Monday, 30 June 2014

Reading Plan for St Luke's Gospel

This coming quarter I plan to provide lectio divina prompts for St Luke's Gospel.

How much time?

In his Rule, St Benedict points us to several key means of sanctification, including:

  • acceptance of the call to conversion, and perseverance in the 'narrow way of salvation' (especially the Prologue to the Rule);
  • cultivation of obedience and humility (especially chapters 5-7 of the Rule);
  • practice of the tools of good works (especially chapter 4);
  • the liturgy of the Divine Office, the Opus Dei (especially chapters 8-20); 
  • work (esp chapter 48); and 
  • spiritual reading (Chapter 48).

Our reading, then, should be part of a balanced program, reflecting our state in life: Carthusian monks, who have few other demands on their time might be able to do several hours a day of it; but those living in the world with families and a job might only be able to manage a few minutes or so!

Even so, a few minutes can be of great benefit to us, so it is worth trying to carve out the time each day.

The point of lectio divina, it must be remembered, is not just to quickly read through the text as if it was a work of fiction which we want to read quickly in order to find out what happens.   Rather, the idea is ponder it so that it can act as a mirror to our souls, and a guide to our living.  Accordingly, depending on how much time you can allocate to lectio each day, you might want to read through the text here each day, but then focus in on one or two particular verses.

I'd also strongly encourage you to at least read through and/or listen to the Latin - even if you haven't studied Latin, you will gradually be able to start picking out the words, absorb it, and at the very least be able to recognise it when you hear it at Mass.  And reading and hearing the Greek can also be of benefit given that was the language it was written in.

This might also be a good point to take a (another) look at my notes on how to do lectio divina.  The key point is that these posts are intended as a starting point for your own study and meditation, not the end point!

St Luke

St Luke's Gospel provides us with some rich material from Our Lady on the events surrounding the nativity of Christ, so I plan to linger on those early chapters a little.  In particular, given that we say the Benedictus and Magnificat canticles taken from St Luke daily in the Office, I thought I'd send a couple of days on those, to provide you with some possible starting points for probing deeper into the meaning of these texts to which the Church has attached so much importance.

As usual, I'll take a break for Sunday and the major feasts, and provide the Gospel of the day (from the EF/traditional Benedictine calendar) and third nocturn Matins readings on them instead.  I should note though that on July 2, the feast of the Visitation, the Gospel is actually from St Luke 1, so I've arranged it so that the Gospel text appears in sequence.

With that in mind, I anticipate reaching chapter 8 of St Luke's Gospel by the end of July, and chapter 18 by the end of August, finishing St Luke by the end of September.

In terms of commentary, I'll provide extracts mainly from the classic commentary of Cornelius de Lapide this time around, occasionally supplemented by other sources such as the Catena Aurea compiled by St Thomas Aquinas.

Other books of the Bible

For those interested in reading more of the Bible than just the Gospels, I've updated (and will keep updated!) my summary (which you can find in a sidebar) of the Bible in a Year Reading Plan 1 put together by Dom Christopher Lazowski, OSB.

The plan loosely mirrors the order of readings at Matins (noting of course that the Benedictine Office doesn't have variable Scriptural readings during the week over the Northern Hemisphere summer).

St Mark 16:12-20

The closing verses of St Mark's Gospel from verse 14 are the Gospel for the feast of the Ascension:

12 Post hæc autem duobus ex his ambulantibus ostensus est in alia effigie, euntibus in villam: 13 et illi euntes nuntiaverunt ceteris: nec illis crediderunt.14 Novissime recumbentibus illis undecim apparuit: et exprobravit incredulitatem eorum et duritiam cordis: quia iis, qui viderant eum resurrexisse, non crediderunt. 15 Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum prædicate Evangelium omni creaturæ. 16 Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur. 17 Signa autem eos qui crediderint, hæc sequentur: in nomine meo dæmonia ejicient: linguis loquentur novis: 18 serpentes tollent: et si mortiferum quid biberint, non eis nocebit: super ægros manus imponent, et bene habebunt. 19 Et Dominus quidem Jesus postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in cælum, et sedet a dextris Dei. 20 Illi autem profecti prædicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante, et sermonem confirmante, sequentibus signis.

 [12] And after that he appeared in another shape to two of them walking, as they were going into the country. [13] And they going told it to the rest: neither did they believe them. [14] At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. [15] And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. [16] He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. [18] They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. [19] And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. [20] But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 12. He appeared in another shape: Arabic, garment, i.e., of a traveller, as they were going into the country: Arabic, to the village; Gr. into the field, i.e., to a country-house at Emmaus. For, as S. Austin says (Consens. Evang.), “under the name of country not only villages, but towns and boroughs outside the capital, which was the mother city of all, were wont to be called.” These disciples, therefore, were going from Jerusalem into the country, that is, into the neighbouring small town of Emmaus. This place was made a famous city by the Romans, and called Nicopolis, as a monument of their victory in the capture of Jerusalem. This appearance of Christ is the same as that related by S. Luke (xxiv. 13), as is plain from the circumstances, which are the same in both cases. So commentators generally. Euthymius alone thinks they were different, because Mark adds that the Apostles did not believe them when they told them that Christ was risen, whilst Luke intimates the contrary, that they did believe. But the answer is easy, that some believed, but others did not believe.

Ver. 13. Neither did they believe them. This happened by the permission and providence of God. “For this their incredulity was not so much their weakness as it was to become our strength,” says S. Gregory. “For the resurrection itself was made manifest to them by many proofs, when they doubted of it. And when we read and acknowledge these things, what else is it but to be confirmed by their doubting?”

Ver. 14. At length He appeared to the eleven as they were at table. The Vulgate has novissime, last of all: Gr. ύστεζον. This was the last appearance of Christ on the day of the resurrection, for S. Mark only relates those appearances which took place on that day. You may say, But if so, He did not appear to the Eleven, but to the Apostles, for S. Thomas was absent. Wherefore Maldonatus thinks that this appearance was that which took place on the Sunday after the resurrection, when Thomas was present. But I say that they are here called the Eleven, although Thomas was absent, because the college of the Apostles after the treachery of Judas was reduced to eleven. That is why they are here called the Eleven, although Thomas was absent. Thus the Decemvirs were called by that name when gathered together, although one or two might be absent.

They did not believe. S. Jerome (lib. 2, cant. Pelag.) writes that in some Greek codices there is found added after these words as follows: “And they had content, saying, Substance is that world of iniquity which by means of evil spirits suffers not the true power of God to be apprehended: therefore now reveal Thy righteousness.” But the Church has expunged all this, for it savours of the heresy of Manes and Montanus.

Ver. 15. And He said unto them, Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He said this not on Easter day, when He appeared to the Eleven as they sat at meat, but afterwards, when He showed Himself to them and others on a mountain of Galilee, as it is in S. Matt. xxviii. 16, &c. Or it may be that He committed this chief and peculiar office of preaching the Gospel to the Apostles more than once.

Go ye into the whole world, that is to say, not into Judæa only, as ye have done hitherto, but up and down in all directions throughout the world. For it does not seem probable that a few Apostles should have traversed and converted the whole world, especially because in America, lately discovered, no traces of the faith of Christ have been found.

Every creature, i.e., to all nations, as it is in Matt. xxviii. 19.

Ver. 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. This saying of Christ is abused to support their heresies, 1st, by the Lutherans, to prove that faith alone without good works is sufficient to salvation. But I reply that the meaning of Christ, as Euthymius, Theophylact, and others have observed, is, he that believeth, &c., i.e., “he that, believing in Christ and receiving His baptism, has been washed from his sins, imbued with the grace of God, and sanctified, he shall be saved,” understand, “if he die in that state, retaining the grace of God even unto death.” But it is impossible for the baptized to continue in this state of grace if they do not those good works which the law of Christ commands. Also, in the name of faith, or faith and babtism, as the prime requisites, and which, at the beginning of the Church were chiefly to be inculcated upon the Gentiles, all other things consequent upon them must be understood, such as hope, charity, and good works, as I have shown at length in the introduction to S. Paul’s Epistles.

