Golden Chain 13147
13147 Jn 11,47-53
THEOPHYL. Such a miracle as this should have drawn forth wonder and praise. But they make it a reason of plotting against His life: Then gathered the chief priests and, Pharisees a council, and said, What do we?
AUG; But they had no thought of believing. The miserable men only consulted how they might hurt and kill Him, not how themselves might be saved from death. What do we? For this Man does many miracles.
CHRYS. Him of whose divinity they had received such certain proofs, they call only a man.
ORIGEN. This speech is an evidence of their audacity and blindness: of their audacity, because they testified that He had done many miracles, and yet thought that they could contend successfully against Him, and that He would have no power of withstanding their plots; of their blindness, because they did not reflect that He who had wrought such miracles could easily escape out of their hands; unless indeed they denied that these miracles were done by Divine power.
They resolved then not to let Him go; thinking that they should thus place an impediment in the way of those who wished to believe in Him, and also prevent the Romans from taking away their place and nation. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
CHRYS. They say this to alarm the people; as if they were incurring the suspicion of setting up an usurper. If, say they, the Romans in crowds follow Him, they will suspect us of setting up a tyranny, and will destroy our state. But this was as wholly a fiction of their own.
For what was the fact? Did He take armed men about with Him, did He go with horsemen in His train? Did He not rather choose desert places to go to? However, that they might not be suspected of consulting only their own interests, they declare the whole state is in danger.
AUG. Or, they were afraid that, if all believed in Christ, none would remain to defend the city of God and the temple against the Romans: since they thought that Christ's teaching was directed against the temple, and their laws. They were afraid of losing temporal things, and thought not of eternal life; and thus they lost both. For the Romans, after our Lord had suffered and was glorified, did come and take away their place and nation, reducing the one by siege, and dispersing the other.
ORIGEN. Mystically: It was fit that the Gentiles should occupy the place of them of the circumcision; because by their fall salvation came to the Gentiles. The Romans represent the Gentiles, being the rulers of the Gentile world. Their nation again was taken away, because they who had been the people of God, were made not a people.
CHRYS. When they hesitated, and asked, What do we? One of them gave most cruel and shameless advice, viz. Caiaphas, who was High Priest that same year.
AUG. How is it that he is called the High Priest of that year, when God appointed one hereditary High Priest? This was owing to the ambition and contention of parties among the Jews themselves, which had ended in the appointment of several High Priests, who took the office in turn, year by year. And sometimes even there seems to have been more than one in office.
ALCUIN. Of this Caiaphas Josephus relates, that he bought the priesthood for a year, for a certain sum.
ORIGEN. The character of Caiaphas is strewn by his being called the High Priest of that same year; the year, viz. in which our Savior suffered. Being the High Priest that same year, he said to them, You know nothing at all,
nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. i.e. You sit still, and give no attention. Attend to me. So insignificant life of one man may surely be made a sacrifice for the safety of the state.
THEOPHYL. He said this with a bad intention, yet the Holy Spirit used his mouth as the vehicle of a prophecy: And this spoke he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.
ORIGEN. Not everyone that prophesies is a prophet; as not everyone that does a just action is just, he, for example, that does one for vainglory. Caiaphas prophesied without being a prophet, as did Balaam.
Perhaps some will deny that Caiaphas prophesied by the Holy Spirit, on the ground that evil spirits may bear witness to Christ, as the one in Luke, who says, I know You who You are, the Holy One of God; the intention of Caiaphas too being not to induce his hearers to believe on Him, but to excite them to kill Him. It is expedient for us. Is this part of his prophecy true or false? If it is true, then those who contended against Jesus in the council, since Jesus died for the people, and they participate in the advantage of His death, are saved.
This you say is absurd; and hence argue that the prophecy is false, and, if false, not dictated by the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit does not lie on the other side it is argued, for the truth of the prophecy that these words only meant that He by the grace of God should taste death for all men; that He is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe. And in the same way the former part of the speech, You know nothing at all, is made out to be an assertion of the truth. They knew nothing of Jesus, who did not know that He was truth, wisdom, justice, an peace.
And again, That one man should die for the people. It was as man that He died for the people: in so far as He is the image of the invisible God, He was incapable of death. And He died for the people, in that He took upon Himself, made away with, blotted out the sins of the whole world.
