drained by him, who in testimony suffers whatever is inflicted upon him. He sheds it, on the contrary, who denies in order to avoid suffering.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: And that none might think that He limited His Father’s power, He said not, "If thou canst do it," but "If it may be," or, "If it be possible;" as much as to say, If thou wilt. For whatever God wills can be done, as Luke expresses more plainly; for he says not, "If it be possible," but "If thou wilt."
Hilary: Otherwise; He says not, Let this cup pass away from Me, for that would be the speech of one who feared it; but He prays that it may pass not so as that He should be passed over, but that when it has passed from Him, it may go to another. His whole fear then is for those who were to suffer, and therefore He prays for those who were to suffer after Him, saying, "Let this cup pass from me," i.e. as it is drunk by Me, so let it be drunk by these, without mistrust, without sense of pain, without fear of death. He says, "If it be possible," because flesh and blood shrink from these things, and it is hard for human bodies not to sink beneath their infliction. That He says, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," He would fain indeed that they should not suffer, lest their faith should fail in their sufferings, if indeed we might attain to the glory of our joint inheritance with Him without the hardship of sharing in His Passion.
He says, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," because it is the Father’s will that strength to drink of the cup should pass from Him to them, that the Devil might be vanquished not so much by Christ as by His disciples also.
Aug., in Ps. 32, enar. 2: Christ thus as man shews a certain private human will, in which He who is our head figures both His own will and ours when He says, "Let it pass from me." For this was His human will choosing something as apart for Himself. But because as man He would be righteous and guide Himself by God’s will, He adds, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt;" as much as to say to us, Man, behold thyself in Me, that thou canst will somewhat apart of thyself, and though God’s will is other, this is permitted to human frailty.
Leo, Serm., 58, 5: This speech of the Head is the health of the whole body, this saying is instruction to the faithful, animates the confessor, crowns the martyr. For who could vanquish the hatred of the world, or the whirlwind of temptations, or the terrors of the persecutors, if Christ did not in all and for all say to the Father, "Thy will be done."
Let all the sons of the Church then utter this prayer, that when the pressure of some mighty temptation lies upon them, they may embrace endurance of the suffering, disregarding its terrors.
Origen: And though Jesus went but a "little forward," they could not watch one hour in His absence; let us therefore pray that Jesus may never depart even a little from us.
Chrys.: He "finds them sleeping," both because it was a late hour of the night, and their eyes were heavy with sorrow.
Hilary: When then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, He rebukes Peter, "Could ye not watch one hour with me?" He addresses Peter rather than the rest, because be had most loudly boasted that he would not be offended.
Chrys.: But as they had all said the same, He charges them all with weakness; they had chosen to die with Christ, and yet could not even watch with Him.
Origen: Finding them thus sleeping, He rouses them with a word to hearken, and commands them to watch; "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation;" that first we should watch, and so watching pray. He watches who does good works, and is careful that He does not run into any dark doctrine, for so the prayer of the watchful is heard.
Jerome: It is impossible that the human mind should not be tempted, therefore He says not "Watch and pray" that ye be not tempted, but "that ye enter not into temptation," that is, that temptation vanquish you not.
Hilary: And why He thus encouraged them to pray that they might not enter into temptation, He adds, "For the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;" this He says not of Himself, but addresses them.
Jerome: This is against those rash persons who think that whatever they believe they can perform. The more confident we are of our zeal, the more mistrustful should we be of the frailty of the flesh.
Origen: Here it should be enquired, whether as all men’s flesh is weak, so all men’s spirit is willing, or whether only that of the saints; and whether in unbelievers the spirit is not also dull, as the flesh is weak. In another sense the flesh of those only is weak whose spirit is willing, and who with their willing spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh. These then He would have watch and pray that they should not enter into temptation, for the more spiritual any one may be, the more careful should he be that his goodness should not suffer a great fall.
Remig.: Otherwise; In these words He shews that He took real flesh of the Virgin, and had a real soul, saying that His spirit is willing to suffer, but His flesh weak in fearing the pain of Passion.
Origen: There were, I conclude, two ways in which this cup of Passion might pass from the Lord. If He should drink it, it would pass away from Him, and afterwards from the whole race of mankind also; if He should not drink it, it would perhaps pass from Him, but from men it would not pass. He would fain therefore that it should so pass from Him as that He should not at all taste its bitterness, yet only if it were possible, saving the righteousness of God. If it were not possible, He was rather willing to drink it, that so it might pass from Him, and from the whole race of mankind rather than against His Father’s will shun the drinking thereof.
