Saturday, 7 March 2015

John 12: 20-50

Today's section of St John's Gospel picks up events following Jesus' triumphant entry to Jerusalem.


You can find the Greek, Latin and Knox translations over at New Advent.  And you can listen to the Latin and the Greek.

The Latin:

20 Erant autem quidam gentiles, ex his qui ascenderant ut adorarent in die festo. 21 Hi ergo accesserunt ad Philippum, qui erat a Bethsaida Galilææ, et rogabant eum, dicentes: Domine, volumus Jesum videre. 22 Venit Philippus, et dicit Andreæ; Andreas rursum et Philippus dixerunt Jesu. 23 Jesus autem respondit eis, dicens: Venit hora, ut clarificetur Filius hominis. 24 Amen, amen dico vobis, nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram, mortuum fuerit, 25 ipsum solum manet: si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert. Qui amat animam suam, perdet eam; et qui odit animam suam in hoc mundo, in vitam æternam custodit eam. 26 Si quis mihi ministrat, me sequatur, et ubi sum ego, illic et minister meus erit. Si quis mihi ministraverit, honorificabit eum Pater meus.27 Nunc anima mea turbata est. Et quid dicam? Pater, salvifica me ex hac hora. Sed propterea veni in horam hanc: 28 Pater, clarifica nomen tuum. Venit ergo vox de cælo: Et clarificavi, et iterum clarificabo. 29 Turba ergo, quæ stabat, et audierat, dicebat tonitruum esse factum. Alii dicebant: Angelus ei locutus est. 30 Respondit Jesus, et dixit: Non propter me hæc vox venit, sed propter vos. 31 Nunc judicium est mundi: nunc princeps hujus mundi ejicietur foras. 32 Et ego, si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum. 33 (Hoc autem dicebat, significans qua morte esset moriturus.)34 Respondit ei turba: Nos audivimus ex lege, quia Christus manet in æternum: et quomodo tu dicis: Oportet exaltari Filium hominis? quis est iste Filius hominis? 35 Dixit ergo eis Jesus: Adhuc modicum, lumen in vobis est. Ambulate dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebræ comprehendant; et qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadat. 36 Dum lucem habetis, credite in lucem, ut filii lucis sitis. Hæc locutus est Jesus, et abiit et abscondit se ab eis.37 Cum autem tanta signa fecisset coram eis, non credebant in eum; 38 ut sermo Isaiæ prophetæ impleretur, quem dixit:Domine, quis credidit auditui nostro? et brachium Domini cui revelatum est? 39 Propterea non poterant credere, quia iterum dixit Isaias: 40 Excæcavit oculos eorum, et induravit cor eorum ut non videant oculis, et non intelligant corde, et convertantur, et sanem eos. 41 Hæc dixit Isaias, quando vidit gloriam ejus, et locutus est de eo. 42 Verumtamen et ex principibus multi crediderunt in eum: sed propter pharisæos non confitebantur, ut e synagoga non ejicerentur. 43 Dilexerunt enim gloriam hominum magis quam gloriam Dei.44 Jesus autem clamavit, et dixit: Qui credit in me, non credit in me, sed in eum qui misit me. 45 Et qui videt me, videt eum qui misit me. 46 Ego lux in mundum veni, ut omnis qui credit in me, in tenebris non maneat. 47 Et si quis audierit verba mea, et non custodierit, ego non judico eum; non enim veni ut judicem mundum, sed ut salvificem mundum. 48 Qui spernit me et non accipit verba mea, habet qui judicet eum. Sermo quem locutus sum, ille judicabit eum in novissimo die. 49 Quia ego ex meipso non sum locutus, sed qui misit me, Pater, ipse mihi mandatum dedit quid dicam et quid loquar. 50 Et scio quia mandatum ejus vita æterna est: quæ ergo ego loquor, sicut dixit mihi Pater, sic loquor.

And the English:

 [20] Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day.[21] These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus. [22] Philip cometh, and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. [23] But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. [24] Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, [25] Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.[26] If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour. [27] Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. [28] Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. [29] The multitude therefore that stood and heard, said that it thundered. Others said: An angel spoke to him. [30] Jesus answered, and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.[31] Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. [32] And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself. [33] (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.) [34] The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? [35] Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth.[36] Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke; and he went away, and hid himself from them. [37] And whereas he had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in him: [38] That the saying of Isaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said: Lord, who hath believed our hearing? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? [39] Therefore they could not believe, because Isaias said again: [40] He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.[41] These things said Isaias, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. [42] However, many of the chief men also believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, that they might not be cast out of the synagogue. [43] For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. [44] But Jesus cried, and said: He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me. [45] And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. [46] I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness. [47] And if any man hear my words, and keep them not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. [48] He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. [49] For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. [50] And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. The things therefore that I speak, even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak.


Although Jesus' mission was primarily to the Jews, the Gospels do provide constant reminders of the broader invitation Christ offers, and hence a reminder of our own duty to evangelise, as the Catena Aurea explains:

BEDE. The temple at Jerusalem was so famous, that on the feast days, not only the people near, but many Gentiles from distant countries came to worship in it; as that eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, mentioned in the Acts. The Gentiles who were at Jerusalem now, had come up for this purpose: And there were certain Gentiles among them who came to worship at the feast.

CHRYS. The time being now near, when they would be made proselytes. They hear Christ talked of, and wish to see Him: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired: him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

AUG. Lo! the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him. But they also were of the Jews who cried, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. So behold them of the circumcision, and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together like two walls, and meeting in one faith of Christ by the kiss of peace...

AUG. Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe in Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fullness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Yourself, O God, above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth (Ps 56 and 107).

But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: out if it die, it brings forth much fruit. That corn was He, to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.

BEDE, He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase. He died alone; He rose again with many.

