Golden Chain 6535
6535 Mc 5,35-43
Theophylact: Those who were about the ruler of the synagogue, thought that Christ was one of the prophets, and for this reason they thought that they should beg of Him to come and pray over the damsel. But because she had already expired, they thought that He ought not to be asked to do so.
Therefore it is said, "While He yet spake, there came messengers to the ruler of the synagogue, which said, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?"
But the Lord Himself persuades the father to have confidence.
For it goes on, "As soon as Jesus heard the word which was spoken, He saith to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid; only believe."
Augustine: It is not said that he assented to his friends who brought the tidings and wished to prevent the Master from coming, so that our Lord's saying, "Fear not, only believe," is not a rebuke for his want of faith, but was intended to strengthen the belief which he had already. But if the Evangelist had related, that the ruler of the synagogue joined the friends who came from his house, in saying that Jesus should not be troubled, the words which Matthew relates him to have said, namely, that the damsel was dead, would then have been contrary to what was in his mind.
It goes on, "And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James."
Theophylact: For Christ in His lowliness would not do any thing for display.
It goes on, "And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He Himself commands them not to wail, as if the damsel was not dead, (p. 102) but sleeping.
Wherefore it says, "And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth."
Pseudo-Jerome: It was told the ruler of the synagogue, Thy daughter is dead. But Jesus said to him, She is not dead, but sleepeth. Bother are true, for the meaning is, She is dead to you, but to Me she is asleep.
Bede: For to men she was dead, who were unable to raise her up; but to God she was asleep, in whose purpose both the soul was living, and the flesh was resting, to rise again. Whence it became a custom amongst Christians, that the dead, who, they doubt not, will rise again, should be said to sleep.
It goes on, "And they laughed Him to scorn."
Theophylact: But they laugh at Him, as if unable to do any thing farther; and in this He convicts them of bearing witness involuntarily, that she was really dead whom He raised up, and therefore, that it would be a miracle if He raised her.
Bede: Because they chose rather to laugh at than to believe in this saying concerning her resurrection, they are deservedly excluded from the place, as unworthy to witness His power in raising her, and the mystery of her rising.
Wherefore it goes on, "But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying."
Chrys.: Or else, to take away all display, He suffered not all to be with Him; that, however, He might leave behind Him witnesses of His divine power, He chose His three chief disciples and the father and mother of the damsel, as being necessary above all. And He restores life to the damsel both by His hand, and by word of mouth.
Wherefore it says, "And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise."
For the hand of Jesus, having a quickening power, quickens the dead body, and His voice raises her as she is lying.
Wherefore it follows, "And straightway the damsel arose and walked."
Jerome, Hier. ad Pam., Ep. 57: Some one may accuse the Evangelist of a falsehood in his explanation, in that he had added, "I say unto thee," when in Hebrew, "Talitha cumi" only means, "Damsel, arise;" but He adds, "I say unto thee, Arise," to express that His meaning was to call and command her.
It goes on, "For she was of the age of twelve years."
Gloss.: The Evangelist added this, (p. 103) to shew that she was of an age to walk. By her walking, she is shewn to have been not only raised up, but also perfectly cured.
It continues, "And they were astonished with a great astonishment."
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 81: To shew that He had raised her really, and not only to the eye of fancy.
Bede: Mystically; the woman was cured of a bloody flux, and immediately after the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue is reported to be dead, because as soon as the Church of the Gentiles is washed from the stain of vice, and called daughter by the merits of her faith, at once the synagogue is broken up on account of its zealous treachery and envy; treachery, because it did not choose to believe in Christ; envy, because it was vexed at the faith of the Church.
What the messengers told the ruler of the synagogue, "Why troublest thou the Master any more," is said by those in this day who, seeing the state of the synagogue, deserted by God, believe that it cannot be restored, and therefore think that we are not to pray that it should be restored. But if the ruler of the synagogue, that is, the assembly of the teachers of the Law, determine to believe, the synagogue also, which is subjected to them, will be saved.