And this spoke he not of himself.
Hence we see, what men say sometimes proceeds from themselves, sometimes from the influence of some power upon them. In the latter case though they may not be taken quite out of themselves, and in a certain sense go along with their own words, yet they do not go along with the meaning of them. Thus Caiaphas says nothing of himself; and therefore does not interpret his own prophecy, because he does not understand it. Thus Paul too speaks of some teachers of the law, who understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
AUG. We learn hence that even bad men may foretell things to come by the spirit of prophecy, which power the Evangelist ascribes to a divine sacrament, he being Pontifex, i.e. High Priest.
CHRYS. See the great virtue of the Holy Spirit, in drawing forth a prophecy from a wicked man. And see too the virtue of the pontifical office, which made him, though an unworthy High Priest, unconsciously prophesy. Divine grace only used his mouth; it touched not his corrupt heart.
AUG. Caiaphas prophesied of the Jewish nation alone; in which nation were the sheep, of which our Lord says, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the Evangelist knew that there were other sheep, not of this fold, which were to be brought in, and therefore adds, And not for that nation only, but also that He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad; i.e. those who were predestined to be so: for as yet there were neither sheep, nor children of God.
GREG. His persecutors accomplished this wicked purpose, and put Him to death, thinking to extinguish the devotion of His followers; but faith grew from the very thing which these cruel and unbelieving men thought would destroy it. That which human cruelty had executed against Him, He turned to the purposes of His mercy.
ORIGEN. Inflamed by the speech of Caiaphas, they determined on killing our Lord: Then from that day forth they took counsel together to put Him to death. Was this then the work of the Holy Spirit, as well as the former, or was it another spirit which did both first speak by the mouth of a wicked man, and then excite others like him to kill Christ? Answer: It is not necessary that both should be the work of the same spirit.
As some turn the Scriptures themselves which were given for our good, to the support of bad doctrines; so this true prophecy respecting our Savior was understood in a wrong sense as if it were a call to put Him to death.
CHRYS. They sought before to kill Him; now their resolution was confirmed.
13154 Jn 11,54-57
ORIGEN After this resolution of the Chief Priests and Pharisees, Jesus was more cautious in strewing Himself among the Jews, and retired to remote parts, and avoided populous places: Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went from there into a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim.
AUG Not that His power had failed Him; for, had He pleased He might still have walked openly among the Jews, and they done nothing to Him. But He wished to show the disciples, by His own example, that believers did not sin by retiring out of the sight of their persecutors, and hiding themselves from the fury of the wicked, rather than inflame that fury in their presence.
ORIGEN. It is praiseworthy, when struggles are at hand, not to avoid confession, or refuse to suffer death for the truth's sake. And it is no less praiseworthy now to avoid giving occasion for such trial. Which we should take care to do, not only on account of the uncertainty of the event of a trial in our own case, but also not to be the occasion of increasing the impiety and guilt of others.
For he who is the cause of sin in another, shall be punished. If we do not avoid our persecutor, when we have the opportunity, we make ourselves responsible for his offence. But our Lord not only retired Himself, but to remove all occasion of offence from His persecutors, took His disciples with Him:
And there stayed with His disciples.
CHRYS. How must it have troubled the disciples to see Him save Himself by merely human means? While all were rejoicing and keeping the feast, they remained hidden, and in danger. Yet they continued with Him; as we read in Luke, You are they which have continued with Me in My temptations.
ORIGEN. Mystically, Jesus walked openly among the Jews, when the Word of God used to come to them by the Prophets. But this Word ceased, i.e. Jesus went from there. And He went to that town near the wilderness, whereof Isaiah says, More are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife.
Ephraim signifies fertility. Ephraim was the younger brother of Manasses: Manasses stands for the elder people forgotten; the word Manasses meaning forgotten. When the elder people were forgotten and passed over, there came an abundant harvest from the Gentiles. Our Lord left the Jews' and went forth into a country - the whole world - near the wilderness, the deserted Church, to Ephraim, the fruitful city; and there continues with His disciples up to this day.
AUG. He who came from heaven to suffer, wished to draw near the place of His Passion, His hour being now at hand: And the Jews' passover was near at hand. That passover they had resolved to celebrate by shedding our Lord's blood; the blood which consecrated the Passover, the blood of the Lamb.