CHRYS. He illustrates His discourse by an example from nature. A grain of corn produces fruit, after it has cried. How much more then must the Son of God? The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews had finally offended; i.e. after His crucifixion. Now then that the Gentiles of their own accord offered their faith, He saw that His crucifixion could not be far off. And to console the sorrow of His disciples, which He foresaw would arise, He tells them that to bear patiently not only His death, but their own too, is the only way to good:

The grain of wheat analogy reminds us firstly that our won inevitable death should be viewed in the light of our hope of heaven and eternal life with Christ.  But secondly, it should help put our choices in this world into perspective, even to the point of facing martyrdom if we are called to it:

AUG. This may be understood in two ways: 1. If you love it, lose it: if you would preserve your life in Christ, fear not death for Christ. 2. Do not love your life here, lest you lose it hereafter. The latter seems to be the more evangelical sense; for it follows, And he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. He loves his life in this world, who indulges its inordinate desires; he hates it, who resists them. It is not, who cloth not yield to, but, who hates. For as we cannot bear to hear the voice or see the face of them whom we hate; so when the soul invites us to things contrary to God, we should turn her away from them with all our might.

THEOPHYL. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul; so He adds, in this world: i.e. for a particular time, not forever. And we shall gain in the end by so doing: shall keep it to life eternal.

AUG. But think not for an instant, that by hating your soul, is meant that you may kill yourself. For wicked and perverse men have sometimes so mistaken it, and have burnt and strangled themselves, thrown themselves from precipices, and in other ways put an end to themselves. This did not Christ teach; nay, when the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down, He said, Get you hence, Satan. But when no other choice is given you; when the persecutor threatens death, and you must either disobey God's law, or depart out of this life, then hate your life in this world, that you may keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. This present life is sweet to them who are given up to it. But he who looks heavenwards, and sees what good things are there, soon despises this life. When the better life appears, the worse is despised. This is Christ's meaning, when He says, If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, i.e. imitate Me, both in My death, and life. For he who serves, should follow him whom he serves.

AUG. But what is it to serve Christ? The very words explain. They serve Christ who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ, i.e. who follow Him, walk in His, not their own v ways, do all good works for Christ's sake, not only works of mercy to men's bodies, but all others, till at length they fulfill that great work of love, and lay down their lives for the brethren. But what fruit, what reward? you ask. The next words tell you: And where I am, there shall also My servant be. Love Him for His own sake, and think it a rich reward for your service, to be with Him.

CHRYS. So then death will be followed by resurrection. Where I am, He says; for Christ was in heaven before His resurrection. Thither let us ascend in heart and in mind.

If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor. This must be understood as an explanation of the preceding. There also shall My servant be. For what greater honor can an adopted Son receive than to he where the Only Son is?

The voice of an angel speaks, providing testimony to what is to be.  We too should listen to that inner voice from our guardian angel:

GREG. When God speaks audibly, as He does here, but no visible appearance is seen, He speaks through the medium of a rational creature: i.e. by the voice of an Angel.

AUG. I have glorified it, i.e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i.e. when you shall rise from the dead. Or, I have gloried it, when you were born of a Virgin, did work miracles, was made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when you shall rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth.

 The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered.

CHRYS. The voice though loud and distinct, soon passed off from their gross, carnal, and sluggish minds; only the sound remaining. Others perceived an articulate voice, but did not catch what it said: Others said, An Angel spoke to Him.

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

AUG. i.e. It did not come to tell Him what He knew already, but them what they ought to know. And as that voice did not come for His sake, but for theirs, so His soul was not troubled for His sake, but for theirs...

AUG And be converted, and I should heal them. Is not to be understood here, from the beginning of the sentence - that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor be converted; conversion being the free gift of God? or, shall we suppose that a heavenly remedy is meant; whereby those who wished to establish their own righteousness, were so far deserted and blinded, as to stumble on the stumbling stone, till, with confusion of face, they humbled themselves, es, and sought not their own righteousness which puffs up the proud, but God's righteousness, which justifies the ungodly.

For many of those who put Christ to death, were afterward troubled with a sense of their guilt; which led to their believing in Him. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. He saw Him not really, but figuratively, in prophetic vision. Be not deceived by those who say that the Father is invisible, the Son visible, making the Son a creature. For in the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, the Son also is invisible; though He took upon Him the form of a servant, that He might be seen by men. Before His incarnation too, He made Himself visible at times to human eyes; but visible through the medium of created matter, not visible as He is.

Friday, 6 March 2015

John 12: 9-19

The miracle of Lazarus was very public, and excited a great deal of interest, hence Jesus' welcome into Jerusalem, a scene we celebrate afresh every Palm Sunday.


You can find the Greek, Latin and Knox translations over at New Advent.  And you can listen to the Latin and the Greek.

The Latin:

Cognovit ergo turba multa ex Judæis quia illic est, et venerunt, non propter Jesum tantum, sed ut Lazarum viderent, quem suscitavit a mortuis. 10 Cogitaverunt autem principes sacerdotum ut et Lazarum interficerent: 11 quia multi propter illum abibant ex Judæis, et credebant in Jesum. 12 In crastinum autem, turba multa quæ venerat ad diem festum, cum audissent quia venit Jesus Jerosolymam, 13 acceperunt ramos palmarum, et processerunt obviam ei, et clamabant: Hosanna, benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, rex Israël. 14 Et invenit Jesus asellum, et sedit super eum, sicut scriptum est: 15 Noli timere, filia Sion: ecce rex tuus venit sedens super pullum asinæ. 16 Hæc non cognoverunt discipuli ejus primum: sed quando glorificatus est Jesus, tunc recordati sunt quia hæc erant scripta de eo, et hæc fecerunt ei. 17 Testimonium ergo perhibebat turba, quæ erat cum eo quando Lazarum vocavit de monumento, et suscitavit eum a mortuis. 18 Propterea et obviam venit ei turba: quia audierunt fecisse hoc signum. 19 Pharisæi ergo dixerunt ad semetipsos: Videtis quia nihil proficimus? ecce mundus totus post eum abiit.

