1 Christ comforteth His disciples with the hope of heaven. 6 Professeth Himself the way, the truth, and the life, and one with the Father. 13 Assureth their prayers in His name to be effectual. 15 Requesteth love and obedience. 16 Promiseth the Holy Ghost the Comforter. 27 And leaveth His peace with them.
ET not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Douay Rheims Version
Christ's discourse after his last supper.
ET not your heart be troubled. You believe in God: believe also in me.
Let not your heart, &c. Christ saw that the minds of His disciples were troubled, i.e. anxious and sorrowful, because He had foretold them that His own departure and Passion, through the treachery of Judas, was at hand, as well as the scandal of Peter’s threefold denial of Him. For they feared lest they also through dread of the Jews should betray Christ. For if Peter, who seemed as firm as a rock, was about to do so, would not the rest, who were weaker and more timid, do the same? Christ heals this their perturbation by the words, Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.
The Greek reads for ye believe, πιστεύετε, i.e. Believe ye in God, or, ye believe, &c. The meaning is, If ye believe in God, as I know ye do, believe also in Me, and consequently trust Me. For I am God. By this faith and confidence ye may overcome all your fears, and be made partakers of my promises. Cast all your cares and anxieties upon Me, your Lord and your God. For although I go away from you as to My bodily presence, yet in My spirit, in My care and guidance of you, I shall be always with you.
Listen to S. Chrysostom. He shows the power of His Divinity, setting out what they had in their minds. As if He said, “Ye fear the adversity which hangs over Me and you. Lay aside your fear. For faith in Me and the Father is mightier than those things which will come upon us. And nothing can prevail against it.” And S. Augustine says, “Lest as men they should fear the death of Christ, and so be troubled, He consoles them, declaring that He is God. As though He said, Ye fear death for this form of a servant; let not your heart be troubled, the form of God will raise it up.” Moreover Christ did this, as Ribera says, like husbandmen who attach a weakly vine to an elm, that it may from the elm receive strength to mount up and grow, even though wind and storms rage against it. Thus the Lord joins the apostles to Himself as a most strong wall, by faith: as it is said in Ps. 26, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?” Let the Christian think that the same thing is said to himself by Christ when he is harassed by temptation, trouble, or fear. “Thou believest in God, believe also in thy Christ. He will be present with thee, and give thee strength. He will open out for thee a way of escape, and make thee conqueror.”
In My Father’s house. Christ had said that He was about to go to the Father, and that Peter would follow Him thither, but He had said nothing concerning the other disciples. They feared therefore that they should be shut out from the Father’s house and from heaven. This fear Christ removes. “Fear not, for though it be that I do not take you with Me now to My Father’s kingdom, yet I will cause you to follow Me in due time. Do not suppose that Peter only will follow Me thither, as if there were only room for Myself and Peter. I tell you there will not be wanting room for you likewise. For in My Father’s house are many mansions. For heaven is a vast empyrean, and has innumerable mansions, sufficient to hold all men whatsoever.” So SS. Augustine and Chrysostom.
Moreover, the expression many, intimates that there are in heaven various degrees and ranks of blessedness and glory. As it were said, To each saint shall be his own place in heaven, to each his own beatitude, his own glory, in accordance with the merit of each. So the Fathers against Jovinian, who thought that as all virtues are equal, so likewise would be all rewards in heaven.
Listen to St. Gregory (lib. 4, “Moral,” ch. 31), “In the many mansions shall be a concordant diversity of requital. For so great shall be the might of the love which shall unite us in that house of peace, that whatsoever any one shall not receive in himself, he shall rejoice to have received it in another. Wherefore, although all did not labour equally in the vineyard, yet every one received a penny. And indeed with the Father there are many mansion, and yet the different labourers receive the same penny, because to all shall be the one blessed gladness, although not to all the same sublimity of life.” The same S. Gregory says, that to a certain Stephen these many mansions were shown full of a marvellous light. Christ then by these words, and by this exhibition of the heavenly reward, animates the apostles, so that they should not dread the temptations and persecutions which were impending over them, but should rather court them, forasmuch as by their means they were about to obtain such rewards.
If it were not so, i.e., if it were otherwise, I would have told you. First, it is as though He said, “I would have told you that I was going away that I might go to prepare a place for you in heaven, unless there were already many mansions prepared there; but because they are already prepared, I said not to you, “I will go to prepare them.”
2. Following the Greek and Syriac, which omit the word that before I go, Arias Montanus simply expounds as follows: “There are many mansions in My Father’s house. If it were not so I would tell you plainly; nor would I deceive you with the vain hope that I am going to prepare a place for you.” As though He said, “Since I so greatly love you, that I am going away from you for the sake of preparing a place for you, how should I suffer you to be deceived in so great a matter? To prepare a place is to come into possession of heaven, which until that time had been closed to man. When I ascend, the heavens shall be opened to you, according as it is said, ‘Lift your gates, ye princes, and the King of glory, shall come in,’ (Ps. xxiv. Vulg.); and, ‘He shall ascend preparing the way before them.’” (Mic. ii. Vulg.)
You will say, if mansions were already prepared for the apostles in heaven, why does Christ go to prepare a place for them? I answer, both are true. For, 1st, these mansions were prepared for the apostles and the rest of the elect from all eternity, by God’s predestination, in the first intention, as it were. 2d, Christ went, nevertheless, to prepare them in act, as it were; namely, to bring the apostles into possession of them so to say. Moreover, Christ made plain the way to heaven, which before was shut, by His ascension. For He by His own blood and death upon the cross paid to God the price of those heavenly mansions, and by that price purchased them for us. Moreover, when Christ ascended, He sent the Holy Ghost from heaven, that He, by His peace, might render the apostles and the rest of the elect worthy of heaven.
So S. Augustine. “How,” saith he, “does He prepare, if there are already many? They are not yet in existence if they are still to be prepared. But they do already exist by predestination. Otherwise, He would have said, I will go and prepare, i.e., I will predestinate. But it was because they were not prepared as a matter of actual existence that He said, If I go away and prepare, &c., He is preparing the mansions by preparing their destined inhabitants. For that is the house of God, of which the apostle says, ‘The temple of God is holy, which temple are ye.’ It is still being built, it is yet being prepared. He speaks of going away to prepare, because the just live by faith. For if thou seest there is no faith, the thing is hid that it may be believed, then is the place being prepared if there is a life of faith; being believed it is desired, that that which is longed for may be possessed. He goes away by becoming unseen. He comes by appearing. But unless He abide with us to rule us, that we may make progress in good living, we shall not have a place prepared for us where we can abide in continual gladness.”
Ver. 3.—And if I go away, &c. If, i.e., when, I go away into heaven and there prepare a place for you and all your successors, that is, for all the elect, by giving them through the ages the Holy Ghost, and His grace by which He may prepare them for celestial glory; when, I say, this has been accomplished, then I will come again in the day of judgment, and receive you all to Myself, and crown you with a worthy reward in heaven.
And whither I go, ye know, &c.; i.e., Ye can, and ought easily know, because ye have often heard of Me that I am going to the Father in heaven, and that the road to heaven is My faith, doctrine, passion, and cross. The Apostles knew that Christ had said these things, but they did not yet understand them, which was the reason why they did not remember them. So S. Augustine, Maldonatus.
Ver. 5.—Thomas saith unto Him, &c. Since we know not whither Thou goest, how can we know the way? For he who knows not the goal to which a way leads, cannot be said to know the way to that goal. We indeed have heard Thee say that Thou art going to Thy Father’s house, where there are many mansions, to prepare us a place. But where is this Father’s house? Where are those many mansions? If this house is heaven, as we suppose it is, declare the matter to us more fully and explicitly. Explain to us concerning these mansions where and in what region they are. For the vastness of heaven, or rather of the many heavens, is infinite. Thus Thomas. “But Christ,” as Cyril says, “gave no response to this overweening curiosity. For He does not explain the whole subject, but leaving that for a fitting season, He unfolds only what is necessary for the present time.”