2nd The Anabaptists infer from this saying of Christ that little children must not be baptized, because they cannot believe. But I answer, Christ is here speaking of adults. For only adults are able to believe, and all the preceding words apply to adults only. That little children ought to be baptized is plain from the perpetual tradition and practice of the Church, and from the words in S. John iii. 5, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless any one be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

S. Augustine adds, and reiterates in various passages, that these words of Christ do refer to infants also in a measure, for as they sinned by the will of Adam, not their own, so likewise they believe by the faith of the Church, in their parents, or those who present them for baptism, not by their own.
3rd The Calvinists gather from these words of Christ that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but that faith only is sufficient, because of it alone, they say, Christ subjoins, But he that believeth not shall be condemned. I reply that under the word believe, i.e., faith, baptism must be understood, which is the sacrament of faith, as well as all the other things which spring from and follow faith, as I have just said. For Mark, studying brevity, left it to the reader to gather from what he had said immediately previous, that these must be understood, or shall not be baptized. For otherwise the antithesis would be imperfect. To complete it we must read as follows, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, or is not baptized, shall be condemned, For that baptism is necessary for salvation is plain from the words of Christ in S. John iii. 5, already cited.

Ver. 28. They shall take up serpents. From the places which they infested, and as Euthymius says, “They, shall destroy them, or even take them up in their hands without harm,” as S. Paul did the viper. Therefore the Arabic translates, They shall take up serpents in their hands.
And if they shall drink any deadly thing. They shall drink poison unharmed, as the Apostles and many Saints have done.

They shall lay their hands upon the sick, &c. Observe that these signs were necessary in the Primitive Church for proving and strengthening the faith of Christ. Wherefore at that time almost all believers wrought miracles, at least of certain kinds; as, for example, the expulsion of devils from energumens. This is plain from Justin’s Dialogue against Trypho, Tertullian (Apolog.), Lactantius, and others. Many also at that time received in baptism the gift of tongues. See Acts x. 47, &c.

Mystically: S. Bernard (Serm. de Ascens.) says, “The first work of faith which worketh by love is compunction of heart, by which, without doubt, devils are cast out when sins are rooted out of the heart. After that they who believe in Christ speak with new tongues when old things depart but of their mouth, and for the time to come they speak not with the old tongue of our first parents, who declined unto words of wickedness in making excuses for their sins. But when by compunction of the heart, and confession of the mouth, the former sins have been blotted out, in order that men may not backslide, and their latter end be worse than the beginning, it is needful that they take away serpents, that is, extinguish poisonous suggestions, &c. If they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them. This is, when they feel the stings of concupiscence, they shall not consent. They shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. This is, they shall cover their evil affections by good works, and by this medicine they shall be healed.”

Ver. 19 He was taken up into heaven. By His divinity communicating to His body the qualities of lightness and fleetness.

“O kingdom of eternal blessedness, where youth never groweth old, where beauty never waneth, nor love groweth cold, where health knows no sickness, where joy never decreaseth, where life hath no end” (S. Augustine, in Solil. c. 39).

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Feast of SS Peter and Paul (St Matthew 16:13-19)

The Gospel for the feast is from St Matthew:

13 Venit autem Jesus in partes Cæsareæ Philippi: et interrogabat discipulos suos, dicens: Quem dicunt homines esse Filium hominis? 14 At illi dixerunt: Alii Joannem Baptistam, alii autem Eliam, alii vero Jeremiam, aut unum ex prophetis. 15 Dicit illis Jesus: Vos autem, quem me esse dicitis? 16 Respondens Simon Petrus dixit: Tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi. 17 Respondens autem Jesus, dixit ei: Beatus es Simon Bar Jona: quia caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi, sed Pater meus, qui in cælis est. 18 Et ego dico tibi, quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam. 19 Et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum. Et quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in cælis: et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in cælis.

[13] And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? [14] But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
[16] Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

Matins Readings (from St Jerome)

(Reading 9): Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am. This question is well put, for they who speak of Him as the Son of man are men, while they that know of Him that He is God are called not men but gods. And they said Some say that Thou art John the Baptist, some, Elias I marvel that some commentators have thought it worth their while to search into the origin of each of these blunders, and to engage in a discussion of weary length as to why some thought that our Lord Jesus Christ was John the Baptist, some, Elias and others, Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. Their blunders concerning Elias and Jeremias were but of a piece with Herod's concerning John the Baptist It is John, whom I beheaded he is risen from the dead and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.

(Reading 10): But who say ye that I am? Mark, discreet reader, from the context, that a distinction is here drawn between the Apostles and mere men. The Apostles are called gods. Who, asketh the Lord, do men say that I am but, on the other hand, who say ye that I am. They being but men deal in human speculations, but ye that are gods, who be ye persuaded that I am.

(Reading 11): And then Peter, as the representative of all the Apostles, uttered the testimony: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. He calleth God living, to mark the difference between Him and all other that be called gods, and who are indeed dead.And Jesus answered and said unto him Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona. The Apostle having testified of the Lord, the Lord in turn testifieth of the Apostle. Peter had said Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God and he received, in return for that his testimony to the truth, the words Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona. Why, blessed? For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father.

(Reading 12):What flesh and blood could not reveal, the grace of the Holy Ghost had revealed. Meet for him therefore, because of his confession, is his name, as the name of one who hath revelation from the Holy Ghost, and therefore is called His son. Bar-jona is, being interpreted, The son-of-the-Dove.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

St Mark 15: 25-39

St Mark 15: 25-39:

25 Erat autem hora tertia: et crucifixerunt eum. 26 Et erat titulus causæ ejus inscriptus: Rex Judæorum. 27 Et cum eo crucifigunt duos latrones: unum a dextris, et alium a sinistris ejus. 28 Et impleta est Scriptura, quæ dicit: Et cum iniquis reputatus est. 29 Et prætereuntes blasphemabant eum, moventes capita sua, et dicentes: Vah! qui destruis templum Dei, et in tribus diebus reædificas, 30 salvum fac temetipsum descendens de cruce. 31 Similiter et summi sacerdotes illudentes, ad alterutrum cum scribis dicebant: Alios salvos fecit; seipsum non potest salvum facere. 32 Christus rex Israël descendat nunc de cruce, ut videamus, et credamus. Et qui cum eo crucifixi erant, convitiabantur ei.33 Et facta hora sexta, tenebræ factæ sunt per totam terram usque in horam nonam. 34 Et hora nona exclamavit Jesus voce magna, dicens: Eloi, eloi, lamma sabacthani? quod est interpretatum: Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? 35 Et quidam de circumstantibus audientes, dicebant: Ecce Eliam vocat. 36 Currens autem unus, et implens spongiam aceto, circumponensque calamo, potum dabat ei, dicens: Sinite, videamus si veniat Elias ad deponendum eum. 37 Jesus autem emissa voce magna expiravit. 38 Et velum templi scissum est in duo, a summo usque deorsum. 39 Videns autem centurio, qui ex adverso stabat, quia sic clamans expirasset, ait: Vere hic homo Filius Dei erat.

 [25] And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.[26] And the inscription of his cause was written over: THE KING OF THE JEWS. [27] And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. [28] And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed. [29] And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again; [30] Save thyself, coming down from the cross. [31] In like manner also the chief priests mocking, said with the scribes one to another: He saved others; himself he cannot save. [32] Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. [33] And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. [34] And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [35] And some of the standers by hearing, said: Behold he calleth Elias. [36] And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar, and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: Stay, let us see if Elias come to take him down. [37] And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost. [38] And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. [39] And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God.

Commentary

de Lapide:

Ver. 25. And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. The third, not beginning, but ending, and going on to the sixth. For that Christ was crucified at the sixth hour, or midday, appears from the 33rd verse. Some suspect that there is an error, and that the sixth ought to be read for the third. For the Hebrews had divided the day and also the night into four parts or hours, each of which contained three of our hours. The first began at sunrise, and lasted for three hours. When they were over, Terce began, and lasted for three hours, or until midday, when Sect began, and ended three hours afterwards, when None began, and lasted till Vespers, or evening. When Sect was beginning, or the sixth hour, Christ was crucified; and when None, or the ninth hour, was beginning, He died.

Ver. 28. And with the wicked he was reputed: Heb. נמנה, nimma, i.e., was numbered, was counted. See what I have said on Isa. liii. 12. The reason is, because Christ took to Himself our place, our account and reckoning. But we were wicked. He therefore was reckoned with the wicked, that He might make us, instead of wicked, just, righteous, and holy.

Catena Aurea:

GLOSS. After the condemnation of Christ, and the insults heaped upon Him when He was condemned, the Evangelist proceeds to relate His crucifixion, saying, And led him out to crucify him. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Here Abel is brought out into the field by his brother, to be slain by him. Here Isaac comes forth with the wood, and Abraham with the ram caught in the thicket. Here also Joseph with the sheaf of which he dreamed, and the long robe steeped in blood. Here is Moses with the rod, and the serpent hanging on the wood. Here is the cluster of grapes, carried on a staff. Here is Elisha with the piece of wood sent to seek for the ax, which had sunk, and which swam to the wood; that is, mankind, which by the forbidden tree, fell down to hell, but by the wood of the cross of Christ, and by the baptism of water, swims to paradise. Here is Jonah out of the wood of the ship sent down into the sea and into the whale's belly for three days. 

