1 Christ, like a most loving father bidding farewell to his children, after His long discourse and exhortation to His Apostles, concludes with a Prayer, in which He commends and gives them up to God. He prays first for the glorification of Himself and the Father. 9 For the care and salvation of His disciples. 20 For all those who would afterwards believe in Him through their preaching, that God would keep them from evil, and that they might all be one, and the world might believe that He was sent by the Father to save the world.
HESE words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
Douay Rheims Version
Christ's prayer for his disciples.
HESE things Jesus spoke: and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said: the hour is come. Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.
12. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept: and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition: that the scripture may be fulfilled.
13. And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.
15. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil.
16. They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.
25. Just Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee. And these have known that thou hast sent me.
26. And I have made known thy name to them and will make it known: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Ver. 1.—hese words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come: glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee. These are the last words of Christ, when going to His Passion, and like the dying notes of the swan, are full of sweetness, love, and warmth. He teaches us (1.) when trouble is pressing on, to have recourse to prayer, and to ask God for strength to overcome it. (2.) That fathers both earthly and spiritual should, when going away or dying, commend their children to God in prayer. (3.) That preachers should study their discourses, so as to obtain both such power of speech as to move the hearts of their hearers, and so as to gain acceptance with them, that they may understand what they bear, and lovingly carry it out in their lives. “But no vain waste of words may have a place,” says S. Cyril, xi. 14.
Lifted up His eyes.—To teach us, by using the same gesture, to lift up our heart to God.
Each word has its force. “Father.” Christ prays as man, but as God-man: hypostatically united to God. He therefore calls God His Father, because He begat the Son as God, and hypostatically united to Him man’s nature (hominem) which He assumed. The Name of Father invites to confidence and love; for what can a father deny his son? It also indicates majesty and power; for as S. Cyril says (Thesaur, i. 6), “It is in God a greater thing to be the Father than to be Lord. Because as the Father He begat His consubstantial Son, but as Lord He made the creatures, who are infinitely inferior to Him.”
Is come.—n the Greek it is in the past tense. It is, that is, the fitting time, almost the last hour of my liberty and life. My seizure, My passion, My cup and death are at hand, when I shall specially need, 0 Father, Thy grace and help. For then will My Godhead be especially hid, when I shall be nailed to the Cross, as a seditious person, and as aiming at being King of the Jews. I therefore pray Thee to wipe away this infamy, to manifest My Godhead and glorify Me. S. Augustine says (in loc.), “This denotes that all time, and that what He would do at any time, or allow to be done, were all ordered by Him, who is not subject to time. The hour is come, not by the force of destiny, but by God’s ordering. Be it far from our thought that the stars should compel the Maker of the stars to die.”
Glorify Thy Son.—But what glory and glorification does Christ here ask for? (1.) Some understand. His Passion and death; this indeed was great glory to Christ. For by it He reconciled men to God, He abolished sin, He overcame the devil, He destroyed death, He procured for us life and glory. So Origen, Hom. 6 in Exod.; S. Ambrose, Hexam. iv. 2; S. Hilary, Lib. iii. de Trinit., who says, “He was to be spit upon, to be scourged, to be crucified. But the Father glorifies Him by the sun withdrawing its light, by the earth trembling, by the witness of the Centurion.” The cross therefore was in itself a dishonour to Christ, but in its fruits it was glorious.
(2.) S. Augustine (in loc.) and Ribera consider that this glorifying of Christ was in His resurrection, ascension, His being seated at the Right Hand of the Father, and His sending the Holy Spirit. I offer Myself (He would say) to an ignominious death for Thy glory, and for the salvation of men, whom Thou hast chosen from all eternity. Do Thou glorify Me, that in My Passion I may appear as thy true Son; and afterwards rise again and ascend into heaven; that men, for whom I die, may thus believe in Me, that Thy Godhead, power, and goodness may be acknowledged, and that Thou mayest be adored by all. Hear S. Augustine: “If He is glorified in His Passion, how much more in His Resurrection? He says therefore, the hour is come for sowing in humility, delay not Thou the fruit thereof in glory.” (3.) More correctly, and to the point. This glory was the manifestation of Christ, to be the Son of God. This was the end and scope of His Incarnation, as He explains in the next verse, and so its meaning is, Thou hast sent Thy Son into the world to redeem it. My Passion, whereby many will be offended and fall from Me, is at hand. I pray Thee, 0 Father, to glorify Me, that men may not contemn and despise Me for My death on the cross, but may acknowledge Me as Thy Son, and Very God, and thereby obtain grace, righteousness, and salvation.“ Christ asks that this purpose of God may be manifested to the world, to the end that this His mighty work may attain its end and object. Glorify Me then by miracles, the earthquake, the rending of the veil, the opening of the tombs, &c., by My speedy Resurrection, by My Ascension, the conversion of the whole world, that all may recognise Me as God, and the Saviour of the world.
It is clear then that all these three interpretations come to the same point. Glory and distinction mean the same thing, as is shown by many heathen authorities. It is also plain that this glorification properly relates to Christ’s manhood, and that it should be acknowledged as united to the Godhead. Consequently it is an acknowledgment of His Godhead. For by its being made known to the world that Christ’s manhood was united to the Godhead, it was made known also that God of His boundless mercy humbled Himself to be born, and to die for us from His supreme love for man.
Arius used to object. The Son seeks to be glorified by the Father, therefore the Father is greater than the Son. S. Basil retorts by quoting the words which follow, “That Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” The Son therefore glorifies the Father quite as much as the Father glorifies the Son. Morally, Christ teaches us here, that God turns into glory any ignominy which has been incurred for His name, and that the greater the ignominy, so much greater is the glory. And that ignominy is the true way to glory, according to the Apostle’s words (Phil. ii. 7, seq.)
And in like manner, SS. Peter and Paul, having been evilly entreated and put to death by Nero, attained to the highest glory, so as to be lords not only of Rome but also of the whole world, and to have had their statues placed on the columns of Trajan and Antonine, in the place of these two Emperors.
The Gentiles had some faint notion of this. As Agesilaus said that the way to obtain undying glory was to despise death. And so also Alexander, Julius Cæsar, and many others, gained their renown in war by despising death (see Horatius, Carm. i. 12).
Hence the Spaniards have an axiom to the same effect.
Apostolic men should be more ready to say the same, for what is earthly glory to heavenly, human to divine, temporal to eternal? See Rom. viii. 18. And the Apostle speaks elsewhere of the eternal weight of glory: For the Holy Trinity, all the countless angels, all the hosts of the blessed prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors will glorify through all eternity the champions of virtue.