Jesus saith to him, &c. Briefly the genuine meaning is this. “Thou askest, 0 Thomas, two questions, viz., about My way and its terminus, whither I am going, and what road? I answer thus, ‘I am the way which thou seekest, a way not deceitful, but true, a way which leads to true life, even to God the Father in heaven, where is My Father’s house, in which are the many mansions I have spoken of.’” Wherefore He adds, by way of explanation, No one cometh to the Father but by Me. The Father, therefore, is the goal or terminus. I am the way to it. I am the way, i.e. I am the teacher, the guide, and the leader of the true way which leads straight to the eternal and beatific life. I am the way, because I point out and teach the true faith and the holy living, which is the true way to everlasting life. There is an allusion to Isa. xxx. 20, 21, “Thine eyes shall see thy teachers, and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”
But because some ways are true and right, others false and erroneous, therefore is Christ called the way and the truth, i.e. the true and right way according to the words in Isa. xxxv. 8, “And this shall be to you the direct way, so that fools shall not err in it.” (Vulg.) As though Christ said, both Jewish and Gentile philosophers have taught many things concerning blessedness and the virtues which as a road lead to blessedness, yet they have fallen into many errors, and so have led men not to life, but to the destruction of hell. For as they made blessedness—not true indeed, but false blessedness—to consist in riches, honours, and vain science, so they have gone themselves, and led others into no good, or true, but into a false way. But I teach true faith and unity and those other virtues by which you may arrive by a direct way at that true and eternal life which is with the Father, and therefore with Me. For I and the Father are one. For as the Father is beatific life, both formal and causative, because He communicates the same to us, and also objective life, because He is the author of the beatific vision, so likewise am I the very self-same life and truth. I therefore am He who points out to you the right road to heaven. I am He who as the Truth delivers you from every error of the mind. I am He who leads you to true life.
From hence it is plain that Christ is the way:—1. Because by the merit of His Passion He has opened to us the way to heaven. 2. Because by His doctrine He shows us the same way. 3. Because He inspires us with faith-and grace and good works and merits, by which as by a path we walk to life eternal. 4. Because by this way of a holy life and by His Passion He has gone before us, treading it first Himself, that we might follow Him in the same, and imitating Him, arrive at the heaven whither He has gone.
This is the genuine meaning of this passage. But since this is a golden saying of Christ, let us listen to various comments and observations of the Fathers upon it.
1 S. Leo (Serm. 2, de Resur.) says, “Christ is the way of holy conversation, the truth of Divine doctrine, the life of everlasting blessedness.”
2. S. Cyril saith, “Christ is our way by the actions of His life, the truth by a right faith, the life by the well-spring of sanctification.” The meaning is, No one cometh to the Father, who is the true life and blessedness, except by love he walk in Me, who am the way; and by faith believe in Me, who am the truth; and by hope confide in Me, who am eternal life.
3. S. Bernard (Serm. 2, de. Ascens.), “Let us follow Thee, 0 Lord, by Thee, to Thee: for Thou art the way, the truth, and the life—the way by example, the truth by promise, the life by reward.” And the same S. Bernard (Serm. 2, de. Cœna. Dom.) says, “I am the way by which you must go; the truth, to which you must come; the life, in which you must abide.”
4. S. Augustine says, “Christ is the way according to His humanity by which He comes to us, and returns to the Father. The same is the truth and the life according to His Divinity.” Again he says (Serm. 55, de. Verb. Dom.), “What road dost thou wish to go? I am the way. Whither wilt thou go? I am the truth. Where wilt thou abide? I am the life. Every man desires truth and life. Even the philosophers saw in some dim way that God was truth and life, but not all found the way. Therefore the Word of God who is with the Father is truth and life, by becoming man is made the way. Walk by this Man, and thou wilt arrive at God. It is better to limp in the way than to walk bravely outside of the way.” The same S. Augustine (Tract. 69) further says, “By the form of a servant the Lord came to us, and returned to Himself, taking back flesh from death unto life. By the flesh He came as God to man, the Truth to liars. For let God be true, but every man a liar.”
5. S. Hilary (lib. 7, de Trin.) says, “He who is the way cannot lead us wrong. Nor does He who is the truth deceive by illusions. Nor does He who is the life leave us in the terror of death. If I am the way, ye need no other guide. If I am the truth, I cannot declare what is false. If the life, even though ye die, ye shall come to Me.”
6. S. Chrysostom says, “I am the way, because by Me ye shall come. I am the truth, because the things which I have spoken are beyond questioning. I am the life, because not even death itself can hinder you from coming to Me.”
7. S. Ambrose (lib. de bono mort.), “Christ saith, I am the way, &c. Let us walk in this way, let us hold the truth, let us follow the life. It is the way which brings us, the truth which confirms us, the life which is given them that persevere.” And again he saith, “We follow Thee, 0 Lord Jesus; but call us that we may follow, for no one ascends without Thee. Receive us as the way, confirm us as the truth, quicken us as the life.”
Symbolically, Christ is the way of beginners, purifying them by a hatred of sin, and a detestation of their past life. The same is the truth of the more advanced, illuminating them by the examples of virtues, and the desire of a new and holy conversation. The same is the life of the perfect, uniting them to God by the affections of pure love. Hear S. Bernard, summing up many things. “I am the way of light and calm, truth that liveth without pain, life that is happy and pleasant. I am the way upon the cross, the truth in the pit itself, the life in the joy of resurrection. I am the way, in which there are neither thorns nor thistles. The truth, in which there is no sting of falsehood. The life, in which he that is dead lives again. I am the right way, the perfect truth, the life that shall never end. I am the way of reconciliation, the truth of recompense, the life of eternal blessedness. No man cometh to the Father but by Me, i.e., no man cometh to Me, the truth and the life, except by Me the way.”
Tropologically, S. Basil remarks “that Christ is called the way, to denote that Christians ought daily to walk and proceed in the path of virtue, according to the words in the Psalms, ‘They shall go from virtue to virtue’ (Vulg.). For in truth this is the good way, knowing no devious wanderings; I mean our Lord Jesus Christ, who truly is good, who leads us to the Father. For no one, saith He, cometh to the Father but by Me. Such is the way of our return to God through His Son.” Thus far S. Basil, who says that Christ is the way, not only by faith, but by the exercise of virtues.
Anagogically, S. Augustine (de Sent. num. 268), “The Lord saith, I am the way, the truth, and the life, i.e. by Me you must walk, to Me you must come, in Me you must remain. For when we come to Him we arrive also at the Father, because by means of His equal He to whom He is equal is known. And the Holy Spirit binds and most closely unites us to Him, so that we may abide in the perfect and unchangeable Good for ever.”
Hence S. Bernard, when he was dying, appeared to a certain absent friend saying that he was going upwards, “for the truth is above.” For below in earth there is nothing but vanity and falsehood, as we are taught in Ecclesiastes. “Here,” said S. Bernard, “there is no knowledge, no recognition of the truth; above is there plenitude of science, above is the true knowledge of the truth.” And two of S. Benedict’s monks had this vision of him when he was dying. They beheld a path stretching direct from his cell to heaven, eastwards. This path was spread with tapestry, and bright with innumerable lamps. A man of venerable aspect, and clad in glorious apparel, stood over the monks, and asked them, Whose was the path which they beheld? They replied that they knew not. Then he said, “This is the way by which Benedict, the beloved of the Lord, ascendeth to heaven” (S. Greg. Dial. 1. 2 c. 37).
No one cometh, &c. Because I am the way to the Father, who is the goal and terminus. No one, i.e. of men; but Suarez adds, of angels also. For he thinks that all the angels have received all their graces and glory from Christ and His merits.
Ver. 7.—If ye had known Me, &c. Christ meets an objection. The disciples might have objected, “Thou, 0 Christ, declarest that Thou art the way, but the Father is the goal to which thou goest. But we do not know the Father, wherefore neither do we know the goal to which both Thou and we are going. Cause us therefore to know the Father. Again, if the Father is the goal, Thou the way, how sayest Thou, I am the way, the truth, and the life? That is both the way and the goal?” Christ answers that both are true. “For I,” saith He, “have one essence with the Father, one and the same Godhead. Wherefore, if ye had known Me clearly and fully, ye would have known My Father also;” for the Apostles knew indeed and believed that Christ was the Son of God, but they did not as yet believe that He was consubstantial with the Father; but they did know this after they had received the Holy Ghost. Wherefore He adds,
And from henceforth ye shall know Him, and have seen Him. Ye shall know is the reading of the Vulgate, of S. Chrysostom, and S. Hilary. He means, Ye shall know the Father at Pentecost by the illumination of the Holy Ghost; yea, ye have already seen Him in Me, for he who seeth Me seeth My Father also, as Christ subjoins. The Greek, Syriac, and Arabic read γινώσκετε, ye know, in the present tense. “Even now ye know the Father, because ye have seen Him in Me working so many miracles. For although ye have not seen Him as He is in His Essence and Godhead, ye have seen Him veiled in My humanity, as with a cloud, by means of the signs and miracles, which, like thunderings and lightnings, come forth from It.” So S. Cyril.