The English: 

A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. [10] But the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also:[8] Me you have not always: Viz., in a visible manner, as when conversant here on earth; and as we have the poor, whom we may daily assist and relieve.[11] Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away, and believed in Jesus. [12] And on the next day, a great multitude that was to come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [13] Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. [14] And Jesus found a young ass, and sat upon it, as it is written: [15] Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy king cometh, sitting on an ass' s colt. [16] These things his disciples did not know at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him. [17] The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with him, when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead. [18] For which reason also the people came to meet him, because they heard that he had done this miracle. [19] The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? behold, the whole world is gone after him.


From the Catena Aurea:

AUG. See how great was the fruit of His preaching and how large a flock of the lost sheep of the house of Israel heard the voice of their Shepherd: On the next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees. The branches of palms are songs of praise, for the victory which our Lord was about to obtain by His death over death, and His triumph over the devil, the prince of death, by the trophy of the cross.

CHRYS. They showed now at last that they thought Him greater than a prophet: And went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that comes in the name of the Lord.

AUG. Hosanna is a simple exclamation, rather indicating some excitement of the mind, than having any particular meaning; like many interjections that we have in Latin.

BEDE. It is a compound of two words; Hosi is shortened into save; Anna a mere exclamation, complete. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord here is the name of God the Father; though we may understand it as His own name; inasmuch as He also is the Lord. But the former sense agrees better with the text above, I am come in My Father's name. He does not lose His divinity, when He teaches us humility.

CHRYS. This is what more than anything made men believe in Christ, viz. the assurance, that He was not opposed to God, that He came from the Father. The words show us the divinity of Christ. Hosanna is, Save us; and salvation in Scripture is attributed to God alone. And comes, it is said, not is brought: the former befits a lord, the latter a servant. In the name of the Lord, goes to prove the same thing. He does not come in the name of a servant, but in the name of the Lord.

AUG. It were a small thing to the King eternal to be made a human king. Christ was not the King of Israel, to exact tribute, and command armies, but to direct souls, and bring them to the kingdom of heaven. For Christ then to be King of Israel, w as a condescension, not an elevation, a sign of His pity, not an increase of His power. For He who was as called on earth the King of the Jews, is in heaven the King of Angels.

THEOPHYL. The Jews, when they called Him King of Israel, dreamed of an earthly king. They expected a king to arise, of more than human greatness, who would deliver them from the government of the Romans. But how did our Lord come? The next words tell us; And Jesus when He had found a. young ass, sat thereon.

AUG. John relates the matter briefly, the other Evangelists are more full. The ass, we read in them, was the foal of an ass on which no man had sat: i.e. the Gentile world, who had not received our Lord. The other ass, which was brought, (not the foal, for there were two,) is the believing Jew.

CHRYS. He did this prophetically, to figure the unclean Gentiles being brought into subjection to the Gospel; and also as a fulfillment of prophecy.

AUG. This act of our Lord's is pointed to in the Prophets, though the malignant rulers of the Jews did not see in it any fulfillment of prophecy: As it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Sion, behold your King comes sitting on an ass's colt." Yea, in that nation though reprobate, though blind, there remained still the daughter of Sion; even Jerusalem. To her it is said, Fear not, acknowledge Him whom you praise, and tremble not when He suffers. That blood it is which shall wipe away your sins, and redeem your life

CHRYS. Or thus: Whereas they had had wicked kings, who had subjected them to wars, He said to them, Trust Me, I am not such as they, but gentle and mild: which He showed by the manner of His entrance. For He did not enter at the head of an army, but simply riding on an ass. And observe the philosophy of the Evangelist, who is not ashamed of confessing his ignorance at the time of what these things meant:

These things understood not the disciple at the first, but when Jesus was glorified.

THEOPHYL. See then the consequences of our Lord's passion. It was not to no purpose that He had reserved His greatest miracle for the last. For the resurrection of Lazarus it was that made the crowd believe in Him. The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record.

For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.

Hence the spite and plotting of the Pharisees: The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? behold the world is gone after Him.

AUG. The crowd was disturbed by the crowd. But why grudge that blind crowd, that the world should go after Him, by Whom the world was made?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

John 12:1-8

Chapter 12 of St John's Gospel opens with the story of St Mary Magdalene anointing Christ's feet with expensive oil.   This passage has long been a rich source for mystical interpretations.


You can find the Greek, Latin and Knox translations over at New Advent.  And you can listen to the Latin and the Greek.

The Latin:

1 Jesus ergo ante sex dies Paschæ venit Bethaniam, ubi Lazarus fuerat mortuus, quem suscitavit Jesus. 2 Fecerunt autem ei cœnam ibi, et Martha ministrabat, Lazarus vero unus erat ex discumbentibus cum eo. 3 Maria ergo accepit libram unguenti nardi pistici pretiosi, et unxit pedes Jesu, et extersit pedes ejus capillis suis: et domus impleta est ex odore unguenti. 4 Dixit ergo unus ex discipulis ejus, Judas Iscariotes, qui erat eum traditurus: 5 Quare hoc unguentum non veniit trecentis denariis, et datum est egenis? 6 Dixit autem hoc, non quia de egenis pertinebat ad eum, sed quia fur erat, et loculos habens, ea quæ mittebantur, portabat. 7 Dixit ergo Jesus: Sinite illam ut in diem sepulturæ meæ servet illud. 8 Pauperes enim semper habetis vobiscum: me autem non semper habetis.

The English: 

[1] Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. [2] And they made him a supper there: and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. [3] Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. [4] Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: [5] Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? [6] Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. [7] Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. [8] For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.


This is a time of preparation for the feast of the Passover, and for Christ's suffering and death:

ALCUIN. As the time approached in which our Lord had resolved to suffer, He approached the place which He had chosen for the scene of His suffering: Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany. First, He went to Bethany, then to Jerusalem; to Jerusalem to suffer, to Bethany to keep alive the recollection of the recent resurrection of Lazarus; Where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.

THEOPHYL. On the tenth day of the month they took the lamb which was to be sacrificed on the passover, and from that time began the preparation for the feast. Or rather the ninth day of the month, i.e. six days before the passover, was the commencement of the feast. They feasted abundantly on that day.