That Thy Son also may glorify Thee.—By showing that I am not a mere man, but the God-man, sent by Thee for the salvation of man. And I ask this, not for Myself, as being greedy of glory, but that it may come back to Thee, as the Fount and Author of all My glory, that so I may in turn glorify Thee by making Thee known to the whole world. Christ did this (1.) “Because when the Son is glorified the Father is glorified also,” says S. Cyril; and so also S. Hilary (Lib. iii. de Trinit.) says, “He shows that the virtue of the Godhead is the same in Both; for the glory of the Son is the glory of the Father.” (2.) Because when this great mystery of godliness, viz., the Incarnation of the Word and by it the salvation and redemption of men, was made known, all who heard and believed it praised the boundless compassion, wisdom, and omnipotence of God the Father, which He manifested in this His, work. (3.)Christ especially glorified His Father by the living voice of His doctrine and preaching. For Christ preached the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and in many places of St. John He magnifies God the Father, saying that He was sent by Him, and ascribing to Him everything He had received. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “God was known in Judea only, but it was by the Gospel of Christ that the Father was made known to the Gentiles. He saith therefore, Glorify Thou Me, raise Thou Me up, that through Me Thou mayest be made known to all the world.”
Note the word “Thy Son;” for, as S. Hilary says (Lib. iii. de Trinit.), “There are many sons, but He was the proper, the Very Son, by origin, and not by adoption, in truth and not in name, by nativity and not by creation.”
Ver. 2.—As thou hast given Him power over all flesh. Because Thou, 0 Father, hast given Me power over all men, give Me also the glory which is necessary for its exercise and proportionate to it, that, as My Power is more ample over all men, so may My glory be most ample and be spread over all nations. Just as a viceroy says to a king, As thou hast given me this delegated power, give me also the agents and means which are necessary to sustain it. But the power of Christ is over all men, not merely as He is God, but as He is man. For the Father hath subjected all men to Christ as man, as their Prince and Saviour, and has committed them all to His care and guidance in order that He may, as far as possible, labour to save them all. He has therefore put the salvation of all men into His hands. “All flesh” then means that the preaching of the gospel should extend to the whole world, says S. Chrysostom.
That He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him. That is, that I should rightly exercise the power entrusted to me, viz., that I should bring all men, as far as lies in me, to eternal life; for this knowledge of My glory, which is faith in Me, is necessary for their attaining salvation. But thou wilt say, Christ gives not eternal life to all men; few are saved, the many are lost. S. Chrysostom and Toletus reply, that Christ, for His part, gives eternal life to all, in giving His merits, His doctrine, His sacraments, His peace, and other means of salvation to all. And if they use them aright they will attain to eternal life. But because the many refuse to use them, it is by their own fault that more are lost than saved. Jansen adds that Christ more especially speaks of the predestinate only: for those did the Father give more especially to Christ (see below, ver. 16). Christ therefore gives His elect eternal life in an effectual manner, but to the reprobate merely sufficiently so that these may be saved possibly, but they only will be saved actually.
Ver. 3.—But this is life eternal, to know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. This saying agrees exactly with what precedes. Christ gives the reason for seeking to be glorified. Because this glorification is the knowledge of God and of Christ, which is the only way to eternal life. His argument is this, “Glorify Me, that I may glorify Thee, so that by this glorifying or manifestation they may attain eternal life.” For life eternal consists in knowing Thee, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent, in order that they who believe in Him may be saved. For no one can be saved, except by Faith in Christ.
This is life eternal. (1.) S. Thomas (Par. i. Quæst. xii. 4 and 6, and par. iii. Quæst. iii. art. 4, and Contra Gentes iii. cap. 61, and elsewhere), understands these words in their formal sense, and hence proves that the essence of beatitude consists in an act of the intellect, not of the will. And he thus explains it, “Glorify Me, that thus the faithful may obtain eternal life, which consists in knowledge, i.e., in the vision of the Father and the Son.” (2.) Cajetan and Jansen think that “knowledge” in this place, is the knowledge both of the way and of the country. It therefore does not mean to “see Thee,” which is the portion of the Blessed, but to know Thee, which belongs to those who are but on the way. For eternal life begins here by faith, and will afterwards be consummated in sight. (3.) These words must be explained literally in a causal sense. “This is life eternal, i.e., this is the cause of, the way to life eternal, to believe in Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” See John iii. 16, vi. 47. The effect here is put for the cause, as in John xi. 25: I am the Resurrection and the Life, i.e., I am the causes or the author of life, and also xii. 50; I know that His commandment is eternal life, i.e., the cause of it, and 1 John v. 4 and S. Cyril (xi. 16) affirm that faith and the practice of true piety are the root and origin of eternal life. Faith is in truth the beginning of the Beatific Vision. For it produces hope, hope charity, charity good works, by which we obtain eternal life.
Lastly, S. Augustine thus combines these three meanings, “If the knowledge of God is life eternal, the more we advance in this knowledge, the more do we advance in eternal life. But this will be perfect, when there is no more death. There will then be the highest glorifying of God, because there will be the highest glory. But glory is defined thus, as the frequent speaking of a man with praise. But if a man is praised, when credit is given to what is commonly said of him, how shall not God be praised, when He is beheld? ‘Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will for ever praise Thee’” (Ps. lxxxiv. 4).
That they may know Thee, the only true God. Hence the Arians infer that Christ is not true God. In reply, (1.) S. Augustine (in loc.), Bede, and others, connect together Jesus Christ and the Father under the one term “Deity,” and interpret thus, As the Father is true God, so is the Son also true God. (See S. Hil. lib. ix. de Isaiah.) The statement would otherwise be imperfect, for if we believed that the Father alone was true God, we could not have anything else to say about Jesus Christ, unless we understood that He was true God also. The Fathers, in fact, infer from this Christ’s Godhead. (2.) S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others reply that the word “only” does not exclude the Son and the Holy Spirit, but merely idols and false gods. And the meaning is that they may believe in Thee, who art that God, who only is the true God, as is also the Son and the Holy Spirit. That the Son is true God is sufficiently indicated, when it is said that eternal life consists in the knowledge of Him and of the Father alike. For eternal life necessarily consists in (the knowledge of the one supreme and true God. (See S. Ambrose de Fide, v. 2.) Christ therefore through modesty does not call Himself God, but one sent by the Father, as the Redeemer of the world. For such He was when Incarnate, and made man. And hence we infer that faith in the Incarnation and the Trinity is required in order to salvation. For the Father cannot be fully believed in, apart from the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the Paternity of the Father requires also the breathing forth of the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. Thou wilt say the Holy Spirit is here omitted, and accordingly He is not God. But the word ‘only’ merely excludes the gods of the heathen, who have another nature, and not the Holy Spirit, Who has the same nature as the Father.