There follows: And they compel Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

THEOPHYL Now John says that He Himself bare His cross, for both took place; for He first bore the cross Himself, until some one passed, whom they compelled, and who then carried it. But he mentioned the name of his sons, to make it more credible and the affirmation stronger, for the man still lived to relate all that had happened about the cross. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Now since some men are known by the merits of their fathers, and some by those of their sons, this Simon, who was compelled to carry the cross, is made known by the merits of his sons, who were disciples. By this we are reminded, that in this life, parents are assisted by the wisdom and the merits of their children, wherefore the Jewish people is always held worthy of being remembered on account of the merits of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles. But this Simon who carries the cross, because he is compelled, is the man who labors for human praise. For men compel him to work, when the fear and love of God could not compel him. 

BEDE; Or, since this Simon is not called Be a man of Jerusalem, but a Cyrenian, (for Cyrene is a city of Libya,) fitly is he taken to mean the nations of the Gentiles, which were once foreigners and strangers to the covenants, but now by obedience are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Whence also Simon is fitly interpreted 'obedient,' and Cyrene 'an heir.' But he is said to come from a country place, for a country place is called 'pagos' in Greek, wherefore those whom we see to be aliens from the city of God, we call pagans. Simon then coming out from the country carries the cross after Jesus, when the Gentile nations leaving pagan rites embrace obediently the footsteps of our Lord's Passion. 

There follows: And they bring him to the place Golgotha, which is being interpreted, the place of Calvary. There are places without the city and the gate, in which the heads of condemned persons are cut off, and which receive the name of Calvary, that is, of the beheaded. But the Lord was crucified there, that where once was the field of the condemned, there the standards of martyrdom might be lifted up. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; But the Jews relate, that in this spot of the mountain the ram was sacrificed for Isaac, and there Christ is made bald, that is, separated from His flesh, that is, from the carnal Jews. There follows: And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh. 

AUG. This we must understand to be what Matthew expresses by, mixed with gall; for he put gall for any thing bitter, and wine mingled with myrrh is most bitter; although there may have been both gall and myrrh to make the wine most bitter. 

THEOPHYL Or, they may have brought different things, in order, some vinegar and gall, and others wine mixed with myrrh. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or else, wine mingled with myrrh, that is, vinegar; by it the juice of the deadly apple is wiped away. 

BEDE; Bitter the vine which bore the bitter wine, set before the Lord Jesus, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said, They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink. 

AUG. That which follows, But he received it not, must mean, He received it not to drink, but only tasted it, as Matthew witnesses. And what the same Matthew relates, he would not drink, Mark expresses by, he received it not, but was silent as to His tasting it. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; He also refused to take sin for which He suffered, wherefore it is said of Him, I then paid the things that I never took. There follows: And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. In this place salvation is figured by the wood; the first wood was that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; the second wood is one of unmixed good for us, and is the wood of life. The first hand stretched out to the wood caught hold of death; the second found again the life which had been lost. By this wood we are carried through a stormy sea to the land of the living, for by His cross Christ has taken away our torment, and by His death has killed our death. 

With the form of a serpent He kills the serpent, for the serpent made out of the rod swallowed up the other serpents. But what means the shape itself of the cross, save the four quarters of the world; the East shines from the top, the North is on the right, the South on the left, the West is firmly fixed under the feet. Wherefore the Apostle says: That we may know what is the height, and breadth, and length, and depth. Birds, when they fly in the air, take the shape of a cross; a man swimming in the waters is borne up by the form of a cross. A ship is blown along by its yards, which are in the shape of the cross. The letter Tau is written as the sign of salvation and of the cross. 

BEDE; Or else, in the transverse beam of the cross, where the hands are fixed, the joy of hope is set forth; for by the hands we understand good works, by its expansion the joy of him who does them, because sadness puts us in straits. By the height to which the head is joined, we understand the expectation of reward from the lofty righteousness of God; by the length, over which the whole body is stretched, patience, wherefore patient men are called long-suffering; by the depth, which is fixed in the ground, the hidden Sacrament itself. As long therefore as our bodies work here to the destruction of the body of sin, it is the time of the cross for us. 

AUG. If Jesus was given up to the Jews' to be crucified, when Pilate sat down at his tribunal about the sixth hour, as John relates, how could He be crucified at the third hour, as many persons have thought from not understanding the words of Mark? First then let us see at what hour He might have been crucified, then we shall see why Mark said that He was crucified at the third hour. It was about the sixth hour when He was given up to be crucified by Pilate sitting on his judgment seat, as has been said, for it was not yet fully the sixth hour, but about the sixth, that is, the fifth was over, and some of the sixth had begun, so that those things which are related of the crucifixion of our Lord took place after the finishing of the fifth, and at the commencement of the sixth, until, when the sixth was completed and He was hanging on the cross, the darkness which is spoken of took place. 

Let us now consider, why Mark has said, It was the third hour. He had already said positively, And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments; as also the others declare, that when He was crucified His garments were divided. Now if Mark had wished to fix the time of what was done, it would have been enough to say, And it was the third hour why did He add, and they crucified him, unless it was that he wished to point to something which had gone before, and which if inquired into would be explained, since that same Scripture was to be read at a time, when it was known to the whole Church at what hour our Lord was crucified, by which means any error might be taken away, and any falsehood be refuted. But because he knew that the Lord was fixed to the cross not by the Jews but by the soldiers, as John very plainly shows, he wished to intimate that the Jews had crucified Him, since they cried out, Crucify Him, rather than those who executed the orders of their chief according to their duty. It is therefore implied, that it took place at the third hour when the Jews cried out, Crucify Him, and it is most truly shown that they crucified Him, when they so cried out. But in the attempt of Pilate to save the Lord, and the tumultuous opposition of the Jews, we understand that a space of two hours was consumed, and that the sixth hour had begun, before the end of which, those things occurred which are related to have taken place from the time when Pilate gave up the Lord, and the darkness overspread the earth. Now he who will apply himself to these things, without the hard-heartedness of impiety, will see that Mark has fitly placed it at the third hour, in the same place as the deed of the soldiers who were the executors of it is related. Therefore lest any one should transfer in his thoughts so great a crime from the Jews to the soldiers, he says it was as the third hour, and they crucified him, that the fault might rather by a careful inquirer be charged to them, who, as he would find, had at the third hour cried out for His crucifixion, whilst at the same time it would be seen that what was done by the soldiers was done at the sixth hour. 

PSEUDO-AUG. Therefore he wishes to imply that it was the Jews who passed sentence, concerning the crucifixion of Christ at the third hour; for every condemned person is considered as dead, from the moment that sentence is passed upon him. Mark therefore showed that our Savior was not crucified by the sentence of the judge, because it is difficult to prove the innocence of a man so condemned. 

AUG. Still there are not wanting persons who assert that the preparation, mentioned by John, Now it was the preparation about the sixth hour, was really the third hour of the day. For they say that on the day before the sabbath day, there was a preparation of the passover of the Jews, because on that sabbath, they began the unleavened bread; but however that the true passover, which is now celebrated on the day of our Lord's Passion, that is, the Christian not the Jewish passover, began to be prepared, or to have its parasceue, from that ninth hour of the night, when His death began to be prepared by the Jews; for parasceue means preparation. Between that hour therefore of the night and His crucifixion occurs the sixth hour of preparation, according to John, and the third hour of the day, according to Mark. 

What Christian would not give in to this solution of the question, provided that we could find some circumstance, from which we might gather that this preparation of our Passover, that is, of the death of Christ, began at the ninth hour of the night,? For if we say that it began when our Lord was taken by the Jews, it was still early in the night, but if when our Lord was carried away to the house of the father in law of Caiaphas, where also He was heard by the chief priests, the cock had not crowed; but if when He was given up to Pilate, it is very plain that it was morning. 

It remains therefore that we must understand the preparation of our Lord's death to have commenced when all the Chief Priests pronounced, He is guilty of death. For there is nothing absurd in supposing that that was the ninth hour of the night so that we may understand that Peter's denial is put out of its order after it really happened. It goes on: And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 

THEOPHYL. They wrote this superscription, as the reason why He was crucified, thus wishing to reprove His vainglory in making Himself a king, that so the passers by might not pity Him, but rather hate Him as a tyrant. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; He wrote it in three languages, in Hebrew, Melech Jeudim; in Greek, in Latin, Rex confessorum. These three languages were consecrated to be the chief, in the superscription on the cross, that every tongue might record the treachery of the Jews. 

