HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







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

That in nothing is the Son inferior to God the Father, but rather equal to and like Him in nature.

28 If ye loved Me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for My Father is greater than I.

He turns the occasion of sorrow into a source of solace, and plainly rebukes them because they do not rather rejoice at what now gives them pain: and at the same time tries to teach them, that those who practise an unaffected and sincere love towards others, must not merely seek their own pleasure and advantage, but rather to benefit those they love, when an opportunity to do this gives them inducement. Therefore also Paul exhorts us in the words: Love vaunieth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own. He speaks of some who seek not their own but others’ good. For true love shows itself in our not only providing for our own advantage but also considering our neighbour’s benefit. For our Saviour, in the words before us, persuades His disciples to lay this to heart. And, further, let us imprint the power of this thought in clearer characters on our hearts as on a tablet, and thereby attain unto the mystery of Christ. For a type taken from trifling things will oftentimes avail to enable us to arrive even at those things which we hold to admit of no comparison. It was pleasant then, for example, to the disciples of Paul that they should be always with him, but better for Paul to depart and be with Christ, as he has assured us by his own words. It was the duty then of those who chose to love him to be eager to fulfil their love towards him, and not to consider that only as endurable which was pleasant to themselves, but rather to reflect upon this, that his departure would be to the benefit of their master; for he was eager to be with Christ.

You have the outline of the speculation so far as concerns Christ’s human nature. Let us therefore, illuminating as it were with varied tints our sketch of the power of the mystery of Christ, clearly show the absolute truth. For the Only-begotten, being in the form of God the Father, and in equality with the Spirit, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, and through His love towards us emptied Himself of His glory, taking the form of a servant, and underwent this that He might direct us all to perfect knowledge of virtue, so as to prepare us by the incomparable brightness of His miracles to behold the power, and glory, and exceeding might that is inherent in the Divine Nature. For so He might have induced those who have fallen into the depths of ignorance to recover knowledge once more, and no longer to worship the creature beyond the Creator, but to figure to themselves the One true and living God. And the Only-begotten has aided us in other ways by His incarnation, for He destroyed the power of death, and loosed the bonds of sin, and granted us to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. It was then, and with great reason, sweet and pleasant beyond all description to ourselves and the holy disciples, to have continual converse with Christ the Giver of such blessings to us, and to be ever present with Him and in His company. But it was clearly not to His advantage, so long a time to choose to abide in the guise of humility, which He had taken for our advantage, through His love to us, as we just now said: rather was He bound, when His dispensation towards us had been already suitably accomplished, to ascend to His own glory, and, with the flesh that He had taken for our sake, to hasten back to equality with God the Father, which thinking it not robbery to do (for He might have had this honour in His own right), He descended to human humiliation. For while He was yet upon the earth, though He was truly God and Lord of all, He was thought no better than the rest of men, by those who knew not His glory. Nay, more, He was smitten, and spat upon, and crucified, and underwent the ridicule of the impious Jews, who dared to say, If Thou art the Son of God, come down now from the cross, and we will believe Thee. And when after He had fulfilled the mystery of our redemption, He ascended to God the Father in the heavens, when the time of His humiliation was already past, and the period of His voluntary degradation accomplished, He showed Himself very God to the powers above. For heaven did not deny the Lord of all when He ascended, but the charge was given to the sentinels at the gates above, that the Lord of Hosts was drawing nigh, although He was borne upward in the raiment of the flesh; and the Spirit was representing the opening of the gates, when He said: Lift up the gates ye rulers, and be lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, the Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory. For the manifold wisdom of God which He purposed in Christ was known unto the principalities and the powers as Paul says. For when He ascended to the Father, although He may be thought greater than the Son in this respect, that He remained in His everlasting home, while the Son underwent voluntary humiliation, and descended in the form of a servant, and ascended up again to His own glory, and heard the words: Sit down on My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. And it was to the intent that He might not seem too presumptuous, and that God the Father in the heavens had not of His own will made the Son sit on His right hand, the Father Himself is introduced saying this: Sit Thou on My right hand, the Psalmist says this. And no one with any sense will say that the Father has the second place of honour though He has the Son on His right hand, but will rather take what I have said into consideration. For it is not the Father, but rather the Son, on account of His voluntary degradation and suffering, Who must be conceived as sitting on the right hand, and having a place from which no inferiority could be inferred, as He might be numbered among inferior beings by those who cannot comprehend the mystery of His Incarnation. Therefore a place on the right hand of His Father, against Whom no such charge can be brought, is allotted to the Son that His equality may be maintained.