But why is the Son alone mentioned, and not the Holy Spirit? (1.) Euthymius replies, Because the time for speaking about Him had not arrived. But Christ had already promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples, and said a great deal about Him. (2.) Ribera thinks that it was in order to maintain the greatness of His origin, and just as the Son attributes everything to the Father, as proceeding from Him, so likewise eternal life is ascribed to our knowing the Father and the Son. And though the Holy Spirit is understood, yet He is not named, because the Father and the Son are the source of His being, whereas He is not the source of any Divine Person, but derived everything from the Father and the Son. See above, chap. xv. 26. (3.) Christ does not mention the Holy Spirit, because He was wholly engaged in enforcing faith in Himself, as God and man. And this specially needed to be inculcated, both because it was a new doctrine, and difficult of belief, and also because it was the basis of all other articles of belief, and moreover because in that belief was involved belief in the Holy Spirit, of whom Christ had already spoken. The Holy Spirit is therefore here understood, because, as S. Augustine says, “He is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son,” being the consubstantial Love of them Both.
Ver. 4.—I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. The work of preaching and redemption, for which Thou didst send Me into the world, I shall in a few hours consummate after the brief period of My Passion and Death. And I am about to commit the teaching thereof to the Apostles. S. Augustine says, “I have glorified Thee by making Thee known, to those whom Thou hast given Me. God is glorified when He is made known to men, and is preached to those who believe by faith.” For, as S. Chrysostom says, “He had been already glorified and adored by angels in heaven. He speaks therefore of that glory, which concerns the worship of men.”
Ver. 5.—And (i.e., therefore, because I have performed the work of My mission), 0 Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. S. Augustine, and after him S. Thomas, understand it of the glory which Christ had as man from all eternity, not indeed in act, but in the decree and predestination of God. He asks “that the glory which He had in predestination, he might have in the complete restoration of it to Him at the right hand of the Father; for He saw that the time for His predestined glorification had arrived.” And so Suarez, “Glorify Thou Me with the glory of the Resurrection, to which Thou didst predestinate Me before the world was.”
Others understand it more simply, of the glory which, as Son, He had from the Father, in sitting at His right hand, as equal to Him in dignity and glory. That is, Grant, 0 Father, that I may, after My death, ascend into heaven, and sit at Thy right hand as Thy Son, and so be glorified, and acknowledged by men not only to be man but also God. And that by the union of My divine nature to My manhood, that manhood also may be exalted in great glory to Thy right hand. That thus My Godhead may communicate to My manhood which is conjoined with it the glory which It had from all eternity. He asks therefore that the Godhead which was latent in His humanity might he acknowledged, and that both might be glorified together. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact, Euthymius, S. Thomas. Place Me at Thy right hand, that all may understand that I have that glory which in truth I had with Thee from all eternity, and that I am Thy very Son by nature, and equal to Thee. So Cyril (Hil. lib. iii. de Trin.), S. Augustine, Leontius, Toletus, and many others.
A threefold glory of Christ is here signified. First: The uncreate and uncreated glory of His Godhead and divine Sonship. Secondly, the created and finite glory of His manhood, which it obtained by the Resurrection and all its glorious gifts, and afterwards by His Ascension. For He sitteth at the right hand of God, not as God only, but as man. And His prayer is, Grant that I, who have sat from all eternity at Thy right hand as God, may sit there also as man. The third glory is that by which both these former glories were manifested to the Apostles and the rest of the faithful, for when they saw Him gloriously ascending into heaven, the angels welcoming Him, and the Holy Spirit sent down by Him with the working of so many signs and miracles, by which they converted the whole world to Christ, from all this they acknowledged that Christ was no mere man, but the Son of God, seated as such at the right hand of the Father in supreme majesty and glory, and they preached this through all the world. Christ therefore asks that His first glory may be made manifest by His second, i.e., by the ascension of His manhood into heaven; and that His second glory may be manifested by His third glory, that is, to the Apostles and the rest of the faithful. He asks, in short, that His Godhead, like a heart concealed by the mire and shell of His manhood, may shine forth (when death has broken that shell) and diffuse on every side the rays of its glory. Just as the sun disperses by its warmth the clouds which envelop it, and scatters its shining rays in every direction. And when that comes to pass, the glory of Christ will shine forth over the whole world, by His resurrection, His ascension, His sending the Holy Spirit, and the conversion of the Gentiles.
S. Chrysostom by His glorification understands His Passion, and thus addresses Him, “What sayest Thou? When Thou art about to be led to the Cross with robbers and malefactors, and to undergo the death of the accursed, to be spit upon, to be beaten with rods and blows; callest Thou that glory? Indeed I do, for I shall suffer all this for those I love, &c. If then He counts it not glory to be on His Father’s throne, but to suffer contumely, how much more must I reckon that to be glory?” And a little before, “If Christ counted it not so great a thing to be in glory, as to endure the Cross for my sake, what, I ask, ought I not to endure for His Name?”
Here note that “with Thee” is the same as “from Thee.” For the Son derives His Godhead and all His glory from the Father. Or it may mean “In Thy presence,” for though no angel or man were to glorify Christ, yet would He have infinite praise and glory in the Father’s presence. For with such honours the Father lauds and glorifies the Son, and the Son in turn glorifies the Father. And so also with regard to the Holy Spirit. Hence we sing the Gloria Patri at the end of every Psalm. Indicating the glory with which Each Divine Person glorifies the other two, and is in turn glorified by Them. 3. With Thee indicates the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son. See John i. 1, and notes.
Therefore some heretics, as S. Augustine testifies, wrongly suppose that this glorifying was caused by the manhood in heaven being converted into the Godhead. This is impossible, for in this case the manhood of Christ which suffered would not be glorified. For it would no longer exist, when changed into the Godhead. There would be Godhead only. The manhood therefore participates in the glory of the Godhead (far above all angels and men), as being hypostatically united to it. Just as the air participates in the light of the sun, and the blessed participate in the glory of God. So SS. Chrysostom, Hillary, Ambrose, and Athanasius, writing against the Arians.
