Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:15-21

15. If you love me, keep my commandments.16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;17. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.

CHRYS. Our Lord having said, Whatsoever you shall ask in My name, that I will do; that they might not think simply asking would be enough, He adds, If you love Me, keep My commandments. And then I will do what you ask, seems to be His meaning. Or the disciples having heard Him say, I go to the Father, and being troubled at the thought of it, He says, To love Me, is not to be troubled, but to keep My commandments: this is love, to obey and believe in Him who is loved.

And as they had been expressing a strong desire for His bodily presence, He assures them that His absence w ill be supplied to them in another way: And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter

AUG. Wherein He shows too that He Himself is the Comforter. Paraclete means advocate, and is applied to Christ: We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1Jo_2:1).

ALCUIN. Paraclete, i.e. Comforter. They had then one Comforter, who comforted and elevated them by the sweetness of His miracles, and His preaching.

DIDYMUS. But the Holy Ghost was another Comforter: differing not in nature, but in operation. For whereas our Savior in His office of Mediator, and of Messenger, and as High Priest, made supplication for our sins; the Holy Ghost is a Comforter in another sense, i.e. as consoling our griefs. But do not infer from the different operations of the Son and the Spirit, a difference of nature. For in other places we find the Holy Spirit performing the office of intercessor with the Father, as, The Spirit Himself intercedes for us. And the Savior, on the other hand, pours consolation into those hearts that need it: as in Maccabees, He strengthened those of the people that were brought low (1 Macc 14:15).

CHRYS. He says, I will ask the Father, to make them believe Him: which they could not have done, had He simply said, I will send

AUG Yet to show that His works are inseparable from His Father’s, He says below, When I shall go, I will send Him to you.

CHRYS. But what had He more than the Apostles, if He could only ask the Father to give others the Spirit? The Apostles did this often even without praying.

ALCUIN. I will ask – He says, as being the inferior in respect of His humanity – My Father, with Whom I am equal and consubstantial in respect of My Divine nature.

CHRYS. That He may abide with you for ever. The Spirit does not depart even at death. He intimates too that the Holy Ghost will not suffer death, or go away, as He has done. But that the mention of the Comforter might not lead them to expect another incarnation, a Comforter to be seen with the eye, He adds, Even the Spirit of truth Whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him.

AUG. This is the Holy Ghost in the Trinity, Whom the Catholic faith professes to be consubstantial and coeternal with the Father and the Son.

CHRYS. The Spirit of truth He calls Him, because He unfolds the figures of the Old Testament. The world are the wicked, seeing is certain knowledge; sight being the most certain of the senses.

BEDE. Note too, that when He calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth, He shows that the Holy Spirit is His Spirit: then when He says He is given by the Father, He declares Him to be the Spirit of the Father also. Thus the Holy Ghost proceeds both from the Father, and from the Son.

GREG. The Holy Spirit kindles in every one, in whom He dwells, the desire of things invisible. And since worldly minds love only things visible, this world receives Him not, because it rises not to the love of things invisible. In proportion as secular minds enlarge themselves by the spread of their desires, in that proportion they narrow themselves, with respect to admitting Christ.

AUG. Thus the world, i.e. the lovers of the world, cannot, He says, receive the Holy Spirit: that is to say, unrighteousness cannot be righteous. The world, i.e. the lovers of the world, cannot receive Him, because it sees Him not. The love of the world has not invisible eyes wherewith to see that which can only be seen invisibly. It follows: But you know Him, for He dwells with you. And that they might not think this I meant a visible dwelling, in the sense in which we use the phrase with respect to a guest, He adds, And shall be in you.

CHRYS. As if He said, He will not dwell with you as I have done, but will dwell in your souls.

AUG. To be in a place is prior to dwelling. Be in you, is the explanation of dwell with you: i.e. shows that the latter means not that He is seen, but that He is known. He must be in us, that the knowledge of Him may be in us. We see the Holy Ghost then in us, in our consciences.

GREG. But if the Holy Spirit abides in the disciples, how is it a special mark of the Mediator that He abides in Him. We shall better understand if we distinguish between the different gifts of the Spirit. In respect of those gifts without which we cannot attain to salvation, the Holy Spirit ever abides in all the Elect: but in respect of those which do not relate to our own salvation, but to the procuring that of others, He does not always abide in them. For He sometimes withdraws His miraculous gifts, that His grace may be possessed with humility. Christ has Him without measure and always.

CHRYS. This speech levels at a stroke, as it were, the opposite heresies. The word another, shows the distinct personality of the Spirit: the word Paraclete, His consubstantiality.

AUG. Comforter, the title of the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, the Apostle applies to God: God that comforts those that are cast down, comforted us. The Holy Spirit therefore Who comforts those that are cast down, is God. Or if they still have this said by the Apostle of the Father or the Son, let them not any longer separate the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, in His peculiar office of comforting.