Ver. 8.—Philip saith unto Him, &c.—Philip did not understand Christ’s answer; how, namely, he who knows Christ knows also the Father. He urges therefore Christ to show them the Father Himself. “Thou sayest that the Father is in Thee, as it were lies hid in Thee. Open Thyself, and shew Him to us.”
And it sufficeth us. 1st. Says S. Chrysostom, we desire nothing else but to be shown the Father.
2d. S. Cyril, It sufficeth us, viz., for blessedness, that we should be delivered from all trouble and sorrow; for since the Father is God He will bless us.
3d. It sufficeth us, for confounding the Jews, who deny that Thou art the Son of God.
4th. And more simply, as though it were said, “instead of all the reasons which Thou, 0 Christ, bringest together, to console us in our sorrow for Thy death, we ask one, that Thou wouldst show us the Father. This one will suffice us instead of all the rest.”
Anagogically. Hear S. Augustine, “With that joy which shall fill us with His countenance nothing more will be required.” This Philip well understood when he said, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. But he did not yet understand that he might say, Lord, show us Thyself, and it sufficeth us. But that he might understand this, he received the answer, Have I been so long time with you? &c.
Herein is that saying of S. Augustine true, “Thou sufficest for God, let God be sufficient for thee.” For God is Saddai, i.e., sufficiency, abundance of all good things.” Wherefore the Psalmist says, “We shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear” (xvi. 15); and, “They shall be inebriated from the richness of Thy house, and Thou shalt give them drink from the torrent of Thy pleasure” (xxxv. 9); and, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (lxxiii. 25, 26).
The reason à priori is, because God made man after His own image and likeness, wherefore He gave him an infinite capacity, and infinite desires, such as cannot be satisfied with any finite goods. Therefore it is necessary that God alone, who is infinite Good, should fill and satisfy that capacity. As S. Augustine says (lib. 1, Conf. c. 1), “0 Lord, thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.” And the same saith (in Ps. lxii.), “Lovest thou riches? God Himself will be thy riches. Lovest thou a fountain of good? What is more excellent than wisdom? What more full of light? Whatever here can be loved, He who made all things shall be Thine instead of all things.”
Ver. 9.—Jesus saith to him, Have I been so long time—three years and a half—conversing with you I have taught you who I am, and yet ye have not known Me? The Greek S. Chrysostom and S. Cyril make thou hast not known Me in the sing., that indeed I am not only man, but the Son of God; not diverse in essence and existence from Him, but consubstantial with God the Father. For therefore having seen Me, you still desire to see the Father, because you think that I have a nature wholly different from the Father. As though Philip said, I have seen Jesus the Son of God: it remains for me to see His Father, as being different from Him, as is the case with men. This was the root of Philip’s mistake, which Christ removes by what follows.
Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth, &c. “Since I and the Father are plainly one and the same in the essence of Godhead—one, I say, not only in likeness, but one indivisibly, therefore he who sees Me in the Humanity which I have assumed, inasmuch as he sees Me, sees My Father also, for I and My Father are one.” Where observe, in Christ the Humanity was seen per se, but the Godhead per accidens. For It was seen not as It is in Itself, but through the Humanity, even as the soul is seen by means of the body in which it moves and operates. Wherefore he who with his bodily eye (with regard to which principally Philip asked, and Christ answered) beheld this Man, namely Jesus, per se, beheld indirectly, and per accidens His Godhead, because this Man was truly God. I am speaking as regards the essence of the Godhead, which is common to the Father and the Son. For as regards Person, it was indeed the Person of the Son which assumed human nature, not the Person of the Father. Wherefore he who directly saw this Man (Christ), directly saw the Person of God the Son lying hid in the manhood, but not the Person of God the Father, except by concomitance, as I shall show in ver. 10. Wherefore he who sees or recognises the Godhead of the Son, recognises also the Godhead of the Father, because They are one and the same. So S. Augustine, Cyril, Chrysostom, Hilary, and other Fathers passim. From this passage they prove against the Arians, 1. That Jesus was really God, so that those who saw that Man likewise saw God. 2. That there was one Person of the Father, another of the Son, which the Sabellians denied. For diversity of Persons is denoted by the words Me and Father. 3. That the Son is Consubstantial with the Father. For unless They were Consubstantial, the Son might be seen without seeing the Father: and vice versa, the Father might be seen without beholding the Son, even as happens with men. “You err therefore, 0 Philip, when having seen Me, you desire to see the Father, as though you were about to see another God, and another Deity, when there is but one and the same. How then sayest thou, Show us the Father, when I have shown Him unto thee in Myself?”
This is the true sense in which Christ answers directly the question and meaning of Philip. But because Christ, taking occasion, as He is wont, from the question to rise and to carry His hearers with Him to a loftier height, this passage may, as to its second intention, be taken to apply to the perfect and proper cognition of the Father and the Son, whether by faith or by sight. As it were, He who seeth Me according to the Divinity, seeth also the Father. Because, although He is distinct from Me, yet am I in Him and He in Me by identity of nature. Wherefore He who sees, i.e., who believes, that I am the Son of God, also sees, i.e. believes, that God is my Father. And he who through the beatific vision intuitively beholds Me, intuitively beholds the Father also. So S. Cyril, Augustine, Chrysostom, Maldonatus, and others. Also Suarez, who shows from this passage that the Blessed who see the Divine Essence see also Three Persons in It.
Ver. 10.—Believe ye not that I am in the Father, &c. Observe 1. Here again the distinction of the Divine Persons is signified. Nor is any one properly said to be in himself, but in another. 2. The oneness of the Divine Nature is signified. For because the Father and the Son are, and exist in one and the same Divine Nature, therefore the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father. Christ proved this by the effect. For He had His doctrine and works from the Father, and common with the Father. Therefore He had the same common Nature with Him. Hence, 3. By this saying is consequently signified the perfect and intimate union and indwelling of one Divine person in the Other, and the converse. By which it comes to pass that the Father is in the Son and the Holy Ghost, the Son in the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost in the Father and the Son. Damascene (1. de Fid. c. 11) calls this, πεζιχώζησις, and from him the schoolmen call it circumincessio. Concerning which mystery S. Augustine treats (l. 6, de Trin. c. ult.) and S. Hilary (lib. 4, de Trin.) Each one of the Divine Persons is in each of the others, not only as regards Their Essence, but also as regards Their relation and proper Person, because all are most intimately conjoined and united with One Another. Whence it follows that he who fully knows and beholds one Divine Person- as, for example, the Son—as the Blessed see Him, not only sees the Godhead common to the Father and the Son, but sees also the very Person of the Father, both because the Person of the Father is most intimately related to the Person of the Son, and also because in that relationship is included the essential order. For it is the Father who of His Essence begetteth the Son. And this is what Christ here means when He saith, Believe ye not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?
The words which I speak, &c. They are not human but Divine words. They proceed not from My Humanity, but from My Divinity, which I have received of the Father. Wherefore whoso heareth Me speak, heareth not so much Me as God the Father speaking in Me and by Me. Observe, the Godhead common to the Father and the Son was the efficient cause of the Divine words which Christ uttered. Yet the thing signified by the words was often peculiar to the Person of the Son, not of the Father, as when He said, “I am the Son of God,” “I have taken flesh,” “The things which I say and do I have received of the Father.” For these things He said concerning Himself, not the Father, as is plain. For not the Father was made man, but the Son. And yet the Father equally with the Son was the efficient cause as well of the Incarnation, as of the words uttered by the Word Incarnate. For the works of the Holy Trinity, ad extra, as theologians say, are undivided, and common to all the Three Divine Persons.