BEDE; But this superscription on the cross shows, that they could not even in killing Him take away the kingdom over them from Him who was about to render to them according to their works. There follows: And with him they crucify two thieves, the one on his right hand, the other on his left. 

THEOPHYL. They did this that men might have a bad opinion of Him, as though He also were a robber and a malefactor. But it was done by Providence to fulfill the Scriptures. There follows: And the Scripture was fulfilled which said, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Truth was numbered with the wicked; He left one on His left hand, the other He takes on the right, as He will do at the last day. With a similar crime they are allotted different paths; one precedes Peter into Paradise, the other Judas into hell. A short confession won for him a long life, and a blasphemy which soon ended is punished with endless pain. 

BEDE; Mystically, however, the thieves crucified with Christ signify those, who by their faith and confession of Christ undergo either the struggle of martyrdom, or some rules of a stricter discipline. But those who do these deeds for the sake of endless glory, are signified by the faith of the right hand robber; those again who do them for worldly praise copy the mind and the acts of the left hand robber. 

THEOPHYL Or else; the two robbers were meant to point out the two people, that is, the Jews and the Gentiles, for both were evil, the Gentile as transgressing natural law, but the Jew by breaking the written law, which the Lord had delivered to them; but the Gentile was penitent, the Jew a blasphemer to the end. Between whom our Lord is crucified, for He is the corner stone, which binds us together.

PSEUDO-JEROME; The foal of Judah has been tied to the vine, and his clothes dyed in the blood of the grape, and the kids tear the vine, blaspheming Christ, and wagging their heads. Wherefore it is said: And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, you that destroys the temple. 

THEOPHYL. For the passers by blasphemed Christ, reproaching Him as a seducer. But the devil moved them to bid Him come down from the Cross; for he knew that salvation was being won by the Cross, therefore he again proceeded to tempt Christ, so that if He came down from the Cross, he might be certain that He is not truly the Son of God, and so the salvation, which is by the Cross, might be done away. But He being truly the Son of God, did not come down; for if He ought to have come down, He would not have ascended there at all; but since He saw that in this way salvation must be effected, He underwent the crucifixion, and many other sufferings, to the finishing of His work. 

It goes on: Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking said among themselves with the Scribes, He saved others, himself he cannot save. They said this, to do away with His miracles, as though those which He had done were but the semblance of them, for by working miracles He saved many. 

BEDE; Thus also they confess, though against their will, that He saved many. Therefore your words condemn you, for He who saved others could have saved Himself. It goes on: Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Afterwards they saw Him arise from the grave, though they would not believe that He could come down from the tree of the Cross. Where, O Jews, is your lack of faith? Your own selves I appeal to; your own selves I bring as judges. How much more wonderful is it that a dead man should arise, than that one yet living should choose to come down from the cross. you asked but small things, till greater should have come to pass; but your want of faith could not be healed by signs much greater than those for which you sought. Here all have gone out of the way, all are become abominable. Wherefore it goes on: And they that were crucified with him reviled. 

AUG. How can this be, when according to Luke one only reviled Him, but was rebuked by the other who believed on God; unless we understand that Matthew and Mark, who touched but slightly on this place, put the plural for the singular number?

THEOPHYL. Or else, both at first reviled Him, then one recognizing Him as innocent, rebukes the other for blaspheming Him.

BEDE; This most glorious light took away its rays from the world, lest it should see the Lord hanging, and lest the blasphemers should have the benefit of its light. Wherefore it goes on: And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 

AUG. Luke added to this account the cause of the darkness, that is, the darkening of the sun. 

THEOPHYL. If this had been the time for an eclipse, some one might have said that this that happened was natural, but it was the fourteenth moon, when no eclipse can take place. There follows: And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; At the ninth hour, the tenth piece of money which had been lost is found, by the overturning of the house. 

BEDE; For when Adam sinned, it is also written that he heard the voice of the Lord, walking in paradise, in the cool after mid-day; and in that hour when the first Adam by sinning brought death into the world, in that same hour the second Adam by dying destroyed death. And we must observe, that our Lord was crucified, when the sun was going away from the center of the world; but at sunrise He celebrated the mysteries of His resurrection; because He died for our sins, but rose again for our justification. Nor need you wonder at the lowliness of His words, at the complaints as of one forsakes, when you look on the offense of the cross, knowing the form of a servant. For as hunger, and thirst, and fatigue were not things proper to the Divinity, but bodily affections; so His saying, Why have you forsaken me? was proper to a bodily voice, for the body is never naturally wont to wish to be separated from the life which is joined to it. For although our Savior Himself said this, He really showed the weakness of His body; He spoke therefore as man, bearing about with Him my feelings, for when placed in danger we fancy that we are deserted by God. 

THEOPHYL. Or, He speaks this as man crucified by God for me, for we men have been forsaken by the Father, but He never has. For hear what He says; I am not alone, because the Father is with me. Though He may also have said this as being a Jew, according to the flesh, as though He had said, Why have you forsaken the Jewish people, so that they have crucified Your Son? For as we sometimes say, God has put on me, that is, my human nature, so here also we must understand you have forsaken me, to mean my nature, or the Jewish people. 

It goes on: And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he called Elias. 

BEDE; These however I suppose were Roman soldiers who did not understand the peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue, but, from His calling Eloi, thought that Elias was called by Him. But if the Jews are understood to have said this, they must be supposed to do this, as accusing Him of folly in calling for the aid of Elias. 

It goes on: And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed: and gave him to drink saying, let alone: let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. John shows more fully the reason why the vinegar was given to the Lord to drink, saying, that Jesus said, I thirst, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. They however applied a sponge full of vinegar to His mouth.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Here he points out a similitude for the Jews; a sponge on a reed, weak, dry, fit for burning; they fill it with vinegar, that is, with wickedness and guile. 

AUG. Matthew has not related, that the man who brought the sponge filled with vinegar, but that the others spoke about Elias; from whence we gather that both said it. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Though the flesh was weak, yet the heavenly voice, which said, Open me the gates of righteousness, waxed strong. Wherefore there follows: And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. We who are of the earth die with a very low voice, or with no voice at all; but He who descended from heaven breathed His last with a loud voice. 

THEOPHYL. He who both rules over death and commands it dies with power, as its Lord. But what this voice was is declared by Luke: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. For Christ would have us understand by this, that from that time the souls of the saints go up into the hands of God. For at first the souls of all were held in hell, till He came, who preached the opening of the prison to the captives.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Feast of the Sacred Heart

The Gospel for the Feast of the Sacred Heart is from St John 19:

31 Judæi ergo (quoniam parasceve erat) ut non remanerent in cruce corpora sabbato (erat enim magnus dies ille sabbati), rogaverunt Pilatum ut frangerentur eorum crura, et tollerentur. 32 Venerunt ergo milites: et primi quidem fregerunt crura, et alterius, qui crucifixus est cum eo. 33 Ad Jesum autem cum venissent, ut viderunt eum jam mortuum, non fregerunt ejus crura, 34 sed unus militum lancea latus ejus aperuit, et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua. 35 Et qui vidit, testimonium perhibuit: et verum est testimonium ejus. Et ille scit quia vera dicit: ut et vos credatis. 36 Facta sunt enim hæc ut Scriptura impleretur: Os non comminuetis ex eo. 37 Et iterum alia Scriptura dicit: Videbunt in quem transfixerunt.

[31] Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. [32] The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. [33] But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. [35] And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe. [36] For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. [37] And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced. 

The third Nocturn Matins readings are from St Bonaventure:

Reading 9: In order that the Church might be taken out of the side of Christ, in his deep sleep on the Cross, and that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced: it was divinely ordained that one of the soldiers should pierce his sacred side with a spear, and open it. Then forthwith there came flowing out blood and water, which was the price of our salvation, pouring forth from its mountain-source, in sooth, from the secret places of his Heart, to give power to the Sacraments of the Church, to bestow the life of grace, and to be as a saving drink of living waters, flowing up to life eternal for those who were already quickened in Christ. Arise, then, O soul beloved of Christ. Cease not thy vigilance, place there thy lips, and drink the waters from the fount of salvation.

Reading10: Because we are now come to the sweet Heart of Jesus, and because it is good for us to be here, let us not too soon turn away therefrom. O how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell in this Heart. What a good treasure, what a precious pearl, is thy Heart, O most excellent Jesu, which we have found hidden in the pit which hath been dug in this field, namely, in thy body. Who would cast away such a pearl? Nay, rather, for this same I would give all my pearls. I will sell all my thoughts and affections, and buy the same for myself, turning all my thoughts to the Heart of the good Jesus, and without fail it will support me. 

