Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:23-29

Note: The Gospel reading for this Sunday is John 14:23-29, but I have reproduced the Catena’s commentary on 14:22-31.

Joh 14:22  Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?
Joh 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him.
Joh 14:24  He that loveth me not keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me.
Joh 14:25  These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you.
Joh 14:26  But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.
Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid.

AUG. Our Lord having said, A little while, and the world sees Me no more: but you shall see Me: Judas, not the traitor named Iscariot, but he whose Epistle is read among the Canonical Scriptures, asks His meaning: Judas said to Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?

Our Lord in reply explains why He manifests Himself to His own, and not to aliens, viz. because the one love Him, the other do not. Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words.

GREG. If you would prove your love, show your works. The love of God is never idle; whenever it is, it does great things: if it do not work, it is not.

AUG. Love distinguishes the saints from the world: it makes men to be of one mind in an house; in which house the Father and the Son take their abode; who give that love to those, to whom in the end they will manifest themselves. For these is a certain inner manifestation of God, unknown to the ungodly, to whom there is no manifestation made of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and only could be of the Son in the flesh; which latter manifestation is not as the former, being only for a little while, not for ever, for judgment, not for joy, for punishment, not for reward.
And We will come to him: They come to us, in that we go to Them; They come by succoring, we go by obeying; They come by enlightening, we go by contemplating; They come by filling, we go by holding: so Their manifestation to us is not external, but inward; Their abode in us not transitory, but eternal. It follows, And will make Our abode with him.

GREG. Into some hearts He comes, but not to make His abode with them. For some feel compunction for a season and turn to God, but in time of temptation forget that which gave them compunction, and return to their former sins, just as if they had never lamented them. But whoever loves God truly, into his heart the Lord both comes, and also makes His abode therein: for the love of the Godhead so penetrates him, that no temptation withdraws him from it. He truly loves, whose mind no evil pleasure overcomes, through his consent thereto.

AUG. But while the Father and the Son make Their abode with the loving, soul, is the Holy Spirit excluded? What means that which is said of the Holy Spirit above: He dwells with you, and shall be in you, but that the Spirit makes His abode with us? Unless indeed a man be so absurd as to think that when the Father and the Son come, the Holy Spirit departs, as if to give place to His superiors.

Yet even this carnal thought is met by Scripture, in that it says, Abide with you for ever. He will therefore be in the same abode with Them for ever. As He did not come without Them, so neither They without Him. As a consequence of the Trinity, acts are sometimes attributed to single persons in it: but the substance of the same Trinity demands, that in such acts the presence of the other Persons also be implied.

GREG. In proportion as a man’s love rests upon lower things, in that proportion is he removed from heavenly love: He that loves Me not, keeps not My sayings. To the love then of our Maker, let the tongue, mind, life bear witness.

CHRYS. Or thus Judas thought that he should , see Him, as we see the dead in sleep: How is it, that you will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world? meaning, Alas, as you art to die, you will appear to us but as one dead. To correct this mistake, He says, I and My Father will come to him, i.e. I shall manifest Myself, even as My Father manifests Himself. And will make our abode with Him; which is not like a dream. It follows, And the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me; i.e. He that hears not My words, inasmuch as he loves not Me, so loves he not My Father. This He says to show that He spoke nothing which was not the Father’s, nothing beside what seemed good to the Father.

AUG. And perhaps there is a distinction at bottom, since He speaks of His sayings, when they are His own, in the plural number; as when He says, He that loves Me not, keeps not My sayings: when they are not His own, but the Father’s, in the singular, i.e. as the Word, which is Himself. For He is not His own Word, but the Father’s, as He is not His own image, but the Father’s, or His own Son, but the Father’s.

CHRYS. These things have I spoken to you, being yet present with you. Some of these things were obscure, and not understood by the disciples.

AUG The abode He promised them hereafter is altogether a different one from this present abode He now speaks of. The one is spiritual and inward, the other outward, and perceptible to the bodily sight and hearing.

CHRYS. To enable them to sustain His bodily departure more cheerfully, He promises that that departure shall be the source of great benefit; for that while He was then in the body, they could never know much, because the Spirit would not have come: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.

GREG. Paraclete is Advocate, or Comforter. The Advocate then intercedes with the Father for sinners, when by His inward power He moves the sinner to pray for himself. The Comforter relieves the sorrow of penitents, and cheers them with the hope of pardon.