Further, because the synagogue lost the joy of having Christ to dwell in it, as its faithlessness deserved, it lies dead as it were, amongst persons weeping and wailing. Again, our Lord raised the damsel by taking hold of her hand, because the hands of the Jews, which are full of blood, must first be cleansed, else the synagogue, which is dead, cannot rise again. But in the woman with the bloody flux, and the raising of the damsel, is shewn the salvation of the human race, which was so ordered by the Lord, that first some from Judaea, then the fulness of the Gentiles, might come in, and so all Israel might be saved. Again, the damsel was twelve years old, and the woman had suffered for twelve years, because the sinning of unbelievers was contemporary with the beginning of the faith of believers.
Wherefore it is said, "Abraham believed on God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." (Gn 15,6)
(ed. note: Bede's own words are rather more clear than those in the Catena: "That is, the woman began to be afflicted at the same time as the damsel was born; for nearly at the same period of the world the synagogue began to arise amongst the patriarchs, and the race of Gentiles throughout the world to be polluted with idolatry.")
Greg., Mor. 4, 27: Morally again, our Redeemer raised the damsel in the house, the young man without the gate, Lazarus in the tomb; he still lies dead in the house, whose sin is concealed; he is carried without the gate, whose sin has broken forth into the madness of an open deed; he lies crushed under the mound of the tomb, who in the commission of sin, lies powerless beneath the weight of habit.
Bede: And we may remark, that lighter and daily errors may be cured by the remedy of a lighter penance. Wherefore the Lord raises the damsel, lying in the inner chamber with a very easy cry, saying, "Damsel, arise;" but that he who had been four days dead might quit the prison of the tomb, He groaned in spirit, He was troubled, He shed tears. In proportion, then, as the death of the soul presses the more heavily, so much the more ardently must the fervour of the penitent press forward.
But this too must be observed, that a public crime requires a public reparation; wherefore Lazarus, when called from the sepulchre, was placed before the eyes of the people: but slight sins require to be washed out by a secret penance, wherefore the damsel lying in the house is raised up before few witnesses, and those are desired to tell no man.
The crowd also is cast out before the damsel is raised; for if a crowd of worldly thoughts be not first cast out from the hidden parts of the heart, the soul, which lies dead within, cannot rise.
Well too did she arise and walk, for the soul, raised from sin, ought not only to rise from the filth of its crimes, but also to make advances in good works, and soon it is necessary that it should be filled with heavenly bread, that is, made partaker of the Divine Word, and of the Altar.
6601 Mc 6,1-6
(p. 105) Theophylact: After the miracles which have been related, the Lord returns into His own country, not that He was ignorant that they would despise Him, but that they might have no reason to say, If Thou hadst come, we had believed Thee.
Wherefore it is said, "And He went out from thence, and came into His own country."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 23: He means by His country, Nazareth, in which He was brought up. But how great the blindness of the Nazarenes! they despise Him, Who (p. 106) by His words and deeds they might know to be the Christ, solely on account of His kindred.
It goes on: "And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?"
By wisdom is meant His doctrine, by powers, the cures and miracles which He did.
It goes on: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?"
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 42: Matthew indeed says that He was called the son of a carpenter; nor are we to wonder, since both might have been said, for they believed Him to be a carpenter, because He was the son of a carpenter.
Pseudo-Jerome: Jesus is called the son of a workman, of that one, however, whose work was the morning and the sun, that is, the first and second Church, as a figure of which the woman and the damsel are healed.
Bede: For although human things are not to be compared with divine, still the type is complete, because the Father of Christ works by fire and spirit.
It goes on: "The brother of James, and Joses, of Jude, and of Simon. And are not his sisters here with us?"
They bear witness that His brothers and sisters were with Him, who nevertheless are not to be taken for the sons of Joseph or of Mary, as heretics say, but rather, as is usual in Scripture, we must understand them to be His relations, as Abraham and Lot are called brothers, though Lot was brother's son to Abraham.
"And they were offended at Him." The stumbling and the error of the Jews is our salvation, and the condemnation of heretics. For so much did they despise the Lord Jesus Christ, as to call Him a carpenter, and son of a carpenter.
It goes on: "And Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country."
Even Moses bears witness that the Lord is called a Prophet in the Scripture, for predicting His future Incarnation to the sons of Israel, he says, "A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren." (Ac 7,37) But not only He Himself, Who is Lord of prophets, but also Elias, Jeremiah, and the remaining lesser prophets, were worse received in their own country than in strange cities, for it is almost natural for men to envy their fellow-townsmen; for they do not consider the present works of the man, but they remember the weakness of Him (p. 107) infancy.