Ver. 6.—I have manifested Thy Name to the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world. “This was the duty committed to Him by the Father.” So S. Chrysostom. “Thy name, not as God, but as the Father,” says S. Cyril. The Interlin. Gloss says the same; and S. Augustine (in loc.), “For the Name of God was not unknown to the Gentiles. In respect that He made the world, God was known to all men. In that He was not to be worshipped together with false gods He was known in Jewry. But in that He is the Father of Christ, He is now manifested through Christ.” And S. Chrysostom, “He had already manifested Himself as the Son of God in words and in deeds.”
Whom Thou gavest Me out of the world. By calling, and, not merely sufficient, but by effectual, grace poured on those whom Thou hast given Me perfectly and completely, that is, as concerned Myself, even those who were called by such preventing grace, as was in accordance with their free wills, persuading them to believe, love, and follow Thee, and who on their part obeyed My call, and separated themselves from the world, its desires and vanities. As S. Cecilia said, She wished to have no friendship with the world.
He speaks more particularly of the Apostles; and He signifies by the expression “Thou hast given Me,” (1.) That the power and authority He had over His disciples and other men was derived from His Godhead. (2.) That God the Father by His preventing grace had moved them to believe in Christ, and follow Him. (3.) That the Father had separated them from the world, and consigned them to Christ. (4.) That His human will was in conformity with the will of the Father. (5.) That God the Father chose those whom He wished to consign to Christ as His apostles, and that Christ accepted those whom He had chosen.
Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me, and they have kept Thy word. Christ gives His parting blessing to His disciples, and commands them in prayer to God. He prays Him to protect them as His own, for the Father had given them to Him.
Ver. 7.—Now they have known that all things Thou hast given Me are of Thee. All that I have said or done originally came from Thee, My teaching and My law.
Ver. 8.—For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest unto Me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I have come out from Thee, and have believed that Thou didst send Me. Have a care for them, because I cared for and taught them, and they have accepted My doctrine, and believed Me to be the Messiah.
Ver. 9.—I pray for them (that Thou wouldst make them grow in the knowledge and love of Thee and Me): I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And hence heretics in the time of S. Augustine (making a wrong use of his writings) taught that Christ prayed only for the predestinate; and that therefore whatever sins they committed could not hurt them, and that no good works could be of avail for the reprobate. This heresy was renewed by John Huss and Martin Luther. But Scripture teaches us that Christ was born and died for all men, even the reprobate, or rather for those who would be reprobated on account of their sins. See Luke xxiii. 34; 2 Cor. v. 14-15; John i. 9; 1 Tim. ii. 4. Because Christ, for His part, provides all men with the necessary means for salvation. His sacraments are constituted for all. His Apostles He sent to all nations. He offers His teaching and His grace to all. He has sufficiently done His part for their salvation. But He here specially prays for His faithful ones, and with effectual prayer, for God to keep them in the faith and grace which have been given them. So S. Augustine, who elsewhere says, I pray not for those who are likely to the end of their lives to remain (in) the world, that is, to continue unbelieving and ungodly. (2.) It is better, and more to the point, to suppose that Christ here prayed for the Apostles only. For after He had prayed for them, He prayed for those who would afterwards believe through their preaching (verse 20). He therefore did not pray for them. Nor did He here pray for the world, though He prayed afterwards for His murderers. And by the power of that prayer many of them were converted at the preaching of S. Peter. But in this place He did not pray for them, but, as I said, only for the Apostles, the future propagators of the Gospel, and for the heads of the Church.
Ver. 10.—And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. I am about to depart, and I commend My disciples to Thee; because they are Thine, and elected by Thee to eternal life and committed to My care. But they are still Thine, though given to Me. And though, as I say, they were given to Me, yet they were ever Mine; for all Thou hast are Mine, by reason of our unity of Essence. So SS. Cyril and Chrysostom.
And I am glorified in them. Because they believe in Me, love Me, worship, adore, and preach Me as the Messiah and the Son of God. So Cyril and Chrysostom.
Morally. Learn hence that God and Christ are glorified in us, when we do what is right, and especially when we preach His faith, and convert unbelievers and ungodly men. S. Augustine (in loc.) takes it otherwise, putting the matter as past, instead of its being yet to come. For what is past is a matter of greater certainty. I pray for the Apostles, for I am about to be glorified by them, when they preach My Godhead in all the world.
Ver. 11.—And now I am no more in the world (I shall be soon out of the world), but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. I am leaving the world, but they remain in it, to preach the gospel, and therefore will be exposed to the hatred of both Jews and Gentiles, and countless perils. Keep them, then, 0 Father, for there is no one else who can do so, in My absence.
Holy Father. He terms the Father “Holy,” because He is speaking of holiness, and He prays the Father to keep and advance the Apostles in holiness. And in ver. 25 He terms Him “righteous” for withholding from the unrighteous and proud world the mysteries of My humiliation in redeeming man. And when consoling S. Paul in tribulation, He is called “The Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation” (2 Cor. i. 3). And when He strengthened David in battle, and made him victorious, He was thus addressed, “I will love Thee, 0 Lord, My strength ” (Ps. xviii. 1).
Keep through Thine Own Name, by Thy might and omnipotence, that they may ever be in Me, and abide in My love. It is plain then that the Apostles had not lost the grace of the Holy Spirit. For this prayer of Christ’s was fully heard by the Father.
That they may be as one, as We are one, i.e., in consent and will: just as We are One in Nature, and the same Essential Godhead. That being joined together by one spirit of charity, they may ever follow Me, and not be rent asunder by discord, and thus may have the unity of spirit in agreement, which we have by means of-the same Essence. So S. Augustine (in loc.) and S. Ambrose (de Fide, iv. 2). Whence S. Cyril notes here, and S. Athanasius (contr. Arian) that the word “like” signifies only a kind of resemblance, but not identity; which means that they, by the consent of their minds, may imitate that unity which We possess, in having the same numerical essence and will.
S. Cyril and S. Hilary (de Trinit. lib. viii.) refer these words to the Holy Eucharist, as though Christ wished that the Apostles, by partaking of His Body therein, might become one with Him and amongst themselves. And this truly and substantially, as He is truly one in substance with the Father. For just as the Father is united to the Son in the same Essential Godhead, so are the Apostles and all the faithful united one with another in the same substance of the manhood and Godhead of Christ, which they receive in the Eucharist.
Ver. 12.—When I was with them I kept them in Thy Name, i.e. “by Thy power, by Thy authority, as Thy messenger to them.” So S. Cyril. For they, knowing that I was sent by Thee, willingly and boldly cleaved to Me, as knowing that through Me they were cleaving to God, and were blessed and protected by Him. For those whom the Son guards, the Father guards also. Others explain “Thy Name” as meaning, for the sake of Thee and Thy boundless goodness.
Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition. The word “son” means here, worthy of, guilty of. And hence it is plain that Christ here did not pray for Judas, who had withdrawn from the company of the Apostles in order to betray Christ. He had not been given to Christ by the Father, but had destroyed himself by his covetousness in betraying Me, and therefore passed away into the number of the reprobate.
That the Scripture might be fulfilled. This signifies, not the end and intent of Scripture, but merely that it so came to pass in order that the Scripture, which cannot lie, should be fulfilled. See Ps. cix. 8, and Acts i. 20.
Ver. 13.—And now come I to Thee (1 shall soon come at My ascension); and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I speak of these things, in order that the Apostles may fully rejoice with Me at these great blessings, and hope that they will hereafter be received by Me into heaven, to the same glory with Myself.
S. Augustine says, “He stated before the nature of this glory, when He said ‘that we may be one.’ For this is the peace and blessedness of the life to come.”
Ver. 15.—I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. From the evil (1.) first of guilt, which alone is real evil. (2.) Of punishment, i.e., to preserve them from every adversity, or strengthen them to bear it. (3.) From the evil one, his snares and temptations. In Greek του̃ πονηζου̃.
Ver. 16.—They are not of the world. He repeats what He had said before about the world, to show why the Father should care for and protect them, viz., because they had left the world, and given themselves wholly to the worship and protection of Christ.
Ver. 17.—Sanctify them through Thy truth. This signifies not the beginning of sanctification, but its progress and perfection (Rev. xxi.) Confirm and perfect them in holiness; pour into them by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost complete evangelical truth, that they may be filled with wisdom and holiness, both within and without, and thus become in life and doctrine true teachers of the world, Priests and Rulers of the churches, breathing on all their own holiness, as a fire from above.
Thy word is truth. (1.) It is not Moses or Philosophers, but Thy word which teaches this evangelical truth. The holiness of Moses and the Jews was merely ceremonial and shadowy. That of Philosophers was either pretended, or else merely moral and natural. That of Christ was supernatural, heavenly, and divine. Others understand by the words, sanctify them truly, that is completely and perfectly, as the Apostle says (Eph. iv. 24.), in true holiness (the holiness of truth, Vulg.). For perfect and great holiness is required in an Apostle, for continuous preaching, for resisting tyrants, for labouring night and day, for suffering martyrdom and death (2 Cor. xi.). 2d. It can be explained thus: “Sanctify them in Me, who am the way, the truth, and the life. Make them partakers of My goodness and holiness.” So S. Augustine (in loc.), S.Cyril, Rupertus, and S. Thomas.
3d. Maldonatus explains it: Set them apart as holy ministers and preachers of the Gospel. But in truth, not in shadow, as of old Aaron and his sons were consecrated only in a shadowy and typical way. So S. Chrysostom. And Jeremiah (i. 5) was said to have been sanctified in the womb, that is designated and, as it were, consecrated as a Prophet.
4th. It might be thus understood: “Make them holy victims, that they may be sanctified and offered to Thee in martyrdom.” It was fitting that the Apostles should become martyrs, in order to confirm and seal the holiness of their doctrine by the holiness of their martyrdom. And thence, in fact, all the Apostles were martyrs, after the pattern of Christ, who said (ver. 19), “I sanctify Myself,” i.e., I offer Myself. For in Leviticus the victims are always said to be sanctified, when they are offered to God. See below, ver. 19. Observe, Christ as man had a threefold sanctity, which He imparted to the Apostles and the faithful. (1.) The first was infused into the soul of Christ at the very instant of His conception, just as God bestows all power on us by virtue of His merits. (2.) The second was Divine sanctity, by which the Deity is Itself most holy, and the fount of all holiness in men and angels. For Christ had this as man by communicatio idiomatum, by which the attributes of Godhead are truly ascribed to the man Christ, as subsisting with the Godhead in the one Person of the Word. (3.) The holiness of Christ as man, was absolutely caused by this hypostatical union with the Word, for by this the manhood of Christ was absolutely sanctified and made most holy. For even if Christ as man had had no infused grace, yet His very hypostatical union with the Word was His highest sanctification and holiness. Whence the manhood of Christ, as being united to the Word, was clearly impeccable, most pleasing and acceptable to God. Nay more, Christ, as man, was the Son of God, not by adoption, as we are, but properly, and in His very nature.
Thy word is truth. The gospel which I preach, as I received it of Thee, is not shadowy, as was the old Law, but is in spirit and in truth. See notes on chap. xv. 3. For “the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were wrought by Jesus Christ” (John i. 17).
Morally. Learn here how holy a Christian ought to be, especially a “Religious” and Apostolic man, who wishes to make others holy, so as to be like the Apostles, and even like Christ, and to be diligent in imitating their most holy practices and deeds. “Christianity,” says S. Gregory Nyssen, “is the imitation of the Divine Nature.” For a Christian ought to imitate, as much as He can, the holiness of God in Christ, so that Christ may always shine forth in his words and actions, and that any one who sees or hears him, may think that he sees and hears Christ. Holiness is a turning away from the world, and a turning to God and Christ, and union with them. Accordingly the Apostles converted the world, more by their holiness and burning love than by their preaching. Nay, they thundered with their mouth, because they flashed forth in their life, as Nazianzen said of S. Basil. See my sketch of S. Paul, prefixed to the Acts of the Apostles.
Ver. 18.—As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so I also have sent them into the world. This is a fresh reason for Christ commending His Apostles to the Father, to preserve and sanctify them. For as Thou hast sent Me into the world to restore and sanctify it, so do I send My Apostles through all nations to sanctify them. They need therefore great holiness, so as not to be ensnared by their allurements, or overpowered by their persecutions, and also that they may sanctify them who are utterly depraved by their vices. Sanctify them therefore, 0 Father, more and more every day, that they may be able to sanctify numerous others.
Ver. 19.—And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 1st S. Augustine uses the word sanctify in its proper sense. I as the Son of God sanctify human nature which I have assumed, that by it I may sanctify the Apostles. As S. Augustine says, “When the Word was made flesh, He sanctified Himself in Himself; Himself the man, in Himself the Word, because the Word and the Man is one Christ. But He says it for the sake of His members; and for these I sanctify Myself, that is, them in Me, because in Me they are even Myself. That they also might be sanctified. What meaneth this, ‘that they too,’ but that they may be sanctified even as I, and in the Truth which I Myself am?”
