Golden Chain MT-MK 5627
5627 (Mt 26,27-29)
Remig.: The Lord having given His disciples His Body (p. 895) under the element of bread (marg. note: sub specie panis), well gives the cup of His Blood to them likewise; shewing what joy He has in our salvation, seeing He even shed His Blood for us.
Chrys.: He gave thanks to instruct us after what manner we ought to celebrate this mystery, and shewed also thereby that He came not to His Passion against His will. Also He taught us to bear whatsoever we suffer with thanksgiving, and infused into us good hopes.
For if the type of this sacrifice, to wit, the offering of the paschal lamb, became the deliverance of the people from Egyptian bondage, much more shall the reality thereof be the deliverance of the world.
"And gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it." That they should not be distressed at hearing this, He first drank His own blood to lead them without fear to the communion of these mysteries.
Jerome, Hieron. Ep. 120, ad Hedib: Thus then the Lord Jesus was at once guest and feast, the eater and the things eaten. (ed. note: ap. Grat. do Consecr. d. ii. 87.)
Chrys.: "This is my blood of the new testament;" that is, the new promise, covenant, law; for this blood was promised from of old, and this guarantees the new covenant; for as the Old Testament had the blood of sheep and goats, so the New has the Lord's Blood.
Remig.: For thus it is read, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you." (Ex 24,8)
Chrys.: And in calling it blood, He foreshews His Passion, "My blood ... which shall be shed for many." Also the purpose for which He died, adding, "For the remission of sins;" as much as to say, The blood of the lamb was shed in Egypt for the salvation of the first born of the Israelites, this My Blood is shed for the remission of sins.
Remig.: And it is to be noted, that He says not, For a few, nor, For all, but, "For many;" because He came not to redeem a single nation, but many out of all nations.
Chrys.: Thus saying, He shews that His Passion is a mystery of the salvation of men, by which also He comforts His disciples. And as Moses said, "This shall be an ordinance to thee for ever," (Ex 12,24) so Christ speaks as Luke relates, "This do in remembrance of me." (Lc 22,19)
Remig.: And He taught us to offer not bread only, but wine also, to shew that they who hungered and thirsted after righteousness were to be refreshed by these mysteries.
Gloss., non occ.: As the refreshment of the body is wrought (p. 896) by means of meat and drink, so under the form of meat and drink the Lord has provided for us spiritual refreshment. And it was suitable that for the shewing forth the Lord's Passion this Sacrament should be instituted under both kinds.
For in His Passion He shed His Blood, and so His Blood was separated from His Body. It behoved therefore, that for representation of His Passion, bread and wine should be separately set forth, which are the Sacrament of the Body and Blood. But it should be known, that under both kinds the whole of Christ is contained; under the bread is contained the Blood, together with the Body; under the wine, the Body together With the Blood.
Ambrosiaster, in 1 Cor 11:26 : And for this reason also in do we celebrate under both kinds, because that which we receive avails for the preservation of both body and soul.
Cyprian, Ep. 63, ad Caecil.: The cup of the Lord is not water only, or wine only, but the two are mixed; so the Lord's Body cannot be either flour only, or water only, but the two are combined.
(ed. note: To signify, as S. Cyprian proceeds to say, the union between Christ and His faithful people; "For if one offer wine only, the blood of Christ begins to be without us; if water only, the people begin to be without Christ." This passage of Cyprian is quoted in Gratian. de Cons ii. 7.)
Ambrose, de Sacr., v. 1: If Melchisedech offered bread and wine, what means this mixing of water? Hear the reason. Moses struck the rock, and the rock gave forth abundance of water, but that rock was Christ. Also one of the soldiers with his spear pierced Christ's side, and out of His side flowed water and blood, the water to cleanse, the blood to redeem.
(ed. note: ap. Gratian de Cons. d ii, 83, cf. Paschas de Corp. et Sang. 11)
Remig.: For it should be known, that as John speaks, "The many waters are nations and people." (Ap 17,15) And because we ought always to abide in Christ and Christ in us, wine mixed with water is offered, to shew that the bead and the members, that is, Christ and the Church, are one body; or to shew that neither did Christ suffer without a love for our redemption, nor we can be saved without His Passion.