Pseudo-Jerome: Oftentimes also the origin of a man brings him contempt, as it is written, "Who is the son of Jesse?" (1S 25,10) for the Lord "hath respect unto the lowly; as to the proud, He beholdeth them afar off."
Theophylact: Or again, if the prophet has noble relations, his countrymen hate them, and on that account do not honour the prophet.
There follows, "And He could there do no mighty work, &c." What, however, is here expressed by He could not, we must take to mean, He did not choose, because it was not that He was weak, but that they were faithless; He does not therefore work any miracles there, for He spared them, lest they should be worthy of greater blame, if they believed not, even with miracles before their eyes.
Or else, for the working of miracles, not only the power of the Worker is necessary, but the faith of the recipient, which was wanting in this case: therefore Jesus did not choose to work any signs there.
There follows: "And He marvelled at their unbelief."
Bede: Not as if He Who knows all things before they are done, wonders at what He did not expect or look forward to, but knowing the hidden things of the heart, and wishing to intimate to men that it was wonderful, He openly shews that He wonders. And indeed the blindness of the Jews is wonderful, for they neither believed what their prophets said of Christ, nor would in their own persons believe on Christ, Who was born amongst them. Mystically again; Christ is despised in His own house and country, that is, amongst the people of the Jews, and therefore He worked few miracles there, lest they should become altogether inexcusable. But He performs greater miracles every day amongst the Gentiles, not so much in the healing of their bodies, as in the salvation of their souls.
6606 Mc 6,6-13
(p. 108) Theophylact: The Lord not only preached in the cities, but also in villages, that we may learn not to despise little things, nor always to seek for great cities, but to sow the word of the Lord in abandoned and lowly villages.
Wherefore it is said, "And He went round about the villages, teaching."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 24: Now our kind and merciful Lord and Master did not grudge His servants and their disciples His own virtues, and as He Himself had healed every sickness and every infirmity, so also He gave the same power to His disciples.
Wherefore it goes on: "And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits."
Great is the difference between giving and receiving. Whatsoever He does, is done in His own power, as Lord; if they do any thing, they confess their own weakness and the power of the Lord, saying in the name of Jesus, "Arise, and walk."
Theophylact: Again He sends the Apostles two and two that they might become more active; for, as says the Preacher, "Two are better than one." (Qo 4,9) But if He had sent more than two, there would not have been a sufficient number to allow of their being (p. 109) sent to many villages.
Greg., Hom. in Evan., 17: Further, the Lord sent the disciples to preach, two and two, because there are two precepts of charity, namely, the love of God, and of our neighbour; and charity cannot be between less than two; by this therefore He implies to us, that he who has not charity towards his neighbour, ought in no way to take upon himself the office of preaching.
There follows: "And He commanded them, that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats."
Bede: For such should be the preacher's trust in God, that, though he takes no thought for supplying his own wants in this present world, yet he should feel most certain that these will not be left unsatisfied, lest whilst his mind is taken up with temporal things, he should provide less of eternal things to others.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The Lord also gives them this command, that they might shew by their mode of life, how far removed they were from the desire of riches.
Theophylact: Instructing them also by this means not to be fond of receiving gifts, in order too that those, who saw them proclaim poverty, might be reconciled to it, when they saw that the Apostles themselves possessed nothing.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 30: Or else; according to Matthew, the Lord immediately subjoined, "The workman is worthy of his meat," (Mt 10,10) which sufficiently proves why He forbade their carrying or possessing such things; not because they were not necessary, but because He sent them in such a way as to shew, that they were due to them from the faithful, to whom they preached the Gospel.
From this it is evident that the Lord did not mean by this precept that the Evangelists ought to live only on the gifts of those to whom they preach the Gospel, else the Apostle transgressed this precept when he procured his livelihood by the labour of his own hands, but He meant that He had given them a power, in virtue of which, they might be assured these things were due to them.