We have done well to introduce these explanations now, which have an intimate connexion with the present subject. Now taking up again and unfolding from the beginning the whole purpose of our disquisition, I proceed to say that continual converse with our Saviour Christ is sweet and acceptable and pleasant to us, although for our sake He has emptied Himself of His glory, as has been written and taken the form of a servant and the dishonour of man’s nature. For what is man’s nature as compared with God! Nor was the Incarnation to the advantage of the Son, but to ascend to His Father profited Him more, and to recover His own glory and power and Divine honour in the sight of all, and no longer obscured. For He sat on the right hand by the will of His Father. For He loves Him as His own Offspring and the fruit of His Substance, and therefore He says, If ye loved Me, ye would have rejoiced because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater, than I. Surely it was a proof of His Father’s love towards Him that He did not sorrow over His seeming abandonment and the compulsory absence that He had taken on Himself, but rather took into consideration that He went to the glory befitting Him, and His due, and to His ancient honour, that is the Godhead manifest. Nay more, the Psalmist, though he speaks mysteries by the Spirit, says, Clap your hands, all ye people: then he explained the occasion of the festival, and introduced the Ascension of the Saviour into heaven, saying, God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trump: meaning by the shout and the trump the piercing and clear voice of the Spirit, when He bade the powers above open the gates, and named Him Lord of Hosts, as we said just now. On the same occasion moreover, we shall find the choir of the Saints rejoicing with great joy of heart. Then too he said in one place, The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; and in another, The Lord reigneth: the Lord hath put on glorious apparel, the Lord hath put on and girded Himself with might. For He that was with us as a man before His resurrection from the dead, when He ascended to His Father in the heavens, then put on His own glorious apparel, and girded Himself with the might that was His from the beginning, for He sat and reigneth with the Father. Then it is right and meet that those who love Him should rejoice because He has gone to His Father in the heavens, to take upon Him His own glory, and to reign again with Him as at the beginning. And He says that He is greater, not because He sat down on the right hand as God, but as He was still with us, that is, in human shape. For as He still wore the guise of a servant, and the time had not yet come that He should be reinstated, He calls God the Father greater. Moreover, when He endured the precious cross for us, the Jews brought Him vinegar and gall when He was athirst, and when He drank, He said, It is finished. For already the time of His humiliation was fulfilled, and He was crucified as man. He had overcome the power of death, not as man but rather as God, I say by the working of His power and the glory and might of His conquest, not according to the flesh. The Father then is greater since the Son was still a servant and in the world, as He says that He is God of Himself, and adds this attribute to His human form. For if we believe that He degraded and humbled Himself, will it not be obvious to all that He descended from superiority to an inferiority, and rather from equality with the Father to the reverse. The Father underwent nothing of this, and He abode where He was at the beginning. He is greater therefore than He that chose inferiority by His own dispensation, and remained in such a state until He was restored to His ancient condition, I mean His own and natural glory in which He was at the beginning. We may rightly judge that His equality with the Father, which while He might have had it uninterruptedly He did not consider robbery to take for our sake, is His own and natural position.

And as we have spoken at length about the equality of the Son with God the Father in previous books, it may well be fitting to proceed to illustrate all things in order, leaving long discussions on the subject for the present. And since a certain dull-witted heretic, receiving from the Jews some marvellous knowledge of the holy writings, and attempting to explain the verse we have before us, has committed to writing intolerable blasphemies against the Only-begotten, I deemed it a mark of feebleness, and very unbecoming to myself, calmly to pass them by, and to dismiss in silence the awful madness of the man to whom I allude. I think then we ought to encounter him in argument, and show that his words are baseless and old wives’ fables, and wholly devoid of sense, and the quibbles of a perverted logic. And with reference to the same passage, I will read over to you what he has dared to write when giving the view he took of the text: “When He called His Father greater than Himself, He not only displayed His own humility but also refuted the heresy of those who maintain that His nature is twofold.” And having thus shattered the opinion of Sabellius, he makes a furious and vigorous onslaught, as he thinks, on those who put the Son on an equality with the Father in these words: “Some have reached such a pitch of madness that they cannot at all endure to say that the Father is superior to the divinity of the Only-begotten, but only that the Father seems to surpass Him when compared with Him in reference to the Incarnation, though they are not even able to look at them together in this aspect; and things different in kind can in no way be compared. For no one would ever say that man is wiser than a beast, or that a horse runs faster than a tortoise; but that one man has more reason than another, and that one horse has greater speed than another. Since then only things belonging to the same class are capable of comparison with each other, we must admit that the Father is greater even than the divinity of the Son. For those who fall into the contrary error of drawing a comparison with reference to the Incarnation, so far as in them lies, lessen the honour of the Father.”

