Friday, 26 September 2014

St Luke 24:36-45

St Luke:

36 Dum autem hæc loquuntur, stetit Jesus in medio eorum, et dicit eis: Pax vobis: ego sum, nolite timere. 37 Conturbati vero et conterriti, existimabant se spiritum videre. 38 Et dixit eis: Quid turbati estis, et cogitationes ascendunt in corda vestra? 39 videte manus meas, et pedes, quia ego ipse sum; palpate et videte, quia spiritus carnem et ossa non habet, sicut me videtis habere. 40 Et cum hoc dixisset, ostendit eis manus et pedes. 41 Adhuc autem illis non credentibus, et mirantibus præ gaudio, dixit: Habetis hic aliquid quod manducetur? 42 At illi obtulerunt ei partem piscis assi et favum mellis. 43 Et cum manducasset coram eis, sumens reliquias dedit eis. 44 Et dixit ad eos: Hæc sunt verba quæ locutus sum ad vos cum adhuc essem vobiscum, quoniam necesse est impleri omnia quæ scripta sunt in lege Moysi, et prophetis, et Psalmis de me. 45 Tunc aperuit illis sensum ut intelligerent Scripturas, 

[36] Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not. [37] But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? [39] See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. [40] And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet.[41] But while they yet believed not, and wondered for joy, he said: Have you any thing to eat? [42] And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb. [43] And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them. [44] And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

Commentary

...Ver. 39.—Behold My hands and My feet,&c. If you cannot believe your sight, believe your touch. Let your hands prove whether your eyes have played you false. S. Augustine. For the sense of touch is more to be relied upon than the sight.

Handle me (ψηλαφήσατέ), that by touching my body you may be assured of the reality of its existence. Hence it is clear, says S. Gregory, that a glorified body is immaterial (subtile) by reason of its spiritual powers, but material (palpabile) inasmuch as it is true to its nature.
You will ask, firstly, how the glorified body of Christ could be at one and the same time material and immaterial?

I answer. First, because glorified bodies possess (1) the property of permeability, and hence are able not only to offer no resistance to another body, but even to penetrate it. And they possess (2) the power of eluding the touch, as they have the power of vanishing from the sight, according to what I have just said. These properties or powers they use or not, according as they are inclined.
Consequently, glorified bodies can be apprehended by the touch or not, according as they will.
You will ask secondly, whether this handling of Christ, His sitting at meat with the disciples, and such like, are sufficient proofs of His resurrection?

I answer that these proofs were not absolutely and physically certain, for the angels, when they appeared in bodily form, were touched and handled by Abraham, Lot, and others; but they are certain in a moral sense, and as far as human certainty permits.

1. Because on this account Christ willed to abide long with the Apostles, and to manifest Himself after His resurrection, as in His death, to their hearing, sight, and touch, senses which are held by men to be most trustworthy.
2. Because it pertained to the providence of God not to let these so great signs pass unnoticed, but to take away all pretence of deception. For the truth of the Messiah and the new religion was at stake, specially the point as to whether He really had risen from the dead.
3. Because these signs, taken in conjunction with the miracles of Christ, and the prophecies of His coming, made it both credible and certain, that He had indeed risen from the dead.

Ver. 40.—And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet—“pierced, and still bearing the prints of the nails,” says Euthymius; as is clear from S. John xx. 27. For Christ willed that these five wounds, or rather wound-prints, should remain in His glorified body as trophies of His victory over sin and death and hell.

“He bore them with Him to heaven,” says S. Ambrose, “in order to show them to God the Father, as the price of our liberty.” For “He who destroyed the kingdom of death would not efface the signs of death.” In like manner also the martyrs will exhibit their scars in heaven, as so many glorious tokens of their victory.

For they will be to them not a disfigurement but dignity, and in their bodies a certain beauty will shine forth, a beauty not of the body, but of merit; for such marks as these must not be accounted blemishes.  S. Augustine (De Civit. Lib. xxii. cap. xx.)

You will ask whether the disciples actually handled and touched the pierced hands and feet of Christ after His resurrection?

I answer that this is a matter of uncertainty, because Scripture is silent on the subject. But it is probable that some both handled and touched the Lord, especially those who were the more doubtful concerning His resurrection, because they, on their part, were anxious to satisfy themselves, by actual touch, that it was no phantom, but Christ alive from the dead—because also Christ Himself bade them “handle” Him, so that there might be no room for doubt, but that the Apostles might be able to preach to the Gentiles that Christ had indeed risen from the dead.

So we read, “That which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of Life . . . declare we unto you.”  1 S. John I. i.

Ver. 41.—And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered. On the one hand, because they had handled Him, the disciples believed that Jesus had risen, and taken again His true body; but on the other hand, so great was their joy and their wonder at the strangeness of the event, that they could scarcely believe that it was the very Jesus who had been so recently crucified. They rejoiced greatly because they believed, but the greatness of their joy reacted on their faith. So it is a matter of common experience that if a trustworthy person brings us some unexpected good news, our joy is so great that we refuse to credit it, lest if it prove untrue, and we find that we have been deceived, we sorrow as much as we before rejoiced. We restrain our joy until we are sure that it is well founded. So was it with the Apostles: “their exceeding great joy,” says Vatablus, “obscured their judgment.”
Have ye here any meat? Christ appeared to His disciples “as they sat at meat” (S. Mark, xvi. 13), and they, when they saw Him, out of reverence rose up from the table and ran to meet Him, full of joy and astonishment, and therefore doubtingly. Hence, Jesus suffered them to handle Him, and since they did not even then fully believe, asked for meat, in order that He might eat before them, and so show that He was alive again.

Ver. 42.—And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. A proof of the frugality of the Apostles, for if they had had any better food they would have offered it to their Master. But as fishermen they fed on fish, just as Athæneus (De Cœnis Sapientum) tells us the frugal men of old were accustomed to do; and in point of fact up to the time of the deluge flesh was not known as an article of food. (See Gen. ix.)

Symbolically, says Bede, “the broiled fish signifies the sufferings of Christ. For He, having condescended to lie in the waters of the human race, was willing to be taken by the hook of our death, and was as it were burnt up by anguish at the time of His passion. But the honeycomb was present to us at the resurrection; the honey in the wax being the divine nature in the human;” and again “He ate part of a broiled fish, signifying that having burnt by the fire of His own divinity our nature swimming in the sea of this life, and dried up the moisture which it had contracted from the waves, He made it divine food of sweet savour in the sight of God, which the honeycomb signifies. Or we may take the broiled fish to mean the active life drying up the moisture by the coals of labour, and the honeycomb is the sweet contemplation of the oracles of God.” Theophylact. “By the command of the law the passover was eaten with bitter herbs, but after the resurrection the food is sweetened with a honeycomb.” Gregory Nyssen.

Tropologically, says the Gloss: “Those who endure tribulation (assantur tribulalionibus) for the sake of God, will hereafter be satisfied with true sweetness.”

Another reason why Christ ate the broiled fish is given by an anonymous writer in the Greek Catena: “The word of God as a new and unapproachable fire, by the hypostatic union, dried up the moisture in which human nature as a fish—because of its incontinency—was immersed, and set it free by mixture of His passion, fulfilling so sweetly this dispensation as to make ready sweet food for Himself; for the salvation of men is the food of God.”

Hence Christ soon after He had eaten, breathed on the Apostles, and bestowed on them the gift of the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins. S. John xx. 22....

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