Chrys.: That He prays for this a second and a third time, comes of the feelings belonging to human frailty, through which also He feared death, thus giving assurance that He was truly made man. For in Scripture when any thing is repeated a second and third time, that is the greatest proof of its truth and reality; as, for example, when Joseph says to Pharaoh, "And for that thou sawedst it twice, it is proof of the thing being established by God." [Gen 41:32]
Jerome: Or otherwise; He prays a second time that if Nineveh, or the Gentile world, cannot be saved unless the gourd, i.e. the Jews, be withered, His Father’s will may be done, which is not contrary to the Son’s will, who Himself speaks by the Prophet, "I am content to do thy will, 0 God." [Ps 40:8]
Hilary: Otherwise, He bare in His own body all the infirmities of us His disciples who should suffer, and nailed to His cross all wherein we are distressed; and therefore that cup cannot pass from Him, unless He drink it, because we cannot suffer, except by His passion.
Jerome: Christ singly prays for all,as He singly suffers for all. "Their eyes were heavy," i.e. an oppression and stupefaction came on as their denial drew near.
Origen: And I suppose that the eyes of their body were not so much affected as the eyes of their mind, because the Spirit was not yet given them. Wherefore He does not rebuke them, but goes again and prays, teaching us that we should not faint but should persevere in prayer, until we obtain what we have begun to ask.
Jerome: He prayed the third time, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established.
Raban: Or, The Lord prayed thrice, to teach us to pray for pardon of sins past, defence against present evil, and provision against future perils, and that we should address every prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that our spirit, soul, and body should be kept in safety.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 47: Nor is that an absurd interpretation which makes Our Lord pray thrice because of the threefold temptation of His Passion. To the temptation of curiosity is opposed the fear of death; for as the one is a yearning for the knowledge of things, so the other is the fear of losing such knowledge. To the desire of honour or applause is opposed the dread of disgrace and insult. To the desire of pleasure is opposed the fear of pain.
Remig.: Or, He prays thrice for the Apostles, and for Peter in particular, who was to deny Him thrice.
Ver 45. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me."
Hilary: After His persevering prayer, after His departures and several returns, He takes away their fear, restores their confidence, and exhorts them to "sleep on, and take their rest."
Chrys.: Indeed it behoved them to watch, but He said this to shew that the prospect of coming evils was more than they would bear, that He had no need of their aid, and that it must needs be that He should be delivered up.
Hilary: Or, He bids them "sleep on, and take their rest," because He now confidently awaited His Father’s will concerning the disciples, concerning which He had said, "Thy will be done," and in obedience to which He drunk the cup that was to pass from Him to us, diverting upon Himself the weakness of our body, the terrors of dismay, and even the pains of death itself.
Origen: Or, the sleep He now bids His disciples take is of a different sort from that which is related above to have befallen them. Then He found them sleeping, not taking repose, but because their eyes were heavy, but now they are not merely to sleep, but to "take their rest," that this order may be rightly observed, namely, that we first watch with prayer that we enter not into temptation, and afterwards sleep and take our rest, when having "found a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob," we may "go up into our bed, and give sleep to our eyes." [Ps 132:3]
It may be also that the soul, unable to sustain a continual energy by reason of its union with the flesh, may blamelessly admit some relaxations, which may be the moral interpretation of slumbers, and then again after due time be quickened to new energy.
Hilary: And whereas, when He returned and found them sleeping, He rebukes them the first time, the second time says nothing, the third time bids them take their rest; the interpretation of this is, that at the first after His resurrection, when He finds them dispersed, distrustful, and timorous, He rebukes them; the second time, when their eyes were heavy to look upon the liberty of the Gospel, He visited them, sending them the Spirit, the Paraclete; for, held back by attachment to the Law, they slumbered in respect of faith; but the third time, when He shall come in His glory, He shall restore them to quietness and confidence.
Origen: When He had roused them from sleep, seeing in the Spirit Judas drawing near to betray Him, though the disciples could not yet see him, He says, "Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
Chrys.: The words, "the hour is at hand," point out that all that has been done was by Divine interference; and that, "into the hands of sinners," shew that this was the work of their wickedness, not that He was guilty of any crime.