Thus we find Jesus partook of a banquet at Bethany: There they made Him a supper, and Martha served. That Martha served, shows that the entertainment was in her house. See the fidelity of the woman: she does not leave the task of serving to the domestics, but takes it upon herself. The Evangelist adds, in order, it would seem, to settle Lazarus, resurrection beyond dispute, But Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.

AUG. He lived, talked, feasted; the truth was established, the unbelief of the Jews confounded.

Mary's focus is on Jesus alone:

CHRYS. Mary did not take part in serving the guests generally, but gave all her attention to our Lord, treating Him not as mere man, but as God: Then took Mary, a pound of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.

AUG. The word pistici seems to be the name of some place, from which this precious ointment came.

ALCUIN. Or pistici means genuine, non-adulterated. She is the woman that was a sinner, who came to our Lord in Simon's house with the box of ointment.

AUG. That she did this on another occasion in Bethany is not mentioned in Luke's Gospel, but is in the other three. Matthew and Mark say that the ointment was poured on the head, John says, on the feet. Why not suppose that it was poured both on the head, and on the feet? Matthew and Mark introduce the supper and the ointment out of place in the order of time (Matt 26:9 and Mark 14:3). When they are some way farther on in their narration, they go back to the sixth day before the passover.

 And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.

AUG. Remember the Apostle's words: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life (2 Cor 11:16).

Jesus condemns an undue focus on the poor at the expense of God:

AUG. Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him,

Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? In the other Gospels it is the disciples who murmured at the waste of the ointment. I think myself that Judas is put for the whole body of disciples; the singular for the plural. But at any rate we may supply for ourselves, that the other disciples said it, or thought it, or were persuaded by this very speech of Judas.

The only difference is, that Matthew and Mark expressly mention the concurrence of the others, whereas John only mentions Judas, whose habit of thieving He takes occasion to notice: This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

ALCUIN. He carried it as a servant, he took it out as a thief.

AUG. Judas did not perish at the time when he received money from the Jews to betray our Lord. He was already a thief, already lost, and followed our Lord in body, not in heart; wherein we are taught the duty of tolerating wicked men, lest we divide the body of Christ.

He who robs the Church of anything may be compared to the lost Judas. Tolerate the wicked, you that are good, that you may receive the reward of the good, and not fall into the punishment of the wicked. Follow the example of our Lord's conversation upon earth. Wherefore had He bags, to whom the Angels ministered, except because His Church should afterwards have bags?

Why did He admit thieves, but to show that His Church should tolerate thieves, while it suffered from them. It is not surprising that Judas, who was accustomed to steal money from the bags, should betray our Lord for money.

CHRYS. But why was a thief entrusted with the bags of the poor? Perhaps it was to give him no excuse of wanting), money, for of this he had enough in the bag for all his desires.

THEOPHYL. Some suppose that Judas had the keeping of the money, as being the lowest kind of service. For that the ministry of money matters ranks below the ministry of doctrine, we know from what the Apostle says in the Acts, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables (Acts 6:2).

CHRYS. Christ, with great forbearance, does not rebuke Judas for his thieving, in order to deprive him of all excuse for betraying Him.

CHRYS. Again, as if to remind His betrayer, He alludes to His burial; For the poor you have always with you, but Me you have not always: as if He said, I am a burden, a trouble to you; but wait a little, and I shall be gone.

AUG. He was speaking of His bodily presence; for in respect of His majesty, providence, ineffable and invisible grace, those words are fulfilled, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matt 28:20). Or thus: In the person of Judas are represented the wicked in the Church; for if you are a good man, you have Christ now by faith, and the Sacrament, and you shall have Him always, for when you have departed hence, you shall go to Him who said to the thief, Today shall thou be with Me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

But if you are wicked, you seem to have Christ, because you are baptized with the baptism of Christ, because you approach to the altar of Christ: but by reason of your wicked life, you shall not have Him always. It is not you (singular) have, but you (plural) have, the whole body of wicked men being addressed in Judas.

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there, and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. Curiosity brought them, not love.

The mystical meaning of the ointment:

ALCUIN. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the clay of My burying has she kept this: meaning that He was about to die, and that this ointment was suitable for His burial. So to Mary who was not able to be present, though much wishing, at the anointing of the dead body, was it given to do Him this office in His lifetime.

AUG. The ointment with which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus was justice. It was therefore a pound. It was ointment of spikenard (pistici) too very precious. Greek for faith. Do you seek to do justice? The just live by faith

(Heb 10:38). Anoint the feet of Jesus by good living, follow the Lord's footsteps: if you have a superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the Lord's feet; for the hair is a superfluous part of the body.

ALCUIN. And observe, on the first occasion of her anointing, she anointed His feet only, but now she anoints both His feet and head. The former denotes the beginnings of penitence, the latter the righteousness of souls perfected. By the head of our Lord the loftiness of His Divine nature, by His feet the lowliness of His incarnation are signified; or by the head, Christ Himself, by the feet, the poor who are His members.

AUG. The house was filled with the odor; the world was filled with the good fame.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

John 11:45-56

Today's section of St John's Gospel (New Advent page) deals with the consequences of Lazarus' raising.  You can listen to the Latin here (from around 4.40) and the Greek here.