Chrys.: And having spoken of His Passion and Cross, He proceeds to speak of His resurrection, "I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth, &c." By the "kingdom" He means His resurrection. And He speaks this of His resurrection, because He would then drink with the Apostles, that none might suppose His [p. 897] resurrection a phantasy.
Thus when they would convince any of His resurrection, they said, "We did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." (Ac 10,41] This tells them that they shall see Him after He is risen, and that He will be again with them.
That He says, "New," is plainly to be understood, after a new manner, He no longer having a passible body, or needing food. For after His resurrection He did not eat as needing food, but to evidence the reality of the resurrection. And forasmuch as there are some heretics who use water instead of wine in the sacred mysteries [ed. note: e.g. The Encratites, followers of Saturnius and Tatian in the second century. See Can. Apost. 43 and 45 of Johnson's Translation.], He shews in these words, that when He now gave them these holy mysteries, He gave them wine, and drank the like after He was risen; for He says, "Of this fruit of the vine," but the vine produces wine, and not water.
Jerome: Or otherwise; From carnal things the Lord passes to spiritual. Holy Scripture speaks of the people of Israel as of a vine brought up out of Egypt; (marg. note: Ps 80,8 Jr 2,21) of this vine it is then that the Lord says He will drink no more except in His Father's kingdom. His Father's kingdom I suppose to mean the faith of the believers. When then the Jews shall receive His Father's kingdom, then the Lord will drink of their vine. Observe that He says, "Of my Father," not, Of God, for to name the Father is to name the Son. As much as to say, When they shall have believed on God the Father, and He has brought them to the Son.
Remig.: Or otherwise; "I will not drink of the fruit of this vine," i.e. I will no longer take pleasure in the carnal oblations of the Synagogue, among which the immolation of the Paschal lamb held an eminent place. But the time of My resurrection is at hand, and the day in which exalted in the Father's kingdom, that is, raised in immortal glory, "I shall drink it new with you," i.e. I shall rejoice as with a new joy in the salvation of that people then renewed by the water of baptism.
Aug., Quaest. Ev. i, 43: Or otherwise; When He says, "I shall drink it new with you," He gives us to understand that this is old. Seeing then that He took body of the race of Adam, who is called the old man, and was to give up to death that Body in His Passion, (whence also He gave us His Blood in the sacrament (p. 898) of wine,) what else can we understand by the new wine than the immortality of renewed bodies?
In saying, "I will drink it with you," He promises to them likewise a resurrection of their bodies for the putting on of immortality. "With you" is not to be understood of time, but of a like renewal, as the Apostle speaks, that "we are risen with Christ," the hope of the future bringing a present joy. That which He shall drink new shall also be "of this fruit of the vine," signifies that the very same bodies shall rise after the heavenly renewal, which shall now die after the earthly decay.
Hilary: It seems from this that Judas had not drunk with Him, because He was not to drink hereafter in the kingdom; but He promises to all who partook at this time of this fruit of the vine that they should drink with Him hereafter.
Gloss., non occ.: But in support of the opinion of other saints, that Judas did receive the sacraments from Christ, it is to be said, that the words "with you" may refer to the greater part of them, and not necessarily to the whole.
5630 (Mt 26,30-35)
(p. 899) Origen: When the disciples had eaten the bread of blessing, and drunk of the cup of thanksgiving, the Lord instructs them in return for these things to sing a hymn to the Father. And they go to the Mount of Olives, that they may pass from height to height, because the believer can do nought in the valley.
(ed. note: The passages (Bede and Rabanus, below, and more further on) between the brackets are not found in the earlier Editions of the Catena, in the ED. PR. nor the Bodl. MS. They appear to have been inserted by Nicolai.)
(Bede, in Lc 22,39, Beautifully after the disciples have been filled with the Sacraments of His Body and Blood, and commended to the Father in a hymn of pious intercession, does He lead them into the mount of Olives; thus by type teaching us how we ought, by the working of His Sacraments, and the aid of His intercession, mount up to the higher gifts of the virtues and the graces of the Holy Spirit, with which we are anointed in our hearts.