Origen: And even now Jesus "is betrayed into the hands of sinners," when those who seem to believe in Jesus, continue to sin while they have Him in their hands. Also whenever a righteous man, who has Jesus in Him, is put into the power of sinners, Jesus is delivered into the hands of sinners.
Jerome: Having concluded His third prayer, and having obtained that the Apostles’ terror should be corrected by subsequent penitence, He goes forth undaunted by the prospect of His own Passion to meet His pursuers, and offers Himself voluntarily to be sacrificed.
"Arise, let us be going;" as much as to say, Let them not find you trembling, let us go forth willingly to death, that they may see us confident and rejoicing in suffering; "Lo, he that shall betray me draweth near."
Origen: He says not, Draws near to thee, for indeed the traitor was not near Him, but had removed himself far off through his sins.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: This speech as Matthew has it seems self-contradictory. For how could He say, "Sleep on, and take your rest," and immediately continue, "Rise, let us be going." This contradiction some have endeavoured to reconcile by supposing the words, "Sleep on, and take your rest," to be an ironical rebuke, and not a permission; it might be rightly so taken if need were. But as Mark records it, when He had said, "Sleep on, and take your rest," He added, "it is enough," and then continued, "The hour is come, behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners;" [Mark 14:41] we clearly understand the Lord to have been silent some time after He had said, "Sleep on," to allow of their doing so, and then after some interval to have roused them with, "Behold, the hour is at hand." And as Mark fills up the sense with, "it is enough," that is, ye have had rest enough.
Ver 47. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the Chief Priests and elders of the people.48. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast."49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, "Hail, Master;" and kissed him.50. And Jesus said unto him, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Gloss., non occ.: Having said above that the Lord offered Himself of His own accord to His pursuers, the Evangelist proceeds to relate how He was seized by them.
Remig.: "One of the twelve," by association of name, not of desert. This shews the monstrous wickedness of the man who from the dignity of the Apostleship became the traitor. To shew that it was out of envy that they seized Him, it is added, "A great multitude sent by the Chief Priests and elders of the people."
Origen: Some may say that a great multitude came, because of the great multitude of those who already believed, who, they feared, might rescue Him out of their hands; but I think there is another reason for this, and that is, that they who thought that He cast out daemons through Beelzebub, supposed that by some magic He might escape the hands of those who sought to hold Him. Even now do many fight against Jesus with spiritual weapons, to wit, with divers and shifting dogmas concerning God.
It deserves enquiry why, when He was known by face to all who dwelt in Judaea, he should have given them a sign, as though they were unacquainted with His person. But a tradition to this effect has come down to us, that not only had He two different forms, one under which He appeared to men, the other into which He was transfigured before His disciples in the mount, but also that He appeared to each man in such degree as the beholder was worthy; in like manner as we read of the manna, that it had a flavour adapted to every variety of use, and as the word of God shews not alike to all. They required therefore a sign by reason of this His transfiguration.
Chrys.: Or, because whenever they had hitherto attempted to seize Him, He had escaped them they knew not how; as also He might then have done had He been so minded.
Raban.: The Lord suffered the traitor’s kiss, not to teach us to dissemble, but that He might not seem to shrink from His betrayal.
Origen: If it be asked why Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, according to some it was because He desired to keep up the reverence due to his Master, and did not dare to make an open assault upon Him; according to others, it was out of fear that if he came as an avowed enemy, be might be the cause of His escape, which he believed Jesus had it in His power to effect.
But I think that all betrayers of truth love to assume the guise of truth, and to use the sign of a kiss. Like Judas also, all heretics call Jesus Rabbi, and receive from Him mild answer.
"And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?" He says, "Friend," upbraiding his hypocrisy; for in Scripture we never find this term of address used to any of the good, but as above, "Friend, how camest thou in hither?" [Matt 22:12] and, "Friend, I do thee no wrong." [Matt 20:13]
Aug., non occ.: He says, "Wherefore art thou come?" as much as to say, Thy kiss is a snare for Me; I know wherefore thou art come; thou feignest thyself My friend, being indeed My betrayer.
Remig.: Or, after "Friend, for what thou art come," that do, is understood. "Then came they, and laid their hands on Jesus, and held him."
"Then," that is, when He suffered them, for ofttimes they would have done it, but were not able.
