Golden Chain 13227
13227 Jn 12,27-33
CHRYS. To our Lord's exhortation to His disciples to endurance, they might have replied that it was easy for Him, Who was out of the reach of human pain, to talk philosophically about death, and to recommend others to bear what He is in no danger of having to bear Himself. So He lets them see that He is Himself in an agony, but that He does not intend to decline death, merely for the sake of relieving Himself: Now is My soul troubled.
AUG. I hear Him say, He that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal; and I am ravished, I despise the world; the whole of this life, however long, is but a vapor in My sight; all temporal things are vile, in comparison with eternal. And again I hear Him say, Now is My soul troubled. You bid my soul follow You; but I see your soul troubled.
What foundation shall I seek, if the rock gives way? Lord, I acknowledge your mercy. you of your love was of your own will troubled, to console those who are troubled through the infirmity of nature; that the members of your body perish not in despair. The Head took upon Himself the affections of His members. He was not troubled by anything, but, as was said above, He troubled Himself.
CHRYS. As He draws near to the Cross, His human nature appears, a nature that did not wish to die, but cleaved to this present life. He shows that He is not quite without human feelings. For the desire of this present life is not necessarily wrong, any more than hunger. Christ had a body free from sin, but not from natural infirmities. But these attach solely to the dispensation of His humanity, not to His divinity.
AUG. Lastly, let the man who would follow Him, hear at what hour he should follow. A fearful hour has perhaps come: a choice is offered, either to do wrong, or suffer: the weak soul is troubled. Hear our Lord. What shall I say?
BEDE. i.e. What but something to confirm My followers?
Father, save Me from this hour.
AUG. He teaches you Whom you should call on, whose will prefer to your own. Let Him not seem to fall from His greatness, because He wishes you to rise from your meanness. He took upon Him man's infirmity, that He might teach the afflicted to say, Not what I will, but what you will.
Wherefore He adds, But for this cause came I to this hour.
Father, glorify your name: i.e. in My passion and resurrection.
CHRYS. As if He said, I cannot say why I should ask to be saved from it; For this cause came I to this hour. However you may be troubled and dejected at the thought of dying, do not run away from death. I am troubled, yet I ask not to be spared.
I do not say, Save Me from this hour, but the contrary, Glorify your name. To die for the truth was to glorify God, as the event showed; for after His crucifixion the whole world was to be converted to the knowledge and worship of God, both the Father and the Son. But this He is silent about.
Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
GREG. When God speaks audibly, as He does here, but no visible appearance is seen, He speaks through the medium of a rational creature: i.e. by the voice of an Angel.
AUG. I have glorified it, i.e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i.e. when you shall rise from the dead. Or, I have gloried it, when you were born of a Virgin, did work miracles, was made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when you shall rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth.
The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered.
CHRYS. The voice though loud and distinct, soon passed off from their gross, carnal, and sluggish minds; only the sound remaining. Others perceived an articulate voice, but did not catch what it said: Others said, An Angel spoke to Him.
Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.
AUG. i.e. It did not come to tell Him what He knew already, but them what they ought to know. And as that voice did not come for His sake, but for theirs, so His soul was not troubled for His sake, but for theirs.
CHRYS. The voice of the Father proved what they were so fond of denying, that He was from God. For He must be from God, if He was glorified by God. It was not that He needed encouragement of such a voice Himself, but He condescended to receive it for the sake of those who were by.
Now is the judgment of this world: this fits on to the preceding, as strewing the mode of His being glorified.
AUG. The judgment at the end of the world will be of eternal rewards and punishments. But there is another judgment, not of condemnation, but of selection, which is the one meant here; the selection of His own redeemed, and their deliverance from the power of the devil: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
The devil is not called the prince of this world, in the sense of being Lord over heaven and earth; God forbid. The world here stands for the wicked dispersed over all the world. In this sense the devil is the prince of the world, i.e. of all the wicked men who live in the world. The world also sometimes stands for the good dispersed throughout the world: God, was in Christ reconciling the world, to Himself (2Co 5,19). These are they from whose, hearts the prince of this world shall be cast out.
Our Lord foresaw that after His passion and glorifying, great nations all over the world would be converted, in whom the devil was then, but from whose hearts, on their truly renouncing him, he would be cast out. But was he not cast out of the hearts of the righteous men of old?