The Law obliged everyone to go up to the feast: And many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover to purify themselves. But ours is the true Passover; the Jewish one was a shadow. The Jews held their passover in the dark, we in the light: their posts were stained with the blood of a slain animal, our foreheads are signed with the blood of Christ.
THEOPHYL. They went up before the passover, to be purified. For whoever had sinned willingly or unwillingly could not keep the passover, unless they were first purified by washings, fastings, and shaving of the head, and also offering certain stated oblations. While engaged in these purifications, they were plotting our Lord's death: Then sought they for Jesus, and spoke among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think you, that He will not come to the feast?
CHRYS. They lay in wait for Him at the passover, and made the feast time the time of His death.
ORIGEN. Wherefore the Evangelist does not call it the Lord's passover, but the Jews' passover. For then it was that they plotted our Lord's death.
ALCUIN. They sought Jesus with bad intent. We seek Him, standing in God's temple, mutually encouraging one another, and praying Him to come to our feast, and sanctify us by His presence.
THEOPHYL. If the common people only had done these things, the Passion would have seemed owing to men's ignorance; but the Pharisees it is, who order Him to be taken: Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He were, he should show it, that they might take Him.
ORIGEN. Observe, they did not know where He was; they knew that He had gone away. Mystically, they did not know where He was, because, in the place of the divine commandments, they taught the doctrines and commandments of men.
AUG. Let us at least show the Jews where He is; O that they would hear, that they would come to the Church, and take hold of Him for themselves!
13201 Jn 12,1-11
ALCUIN. As the time approached in which our Lord had resolved to suffer, He approached the place which He had chosen for the scene of His suffering: Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany. First, He went to Bethany, then to Jerusalem; to Jerusalem to suffer, to Bethany to keep alive the recollection of the recent resurrection of Lazarus; Where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.
THEOPHYL. On the tenth day of the month they took the lamb which was to be sacrificed on the passover, and from that time began the preparation for the feast. Or rather the ninth day of the month, i.e. six days before the passover, was the commencement of the feast. They feasted abundantly on that day.
Thus we find Jesus partook of a banquet at Bethany: There they made Him a supper, and Martha served. That Martha served, shows that the entertainment was in her house. See the fidelity of the woman: she does not leave the task of serving to the domestics, but takes it upon herself. The Evangelist adds, in order, it would seem, to settle Lazarus, resurrection beyond dispute, But Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.
AUG. He lived, talked, feasted; the truth was established, the unbelief of the Jews confounded.
CHRYS. Mary did not take part in serving the guests generally, but gave all her attention to our Lord, treating Him not as mere man, but as God: Then took Mary, a pound of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.
AUG. The word pistici seems to be the name of some place, from which this precious ointment came.
ALCUIN. Or pistici means genuine, non-adulterated. She is the woman that was a sinner, who came to our Lord in Simon's house with the box of ointment.
AUG. That she did this on another occasion in Bethany is not mentioned in Luke's Gospel, but is in the other three. Matthew and Mark say that the ointment was poured on the head, John says, on the feet. Why not suppose that it was poured both on the head, and on the feet? Matthew and Mark introduce the supper and the ointment out of place in the order of time (Mt 26,9 and Mc 14,3). When they are some way farther on in their narration, they go back to the sixth day before the passover.
And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
AUG. Remember the Apostle's words: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life (2Co 11,16).
AUG. Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? In the other Gospels it is the disciples who murmured at the waste of the ointment. I think myself that Judas is put for the whole body of disciples; the singular for the plural. But at any rate we may supply for ourselves, that the other disciples said it, or thought it, or were persuaded by this very speech of Judas.
The only difference is, that Matthew and Mark expressly mention the concurrence of the others, whereas John only mentions Judas, whose habit of thieving He takes occasion to notice: This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
ALCUIN. He carried it as a servant, he took it out as a thief.
AUG. Judas did not perish at the time when he received money from the Jews to betray our Lord. He was already a thief, already lost, and followed our Lord in body, not in heart; wherein we are taught the duty of tolerating wicked men, lest we divide the body of Christ.
He who robs the Church of anything may be compared to the lost Judas. Tolerate the wicked, you that are good, that you may receive the reward of the good, and not fall into the punishment of the wicked. Follow the example of our Lord's conversation upon earth. Wherefore had He bags, to whom the Angels ministered, except because His Church should afterwards have bags?