Pseudo-Aug., Serm. de Symb. ad Catech. 6: Exult, Christian, you have gained by this bargain of your enemies; what Judas sold, and what the Jews bought, belongs to you.
Ver 51. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest’s, and smote off his ear.52. Then said Jesus unto him, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.53. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?54. But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiv: So Luke relates, the Lord had said to His disciples at supper, "He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one;" [Luke 22:36] and the disciples answered, "Lo, here are two swords."
It was natural that there should be swords there for the paschal lamb which they had been eating. Hearing then that the pursuers were coming to apprehend Christ, when they went out from supper they took these swords, as though to fight in defence of their Master against His pursuers.
Jerome: In another Gospel [marg. note: John 18:19], Peter is represented as having done this, and with his usual hastiness; and that the servant’s name was Malchus, and that the ear was the right ear. In passing we may say, that Malchus, i.e. one who should have been king of the Jews, was made the slave of the ungodliness and the greediness of the Priests, and lost his right ear so that he might hear only the worthlessness of the letter in his left.
Origen: For though they seem even now to hear the Law, yet is it only with the left ear that they hear the shadow of a tradition concerning the Law, and not the truth. The people of the Gentiles is signified by Peter; for by believing in Christ, they become the cause of cutting off the Jews’ right ear.
Raban.: Or, Peter does not take away the sense of understanding from them that hear, but opens to the careless that which by a divine sentence was taken away from them; but this same right ear is restored to its original function in those who out of this nation believed.
Hilary: Otherwise; The ear of the High Priest’s servant is cut off by the Apostle, that is, Christ’s disciple cuts off the disobedient hearing of a people which were the slaves of the Priesthood, the ear which had refused to hear is cut off so that it is no longer capable of hearing.
Leo, Serm. 22: The Lord of the zealous Apostle will not suffer his pious feeling to proceed further, "Then saith Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place." For it was contrary to the sacrament of our redemption that He, who had come to die for all, should refuse to be apprehended. He gives therefore licence to their fury against Him, lest by putting off the triumph of His glorious Cross, the dominion of the Devil should be made longer, and the captivity of men more enduring.
Raban.: It behoved also that the Author of grace should teach the faithful patience by His own example, and should rather train them to endure adversity with fortitude, than incite them to self-defence.
Chrys.: To move the disciple to this, He adds a threat, saying, "All they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword."
Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 70: That is, every one who uses the sword. And he uses the sword, who, without the command or sanction of any superior, or legitimate authority, arms himself against man’s life. For truly the Lord had given commandment to His disciples to take the sword, but not to smite with the sword. Was it then at all unbeseeming that Peter after this sin should become ruler of the Church, as Moses after smiting the Egyptian was made ruler and chief of the Synagogue? For both transgressed the rule not through hardened ferocity, but through a warmth of spirit capable of good; both through hatred of the injustice of others; both sinned through love, the one for his brother, the other for his Lord, though a carnal love.
Hilary: But all who use the sword do not perish by the sword; of those who have used the sword either judicially, or in self-defence against robbers, fever or accident carries off the greater part. Though if according to this every one who uses the sword shall perish by the sword, justly was the sword now drawn against those who were using the same for the promotion of crime.
Jerome: With what sword then shall he perish, that takes the sword? By that fiery sword which waves before the gate of paradise, and that sword of the Spirit which is described in the armour of God.
Hilary: The Lord then bids him return his sword into its sheath, because He would destroy them by no weapon of man, but by the sword of His mouth.
Remig.: Otherwise; Every one who uses the sword to put man to death perishes first by the sword of his own wickedness.
Chrys.: He not only soothed His disciples, by this declaration of punishment against His enemies, but convinced them that it was voluntarily that He suffered, "Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, &c." Because He had shewn many qualities of human infirmity, He would have seemed to say what was incredible, if He had said that He had power to destroy them, therefore He says, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?"
Jerome: That is to say, I need not the aid of the Apostles, though all the twelve should fight for me, seeing I could have twelve legions of the Angelic army. The complement of a legion among the ancients was six thousand men; twelve legions then are seventy-two thousand Angels, being as many as the divisions of the human race and language.
[ed. note: It was generally supposed that in the dispersion at Babel, mankind was divided into seventy-two nations, each speaking a different language. For that is the number of the heads of families enumerated in the genealogy, in Gen. xi. See Aug. de Civ. Dei, xvi. 6.]