Such are his puerile babblings. And we must take care to show that he does not even know that he is inconsistent with himself. For he admits that the Son maintains becoming humility, when He says, The Father is greater than I; and I marvel that he did not also lay this to heart. For whatever was it which induced him to meddle with theology, although one would not make of no account the knowledge of the fitting time to speak or act if one were wise? What need was there then of such unseasonable discussion of the Divine Nature to His disciples in their agony, when He was about to depart from the world to God the Father? For what kind of consolation could this consideration bring to them? And why does not He merely rebuke them, saying, “If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I?” Tell me then, did He think that this tended to solace the disciples, or to rid them of the sorrow they felt from their love of God, that He was going to the Father Who was greater than Himself? Although when Philip asked Him and said, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us, then indeed, and very opportunely, as the occasion for theological teaching had arrived, He showed that the Father was in Him, and He Himself in the Father, and that He was in no way inferior to Him, but distinguished by His perfect equality, when He said: Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? I and the Father are one. Then indeed, very opportunely, He unravels His discourse thereupon, and it is worthy of admiration. But here, how is the reference opportune? Or what construction would it admit of other than His desire to allay His disciples’ grief, and to furnish them, as it were, with a medicine of consolation, bidding them rejoice because He “goes to the Father?” Is it not then obvious to any one, however dull-witted he may be, from the very state of the case, that since He was hastening to return to His own glory with the Father, He bade those who loved Him rejoice at this, devising this admirable means of consolation for them with the rest?

But I will now pass this by, and will not lay much stress on their demented folly. But I say that we ought rather to go on to the following considerations. For He thought perhaps when comparing His Incarnate Nature with His Divine, they could not help making profit out of the inquiry, when we say that the Son was emptied of His glory when He became a Man. Is it not so? How could it be otherwise? But speaking of His Divine glory, in contrast with His place as a servant, and His position of subjection, we say that the Son was inferior to the Father, in so far as He was human; but that He was reinstated into His equality with the Father after His sojourn here, not endued with any new, or adventitious, or unaccustomed glory, but rather restored to that state in which He was at the beginning with the Father. And indeed, the inspired writer who initiates us into mysteries, I mean Paul, no longer attributing to Him the humiliation belonging to man’s estate after His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, exhorts us saying: Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more. And of himself again: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ. And yet, why is it that when He says that on His second coming to us He will change the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, he now denies it, saying: Not from men, neither through man, although destined to be an apostle by Jesus Christ? But how is it that he says he knew Him not in the flesh? Did he then, tell me, deny the Master that bought him? God forbid; for he is rightminded. For when the period of the actual humiliation or degradation of the Only-begotten had been accomplished, and come to an end, He makes haste to proclaim Himself and to gain recognition, not in the character which He presented when emptied of His glory, but of His natural attributes of God. For when it had once been known and admitted that He was human, He was bound to instruct believers in Him that He was also God by nature; and for this reason He chooses to speak of His divinity, rather than anything else.