Why did He admit thieves, but to show that His Church should tolerate thieves, while it suffered from them. It is not surprising that Judas, who was accustomed to steal money from the bags, should betray our Lord for money.
CHRYS. But why was a thief entrusted with the bags of the poor? Perhaps it was to give him no excuse of wanting), money, for of this he had enough in the bag for all his desires.
THEOPHYL. Some suppose that Judas had the keeping of the money, as being the lowest kind of service. For that the ministry of money matters ranks below the ministry of doctrine, we know from what the Apostle says in the Acts, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables (Ac 6,2).
CHRYS. Christ, with great forbearance, does not rebuke Judas for his thieving, in order to deprive him of all excuse for betraying Him.
ALCUIN. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the clay of My burying has she kept this: meaning that He was about to die, and that this ointment was suitable for His burial. So to Mary who was not able to be present, though much wishing, at the anointing of the dead body, was it given to do Him this office in His lifetime.
CHRYS. Again, as if to remind His betrayer, He alludes to His burial; For the poor you have always with you, but Me you have not always: as if He said, I am a burden, a trouble to you; but wait a little, and I shall be gone.
AUG. He was speaking of His bodily presence; for in respect of His majesty, providence, ineffable and invisible grace, those words are fulfilled, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Mt 28,20). Or thus: In the person of Judas are represented the wicked in the Church; for if you are a good man, you have Christ now by faith, and the Sacrament, and you shall have Him always, for when you have departed hence, you shall go to Him who said to the thief, Today shall thou be with Me in paradise (Lc 23,43).
But if you are wicked, you seem to have Christ, because you are baptized with the baptism of Christ, because you approach to the altar of Christ: but by reason of your wicked life, you shall not have Him always. It is not you (singular) have, but you (plural) have, the whole body of wicked men being addressed in Judas.
Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there, and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. Curiosity brought them, not love.
THEOPHYL. They wished to see with their own eyes him who had been raised from the dead, and thought that Lazarus might bring back a report of the regions below.
AUG. When the news of this great miracle had spread everywhere, and was supported by such clear evidence, that they could neither suppress or deny the fact, then, The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death. O blind rage! as if the Lord could raise the dead, and not raise the slain. Lo, the Lord has done both. He raised Lazarus, and He raised Himself.
CHRYS. No other miracle of Christ excited such rage as this. It was so public, and so wonderful, to see a man walking and talking after he had been dead four days. And the fact was so undeniable. In the case of some other miracles they had charged Him with breaking the Sabbath, and so diverted people's minds: but here there was nothing to find fault with, and therefore they vent their anger upon Lazarus.
They would have done the same to the blind man, had they not had the charge to make of breaking the Sabbath. Then again the latter was a poor man, and they cast him out of the temple, but Lazarus was a man of rank, as is plain from the number who came to comfort his sisters. It vexed them to see all leaving the feast, which was now coming on, and going to Bethany.
ALCUIN. Mystically, that He came to Bethany six days before the passover, means, that He who made all things in six days, who created man on the sixth, in the sixth age of the world, the sixth day, the sixth hour, came to redeem mankind. The Lord's Supper is the faith of the Church, working by love. Martha serves, whenever a believing soul devotes itself to the worship of the Lord.
Lazarus is one of them that sit at table, when those who have been raised from the death of sin, rejoice together with the righteous, who have been ever such, in the presence of truth, and are fed with the gifts of heavenly grace. The banquet is given in Bethany, which means, house of obedience, i.e. in the Church: for the Church is the house of obedience.
AUG. The ointment with which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus was justice. It was therefore a pound. It was ointment of spikenard (pistici) too very precious. Greek for faith. Do you seek to do justice? The just live by faith
(He 10,38). Anoint the feet of Jesus by good living, follow the Lord's footsteps: if you have a superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the Lord's feet; for the hair is a superfluous part of the body.
ALCUIN. And observe, on the first occasion of her anointing, she anointed His feet only, but now she anoints both His feet and head. The former denotes the beginnings of penitence, the latter the righteousness of souls perfected. By the head of our Lord the loftiness of His Divine nature, by His feet the lowliness of His incarnation are signified; or by the head, Christ Himself, by the feet, the poor who are His members.