Origen: This shews that the armies of heaven have divisions into legions like earthly armies, in the warfare of the Angels against the legions of the daemons. This He said not as though He needed the aid of the Angels, but speaking in accordance with the supposition of Peter, who sought to give Him assistance. Truly the Angels have more need of the help of the Only-begotten Son of God, than He of theirs.
Remig.: We might also understand by the Angels the Roman armies, for with Titus and Vespasian all languages had risen against Judaea, and that was fulfilled, "The whole world shall fight for him against those foolish men." [Wisdom 5:21]
Chrys.: And He quiets their fears not thus only, but by reference to Scripture, "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?"
Jerome: This speech shews a mind willing to suffer; vainly would the Prophets have prophesied truly, unless the Lord asserts their truth by His suffering.
Ver 55. In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, "Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.56. But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.57. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the High Priest, where the Scribes and the elders were assembled.58. But Peter followed him afar off unto the High Priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Origen: Having commanded Peter to put up his sword, which was an instance of patience, and having (as another Evangelist writes [marg. note: Luke 22:51]) healed the ear that was cut off, which waS an instance of the greatest mercy, and of Divine power, it now follows, "In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, (to the end that if they could not remember His past goodness, they might at least confess His present,) Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?"
Remig.: As much as to say, Robbers assault and study concealment; I have injured no one, but have healed many, and have ever taught in your synagogues.
Jerome: It is folly then to seek with swords and staves Him who offers Himself to your hands, and with a traitor to hunt out, as though lurking under cover of night, one who is daily teaching in the temple.
Chrys.: They did not lay hands on Him in the temple because they feared the multitude, therefore also the Lord went forth that He might give them place and opportunity to take Him. This then teaches them, that if He had not suffered them of His own free choice, they would never have had strength to take Him. Then the Evangelist assigns the reason why the Lord was willing to be taken, adding, "All this was done that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled."
Jerome: "They pierced my hands and my feet;" [Ps 22:16] and in another place, "He is led as a sheep to the slaughter;" and, "By the iniquities of my people was He led to death." [Isa 53:7-8]
Remig.: For because all the Prophets had foretold Christ’s Passion, he does not cite any particular place, but says generally that the prophecies of all the Prophets were being fulfilled.
Chrys.: The disciples who had remained when the Lord was apprehended, fled when He spoke these things to the multitudes, "Then all the disciples forsook him and fled;" for they then understood that He could not escape but rather gave Himself up voluntarily.
Remig.: In this act is shewn the Apostles’ frailty; in the first ardour of their faith they had promised to die with Him, but in their fear they forgot their promise and fled. The same we may see in those who undertake to do great things for the love of God, but fail to fulfil what they undertake; they ought not to despair, but to rise again with the Apostles, and recover themselves by penitence.
Raban.: Mystically, As Peter, who by tears washed away the sin of his denial, figures the recovery of those who lapse in time of martyrdom; so the flight of the other disciples suggests the precaution of flight to such as feel themselves unfit to endure torments.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: "They that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the High Priest." But He was first taken to Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, as John relates. And He was taken bound, there being with that multitude a tribune and cohort, as John also records. [John 18:12]
Jerome: But Josephus writes [ed. note: "Josephus (Ant. xviii. 3 and 4,) twice mentions this Caiaphas as the successor of Simon the son of Camithes, but we do not find that he purchased the High Priesthood of Herod." Vallarsi.], that this Caiaphas had purchased the priesthood of a single year, notwithstanding that Moses, at God’s command, had directed that High Priests should succeed hereditarily, and that in the Priests likewise succession by birth should be followed up. No wonder then that an unrighteous High Priest should judge unrighteously.
Raban.: And the action suits his name; Caiaphas, i.e. ’contriving,’ or, ’politic,’ to execute his villainy; or ’vomiting from his mouth,’ because of his audacity in uttering a lie, and bringing about the murder. They took Jesus thither, that they might do all advisedly; as it follows, "Where the Scribes and the Elders were assembled."
Origen: Where Caiaphas the High Priest is, there are assembled the Scribes, that is, the men of the letter [marg. note: literati], who preside over the letter that killeth; and Elders, not in truth, but in the obsolete ancientness of the letter.