The Latin:

45 Multi ergo ex Judæis, qui venerant ad Mariam, et Martham, et viderant quæ fecit Jesus, crediderunt in eum. 46 Quidam autem ex ipsis abierunt ad pharisæos, et dixerunt eis quæ fecit Jesus. 47 Collegerunt ergo pontifices et pharisæi concilium, et dicebant: Quid facimus, quia hic homo multa signa facit? 48 Si dimittimus eum sic, omnes credent in eum, et venient Romani, et tollent nostrum locum, et gentem. 49 Unus autem ex ipsis, Caiphas nomine, cum esset pontifex anni illius, dixit eis: Vos nescitis quidquam, 50 nec cogitatis quia expedit vobis ut unus moriatur homo pro populo, et non tota gens pereat. 51 Hoc autem a semetipso non dixit: sed cum esset pontifex anni illius, prophetavit, quod Jesus moriturus erat pro gente, 52 et non tantum pro gente, sed ut filios Dei, qui erant dispersi, congregaret in unum. 53 Ab illo ergo die cogitaverunt ut interficerent eum. 54 Jesus ergo jam non in palam ambulabat apud Judæos, sed abiit in regionem juxta desertum, in civitatem quæ dicitur Ephrem, et ibi morabatur cum discipulis suis. 55 Proximum autem erat Pascha Judæorum, et ascenderunt multi Jerosolymam de regione ante Pascha, ut sanctificarent seipsos. 56 Quærebant ergo Jesum, et colloquebantur ad invicem, in templo stantes: Quid putatis, quia non venit ad diem festum? Dederant autem pontifices et pharisæi mandatum ut si quis cognoverit ubi sit, indicet, ut apprehendant eum.

The English:

[45] Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.[46] But some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them the things that Jesus had done. [47] The chief priests therefore, and the Pharisees, gathered a council, and said: What do we, for this man doth many miracles? [48] If we let him alone so, all will believe in him; and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation. [49] But one of them, named Caiphas, being the high priest that year, said to them: You know nothing. [50] Neither do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.[51] And this he spoke not of himself: but being the high priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation. [52] And not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God, that were dispersed. [53] From that day therefore they devised to put him to death. [54] Wherefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews; but he went into a country near the desert, unto a city that is called Ephrem, and there he abode with his disciples. [55] And the pasch of the Jews was at hand; and many from the country went up to Jerusalem, before the pasch to purify themselves. [56] They sought therefore for Jesus; and they discoursed one with another, standing in the temple: What think you that he is not come to the festival day? And the chief priests and Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he was, he should tell, that they might apprehend him.


There is an awful irony that returning a man to life brings forth the desire to kill:

THEOPHYL. Such a miracle as this should have drawn forth wonder and praise. But they make it a reason of plotting against His life: Then gathered the chief priests and, Pharisees a council, and said, What do we?

AUG; But they had no thought of believing. The miserable men only consulted how they might hurt and kill Him, not how themselves might be saved from death. What do we? For this Man does many miracles.

CHRYS. Him of whose divinity they had received such certain proofs, they call only a man.

They claim to fear that Jesus is raising a rebellion against the Romans, yet ultimately it was the Jews, not the Christians who rebelled:

ORIGEN. This speech is an evidence of their audacity and blindness: of their audacity, because they testified that He had done many miracles, and yet thought that they could contend successfully against Him, and that He would have no power of withstanding their plots; of their blindness, because they did not reflect that He who had wrought such miracles could easily escape out of their hands; unless indeed they denied that these miracles were done by Divine power.

They resolved then not to let Him go; thinking that they should thus place an impediment in the way of those who wished to believe in Him, and also prevent the Romans from taking away their place and nation. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

CHRYS. They say this to alarm the people; as if they were incurring the suspicion of setting up an usurper. If, say they, the Romans in crowds follow Him, they will suspect us of setting up a tyranny, and will destroy our state. But this was as wholly a fiction of their own.

For what was the fact? Did He take armed men about with Him, did He go with horsemen in His train? Did He not rather choose desert places to go to? However, that they might not be suspected of consulting only their own interests, they declare the whole state is in danger.

AUG. Or, they were afraid that, if all believed in Christ, none would remain to defend the city of God and the temple against the Romans: since they thought that Christ's teaching was directed against the temple, and their laws. They were afraid of losing temporal things, and thought not of eternal life; and thus they lost both. For the Romans, after our Lord had suffered and was glorified, did come and take away their place and nation, reducing the one by siege, and dispersing the other.

ORIGEN. Mystically: It was fit that the Gentiles should occupy the place of them of the circumcision; because by their fall salvation came to the Gentiles. The Romans represent the Gentiles, being the rulers of the Gentile world. Their nation again was taken away, because they who had been the people of God, were made not a people.

Some insights on the discernment of spirits:

ORIGEN. The character of Caiaphas is strewn by his being called the High Priest of that same year; the year, viz. in which our Savior suffered. Being the High Priest that same year, he said to them, You know nothing at all,

nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. i.e. You sit still, and give no attention. Attend to me. So insignificant life of one man may surely be made a sacrifice for the safety of the state.

THEOPHYL. He said this with a bad intention, yet the Holy Spirit used his mouth as the vehicle of a prophecy: And this spoke he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.

ORIGEN. Not everyone that prophesies is a prophet; as not everyone that does a just action is just, he, for example, that does one for vainglory. Caiaphas prophesied without being a prophet, as did Balaam.

Perhaps some will deny that Caiaphas prophesied by the Holy Spirit, on the ground that evil spirits may bear witness to Christ, as the one in Luke, who says, I know You who You are, the Holy One of God; the intention of Caiaphas too being not to induce his hearers to believe on Him, but to excite them to kill Him. It is expedient for us. Is this part of his prophecy true or false? If it is true, then those who contended against Jesus in the council, since Jesus died for the people, and they participate in the advantage of His death, are saved.

This you say is absurd; and hence argue that the prophecy is false, and, if false, not dictated by the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit does not lie on the other side it is argued, for the truth of the prophecy that these words only meant that He by the grace of God should taste death for all men; that He is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe. And in the same way the former part of the speech, You know nothing at all, is made out to be an assertion of the truth. They knew nothing of Jesus, who did not know that He was truth, wisdom, justice, an peace.

And again, That one man should die for the people. It was as man that He died for the people: in so far as He is the image of the invisible God, He was incapable of death. And He died for the people, in that He took upon Himself, made away with, blotted out the sins of the whole world.

And this spoke he not of himself.