But the Father abiding in Me, &c. The Father, as the prime source not only of creatures, but of the other Divine Persons, that is, the Son and the Holy Ghost. For when the Father by begetting communicated His Divinity to the Son, He communicated also His omnipotence, virtue, and power of working. Wherefore, if not the Son but the Father Himself had assumed Humanity, He would have spoken and done the self-same things which the Son spoke and did. For the Father both spoke and wrought in the Son: and also there is one Godhead and omnipotence of the Father and the Son, which spoke and wrought all things through the Humanity which He assumed. Wherefore Christ left it to be gathered by the Apostles that when they saw and heard Him speaking they were to think that they saw and heard the Father. “From these My words and deeds,” as Ribera paraphrases, “ye are able to understand how good My Father is, how kind, how much He loves you. From My miracles ye may know My omnipotence, and that I know all things, and have in Me all good. From whence ye understand that the Father likewise hath the same. And since these external things lead you to the knowledge of such great good things, what, think ye, will be yours when ye shall behold My and the Father’s Essence without glass, or figure?”
Ver. 11, 12.—Believe ye not that I am in the Father? &c. For believe ye not? the Greek has πιστέυετέ μοι, Believe Me. But the meaning is the same, and one includes the other. Believe ye not that I am in the Father, &c. i.e., “Believe, because I assert this to you.” “But if ye do not believe this simply on My assertion, at least believe on account of the works themselves, because the Father by working in Me and by Me so many and so great miracles, shows by those very works that He dwelleth in Me, and doeth by Me such mighty things.”
Amen, Amen, I say unto you, whoso believer in Me, &c. Christ wishes to prove that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him. The force of the argument stands thus: he that believeth that the Father is in Me, by this faith, or by the power and virtue of this faith, shall do similar Divine works and miracles to those which I do; yea, he shall do greater than I do. Therefore that faith must needs be true, which believes that the Father is in Me, and worketh in Me. For the Father worketh by true faith, and by miraculous works affords to such an one testimony of the truth, but not to a false faith, for otherwise, He who is the prime Verity would be a witness and approver of a lie.
And greater works, &c. Not every believer, but some of them, such as the Apostles and apostolic men.
What were these greater works? 1. Origen (Hom. 7, in Num.) thinks that such things are meant as feeble men overcoming the flesh, the world, and the devil. For, saith he, it is a greater thing that Christ should overcome in us, than that He should overcome in Himself.
2. S. Chrysostom thinks that the greater works were such as that Peter should heal the sick by his shadow, which Christ did not do.
3. And better. S. Augustine thinks that these greater works were the conversion of all the nations of the whole world by twelve Apostles. For Christ converted a far less number, or only about 500. Listen to S. Augustine, whose diffuse words I have contracted into a few: “What are those greater works? Are they perchance such as that Peter healed by his shadow? For it is a greater thing to be healed by one’s shadow than by the fringe of one’s garment. But when He said those things He was referring to the works of His words. When He said, The Father abiding in Me, He doeth the works, He called the words which He spoke works, the fruit of which was their faith. For when His disciples preached the Gospel, not merely a few in number like themselves, but nations believed. The rich man departed from the Lord sorrowful. Yet afterwards what that one man would not do, many did when He spake by His disciples. ‘Then he speaks of a marvellous paradox.’ I say that herein is something greater than to create the heavens and the earth. For these shall pass away, but the salvation and justification of the elect shall endure. There are also in heaven the angels who are the work of Christ. And although it be an equal display of power to create them and to justify the ungodly, yet is this latter a greater work of mercy. However, there is no need to understand all the works of Christ when He saith, greater works shall he do. For perchance He spoke of those which He was then doing. Now it is a less thing to preach the words of justice which He did for our sake than it is to justify the ungodly, and this He so works in us that we work also.”
You will ask why Christ willed to do greater works by the Apostles than by Himself. I reply, 1. Because He wished the faith in Him to be gradually disseminated, and thus to grow, lest if it should grow up suddenly it should be supposed to be fancy, and He Himself a magician, or impostor. For that which grows by degrees, by degrees gains confidence, and is more durable.
2. That the modesty as well as the power of Jesus might be commended. That it might be seen that He was not only mighty in Himself to work, but that He was able to infuse the same powers of working in an equal, and even in a greater degree, into His Apostles. For the Apostles did not do these works by their own power, but by Christ’s.
3. Because it behoved Christ first to suffer and to die, and by His death to merit those wonderful works, which. afterwards He wrought by His Apostles.
4. Because it behoved Christ first to rise and ascend into Heaven, and then to send the Holy Ghost, who should work such great miracles. This reason Christ adds, when He says, Because I go to the Father
Let prelates and superiors here learn from Christ to keep for themselves the lower and meaner offices, and to leave to their inferiors the greater and more honourable. They will do greater things by their subjects than by themselves. For what the subject doeth, the superior is considered to do through him. S. Ignatius, the Founder of our Society, when he was made General, publicly catechised, whilst he left to his companions under him the honour of filling notable pulpits.
Because I go to the Father. When after death I have obtained the victory, and have triumphed over the world, the devil, and hell, I will ascend in glory to the Father’s throne, and thenceforward I will, through you, show forth greater works than I did whilst I was yet struggling in this life. There is no reason why I should then veil my face in poverty and humility, as I have done when I willed to submit to My Passion for the redemption of mankind. That being accomplished, I shall go up to My Father, who wills that My Name shall be manifested and adored in all the world by the preaching of the Apostles. Wherefore He will work greater things by them than He wrought by Me in this life. So S. Cyril (lib. ix. c. 41).
Ver. 13.—And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, &c. Thus it is in the Latin, and in S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others. But in the Greek, Arabic, and Syriac the word Father is omitted. These words have reference to what preceded, and greater works shall he do, &c. For after the faith, concerning which He said in the preceding verse, he that believeih in Me, He here subjoins a profession of faith, and the invocation of His Name, and the asking for those greater things. As though He said, “I indeed, 0 ye Apostles, am going away from you to the Father, but instead of My presence I leave and give you the invocation of My Name, that by means of It ye may ask and obtain those greater things. Wherefore Christ, says Cyril, here signifies that His own Divinity and authority is the same as the Father’s. For it is the glory of the Son that by the invocation of Him the Father should give to the Apostles to do greater works than He wrought by the Son during His earthly life.
In My Name, i.e., by the invocation of My Name.
I will do it. I will cause that the Father will grant unto you. Yea, I in the Father and with the Father will do this thing, and will grant it to you, so that all the power, virtue, and glory of these greater works which ye will do shall be ascribed to Me, not to you. For when prayer is made to the Father, prayer is also made to the Son.
That the Father may be glorified in the Son. Christ out of modesty is wont to ascribe all His glory to the Father, as to the prime Fount and origin. Learn from hence that miracles must not be asked for except for God’s glory, or when the glory of God requires them.
Ver. 14.—If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it. What Christ in the last verse said of the Father He here says of Himself, that He may show that He is the same God with the Father, that He hears those who pray to Him, and that He doeth all things which the Father doeth. Whence S. Cyril asserts that Christ is here speaking of His Divinity. Some are of opinion that the same thing is spoken and confirmed which He had said in the verse preceding. Wherefore Chrysostom and Nonnus omit this verse. But it is found in the Arabic, Syriac, S. Augustine, S. Cyril, Theophylact, &c.
But Toletus and others, with better reason, think that something different is meant from the verse preceding. They think that the words of the former verse relate to the petition for the greater things: but that in this verse Christ says that He will hear particular prayers. He means that although He is going away to the Father, and will be absent in the body, yet He is always present and will hear their prayers, and help their necessities, so that whatsoever they ask in His name, i.e., through His merits, He will do for them. S. Augustine supposes an objection. S. Paul asked that the angel of Satan might depart from him, but received it not. But consider that it is said, In My Name, i.e., in Jesus! For whatever we ask contrary to our salvation, we do not ask in the name of the Saviour. For He would not be a Saviour to a man, if He did anything to hinder his salvation. The physician knows what is against his patient’s health, and what is in favour of it: and therefore he does not comply with his wishes in what is against his recovery.