AUG. The house was filled with the odor; the world was filled with the good fame.
13212 Jn 12,12-19
CHRYS. The Law enjoined, that on the tenth day of the first month a lamb or a kid should be shut up in the house, and be kept to the fourteenth day of the same month, on the evening of which day it was sacrificed. In accordance with this law, the Elect Lamb, the Lamb without spot, when He went up to Jerusalem to be immolated for the sanctification of the people, went up five days before, i.e. on the tenth day.
AUG. See how great was the fruit of His preaching and how large a flock of the lost sheep of the house of Israel heard the voice of their Shepherd: On the next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
took branches of palm trees. The branches of palms are songs of praise, for the victory which our Lord was about to obtain by His death over death, and His triumph over the devil, the prince of death, by the trophy of the cross.
CHRYS. They showed now at last that they thought Him greater than a prophet: And went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that comes in the name of the Lord.
AUG. Hosanna is a simple exclamation, rather indicating some excitement of the mind, than having any particular meaning; like many interjections that we have in Latin.
BEDE. It is a compound of two words; Hosi is shortened into save; Anna a mere exclamation, complete. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord here is the name of God the Father; though we may understand it as His own name; inasmuch as He also is the Lord. But the former sense agrees better with the text above, I am come in My Father's name. He does not lose His divinity, when He teaches us humility.
CHRYS. This is what more than anything made men believe in Christ, viz. the assurance, that He was not opposed to God, that He came from the Father. The words show us the divinity of Christ. Hosanna is, Save us; and salvation in Scripture is attributed to God alone. And comes, it is said, not is brought: the former befits a lord, the latter a servant. In the name of the Lord, goes to prove the same thing. He does not come in the name of a servant, but in the name of the Lord.
AUG. It were a small thing to the King eternal to be made a human king. Christ was not the King of Israel, to exact tribute, and command armies, but to direct souls, and bring them to the kingdom of heaven. For Christ then to be King of Israel, w as a condescension, not an elevation, a sign of His pity, not an increase of His power. For He who was as called on earth the King of the Jews, is in heaven the King of Angels.
THEOPHYL. The Jews, when they called Him King of Israel, dreamed of an earthly king. They expected a king to arise, of more than human greatness, who would deliver them from the government of the Romans. But how did our Lord come? The next words tell us; And Jesus when He had found a. young ass, sat thereon.
AUG. John relates the matter briefly, the other Evangelists are more full. The ass, we read in them, was the foal of an ass on which no man had sat: i.e. the Gentile world, who had not received our Lord. The other ass, which was brought, (not the foal, for there were two,) is the believing Jew.
CHRYS. He did this prophetically, to figure the unclean Gentiles being brought into subjection to the Gospel; and also as a fulfillment of prophecy.
AUG. This act of our Lord's is pointed to in the Prophets, though the malignant rulers of the Jews did not see in it any fulfillment of prophecy: As it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Sion, behold your King comes sitting on an ass's colt." Yea, in that nation though reprobate, though blind, there remained still the daughter of Sion; even Jerusalem. To her it is said, Fear not, acknowledge Him whom you praise, and tremble not when He suffers. That blood it is which shall wipe away your sins, and redeem your life
CHRYS. Or thus: Whereas they had had wicked kings, who had subjected them to wars, He said to them, Trust Me, I am not such as they, but gentle and mild: which He showed by the manner of His entrance. For He did not enter at the head of an army, but simply riding on an ass. And observe the philosophy of the Evangelist, who is not ashamed of confessing his ignorance at the time of what these things meant:
These things understood not the disciple at the first, but when Jesus was glorified.
AUG. i.e. When He showed the power of His resurrection, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him, i.e. those things that were written of Him.
CHRYS. Our Lord had not then revealed these things to them. Indeed it would have been a scandal to them had they known Him to be King at the time of His sufferings. Nor would they have understood the nature of His kingdom, but have mistaken it for a temporal one.
THEOPHYL. See then the consequences of our Lord's passion. It was not to no purpose that He had reserved His greatest miracle for the last. For the resurrection of Lazarus it was that made the crowd believe in Him. The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record.
For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.
Hence the spite and plotting of the Pharisees: The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? behold the world is gone after Him.