2d, and correctly, “I offer Myself to Thee as a Holy Victim,” i.e., within a few hours I shall offer It upon the Cross, so that they may by It “be sanctified in the truth,” that is, that by Thy word which is truth, and no shadow, they may be sanctified, be truly Thine, and devote themselves, for Thee, to Apostolic labours; in order to convert all nations to Thee, and thus by the sufferings they endure, even martyrdom itself, they may offer themselves to Thee, just as I do Myself. So S. Chrysostom, S. Cyril (at great length), Rupertus, S. Thomas, Jansenius, Maldonatus, Toletus, Ribera, and others.
Ver. 20.—Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their words. Up to this point Christ prayed for the Apostles, and for those who were immediately converted by them. Now He prays for the whole Church, and for all future generations of Christians, for He is their Father and Patriarch, King and Prince, Pontiff and Hierarch. All these (says Toletus) did Christ as man behold in the Divine Essence, as distinctly and perfectly as though they were present, or perhaps it was by infused knowledge. For it was this latter that pertained to Christ as man, inasmuch as He was merely a wayfarer (viator); whereas the sight of the Divine Essence would be His, not as journeying, but as beatified. So Suarez. With that knowledge then He beheld us one by one, and all the faithful who would hereafter be born, and for each and all He asked and obtained from God the grace which was fitting for each. And it is by the force of this prayer, that the faithful, each in their own day, obtain all their blessings from God. He prayed then for all the Martyrs, all the Doctors of the Church, for all Virgins. He brought them all severally to the birth as His own Benjamins, and therefore every Christian should offer unbounded thanks to Christ for those His labour pains, and repay love for love, blood for blood, death for death.
Ver. 21.—That they may be all one. By one faith, hope, charity, and concord. Learn hence how united Christians should be amongst themselves, and how far removed are they who disseminate discord and strife, from the mind of Christ.
As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us. For God is love, and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God in him. 1 John iv. 16. By faith then and love we are united to God and Christ, and afterwards mutually to each other as to members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. The word “as” does not mean identity, as the Arians held, but merely resemblance. For the Father and the Son are one by the same numerical Essence and Godhead, we are one by having the same quality; namely, love and concord. But by this we are so united to God as to possess Him, and be in turn possessed by Him. Hear the author “De Salutaribus documentis,” assigned to S. Augustine [probably Paulinus of Aquileia]: “If we are pleased at possessing anything in this world, it is good for us to keep in our minds God who created and is the Possessor of all things, and to have in Him all that we holily and happily desire. But since no one possesses God, save he that is possessed by Him, let us become the possession of God, and He will become our possession. For what greater happiness can there be in the world, than to have our Lord and our Redeemer counted as our own, and whose inheritance the Godhead deigns to be? For we enjoy every blessing from Him if we live from Him, and in Him. For what, I ask you, suffices a man, if the Creator Himself does not suffice him? What does he seek further, whose Redeemer ought to be his sole joy, and everything to him? By love therefore we are so united to God as to be made one Spirit, that so all earthly desires in us may be swallowed up, and our whole mind be so raised up by its affections to God, as to be, in a way, deified. Just as a drop of water poured into generous wine is absorbed in it, and as iron when heated passes into heat, though the nature of the iron still remains, and as the air illumined by the sun turns into light, so that it seems to be nothinag else but the light of the sun,” And S. Bernard (Sermon lxxi. on Cant.) says, “Who is He that cleaves perfectly to God, save He who, abiding in God, as beloved by Him, has in like measure drawn God into himself by loving Him in return? And thus when men cleave to each other on all sides, being bound up in their mutual and intimate love for each other, I should not hesitate to say that in this way God was in man and man in God.” This union they feel and enjoy, who with Magdalen pass a contemplative life. For in that life the loving soul flows away from itself, and reduced, as it were to nothing, falls back, and is absorbed into the abyss of eternal love, and being utterly dead to itself, lives only to God, knowing nothing, and caring for nothing except Himself. For it loses itself in the boundless solitude and depth of the Godhead, but to lose itself thus, is far happier and far more for its own good, than to find itself. For stripping itself of everything human, and arraying itself in everything which is Divine, it is thus transformed and changed into God. 0 truly blessed is the soul, which has laid aside all its own. 0 truly blessed is the soul, which casting off every action which springs from itself in its power of memory, strips itself of all its imaginings, in its understanding feels and cherishes the brilliant rays of the Sun of righteousness, in its faculty of desire feels a certain glow of calm love, or the action of the Holy Spirit flowing with rivers of eternal sweetness, like some real fountain. For when it is set free and detached from all things else, and it exists in its own simplicity, and is cleansed as a bright mirror, the Lord is wont to enlighten it with the rays of His own Divine brightness. For when God Himself is acting, man is only passive. For when the powers of the soul are resting, and not engaged in their own proper actions, and set free from any outward impressions, God Himself speaks, and disposes, and impresses those powers of the soul just as He pleases, carrying on within a most glorious work. And therefore, 0 most generous, 0 most noble soul, keep thyself pure and free, rush not ahead for every variety of sensual pleasure, but restrain thy senses, dwell in thine own thoughts, turn thyself ardently to God, and immersed a thousand times daily in the abyss of the Godhead, be careful to swim up and down therein. Pant for that supernatural union of the spirit with God, fly back to God from whom thou derivest thy being, for He is the uncreated Light, and the Light also of eternity.” Accordingly S. Bernard rightly exclaims (De Div. Amor, cap. iv.), “O happy, yea most happy soul, whom God vouchsafes to influence so that by unity of spirit with God it loves God only, and not its own private good, and loves itself only as in God; while God loves or approves in it only that which He ought to approve, that is to say Himself, which in truth ought alone to be loved both by the Creator and the creature. For the name and feeling of love belongs and is due to Thee alone, 0 thou beloved Lord, Thou true love.” And he concludes thus with the words from S. John, “This is the will of Thy Son in us. This His prayer to Thee His Father, I will that as I and Thou art one, so they also may be one in Us. This is the end, this the consummation, this is perfection, this is peace, this is joy in the Holy Ghost, this is silence in heaven.”
That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. Not merely through its unity and agreement in doctrine, as Euthymius supposes, but through its union with God and Christ. That is, even by this mark alone will the world believe Christ to be the Son of God, because it will behold Christians both united to God and Christ as well as by mutual love to each other. For it will see that such an union could not be effected except by Christ and God. And therefore it will be attracted by this, so as, though now unbelieving, to cast off its unbelief and to believe. The “world” is here used in a good sense, as in John iii. 17 and 2 Cor. v. 19. Jansen less correctly considers the “world” here to mean the reprobate; in this sense, “That it will be forced by the evidence of the miracles and the holiness of My disciples to confess Me to be God. As S. James says, ‘the devils believe and tremble.’”
