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The Coming of Jesus’ Hour

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.
Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

John 12:20–26

20. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast.

21. The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

23. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25. He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

COMMENTARY

BEDE. The temple at Jerusalem was so famous, that on the feast days, not only the people near, but many Gentiles from distant countries came to worship in it; as that eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, mentioned in the Acts. The Gentiles who were at Jerusalem now, had come up for this purpose: And there were certain Gentiles among them who came to worship at the feast.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvi. 2) The time being now near, when they would be made proselytes. They hear Christ talked of, and wish to see Him: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. li. 8) Lo! the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him. But they also were of the Jews who cried, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. So behold them of the circumcision, and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together like two walls, and meeting in one faith of Christ by the kiss of peace.

Philip cometh and telleth Andrew.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 2) As being the elder disciple. He had heard our Saviour say, Go not into the way of the Gentiles; (Matt. 10:5) and therefore he communicates with his fellow-disciple, and they refer the matter to their Lord: And again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. li. 8) Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe on Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fulness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Thyself, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth. (Ps. 56, and 107) But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into they round and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. That corn was He; to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.

BEDE. He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase. He died alone; He rose again with many.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvi. 2) He illustrates His discourse by an example from nature. A grain of corn produces fruit, after it has died. How much more then must the Son of God? The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews had finally offended; i. e. after His crucifixion. Now then that the Gentiles of their own accord offered their faith, He saw that His crucifixion could not be far off. And to console the sorrow of His disciples, which He foresaw would arise, He tells them that to bear patiently not only His death, but their own too, is the only way to good: He that loveth his life shall lose it.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. li. 10) This may be understood in two ways: 1. If thou lovest it, lose it: if thou wouldest preserve thy life in Christ, fear not death for Christ. 2. Do not love thy life here, lest thou lose it hereafter. The latter seems to be the more evangelical (evangelicus) sense; for it follows, And he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 1) He loveth his life in this world, who indulges its inordinate desires; he hateth it, who resists them. It is not, who doth not yield to, but, who hateth. For as we cannot bear to hear the voice or see the face of them whom we hate; so when the soul invites us to things contrary to God, we should turn her away from them with all our might.

THEOPHYLACT. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul; so He adds, in this world: i. e. for a particular time, not for ever. And we shall gain in the end by so doing: shall keep it unto life eternal.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. li. 10) But think not for an instant, that by hating thy soul, is meant that thou mayest kill thyself. For wicked and perverse men have sometimes so mistaken it, and have burnt and strangled themselves, thrown themselves from precipices, and in other ways put an end to themselves. This did not Christ teach; nay, when the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down, He said, Get thee hence, Satanb. But when no other choice is given thee; when the persecutor threatens death, and thou must either disobey God’s law, or depart out of this life, then hate thy life in this world, that thou mayest keep it unto life eternal.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 1) This present life is sweet to them who are given up to it. But he who looks heavenwards, and sees what good things are there, soon despises this life. When the better life appears, the worse is despised. This is Christ’s meaning, when He says, If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, i. e. imitate Me, both in My death, and life. For he who serves, should follow him whom he serves.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. li) But what is it to serve Christ? The very words explain. They serve Christ who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ, i. e. who follow Him, walk in His, not their own, ways, do all good works for Christ’s sake, not only works of mercy to men’s bodies, but all others, till at length they fulfil that great work of love, and lay down their lives for the brethren. But what fruit, what reward? you ask. The next words tell you: And where I am, there shall also My servant be. Love Him for His own sake, and think it a rich reward for thy service, to be with Him.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii) So then death will be followed by resurrection. Where I am, He says; for Christ was in heaven before His resurrection. Thither let us ascend in heart and in mind.

If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour. This must be understood as an explanation of the preceding. There also shall My servant be. For what greater honour can an adopted son receive than to be where the Only Son is?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii) He says, My Father will honour him, not, I will honour him; because they had not yet proper notions of His nature, and thought Him inferior to the Father.

John 12:27–33

27. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

28. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

29. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

30. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

31. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

COMMENTARY

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvi) To our Lord’s exhortation to His disciples to endurance, they might have replied that it was easy for Him, Who was out of the reach of human pain, to talk philosophically about death, and to recommend others to bear what He is in no danger of having to bear Himself. So He lets them see that He is Himself in an agony, but that He does not intend to decline death, merely for the sake of relieving Himself: Now is My soul troubled.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 2) I hear Him say, He that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal; and I am ravished, I despise the world; the whole of this life, however long, is but a vapour in My sight; all temporal things are vile, in comparison with eternal. And again I hear Him say, Now is My soul troubled. Thou biddest my soul follow Thee; but I see Thy soul troubled. What foundation shall I seek, if the Rock gives way? Lord, I acknowledge Thy mercy. Thou of Thy love wast of Thine own will troubled, to console those who are troubled through the infirmity of nature; that the members of Thy body perish not in despair. The Head took upon Himself the affections of His members. He was not troubled by any thing, but, as was said above, He troubled Himself. (c. 11:33)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii) As He draws near to the Cross, His human nature appears, a nature that did not wish to die, but cleaved to this present life. He shews that He is not quite without human feelings. For the desire of this present life is not necessarily wrong, any more than hunger. Christ had a body free from sin, but not from natural infirmities. But these attach solely to the dispensation of His humanity, not to His divinity.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii) Lastly, let the man who would follow Him, hear at what hour he should follow. A fearful hour has perhaps come: a choice is offered, either to do wrong, or suffer: the weak soul is troubled. Hear our Lord. What shall I say?