CHRYS. He often calls Him the Comforter, in allusion to the affliction in which they then were.

DIDYMUS. The Savior affirms that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father, in His, the Savior’s, name; which name is the Son. Here an agreement of nature and propriety, so to speak, of persons is strewn. The Son can come in the Father’s name only, consistently with the proper relationship of the Son to the Father, and the Father to the Son.

No one else comes in the name of the Father, but in the name of God, of the Lord, of the Almighty, and the like. As servants who come in the name of their Lord, do so as being the servants of that Lord, so the Son who comes in the name of the Father, bears that name as being the acknowledged only-begotten Son of the Father. That the Holy Spirit then is sent in the Son’s name, by the Father, shows that He is in unity with the Son: whence He is said too to be the Spirit of the Son, and to make those sons by adoption, who are willing to receive Him.
The Holy Spirit then, Who comes in the name of the Son from the Father, shall teach them, who are established in the faith of Christ, all things; all things which are spiritual, both the understanding of truth, and the sacrament of wisdom. But He will teach not like those who have acquired an art or knowledge by study and industry, but as being the very art, doctrine, knowledge itself. As being this Himself, the Spirit of truth will impart the knowledge of divine things to the mind.
GREG. Unless the Spirit be present to the mind of the hearer, the word of the teacher is vain. Let none then attribute to the human teacher, the understanding which follows in consequence of his teaching: for unless there be a teacher within, the tongue of the teacher outside will labor in vain. Nay even the Maker Himself does not speak for the instruction of man, unless the Spirit by His unction speaks at the same time.
AUG. So then the Son speaks, the Holy Spirit teaches: when the Son speaks we take in the words, when the Holy Spirit teaches, we understand those words. The whole Trinity indeed both speaks and teaches, but unless each person worked separately as well, the whole would be too much for human infirmity to take in.
GREG. But why is it said of the Spirit, He shall suggest all stings to you: to suggest being the office of an inferior? The word is used here, as it is used sometimes, in the sense of supplying secretly. The invisible Spirit suggests, not because He takes a lower place in teaching, but because He teaches secretly.

AUG. Suggest, i.e. bring to your remembrance. Every wholesome hint to remember that we receive is of the grace of the Spirit.
THEOPHYL. The Holy Spirit then was both to teach and to bring to remembrance: to teach what Christ had forborne to tell His disciples, because they were not able to bear it; to bring to remembrance what Christ had told them but which on account of its difficulty, or their slowness of understanding, they were unable to remember.
CHRYS. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: He says this to console His disciples, who were now troubled at the prospect of the hatred and opposition which awaited them after His departure.

AUG. He left no peace in this world; in which we conquer the enemy, and have love one to another: He will give us peace in the world to come, when we shall reign without an enemy, and where we shall be able to avoid disagreement. This peace is Himself, both when we believe that He is, and when we shall see Him as He is. But why does He say, Peace I leave with you, without the My, whereas He puts in My in, My peace 1 give to you? Are we to understand My in the former; or is it not rather left out with a meaning?

His peace is such peace as He has Himself; the peace which He left us in this world is rather our peace than His. He has nothing to fight against in Himself, because He has no sin: but ours is a peace in which we still say, Forgive us our debts (Mat_6:12). And in like manner we have peace between ourselves, because we mutually trust one another, that we mutually love one another. But neither is that a perfect peace; for we do not see into each other’s minds. I could not deny however that these words of our Lord’s may be understood as a simple repetition.

He adds, Not as the world gives, give I unto you: i.e. not as those men, who love the world, give. They give themselves peace, i.e. free, uninterrupted enjoyment of the world. And even when they allow the righteous peace, so far as not to persecute them, yet there cannot be true peace, where there is no true agreement, no union of heart.

CHRYS. External peace is often even hurtful, rather than profitable to those who enjoy it.

AUG. But there is a peace which is serenity of thought, tranquillity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. None will be able to come to the inheritance of the Lord who do not observe this testament of peace; none be friends with Christ, who are at enmity with the Christians.

Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid.
Joh 14:28  You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I.
Joh 14:29  And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe.
Joh 14:30  I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world: cometh: and in me he hath not any thing.
Joh 14:31  But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandments, so do I. Arise, let us go hence.

CHRYS. After saying, Peace I leave with you, which was like taking farewell, He consoles them: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid: the two feelings of love and fear were now the uppermost in them.