Ver. 22.—And the glory Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. By the “glory,” understand (1.) The glory of the Divine Sonship. For Christ has this as God by nature, and as man by the hypostatical Union. And this He gives to the holy faithful ones, to have it not by nature, but by adoption, and to be the sons of God, not by nature, as Christ, but as adopted. So Jansenius, and before him, S. Ambrose, v. 4.
2. Maldonatus understands by the word “the love,” that whereby the Father glorified Him at His baptism, and elsewhere by showing Him forth as His Beloved Son.
3. Leontius and Ribera understand it to be the Eucharist, for in this the Godhead and Manhood of Christ are given to us. And this is the highest glory, for we being many are one Body, for we are all partakers of the one Body and the one Cup. (1 Cor. x.) And in like manner S. Cyril, xi. 26, and S. Hilary (de Trinit. viii.), explain it of the Godhead of the Word united to the flesh, for Christ received this as man from the Father, when the Word was made flesh. And this Christ gave to us when He made His flesh to be our food, and He is united really and truly to us by this wonderful sacrament.
Toletus takes the same view, who thus explains it, I have already made them one by the glory I received from Thee. Give, 0 Father, thy Holy Spirit, that they may also become one. This glory is the Godhead of the Son, which He says He has received as man through the Hypostatic Union. And this Godhead united to His flesh Christ gave to us in the sacrament which He had just instituted.
Symbolically. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius understand by ‘glory’ both the miraculous power which Christ gave His disciples, and also the unity of concord, of which it was said, “that they may be one.” For these two were an effectual argument for confirming the truth of the Faith, namely miracles, and the wonderful agreement in the belief of them.
Anagogically. S. Augustine (in loc.) says, “This is the glorifying of the body. The immortality and glory which after three days I will give to My Flesh and Manhood at My Resurrection, ‘I have given,’ i.e., I will give most assuredly, to the faithful at the general resurrection.”
Ver. 23.—I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and has loved them as Thou hast loved Me. That their union may be consummated and perfected, as the union of many members in one Body and Head. For, as many members make up one body, so do the many faithful bind together the one mystical Body of Christ, which is His Church. Again, all the members are united and made complete in one head, so are all Christians in One Christ and God. Toletus appositely explains it of the Holy Eucharist; “I am in them,” he says, “by My flesh given them as their true and real food, but Thou art in Me, because Thy Godhead is united to My flesh. If therefore the Godhead is in My flesh, and My flesh is in the believers, it comes to pass that the Godhead also is in believers through the medium of the Body of Christ. Believers therefore have in themselves both the Body of Christ, and by means of It the Godhead. They become one, and have through Christ a kind of unity by reason of their flesh, and so are consummated in one, that is, become perfectly one, as not only being united amongst themselves, and with God, as to their souls, which is effected by the Holy Spirit, but also as to their very bodies.”
Hence S. Dionysius (De. Divin. Nom. cap. iv.) teaches that Divine Love revolves in a circle, because it comes from God the Father to the Son, and thence to the Holy Spirit, through Whom it returns to the Father and the Son. For the Holy Spirit is the reasonable love of the Father and the Son. Again, it moves in a circle, because it comes from God into the creatures (especially into men and angels), and converts them to the love and enjoyment of God. For as God is the efficient cause of love, so also is He its end. For love transfers him who loves into the beloved object itself. For the soul is really more in that which it loves than in that which it animates. “Therefore S. Paul (Dionysius says), that mighty man, when already led captive by Divine Love, and endued with its strength, which lifts up a man from his own state, says with inspired lips, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in Me’ (Gal. ii. 2o). And as a true lover, lifted above his own sphere, he lives to God, not his own life, but the life of Him who loves him, as in truth a life which is greatly to be loved.” And afterwards he defines love as “a power impelling to action, and attracting upwards to itself, &c., which originates from goodness, and flows from that source of goodness to the things which exist, and thence flows back to goodness. And in this, Divine Love especially shows that It has neither beginning nor end. For it is a perpetual circle, which, springing from a good source (from that which is good) in good deeds, and by turning, back from all which is wrong towards that which is good, sets itself free, and, though abiding in the same spot, is ever advancing, and yet stationary, and comes round on itself.”
He then proves it by the authority of his teacher, S. Hierotheus, who says, By love, whether Divine or angelic or spiritual, or so to speak animal or natural, we must understand a force which unites and blends together, which impels those which are superior to consult the good of those who are inferior, which leads those on a level to join in intercourse with each other, and inferiors to look up to superiors. Hence, too, the Egyptians represented God as a circle, but to show rather that He was eternal, without beginning or ending, and accordingly boundless. Whence the saying, “God is a circle, whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.” The Persians also called Jupiter the circle of heaven; and the Saracens too represent God under the same image.
Tropologically. Holy souls strive after perfect union with Christ, forgetting, as it were, everything beside, to keep Him ever before their eyes, to strive in all things to please Him, continually to hold mental converse with Him. And accordingly they withdraw themselves as far as they can from external objects, and hold colloquy with Christ in their hearts. Bartholomew de Martyribus, Archbishop of Braga, in his “Golden Compendium of Spiritual Doctrine,” cap. xv., which Louis of Grenada published after his death, and professes that by reading it he profited greatly, as I also say myself, gives three tokens of such inward union:- “(1.) The first is, If the intellect no longer gives utterance to any thoughts save such as the light of faith inspires, and the will, trained by long practice, gives forth no acts of love, except towards God, or with reference to Him. (2.) That as soon as it ceases from any outward employment, in which it is engaged, the understanding and the will are readily turned towards God, just as a stone, when an obstacle is removed, speedily settles down on its point of rest. (3.) If, when prayer is over, it entirely forgets all external objects, as though it had never seen or been engaged in them, and is so disposed towards outward things as though it were now for the first time entering into the world, and feared to engage in external matters, as if naturally shrinking from them, unless charity compelled,—such a soul, set free from all outward things, easily withdraws within itself, where only it sees God, and itself in God; and frequently devotes itself to fervid and unitive acts of love. But this fervent love produces, as holy men say, six effects. (1.) Illumination, that is a relishing and experimental knowledge of God, and of its own nothingness. (2.) Warmth. (3.) Sweetness or delight. (4.) An ardent desire to obtain divine blessings. (5.) Satiety, for the mind is so satiated with that coming of God to it, that it wishes or desires nothing further. (6.) Rapture, or a wondrous lifting up of the soul to God, in which it is impossible to explain how it feels towards Him. And two other effects follow, a sense of security, so that the soul fears not any suffering for God’s sake, and is fully confident that it will never be separated from Him; and perfect rest, when there is nothing which can inspire fear; and this is called ‘the peace which passeth all understanding.’ This is the Paradise of God, to which we can ascend, even when living among men in the body.” He then sets forth, from S. Thomas, three means of obtaining this union with God and Christ, viz., Boldness, severity, and gentleness of mind. Boldness, to drive away all negligence, and to dispose a man to perform all good works confidently, vigilantly, and methodically. Severity against concupiscence, which brings with it an ardent love of hardness, profiting, and poverty. Gentleness, to expel all rancour, anger, envy, austerity, bitterness, and hardness against one’s neighbour. For the soul must first be purged from the dregs of earthly affections, before it is able to ascend simply and purely to God. For as it is the property of fire to ascend, so do souls, when set free from the burden of evil affections, rise up to God, who is their proper resting-place.