And I marvel that the heretic of whom we are speaking does not blush when he says that “as only things which belong to the same class admit of comparison with each other, they must confess the Father is greater than the Divinity of the Son.” For he does not perceive, it seems, that he has armed his own argument against himself. For let him answer us this pertinent inquiry: From what starting point can comparisons of things of the same class best proceed? Can we reasonably start with what they are, according to the common definition of their nature, or with the qualities which belong to, or are deficient in each, or inhere or do not inhere in each? And I will give an example, and will select that which he gave to us by way of illustration. If any one choose to compare one man with another, looking to the one common definition of their essence, he would find no distinction; for there is no difference between man and man, so far as each is a thinking animal, mortal, and capable of sense and knowledge, as in all men there is one and the same definition of their essence. Nor does one horse differ from another in its essential character as a horse; but one man differs from another in some special sort of knowledge, as writing, and in divers other ways. This does not affect the essence, but clearly proceeds from quite another cause. So also one horse excels another in speed, or is smaller or larger than another; but you will find that superiority or inferiority in these respects lies outside the definition of their essence, otherwise things brought into mutual comparison could have no distinctions made between them. For if one man had a less or greater degree of the essential character of man, how could we conceive or speak of him at all? Then all things of the same type in their essential characters are uniform. But the difference lies in those attributes which either inhere in them, or which lie outside (viewing them in the light of accidents). Since then, according to his premise or statement, which I will proceed to deal with, only things of like nature admit of comparison at all appropriately, he must start by admitting that the Son is of the same class as the Father, that is, of the same Essence. For so you will have the same class in view; for he proved that man might be compared with man, and horse with horse. Then let him go on to tell us the reason why, when the Son is compared with God the Father as being of the same class He has any kind of inferiority to Him, and where we shall find it, when one and the same definition of their essence belongs to things of the same class? For in the case of the essence of a class, its definition is not perfect in some cases and imperfect in others, but is one and the same for all. But we may say that any accident may have a separate cause and accrue to a thing in a different manner. In order to make what I have said quite clear, I will set before you the illustration I gave at the outset. No man differs from another in his essential character as man; but one man is pious and another wicked; and one is weak and maimed, while another is healthy and strong; and one is vile and another good. But when a man accurately investigates the reasons for these distinctions, he will not trace them to their common definition of the essence, but rather attributes the causes to diseases of mind or body. As then, there is one definition of Godhead for the Father and the Son both in conception and reality (otherwise one could not but go astray), for They are compared as belonging to the same class, and I will use his words for the purpose of the argument—let these deluded men tell us what they think it was that paved the way for the inferiority of the Son to God the Father; was it disease, or indolence, and those things which are known to affect created beings? Who would be so mad and such a slave of contradictions as even to lend an ear to such blasphemy? When then, being (as He is), of the same class as the living God, He Himself also is manifestly by nature God—for He is brought into comparison with the Father: and nothing can hinder His having a like state with His Father—how is He inferior?

Since, then, this adversary of the truth has given in detail a mass of contradictions, with reference to the text, and has not hesitated to affirm that “the Father is greater than the Godhead of the Son,” let us then, after having made a brief defence of the Incarnation, and separated it in our demonstration from the consideration of the matter under discussion, compare the Divinity of the Son with that of the Father, according to Their definition; but let us previously inquire of him who dares to say this, whether he thinks that God, when He is God, is so by nature, or something else besides, but honoured with the appellation of Divinity, as there are many so that are called gods and lords in heaven, and many on earth. When then he asserts that the Son has been honoured by the bare appellation of Divinity, but that He is not by nature really that which He is said to be, we who are rightminded will encounter him, and openly exclaim, “My good Sir, if He is not really God, we shall worship the creature in preference to the Creator, and not only we who inhabit this earthly sphere, but also the multitude of holy angels; and we shall also accuse every Saint who has spoken of Him as the real and true God, and most of all we charge S. John, who said of Him: We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the true God, and we are in His true Son Jesus Christ: this is the true God, and eternal life.” But if, rejecting all inspired writings alike, he confess that He is really God, and be so minded and still suggest the doctrine that even so He falls below the Father’s dignity in some respect, has he not introduced to us a new God, wholly dissevered from His natural connexion with the Father, and conceived of as having a separate existence and not inhering in the substance of God the Father? But I think the matter is obvious to every one. For if nothing is conceived of as being greater or less than itself, but as greater than anything which is less, and less than anything which is greater, must he not perforce admit that there are two true and real Gods, so that one is thought the greater, and the other the less. So the faith of the Church is wholly destroyed and overturned by their doctrine, for we shall have not one God but two. Whose temples then are we according to the Scriptures? Surely His Who established His Spirit in our hearts. When then we find in the Holy Writings the Spirit spoken of as not of the Father only but also of the Son, what are we to infer, and what view must we take? Which of the two reject and call the other God? If, however, we are to admit a duality of Gods, one less and the other greater, we shall say that both abide in our hearts by separate Spirits, and we shall be found temples of more than one God, and there are two Spirits dwelling in us, a greater and a less, corresponding to the nature of those who gave them. For who could tolerate such ravings, and who cannot see that their doctrine is absurd and ridiculous, after he has considered the view I have just set forth? But, perhaps, if he is forced to admit that there is a duality of Gods by nature, one the greater and the other the less, he will proceed to that doctrine that is always recurring in his writings; I mean, he will say that the Son has a separate nature—though He is not wholly devoid of the nature of a created being, yet neither does He wholly decline from the Divinity of God the Father. For those who do not scruple to say plainly that He is a creature take refuge in refinements of language, trying as it were to gloss over their profanity. When then we say that the Son has such a nature as not to be wholly God, nor yet to fall entirely into the category of creatures, but that He holds an intermediate place, so as to fall beneath the dignity of God the Father, and yet to exceed created beings in glory, we will say first of all, that there is no authority to induce us to lay down the doctrine they choose to propound. For either let them satisfy us from the holy and inspired writings, or confessing they have no voucher for their private opinion, blush for laying down definitions in matters of faith from their own private judgment.

