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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

That Moses was indicating the Coming of the Saviour.

From Deuteronomy, concerning Christ.

The LORD thy God (it says) will raise up unto thee a Prophet from thy brethren, like unto me, Him shall ye hear; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let us not hear again the voice of the LORD our God, neither let us see this great fire any more, nor let us die: and the LORD said unto me, Well is all which they spake: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put My word in His Mouth, and He shall speak unto them as I shall command Him. And the man who shall not hearken unto what the Prophet shall speak in My Name, I will require it of him. Deuteronomy is a kind of repetition and summary of the Mosaic books: it is not therefore possible to take from it a type and image of the legal priesthood. Yet since we are not accustomed to be without understanding, who in all think rightly by Christ’s aid, we will tell our readers and throw open the meaning of the passage in hand: Lo again is the mystery of Christ plainly told us, skilfully moulded by most subtle contemplation from likeness to Moses. For (says he) a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me: himself explaining, and that unflinchingly, what is the idea which from the likeness to himself his declaration introduces to us, clearly subjoins, According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in the mount Sinai in the day of the assembly, saying, Let us not hear any more the voice of the LORD our God, neither let us see this great fire any more, and let us not die. For he affirms that himself was at that time spoken of as a mediator, the Synagogue of the Jews being yet powerless to have to do with things above nature, and therefore prudently declining things above their power. For such was the sight of God, surprising the vision with unwonted sights, and the echoes of the trumpets supernatural and intolerable to the hearers.

Therefore the mediation of Moses was instituted as medicine of infirmity for those at that time, ministering to the synagogue the things decreed of God. You will transfer again the type to the truth, and will hereby conceive of Christ, the Mediator of God and men, ministering to the more teachable by means of human voice (when for our sakes He was born of a woman) the Ineffable Will of God the Father, made known to Him Alone, in that He is conceived of as both Son, of Him, and Wisdom, knowing all things, yea the deep things of God. For since it was not possible for the eyes of the body to fasten themselves upon the untempered and bare Divine and Ineffable glory of the Essence which surpasseth all things (for there shall no man (saith He) see My Face, and live:) needs was the Only-Begotten Word of God co-fashioned after our infirmities, clothed in this human body according to the Ineffable mode of the economy, and manifesting to us the counsel from above, that is of God the Father, saying, All things that I heard of My Father, these will I declare unto you, and again, For I spake not of Myself, but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak. Therefore as an image of the mediation, Moses of old may be considered a type of Christ, ministering most excellently to the children of Israel the things appointed from God: but the mediation of Moses was ministrative, that of Christ is free and more mystical, in that He takes hold by Nature of the things mediated and reaches unto both, I mean the manhood that is mediated and God the Father.

For He was by Nature God, as the Only-Begotten of God, as not separated from the Essence of Him Who begat Him, and in-being in It, as He is conceived to be also of it. But He was Man too, in that He became Flesh likening Himself to us, that through Him that which is by nature far separated might be conjoined to God. When then Moses says, A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you like unto me, you will understand it no other wise than we have just said. Since God Himself also sets His seal on the word saying, Well is all which they spake; I will raise them up a Prophet like unto thee, and will put My Words upon Him, and He shall speak unto them according to all that I shall command Him. For the Son upholdeth all things by the word of His Power, as Paul saith, and telleth us the words of the Father, inasmuch as He is ordained a Mediator by Him, as is sung in the Psalms, as of Christ Himself, And I was set King by Him upon Sion His holy Mountain, declaring the decree of the Lord.

But if it seem good to any, by other considerations also to attain unto the mode of likeness, he will understand Like unto me as lawgiver, and will bring forward as proof the words, It was said by them of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you, Thou shalt not lust. He will understand again like unto me, saying that He is a kind of leader and master unto the being able to understand the will of the Father, and to the things whereby there is the high road into the Kingdom of Heaven: just as to them of old too the blessed Moses appeared a teacher of the instruction through the Law, adding everywhere to his own words, That thou mayest live long, and that the Lord thy God may bring thee into the land which He sware to thy fathers. But since he subjoined to what has been said, And the man that will not hear what the Prophet shall speak in My Name, I will require it of him; let the ignorant Jews, who harden their minds to most utter stubbornness, consider that they are pouring self-invited destruction upon their own heads. For they shall be under Divine wrath, receiving the total loss of good things as the wages of their rage against Christ. For if they had believed Moses, they would have believed Christ, for of Him he wrote.

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My Words?

The verse might appear to a person, and with good reason, to have great obscurity. For he might even without being out of the mark, take to untrue surmises, supposing that the books of Moses excel the words of the Saviour. For the verse hath some such appearance, and as far as one can say, taking it without accurate consideration, it furnishes to the Mosaic writings a more worthy repute than to the words of the Saviour. For by saying, If ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My Words, He somehow gives us to understand that the writings of Moses are in a superior position to His Own words. But the very nature of the thing will shew that this so incredible idea is replete with the extremest folly: for how shall the writings of Moses be conceived to excel the words of the Saviour, when his were types and shadows, Christ’s the truth? And it would not perhaps be hard to expend much reasoning hereupon: but things which are obvious and receive their proof, not from without, but from themselves, I think it superfluous to say that they are not in ill case or the reverse. For why should one waste time making fine distinctions about such things, and mince up what is by no means hard into unseasonable babblings?

Some such meaning as this then hath that which is said by the Saviour. If (says He) ye who have the Law written by Moses, and thoroughly study his writings, make no account of transgression of them, burying in strange oblivion that which is full often read, how will ye be better disposed to My Words, or how will ye shew yourselves more ready and more obedient to My sayings, since ye have not often nor always attended them, but hear them by the way, and scarce once admit them into the bodily ears? You shall either clothe the verse in this dress, or you may consider it in another way: for to love of learning belongs the labour and research herein. The writings of Moses then introduce a kind of preparation for, and typical outline of the Mysteries of Christ, and the elements, so to say, of knowledge of Him are the things limned in Moses, as we shewed more at large by the things already examined. But the end of the instruction of the Law is Christ, according as it is written, Christ is the fulfilment of the law and the Prophets. They then (saith He) who received not the elements of the beginning of the words of God, and in their folly thrust away the Law which by its clearer letter leadeth them, how shall they attain to yet more perfect knowledge? or how will the greater be acceptable, if that which is little and inferior be by no means admitted?








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