Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:37-39

Ver 37. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.38. He that believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

CHRYS. The feast being over, and the people about to return home, our Lord gives them provisions for the way: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.

AUG. The feast was then going on, which is called scenopegia, i.e. building of tents.

CHRYS. Which lasted seven days. The first and last days were the most important; In the last day, that great day of the feast, says the Evangelist. Those between were given chiefly to amusements. He did not then make the offer on the first day, or the second, or the third, lest amidst the excitements that were going on, people should let it slip from their minds, He cried out, on account of the great multitude of people present.

THEOPHYL. To make Himself audible, inspire confidence in others, and show an absence of all fear in Himself.

CHRYS. If any thirsts: as if to say, I use no compulsion or violence: I but if any have the desire strong enough, let him come.

AUG. For there is an inner thirst, because there is an inner man: and the inner man of a certainty loves more than the outer. So then if we thirst, let us go not on our feet, but on our affections, not by change of place, but by love.

CHRYS. He is speaking of spiritual drink, as His next words show: He that believes in Me, as the Scripture truth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But where here does the Scripture say this? No where. What then? We should read, He that believes in Me, as said the Scripture, putting the stop here; and then, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: the meaning being, that that was a right kind of belief, which was formed on the evidence of Scripture, not of miracles. Search the Scriptures, he had said before. JEROME. Or this testimony is taken from the Proverbs, where it is said, Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

AUG. The belly of the inner man, is the heart’s conscience. Let him drink from that water, and his conscience is quickened and purified; he drinks in the whole fountain, nay, becomes the very fountain itself. But what is that fountain, and what is that river, which flows from the belly of the inner man? The love of his neighbor. If any one, who drinks of the water, thinks that it is meant to satisfy himself alone, out of his belly there does not flow living water. But if he does good to his neighbor, the stream is not dried up, but flows.

GREG. When sacred preaching flows from the soul of the faithful, rivers of living water, as it were, run down from the bellies of believers. For what are the entrails of the belly but the inner part of the mind; i.e. a right intention, a holy desire, humility towards God, mercy toward man.

CHRYS. He says, rivers, not river, to show the copious and overflowing power of grace: and living water, i.e. always moving; for when the grace of the Spirit has entered into and settled in the mind, it flows freer than any fountain, and neither fails, nor empties, nor stagnates. The wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the strength of Paul, are evidences of this. Nothing hindered them; but, like impetuous torrents, they went on, carrying every thing along with them.

AUG. What kind of drink it was, to which our Lord invited them, the Evangelist next explains; But this He spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. Whom does the Spirit mean, but the Holy Spirit; For every man has within him his own spirit.

ALCUIN. He promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles before the Ascension; He gave it to them in fiery tongues, after the Ascension. The Evangelist’s words, Which they that believe in Him should receive, refer to this.

AUG. The Spirit of God was, i.e. was with God, before now; but was not yet given to those who believed on Jesus; for our Lord had determined not to give them the Spirit, till He was risen again: The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

CHRYS. The Apostles indeed cast out devils by the Spirit before, but only by the power which they had from Christ. For when He sent them, it is not said, He gave them the Holy Spirit, but, He gave to them power. With respect to the Prophets however, all agree that the Holy Spirit was given to them but this grace had been withdrawn from the world.

AUG. Yet we read of John the Baptist, He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb. And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied. Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied of our Lord. And so were Simeon and Anna, that they might acknowledge the greatness of the infant Christ. We are to understand then that the giving of the Holy Spirit was to be certain, after Christ’s exaltation, in a way in which it never was before. It was to have a peculiarity at His coming, which it had not before. For we no where read of men under the influence of the Holy Spirit, speaking with tongues which they had never known, as then took place, when it was necessary to evidence His coming by sensible miracles.

AUG. If the Holy Spirit then is received now, why is there no one who speaks the tongues of all nations? Because now the Church herself speaks the tongues of all nations. Whoso is not in her, neither does he now receive the Holy Spirit. But if only you love unity, whoever has any thing in her, has it for you. Put away envy, and that which I have is yours. Envy separates, love unites: have it, and you have all things: whereas without it nothing that you can have, will profit you. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which its given to us. But why did our Lord give the Holy Spirit after His resurrection? That the flame of love might mount upwards to our own resurrection: separating us from the world, and devoting us wholly to God. He who said, He that believes in Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, has promised life eternal, free from all fear, and change, and death. Such then being the gifts which He promised to those in whom the Holy Spirit kindled the flame of love, He would not give that Spirit till He was glorified: in order that in His own person He might show us that life, which we hope to attain to in the resurrection.

AUG. If this then is the cause why the Holy Spirit was not yet given; viz. because Jesus was not yet glorified; doubtless, the glorification of Jesus when it took place, was the cause immediately of its being given. The Cataphryges, however, said that they first received the promised Paraclete, and thus strayed from the Catholic faith. The Manichaeans too apply all the promises made respecting the Holy Spirit to Manichaeus, as if there were no Holy Spirit given before.

CHRYS. Or thus; By the glory of Christ, He means the cross. For, whereas we were enemies, and gifts are not made to enemies, but to friends, it was necessary that the victim should be first offered up, and the enmity of the flesh removed; that, being made friends of God, we might be capable of receiving the gift.

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One Response to Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:37-39

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Vigil of Pentecost | stjoeofoblog

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