Reading 11: Therefore, o most sweet Jesu, finding this Heart that is thine and mine, I will pray to thee, my God: admit my prayers into the shrine of hearkening: and draw me even more altogether into thy Heart.For to this end was thy side pierced, that an entry might be open unto us. To this end was thy Heart wounded, that in it we might be able to dwell secure from alarms from without. And it was wounded none the less on this account that, because of the visible wound, we may perceive the wound of love which is invisible. How could this fire of love better shine forth than for him to permit that not only his body, but that even his Heart, should be wounded with the spear? 

Reading 12: Who would not love that Heart so wounded? Who would not, in return, love one who is so loving? Who would not embrace one so chaste? Wherefore let us who are in the flesh love in return, as much as we can, him who so loveth, embrace our wounded one, whose hands and feet, side and Heart, have been pierced by wicked husbandmen; and let us pray that he may deign to bind our hearts, still hard and impenitent, with the chain of his love, and wound them with the dart thereof.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

St Mark 16:1-11

Verses 1-7 of St Mark 16 are set as the Gospel for Easter Sunday. St Mark 16:

Et cum transisset sabbatum, Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi, et Salome emerunt aromata ut venientes ungerent Jesum. 2 Et valde mane una sabbatorum, veniunt ad monumentum, orto jam sole. 3 Et dicebant ad invicem: Quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti? 4 Et respicientes viderunt revolutum lapidem. Erat quippe magnus valde. 5 Et introëuntes in monumentum viderunt juvenem sedentem in dextris, coopertum stola candida, et obstupuerunt. 6 Qui dicit illis: Nolite expavescere: Jesum quæritis Nazarenum, crucifixum: surrexit, non est hic, ecce locus ubi posuerunt eum. 7 Sed ite, dicite discipulis ejus, et Petro, quia præcedit vos in Galilæam: ibi eum videbitis, sicut dixit vobis. 8 At illæ exeuntes, fugerunt de monumento: invaserat enim eas tremor et pavor: et nemini quidquam dixerunt: timebant enim. 9 Surgens autem mane prima sabbati, apparuit primo Mariæ Magdalene, de qua ejecerat septem dæmonia. 10 Illa vadens nuntiavit his, qui cum eo fuerant, lugentibus et flentibus. 11 Et illi audientes quia viveret, et visus esset ab ea, non crediderunt.

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. [2] And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. [3] And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? [4] And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. [5] And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. [6] Who saith to them: Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you. [8] But they going out, fled from the sepulchre. For a trembling and fear had seized them: and they said nothing to any man; for they were afraid. [9] But he rising early the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils. [10] She went and told them that had been with him, who were mourning and weeping.[11] And they hearing that he was alive, and had been seen by her, did not believe. 

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 1. And when the Sabbath was past: that is to say, at the beginning of the night before the Lord’s day. “After a sad week comes the radiance of a happy day,” says the Scholiast.

Mary of Jacob (Vulg.), i.e., Mary, the mother of James the Less and Jude, as the Arabic version gives it, and the wife of Cleopas. And Salome: the wife of Zebedee, and mother of James and John.

That coming they might anoint Jesus. According to the custom of the Jews, says Theophylact; that the body might be preserved sweet. Spices are of a drying nature. They did not realise the dignity of Christ’s Divinity, nor His resurrection. But they loved Him very tenderly, both as a man and a prophet, although now dead.

Ver. 6. Who was crucified: He is risen; He is not here. “The angel is not ashamed of the cross,” says Theophylact, “for in it is the salvation of men.” The Interlinear says, “The cross’s bitter root is gone; the flower of life with its fruits, which lay in death, has arisen in glory.”

Go, tell His disciples. “The women are bid,” says the Interlinear, “to announce it to the apostles, because as by a woman (Eve) death was announced, by a woman it might be told that life had risen again.”

And Peter. “That him whom a woman had made deny, a woman might make confess,” says Druthmar. The Scholiast in S. Jerome adds that “Peter was named especially because he counted himself unworthy of being a disciple, because he had thrice denied his Master.” And S. Gregory (Hom. 21, in Evang.) says, “If the angel had not named Peter, he would not have dared to come among the disciples. He is called, therefore, by name, that he might not despair.”

Ver. 8. For a trembling (of body) and fear (of mind) had seized them. Theophylact says, “έκστασις, that is, stupor, at the sight of the angel had come on them.” But this astonishment was mingled with intense joy. For they were astounded and were glad at the wonderful things which they heard, even that Jesus their beloved was risen from the dead.

For they were afraid. Not only because of the vision of angels, but also “on account of the Jews,” says Euthymius, “lest they should appear to have themselves stolen away Jesus; lest they should kill them when they heard that they had proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus: as shortly afterwards the Jews placed Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus in a ship without oars or sail, and sent them to what would have been certain destruction had not God brought them in safety to Marseilles.”

Ver. 9. Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. Mark adds this to show the power of repentance and love. With these was Magdalene the sinner so inflamed, that she deserved first to see Christ risen again, that from her sinners might learn not to despair, but vehemently to love; for so they shall surpass the Holy Innocents in grace and glory. So Bede, “Because where sin abounded, grace hath superabounded.” Bede adds, “A woman was the beginner of transgression. A woman first tasted death, but in Magdalene woman first saw the resurrection, that woman might not bear the perpetual guilt of transgression among men.” 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

St Mark 15:40-47

St Mark 15:

40 Erant autem et mulieres de longe aspicientes: inter quas erat Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi minoris, et Joseph mater, et Salome: 41 et cum esset in Galilæa, sequebantur eum, et ministrabant ei, et aliæ multæ, quæ simul cum eo ascenderant Jerosolymam. 42 Et cum jam sero esset factum (quia erat parasceve, quod est ante sabbatum), 43 venit Joseph ab Arimathæa nobilis decurio, qui et ipse erat exspectans regnum Dei, et audacter introivit ad Pilatum, et petiit corpus Jesu. 44 Pilatus autem mirabatur si jam obiisset. Et accersito centurione, interrogavit eum si jam mortuus esset. 45 Et cum cognovisset a centurione, donavit corpus Joseph. 46 Joseph autem mercatus sindonem, et deponens eum involvit sindone, et posuit eum in monumento quod erat excisum de petra, et advolvit lapidem ad ostium monumenti. 47 Maria autem Magdalene et Maria Joseph aspiciebant ubi poneretur.

[40] And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph, and Salome:[41] Who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem. [42] And when evening was now come, (because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before the sabbath,) [43] Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counsellor, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. [44] But Pilate wondered that he should be already dead. And sending for the centurion, he asked him if he were already dead. [45] And when he had understood it by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. [46] And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre. [47] And Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of Joseph, beheld where he was laid.

Commentary

de Lapide:

Ver. 42. Because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before one Sabbath. The Greek is, which is the Prosabbatum. For Parasceve is the came as Preparation. Friday was so called because food and things needful for the Sabbath were prepared upon it. Hence it was called the Pro-Sabbath, i.e., the day before, or the vigil of the Sabbath.

Catena Aurea:

GLOSS. After the Evangelist has related the Passion and the death of Christ, he now goes on to mention those things which followed after the death of our Lord. Wherefore it is said: And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; The veil of the temple is rent, that is, the heaven is opened. 

THEOPHYL. Again, God by the rending of the veil implied that the grace of the Holy Spirit goes away and is rent from the temple, so that the Holy of Holies might be seen by all; also that the temple will mourn amongst the Jews, when they shall deplore their calamities, and rend their clothes. This also is a figure of the living temple, that is, the body of Christ, in whose Passion His garment is torn, that is, His flesh. Again, it means another thing; for the flesh is the veil of our temple, that is, of our mind. But the power of the flesh is torn in the Passion of Christ, from the top to the bottom, that is, from Adam even down to the latest man; for also Adam was made whole by the Passion of Christ, and his flesh does not remain under the curse, nor does it deserve corruption, but we all are gifted with incorruption. 

And when the centurion who stood, over against him saw. He who commands a hundred soldiers is called a centurion. But seeing that He died with such power as the Lord, he wondered and confessed. 

BEDE; Now the cause of the centurion's wonder is clear, that seeing that the Lord died in that way, that is, sent forth His spirit, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. For no one can send forth his own spirit, but He who is the Creator of souls. 

AUG. This also he most of all wondered at, that after that voice which He sent forth as a figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His spirit. For the spirit of the Mediator showed that no penalty of sin could have had power to cause the death of His flesh; for it did not leave the flesh unwillingly, but as it willed, for it was joined to the Word of God in the unity of person. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; But the last are now made the first. The Gentile people confesses. The blinded Jew denies, so that their error is worse than the first. 