It is also often asked, how it comes that Matthew and Luke have related that the Lord commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff, whilst Mark says, "And He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only." Which question is solved, by supposing that the word 'staff' has a meaning in (p. 110) Mark, who says that it ought to be carried, different from that which it bears in Matthew and Luke, who affirm the contrary. For in a concise way one might say, Take none of the necessaries of life with you, nay, not a staff, save a staff only; so that the saying, nay not a staff, may mean, nay not the smallest thing; but that which is added, "save a staff only," may mean that, through the power received by them from the Lord, of which a rod is the ensign, nothing, even of those things which they do not carry, will be wanting to them.
The Lord, therefore, said both, but because one Evangelist has not given both, men suppose, that he who has said that the staff, in one sense, should be taken, is contrary to him who again has declared, that, in another sense, it should be left behind: now however that a reason has been given, let no one think so.
So also when Matthew declares that shoes are not to be worn on the journey, he forbids anxiety about them, for the reason why men are anxious about carrying them, is that they may not be without them. This is also to be understood of the two coats, that no man should be troubled about having only that with which he is clad from anxiety lest he should need another, when he could always obtain one from the power given by the Lord.
In like manner Mark, by saying that they are to be shod with sandals or soles, warns us that this mode of protecting the feet has a mystical signification, that the foot should neither be covered above nor be naked on the ground, that is, that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor rest upon earthly comforts; and in that He forbids their possessing or taking with them, or more expressly their wearing, two coats, He bids them walk simply, not with duplicity. But whosoever thinks that the Lord could not in the same discourse say some things figuratively, others in a literal sense, let him look into His other discourses, and he shall see, how rash and ignorant is his judgment.
Bede: Again, by the two tunics He seems to me to mean two sets of clothes; not that in places like Scythia, covered with the ice and snow, a man should be content with only one garment, but by coat, I think a suit of clothing is implied, that being clad with one, we should not keep another through anxiety as to what may happen.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else, Matthew and Luke neither allow shoes nor (p. 111) staff, which is meant to point out the highest perfection. But Mark bids them take a staff and be shod with sandals, which is spoken by permission. (see 1Co 7,6)
Bede: Again, allegorically; under the figure of a scrip is pointed out the burdens of this world, by bread is meant temporal delights, by money in the purse, the hiding of wisdom; because he who receives the office of a doctor, should neither be weighed down by the burden of worldly affairs, nor be made soft by carnal desires, nor hide the talent of the word committed to him under the case of an inactive body.
It goes on, "And He said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place."
Where He gives a general precept of constancy, that they should look to what is due to the tie of hospitality, adding, that it is inconsistent with the preaching of the kingdom of heaven to run about from house to house.
Theophylact: That is, lest they should be accused of gluttony in passing from one to another. It goes on, "And whoever shall not receive you, &c." This the Lord commanded them, that they might shew that they had walked a long way for their sakes, and to no purpose. Or, because they received nothing from them, not even dust, which they shake off, that it might be a testimony against them, that is, by way of convicting them.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else, that it might be a witness of the toil of the way, which they sustained for them; or as if the dust of the sins of the preachers was turned against themselves.
It goes on: "And they went and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them."
Mark alone mentions their anointing with oil. James however, in his canonical Epistle, says a thing similar. For oil both refreshes our labours, and gives us light and joy; but again, oil signifies the mercy of the unction of God, the healing of infirmity, and the enlightening of the heart, the whole of which is worked by prayer.
Theophylact: It also means, the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which we are eased from our labours, and receive light and spiritual joy.
Bede: Where it is evident from the Apostles themselves, that it (p. 112) is an ancient custom of the holy Church that persons possessed or afflicted with any disease whatever, should be anointed with oil consecrated by priestly blessing.
6614 Mc 6,14-16
Gloss.: After the preaching of the disciples of Christ, and the working of miracles, the Evangelist fitly subjoins an account of the report, which arose amongst the people.
Wherefore he says, "And king Herod heard of Him."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Aut. e Cat. in Marc.: This Herod is the son of the first Herod, under whom Joseph had led Jesus into Egypt. But Matthew calls him Tetrarch, and Luke mentions him as ruling over one fourth of his father's kingdom; for the Romans after the death of his father divided his kingdom into four parts. But Mark calls him a king, either after the title of his father, or because it was consonant to his own wish.