And that the world (the faithful in the world) may know that Thou hast sent Me. But how? (1.) In the Beatific Vision, says S. Augustine (in loc.) But then we are here treating of knowledge in this world by faith. (2.) Others say that we shall know by the glory which Christ says above He had received of the Father, and given to the faithful. Whence S. Ambrose (as referred to ver. 22) explains it thus: “The faithful will know that Thou hast sent Me into the world in the flesh, by reason of the Sonship, which I have bestowed on them, in adopting them to be the sons of God. And they will from this know also that Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me: them as my adopted sons, Me as Thy Son by nature.” (3.) S. Cyril (xi. 27) and S. Hilary (de Trin. lib. viii.) explain it thus of the Eucharist. They will know thereby two things—first, that I am Thy Son, sent by Thee into the world. For they could not be united to us, unless I had the Godhead in that Flesh, which I gave them in the Eucharist; and secondly, that Thou lovedst them, as thou lovedst Me, because Thou gavest to them the Godhead which thou didst unite with My flesh, viz. by giving them My flesh in the Eucharist. (4.) Ribera explains it more simply. The world acknowledges it from the holiness and the mutual charity of the Apostles, by which they were “made perfect in one.” For, as S. Chrysostom rightly says, “The Lord judges that concord is more powerful to persuade than miracles.” And “Thou hast loved them by making them Apostles, as Thou hast loved Me,” begetting Me as Thy Son and in sending Me as Thy ambassador into the world. He thus raises their minds to endure all hardships for Christ’s sake.
Ver. 24.—Father I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: because Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world. He sets forth, says S. Chrysostom, “the rewards which await them after death, to show the love of Christ the more towards them, and to make them more resolute,” and as S. Cyril says, “He wishes to teach that none will see His glory but those for whom He prayed, and who by Him are united to the Father. For He says, “those whom Thou hast given Me.” And I earnestly desire that they may behold the glory, not only of my manhood exalted to the right Hand of the Father (as SS. Augustine and Cyril explain), but also of My Godhead. “For in this right does our blessedness essentially consist. But when He says, ‘Because Thou lovedst Me,’ it means, it is a manifest proof that Thou lovedst Me with an infinite love from all eternity, because in begetting Me, Thou gavest Me Thy glory and Godhead. But He begat Him not from mere love, but from His own natural fecundity as God. The Father therefore first begat the Son. He then loved Him whom He had begotten, for He had begotten One who was in all respects like Himself.” So Jansenius.
Before the foundation of the world. This signifies that the world was not in any single part eternal, but, both in matter and form and all its other qualities, was created by God in the beginning of time, when its foundations were laid.
Ver. 25.—0 righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. Why does He call the Father ‘Righteous?’ (1.) S. Augustine (in loc.) says, “Because He justly deprived the world and the ungodly of the knowledge of Himself. For it is His justice that the truth of God is not revealed to some, by reason of their sins. But it is His mercy that it is manifested to others.” (2.) S. Cyril (xi. 29) thinks He is so called because He condemned the devil, and deprived him of his power, wherewith he held the world captive, and kept him from attaining that immortality for which he was created. The meaning then is: 0 righteous Father, the world hath not known, this Thy justice, which Thou didst exercise upon the devil, for the world’s sake. For had it known it, all would have flocked to Thee. (3 ) Toletus thinks it was, because He preferred heavenly glory for the Apostles who followed Him, which glory He here asked for them, and from which He shut out the unbelieving world. For this conferring of glory is a righteous act. See 2 Tim. iv. 8. (4.) Ribera, more plainly, and more to the point, refers the word to what follows. Having asked for heavenly glory for the Apostles, and having refused to give these gifts to the unbelieving, as the Scribes and Pharisees who would not follow Him, He says, as it were, “It is just that the proud should be cast off, and these blessings be conferred on these Thy little ones.” These proud ones have not recognised nor worshipped Thee. But I have acknowledged and loved Thee. And My disciples, after My pattern, have acknowledged Thee, and believed in Me. I have therefore given them great knowledge of Thee, and will give them greater after I have risen, and sent the Holy Spirit. Just as from the same cause He exulted in the Spirit (Matt. xi. 25).
Ver. 26.—And 1 have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare It (after My Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit): that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them. That is, that Thou mayest continue towards them the love wherewith Thou lovest Me, and Mine also for My sake. And indeed manifest it in greater measure, and daily benefit them more and more, pouring Thy graces and blessings upon them: so that they may daily make great progress in sanctity and in their Apostolic work. And that in this way I may continually abide in them together with Thee, and may cleave more closely to them through Thy ever-increasing grace and charity within them. For God, when He loves rational creatures, pours into them that most precious and most Divine gift of grace, and charity. And this He does not do to irrational beings, as the sky, the sun, the stars, though He still loves them, by creating, adorning, and governing them by His love. This is the meaning of “Thy love may be in them,” for, as S. Paul says, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given us” (Rom. v. 5). Rupertus explains it somewhat otherwise, “that the Holy Spirit, who is the Love wherewith Thou lovest Me, may ever firmly dwell and abide in them.” But it comes to the same thing. For the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from charity, any more than fire from heat. For to whom charity is given, the Holy Spirit is given also. And as long as charity abides in a man, so long does the Holy Spirit abide, and indeed the whole Trinity. See above, xiv. 23.