BEDE. i. e. What but something to confirm My followers? Father, save Me from this hour.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 3) He teaches thee Whom thou shouldest call on, whose will prefer to thine own. Let Him not seem to fall from His greatness, because He wishes thee to rise from thy meanness. He took upon Him man’s infirmity, that He might teach the afflicted to say, Not what I will, but what Thou wilt. Wherefore He adds, But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name: i. e. in My passion and resurrection.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 2) As if He said, I cannot say why I should ask to be saved from it; For for this cause came I unto this hour. However ye may be troubled and dejected at the thought of dying, do not run away from death. I am troubled, yet I ask not to be spared. I do not say, Save Me from this hour, but the contrary, Glorify Thy name. To die for the truth was to glorify God, as the event shewed; for after His crucifixion the whole world was to be converted to the knowledge and worship of God, both the Father and the Son. But this He is silent about.

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

GREGORY. (Moral. xxviii.) When God speaks audibly, as He does here, but no visible appearance is seen, He speaks through the medium of a rational creature: i. e. by the voice of an Angel.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 4) I have glorified it, i. e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i. e. when Thou shalt rise from the dead. Or, I have glorified it, when Thou wast born of a Virgin, didst work miracles, wast made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when Thou shalt rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.

The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 2) The voice though loud and distinct, soon passed off from their gross, carnal, and sluggish minds; only the sound remaining. Others perceived an articulate voice, but did not catch what it said: Others said, An Angel spake to Him.

Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 5) i. e. It did not come to tell Him what He knew already, but them what they ought to know. And as that voice did not come for His sake, but for theirs, so His soul was not troubled for His sake, but for theirs.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 2) The voice of the Father proved what they were so fond of denying, that He was from God. For He must be from God, if He was glorified by God. It was not that He needed encouragement of such a voice Himself, but He condescended to receive it for the sake of those who were by. Now is the judgment of this world: this fits on to the preceding, as shewing the mode of His being glorified.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 6) The judgment at the end of the world will be of eternal rewards and punishments. But there is another judgment, not of condemnation, but of selection, which is the one meant here; the selection of His own redeemed, and their deliverance from the power of the devil: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. The devil is not called the prince of this world, in the sense of being lord over heaven and earth; God forbid. The world here stands for the wicked dispersed over all the world. In this sense the devil is the prince of the world, i. e. of all the wicked men who live in the world. The world also sometimes stands for the good dispersed throughout the world: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. (2 Cor. 5:19) These are they from whose hearts the prince of this world shall be cast out. Our Lord foresaw that after His passion and glorifying, great nations all over the world would be converted, in whom the devil was then, but from whose hearts, on their truly renouncing him1, he would be cast out. But was he not cast out of the hearts of righteous men of old? Why is it, Now shall be cast out? Because that which once took place in a very few persons, was now to take place in whole nations. What then, does the devil not tempt at all the minds of believers? Yea, he never ceases to tempt them. But it is one thing to reign within, another to lay siege from without.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 2) What kind of judgment it is by which the devil is cast out, I will explain by an example. A man demands payment from his debtors, beats them, and sends them to prison. He treats with the same insolence one who owes him nothing. The latter will take vengeance both for himself and the others too. This Christ does. He revenges what He has suffered at the devil’s hands, and with Himself He revenges us too. But that none may say, How will he be cast out, if he overcome thee? He adds, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. How can He be overcome, who draws others unto Him? This is more than saying, I shall rise again. Had He said this, it would not have proved that He would draw all things unto Him; but, I shall draw, includes the resurrection, and this besides.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 11) What is this all that He draweth, but that from which the devil is cast out? He does not say, All men, but, All things; for all men have not faith. He does not mean then all mankind, but the whole of a man, i. e. spirit, soul, and body; by which respectively we understand, and live, and are visible. Or, if all means all men, it means those who are predestined to salvation: or all kinds of men, all varieties of character, excepting in the article of sin.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxvii. 3.) Why then did He say above, that the Father drew men? (c. 6:46.) Because the Father draws, by the Son who draws. I shall draw, He says, as if men were in the grasp of some tyrant, from which they could not extricate themselves.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lii. 11) If I be lifted up from the earth, He says, i. e. when I shall be lifted up. He does not doubt that the work will be accomplished which He came to do. By His being lifted up, He means His passion on the cross, as the Evangelist adds: This He said, signifying by what death He should die.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.

 

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