Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Tuesday, Octave of Easter

Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov

John 20:11-18

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo′ni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”[a] 18 Mary Mag′dalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Footnotes:

  1. 20.17 The death and resurrection of Jesus had put an end to the ordinary familiar relationships of human life, and the time of lasting companionship had not yet come.

Cited in the Catechism:  In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 443, 640, 641, 645,  654, 659, 660  and 2795.
Commentary
The appearance to Mary Magdalene (20:11–18)
20:11–18. Mary’s affection and sensitivity lead her to be concerned about what has become of the dead body of Jesus. This woman out of whom seven demons were cast (cf. Lk 8:2) stayed faithful during his passion and even now her love is still ardent: our Lord has freed her from the Evil One and she responded to that grace humbly and generously.
After consoling Mary Magdalene, Jesus gives her a message for the Apostles, whom he tenderly calls his “brethren”. This message implies that he and they have the same Father, though each in an essentially different way: “I am ascending to my Father”—my own father by nature—“and to your Father”—for he is your father through the adoption I have won for you by my death. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows his great mercy and understanding by gathering together all his disciples who had abandoned him during his passion and were now in hiding for fear of the Jews (v. 19).

Mary Magdalene’s perseverance teaches us that anyone who sincerely keeps searching for Jesus Christ will eventually find him. Jesus’ gesture in calling his disciples his “brethren” despite their having run away should fill us with love in the midst of our own infidelities.

20:15. From Jesus’ dialogue with Mary Magdalene, we can see the frame of mind all his disciples must have been in: they were not expecting the resurrection.

20:17. “Do not hold me”: the use of the negative imperative in the Greek, reflected in the New Vulgate (“noli me tenere”) indicates that our Lord is telling Mary to release her hold on him, to let him go, since she will have another chance to see him before his ascension into heaven.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome

Monday, April 21, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Monday, Octave of Easter

Matthew 28:8-15

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.


Cited in the Catechism:  In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 640, 641, 645 and 654.
Commentary
Jesus rises from the dead and appears to the women, The soldiers are bribed
28:1–15. The resurrection of Jesus, which happened in the early hours of the Sunday morning, is a fact which all the evangelists state clearly and unequivocally. Some holy women discover to their surprise that the tomb is open. On entering the hall (cf. Mk 16:5–6), they see an angel who says to them, “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.” The guards who were on duty when the angel rolled back the stone go to the city and report what has happened to the chief priests. These, because of the urgency of the matter, decide to bribe the guards; they give them a considerable sum of money on condition that they spread the word that his disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus when they were asleep. “Wretched craftiness,” says St Augustine, “do you give us witnesses who were asleep? It is you who are really asleep if this is the only kind of explanation you have to offer!” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 63, 15). The apostles, who a couple of days before fled in fear, will, now that they have seen him and have eaten and drunk with him, become tireless preachers of this great event: “This Jesus”, they will say, “God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).


Just as he foretold he would go up to Jerusalem and be delivered to the leaders of the Jews and put to death, he also prophesied that he would rise from the dead (Mt 20:17–19; Mk 10:32–34; Lk 18:31–34). By his resurrection he completes the sign he promised to give unbelievers to show his divinity (Mt 12:40).


The resurrection of Christ is one of the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. In fact, St Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14); and, to prove his assertion that Christ rose, he tells us “that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Cor 15:5–8). The creeds state that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (Nicene Creed), by his own power (Ninth Council of Toledo, De Redemptione), by a true resurrection of the flesh (Creed of St Leo IX), reuniting his soul with his body (Innocent III, Eius exemplo), and that this fact of the resurrection is historically proven and provable (St Pius X, Lamentabili).


“By the word ‘resurrection’ we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead … but that he rose by his own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to him alone. Our Lord confirmed this by the divine testimony of his own mouth when he said: ‘I lay down my life, that I may take it again.[…] I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again’ (Jn 10:17–18). To the Jews he also said, in corroboration of his doctrine: ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’ (Jn 2:19–20) […]. We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that he was raised by the Father (cf. Acts 2:24; Rom 8:11); but this refers to him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that he rose by his own power, relate to him as God” (St Pius V, Catechism, 1, 6, 8).