Pseudo-Jerome: It goes on, "For His name was spread abroad."
For it is not right that a candle should be placed under a bushel. "And they said," that is, some of the multitude, "that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew themselves forth in him."
Bede, in Marc., 2, 25: Here we are taught how great was the envy of the Jews. For, lo, they believe that John, of whom it was said that he did no miracle, could rise from the dead, and that, without the witness of any one. But Jesus, approved of God by miracles and signs, whose resurrection, Angles and Apostles, men and women, preached, they chose to believe was carried away by stealth, rather than suppose that He had risen again.
And these men, in saying that John was risen from the dead, and that therefore mighty works were wrought in him, had just thoughts of the power of (p. 113) the resurrection, for men, when they shall have risen from the dead, shall have much greater power than they possessed when still weighed down by the weakness of the flesh.
There follows: "But others said, that it is Elias."
Theophylact: For John confuted many men, when he said, "Ye generation of vipers."
It goes on: "But others said, that it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets."
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Is seems to me that this prophet means that one of whom Moses said, "God will raise up a prophet unto thee of thy brethren." (Dt 18,15) They were right indeed, but because they feared to say openly, This is the Christ, they used the voice of Moses, veiling their own surmise through fear of their rules.
There follows: "But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead." Herod expressly says this in irony.
Theophylact: Or else, Herod, knowing that he without a cause had slain John, who was a just man, thought that he had risen from the dead, and had received through his resurrection the power of working miracles.
Augustine, de Con. Even., ii, 43: But in these words Luke bears witness to Mark, to this point at least, that others and not Herod said that John had risen; but Luke had represented Herod as hesitating and has put down his words as if he said, "John have I beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?" (Lc 9,7)
We must, however, suppose that after this hesitation he had confirmed in his own mind what others had said, for he says to his children, as Matthew relates, "This is John the Baptist, he has risen from the dead." (Mt 14,2) Or else these words are to be spoken, so as to indicate that he is still hesitating, particularly as Mark who had said above that others had declared that John had risen from the dead, afterwards however is not silent as to Herod's plainly saying, "It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead." Which words also may be spoken in two ways, either they may be understood as those of a man affirming or doubting.
6617 Mc 6,17-29
(p. 115) Theophylact: The Evangelist Mark, taking occasion from what went before, here relates the death of the Forerunner, saying, "For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her."
Bede: Ancient history relates, that Philip, the son of Herod the great, under whom the Lord fled into Egypt, the brother of this Herod, under whom Christ suffered, married Herodias, the daughter of king Aretas; but afterwards, that his father-in-law, after certain disagreements had arisen with his son-in-law, had taken his daughter away, and, to the grief of her former husband, had given her in marriage to his enemy; therefore John the Baptist rebukes Herod and Herodias for contracting an unlawful union, and because it was not allowed for a man to marry his brother's wife during his lifetime.
Theophylact: The law also commanded a brother to marry his brother's wife, if he died without children; but in this case there was a daughter, which made the marriage criminal.
There follows: "Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not."
Bede: For Herodias was afraid, lest Herod should repent at some time, or be reconciled to his brother Philip, and so the unlawful marriage be divorced.
It goes on: "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man, and a holy."
Gloss.: He feared him, I say, because he revered him, for he knew him to be just in his dealings with men, and holy towards God, and he took care that Herodias should not slay him. "And when he heard him, he did many things," for he thought that he spake by the Spirit of God, "and heard him gladly," because he considered that what he said was profitable.
Theophylact: But see how great is the fury of lust, for though Herod had such an awe and fear of John, he forgets it all, that he may minister to his fornication.
Remig.: For his lustful will drove him to lay hands on a man whom he knew to be just and holy. And by this, we may see how a less fault became the cause to him of a greater; as it is said, "He which is filthy, let him be filthy still." (Ap 22,11)
It goes on: "And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee."
Bede: The only men (p. 116) whom we read of, as celebrating their birthdays with festive joys are Herod and Pharaoh, but each, with an evil presage, stained his birthday with blood; Herod, however, with so much the greater wickedness, as he slew the holy and guiltless teacher of truth, and that by the wish, and at the instance of a female dancer.
For there follows: "And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee."
Theophylact: For during the banquet, Satan danced in the person of the damsel, and the wicked oath is completed.