Why is it, Now shall be cast out? Because that which once took place in a very few persons, was now to take place in whole nations. What then, does the devil not tempt at all the minds of believers? Yea, he never ceases to tempt them. But it is one thing to reign within, another to lay siege from without.
CHRYS. What kind of judgment it is by which the devil is cast out, I will explain by an example. A man demands payment from his debtors, beats them, and sends them to prison. He treats with the same insolence one who owes him nothing. The latter will take vengeance both for himself and the others too. This Christ does. He revenges what He has suffered at the devil's hands, and with Himself He revenges us too.
But that none may say, How will he be cast out, if he overcome you? He adds, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me. How can He be overcome, who draws others to Him? This is more than saying, I shall rise again. Had He said this, it would not have proved that He would draw all things to Him; but, I shall draw, includes the resurrection, and this besides.
AUG. What is this all that He draws, but that from which the devil is cast out? He does not say, All men, but, All things; for all men have not faith. He does not mean then all mankind, but the whole of a man, i.e. spirit, soul, and body; by which respectively we understand, and live, and are visible. Or, if all means all men, it means those who are predestined to salvation: or all kinds of men, all varieties of character, excepting in the article of sin.
CHRYS. Why then did He say above, that the Father drew men? Because the Father draws, by the Son who draws. I shall draw, He says, as if men were in the grasp of some tyrant, from which they could not extricate themselves.
AUG. If I be lifted up from the earth, He says, i.e. when I shall be lifted up. He does not doubt that the work will be accomplished which He came to do. By His being lifted up, He means His passion on the cross, as the Evangelist adds: This He said, signifying by what death He should die.
13234 Jn 12,34-36
AUG. The Jews, when they understood that our Lord spoke of His own death, asked how that could be: The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abides for ever: and how say you, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?
Though our Lord did not call Himself the Son of man here, they remembered that He often called Himself so; as He had just before: The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. They remember this, and ask, If Christ abides forever, how will He be lifted up from the earth; i.e. how will He die upon the cross?
CHRYS Hence we see, that they understood many of the things that He spoke in parables. As He had talked about death a little time before, they saw now what was meant by His being lifted up.
AUG Or they interpreted the word by their own intended act. It was not wisdom imparted, but conscience disturbed, which disclosed its meaning to them.
CHRYS. And see how maliciously they put the question. They do not say, We have heard out of the law, that Christ cloth not suffer; for in many places of Scripture His passion and resurrection are spoken of together, but, abides forever. And yet His immortality was not inconsistent with the fact of His suffering. They thought this proved however that He was not Christ.
Then they ask, Who is this Son of man? another malicious question; as if to say, Do not charge us with putting this question out of hatred to you; for we simply ask for information.
Christ shows them in His answer that His passion does not prevent Him from abiding for ever: Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you: as if His death were but going away for a time, as the sun's light only sets to rise again.
AUG. Yet a little while is the light with you. Hence it is that you understand that Christ abides forever. Wherefore walk while you have the light, approach, understand the whole, that Christ will both die, and live for ever: do this while you have the light.
CHRYS. He does not mean only the time before His crucifixion, but the whole of their lives. For many believed on Him after His crucifixion. Lest darkness come upon you.
AUG. i.e. if you so believe in the eternity of Christ, as to deny His humiliation and death.
For he that walks in darkness, knows not where he goes.
CHRYS. What things do the Jews now, and know not what they do; thinking, like men in the dark, that they are going the right road, while they are taking directly the wrong one.
Wherefore He adds, While you have the light, believe in the light.
AUG. i.e. While you have any truth, believe in the truth, that you may be born again of the truth: That you may be the children of the light.
CHRYS. i.e. My children. In the beginning of the Gospel it is said, Born of God, i.e. of the Father. But here He Himself is the Begetter. The same act is the act both of Father and Son.
These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.
AUG. Not from those which began to believe in and love Him, but from those who saw and envied Him. When He hid Himself, He consulted our weakness, He did not derogate from His own power.
CHRYS. But why did He hide Himself, when they neither took up stones to cast at Him, nor blasphemed? Because He saw into their hearts, and knew the fury they were in; and therefore did not wait till they broke out into act, but retired to give their envy time to subside.
13237 Jn 12,37-43
CHRYS. And thus the Evangelist tacitly explains it, when he adds, But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him.
