Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 28:16-20

Ver  16. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.17. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Bede, Beda in Hom., non occ.: When Saint Matthew has vindicated the Lord’s Resurrection as declared by the Angel, he relates the vision of the Lord which the disciples had, “Then the eleven disciples went into Galilee into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.”

For when coming to His Passion the Lord had said to His disciples, “After I am risen I will go before you into Galilee;” [Mat_26:32] and the Angel said the same to the women. Therefore the disciples obey the command of their Master. Eleven only go, for one had already perished.

Jerome: After His Resurrection, Jesus is seen and worshipped in the mountain in Galilee; though some doubt, their doubting confirms our faith.

Remig.: This is more fully told by Luke; how when the Lord after the Resurrection appeared to the disciples, in their terror they thought they saw a spirit.

Bede, Hom. Aest. in Fer., vi., Pasch. [ed note: This Homily of Bede (tom. vii, p. 12) is word for word, the same with the Commentary of Rabanus on this part of S. Matthew.]: The Lord appeared to them in the mountain to signify, that His Body which at His Birth He had taken of the common dust of the human race, He had by His Resurrection exalted above all earthly things; and to teach the faithful that if they desire there to see the height of His Resurrection, they must endeavour here to pass from low pleasures to high desires.

And He goes before His disciples into Galilee, because “Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept.” [1Co_15:20] And they that are Christ’s follow Him, and pass in their order from death to life, contemplating Him as He appears with His proper Divinity. And it agrees with this that Galilee is interpreted ‘revelation.’

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 25: But it is to be considered, how the Lord could be seen bodily in Galilee. For that it was not the day of the Resurrection is manifest; for He was seen that day in Jerusalem in the beginning of the night, as Luke and John evidently agree. Nor was it in the eight following days, after which John says that the Lord appeared to His disciples, and when Thomas first saw Him, who had not seen Him on the day of the Resurrection.

For if within these eight days the eleven had seen Him on a mountain in Galilee, Thomas, who was one of the eleven, could not have seen Him first after the eight days. Unless it be said, that the eleven there spoken of were eleven out of the general body of the disciples, and not the eleven Apostles.

But there is another difficulty. John having related that the Lord was seen not in the mountain, but at the sea of Tiberias, by seven who were fishing, adds, “This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples after he was risen from the dead. [Joh_21:14]

So that if we understand the Lord to have been seen within those eight days by eleven of the disciples, this manifestation at the sea of Tiberias will be the fourth, and not the third, appearance. Indeed, to understand John’s account at all it must be observed, that he computes not each appearance, but each day on which Jesus appeared, though He may have appeared more than once on the same day; as He did three times on the day of His Resurrection. We are then obliged to understand that this appearance to the eleven disciples on the mountain in Galilee took place last of all.

In the four Evangelists we find in all ten distinct appearances of Our Lord after His Resurrection.

1. At the sepulchre to the women.

2. To the same women on their way back from the sepulchre.

3. To Peter.

4. To two disciples as they went into the country.

5. To many together in Jerusalem;

6. when Thomas was not with them.

7. At the sea of Tiberias.

8. At the mountain in Galilee, according to Matthew.

9. To the eleven as they sat at meat, because they should not again eat with Him upon earth, related by Mark. [Mar_16:14]

10. On the day of His Ascension, no longer on the earth, but raised aloft in a cloud, as related by both Mark and Luke.

But all is not written, as John confesses, for He had much conversation with them during forty days before His ascension, “being seen of them, and speaking unto them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” [Act_1:3]

Remig.: The disciples then, when they saw Him, knew the Lord; and worshipped Him, bowing their faces to the ground. And He their affectionate and merciful Master, that He might take away all doubtfulness from their hearts, coming to them, strengthened them in their belief; as it follows, “And Jesus came and spake to them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

Jerome: Power is given to Him, Who but a little before was crucified, Who was buried, but Who afterwards rose again.

Bede: This He speaks not from the Deity coeternal with the Father, but from the Humanity which He took upon Him, according to which “He was made a little lower than the Angels.” [Heb_2:9]Chrysol., Serm. 80: The Son of God conveyed to the Son of the Virgin, the God to the Man, the Deity to the Flesh, that which He had ever together with the Father.

Jerome: Power is given in heaven and in earth, that He who before reigned in heaven, should now reign on earth by the faith of the believers.

Remig.: What the Psalmist says of the Lord at His rising again, “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands,” [Psa_8:6] this the Lord now says of Himself, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

And here it is to be noted, that even before His resurrection the Angels knew that they were subjected to the man Christ. Christ then desiring that it should be also known to men that all power was committed to Him in heaven and in earth, sent preachers to make known the word of life to all nations; whence it follows, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”

Bede, Beda in Hom. non occ.: He who before His Passion had said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles,” [Mat_10:5] now, when rising from the dead, says, “Go and teach, all nations.”