Raban.: This hymn may be that thanksgiving which in John, Our Lord offers up to the Father, when He lifted up His eyes and prayed for His disciples, and those who should believe through their word. This is that of which the Psalm speaks, "The poor shall eat and be filled, they shall praise the Lord." Ps 22:26)
Chrys.: Let them hear this, who like swine with no thought but of eating rise from the table drunk, when they should have given thanks, and closed with a hymn. Let them hear who will not tarry for the final prayer in the sacred mysteries; for the last prayer of the mysteries represents that hymn. He gave thanks before He delivered the holy mysteries to the disciples, that we also might give thanks; He sung a hymn after He had delivered them, that we also should do the like.
Jerome: After this example of the Saviour, whosoever is filled and is drunken upon the bread and cup of Christ, may praise God and ascend the Mount of Olives, where is refreshment after toil, solace of grief, and knowledge of the true light.
Hilary: Hereby He shews that men confirmed by the powers of the Divine mysteries, are exalted to heavenly glory in a common joy and gladness.
Origen: Suitably also was the mount of mercy chosen whence to declare the offence of His disciples' weakness, by One even then prepared not to reject the disciples who forsook Him, but to receive them when they returned to Him.
Jerome: (p. 900) He foretels what they should suffer, that they might not after it had befallen them despair of salvation; but doing penitence might be set free.
Chrys.: In this we see what the disciples were both before and after the cross. They who could not stand with Christ whilst He was crucified, became after the death of Christ harder than adamant. This flight and fear of the disciples is a demonstration of Christ's death against those who are infected with the heresy of Marcion. If He had been neither bound nor crucified, whence arose the terror of Peter and the rest?
Jerome: And He adds emphatically, "this night," because as "they that are drunken are drunken by night," (1Th 5,7) so they that are scandalized are scandalized by night, and in the dark.
Hilary: The credit of this prediction is supported by the authority of old prophecy; "It is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
Jerome: This is found in Zacharias in words different; it is said to God in the person of the Prophet, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered abroad." (Za 13,7) The good Shepherd is smitten, that He may lay down His life for His sheep, and that of many flocks of divers errors should be made one flock, and one Shepherd.
Chrys.: He produces this prophecy to teach them to attend to the things that are written, and to shew that His crucifixion was according to the counsel of God, and (as He does throughout) that He was not a stranger to the Old Testament, but that it prophesied of Him.
But He did not suffer them to continue in sorrow, but announces glad tidings, saying, "When I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." After His resurrection He does not appear to them immediately from heaven, nor depart into any far country, but in the very same nation in which He was crucified, almost in the very place, giving them thereby assurance, that He who was crucified was the same as He who rose again, thereby to cheer their cast-down countenances. He fixes upon Galilee, that, being delivered from fear of the Jews, they might believe what He spoke to them.
Origen: Also He foretels this to them, that they who now were somewhat dispersed in consequence of the offence, should be after gathered together by Christ rising again, and going before them into Galilee of the Gentiles.
Hilary: But Peter was carried so far by his (p. 901) zeal and affection for Christ, that he regarded neither the weakness of his flesh nor the truth of the Lord's words; as if what He spake must not come to pass, "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."
Chrys.: What sayest thou, Peter? The Prophet says, "The sheep shall be scattered abroad," and Christ has confirmed it, yet thou sayest, Never. When He said, "One of you shall betray me," thou fearedst for thyself, although thou wert not conscious of such a thought; now when He openly affirms, "All ye shall be offended," you deny it. But because when he was relieved of the anxiety he had concerning the betrayal, he grew confident concerning the rest, he therefore says thus, "I will never be offended."
Jerome: It is not wilfulness, not falsehood, but the Apostle's faith, and ardent attachment towards the Lord his Saviour.
Remig.: What the One affirms by His power of foreknowledge, the other denies through love; whence we may take a practical lesson, that in proportion as we are confident of the warmth of our faith, we should be in fear of the weakness of our flesh. Peter seems culpable, first, because he contradicted the Lord's words; secondly, because he set himself before the rest; and thirdly, because he attributed every thing to himself as though he had power to persevere strenuously. His fall then was permitted to heal this in him; not that be was driven to deny, but left to himself, and so convinced of the frailty of his human nature. (ed. note: Remigius has borrowed this from S. Chrysostom, in loc.)