AUG. But when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rom_5:5), how shall we love and keep the commandments of Christ, so as to receive the Spirit, when we are not able to love or to keep them, unless we have received the Spirit? Does love in us go first, i.e. do we so love Christ and keep His commandments as to deserve to receive the Holy Spirit, and to have the love of God the Father shod abroad in our hearts? This is a perverse opinion. For he who does not love the Father, does not love the Son, however he may think he does. It remains for us to understand, that he who loves has the Holy Spirit, and by having Him, attains to having more of Him, and by having more of Him, to loving more. The disciples had already the Spirit which our Lord promised; but they were to be given more of Him: they had Him secretly, they were to receive Him openly. The promise is made both to him who has the Spirit, and to him who has Him not; to the former, that he shall have Him; to the latter, that He shall have more of Him.

CHRYS. When He had cleansed His disciples by the sacrifice of His passion, and their sins were remitted, and they were sent forth to dangers and trials, it was necessary that they should receive the Holy Spirit abundantly. But they were made to wait some time for this gift, in order that they might feel the want of it, and so be the more grateful for it when it came.

Ver 18. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.19. Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more: but you see me; because I live, you shall live also.20. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21. He that has my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

AUG. That no one might think, because our Lord was about to give the Holy Spirit, that He would therefore not be present Himself in Him, He adds, I will not leave you comfortless. The Greek word signifies “wards.” Although then the Son of God has made us the adopted sons of the Father, yet here He Himself shows the affection of a Father towards us.

CHRYS. At the first He said, Where I go you shall come; but as this was a long time off, He promises them the Spirit in the interval. And as they knew not what that was, He promises them that they most desired, His own presence, I will come to you, but intimates at the same time that they are not to look for the same kind of presence over again:

Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more: as if He said, I will come to you, but not to live with you every day as I did before. And, I will come to you alone, He says, thus preventing any inconsistency with what He had said to the Jews: Henceforth you shall not see Me.

AUG. For the world saw Him then with the carnal eye, manifest in the flesh, though it did not see the Word hidden under the flesh. But after the resurrection He was unwilling to show even His flesh, except to His own followers, whom He allowed to see and to handle it: Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more; but you shall see Me.

But, inasmuch as the world, by which are meant all who are aliens from His kingdom, will see Him at the last judgment, it is better perhaps to understand Him here as pointing to that time, when He will be taken for ever from the eyes of the wicked, to be seen thenceforth by those who love Him. A little while, He says, for that which seems a long lime to men, is but a moment in the eyes of God.Because 1 live, you shall live also.

THEOPHYL. As if He said, Though I shall die, I shall rise again. And you shall live also, i.e. when you see Me risen again, you will rejoice, and be as dead men brought to life again.

CHRYS. To me however he seems to refer not only to the present life, but to the future; as if He said, The death of the cross shall not separate you from Me for ever, but only hide Me from you for a moment.

AUG. But why does He speak of life as present to Him, future to them? Because His resurrection preceded, theirs was to follow. His resurrection was about so soon to take place, that He speaks of it as present; theirs being deferred till the end of the world, He does not say you live, but you shall live. Because He lives, therefore we shall live: As by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead (1Co_15:21).

It follows: In that day (the day of which He said, you shall live also) you shall know, i.e. whereas now you believe, then you shall see, that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. For when we shall have attained to that life in which death is swallowed up, then shall be finished that which is now begun by Him, that He should be in us, and we in Him.

CHRYS. Or, in that day, on which I shall rise again, you shall know. For His resurrection it was that established their faith. Then the powerful teaching of the Holy Spirit began. His saying, I am in the Father, expresses His humility; the next, And you in Me, and I in you, His humanity and God’s assistance to Him. Scripture often uses the same words in different senses, as applied to God and to men.

HILARY. Or He means by this, that whereas He was in the Father by the nature of His divinity, and we in Him by means of His birth in the flesh; He on the other hand should be believed to be in us by the mystery of the Sacrament: as He Himself testified above: Whosoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in Him.

ALCUIN. By love, and the observance of His commandments, that will be perfected in us which He has begun, viz. that we should be in Him, and He in us. And that this blessedness may be understood to be promised to all, not to the Apostles only, He adds, He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me.

AUG. He that has them in , and keeps them in life; he that has them in words, and keeps them in works; he that has them by hearing, and keeps them by doing; he that has them by doing, and keeps them by persevering, he it is that loves Me. Love must be strewn by works, or it is a mere barren name.

THEOPHYL. As if He said, You think that by sorrowing, as you do, for my death you prove your affection; but I esteem the keeping of My commandments the evidence of love. And then He shows the privileged state of one who loves: And he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him.

AUG. I will love him, as if now He did not love him. What means this? He explains it in what follows: And will manifest Myself to him, i.e. I love him so far as to manifest Myself to him; so that, as the reward of his faith, he will have sight. Now He only loves us so that we believe; then He will love us so that we see. And whereas we love now by believing that which we shall see, then we shall love by seeing that which we have believed.

AUG. He promises to show Himself to them that love Him as God with the Father, not in that body which He bore upon earth, and which the wicked saw.

THEOPHYL. For, as after the resurrection He was to appear to them in a body more assimilated to His divinity, that they might not take Him then for a spirit, or a phantom, He tells them now beforehand not to have misgivings upon seeing Him, but to remember that He shows Himself to them as a reward for their keeping His commandments; and that therefore they are bound ever to keep them, that they may ever enjoy the sight of Him.

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One Response to Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 14:15-21

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

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