It follows, "Peter followed Him afar off," He would neither keep close to Him, nor altogether leave Him, but "followed afar off."
Chrys.: Great was the zeal of Peter, who fled not when He saw the others fly, but remained, and entered in. For though John also went in, yet he was known to the Chief Priest. He "followed afar off," because he was about to deny his Lord.
Remig.: For had he kept close to his Lord’s side, he could never have denied Him. This also shews that Peter should follow his Lord’s Passion, that is, imitate it.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 46: And also that the Church should follow, i.e. imitate, the Lord’s Passion, but with great difference. For the Church suffers for itself, but Christ for the Church.
Jerome: He went in, either out of the attachment of a disciple, or natural curiosity, seeking to know what sentence the High Priest would pass, whether death, or scourging.
Ver 59. Now the Chief Priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;60. But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,61. And said, "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days."62. And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, "Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?"63. But Jesus held his peace. And the High Priest answered and said unto him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God."64. Jesus saith unto him, "Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."65. Then the High Priest rent his clothes, saying, "He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.66. What think ye?" They answered and said, He is guilty of death.67. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,68. Saying, "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?"
Chrys.: When the Chief Priests were thus assembled, this conventicle of ruffians sought to give their conspiracy the character of a legal trial. But it was entirely a scene of confusion and uproar, as what follows shews, "Though many false witnesses came, yet found they none."
Origen: False witnesses have place when there is any good colour for their testimony. But no pretext was found which could further their falsehoods against Jesus; notwithstanding there were many desirous to do a favour to the Chief Priests. This then is a great testimony in favour of Jesus, that He had lived and taught so irreproachably, that though they were many, and crafty, and wicked, they could find no semblance of fault in Him.
Jerome: "At last came two false witnesses." How are they false witnesses, when they repeat only what we read that the Lord spoke? A false witness is one who takes what is said in a different sense from that in which it was said. Now this the Lord had spoken of the temple of His Body, and they cavil at His expressions, and by a slight change and addition produce a plausible charge. The Lord’s words were, "Destroy this temple;" [John 2:19] this they make into, I can destroy the Temple of God. He said, "Destroy," not, I will destroy, because it is unlawful to lay hands on ourselves.
Also they phrased it, "And build it again," making it apply to the temple of the Jews; but the Lord had said, "And I will raise it up again," thus clearly pointing out a living and breathing temple. For to build again, and to raise again, are two different things.
Chrys.: Why did they not bring forward now His breaking the Sabbath? Because He had so often confuted them on this point.
Jerome: Headlong and uncontrolled rage, unable to find even a false accusation, moves the High Priest from his throne, the motion of his body shewing the emotion of his mind.
"And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee?"
Chrys.: He said this with a design to draw from Him some indefensible answer which might be made a snare for Him. But "Jesus held his peace," for defence had availed nothing when none would listen to it. For here was only a mockery of justice, it was in truth nothing more than the anarchy of a den of robbers.
Origen: This place teaches us to contemn the clamours of slanderers and false witnesses, and not to consider those who speak unbeseeming things of us worthy of an answer; but then, above all, when it is greater to be manfully and resolutely silent, than to plead our cause in vain.
Jerome: For as God, He knew that whatever He said would be twisted into an accusation against Him. But at this His silence before false witnesses and ungodly Priests, the High Priest was exasperated, and summons Him to answer, that from any thing He says he may raise a charge against Him.
Origen: Under the Law, we do indeed find many instances of this adjuration; but I judge that a man who would live according to the Gospel should not adjure another; for if we are not permitted to swear, surely not to adjure. [marg. note: Numb 5:19, 1 Ki 22:16]
But he that regards Jesus commanding the daemons, and giving His disciples power over them, will say, that to address the daemons by the power given by the Saviour, is not to adjure them. But the High Priest did sin in laying a snare for Jesus; imitating his father, who twice asked the Saviour, "If thou be Christ the Son of God." Hence one might rightly say, that to doubt concerning the Son of God, whether Christ be He, is the work of the Devil. It was not fit that the Lord should answer the High Priest’s adjuration as though under compulsion, wherefore He neither denied nor confessed Himself to be the Son of God. For he was not worthy to be the object of Christ’s teaching, therefore He does not instruct him, but taking up his own words retorts them upon him. This sitting of the Son of Man seems to me to denote a certain regal security; by the power of God, Who is the only power, is He securely seated to Whom is given by His Father all power in heaven as in earth.