Origen: Whence the other disciples were offended in Jesus, but Peter was not only offended, but what is much more, was suffered to deny Him thrice.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: Perplexity may be occasioned to some by the great difference, not in words only, but in substance, of the speeches in which Peter is forewarned by Our Lord, and which occasion his presumptuous declaration of dying with or for the Lord. Some would oblige us to understand that he thrice expressed his confidence, and the Lord thrice answered him that he would deny Him thrice before cock-crowing; as after His resurrection He thrice asked him if he loved Him, and as often gave him command to feed His sheep.
For what in language or matter has Matthew like the expressions of Peter (p. 902) in either Luke or John? Mark indeed relates it in nearly the same words as Matthew, only marking more precisely in the Lord's words the manner in which it should fall in, "Verily, I say unto thee, that this day, in the night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Mc 14,30)
Whence some inattentive persons think that there is a discrepancy between Mark and the rest. For the sum of Peter's denials is three; if the first then had been after the first cock-crowing, the other three Evangelists must be wrong when they make the Lord say that Peter should deny Him before the cock crow. But, on the other hand, if be had made all three denials before the cock began to crow, it would be superfluous in Mark to say, "Before the cock crow twice." Forasmuch as this threefold denial was begun before the first cock-crow, the three Evangelists have marked, not when it was to be concluded, but how often it was to happen, and when to begin, that is, before cock-crow.
Though indeed if we understand it of Peter's heart we may well say, that the whole denial was complete before the first cock-crow, seeing that before that his mind was seized with that great fear which wrought upon him to the third denial. Much less therefore ought it to disquiet us, how the three-fold denial in three distinct speeches was begun, but not finished before cock-crow. Just as though one should say, Before cock-crow you will write me a letter, in which you will revile me three times; if the letter were begun before any cock-crow, but not finished till after the first, we should not therefore say that the prediction was false.
Origen: But you will ask, whether it were possible that Peter should not have been offended, when once the Saviour had said, "All ye shalt be offended in me." To which one will answer, what is foretold by Jesus must of necessity come to pass; and another will say, that He who at the prayer of Ninevites turned away the wrath He had denounced by Jonas, might also have averted Peter's offence at his entreaty. But his presumptuous confidence, prompted by zeal indeed but not a cautious zeal, became the cause not only of offence but of a thrice repeated denial. And since He confirmed it with the sanction of an oath, some one will say that it was not possible that he should not have denied Him. For Christ would have (p. 903) spoken falsely when he, said, "Verily I say unto thee," if Peter's assertion, "I will not deny thee," had been true.
It seems to me that the other disciples having in view not that which was first said, "All ye shall be offended," but that which was said to Peter, "Verily I say unto thee, &c." made a like promise with Peter because they were not comprehended in the prophecy of denial. "Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
Here again Peter knows not what he says; he could not die with Him who was to die for all mankind, who were all in sin, and had need of some one to die for them, not that they should die for others.
Raban.: Peter understood the Lord to have foretold that he should deny Him under terror of death, and therefore he declares that though death were imminent, nothing could shake him from his faith; and the other Apostles in like manner in the warmth of their zeal, valued not the infliction of death, but human presumption is vain without Divine aid.
Chrys.: (I suppose also that Peter fell into these words through ambition and boastfulness. And they had disputed at supper which of them should be greatest, whence we see that the love of empty glory disturbed them much. And so to deliver him from such passions, Christ withdrew His aid from him. Moreover observe how after the resurrection, taught by his fall, he speaks to Christ more humbly, and does not any more resist His words. All this his fall wrought for him; for before he had attributed all to himself, when he ought rather to have said, I will not deny Thee if Thou succour me with Thy aid. But afterwards he shews that every thing is to be ascribed to God, "Why look ye so earnestly upon us, as though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk?" (Ac 3,12) )
Hence then we learn the great doctrine, that man's wish is not enough, unless he enjoys Divine support.
5636 (Mt 26,36-38)
(p. 904) Remig.: The Evangelist had said a little above, that "when they had sung an hymn they went out to the mount of Olives;" to point out the part of the mount to which they took their way, he now adds, "Then came Jesus with them to a garden called Gethsemane."