Hence we see, what men say sometimes proceeds from themselves, sometimes from the influence of some power upon them. In the latter case though they may not be taken quite out of themselves, and in a certain sense go along with their own words, yet they do not go along with the meaning of them. Thus Caiaphas says nothing of himself; and therefore does not interpret his own prophecy, because he does not understand it. Thus Paul too speaks of some teachers of the law, who understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

AUG. We learn hence that even bad men may foretell things to come by the spirit of prophecy, which power the Evangelist ascribes to a divine sacrament, he being Pontifex, i.e. High Priest.

CHRYS. See the great virtue of the Holy Spirit, in drawing forth a prophecy from a wicked man. And see too the virtue of the pontifical office, which made him, though an unworthy High Priest, unconsciously prophesy. Divine grace only used his mouth; it touched not his corrupt heart.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

John 11: 17-44

In today's section of the Gospel (New Advent page), Jesus arrives to the family in mourning, and deals with his interactions with Martha and Mary.  Here we come across one of the most confronting verses in the Bible, and the shortest verse in the King James Version: Jesus wept.


17 Venit itaque Jesus: et invenit eum quatuor dies jam in monumento habentem. 18 (Erat autem Bethania juxta Jerosolymam quasi stadiis quindecim.) 19 Multi autem ex Judæis venerant ad Martham et Mariam, ut consolarentur eas de fratre suo. 20 Martha ergo ut audivit quia Jesus venit, occurrit illi: Maria autem domi sedebat. 21 Dixit ergo Martha ad Jesum: Domine, si fuisses hic, frater meus non fuisset mortuus: 22 sed et nunc scio quia quæcumque poposceris a Deo, dabit tibi Deus. 23 Dicit illi Jesus: Resurget frater tuus. 24 Dicit ei Martha: Scio quia resurget in resurrectione in novissimo die. 25 Dixit ei Jesus: Ego sum resurrectio et vita: qui credit in me, etiam si mortuus fuerit, vivet: 26 et omnis qui vivit et credit in me, non morietur in æternum. Credis hoc? 27 Ait illi: Utique Domine, ego credidi quia tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi, qui in hunc mundum venisti. 28 Et cum hæc dixisset, abiit, et vocavit Mariam sororem suam silentio, dicens: Magister adest, et vocat te. 29 Illa ut audivit, surgit cito, et venit ad eum; 30 nondum enim venerat Jesus in castellum: sed erat adhuc in illo loco, ubi occurrerat ei Martha. 31 Judæi ergo, qui erant cum ea in domo, et consolabantur eam, cum vidissent Mariam quia cito surrexit, et exiit, secuti sunt eam dicentes: Quia vadit ad monumentum, ut ploret ibi.32 Maria ergo, cum venisset ubi erat Jesus, videns eum, cecidit ad pedes ejus, et dicit ei: Domine, si fuisses hic, non esset mortuus frater meus. 33 Jesus ergo, ut vidit eam plorantem, et Judæos, qui venerant cum ea, plorantes, infremuit spiritu, et turbavit seipsum,34 et dixit: Ubi posuistis eum? Dicunt ei: Domine, veni, et vide. 35 Et lacrimatus est Jesus. 36 Dixerunt ergo Judæi: Ecce quomodo amabat eum. 37 Quidam autem ex ipsis dixerunt: Non poterat hic, qui aperuit oculos cæci nati, facere ut hic non moreretur? 38 Jesus ergo rursum fremens in semetipso, venit ad monumentum. Erat autem spelunca, et lapis superpositus erat ei. 39 Ait Jesus: Tollite lapidem. Dicit ei Martha, soror ejus qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, jam fœtet, quatriduanus est enim. 40 Dicit ei Jesus: Nonne dixi tibi quoniam si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? 41 Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Jesus autem, elevatis sursum oculis, dixit: Pater, gratias ago tibi quoniam audisti me. 42 Ego autem sciebam quia semper me audis, sed propter populum qui circumstat, dixi: ut credant quia tu me misisti. 43 Hæc cum dixisset, voce magna clamavit: Lazare, veni foras. 44 Et statim prodiit qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes, et manus institis, et facies illius sudario erat ligata. Dixit eis Jesus: Solvite eum et sinite abire.

And the English:

[17] Jesus therefore came, and found that he had been four days already in the grave. [18] (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) [19] And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. [20] Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home.[21] Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [22] But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. [23] Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. [24] Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. [25] Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: [26] And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? [27] She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.[28] And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come, and calleth for thee. [29] She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him. [30] For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but he was still in that place where Martha had met him.[31] The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. [32] When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [33] Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself. And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. [35] And Jesus wept.[36] The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him. [37] But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die? [38] Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. [39] Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. [40] Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? [41] They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. [42] And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. [43] When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. [44] And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go.


The Catena Aurea includes some commentaries on Jesus' dialogue with Martha leading her to a fuller understanding of who he was:

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

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

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

Then says Martha to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died.

CHRYS. She believed in Christ, but she believed not as she ought. She did not speak as if He were God: If You had been here, my brother had not died.

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

CHRYS. Nor did she know that He wrought His miracles by His own independent power: But I know that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it to you. She only thinks Him some very gifted man.

AUG. She does not say to Him, Bring my brother to life again; for how could she know that it would be good for him to come to life again; she says, I know that You can do so, if You will but what You will do is for your judgment, not for my presumption to determine

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

AUG. Shall rise again, is ambiguous: for He does not say, now. And therefore it follows: Martha says to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day; of that resurrection I am certain; of this I am doubtful.

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

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

CHRYS. To Martha's, Whatsoever You shall ask, He replies, He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: showing her that He is the Giver of all good, and that we must ask of Him. Thus He leads her to the knowledge of high truths; and whereas she had been inquiring only about the resurrection of Lazarus, tells her of a resurrection in which both she and all present would share.

AUG. He that believes in Me, though he were dead: i.e. though his flesh die, his soul shall live till the flesh rise again, never to die more. For faith is the life of the soul.

 And whomsoever lives, in the flesh, and believes in Me, though he die for a time in the flesh, shall not die eternally.