THEOPHYL. He means the miracles related above. It was no small wickedness to disbelieve against such miracles as those.
CHRYS. But why then did Christ come? Did He not know that they would not believe in Him? Yes: the Prophets had prohibited this very unbelief, and He came that it might be made manifest, to their confusion and condemnation; That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which He spoke, Lord, who has believed, our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
ALCUIN. Who, i.e. So very few believed.
AUG. It is evident here that the arm of the Lord is the Son of God Himself. Not that the Father has a human fleshly form; He is called the arm of the Lord, because all things v ere made by Him. If a man had power of such a kind, as that without any motion of his body, what he said was forthwith done, the word of that man would be his arm. Here is no ground to justify, however, the error of those who say that the Godhead is one Person only, because the Son is the arm of the Father, and a man and his arm are not two persons, but one.
These men do not understand, that the commonest things require to be explained often by applying language to them taken from other things in which there happens to be a likeness, [and that, when we are upon things incomprehensible, and which cannot be described as they actually are, this is much more necessary.
Thus one man calls another man, whom he makes great use of, his arm; and talks of having lost his arm, of having his arm taken away from him.] But some mutter, and ask, What fault was it of the Jews, if it was necessary that the sayings of Esaias should be fulfilled? We answer, that God, foreseeing the future, predicted by the Prophet the unbelief of the Jews, but did not cause it. God does not compel men to sin, because He knows they will sin. He foreknows their sins, not His own. The Jews committed the Sin, which He who knows all things foretold they would commit.
CHRYS. That the saying of Isaiah might be fulfilled: that here is expressive not of the cause, but of the event. They did not disbelieve because Esaias said they would; but because they would disbelieve, Esaias said they would.
AUG. But what follows involved a deeper question: Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and 1 should heal them. That they should not believe; but if so, what sin is there in a man doing what he cannot help doing?
And what is a graver point still, the cause is assigned to God; since He it is who blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. This is not said to be the devil's doing, but God's. Yet if any ask why they could not believe, I answer, because they would not. For as it is to the praise of the Divine will that God cannot deny Himself, so is it the fault of the human will that they could not believe.
CHRYS. This is a common form of speech among ourselves. I cannot love such a man, meaning by this necessity only a vehement will. The Evangelist says could not, to show that it was impossible that the Prophet should lie, not that it was impossible that they should believe.
AUG. But the Prophet, you say, mentions another cause, not their will; viz. that God had blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. But I answer, that they well deserved this. For God hardens and blinds a man, by forsaking and not supporting him; and this He may by a secret sentence, by an unjust one He cannot.
CHRYS. For He does not leave us, except we wish Him, as He said in Hosea, Seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. Whereby it is plain that we begin to forsake first, and are the cause of our own perdition. For as it is not the fault of the sun, that it hurts weak eyes, so neither is God to blame for punishing those who do not attend to His words.
AUG And be converted, and I should heal them. Is not to be understood here, from the beginning of the sentence - that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor be converted; conversion being the free gift of God? or, shall we suppose that a heavenly remedy is meant; whereby those who wished to establish their own righteousness, were so far deserted and blinded, as to stumble on the stumbling stone, till, with confusion of face, they humbled themselves, es, and sought not their own righteousness which puffs up the proud, but God's righteousness, which justifies the ungodly.
For many of those who put Christ to death, were afterward troubled with a sense of their guilt; which led to their believing in Him. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. He saw Him not really, but figuratively, in prophetic vision. Be not deceived by those who say that the Father is invisible, the Son visible, making the Son a creature. For in the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, the Son also is invisible; though He took upon Him the form of a servant, that He might be seen by men. Before His incarnation too, He made Himself visible at times to human eyes; but visible through the medium of created matter, not visible as He is.
CHRYS. His glory means the vision of Him sitting on His lofty throne: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
ALCUIN. Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. The praise of God is publicly to confess Christ: the praise of men is to glory in earthly things.
AUG. As their faith grew, their love of human praise grew still more, and outstripped it.
13244 Jn 12,44-50
CHRYS. Because the love of human praise prevented the chief rulers from believing, Jesus cried and said, He that believes in Me, believes not on Me, but on Him that sent Me: as if to say, Why are you afraid to believe in Me? Your faith through Me passes to God.