Raban.: Luke says, "To the mount of Olives," (Lc 22,39) and John, "Went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden," (Jn 18,1) which is the same as this Gethsemane, and is a place where He prayed at the foot of mount Olivet, where is a garden, and a Church now built. (ed. note: This is probably from Areulfus' account in Adamnantus de Locis Sanctis, c. 23 (ap. Act. Benedict. iv 502) as he quoted him by name, above, p. 95)
Jerome: Gethsemane is interpreted, 'The rich valley;' and there He bade His disciples sit a little while, and wait His return whilst He prayed alone for all.
Origen: For it was not fitting that He should be seized in the place where He had sate and eaten the Passover with His disciples. Also He must first pray, and choose a place pure for prayer.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiii: He says, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder," because the disciples adhered inseparably to Christ; but it was His practice to pray apart from them, therein teaching us to study quiet and retirement for our prayers.
Damascenus, de Fid. Orth., iii, 24: But seeing that prayer is the sending up the understanding to God, or the asking of God things fitting, how did the Lord pray? For His understanding needed not to be lifted up to God, having been once united hypostatically to God the Word. Neither could He need to ask of God things fitting, for the One Christ is both God and Man. But giving in Himself a pattern to us, He taught us to ask of God, and to lift up our minds to Him. As He took on Him our passions, that by triumphing over them Himself, He might give us also the victory over them, so now He prays (p. 905) to open to us the way to that lifting up to God, to fulfil for us all righteousness, to reconcile His Father to us, to pay honour to Him as the First Cause, and to shew that He is not against God.
Raban.: When the Lord prayed in the mountain, He taught us to make supplication for heavenly things; when He prays in the garden, He teaches us to study humility in our prayer. And beautifully, as He draws near His Passion, does He pray in the 'valley of fatness' shewing that through the valley of humility, and the richness of charity, He took upon Him death for our sakes.
The practical instruction which we may also learn from this is, that we should not suffer our heart to dry up from the richness of charity.
Remig.: He had accepted the disciples' faith and the devotedness of their will, but He foresaw that they would be troubled and scattered abroad, and therefore bade them sit still in their places; for to sit belongs to one at ease, but they would be grievously troubled that they should have denied Him.
In what fashion He went forward it describes, "And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and very heavy;" the same to whom He had shewn His glory in the mount.
Hilary: These words, He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, are interpreted by heretics that fear of death assailed the Son of God, being (as they allege) neither begotten from eternity, nor existing in the Father's infinite substance, but produced out of nothing by Him who created all things; and that hence He was liable to anguish of grief, and fear of death. And He who can fear death can also die; and He who can die, though He shall exist after death, yet is not eternal through Him who begot Him in past time.
Had these faith to receive the Gospels, they would know that the Word was in the beginning God, and from the beginning with God, and that the eternity of Him who begets and Him who is begotten is one and the same. But if the assumption of flesh infected with its natural infirmity the virtue of that incorruptible substance, so that it became subject to pain, and shrinking from death, it would also become thereby liable to corruption, and thus its immortality being changed into fear, that which is in it is capable of at some time ceasing to be. But God ever is without measure of time, and such as He is, He continues to (p. 906) be eternally. Nothing then in God can die, nor can God have any fear springing out of Himself.
Jerome, Hieron. non. occ: But we say that passible man was so taken by God the Son, that His Deity remained impassible. Indeed the Son of God suffered, not by imputation but actually, all that Scripture testifies, in respect of that part of Him which could suffer, viz. in respect of the substance that He had taken on Him.
Hilary, de Trin., x, 10: I suppose that there are some who offer here no other cause of His fear than His passion and death. I ask those who think thus, whether it stands with reason that He should have feared to die, who banished from the Apostles all fear of death, and exhorted them to the glory of martyrdom?
How can we suppose Him to have felt pain and grief in the sacrament of death, who rewards with life those who die for Him? And what pangs of death could He fear, who came to death of the free choice of His own power? And if His Passion was to do Him honour, how could the fear of His Passion make Him sorrowful?
Hilary, in loc.: Since then we read that the Lord was sorrowful, let us discover the causes of His agony. He had forewarned them all that they would be offended, and Peter that he would thrice deny his Lord; and taking him and James and John, He began to be sorrowful. Therefore He was not sorrowful till He took them, but all His fear began after He had taken them; so that His agony was not for Himself, but for them whom He had taken.