ALCUIN. Because He has attained to the life of the Spirit, and to an immortal resurrection. Our Lord, from Whom nothing was hid, knew that she believed, but sought from her a confession to salvation: Do you believe this? She says to Him, Yea, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ the Son of God, which should come into the world.

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

AUG When I believed that You were the Son of God, I believed that you were the resurrection, that You were life, and that he that believes in you, though he were dead, shall live.

Mary, by contrast, already has a somewhat deeper understanding:

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

CHRYS. She is more fervent than her sister. Forgetful of the crowd around her, and of the Jews, some of whom were enemies to Christ, she threw herself at her Master's feet. In His presence all earthly things were nothing to her; she thought of nothing but giving Him honor.

THEOPHYL. But her faith seems as yet imperfect: Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died.

ALCUIN. As if to say, Lord, while You were with us, no disease, no sickness dared to show itself, amongst those with whom the Life deigned to take up His abode.

AUG. O faithless assembly! While You are yet in the world, Lazarus your friend dies! If the friend cries, what will the enemy suppose? Is it a small thing that they will not serve You upon earth? Lo, hell has taken your beloved.

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

Christ had delayed effecting the miracle in order to ensure it could not be disputed.  But he was not unmoved by the sorrow of the family that this caused:

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

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

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

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

AUG. Wherefore did Christ weep, but to teach men to weep?

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

CHRYS...Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself, comes to the grave. That He wept, and He groaned, are mentioned to show us the reality of His human nature. John who enters into higher statements as to His nature than any of the other Evangelists, also descends lower than any in describing His bodily affections.

Calling forth Lazarus prefigures our own:

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

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

THEOPHYL. The voice which roused Lazarus, is the symbol of that trumpet which will sound at the general resurrection. (He spoke loud, to contradict the Gentile fable, that the soul remained in the tomb. The soul of Lazarus is called to as if it were absent, and a loud voice were necessary to summon it.)

And as the general resurrection is to take place in the twinkling of an eye, so did this single one: And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was as bound about with a napkin. Now is accomplished what was said above, The hour is coming, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.

ORIGEN. His cry and loud voice it was which awoke him, as Christ had said, I go to awake him. The resurrection of Lazarus is the work of the Father also, in that He heard the prayer of the Son. It is the joint work of Father and Son, one praying, the other hearing; for as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will.

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

AUG. Everyone that sins, dies; but God, of His great mercy, raises the soul to life again, and does not suffer it to die eternally. The three miraculous resurrections in the Gospels, understand to testify, the resurrection of the soul.

Monday, 2 March 2015

John 11:1-16

Chapter 11 of St John's Gospel takes us to the key story of the resurrection of Lazarus.  Today's verses set the scene.  Nothing seems to be going well: one of Jesus' closest friends is dying; and things are so tense with the Jewish authorities that the disciples are convinced they will be martyred with him if they return to Judaea.


The Greek, Latin and Knox translation can be found at the New Advent page linked to above.  And you can listen to the Latin here.

The Latin:

1 Erat autem quidam languens Lazarus a Bethania, de castello Mariæ et Marthæ sororis ejus. 2 (Maria autem erat quæ unxit Dominum unguento, et extersit pedes ejus capillis suis: cujus frater Lazarus infirmabatur.) 3 Miserunt ergo sorores ejus ad eum dicentes: Domine, ecce quem amas infirmatur. 4 Audiens autem Jesus dixit eis: Infirmitas hæc non est ad mortem, sed pro gloria Dei, ut glorificetur Filius Dei per eam. 5 Diligebat autem Jesus Martham, et sororem ejus Mariam, et Lazarum. 6 Ut ergo audivit quia infirmabatur, tunc quidem mansit in eodem loco duobus diebus; 7 deinde post hæc dixit discipulis suis: Eamus in Judæam iterum. 8 Dicunt ei discipuli: Rabbi, nunc quærebant te Judæi lapidare, et iterum vadis illuc? 9 Respondit Jesus: Nonne duodecim sunt horæ diei? Si quis ambulaverit in die, non offendit, quia lucem hujus mundi videt: 10 si autem ambulaverit in nocte, offendit, quia lux non est in eo. 11 Hæc ait, et post hæc dixit eis: Lazarus amicus noster dormit: sed vado ut a somno excitem eum. 12 Dixerunt ergo discipuli ejus: Domine, si dormit, salvus erit. 13 Dixerat autem Jesus de morte ejus: illi autem putaverunt quia de dormitione somni diceret. 14 Tunc ergo Jesus dixit eis manifeste: Lazarus mortuus est: 15 et gaudeo propter vos, ut credatis, quoniam non eram ibi, sed eamus ad eum. 16 Dixit ergo Thomas, qui dicitur Didymus, ad condiscipulos: Eamus et nos, ut moriamur cum eo.

The English (Douay-Rheims):

1] Now there was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha her sister. [2] (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) [3] His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [4] And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. [5] Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.[6] When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days. [7] Then after that, he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again. [8] The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee: and goest thou thither again? [9] Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world: [10] But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. [11] These things he said; and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. [12] His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. [13] But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. [14] Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead. [15] And I am glad, for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him.[16] Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him.


Some extracts from St Augustine's Tractate 49.  First, the importance of the resurrection miracles:

"Among all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Lazarus holds a foremost place in preaching. But if we consider attentively who did it, our duty is to rejoice rather than to wonder... 

For surely the Lord's deeds are not merely deeds, but signs. And if they are signs, besides their wonderful character, they have some real significance: and to find out this in regard to such deeds is a somewhat harder task than to read or hear of them. 

We were listening with wonder, as at the sight of some mighty miracle enacted before our eyes, in the reading of the Gospel, how Lazarus was restored to life. If we turn our thoughts to the still more wonderful works of Christ, every one that believes rises again: if we all consider, and understand that more horrifying kind of death, everyone who sins dies. 