But since it occurred to them to say this in their rash folly, I will proceed to the view they have propounded, and I will say once more that if only things of the same class are properly capable of mutual comparison,—and the Son has proved that He may properly be compared with God the Father in the plainest language, The Father is greater than I,—must not then the Father be conceived of as having the same nature you attribute to the Son? What follows then? Your whole speculation is upset. For so long as you maintain that the Father is greater than the Son, but a created being is less according to you, the nature of the Only-begotten lies between the two. And when the nature of the Father is lessened to that of the Son, one of the extremes is left out, as there is no longer anything above and superior to the Son. And if, as he says, He is compared with the Father as being one of the same class, must not the definition of Their Essence be one and the same for both? And if you scruple to admit that the Son is of the same Essence with the Father, but rather put Him in a position of inferiority, and debase the glory of the Father to that of a being whom you reckon less than and inferior to Him, do you not see blasphemy springing up like a thorn? Does not then a root of bitterness springing up rankle in the heart of those thus minded? Why then do you leave the straight path of truth, and launch into such absurd discussions? Grant then to the Only-begotten in your thoughts an equality with God the Father. For thus there will be One God, worshipped and glorified in the holy and consubstantial Trinity, both by us and by the holy angels.

29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe.

A prophecy of the future is manifestly a sure pledge of what the future has in store for us. Christ confirms therefore the heart of His disciples, and seems to inspire in them a firm conviction that He is really ascending to God the Father in the heavens, to reign with Him and share His throne as God, and as God really begotten of Him. For do not, He says, set My departure, which is according to the flesh and an object of sight (for I will be with you as God for ever), on a level with that of the holy prophets. For they, as they passed from the earth and paid the debt of nature, were brought low, and died according to the law of human creatures. But I, Who am the true God, am not measured by the same standard as My creatures awaiting the time of the resurrection. For I live for ever, and I am the True Life. And I will send the Comforter, and I will grant you My peace also, and will not lie; but to the intent that, when you receive the promise and are illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you may ratify the truth of My words, recollecting what I have said in the light of experience, and to the intent that you may have the firm conviction that I live and reign with the Father, I have foretold and spoken this to you. The fulfilment of the promise will then confirm the truth of My words. For if I be not the Life, He says, and if I be not enthroned with God the Father, how can I Myself vouchsafe Divine and spiritual graces? And I will bestow them as I have promised, and I will bring to you the Spirit and peace. Is it not then beyond dispute that I am the Life, and that I reign with the Father. For it is not the act of one who is dead, or powerless to illumine with Divine graces those who love him, but it is the act of One Who is living and powerful and Who reigns for ever. Christ therefore has hereby taught us that He made no empty prophecy of the future. For He says that He made this discourse that they might have their faith in Him confirmed, when they came to think upon and reflect on His promises, after they had experienced His grace.

30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in Me; 31 but that the world may know that I love the Father, as the Father gave Me commandment even so I do.

Now when the impious Jews were already at hand, with the band of soldiers whom they brought, and their leader who also had promised to betray Him, and were ready to take Him and bear Him away in no long time to His sufferings upon the cross, and before the Crucifixion, He declared that He would break off His discourse with them. For, He says, the time is short and already past. And now that the bloodthirsty spirit of the Jews is at its height against Me, and shows itself already within the gates, the time for speech with you is past, and the period of My passion has arrived. But He says, The prince of this world hath nothing in Me. And I shall die very gladly, and undergo death to save the world, and through reverence to My Father and love towards Him willingly encounter inconceivable anguish, that I may fulfil His Will. The aim of what He says here is very plain, and compressing His words into smaller compass we say: Adam, the author of our race, underwent death by a Divine curse, through his breaking the commandment given to him, accused by himself and the devil. He indeed seems to have suffered for good reason, since the doom of punishment justly pursues those who have sinned from indolence; but the second Adam, that is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who can have no such charge brought against Him at all, for He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, underwent His sufferings for us, having of Himself no responsibility whatever for them, but by His sufferings procured a ransom for the world, owing to His love for the Father, Who yearned for the salvation of the world. For it was truly the work of His love for the Father not to set at nought His decree and firm resolve, but to hasten to bring it into effect. And what was this decree? He willed that His own Son, though of like fashion with Himself and distinguished by His perfect equality with Him, should descend to such humiliation as to take the form of man for our sakes, and not shrink from death to save the world. This the Son did through love of His Father, Who is said to have ordered Him by His own power to suffer death in His fleshly nature, and to destroy the power of corruption, and to quicken the dead, and to restore them to their ancient state. Therefore He says that the time for speech is short. For My suffering is drawing nigh, and the presumptuous counsels of the Jews have burst into flame. I will suffer willingly, as for this cause I have come.