Jerome: The Lord therefore sorrowed not from fear of suffering, for for this cause He had come that He should suffer, and had rebuked Peter for his fearfulness; (marg. note: Mt 14,40) but for the wretched Judas, for the offence of the rest of the Apostles, for the rejection and reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the overthrow of unhappy Jerusalem.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 23: Or otherwise; All things which have not yet been brought into existence by their Maker have a natural desire of existence, and naturally shun non-existence. God the Word then, having been made Man, had this desire, through which He desired food, drink, and sleep, by which life is supported, and naturally used them, and contrariwise shunned the things that are destructive of life. Hence in the season of His Passion which He endured voluntarily, He had the natural fear and sorrow for death. For there is a natural fear wherewith the soul shrinks (p. 907) from separation from the body, by reason of that close sympathy implanted from the first by the Maker of all things.
Jerome: Our Lord therefore sorrowed to prove the reality of the Man which He had taken upon Him; but that passion might bear no sway in His mind, "He began to be sorrowful" by pro-passion (ed. note: see ch. 5, page 185); for it is one thing to be sorrowful, and another to be very sorrowful.
Remig.: By this place are overthrown the Manichaeans, who said that He took an unreal body; and those also who said that He had not a real soul, but His Divinity in place of a soul. (marg. note: e.g. Apollinaris)
Aug., Lib. 83 Quaest. Q80: We have the narratives of the Evangelists, by which we know that Christ was both born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was seized by the Jews, scourged, crucified, put to death, and buried in a tomb, all which cannot be supposed to have taken place without a body, and not even the maddest will say that these things are to be understood figuratively, when they are told by men who wrote what they remembered to have happened.
These then are witnesses that He had a body, as those affections which cannot be without mind prove Him to have had a mind, and which we read in the accounts of the same Evangelists, that Jesus wondered, was angry, was sorrowful.
Aug., City of God, book xiv, ch. 9: Since then these things are related in the Evangelists, they are not surely false, but as when He willed He became Man, so likewise when He willed He took into His human soul these passions for the sake of adding assurance to the dispensation. We indeed have these passions by reason of the weakness of our human nature; not so the Lord Jesus, whose weakness was of power.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 20: Wherefore the passions of our nature were in Christ both by nature and beyond nature. By nature, because He left His flesh to suffer the things incidental to it; beyond nature, because these natural emotions did not in Him precede the will. For in Christ nothing befel of compulsion, but all was voluntary; with His will He hungered, with His will He feared, or was sorrowful.
Here His sorrow is declared, "Then saith he unto them, My soul is sorrowful even unto death."
Ambrose, in Luc. 23, 43: He is sorrowful, yet not Himself, but His soul; not His Wisdom, not His divine Substance, but His soul, for He took upon Him (p. 908) my soul, and my body.
Jerome: He is sorrowful not because of death, but "unto death," until He has set the Apostles free by His Passion. Let those who imagine Jesus to have taken an irrational soul, say how it is that He is thus sorrowful, and knows the season of His sorrow, for though the brute animals have sorrow, yet they know neither the causes of it, nor the time for which it must endure.
Origen: Or otherwise; "My soul is sorrowful even unto death;" as much as to say, Sorrow is begun in me, but not to endure for ever, but only till the hour of death; that when I shall die for sin, I shall die also to all sorrow, whose beginnings only are in me. "Tarry ye here, and watch with me;" as much as to say, The rest I bade sit yonder as weak, removing them from this struggle; but you I have brought hither as being stronger, that ye may toil with me in watching and prayer. But abide you here, that every man may stay in his own rank and station; since all grace, however great, has its superior.
Jerome: Or the sleep which He would have them forego is not bodily rest, for which at this critical time there was no room, but mental torpor, the sleep of unbelief.
5639 (Mt 26,39-44)
(p. 909) Origen: He took with Him the self-confident Peter, and the others, that they might see Him falling on His face and praying, and might learn not to think great things, but little things of themselves, and not to be hasty in promising, but careful in prayer. And therefore, "He went forward a little," not to go far from them, but that He might be near them in His prayer.