AUG. He signifies to them that He is more than He appears to be, (for to men He appeared but a man; His Godhead was hid.) Such as the Father is, such am I in nature and in dignity; He that believes in Me, believes not in Me, i.e. on that which He sees, but in Him that sent Me, i.e. on the Father. [He that believes in the Father must believe in Him as the Father, i.e. must believe that He has a Son; and reversibly, he who believes in the Son thereby believes in the Father.] And again, if anyone thinks that God has sons by grace, but not a Son equal and coeternal with Himself, neither does he believe in the Father, who sent the Son; because what he believes in is not the Father who sent Him.
And to show that He is not the Son, in the sense of one out of many, a son by grace, but the Only Son equal to the Father, He adds And He that sees Me, sees Him that sent Me; so little difference is there between Me and Him that sent Me, that He that sees Me, sees Him. Our Lord sent His Apostles, yet none of them dared to say, He that believes in Me. We believe an Apostle, but we do not believe in an Apostle. Whereas the Only Begotten says, He that believes in Me, does not believe in Me, but on Him that sent Me. Wherein He does not withdraw the believer's faith from Himself, but gives him a higher object than the form of a servant, for that faith.
CHRYS. He that believes on Me, believes not in Me, but on Him that sent Me: as if He said, He that takes water from a stream, takes the water not of the stream, but of the fountain. Then to show that it is not possible to believe on the Father, if we do not believe in Him, He says, He that sees Me, sees Him that sent Me. What then; Is God a body? By no means; seeing here is the mind's vision.
What follows still further shows His union with the Father. I am come a light into the world. This is what the Father is called in many places.
He calls Himself the light, because he delivers from error, and disperses the darkness of the understanding; that whosoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
AUG. Whereby it is evident, that He found all in darkness. In which darkness if they wish not to remain, they must believe in the light which is come into the world. He says in one place to His disciples, you are the light of the world; but He did not say to them, you are come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on you should not abide in darkness. All saints are lights, but they are so by faith, because they are enlightened by Him, from Whom to withdraw is darkness.
CHRYS. And to show that He does not let His despisers go unpunished, from want of power, He adds, And if any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not.
AUG i.e. I judge him not now. He does not say, I judge him not at I the last day, for that would be contrary to the sentence above, The Father has committed all judgment to the Son. And the reason follows, why He does not judge now; For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. Now is the time of mercy afterward will be the time of judgment.
CHRYS. But that this might not serve to encourage sloth, He warns men of a terrible judgment coming; He that rejects Me, and hears not My words, has one that judges him.
AUG. Mean time they waited to know who this one was; so He proceeds: The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day. He makes it sufficiently clear that he Himself will judge at the last day. For the word that He speaks, is Himself. He speaks Himself, announces Himself. We gather too from these words that those who have not heard, will be judged differently from those who have heard and despised.
AUG. I judge him not; the word that I have spoken shall judge him: for I have not spoken of Myself. The word which the Son speaks judges, because the Son did not speak of Himself: for I have not spoken of Myself: i.e. I was not born of Myself.
AUG. I ask then how we shall understand this, I will not judge, but the word which I have spoken will judge? Yet He Himself is the Word of the Father which speaks. Is it thus? I will not judge by My human power, as the Son of man, but as the word of God, because I am the Son of God.
CHRYS. Or, I judge him not, i.e. I am not the cause of his destruction, but he is himself, by despising my words. The words that I have just said, shall be his accusers, and deprive him of all excuse; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him.
And what word? This, viz. that I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent Me gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. All these things were said on their account, that they might have no excuse.
AUG. When the Father gave the Son a commandment, He did not give Him what He had not: for in the Wisdom of the Father, i.e. in the Word, are all the commandments of the Father. The commandment is said to be given, because it is not from him to whom it is said to be given. But to give the Son that which He never was without, is the same as to beget the Son who never was not.
THEOPHYL. Since the Son is the Word of the Father, and reveals completely what is in the mind of the Father, He says He receives a commandment what He should say, and what He should speak: just as our word, if we say what we think, brings out what is in our minds.
And 1 know that His commandment is life everlasting.
AUG. If life everlasting is the Son Himself, and the commandment is life everlasting, what is this but saying, I am the commandment of the Father? And in the same way in the following; Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said to Me, so I speak, we must not understand, said to Me, as if words were spoken to the Only Word.