AUG. Though He was only going for a time, their hearts would be troubled and afraid for what might happen before He returned; lest in the absence of the Shepherd the wolf might attack the flock: you have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you. In that He was man, He went; in that He was God, He stayed.

Why then be troubled and afraid, when He left the eye only, not the heart? To make them understand that it was as man that He said, I go away, and come again to you; He adds, If you loved Me you would rejoice, because I said, I go to My Father; for My Father is greater than I. In that the Son then is unequal with the Father, through that inequality He went to the Father, from Him to come again to judge the quick and dead: in that He is equal to the Father, He never goes from the Father, but is everywhere altogether with Him in that Godhead, which is not confined to place.

Nay, the Son Himself, because that being equal to the Father in the form of God, He emptied Himself, not losing the form of God, but taking that of a servant, is greater even than Himself: the form of God which is not lost, is greater than the form of a servant which was put on. In this form of a servant, the Son of God is inferior not to the Father only, but to the Holy Ghost; in this the Child Christ was inferior even to His parents; to whom we read, He was subject. Let us acknowledge then the twofold substance of Christ, the divine, which is equal to the Father, and the human, which is inferior.

But Christ is both together, not two, but one Christ else the Godhead is a quaternity, not a Trinity. Wherefore He says, If you loved Me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father; for human nature should exult at being thus taken up by the Only Begotten Word, and made immortal in heaven; at earth being raised to heaven, and dust sitting incorruptible at the right hand of the Father. Who, that loves Christ, will not rejoice at this, seeing, as he does, his own nature immortal in Christ, and hoping that He Himself will be so by Christ.
HILARY. Or thus: If the Father is greater by virtue of giving, is the Son less by confessing the gift? The giver is the greater, but He to whom unity with that giver is given, is not the less.
CHRYS. Or thus: The Apostles did not yet know what the resurrection was of which He spoke when He said, I go, and come again to you: or what they ought to think of it. They only knew the great power of the Father. So He tells them: Though you fear I shall not be able to save Myself, and do not trust to My appearing again after My crucifixion; yet when you hear that I go to My Father, you should rejoice, because I go to one greater, one able to dissolve and change all things. All this is said in accommodation to their weakness: as we see from the next words:   And now I have told you before it comes to pass; that when it does come to pass, you may believe.

AUG. But is not the time for belief before a thing takes place? Is it not the praise of faith, that it believes what it does not see? according to w hat is said below to Thomas: Because you have seen, you has believed. He saw one thing, believed another: what he saw was man, what he believed was God. And if belief can be talked of with reference to things seen, as when we say that we believe our eyes; yet it is not mature faith, but is merely preparatory to our believing what we do not see.

When it has come to pass, then He says, because after His death they would see Him alive again, and ascending to His Father; which sight would convince them that He was the Christ, the Son of God; able as He was to do so great a thing, and to foretell it. Which faith however would not be a new, but only an enlarged faith; or a faith which had failed at His death, and been renewed by His resurrection.

HILARY. He next alludes to the approach of the time when He would resume His glory. Hereafter 1 will not talk much with you.

BEDE. He says this because the time was now approaching for His being taken, and given up to death: For the Prince of this world comes.
AUG. i.e. the devil; the prince of sinners, not of creatures; as the Apostle said, Against the rulers of this world. Or, as He immediately adds by way of explanation, this darkness, meaning, the ungodly. And has nothing in Me. God had no sin as God, nor had His flesh contracted it by a sinful birth, being born of the Virgin. But how, it might be asked, can you die, if you have no sin: He answers,
But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. He had been sitting at table with them all this time. Let us go, i.e. to the place, where He, Who had done nothing to deserve death, was to be delivered to death. But He had a commandment from His Father to die.

AUG. That the Son is obedient to the will and commandment of the Father, no more shows a difference in the two, than it would in a human father and son. But over and above this comes the consideration that Christ is not only God, and as such equal to the Father, but also man, and as such inferior to the Father.

CHRYS. Arise, let us go hence, is the beginning of the sentence which l, follows. The time and the place (they were in the midst of a town, and it was night time) had excited the disciples’ fears to such a degree, that they could not attend to any thing that was said, but rolled their eyes about, expecting persons to enter and assault them; especially when they heard our Lord say, Yet a little while I am with you; and, The prince of this world comes. To quiet their alarm then, He takes them to another place, where they imagine themselves safe, and would be able to attend to the great doctrines which He was going to set before them.

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One Response to Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:23-29

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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