And there will come a time when the enemies shall see this establishment. Indeed this has begun to be fulfilled from the earliest time of the dispensation; for the disciples saw Him rising from the dead, and thereby saw Him seated on the right band of power.
Or, In respect of that eternity of duration which is with God, from the beginning of the world to the end of it is but one day; it is therefore no wonder that the Saviour here says, "Shortly," signifying that there is but short time before the end come. He prophesies moreover, that they should not only see Him "sitting at the right hand of power," but also "coming in the clouds of heaven." These clouds are the Prophets and Apostles, whom He commands to rain when it is required, they are the clouds that pass not away, but "bearing the image of the heavenly," [1 Cor 15:49] are worthy to be the throne of God, as "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." [Rom 8:17]
Jerome: The same fury which drew the High Priest from his seat, impels him now to rend his clothes; for so it was customary with the Jews to do whenever they heard any blasphemy, or any thing against God.
Chrys.: This He did to give weight to the accusation, and to confirm by deeds what He taught in words.
Jerome: And by this rending his garments, he shews that the Jews have lost the priestly glory, and that their High Priest’s throne was vacant. For by rending his garment he rent the veil of the Law which covered him.
Chrys.: Then, after rending his garment, he did not give sentence of himself, but asked of others, saying, "What think ye?" As was always done in undeniable cases of sin, and manifest blasphemy, and as by force driving them to a certain opinion, he anticipates the answer, "What need we any further witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy."
What was this blasphemy? For before He had interpreted to them as they were gathered together that text, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand," [Matt 22:44] and they had held their peace, and had not contradicted Him. How then do they call what He now says blasphemy? "They answered and said, He is guilty of death," the same persons at once accusers, examiners, and sentencers.
Origen: How great their error! to pronounce the principle of all men’s life to be guilty of death, and not to acknowledge by the testimony of the resurrection of so many, the Fount of life, from Whom life flows to all that rise again.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxv: As hunters who have started their game, so they exhibit a wild and drunken exultation.
Jerome: "They spit in his face, and buffeted him," to fulfil the prophecy of Esaias, "I gave my cheek to the smiters, and turned not away my face from shame and spitting." [Isa 50:6]
Gloss., ord.: "Prophesy unto us" is said in ridicule of His claim to be held as a Prophet by the people.
Jerome: But it would have been foolish to have answered them that smote Him, and to have declared the smiter, seeing that in their madness they seem to have struck Him openly.
Chrys.: Observe how circumstantially the Evangelist recounts all those particulars even which seem most disgraceful, hiding or extenuating nothing, but thinking it the highest glory that the Lord of the earth should endure such things for us. This let us read continually, let us imprint in our minds, and in these things let us boast.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 44: That, "they did spit in his face," signifies those who reject His proffered grace. They likewise buffet Him who prefer their own honour to Him; and they smite Him on the face, who, blinded with unbelief, affirm that He is not yet come, disowning and rejecting His person.
Ver 69. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee."70. But he denied before them all, saying, "I know not what thou sayest."71. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth."72. And again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the man."73. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, "Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee."74. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not the Man." And immediately the cock crew.75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, "Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: Among the other insults offered to our Lord was the threefold denial of Peter, which the several Evangelists relate in different order. Luke puts Peter’s trial first, and the ill-usage of the Lord after that; Matthew and Mark reverse the order.
Jerome: "Peter sat without," that he might see the event, and not excite suspicion by any approach to Jesus.
Chrys.: And he, who, when he saw his Master laid hands on, drew his sword and cut off the ear, now when he sees Him enduring such insults becomes a denier, and cannot withstand the taunts of a mean servant girl.
"A damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee."
Raban.: What means this, that a handmaid is the first to tax him, when men would be more likely to recognise him, except that this sex might seem to sin somewhat in the Lord’s death, that they might be redeemed by His passion? "He denied before them all," because he was afraid to reveal himself; that he said, "I know not," shews that he was not yet willing to die for the Saviour.
Leo, Serm. 60, 4: For this reason it should seem he was permitted to waver, that the remedy of penitence might be exhibited in the head of the Church, and that none should dare to trust in his own strength, when even the blessed Peter could not escape the danger of frailty.
Chrys.: But not once, but twice and thrice did he deny within a short time.