The Father spoke to the Son, as He gave life to the Son; not that the Son knew not, or had not, but that He was the Son. What is meant by, as He said to Me, so I speak, but that I am the Word who speaks. The Father is true, the Son is truth: the True, begat the Truth. What then could He say to the Truth, if the Truth was perfect from the beginning, and no new truth could be added to Him? That He spoke to the Truth then, means that He begat the Truth.
13301 Jn 13,1-5
THEOPHYL. Our Lord being about to depart out of this life, shows His great care for His disciples: Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.
BEDE. The Jews had many feasts, but the principal one was the passover; and therefore it is particularly said, Before the feast of the passover.
AUG. Pascha is not a Greek word, as some think, but Hebrew: though there is remarkable agreement of the two languages in it. The Greek word to suffer being pascha has been thought to mean passion, as being derived from the above word. But in Hebrew, pascha is a passing over; the feast deriving its name from the passing, of the people of God over the Red Sea into Egypt. All was now to take place in reality, of which that passover was the type.
Christ was led as a lamb to the slaughter; whose blood sprinkled upon our doorposts, i.e. whose sign of the cross marked on our foreheads, delivers us from the dominion of this world, as from Egyptian bondage. And we perform a most wholesome journey or passover, when we pass over from the devil to Christ, from this unstable world to His sure kingdom. In this way the Evangelist seems to interpret the word: When Jesus knew that His hour was come when He should pass over out of this world to the Father. This is the pascha, this the passing over.
CHRYS. He did not know then for the first time: He had known long before. By His departure He means His death, Being so near leaving His disciples, He shows the more love for them: Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end; i.e. He left nothing undone which one who greatly loved should do. He reserved this for the last, that their love might be increased by it, and to prepare them by such consolation for the trials that were coming.
His own He calls them, in the sense of intimacy. The word was used in another sense in the beginning of the Gospel: His own received Him not. It follows, which were in the world: for those were dead who were His own, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were not in the world. These then, His own which were in the world, He loved all along, and at the last manifested His love in completeness: He loved them to the end.
AUG. He loved them to the end, i.e. that they themselves too might pass out of this world, by love, to Him their head. For what is to the end, but to Christ? For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes (Rm 10,4). But these words may be understood after a human sort, to mean that Christ loved His own up to His death.
But God forbid that He should end His love by death, who is not ended by death: except indeed we understand it thus: He loved His own to death: i.e. His love for them led Him to death. And supper having been made, i.e. having been got ready, and laid on the table before them; not having been consumed and finished: for it was during supper that He rose, and washed His disciples' feet; as after this He sat at table again, and gave the sop to the traitor.
What follows: The devil having now put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, refers to a secret suggestion, not made to the ear, but to the mind; the suggestions of the devil being part of our own thoughts. Judas then had already conceived, through diabolical instigation, the intention of betraying his Master.
CHRYS. The Evangelist inserts this as if in astonishment: our Lord being about to wash the feet of the very person who had resolved to betray Him. It shows the great wickedness too of the traitor, that even the partaking of the same table, which is a check to the worst of men, did not stop him.
AUG. The Evangelist being about to relate so great an instance of our Lord's humility, reminds us first of His lofty nature: knowing that the Father had given all things into His hand, not excepting the traitor.
GREG. He knew that He had even His persecutors in His hand that He might convert them from malice to love of Him.
ORIGEN The Father has given all things into His hands; i.e. into His power; for His hands hold all things; or to Him, for His work; My Father works hitherto, and I work (Jn 5,17).
CHRYS. Had given all things into His hand. What is given Him is the salvation of the believers. Think not of this giving up in a human way. It signifies His honor for, and agreement with, the Father. For as the Father has given up all things to Him, so has He given up all things to the Father. When He shall hare delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father (1Co 15,24).
AUG. Knowing too, that He was come from God, and went to God; not that He left God when He came, or will leave us when He returns.
THEOPHYL. The Father having given up all things into His hands, i.e. having given up to Him the salvation of the faithful, He deemed it right to show them all things that pertained to their salvation; and gave them a lesson of humility, by washing His disciples' feet. Though knowing that He was from God, and went to God, He thought it in no way took from His glory, to wash His disciples' feet; thus proving that He did not usurp His greatness. For usurpers do not condescend, for fear of losing what they have irregularly got.
