Wednesday, 12 March 2014

St Matthew 28:11-15

The events of the Resurrection are chronicled in Chapter 28 of St Matthew's Gospel, of which verses 1-7 are used at the Easter Vigil.  The continuation of the narrative on the soldiers guarding the tomb is picked up in verse 11:

11 Quæ cum abiissent, ecce quidam de custodibus venerunt in civitatem, et nuntiaverunt principibus sacerdotum omnia quæ facta fuerant. 12 Et congregati cum senioribus consilio accepto, pecuniam copiosam dederunt militibus, 13 dicentes: Dicite quia discipuli ejus nocte venerunt, et furati sunt eum, nobis dormientibus. 14 Et si hoc auditum fuerit a præside, nos suadebimus ei, et securos vos faciemus. 15 At illi, accepta pecunia, fecerunt sicut erant edocti. Et divulgatum est verbum istud apud Judæos, usque in hodiernum diem.

11 They had not finished their journey, when some of the guards reached the city, and told the chief priests of all that befell. 12 These gathered with the elders to take counsel, and offered a rich bribe to the soldiers; 13 Let this, they said, be your tale, His disciples came by night and stole him away, while we were asleep. 14 If this should come to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him, and see that no harm comes to you. 15 The soldiers took the bribe, and did as they were instructed; and this is the tale which has gone abroad among the Jews, to this day.

The Catena Aurea anthology notes:

JEROME; Thus the Chief Priests, who ought to have been by this turned to penitence, and to seek Jesus risen, persevere in their wickedness, and convert the money which was given for the use of the Temple to the purchase of a lie, as before they had given thirty pieces of silver to the traitor Judas. 

CHRYSOL. Not content to have put the Master to death, they plot how they may destroy the disciples, and make the Master's power matter of charge against His disciples. The soldiers indeed lost Him, the Jews missed Him, but the disciples carried Him away, not by theft, but by faith; by virtue, and not by fraud; by holiness, and not by wickedness; alive, and not dead. 

CHRYS. How should the disciples carry Him away by stealth, men poor, and of no station, and who scarcely dared to show themselves? They fled when afterwards they saw Christ alive, how, when He was dead, would they not have feared so great a multitude of soldiers? How were they to remove the door of the sepulcher? One might have done it unperceived by the guard. But a large stone was rolled to the mouth requiring many hands. And was not the seal thereon? And why did they not attempt it the first night, when there was none at the sepulcher? For it was on the Sabbath that they begged the body of Jesus. 

Moreover, what mean these napkins which Peter sees laid here? Had the disciples stolen the Body, they would never have stripped it, both because it might so receive hurt, and cause unnecessary delay to themselves, and so expose them to be taken by the watch; especially since the Body and clothes were covered with myrrh, a glutinous spice, which would cause them to adhere. The allegation of the theft then is improbable. So that their endeavors to conceal the Resurrection do but make it more manifest. For when they say, His disciples stole the body, they confess that it is not in the sepulcher. And as they thus confess that they had not the Body, and as the watch, the sealing, and the fears of the disciples, make the theft improbable, there is seen evidence of the Resurrection not to be gainsaid. 

REMIG. But if the guards slept, how saw they the theft? And if they saw it not, how could they witness thereto? So that what they desire to show, they cannot show. 

GLOSS. That the fear of the Governor might not restrain them from this lie, they promise them impunity. 

CHRYS. See how all are corrupted; Pilate persuaded; the people stirred up; the soldiers bribed; as it follows, And they took the money, and did as they were instructed. If money prevailed with a disciple so far as to make him become the betrayer of his Master, what wonder that the soldiers are overcome by it. 

HILARY; The concealment of the Resurrection, and the false allegation of theft, is purchased by money; because by the honor of this world, which consists in money and desire, Christ's glory is denied. 

RABAN. But as the guilt of His blood, which they imprecated upon themselves and their children, presses them down with a heavy weight of sin, so the purchase of the lie, by which they deny the truth of the Resurrection, charges this guilt upon them for ever; as it follows, And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. 

CHRYSOL. Among the Jews, not among the Christians; what in Judea the Jew concealed by his gold, is by faith blazed abroad throughout the world.



JEROME; All who abuse to other purposes the money of the Temple, and the contributions for the use of the Church, purchasing with them their own pleasure, are like the Scribes and Priests who bought this lie, and the blood of the Savior.

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