Hereby let the Jews be put to silence, who say that Christ’s coming is to be for their salvation only. Let the Donatists also blush, who, desiring to confine Christ to one place, have said that He is in Africa only, and not in other countries.

Jerome: They first then teach all nations, and when taught dip them in water. For it may not be that the body receive the sacrament of Baptism, unless the soul first receive the truth of the Faith. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” that they whose Godhead is one should be conferred at once, to name this Trinity, being to name One God.

Chrysol, Serm. 80: Thus all nations are created a second time to salvation by that one and the same Power, which created them to being.

Jerome, Didymi Lib. ii, de Spir. Sanct.: And though some one there may be of so averse a spirit as to undertake to baptize in such sort as to omit one of these names, therein contradicting Christ Who ordained this for a law, his baptism will effect nothing; those who are baptized by him will not be at all delivered from their sins. From these words we gather how undivided is the substance of the Trinity, that the Father is verily the Father of the Son, and the Son verily the Son of the Father, and the Holy Spirit the Spirit of both the Father and the Son, and also the Spirit of wisdom and of truth, that is, of the Son of God. This then is the salvation of them that believe, and in this Trinity is wrought the perfect communication of ecclesiastical discipline.

Hilary, de Trin. ii, 1 &c: For what part of the salvation of men is there that is not contained in this Sacrament? All things are full and perfect, as proceeding from Him who is full and perfect. The nature of His relation is expressed in the title Father; but He is nothing but Father; for not after the manner of men does He derive from somewhat else that He is Father, being Himself Unbegotten, Eternal, and having the source of His being in Himself, known to none, save the Son.

The Son is the Offspring of the Unbegotten, One of the One, True of the True, Living of the Living, Perfect of the Perfect, Strength of Strength, Wisdom of Wisdom, Glory of Glory; the Image of the Unseen God, the Form of the Unbegotten Father.

Neither can the Holy Spirit be separated from the confession of the Father and the Son. And this consolation of our longing desires is absent from no place. He is the pledge of our hope in the effects of His gifts, He is the light of our minds, He shines in our souls.

These things as the heretics cannot change, they introduce into them their human explanations. As Sabellius who identifies the Father with the Son, thinking the distinction to be made rather in name than in person, and setting forth one and the same Person as both Father and Son. As Ebion, who deriving the beginning of His existence from Mary, makes Him not Man of God, but God of man. As the Arians, who derive the form, the power, and the wisdom of God out of nothing, and in time. What wonder then that men should have diverse opinions about the Holy Spirit, who thus rashly after their own pleasure create and change the Son, by whom that Spirit is bestowed?

Jerome: Observe the order of these injunctions. He bids the Apostles first to teach all nations, then to wash them with the sacrament of faith, and after faith and baptism then to teach them what things they ought to observe; “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Raban.: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” [Jam_2:26]

Chrys.: And because what He had laid upon them was great, therefore to exalt their spirits He adds, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” As much as to say, Tell Me not of the difficulty of these things, seeing I am with you, Who can make all things easy. A like promise He often made to the Prophets in the Old Testament, to Jeremiah who pleaded his youth, to Moses, and to Ezekiel, when they would have shunned the office imposed upon them. And not with them only does He say that He will be, but with all who shall believe after them. For the Apostles were not to continue till the end of the world, but He says this to the faithful as to one body.

Raban.: Hence we understand that to the end of the world shall not be wanting those who shall be worthy of the Divine indwelling.

Chrys.: He brings before them the end of the world, that He may the more draw them on, and that they may not look merely to present inconveniences, but to the infinite goods to come. As much as to say, The grievous things which you shall undergo, terminate with this present life, seeing that even this world shall come to an end, but the good things which ye shall enjoy endure for ever.

Bede, Beda in Hom., non occ.: It is made a question how He says here, “I am with you,” when we read elsewhere that He said, “I go unto him that sent me.” [Jon_16:5]

What is said of His human nature is distinct from what is said of His divine nature. He is going to His Father in His human nature, He abides With His disciples in that form in which He is equal with the Father. When He says, “to the end of the world,” He expresses the infinite by the finite; for He who remains in this present world with His elect, protecting them, the same will continue with them after the end, rewarding them.

Jerome: He then who promises that He will be with His disciples to the end of the world, shews both that they shall live for ever, and that He will never depart from those that believe.

Leo, Serm., 72, 3: For by ascending into heaven He does not desert His adopted; but from above strengthens to endurance, those whom He invites upwards to glory.  Of which glory may Christ make us partakers, Who is the King of glory, “God blessed for ever,”
AMEN.

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One Response to Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 28:16-20

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord | stjoeofoblog

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