AUG. Since the Father had given all things into His hands, He washed not His disciples' hands indeed, but their feet; and since He knew that He came from God, and went to God, He performed the work not of God and Lord, but of a man and servant.
CHRYS. It was a thing worthy of Him, Who came from God, and went to God, to trample upon all pride; He rises from supper, and laid aside His garment, and took a towel, and, girded Himself.; After that He pours water into a basin, and began to wash His disciples' feet, anal to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. See what humility He shows, not only in washing their feet, but in other things. For it was not before, but after they had sat down, that He rose; and He not only washed them, but laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel, and filled a basin; He did not order others to do all this, but did it Himself, teaching us that we should be willing and ready to do such things.
ORIGEN. Mystically, dinner is the first meal, taken early in the spiritual day, and adapted to those who have just entered upon this day. Supper is the last meal, and is set before those who are farther advanced. According to another sense, dinner is the understanding of the Old Testament, the supper the understanding the mysteries hid in the New.
Yet even they who sup with Jesus, who partake of the final meal, need a certain washing, not indeed of the top parts of their body, i.e. the soul, but its lower parts and extremities, which cleave necessarily to earth. It is, And began to wash; for He did not finish His washing till afterwards. The feet of the Apostles were defiled now: All of you shall be offended because of Me this night (Mt 26,31). But afterwards He cleansed them, so that they needed no more cleansing.
AUG. He laid aside His garments, when, being in the form of God, He emptied Himself; He girded Himself with a towel, took upon Him the form of a servant;
He poured water into a basin, out of which He washed His disciples' feet. He shed His blood on the earth, with which He washed away the filth of their Sins; He wiped them with the towel wherewith He was girded; with the flesh wherewith He was clothed, He established the steps of the Evangelists; He laid aside His garments, to gird Himself with the towel; that He might take upon Him the form of a servant, He emptied Himself, not laying aside indeed what He had, but assuming what He had not. Before He was crucified, He was stripped of His garments, and when dead was wound up in linen clothes: the whole bole of His passion is our cleansing.
13306 Jn 13,6-11
ORIGEN. As a physician, who has many sick under his care, begins with those who want his attention most, so Christ, in washing His disciples' feet, begins with the most unclean, and so comes at last to Peter, who needed the washing less than any: Then comes He to Simon Peter. Peter resisted being washed, perhaps because his feet were nearly clean: and Peter said to Him, Lord, do you wash my feet?
AUG. What is the meaning of you and my feet? It is better to think than speak of this; lest one should fail in explaining adequately what might have been rightly conceived.
CHRYS. Though Peter was the first of the Apostles, yet it is possible that the traitor petulantly placed himself above him; and that this may be the reason why our Lord first began to wash, and then comes to Peter.
THEOPHYL. It is plain that our Lord did not wash Peter first, but none other of the disciples would have attempted to be washed before him.
CHRYS Some one will ask why none of them prevented Him, except Peter, this being a sign not of want of love, but of reverence. The reason seems to be, that He washed the traitor first, and came next to Peter, and that the other disciples were checked by the reply to Peter. Any of the rest would have said what Peter did, had his turn come first.
ORIGEN. Or thus: All the rest put out their feet, certain that so great a one would not want to wash them without reason: but Peter, looking only to the thing itself, and seeing nothing beyond it, refused out of reverence to let his feet be washed. He often appears in Scripture as hasty in putting forth his own ideas of what is right and expedient.
AUG. Or thus: We must not suppose that Peter was afraid and refused, when the others had willingly and gladly submitted to the washing. Our Lord did not go through the others first, and to the first of the Apostles afterwards; (for who is ignorant that the most blessed Peter was the first of all the Apostles?) but began with him: and Peter being the first to whom He came, was afraid; as indeed any of the others would have been.
Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter.
CHRYS. i.e. How useful a lesson of humility it teaches you, and how, directly this virtue leads to God.