THEOPHYL. And so the order is inverted, for the Jew kills, and the Gentile confesses; the disciples fly, and the women remain. For there follows: There were also women looking on afar off, amongst whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome. 

ORIGEN; But it seems to me, that here three women are chiefly named, by Matthew and Mark. Two indeed are set down by each Evangelist, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James; the third is called by Matthew, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, but by Mark she is called Salome. 

BEDE; He means by James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, who was also called the brother of our Lord, because he was the son of Mary, our Lord's mother's sister, whom John mentions, saying, Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. And he seems to call her Mary of Cleophas, from her father or some relation. But he was called James the Less, to distinguish him from James the Great, that is, the son of Zebedee, who was called amongst the first of the Apostles by our Lord. Further, it was a Jewish custom, nor was it thought blamable after the manners of an ancient people, that women should furnish to teachers food and clothing out of their substance. Wherefore there follows: Who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him. They ministered to the Lord of their substance, that He might reap their carnal things whose spiritual things they reaped, and that He might show forth a type for all masters, who ought to be content with food and clothing from their disciples. But let us see what companions He had with Him, for it goes on: And many other women which came up with him into Jerusalem. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; As the female sex through the virgin Mary is not shut out from salvation, so it is not thrust away from the knowledge of the mystery of the cross, and of the resurrection, through the widow Mary Magdalene, and the ethers, who were mothers.

GLOSS. After the passion and death of Christ, the Evangelist relates His burial, saying, And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea. 

BEDE; What is called, parasceue in Greek, is in Latin praeparatio; by which name those Jews, who lived amongst Greeks, used to call the sixth day of the week, because on that day they used to prepare what was necessary for the rest of the sabbath day. Because then man was made on the sixth day, but on the seventh the Creator rested from all His work, fitly was our Savior crucified on the sixth day, and thus fulfilled the mystery of man's restoration. But on the sabbath, resting in the tomb, He was waiting for the event of the resurrection, which was to come on the eighth day. So we must also in this age of time be crucified to the world; but in the seventh day, that is, when a man has paid the debt to death, our bodies indeed must rest in the grave, but our souls after good works in hidden peace with God; till in the eighth period, even our bodies themselves, glorified in the resurrection, receive incorruption together with our souls. 

But the man who buried the body of the Lord must needs by his righteous merits have been worthy, and by the nobility of worldly power able to perform this service. Therefore it is said, An honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God. He is called in Latin, decurio, because he is of the order of the curia, and served the office of a provincial magistracy; this officer was also called curialis, from his care of civic duties. Arimathaea is the same as Ramathain, the city of Elkanah and Samuel. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; It is interpreted, taking down, of which was Joseph, who came to take down the body of Christ from the cross. There follows: Came and went in boldly to Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 

THEOPHYL. He was bold with a praiseworthy boldness; for he did not consider within himself, I shall fall from my rich estate, and I shall be expelled by the Jews, if I beg for the body of Him, who was condemned as a blasphemer. It goes on: And Pilate marveled if he were already dead. For he thought that He should continue long alive upon the cross, as also the thieves used to live long, upon the instrument of their execution. It goes on: And calling to him the centurion, he asked him if he had been any while dead; that is, before the time when other executed persons usually died. 

There follows: And when he knew it of the centurion, (that is, that He was dead,) he gave the body to Joseph. 

BEDE; But it was not an obscure person, nor a man of mean rank, who could come to the governor and obtain the body. There follows: And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen. 

THEOPHYL. Burying the precious body preciously; for being a disciple of our Lord, he knew how greatly the Lord's body ought to be honored. 

BEDE; By this however, according to a spiritual meaning, we may understand that the body of the Lord should not be wrapped in gold or gems, or silk, but in a clean linen cloth. Hence it became a custom in the Church that the sacrifice of the altar should not be celebrated in silk, or in a dyed cloth, but in linen produced from the earth just as the body of the Lord was wrapped in clean linen; as, we read in the Pontifical acts, it was ordered by the blessed Sylvester. Though it has also another meaning, that he who receives Jesus in a pure mind wraps Him in clean linen. There follows: And laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone to the door of the sepulcher. It is said that the sepulcher of the Lord is a round cell, hewn out of the rock which was around it, so high, that a man standing upright could scarcely touch the roof with his outstretched hand; and it has an entrance to the east, to which the great stone was rolled, and placed upon it. In the northern part of it is the tomb itself, that is, the place where our Lord's body lay, made of the same rock, seven feet in length, raised three palms higher than the floor. It is not open from above, but on the south side, the whole of which is open, and through which the body was brought in. The color of the sepulcher and of the recess is said to be a mixed white and red. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; By the burial of Christ we rise again, by His going down into hell we mount up into heaven; here is found the honey in the mouth of the dead lion. 

THEOPHYL. Let us too imitate Joseph, taking to ourselves the body of Christ by Unity, and let us place it in a sepulcher, hewn out of the rock, that is, in a soul recollected, never forgetful of God; for this is a soul hewn out of the rock, that is, out of Christ, for He is our rock, who holds together our strength. We ought also to wrap Him in linen, that is, to receive Him in a pure body; for the linen is the body which is the clothing of the soul. We must, however, not throw open, but wrap Him up; for He is secret, closed and hidden. 

There follows: And Mary Magadalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. 

BEDE; We read in Luke, that His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him stood afar off. When these then who were known to Jesus returned home after the burial of His body, the women alone, who were bound to Him with a closer love, after following the funeral, took care to see how He was laid, that they might be able at a fitting season to offer Him the sacrifice of their devotion. But on the day of the parasceue, that is, of the preparation, the holy women, that is, humble souls, do the same, when they burn with love for the Savior, and diligently follow the steps of His Passion in this life, where their future rest is to be prepared; and they weigh with a pious minuteness the order in which His passion was accomplished, if perchance they be able to imitate it. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; These things also fit the Jewish people, which finally is believing, which is ennobled by faith to become the child of Abraham. It lays aside its despair, it waits for the kingdom of God, it goes in to the Christians, that it may be baptized; which is implied by the name of Pilate, which is interpreted, 'One who works with a hammer,' that is, he who subdues the iron nations, that he may rule them with a rod of iron. It seeks for the sacrifice, that is, the viaticum, which is given to penitents at their last end, and wraps it up in a heart clean and dead to sin; it makes it firm in the safeguard of faith, and shuts it up with the covering of hope, through works of charity; (for the end of the commandment is charity;) whilst the elect, who are the stars of the sea, are looking on from afar, for, if it be possible, the very elect shall be offended.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Nativity of St John the Baptist

The Gospel for the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist is St Luke 1:57-68

57 Elisabeth autem impletum est tempus pariendi, et peperit filium. 58 Et audierunt vicini et cognati ejus quia magnificavit Dominus misericordiam suam cum illa, et congratulabantur ei. 59 Et factum est in die octavo, venerunt circumcidere puerum, et vocabant eum nomine patris sui Zachariam. 60 Et respondens mater ejus, dixit: Nequaquam, sed vocabitur Joannes. 61 Et dixerunt ad illam: Quia nemo est in cognatione tua, qui vocetur hoc nomine. 62 Innuebant autem patri ejus, quem vellet vocari eum. 63 Et postulans pugillarem scripsit, dicens: Joannes est nomen ejus. Et mirati sunt universi. 64 Apertum est autem illico os ejus, et lingua ejus, et loquebatur benedicens Deum. 65 Et factus est timor super omnes vicinos eorum: et super omnia montana Judææ divulgabantur omnia verba hæc: 66 et posuerunt omnes qui audierant in corde suo, dicentes: Quis, putas, puer iste erit? etenim manus Domini erat cum illo.67 Et Zacharias pater ejus repletus est Spiritu Sancto: et prophetavit, dicens: 68 Benedictus Dominus Deus Israël,quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suæ.

[57] Now Elizabeth' s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. [58] And her neighbours and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. [59] And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father' s name Zachary. [60] And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John. [61] And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. [62] And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. [63] And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. [64] And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. [65] And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea. [66] And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. [67] And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying: [68] Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people:

The Matins readings (from St Ambrose)

Reading 9: Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours rejoiced with her. The birth of a Saint is a joy for many, for it is a good to all. Righteousness is an help to all, and therefore when a righteous man is born it is an heralding of his life, which is still to come, that the helpful excellency of his future should be hailed by the, as it were, prophetic joy of the neighbours. It is well that we should be told concerning the prophet, while he was yet in the womb, that we may know how that Mary was there; but we hear nothing of his childhood, because,we know that it was safe and strong through the nearness of the Lord, Himself then in that womb which was free from the sorrows of pregnancy. 