Ver. 15.—If ye love Me, &c. Christ here takes His farewell of His disciples, gives His last commands, which pertain to the exercise of the three chief theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity. Concerning faith He speaks in the 1st verse, Ye believe in God, &c. Concerning hope in the 3d, Whatsoever ye shall ask, &c. Now He speaks of charity, If you love Me, keep My commandments. And these three are united together. For faith begets hope, and hope begets charity. The meaning then is, If ye wish to obtain these My promises, and to gain what ye ask in My name, then love Me in return who love you, and persevere and grow in My love. If ye wish to please Me, and through Me obtain all that ye ask, keep My commandments. And if they do this, He promises them a great reward, saying,
Ver. 16.—And I will ask the Father, &c., i.e., If ye persevere in My love, and keep My commandments, I will obtain for you by My prayers the Holy Ghost, which the Father will pour upon you at Pentecost. And He will work through you even greater things than I have wrought.
And I will ask, as man. For Christ as man prays for us, says S. Augustine.
Another Comforter, i.e., another than Myself. From hence it is plain that Christ also was the Paraclete of the Apostles and the faithful. That is, He is—1. an Advocate, an Intercessor, according to those words of Paul, ‘We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 2. An Exhorter, an Inciter. 3. A Comforter, as the Syriac translates. All these meanings are included in the Greek παζάκλητος. But when Christ went away, He sent another Paraclete, even the Holy Ghost, who in these three things took Christ’s place. For, 1. He is the Advocate of the faithful, “Who intercedes for us with groanings unutterable” (Rom. viii. 26). He likewise is our Exhorter and Consoler. To these two offices Christ here specially refers. As though He said, I, 0 ye disciples, have taught you until this present; I have called you, and comforted you, and you are very sad on account of My near departure. But lift up your minds and trust. For I will send you another Comforter in My place, who will teach, console, and protect you, not for a little while, but all through your life. The Holy Spirit then is this Paraclete, i.e., 1. An Exhorter, an Inciter, because He stirred up the Apostles to undertake noble works of virtue for the glory of God, that they should preach the Gospel throughout the whole world, not fearing tyrants or tortures, yea, being ambitious of the most dreadful deaths for Christ’s sake. 2. A Consoler, because He would comfort and support them in adversities, distresses, doubts and temptations. For the Holy Spirit is as it were a burning and shining fire, which drives all darkness, fear, and torpor from the mind. As S. Bernard says (Serm. 2, de. Pent.), “Those whom He fills, He makes to be fervent in spirit, and to have knowledge of the truth.” And again, “The Paraclete gives the pledge of salvation, the light of knowledge; and the strength of life,—that what is impossible by nature should be made possible, yea easy, by grace.”
He will give you, 0 ye Apostles, at the next Pentecost. From hence S. Jerome (Quæs. 9, ad Hedib.) refutes the heresy of Montanus, whom Tertullian followed, who said that long after the Apostles the Holy Ghost first came down upon the heresiarch Montanus, A.D. 220, and therefore that Montanus was the Paraclete promised by Christ.
That He may abide with you for ever. From this promise of Christ it is that the Holy Ghost always abides in the Church, and assists the faithful, so as to be a Comforter in afflictions, and a stirrer-up to heroic works of virtue. S. Augustine proposes the objection, “How shall we keep the commandments, that we may receive Him, when, unless we do possess Him, we cannot keep them?” He answers, “He who loveth hath the Holy Spirit, and by having Him deserves to have more of Him, that by having more of Him, he may love more.”
The Spirit of Truth. Why is the Holy Ghost called the Spirit of Truth? First, S. Cyril answers, because He is the Spirit of the Son, proceeding by Spiration from the Son, whose special attributes are wisdom and truth, according to the words, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
2. Because the Holy Ghost has declared to the world that Jesus is God, and the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour. For this was what Christ pressed home, saying, Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also. And I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. So S. Basil (lib. 2, de Spirit Sanc. c. i8).
3. Euthymius says, He is called the Spirit of Truth, i.e., most true and excellent, as opposed to an angel, the soul, or wind, which are spirits in a sense.
4. Of truth, because He is worthy of credit, says S. Chrysostom.
5. Others say that the Spirit of Truth means that He is the Spirit of the New Testament. For to it was the Holy Ghost reserved, as the Spirit of liberty and love, whereas in the Old Testament He was the Spirit of bondage and fear.
6. And most plainly, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth, because He is the Author of all truth, and the alone Teacher and Giver of pure and perfect truth. He teaches us all truths necessary for salvation, and delivers us from all errors. And so Christ explains this to us, saying in the 16th chapter, “When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall teach you all truth.” So too in Isa. xi. 2, the same Spirit is called “the Spirit of wisdom and counsel,” &c., because He inspires us with those virtues.
The Spirit of Truth therefore is opposed to the evil spirit of the world, which is false and deceitful. Wherefore Christ adds, whom the world cannot receive. Whence S. Augustine (lib. de grat. Nov. Test.) says that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the Church. “The Holy Spirit is the love and bond of union of the Father and the Son. To Him pertains the Society by which we are made one. A man’s body consists of many members, and one soul animates them all, causing the eye to see, and the ear to hear. So likewise the Holy Ghost contains and animates the members of the Body of Christ which is the Church.”
Whom the world cannot receive, i.e. worldly and carnal men, who gape after earthly desires and vain riches. Such persons cannot receive the Holy Ghost, because He is altogether heavenly, spiritual, and Divine, who teaches us to despise all earthly things as vanity, and to love and embrace heavenly things as true and solid. For as the Apostle says (Rom. viii.), “The prudence of the flesh is the enemy of God.” (Vulg.) Whence S. Basil says (lib. de Spir. Sc.), “As in an unpolished mirror the images of things cannot be received nor discerned, so cannot a man receive the illumination of the Holy Ghost, unless he cast away sin and fleshly lusts,”
Because it seeth Him not, &c. Because it bath the eyes of the mind earthly, and blinded by the lusts of the flesh. Wherefore neither doth it know Him, i.e. practically, so as to love and desire Him.
But ye shall know Him, &c. Know, i.e., His power, efficiency, doctrine, holiness. For He by His presence in you shall exercise His Divine power and grace. By which it shall come to pass that ye shall know Him, love Him when known, and long that He may be known to others. It is as the taste of pepper when it is bruised, or as the hidden power of fire in wood, which bursts forth into a mighty conflagration.
Shall abide with you. The Vulg., with S. Augustine and Nonnus, reads μενεί in the fut. The Greek with a different accent has μένει, abides. With this agree the Syriac and Theophylact. Listen to S. Bernard (Serm. 20, inter Parv.), “The Holy Ghost proceeds, breathes, inhabits, fills, glorifies. He is said to proceed in two ways, from whence, and whither. From whence? From the Father and the Son. Whither? To the creature. By proceeding He predestinates. By breathing He calls those whom He has predestinated. By inhabiting He justifies those whom He has called. By filling He heaps merits upon those whom He has justified. By glorifying He enriches with rewards those upon whom He has accumulated merits.”
Ver. 18.—I will not leave you orphans, &c. Forasmuch as Christ called His disciples sons, He now says to them, I will not leave you orphans, i.e., without a Father. Because, although I am going away from you to the Father, I will send you another Comforter in My stead. It is not that going away I will desert you, but that going away I will return, and will come unto you.
Christ did this—1. And especially, when after the resurrection He appeared to His apostles in bodily presence, and taught them, and made them glad. 2. He did it, when at Pentecost He visibly sent them the Holy Ghost in the appearance of tongues of fire. 3. He did it invisibly, by often spiritually visiting them from heaven, and communicating to them His heavenly gifts. 4. He will do it visibly in the day of judgment when He will make His Apostles assessors with Himself. All this Christ further explains in what follows.
Ver. 19.—Yet a little while, &c. But a short period of life remains to Me, only a few hours, after which I shall die upon the cross, and be withdrawn from this world; but ye shall see Me, because the third day I shall rise from the dead, and show Myself to you. This is the literal meaning.
Tropologically, as the world shall not see Me with the eye of sense, so neither shall it see Me with the eye of the mind, because it will not believe in Me, nor recognise Me as the Messiah.
Anagogically. The world shall not see Me after the day of judgment gloriously reigning in heaven.