Aug.: We understand that having gone out after his first denial, the cock crowed the first time as Mark relates.
Chrys.: To shew that the sound did not keep him from denial, nor bring his promise to mind.
Aug.: The second denial was not outside the door, but after he had returned to the fire; for the second maid did not see him after he had gone out, but as he was going out; his getting up to go out drew her attention, and she said to them that were there, that is, to those that were standing round the fire in the hall, "The fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." He who had gone out, having heard this returned, that he might by denial vindicate himself. Or, as is more likely, he did not hear what was said of him as he went out, but it was after he came back that the maid, and the other man whom Luke mentions, said to him, "And thou also art one of them."
Jerome: "And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man." I know that some out of a feeling of piety towards the Apostle Peter have interpreted this place to signify that Peter denied the Man and not the God, as though he meant, ’I do not know the Man, because I know the God.’ But the intelligent reader will see that this is trifling, for if he denied not, the Lord spoke falsely when He said, "Thou shalt deny me thrice."
[ed. note: e.g. S. Ambrose (in Luc.) says, He well denied him as man, for he knew him as God." And S. Hilary, (in loc.) "Almost without sin did he now deny the man, who had been the first to acknowledge him as Son of God; yet seeing through infirmity of the flesh, he had at least doubted, he therefore wept bitterly when he remembered that he had not been able, even after warning, to avoid the sin of that fearfulness."]
Ambrose, in Luc., 22, 57: I had rather that Peter deny, than that the Lord be made out false.
Raban.: In this denial of Peter we affirm that Christ is denied not only by him who denies that He is Christ, but who denies himself to be a Christian.
Aug.: Let us now come to the third denial; "And after a while came they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them," (Luke’s words are, "About the space of one hour after, [Luke 22:59]) for thy speech bewrayeth thee."
Jerome: Not that Peter was of a different speech or nation, but a Hebrew as his accusers were; but every province and every district has its peculiarities, and he could not disguise his native pronunciation.
Remig.: Observe how baneful are communications with evil men; they even drove Peter to deny the Lord whom be had before confessed to be the Son of God.
Raban.: Observe, that he said the first time, "I know not what thou sayest;" the second time, "He denied with an oath;" the third time, "He began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man." For to persevere in sinning increases sinfulness, and he who disregards light sins, falls into greater.
Remig.: Spiritually; By Peter’s denial before the cock-crow, are denoted those who before Christ’s resurrection did not believe Him to be God, being perplexed by His death. In his denial after the first cock-crow, are denoted those who are in error concerning both Christ’s natures, His human and divine. By the first handmaid is signified desire; by the second, carnal delight; by them that stood by, the daemons; for by them men are led to a denial of Christ.
Origen: Or, By the first handmaid is understood the Synagogue of the Jews, which oft compelled the faithful to deny; by the second, the congregations of the Gentiles, who even persecuted the Christians; they that stood in the hall signify the ministers of divers heresies, who also compel men to deny the truth of Christ.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 45: Also Peter thrice denied, because heretical error concerning Christ is limited to three kinds; they are in error respecting His divinity, His humanity, or both.
Raban.: After the third denial comes the cock-crow; by which we may understand a Doctor of the Church who with chiding rouses the slumbering, saying, "Awake, ye righteous, and sin not." [1 Cor 15:14] Thus Holy Scripture uses to denote the merit of divers cases [marg. note: meritum causarum] by fixed periods, as Peter sinned at midnight and repented at cock-crow.
Jerome: In another Gospel we read, that after Peter’s denial and thee cock-crow, the Saviour "looked upon Peter," [Luke 22,61] and by His look called forth those bitter tears; for it might not be that he on whom the Light of the world had looked should continue in the darkness of denial, wherefore, "he went out, and wept bitterly." For he could not do penitence sitting in Caiaphas’ hall, but went forth from the assembly of the wicked, that he might wash away in bitter tears the pollution of his timid denial.
Leo, Serm. 60, 4: Blessed tears, O holy Apostle, which had the virtue of holy Baptism in washing off the sin of thy denial. The right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ was with thee to hold thee up before thou wast quite thrown down, and in the midst of thy perilous fall, thou receivedst strength to stand. The Rock quickly returned to its stability, recovering so great fortitude, that he who in Christ’s passion had quailed, should endure his own subsequent suffering with fearlessness and constancy.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 26". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29