Reading 10: And therefore we read in the Gospel nothing touching him save his coming, the annunciation thereof to his father, the leap which he gave in the womb, and his crying in the wilderness.It was not for him to feel childishness, who beyond all use of nature or of his age, when as yet he lay in his mother's womb, leapt at once unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Eph. iv. 13. It is strange how that the Holy Evangelist hath judged meet to tell us that they thought to call the child Zacharias, after the name of his father, that thou mayest notice that the mother would have none of the names whereby their kindred were called, but only that name which the Holy Ghost had dictated, and which the Angel had told before unto Zacharias. 

Reading 11: The dumb man had certainly not been able to tell his wife by what name to call the child, and Elizabeth must needs have learnt by revelation what she could not have heard from her husband.His name is John that is, it is not for us to choose a name now for him to whom God hath given a name already. He hath a name, which we know, but it is not one of our choosing. 

Reading 12: To receive a name from God is one of the honours of the Saints. Thus was it that Jacob's name was no more called Jacob but Israel, because he saw God face to face. Gen. xxxii. 28. Thus was it that our Lord Jesus was named before He was born, with a name not given by an Angel, but by the Father. Thou seest that Angels tell that which they have been bidden to tell, not matters of their own choosing. Nor oughtest thou to wonder that Elizabeth named a name which she had not heard, since it had been revealed to her by the same Holy Ghost Who had commanded the Angel to tell it.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Vigil of St John the Baptist

Today is the vigil of the nativity of St John the Baptist, for which the Gospel is St Luke 1:5-17:

5 Fuit in diebus Herodis, regis Judææ, sacerdos quidam nomine Zacharias de vice Abia, et uxor illius de filiabus Aaron, et nomen ejus Elisabeth. 6 Erant autem justi ambo ante Deum, incedentes in omnibus mandatis et justificationibus Domini sine querela. 7 Et non erat illis filius, eo quod esset Elisabeth sterilis, et ambo processissent in diebus suis. 8 Factum est autem, cum sacerdotio fungeretur in ordine vicis suæ ante Deum, 9 secundum consuetudinem sacerdotii, sorte exiit ut incensum poneret, ingressus in templum Domini: 10 et omnis multitudo populi erat orans foris hora incensi. 11 Apparuit autem illi angelus Domini, stans a dextris altaris incensi. 12 Et Zacharias turbatus est videns, et timor irruit super eum. 13 Ait autem ad illum angelus: Ne timeas, Zacharia, quoniam exaudita est deprecatio tua: et uxor tua Elisabeth pariet tibi filium, et vocabis nomen ejus Joannem: 14 et erit gaudium tibi, et exsultatio, et multi in nativitate ejus gaudebunt: 15 erit enim magnus coram Domino: et vinum et siceram non bibet, et Spiritu Sancto replebitur adhuc ex utero matris suæ: 16 et multos filiorum Israël convertet ad Dominum Deum ipsorum: 17 et ipse præcedet ante illum in spiritu et virtute Eliæ: ut convertat corda patrum in filios, et incredulos ad prudentiam justorum, parare Domino plebem perfectam. 

[5] There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth.[6] And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. [7] And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. [8] And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, [9] According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. [10] And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense. [11] And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the alter of incense. [12] And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. [13] But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: [14] And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. [15] For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother' s womb. [16] And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.

The Matins readings on it are from St Ambrose:

Reading 1: The Divine Scriptures teach us that we are behoven to praise the lives, not only of those concerning whom we are to speak honourably, but the lives also of their fathers, so as to show that that which we will praise in our subjects was in them a gift inherited from the bright purity of the source from which they came. What other meaning can the holy Evangelist have had in this place but to glorify St John the Baptist, as well for having been the offspring of such parents, as for his miracles, his life, his gifts, and his sufferings So likewise is praise ascribed to Hannah, the mother of Samuel so also did Isaac draw from his parents that noble godliness which he in his turn bequeathed to his children. Thus it is told not only that Zacharias was a Priest, but a Priest of the course of Abia, that is to say, of a family noble among the noblest.

Reading 2:And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron. Thus we see that the noble blood of St John was inherited not only from parents, but from an ancient ancestry, not illustrious indeed by worldly power, but worshipful for the tradition of a sacred succession. Such were the forefathers whom it well became the Fore-runner of the Christ to have, that it might manifestly fall to his lot, not as a sudden gift, but as an heir-loom, to preach belief in the coming of the Lord. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. What do they make of this text who, to take them some consolation for their own sins, hold that man cannot exist without oftentimes sinning, and quote to that end that which is written in Job Not one is clean, even though his life on the earth be but one day.

Reading 3: To such we must reply by asking them first to tell us what they mean by a man without sin whether it be one who hath never sinned, or one who hath ceased to sin. If they mean by a man without sin one who hath never sinned, I myself agree in their position, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rom. iii. 23. But if they mean to deny that he who hath reformed his old crooked ways, and changed his life for a new one, on purpose to avoid sin, cannot avoid sin, I am not able to subscribe to their opinion while I read that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish.

St Mark 15:1-24

St Mark 15:1-24:

Et confestim mane consilium facientes summi sacerdotes cum senioribus, et scribis, et universo concilio, vincientes Jesum, duxerunt, et tradiderunt Pilato. 2 Et interrogavit eum Pilatus: Tu es rex Judæorum? At ille respondens, ait illi: Tu dicis. 3 Et accusabant eum summi sacerdotes in multis. 4 Pilatus autem rursum interrogavit eum, dicens: Non respondes quidquam? vide in quantis te accusant. 5 Jesus autem amplius nihil respondit, ita ut miraretur Pilatus. 6 Per diem autem festum solebat dimittere illis unum ex vinctis, quemcumque petissent. 7 Erat autem qui dicebatur Barrabas, qui cum seditiosis erat vinctus, qui in seditione fecerat homicidium. 8 Et cum ascendisset turba, cœpit rogare, sicut semper faciebat illis. 9 Pilatus autem respondit eis, et dixit: Vultis dimittam vobis regem Judæorum? 10 Sciebat enim quod per invidiam tradidissent eum summi sacerdotes. 11 Pontifices autem concitaverunt turbam, ut magis Barabbam dimitteret eis. 12 Pilatus autem iterum respondens, ait illis: Quid ergo vultis faciam regi Judæorum? 13 At illi iterum clamaverunt: Crucifige eum. 14 Pilatus vero dicebat illis: Quid enim mali fecit? At illi magis clamabant: Crucifige eum. 15 Pilatus autem volens populo satisfacere, dimisit illis Barabbam, et tradidit Jesum flagellis cæsum, ut crucifigeretur.16 Milites autem duxerunt eum in atrium prætorii, et convocant totam cohortem, 17 et induunt eum purpura, et imponunt ei plectentes spineam coronam. 18 Et cœperunt salutare eum: Ave rex Judæorum. 19 Et percutiebant caput ejus arundine: et conspuebant eum, et ponentes genua, adorabant eum. 20 Et postquam illuserunt ei, exuerunt illum purpura, et induerunt eum vestimentis suis: et educunt illum ut crucifigerent eum. 21 Et angariaverunt prætereuntem quempiam, Simonem Cyrenæum venientem de villa, patrem Alexandri et Rufi, ut tolleret crucem ejus. 22 Et perducunt illum in Golgotha locum: quod est interpretatum Calvariæ locus. 23 Et dabant ei bibere myrrhatum vinum: et non accepit. 24 Et crucifigentes eum, diviserunt vestimenta ejus, mittentes sortem super eis, quis quid tolleret.

And straightway in the morning, the chief priests holding a consultation with the ancients and the scribes and the whole council, binding Jesus, led him away, and delivered him to Pilate. [2] And Pilate asked him: Art thou the king of the Jews? But he answering, saith to him: Thou sayest it. [3] And the chief priests accused him in many things. [4] And Pilate again asked him, saying: Answerest thou nothing? behold in how many things they accuse thee. [5] But Jesus still answered nothing; so that Pilate wondered. [6] Now on the festival day he was wont to release unto them one of the prisoners, whomsoever they demanded. [7] And there was one called Barabbas, who was put in prison with some seditious men, who in the sedition had committed murder. [8] And when the multitude was come up, they began to desire that he would do, as he had ever done unto them. [9] And Pilate answered them, and said: Will you that I release to you the king of the Jews? [10] For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him up out of envy. [11] But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas to them. [12] And Pilate again answering, saith to them: What will you then that I do to the king of the Jews? [13] But they again cried out: Crucify him. [14] And Pilate saith to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more: Crucify him. [15] And so Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. [16] And the soldiers led him away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band: [17] And they clothe him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him. [18] And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews. [19] And they struck his head with a reed: and they did spit on him. And bowing their knees, they adored him. [20] And after they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own garments on him, and they led him out to crucify him.[21] And they forced one Simon a Cyrenian who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up his cross. [22] And they bring him into the place called Golgotha, which being interpreted is, The place of Calvary. [23] And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but he took it not. [24] And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

Commentary (Catena Aurea)

BEDE; The Jews had a custom of delivering him whom they had condemned to death, bound to the judge. Wherefore after the condemnation of Christ, the Evangelist adds: And straightway in the morning the Chief Priests held a consultation with the elders and Scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. But it must be observed, that they did not then first bind Him, but they bound Him on first taking Him in the garden by night, as John declares. 