But every man is afraid of the death of the flesh; few, of the death of the soul. In regard to the death of the flesh, which must certainly come some time, all are on their guard against its approach: this is the source of all their labor. Man, destined to die, labors to avert his dying; and yet man, destined to live for ever, labors not to cease from sinning. And when he labors to avoid dying, he labors to no purpose, for its only result will be to put off death for a while, not to escape it; but if he refrain from sinning, his toil will cease, and he shall live for ever."

Mary and Martha send word to Jesus, yet he still stays away:

"They did not say, Come; for the intimation was all that was needed for one who loved. They did not venture to say, Come and heal him: they ventured not to say, Command there, and it shall be done here. And why not so with them, if on these very grounds the centurion's faith was commended? For he said, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Matthew viii No such words said these women, but only, Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick. It is enough that You know; for You are not one that loves and forsakes. But says some one, How could a sinner be represented by Lazarus, and be so loved by the Lord? Let him listen to Him, when He says, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:13 For had not God loved sinners, He would not have come down from heaven to earth.

But when Jesus heard [that], He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified. Such a glorifying of Himself did not add to His dignity, but benefited us. Hence He says, is not unto death, because even that death itself was not unto death, but rather unto the working of a miracle whereby men might be led to faith in Christ, and so escape the real death. And mark how the Lord, as it were indirectly, called Himself God, for the sake of some who deny that the Son is God. For there are heretics who make such a denial, that the Son of God is God. Let them hearken here: This sickness, He says, is not unto death, but for the glory of God. For what glory? For the glory of what God? Hear what follows: That the Son of God may be glorified. This sickness, therefore, He says, is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God maybe glorified thereby. By what? By that sickness...

"They sent Him word: He abode where He was: and the time ran on till four days were completed. And not in vain, were it only that perhaps, nay that certainly, even the very number of days has some sacramental significance. Then after that He says again to His disciples, Let us go into Judea: where He had been all but stoned, and from which He had apparently departed for the very purpose to escape being stoned. For as man He departed; but returned as if in forgetfulness of all infirmity, to show His power. Let us go, He said, into Judea."

One of the important parts of this passage seems to me to be the disciples false bravado when faced with the prospect of martyrdom: the say the words, but as we know from the reality of the crucifixion, they are not yet truly steadfast in faith:

And now see how the disciples were terrified at His words. The disciples say unto Him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone You, and You are going there again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? What does such an answer mean? They said to Him, The Jews of late sought to stone You, and You are going there again to be stoned? 

And the Lord, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world: but if he walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him. He spoke indeed of the day, but to our understanding as if it were still the night. Let us call upon the Day to chase away the night, and illuminate our hearts with the light. For what did the Lord mean? As far as I can judge, and as the height and depth of His meaning breaks into light, He wished to argue down their doubting and unbelief. For they wished by their counsel to keep the Lord from death, who had come to die, to save themselves from death. 

In a similar way also, in another passage, St. Peter, who loved the Lord, but did not yet fully understand the reason of His coming, was afraid of His dying, and so displeased the Life, to wit, the Lord Himself; for when He was intimating to the disciples what He was about to suffer at Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews, Peter made reply among the rest, and said, Far be it from You, Lord; pity Yourself: this shall not be unto You. And at once the Lord replied, Get behind me, Satan: for you savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.... 

We can take a certain comfort I think in this, for it tells us that the spiritual journey we must all follow is long, and has many stumbling points, yet if we simply do our best to follow Christ, we will eventually develop the true courage of grace.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Second Sunday of Lent

The Gospel this Sunday is St Matthew 17:1-9, on the Transfiguration (from New Advent):

1 Et post dies sex assumit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et ducit illos in montem excelsum seorsum: 2 et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol: vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. 3 Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. 4 Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliæ unum. 5 Adhuc eo loquente, ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. 6 Et audientes discipuli ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. 7 Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eos: dixitque eis: Surgite, et nolite timere. 8 Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt, nisi solum Jesum.9 Et descendentibus illis de monte, præcepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.


1] And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: [2] And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. [3] And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. [4] And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. [5] And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. [6] And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. [7] And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. [8] And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. [9] And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead. 

The third Nocturn Matins readings on it are from a Homily by St Leo the Great (from Divinum Officium, but rearranged as for the Benedictine Office):

Reading 9: Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an exceeding high mountain apart, and manifested forth the brightness of His glory. Hitherto, though they understood that there was in Him the Majesty of God, they knew not the power of that Body which veiled the Godhead. And therefore He had individually and markedly promised to some of the disciples that had stood by Him that they should "not taste of death till they had seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom, that is, in the kingly splendour, which is the right of the Manhood taken into God, and which He willed to make visible to those three men.

Reading 10: This it was that they saw, for the unspeakable and unapproachable vision of the Godhead Himself which will be the everlasting life of the pure in heart, can no man, who is still burdened with a dying body, see and live. When the Father saith "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased hear ye Him did they not plainly hear Him say This is My Son, Whose it is to be of Me and with Me without all time " For neither is He That begetteth, before Him That is begotten, neither He That is begotten, after Him That begetteth Him. " This is My Son between Whom and Me, to be God is not a point of difference to be Almighty, a point of separation nor to be Eternal, a point of distinction. "

Reading 11: This is My Son not by adoption, but My very Own not created from, or of another substance, or out of nothing, but begotten of Me not of another nature, and made like unto Me, but of Mine own Being, born of Me, equal unto Me.This is My Son by Whom all things were made, and without Whom was not anything made that was made, Who maketh likewise all things whatsoever I make and what things soever I do He doeth likewise, inseparably and indifferently."

Reading 12: This is My Son Who thought it not robbery, nor hath taken it by violence, to be equal with Me, but, abiding still in the form of My glory, that He may fulfil Our common decree for the restoration of mankind, hath bowed the unchangeable Godhead even to the form of a servant. Him therefore in Whom I am in all things well pleased, by Whose preaching I am manifested, and by Whose lowliness I am glorified, Him instantly hear ye. For He is the Truth and the Life My Power, and My Wisdom.

You can also read my post with St John Chrysostom's take on it.