Also, He who had said above, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart," now commendably humbling Himself, falls on His face. But He shews His devotion in His prayer, and as beloved and well-pleasing to His Father, He adds, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," teaching us that we should pray, not that our own will, but that God's will, should be done.
And as He began to have fear and sorrow, He prays accordingly that the cup of His Passion may pass from Him, yet not as He wills, but as His Father wills; wills, that is, not according to His Divine and impassible Substance, but according to His human and weak nature. For in taking upon Him the nature of human flesh, He fulfilled all the properties thereof, that it might be seen that He had flesh not in appearance only, but in reality.
The believer indeed must in the first instance be loth to incur pain, seeing it leads to death, and he is a man of flesh; but if it be God's will, he acquiesces because he is a believer. For as we ought not to be too confident that we may not seem to make a boast of our own strength; so neither ought we to be distrustful, lest we should seem to charge God our helper with weakness.
It is to be observed that Mark and Luke write the same, but John does not introduce this prayer of Jesus', that this cup may pass from Him, because the first three are rather occupied about Him, according to His human nature, John according to His divine.
Otherwise; Jesus makes this petition, because He sees what the Jews will suffer for requiring His death.
Jerome: Whence He says emphatically, "This cup," that is, of this people of the Jews, who, if they shall put Me to death, can have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing they have the Law and the Prophets, (p. 910) who speak of Me.
Origen: Then again considering the benefit that would accrue to the whole world from His Passion, He says, "But not as I will, but as thou wilt;" i.e. If it be possible for all these benefits which shall result from My Passion to be procured without it, let it pass from Me, and both the world be saved, and the Jews not be condemned in putting Me to death.
But if the salvation of many cannot be procured without the destruction of a few, saving Thy justice, let it not pass away. Scripture, in many places, speaks of passion as a cup that is drained; and it is drained by him, who in testimony suffers whatever is inflicted upon him. He sheds it, on the contrary, who denies in order to avoid suffering.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: And that none might think that He limited His Father's power, He said not, "If thou canst do it," but "If it may be," or, "If it be possible;" as much as to say, If thou wilt. For whatever God wills can be done, as Luke expresses more plainly; for he says not, "If it be possible," but "If thou wilt."
Hilary: Otherwise; He says not, Let this cup pass away from Me, for that would be the speech of one who feared it; but He prays that it may pass not so as that He should be passed over, but that when it has passed from Him, it may go to another. His whole fear then is for those who were to suffer, and therefore He prays for those who were to suffer after Him, saying, "Let this cup pass from me," i.e. as it is drunk by Me, so let it be drunk by these, without mistrust, without sense of pain, without fear of death. He says, "If it be possible," because flesh and blood shrink from these things, and it is hard for human bodies not to sink beneath their infliction. That He says, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," He would fain indeed that they should not suffer, lest their faith should fail in their sufferings, if indeed we might attain to the glory of our joint inheritance with Him without the hardship of sharing in His Passion.
He says, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt," because it is the Father's will that strength to drink of the cup should pass from Him to them, that the Devil might be vanquished not so much by Christ as by His disciples also.
Aug., in Ps. 32, enar. 2: Christ thus as man shews a certain private human will, in which He who is our head figures both His own will and ours when He says, "Let it pass from me." For this was His human will (p. 911) choosing something as apart for Himself. But because as man He would be righteous and guide Himself by God's will, He adds, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt;" as much as to say to us, Man, behold thyself in Me, that thou canst will somewhat apart of thyself, and though God's will is other, this is permitted to human frailty.
Leo, Serm., 58, 5: This speech of the Head is the health of the whole body, this saying is instruction to the faithful, animates the confessor, crowns the martyr. For who could vanquish the hatred of the world, or the whirlwind of temptations, or the terrors of the persecutors, if Christ did not in all and for all say to the Father, "Thy will be done."
Let all the sons of the Church then utter this prayer, that when the pressure of some mighty temptation lies upon them, they may embrace endurance of the suffering, disregarding its terrors.
Origen: And though Jesus went but a "little forward," they could not watch one hour in His absence; let us therefore pray that Jesus may never depart even a little from us.
Chrys.: He "finds them sleeping," both because it was a late hour of the night, and their eyes were heavy with sorrow.