THEOPHYL. They then gave Jesus up to the Romans, but were themselves given up by God into the hands of the Romans, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, which say, Recompense them after the work of their hands. 

It goes on: And Pilate asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? 

BEDE; By Pilate's asking Him about no other accusation, except whether He was King of the Jews, they are convicted of impiety, for they could not even find a false accusation against our Savior. It goes on: And he answering said to him, You say. He answers in this way so as both to speak the truth, and yet not to be open to cavil. 

THEOPHYL. For His answer is doubtful, since it may mean, You say, but I do say not so. And observe that He does somewhere answer Pilate, who condemned Him unwillingly, but does not choose to answer the priests and great men, and judges them unworthy of a reply. It goes on: And the Chief Priests accused him of many things. 

AUG. Luke has also laid open the false charges which they brought against Him; for he thus relates it: And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. 

There follows: And Pilate asked him, saying, Answer you nothing? Behold how many things they witness against you. 

BEDE; He indeed who condemns Jesus is a heathen, but he refers it to the people of the Jews as the cause. There follows: But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled. He was unwilling to give an answer, lest He should clear Himself of the charge, and be acquitted by the Judge, and so the gain resulting from the Cross should be done away. 

THEOPHYL. But Pilate wondered, because, though He was a teacher of the law, and eloquent, and able by His answer to destroy their accusations, He did not answer any thing, but rather bore their accusations courageously.

BEDE; Pilate furnished many opportunities of releasing Jesus, in the first place contrasting a robber with the Just One. Wherefore it is said, Now at that feast he released to them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 

GLOSS. Which indeed he was accustomed to do, to obtain favor with the people, and above all, on the feast day, when the people of the whole province of the Jews flocked to Jerusalem. And that the wickedness of the Jews might appear the greater, the enormity of the sin of the robber, whom they preferred to Christ, is next described. Wherefore there follows: And there was one Barabbas, who lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. In which words their wickedness is shown both from the heinousness of his signal crime, in that he had committed murder, and from the way in which he did it, because he had in doing it raised a sedition and disturbed the city, and also because his crime was notorious, for he was bound with seditious persons. 

It goes on: And the multitude, when it had come up, began to desire him to do as he had ever done to them. 

AUG. No one can feel it a difficulty that Matthew is silent as to their asking some one to be released to them, which Mark here mentions, for it is a thing of no consequence that one should mention a thing which another leaves out. There follows: But Pilate answered them, saying, Will you that I release to you the King of the Jews? 

For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered him for envy. Some one may ask, which were the words of which Pilate made use, those which are related by Matthew, or those which Mark relates; for there seems to be a difference between, Whom will you that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? as Matthew has it; and, Will you that I release to you the King of the Jews. as is here said. But since they gave to kings the name of Christs, he who said this man or that must have asked whether they wished the King of the Jews to be released to them, that is, Christ. It makes no difference to the sense that Mark has said nothing of Barabbas, wishing only to mention what belonged to the Lord, since by their answer he sufficiently showed whom they wished to have released to them. 

For there follows, But the Chief Priests moved the people that he should rather release to them Barabbas. 

BEDE; This demand which the Jews made with such toil to themselves still sticks to them. Because, when the choice was given to them they chose a robber instead of Christ, a murderer instead of the Savior, they deservedly lost their salvation and their life, and they subjected themselves to such a degree to robbery and sedition, that they lost their country and their kingdom which they preferred to Christ, and never regained their liberty, body or soul. 

Then Pilate gives another opportunity of releasing the Savor, when there follows, And Pilate answered, and said again to them, What will you then that I should do to the King of the Jews? 

AUG. It now is clear enough that Mark means by King of the Jews what Matthew means by the word Christ; for no kings but those of the Jews were called Christs. For in this place according to Matthew it is said, What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? There follows, And they cried out again, Crucify him, 

THEOPHYL. Now see the wickedness of the Jews, and the moderation of Pilate, though he too was worthy of condemnation for not resisting the people Fol they cried out, Crucify; he faintly tries to save Jesus from t their determined sentence, and again puts a question to them. Wherefore there follows, Then Pilate said to them, Why, what evil has he done? For he wished in this way to find an opportunity for releasing Christ, who was innocent. 

BEDE; But the Jews giving loose to their madness do not answer the question of the judge. Wherefore it goes on, And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him, that those words of the Prophet Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Mine heritage is to me as a lion in the forest, it cries out against me. 

There follows, And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas to them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. 

THEOPHYL. He wished indeed to satisfy the people, that is, to do their will, not what was agreeable to justice and to God. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; Here are two goats; one is the scape goat, that is, one loosed and sent out into the wilderness of hell with the sin of the people; the other is slain, as a lamb, for the sins of those who are forgiven. The Lord's portion is always slain; the devil's part, (for he is the master of those men, which is the meaning of Barabbas,) when freed, is cast headlong into hell. 

BEDE; We must understand that Jesus was scourged by no other than Pilate himself. For John writes, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him, which we must suppose that he did, that the Jews might be satisfied with His pains and insults, and cease from thirsting for His blood.

THEOPHYL. The vainglory of soldiers, ever rejoicing in disorder and in insult, here displayed what properly belonged to them. Wherefore it is said, And the soldiers led him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they call together the whole band, that is, the whole company of the soldiers, and they clothed him with purple as a king. 

BEDE; For since He had been called King of the Jews, and the scribes and priests had objected to Him as a crime that He usurped rule over the Jewish people, they in derision strip Him of His former garments, and put on Him a purple robe, which ancient kings used to wear. 

AUG. But we must understand that the words of Matthew, they put on him a scarlet robe, Mark expresses by clothed him in purple; for that scarlet robe was used by them in derision for the royal purple, and there is a sort of red purple, very dike scarlet. It may also be that Mark mentions some purple which the robe had about it, though it was of a scarlet color. 

BEDE; But instead of the diadem, they put on Him a crown of thorns, wherefore it goes on, And platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head. And for a royal scepter they give Him a reed, as Matthew writes, and they bow before Him as a king, wherefore there follows, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! 

And that the soldiers worshipped Him as one who falsely called Himself God, is clear from what is added: And bowing their knees, worshipped him, as though He pretended to be God.

PSEUDO-JEROME; His shame took away our shame; His bonds made us free; by the thorny crown of His head, we have obtained the crown of the kingdom; by His wounds we are healed. 

AUG. It appears that Matthew and Mark here relate things which took place previously, not that they happened when Pilate had already delivered Him to be crucified. For John says that these things took place at Pilate's house; but that which follows, And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put on him his own clothes, must be understood to have taken place last of all, when He was already being led to be crucified. 

PSEUDO-JEROME; But in a mystic sense, Jesus was stripped of His clothes, that is, of the Jews, and is clothed in a purple robe, that is, in the Gentile church, which is gathered together out of the rocks. Again, putting it off in the end, as offending, He again is clothed with the Jewish people, for when the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, then shall all Israel be saved. 

BEDE; Or else, by the purple robe, with which the Lord is clothed, is meant His flesh itself, which He gave up to suffering, and by the thorny crown which He carried is meant, the taking upon Him of our sins. 

THEOPHYL. Let us also put on the purple and royal robe, because we must walk as kings treading on serpents and scorpions, and having sin under our feet. For we are called Christians, that is, anointed ones, just as kings were then called anointed. Let us also take upon ourselves the crown of thorns, that is, let us make haste to be crowned with a strict life, with self-denials and purity. 

BEDE; But they smite the head of Christ, who deny that He is very God. And because men are wont to use a reed to write with, they, as it were, smite the head of Christ with a reed, who speak against His divinity, and endeavor to confirm their error by the authority of Holy Writ. They spit in His face, who spit from them by their accursed words the presence of His grace. There are some also in this day, who adore Him, with a sure faith, as very God, but by their perverse actions, despise His words as though they were fabulous, and think the promises of that word inferior to worldly allurements. But just as Caiaphas said, though he knew not what it meant, It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, so also the soldiers do these things in ignorance.