For it goes on: "And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom."
Bede: His oath does not excuse his murder, for perchance his reason for swearing was, that he might find an opportunity for slaying, and if she had demanded the death of his father and mother, he surely would not have granted it.
It goes on: "And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist."
Worthy is blood to be asked as the reward of such a deed as dancing.
It goes on: "And she came in straightway with haste, &c."
Theophylact: The malignant woman begs that the head of John be given to her immediately, that is, at once, in that very hour, for she feared lest Herod should repent.
There follows: "And the king was exceeding sorry."
Bede: It is usual with Scripture, that the historian should relate events as they were then believed by all, thus Joseph is called the father of Jesus by Mary herself. So now also Herod is said to be "exceeding sorry," for so the guests thought, since the hypocrite bore sadness on his face, when he had joy in his heart; and he excuses the wickedness by his oath, that he might be impious under pretence of piety.
Wherefore there follows: "For his oath's sake, and for their sakes who sat with him, he would not reject her."
Theophylact: Herod not being his own master, but full of lust, fulfilled his oath, and slew the just man; it would have been better however to break his oath, than to commit so great a sin.
Bede: In that again which is added, "And for their sakes who sat with him," he wishes to make all partakers in (p. 117) his guilt, that a bloody feast might be set before luxurious and impure guests.
Wherefore it goes on: "But sending an executioner, he commanded his head to be brought in a charger."
Theophylact: 'Spiculator' is the name for the public servant commissioned to put men to death.
Bede: Now Herod was not ashamed to bring before his guests the head of a murdered man; but we do not read of such an act of madness in Pharaoh. From both examples, however, it is proved to be more useful, often to call to mind the coming day of our death, by fear and by living chastely, than to celebrate the day of our birth with luxury. For man is born in the world to toil, but the elect pass by death out of the world to repose.
It goes on: "And he beheaded him in prison, &c."
Greg., Mor., 3, 7: I cannot, without the greatest wonder, reflect that he, who was filled even in his mother's womb with the spirit of prophecy, and who was the greatest that had arisen amongst those born of women, is sent into prison by wicked men, is beheaded for the dancing of a girl, and though a man of so great austerity, meets death through such a foul instrument. Are we to suppose that there was something evil in his life, to be wiped away by so ignominious a death? When, however, could he commit a sin even in his eating, whose food was only locusts, and wild honey? How could he offend in his conversation, who never quitted the wilderness? How is it that Almighty God so despises in this life those whom He has so sublimely chosen before all ages, if it be not for the reason, which is plain to the piety of the faithful, that He thus sinks them into the lowest place, because He sees how He is rewarding them in the highest, and outwardly He throws them down amongst things despised, because inwardly He draws them up even to incomprehensible things. Let each then infer from this what they shall suffer, whom He rejects, if He so grieves those whom He loves.
There follows: "And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb."
Bede: Josephus relates, that John was brought bound into the castle of Macheron, and there slain; and ecclesiastical history says (Theodoret, Hist., Eccles., 3, 3) that he was buried in Sebaste, a city of Palestine, once called Samaria. But the beheading of John the Baptist signifies the lessening of that fame, by which he was thought to be Christ (p. 118) by the people, as the raising of our Saviour on the cross typifies the advance of the faith, in that He Himself, who was first looked upon as a prophet by the multitude, was recognized as the Son of God by all the faithful; wherefore John, who was destined to decrease, was born when the daylight begins to wax short; but the Lord at that season of the year in which the day begins to lengthen.
Theophylact: In a mystical way, however, Herod, whose name means, 'of skin,' is the people of the Jews, and the wife to whom he was wedded means vain glory, whose daughter even now encircles the Jews with her dance, namely, a false understanding of the Scriptures; they indeed beheaded John, that is, the word of prophecy, and hold to him without Christ, his head.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the head of the law, which is Christ, is cut off from His own body, that is, the Jewish people, and is given to a Gentile damsel, that is, the Roman Church, and the damsel gives it to her adulterous mother, that is, to the synagogue, who in the end will believe. The body of John is buried, his head is put in a dish; thus the human Letter is covered over, the Spirit is honoured, and received on the altar.
Golden Chain 6535