Because I live, ye shall live also. Ye shall see Me, because I shall rise from the dead, and live again. Ye also shall live that ye may behold Me living again, that ye may be able to preach My death and resurrection to the whole world. As Theophylact says, When ye shall see Me living again ye shall rejoice, and as though ye had been dead, ye shall live again at My appearing. As Jacob, when he heard that Joseph whom he supposed to be dead was alive, he awoke, as it were out of a deep sleep, and lived again. Christ speaks in the present tense, I live, because He would signify that He would immediately rise again from the dead. As S. Augustine says, “He spoke of Himself as living, in the present, of them as about to live in the future. For His Resurrection was presently to take place, but theirs was to be deferred to the end of the world.”
Ver. 20.—In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, &c. After I have risen again, and ascended into heaven, and sent you the Holy Ghost, ye shall by His illumination know these three things more clearly and certainly, viz., that I am in the Father, by the unity of the Divine Essence, that is to say, that I am true God. 2. That ye may be in Me through Love, through the special guardianship which I have over you. Cyril adds a deeper meaning, “That ye may be in Me through union of substance. For since I have assumed human flesh, I have united the whole nature of man, and as it were all men to Myself. 3. That I may be in you as inhabiting, illuminating, and directing you to all good, and to everlasting life in heaven by My grace. Wherefore, says the Interlinear, ye shall know that I am in the Father, as a ray of light in the sun, one with Him, and ye in Me as branches in the vine, and I in you, as the vine in a branch, causing (heavenly) sap, and the life of grace to flow into you. S. Hilary adds that Christ is in us in the way of food by Participation of the Eucharist.
He that hath My commandments, &c. As the Gloss says, not only you, 0 ye Apostles, but every one who loveth Me, and keepeth My commandments, shall live and know. Toletus understands this of the ordinary believers, who besides the Apostles in the time of Christ believed on Him, that these were here exhorted to persevere in His faith, love, and obedience. That in so doing they would in return be loved by Him and the Father, and that He would show Himself to them, when He rose again gloriously from the dead. This meaning is true, but too restricted. For Christ is speaking to all the faithful of every age. The meaning is, he that hath My commandments, i.e., he who keeps in his memory and affection the precepts which he has heard of Me, and keepeth them, i.e., fulfils them in deed; he who, as S. Augustine says, keeps them in his life and in his works, and perseveres in so doing, he it is who loveth Me, because he does what is pleasing to Me, what I love and desire to be done by him. A similar phrase occurs in chap. v. 38, Ye have not My word abiding in you. For as S. Gregory says, “The proof of love is the exhibition of work. The love of God is never lazy. If it exists, it worketh great things. But if there be refusal to work, love is not there.”
But he that loveth Me, &c. Because My commandments are the commandments of the Father. Wherefore he who keepeth them, reverences and loves the Father, and does what is most pleasing to Him. Hence he draws His love upon him in return. Loving God the Father, he is beloved by Him. Love is the magnet of love. But here observe, we do not first love God, but God us, and so He inspires us with grace, by which we love Him in return. And if we accept this His love, and begin to love Him, He the more loves us, and pours greater grace and charity upon us.
And I will love him, not only as God, for so I will love him with the same love as the Father: but even as man I will proceed to love him, and to accumulate gifts and graces upon him. As S. Augustine says, “To this end I will love that I may manifest (Myself). Not indeed that He did not love then. He loved us to this end, that we should believe, then that we should see. Now we love by believing in what we shall see, then we shall love by seeing that which we have believed.”
And will manifest Myself to him, by a deeper knowledge from day to day of My mysteries and gifts, not only speculative but practical and experimental knowledge, by which the saints taste and have experience of Christ how sweet He, the Lord, is: and therefore they burst forth in pious affections of gratitude, love, and praise, as S. Paul does in 1 Cor. 11, and elsewhere. But, above all, this shall take place in heaven.
Ver. 22.—Judas saith unto him, &c. This was Thaddæus, the brother of James the less, the author of the Epistle of Jude. Wherefore is it? The Vulg. has quid factum? which is a literal rendering of the Hebrew expression me haia, i.e., why was it? When Jesus said, The world seeth Me not, but ye see Me, He spoke of His death and His resurrection, by which He would appear again to His Apostles, but not to the worldly and unbelieving Jews. But Judas did not understand these words, and asked that they might be explained. He asks the reason, says S. Augustine, wherefore He will not manifest Himself to the world, but only to His own. The Lord answers him, Because these love, but the others do not love. Judas uses the word manifest, because Christ had just used the same expression, saying, I will manifest Myself to him. This word therefore dwelt in Judas’ mind, though he is referring to previous words of Christ.
Ver. 23.—Jesus answered, &c. As if He said, “Do not suppose, 0 Judas, that I will appear to thee alone and thy fellow-Apostles after My resurrection, as if the fruit of My life and passion were restricted to you only and the few others, to whom I shall visibly appear. I shall appear, though invisibly, to all those who throughout the world shall receive My faith and doctrine by means of the preaching of thyself and the rest of the Apostles, and shall love and keep it.”
And We will come to Him, I and My Father, and consequently the Holy Ghost. For where there is one Divine Person there are the other two. He means, Be it that after My resurrection I shall appear visibly to you alone, invisibly I shall come by My grace to all the faithful who believe in Me. And as I will come, so also My Father and the Holy Spirit will come to them. And we will dwell in their souls as in our house and temple.
Observe, God, who is everywhere, and therefore immovable, is said to come and abide, not by change of place, but by the fresh working which He effects in such and such a place. So He is here said to come to the faithful and the just by grace and a fresh operation, because He preserves them, and furthers them in justice, and He assists and co-operates with their own free will. For He prevents their understanding with His illumination, and their will by pious affections, by which He impels them to good works, even such as are arduous, and by His concurring grace He labours with them for this accomplishment.
Hear S. Augustine, “Love, which makes men to dwell with one mind in a house, separates the saints from the world. In that house the Father and the Son, who giveth the gift of love, make their dwelling-place. They come to us whilst we come to them. They come by assisting, enlightening, filling. We come by obeying, beholding, receiving.”
Lastly, thus piously writes S. Bernard (Serm. 3, de Advent.), “Blessed is he with whom Thou wilt make Thine abode, 0 Lord Jesu; blessed is he in whom Wisdom builds herself a house, hewing out her seven pillars; blessed is the soul which is the seat of wisdom. What is that soul? It is the soul of the just. Rightly so, for judgment and justice are the preparation of Thy seat. Who is there among you, brethren, who desires to prepare in his soul a seat for Christ? Lo! what are the silks, the tapestry, the cushions, which ought to be prepared? Justice and judgment, He says, are the preparation of Thy seat. Justice is the virtue which is His very own, and which He gives to each. Render thus to each of the three classes of thy superiors, thy equals, thy inferiors, what is due to each. Thus shalt thou worthily celebrate the coming of Christ, and prepare His seat in justice.”
Tropologically, God the Holy Trinity comes to the three faculties of the soul, which He created after His own image, that He may inhabit them, renewing in them His image depraved by concupiscences. To the Father is appropriated memory, because He from fruitful memory conceiving all things, produced the Word, and begat the Son. To the Son is appropriated the understanding, because by the understanding He was begotten, as it were the word of the mind, the idea, image and pattern of all things. To the Holy Spirit is appropriated the will, because He Himself proceeds by the action of the will, i e., the love of the Father and the Son, as it were the love and bond of union of both. The Father therefore reforms the memory when He blots out of it the appearances of vanity, and brings into it the appearances of divine things, so that it should remember only God, His worship and His love. The Son reforms the understanding, so that it should think only of the things which pertain to salvation and holiness. The Holy Spirit reforms the will, so that it should love and desire the same. Wherefore a holy soul continually reflects that it is a temple of the Holy Trinity, as it is said in 2 Cor. vi., “Ye are the temple of the living God.”
There were in the ancient Temple three vessels of service—the altar for burning incense, the candelabrum with its seven burning lamps, and the table of shewbread. There should be in like manner in a holy soul an altar of prayer, breathing out holy praises and pious desires to God. There ought to be a candelabrum brightly shining with the seven gifts of the holy Ghost. And there ought to be a table of beneficence and charity. Then will come to pass that which is written in the Apocalypse, (xxi. 3), “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself with them shall be their God.” See S. Bernard (Serm. 27, in Cant.) where he teaches that a holy soul is a heaven in which shine the sun of charity, the moon of continence, the stars of the other virtues.