ORIGEN. Or our Lord insinuates that this is a mystery. By washing and wiping, He made beautiful the feet of those who were to preach glad tidings
(Is 52,7), and to walk on that way of which He tells them, I am the way. Jesus laid aside His garments that He might make their clean feet still cleaner, or that He might receive the uncleanness of their feet to His own body, by the towel with which alone He was girded: for He has borne our griefs. Observe too, He chose for washing His disciples' feet the very time that the devil had put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him, and the dispensation for mankind was about to take place. Before this the time was not come for washing their feet. And who would have washed their feet in the interval between this and the Passion? During the Passion, there was no other Jesus to do it. And after it the Holy Ghost came upon them, by which time they should already have had their feet washed. This mystery, our Lord says to Peter, is too great for you to understand now, but you shall know it hereafter when you are enlightened.
AUG. He did not refuse, because our Lord's act was above his understanding, but he could not bear to see Him bending at his feet: Peter says to Him, you shall not wash my feet; i.e. I will never suffer it: not for ever is the same as never.
ORIGEN. This is an instance, that a man may say a thing with a good intention, and yet ignorantly to His hurt. Peter, ignorant of our Lord's deep meaning, at first, as if in doubt, says mildly, Lord, do you wash my feet? and then, you shall never wash my feet; which was in reality to cut himself off from having a part with Jesus. Whence he not only blames our Lord for washing the disciples' feet, but also his fellow-disciples for giving their feet to be washed. As Peter then did not see his own good our Lord did not allow His wish to be fulfilled: Jesus answered and said to him, If I wash you not, you have no part with Me.
AUG. If I wash you not, He says, though it was only his feet that He was going to wash, just as we say, you tread on me; though it is only our foot that is trodden on.
ORIGEN. Let those who refuse to allegorize these and like passages, say how it is probable that he who out of reverence for Jesus said, you shall never wash my feet, would have had no part with the Son of God; as if not having his feet washed was a deadly wickedness. Wherefore it is our feet, i.e. the affections of our mind, that are to be given up to Jesus to be washed, that our feet may be beautiful; especially if we emulate higher gifts, and wish to be numbered with those w ho preach glad tidings.
CHRYS. He does not say on what account He performs this act of washing, but only threatens him. For Peter was not persuaded by the first answer: you shall know hereafter he did not say, Teach me then that I may submit. But when he was threatened with separation from Christ, then he submitted.
ORIGEN. This saying we may use against those who make hasty and indiscreet resolutions. By strewing them, that if they adhere to these, they will have no part with Jesus, we disengage them from such resolves; even though they may have bound themselves by oath.
AUG. But he, agitated by fear and love, dreaded more the being denied Christ, than the seeing Him at His feet: Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
ORIGEN. Jesus was unwilling to wash hands, and despised what was said of Him in this respect: Your disciples wash not their hands when they eat bread
(Mt 15,2). And He did not wish the head to be submerged, in which was apparent the image and glory of the Father; it was enough for Him that the feet were given Him to wash: Jesus answered and said, He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all.
AUG. Clean all except the feet. The whole of a man is washed in baptism, not excepting his feet; but living in the world afterwards, we tread upon the earth. Those human affections then, without which we cannot live in this world, are, as it were, our feet, which connect us with human things, so that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1Jn 1,8). But if we confess our sins, He who washed the disciples' feet, forgives us our sins even down to our feet, wherewith we hold our converse with earth.
ORIGEN. It was impossible that the lowest parts and extremities of a soul should escape defilement, even in one perfect as far as man can be; and many, even after baptism, are covered up to their head with the dust of wickedness; but the real disciples of Christ only need washing for their feet.
AUG. From what is here said, we understand that Peter was already baptized, indeed that He baptized by His disciples, shows that His disciples must have been baptized, either with John's baptism, or, which is more probable, Christ's. He baptized by means of baptized servants; for He did not refuse the ministry of baptizing, Who had the humility to wash feet.
AUG. And you are clean, but not all: what this means the Evangelist immediately! explains: For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, you are not all clean.
ORIGEN. you are clean, refers to the eleven; but not all, to Judas. He was unclean, first, because he cared not for the poor, but was a thief; secondly, because the devil had put it into his heart to betray Christ washes their feet after they are clean, strewing that grace goes beyond necessity, according to the text, He that is holy, let him be holy still.
AUG. Or, the disciples when washed had only to have their feet washed; because while man lives in this world, he contracts himself with earth, by means of his human affections, which are as it were his feet.
CHRYS. Or thus: When He calls them clean, you must not suppose that they were delivered from sin before the victim was offered. He means cleanness in respect of knowledge; for they were now delivered from Jewish error.
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