But the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me; that is, I shall not be convicted of sin, and the Jews will not be able to establish their charge of drunkenness against Me, the devil hath no part in Me, for vices are as it were his attributes, and wickedness owes its parentage to him. For the truth of our Saviour’s words will be most clearly seen from what follows. For how did He sin, Who knew no sin, the true and living God, Who was wholly incapable of turning from the path of righteousness? And we shall see this most clearly by the actual writings of the holy Evangelists. For the most wise John has represented Pilate saying, I find no crime in Him; and again, after putting on Him, the crown of thorns, as saying these words: Behold, I briny Him out to you, that ye may know that I find no crime in Him; and Matthew says that he so hated the crime, that he washed his hands before the Jews and said, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; and the same Evangelist points Him out to us, when He was brought into the presence of the high priests themselves, and says: Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against the Christ, that they might put Him to death; and they found it not, though many false witnesses came. Still, though accusations were sought against Him by the agency of men, the devil used them as ministers and instruments of his own malice, and it was he more than any one else who sought to find sin in Him. It is then true that the devil had no part in Him, whom Christ called prince of this world, speaking of the present moment, not as though he were truly lord of it, but as a foreign intruder who has gained by the law of conquest what does not belong to him. For by sin he subjected mankind to himself, and driving them away from God as sheep who have no shepherd, he ruled over them though they were not his own. Therefore was he rightly cast out from the kingdom he had so obtained. For Christ has become King over us, and therefore He says: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself.

Arise, let, us go hence.

The common and usual acceptation of the words before us suggests the thought, that as the period of the madness of the Jews had come, and the priceless Cross of our Saviour was well-nigh set up, He was hastening to depart with His holy disciples, to that place in which the band of men and officers found and took Him. And the thought is a plausible one. But probably there was another meaning hinted at; I mean a spiritual and hidden meaning. For when He says the words, Arise, let us go hence, He means to signify that to all of us there lies open by Him and with Him a change from one state to another, and a refuge from a worse condition in a better; in order that we may realise some such conception as this,—the passing from death unto life, and from corruption into incorruption, by Him and with Him, as I just said, as passing from one place into another. It is a fine saying then, Arise, and let us go hence; or you may interpret it to yourselves in some other way. From henceforth we are bound to be transformed from loving to think on earthly things into choosing the will to do God’s pleasure; and besides this, to pass from slavery into the dignity of sonship; from earth into the city above; from sin to righteousness,—the righteousness I mean that is due to faith in Christ; from the impurity of man’s nature to the sanctification by the Spirit; from dishonour to honour; from ignorance to knowledge; and from cowardice and faintheartedness to endurance in goodness.

Localising then, figurating as it were, our transgressions upon earth in the spot whereon He stood, He says, Arise, and let us go hence. For if this meaning entered into the scope of His speech, and He means to show thereby His affinity to us, it can do us no harm at all to act in this way, since He found it in His nature so to do. Moreover, in other places you will find Him saying to His own disciples: We must work the works of Him That sent us, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. Do you hear how He implicates Himself together with us in the duty of doing work, although He does not lie under the necessity of working as we do? And this form of speech is usual with us, and we shall find it just as much amongst ourselves; and the inspired Paul, when he rebuked the Corinthians, ventured on this expression, exhorting them in these words: Now these things, my brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos; that in us ye might learn not to think beyond the things which are written. And there is no question that we have not an elder, nor an angel, but the Lord of all Himself, though He was not subject to our infirmities, to point out the way to all that is good, and to turn us from our old lusts to better things. For we have been ransomed not by ourselves, nor by any other creature, but rather by Christ Himself our Saviour. Therefore, when escaping as it were with us, in our company, from the wickedness of the world, He says, Arise, let us go hence. He speaks these words not as subject to it as we are, or bound by human infirmities; but as our leader and champion and guide, to point out the way to incorruption and life in sanctification and love of God.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com