AUG. The crowd was disturbed by the crowd. But why grudge that blind crowd, that the world should go after Him, by Whom the world was made?
CHRYS. The world means here the crowd. This seems to be the speech of that part who were sound in their faith, but dared not profess it. They try to deter the rest by exposing the insuperable difficulties they would have to contend with.
THEOPHYL. As if they said, The more you attack Him, the more will His power and reputation increase. What use then of these attempts?
13220 Jn 12,20-26
BEDE. The temple at Jerusalem was so famous, that on the feast days, not only the people near, but many Gentiles from distant countries came to worship in it; as that eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, mentioned in the Acts. The Gentiles who were at Jerusalem now, had come up for this purpose: And there were certain Gentiles among them who came to worship at the feast.
CHRYS. The time being now near, when they would be made proselytes. They hear Christ talked of, and wish to see Him: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired: him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
AUG. Lo! the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him. But they also were of the Jews who cried, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. So behold them of the circumcision, and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together like two walls, and meeting in one faith of Christ by the kiss of peace.
Philip comes and tells Andrew.
CHRYS. As being the elder disciple. He had heard our Savior say, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and therefore he communicates with his fellow-disciple, and the refer the matter to their Lord: And again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus
AUG. Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe in Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fullness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Yourself, O God, above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth (Ps 56 and 107).
But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: out if it die, it brings forth much fruit (Jn 12,24). That corn was He, to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.
BEDE, He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase. He died alone; He rose again with many.
CHRYS. He illustrates His discourse by an example from nature. A grain of corn produces fruit, after it has cried. How much more then must the Son of God? The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews had finally offended; i.e. after His crucifixion. Now then that the Gentiles of their own accord offered their faith, He saw that His crucifixion could not be far off. And to console the sorrow of His disciples, which He foresaw would arise, He tells them that to bear patiently not only His death, but their own too, is the only way to good:
He that loves his life shall lose it. Jn 12,25
AUG. This may be understood in two ways: 1. If you love it, lose it: if you would preserve your life in Christ, fear not death for Christ. 2. Do not love your life here, lest you lose it hereafter. The latter seems to be the more evangelical sense; for it follows, And he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal.
CHRYS. He loves his life in this world, who indulges its inordinate desires; he hates it, who resists them. It is not, who cloth not yield to, but, who hates. For as we cannot bear to hear the voice or see the face of them whom we hate; so when the soul invites us to things contrary to God, we should turn her away from them with all our might.
THEOPHYL. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul; so He adds, in this world: i.e. for a particular time, not forever. And we shall gain in the end by so doing: shall keep it to life eternal.
AUG. But think not for an instant, that by hating your soul, is meant that you may kill yourself. For wicked and perverse men have sometimes so mistaken it, and have burnt and strangled themselves, thrown themselves from precipices, and in other ways put an end to themselves. This did not Christ teach; nay, when the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down, He said, Get you hence, Satan. But when no other choice is given you; when the persecutor threatens death, and you must either disobey God's law, or depart out of this life, then hate your life in this world, that you may keep it to life eternal.
CHRYS. This present life is sweet to them who are given up to it. But he who looks heavenwards, and sees what good things are there, soon despises this life. When the better life appears, the worse is despised. This is Christ's meaning, when He says, If any man serve Me, let him follow Me (Jn 12,26), i.e. imitate Me, both in My death, and life. For he who serves, should follow him whom he serves.
AUG. But what is it to serve Christ? The very words explain. They serve Christ who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ, i.e. who follow Him, walk in His, not their own v ways, do all good works for Christ's sake, not only works of mercy to men's bodies, but all others, till at length they fulfill that great work of love, and lay down their lives for the brethren. But what fruit, what reward? you ask. The next words tell you: And where I am, there shall also My servant be (Jn 12,26). Love Him for His own sake, and think it a rich reward for your service, to be with Him.
CHRYS. So then death will be followed by resurrection. Where I am, He says; for Christ was in heaven before His resurrection. Thither let us ascend in heart and in mind.
If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor (Jn 12,6). This must be understood as an explanation of the preceding. There also shall My servant be. For what greater honor can an adopted Son receive than to he where the Only Son is?
CHRYS. He says, My Father will honor him, not, I will honor him; because they had not yet proper notions of His nature, and thought Him inferior to the Father.
Golden Chain 13147