Hilary: When then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, He rebukes Peter, "Could ye not watch one hour with me?" He addresses Peter rather than the rest, because be had most loudly boasted that he would not be offended.
Chrys.: But as they had all said the same, He charges them all with weakness; they had chosen to die with Christ, and yet could not even watch with Him.
Origen: Finding them thus sleeping, He rouses them with a word to hearken, and commands them to watch; "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation;" that first we should watch, and so watching pray. He watches who does good works, and is careful that He does not run into any dark doctrine, for so the prayer of the watchful is heard.
Jerome: It is impossible that the human mind should not be tempted, therefore He says not "Watch and pray" that ye be not tempted, but "that ye enter not into temptation," that is, that temptation vanquish you not.
Hilary: And why He thus encouraged them to pray that they might not enter into temptation, He adds, "For the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;" this He says not of Himself, but addresses them.
Jerome: This is (p. 912) against those rash persons who think that whatever they believe they can perform. The more confident we are of our zeal, the more mistrustful should we be of the frailty of the flesh.
Origen: Here it should be enquired, whether as all men's flesh is weak, so all men's spirit is willing, or whether only that of the saints; and whether in unbelievers the spirit is not also dull, as the flesh is weak. In another sense the flesh of those only is weak whose spirit is willing, and who with their willing spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh. These then He would have watch and pray that they should not enter into temptation, for the more spiritual any one may be, the more careful should he be that his goodness should not suffer a great fall.
Remig.: Otherwise; In these words He shews that He took real flesh of the Virgin, and had a real soul, saying that His spirit is willing to suffer, but His flesh weak in fearing the pain of Passion.
Origen: There were, I conclude, two ways in which this cup of Passion might pass from the Lord. If He should drink it, it would pass away from Him, and afterwards from the whole race of mankind also; if He should not drink it, it would perhaps pass from Him, but from men it would not pass. He would fain therefore that it should so pass from Him as that He should not at all taste its bitterness, yet only if it were possible, saving the righteousness of God. If it were not possible, He was rather willing to drink it, that so it might pass from Him, and from the whole race of mankind rather than against His Father's will shun the drinking thereof.
Chrys.: That He prays for this a second and a third time, comes of the feelings belonging to human frailty, through which also He feared death, thus giving assurance that He was truly made man. For in Scripture when any thing is repeated a second and third time, that is the greatest proof of its truth and reality; as, for example, when Joseph says to Pharaoh, "And for that thou sawedst it twice, it is proof of the thing being established by God." (Gn 41,32)
Jerome: Or otherwise; He prays a second time that if Nineveh, or the Gentile world, cannot be saved unless the gourd, i.e. the Jews, be withered, His Father's will may be done, which is not contrary to the Son's will, who Himself speaks by the Prophet, "I am content to do thy will, 0 God." (Ps 40,8) (p. 913)
Hilary: Otherwise, He bare in His own body all the infirmities of us His disciples who should suffer, and nailed to His cross all wherein we are distressed; and therefore that cup cannot pass from Him, unless He drink it, because we cannot suffer, except by His passion.
Jerome: Christ singly prays for all,as He singly suffers for all. "Their eyes were heavy," i.e. an oppression and stupefaction came on as their denial drew near.
Origen: And I suppose that the eyes of their body were not so much affected as the eyes of their mind, because the Spirit was not yet given them. Wherefore He does not rebuke them, but goes again and prays, teaching us that we should not faint but should persevere in prayer, until we obtain what we have begun to ask.
Jerome: He prayed the third time, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established.
Raban: Or, The Lord prayed thrice, to teach us to pray for pardon of sins past, defence against present evil, and provision against future perils, and that we should address every prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that our spirit, soul, and body should be kept in safety.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 47: Nor is that an absurd interpretation which makes Our Lord pray thrice because of the threefold temptation of His Passion. To the temptation of curiosity is opposed the fear of death; for as the one is a yearning for the knowledge of things, so the other is the fear of losing such knowledge. To the desire of honour or applause is opposed the dread of disgrace and insult. To the desire of pleasure is opposed the fear of pain.
Remig.: Or, He prays thrice for the Apostles, and for Peter in particular, who was to deny Him thrice.
Golden Chain MT-MK 5627