Ver. 24.—He that loveth Me not, &c. The reason then why any one does not keep God’s commandments is because he loveth not God.
And the word which ye have heard is not Mine, &c. Listen to S. Augustine, “He said that the word was not His, but the Father’s, intending Himself to be understood, who is the Word, the Image and the Son of the Father. Rightly does He attribute to the Originator what the equal does, from whom the equal has that He is an equal.”
Vers. 25, 26.—These things have I spoken unto you, remaining yet with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send, &c. Thus should this passage be pointed with the Roman, Greek, Arabic, and Syriac Versions. Less appropriately S. Chrysostom connects the words, remaining with you with the Paraclete, as though it were meant, “I go away, but the Holy Ghost will remain with you in My place.” But the words should be referred to Christ who went before. He means, “These things which thus far ye have heard from My mouth I have spoken unto you, and taught you, whilst I remained with you, but I know that, either through your own ignorance, or through the strangeness and sublimity of the things which I have spoken, many are not received or understood by you. I will cause therefore that the Father will send you the Holy Ghost, as a Paraclete, i.e. an Instructor and Comforter, who will bring back to your memory, and explain to you all these things which I have said unto you. By His illuminations ye will easily understand all things. He will comfort you when you are sad at My departure, and will strengthen you under the persecution of the Jews, or any other tribulations. That the Holy Ghost did this is seen by the earlier chapters of the Acts of the Apostles and elsewhere. As S. Chrysostom says, “He frequently speaks of the Comforter because of their sadness.”
Whom the Father shall send in My name, i.e., says S. Cyril, through Me, because the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Wherefore the Father with the Son, or through the Son, as He breathes, so also He sends the Holy Ghost. 2d. In My name, i.e., for My sake, and because of My merits. 3d. In My name, i.e., for Me in My place, that He may finish My work which I have begun, and by the preaching of the Apostles may disseminate My faith, My doctrine, My Church throughout all nations.
He shall teach you all things, which pertain to my advent and Incarnation. All things which are necessary for the foundation, instruction, establishment of the Church. Listen to Didymus (lib. de Spir. Sanc.)—“He shall teach the perfect in the faith of Christ spiritual and intellectual sacraments. But He shall teach by infusing invisibly the knowledge of Divine things into the soul.” And Augustine—“The Son speaketh not without the Holy Ghost: neither doth the Holy Ghost teach without the Son, but the Trinity speaketh and teacheth all things. But unless separate mention were made of each Person, human weakness could not receive these things.”
And shall suggest (suggest, Vulg.) Greek, ύπομνήσει, i.e., shall bring back to memory. So Cyril, Augustine, &c. Wherefore from this passage S. Augustine takes notice that the external voice of an apostle or preacher does not suffice for the understanding or reception of the thing preached, but that this is the work of the Holy Ghost, who inwardly enlightens the mind to understand those things, and inclines the will to embrace them, and strengthens the memory to retain them. An orthodox doctor teaches this. Theophylact says, “The Holy Ghost taught all that Christ had not said to them, as not being able to bear it. Also He brought to mind what the Lord had said, but which they, through its obscurity or the dulness of their understanding, had been unable to remember.”
Ver. 27.—Peace I leave you. My peace, &c. The Arabic translates My own peace. This is Christ’s farewell. For the Hebrews, when they salute any one coming, or bid good-bye when departing, say, Peace be with you. Where under the word peace they wish every kind of good, prosperity, and happiness. It is as though Christ said, “Going away from you, I give to you, 0 ye Apostles and your successors, and as it were leave you, My benediction for an inheritance. By this I pray God to give you every good thing. And this I do not vainly or briefly, like the world, but truly, solidly, eternally. I do it not by adulatory words, as worldly people do, but really supplicating and bestowing grace and power, by which ye may securely attain to the eternal goods, and by your preaching, charity, and prayers may lead many others to the same blessed end.” So Maldonatus.
Jansen and Toletus explain a little differently. They say, This peace is that of which S. Paul speaks in the 4th ch. of the Philippians, “The peace of God which surpasseth all sense keep your heart and understanding in Christ Jesus.” Now this peace includes—1. Friendship with God. 2. Tranquillity of mind and calm in temptations and persecutions. 3. Mutual concord amongst ourselves. This makes men strong in every danger, and gives consolation in every trouble. This the Lord bequeaths us, not riches, nor temporal possessions. Far above all the wealth of this world peace stands pre-eminent.
Hear S. Augustine. “We cannot arrive at the Lord’s inheritance, who wished us to observe His testament of peace—we cannot have concord with Christ if we quarrel with our fellow-Christians. Peace is serenity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the concord of charity.”
Symbolically, S. Augustine. “He leaves peace in this world, abiding in which peace we overcome the enemy. He will give peace in the world to come, when we shall reign without an enemy. He is our peace, both when we believe that He is, and when we shall see Him as He is. We must observe that when He saith I will give, He adds My peace, wishing us to understand that it is such peace as He hath Himself, in whom there is no fighting, because He hath no sin. But the peace which He leaves us is rather to be called ours, than His. It is such peace as is consistent with the state in which we still say, Forgive us our debts. There is peace among ourselves forasmuch as we trust and love one another. But it is not full peace, because we do not see the thoughts of one another’s hearts.”
Ver. 23.—Let not your heart be troubled, &c. Christ adds this because He saw that the Apostles were sad at His departure, and fainthearted on account of the hatred of the Jews, and the battles which were impending, says S. Chrysostom. Lest the wolf should attack the sheep when the Shepherd was absent, says S. Austin. Therefore He consoles them, and lifts them up, saying, “Be not troubled nor fearful because of My departure, as though ye were about to be sheep without a Shepherd. For I, as I have said, go away indeed to death, but I will rise again on the third day, and then I will come, i.e., I will return, to you.”
If ye loved Me, &c. The apostles did love Christ, and therefore they were troubled at His going away. When therefore Christ says, If ye loved Me, He speaks after the manner of men. It is the way of consoling friends when they are sad at the departure of a friend. If you showed Me, 0 ye Apostles, what true and sincere love demands, ye would not grieve but rejoice at My departure, for My going away will be exceedingly profitable to Me, yea, and to you likewise. For I am going to the Father who is greater than I, i.e., I am going from consorting with men to God, from human misery and contempt to Divine felicity, exaltation, and glory. I am going to prepare a place for you, to which in due time I will bring you. So Cyril.
For My Father is greater than I. This was the great stronghold of the Arians, by which they sought to prove that the Son was not God, but the highest creature of God; but SS. Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, and the rest of the Fathers, admirably reply to them, that Christ is here speaking of Himself not as God, but as man. For as such He was less, not only than the Father, but even than the angels. And that Christ is speaking thus is plain from hence, that He gives the reason why He is going to the Father: because, He saith, My Father is greater than I. Now Christ goeth to the Father, in that, as man, He ascendeth into heaven. For as God He is alway in heaven with the Father. Wherefore S. Augustine saith, “He went, in that He was in one place: He remained, in that He was everywhere.” That is, He went through His Humanity, He abode through His Divinity. Therefore His Father was greater than He in respect to His Humanity, not His Divinity. The meaning then is, Ye must rejoice, 0 ye Apostles, at My departure, because I go to the Father, and ascend into heaven to greater honour and dignity, that I may obtain from the Father, for Myself and for you, the rewards of My Passion, even a seat at the Father’s right hand, and the empire of the universe, the adoration of all the angels, and the conversion of all nations to My faith and worship: and for you the Holy Ghost and all His gifts, armed with which ye shall conquer the whole world for Me and for yourselves, and bring it with you to celestial glory. For those things, which are far greater than what ye have as yet seen and received, I will ask and obtain when I go to the Father.
Some fathers, moreover, in order to give a complete answer to the Arians, answer more subtilly, but intricately, that the Father is greater than the Son not only as He is man, but also as He is God, because the name of Father seems among men to be more honourable than the name of Son. For a father is the beginning and cause of a son. The Father therefore is greater than the Son, not in magnitude, nor time, nor virtue, nor dignity, nor adoration, but in respect of a certain honour amongst men, i.e., in respect of origin, because the Father is the origin of the Son. So S. Athanasius (Serm. cont. Arian), S. Hilary (lib. 9, de Trin.), &c. Although with reference to Divine things, filiation, from whence is derived the idea of sonship, is something as excellent and as honourable as is the idea of paternity in the Father. Indeed, as the Son hath from the Father that He is the Son, so in turn the Father hath from the Son that He is the Father. For the Father is He who hath the Son. Wherefore in this case, that passive origin which is in the Son is in itself as worthy and as honourable as that active origin which is in the Father. For it is as great to be Begotten God as it is to beget God. Therefore it is as great to be the Son as to be the Father. Lastly, each hath altogether in personality the same Divine Essence, the same majesty and omnipotence. Wherefore one cannot be greater than the other. “Greater,” says S. Hilary, “is He who gives by the authority of a giver, but He is not less to whom it is given to be One (with the Giver).” Greater, i.e., in the estimation of men, not of God. Wherefore Maldonatus thinks that Hilary and some others have conceded too much to the Arians. And Damascene (lib. 1, de Fid.) corrects them thus, “The Father is greater, not in nature, nor in dignity, but only in origin. (See Suarez, lib. 2, de Trin. cap. 4.) And in my opinion this was the teaching of S. Hilary.
Moreover, the analogy of the Divine compared with human generation is so entirely different as to refute the Arians. For in things human the father is greater than his son. 1st. Because he is prior, and senior to the son. 2d. Because he is greater in stature and bulk, for a grown-up man generates a little infant. 3d. Because he produces a nature numerically different from himself, which he communicates to his son. Wherefore he is greater than that nature as being its author. 4th. Because of his own free will he begets a son. For it was possible to him not to have begotten. But in things Divine the manner is altogether different. For the Father is greater than the Son neither in age nor size: neither does He beget a Deity different from His Own, but communicates to the Son the same Deity which He Himself has. Neither does He beget of His own will, so to say, but of the natural fruitfulness of the Divine Nature He produces a Son the equal of Himself, nor can He produce another. Lastly, S. Cyril, in the Council of Ephesus, proves that the Father is greater than Christ in so far as Christ is man, but not in that He is God, after this manner:—“We acknowledge Him (the Son) to be in all respects as the Father, to be incapable either of turning, or of change, and to have need of nothing, a perfect Son, like unto the Father, and differing from Him only in this respect that the Father is unbegotten. For He is the perfect and express Image of the Father. And it is certain that the Image ought fully to include all those things in which the Pattern itself, which is greater, is perfectly expressed, even as the Lord Himself hath taught, saying, the Father is greater than I.”
Ver. 29.—And now I have told you, &c. That is, and now I foretell to you My departure and death, My resurrection and return to you, not that ye should condole with Me, and look after your own safety, but that, when ye see those things fulfilled, ye may believe that I foreknew and foreordained them all, and therefore that I submitted to death, not of necessity, but of My own free-will, for your salvation and that of the world, and therefore that ye may believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour.
Ver. 30.—I will not henceforth talk much with you, &c. For this is not the time to speak much, but to conclude, for the prince of this world, to whom worldly men are subject, by sinning after their own will, cometh. That is, he cometh to take and kill Me. For Christ said this when Judas was approaching with the officers, who were sent by the chief priests to take Him.
But he hath nothing in Me, i.e., he cometh to take Me, but he hath no power over Me, because he will find nothing of sin in Me, nothing of that which caused Adam and his posterity to die. Wherefore he must unjustly bring death upon Me being innocent. And this I am ready to suffer, that by means of My unjust death I may despoil him of his power, and deliver men from his jurisdiction and tyranny. So Cyril and Chrysostom. The innocence therefore of Christ, and the death of that innocent One, hath delivered all of us, the guilty ones, from harm. And this was that supreme consolation of Christ, which He here brings home to the Apostles. Or, as Maldonatus puts it, “The devil cometh, to take and kill Me by means of the Jews, but in Me he hath nothing, i.e. he will not be able to overcome or destroy Me, as he hopes; for although I am about to die, I shall not do so through his power or strength, but of My own free choice, that I may fulfil My Father’s will.”
Ver. 31.—But that the world may know, &c. That is, “I will die, not compelled by the devil’s servants, the Jews, but freely, out of love and obedience to the Father. For He hath given Me commandment to undergo death for the redemption of men. Wherefore so I do, submitting myself to death.” So SS. Chrysostom, Cyril, &c.
You may say, Christ received commandment from the Father to suffer, to die, and to do the things which He did. Therefore He could not will the contrary, neither was He free, for had He done otherwise He would have sinned. But Christ is impeccable by a twofold title,—1st, on account of His hypostatic union with the Word; 2d, on account of the light of glory, in that He seeth God. For Christ and the Blessed, because they clearly perceive that God is infinite Good, are so wholly ravished with His love that they cannot either love or will anything which is contrary or displeasing to Him. I reply: the hypostatic union with the Word made Christ impeccable in such manner that the office of the Word was to keep and preserve that humanity which was hypostatically united to Itself altogether sinless, lest the Word, or God, which upheld the humanity, should be said to sin. But the Word kept the humanity from sin, not by physically predetermining, so to say, the will of Christ, to obey the Father’s commandment, but only by Its congruous grace, so continually preventing It, and sweetly directing and urging It, as It foreknew future conditional events, that Itself was (ever) consenting to this grace, and therefore was always freely subjecting Itself to the will of God, and never, even by venial offences, displeasing Him. Moreover, the light of glory constrained indeed Christ, forasmuch as He was blessed to subject Himself in beatific act to the will of God and the decree of death as perceived by this light to be His will. Yet it did not force Him, in so far as He was a wayfarer (viator). For as a wayfarer He had infused knowledge, as we have faith, according to which He was able freely to elicit acts of love and obedience, or not to elicit them, at His pleasure, as we of our free will are able to elicit similar acts. He therefore freely elicited that act by which, in obedience to the Father’s commandment, He accepted the death of the cross, saying, “Lo! I come to do Thy will, 0 God” (Ps. xlvii.) Neither did the prior act determine ex necessitate the subsequent act, because they were altogether incommensurable, and of a different order. For the former is the act of one of the (already) Blessed, the latter act an act of one travelling to the country. See the Schoolmen.
Arise, &c. These words depend upon what went before, and are thus connected, “That the world may know that I love the father, and am obedient to His commandment to suffer death, arise, and let us go to the garden of Gethsemane where the Jews await Me to take and kill Me.”
You will ask whether Christ actually rose from the table, and went out of the house towards Gethsemane, and in the way proceeded to utter the things which John records in the three following chapters: and that then, when they were ended, He passed over the brook Cedron, and entered the garden, where he was betrayed by Judas, and taken by the Jews, as John narrates, ch. xviii. 1, &c. Cyril and Augustine answer in the affirmative, and this is probable. Maldonatus and others, more probably, answer in the negative. They think that Christ did not go out of the house. They are of this opinion, 1st, Because John does not say so. 2d, Because Christ could not conveniently, with the apostles following Him, say all things in the way which are related in the three following chapters, so that they could hear and understand them. Christ saith therefore, Arise, because He did actually rise up from the table, and stood upon His feet, and bade the apostles do the same, that they might go away with Him to the mount of Olives. But, as dear friends are wont to do when they are saying farewell, and are hardly tearing themselves away from those they so tenderly love, so did Christ, as they were standing, resume a fresh and longer discourse, prolonging it until the 18th chapter. Then bringing it to a close, He went across the brook Cedron to the mount of Olives. For such is the wont of those who love when they are bidding their mutual good-byes. As Ovid says, when he is going away into exile (lib. 1, Trist.):
Thrice did I turn my steps,
And thrice the threshold gain:
To linger near with fond regret
My footsteps were full fain.
Farewell, farewell, I cried:
Words full of love I said:
Then, with a last fond kiss,
For ever from it fled.
Tropologically: when any arduous duty is decreed by God, or ordained by our superiors, such as a dangerous journey, death, or martyrdom, let us generously and with alacrity offer ourselves to God as victims of charity and obedience, and freely meet the danger, saying with Christ, Arise, let us go hence. For he who breaks the first onset of fear, by boldly meeting it, has overcome half the difficulty, and will easily vanquish the remainder. Daily experience proves that “He has accomplished the half of a deed who has well begun.”