Christ’s resurrection was not a return to his previous earthly existence; it was a “glorious” resurrection, that is to say, attaining the full development of human life—immortal, freed from all limitations of space and time. As a result of the resurrection, Christ’s body now shares in the glory which his soul had from the beginning. Here lies the unique nature of the historical fact of the resurrection. He could be seen not by anyone but only by those to whom he granted that grace, to enable them to be witnesses of this resurrection, and to enable others to believe in him by accepting the testimony of the seers.


Christ’s resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our redemption. For, Jesus Christ through his death freed us from sins; but by his resurrection he restored to us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, opened for us the gates of eternal life (cf. Rom 4:25). Also, the fact that he rose from the dead by his own power is a definitive proof that he is the Son of God, and therefore his resurrection fully confirms our faith in his divinity.


The resurrection of Christ, as has been pointed out, is the most sublime truth of our faith. That is why St Augustine exclaims: “It is no great thing to believe that Christ died; for this is something that is also believed by pagans and Jews and by all the wicked: everyone believes that he died. The Christians’ faith is in Christ’s resurrection; this is what we hold to be a great thing—to believe that he rose” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 120).


The mystery of the Redemption wrought by Christ, which embraces his death and resurrection, is applied to every man and woman through Baptism and the other sacraments, by means of which the believer is as it were immersed in Christ and in his death, that is to say, in a mystical way he becomes part of Christ, he dies and rises with Christ: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).


An ardent desire to seek the things of God and an interior taste for the things that are above (cf. Col 3:1–3) are signs of our resurrection with Christ.


Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.


Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Easter Sunday

John 20:1-9

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

The Resurrection of Jesus

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag′dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.


Cited in the Catechism:  In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 448, 515, 640 and 2174.
Commentary
The empty tomb (20:1–10)
20:1–2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ’s glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Mt 28:1–15; Mk 16:1ff; Lk 24:1–12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.


Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during his journeys (Lk 8:1–3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with him right up to his final moments (Jn 19:25), and she saw where his body was laid (Lk 23:55). Now, after the obligatory sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went “early, while it was still dark”: her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord’s body.


20:4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes “lying” and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem … and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32). John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the apostles.


20:5–7. The words the evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant.


The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.


“The linen clothes lying there”: the Greek participle translated as “lying there” seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared—as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later he entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being “fallen”, “flat”, “lying”, which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus’ body—which had filled them—left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.


“The napkin … rolled up in a place by itself”: the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed to one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as “rolled”, seems to indicate.


From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus’ body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated, as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. Jn 11:44).


20:8–10. As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they now began to understand what the Master had so often told them about his death and resurrection (cf. Mt 16:21; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22; etc.; cf. also the notes on Mt 12:39–40 and Lk 18:31–40).


The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ’s resurrection is a real, historic fact: his body and soul were reunited. But since his was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus’, far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required—the gift of faith—to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St Thomas Aquinas can say that “the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ’s resurrection, but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Lk 24:25–27), the angelic testimony (cf. Lk 24:4–7) and Christ’s own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. Jn 3:13; Mt 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)” (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 3, 55, 6 ad 1).


In addition to Christ’s predictions about his passion, death and resurrection (cf. Jn 2:19; Mt 16:21; Mk 9:31; Lk 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, his resurrection (cf. Ps 16:9; Is 52:13; Hos 6:2). The apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.


Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.


Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Easter Vigil

Holy Women and the Angel at the Empty Tomb (mosaic)

Matthew 28:1-10

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

The Resurrection of Jesus

28 [a]Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag′dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[b] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Footnotes:

  1. 28.1-20 The resurrection appearances. There are divergent traditions in the gospels, Galilean and Judean. Paul adds his own record (1 Cor 15). The accounts do not easily fit together, but this is surely evidence of their genuineness. There is no attempt to produce an artificial conformity.
  2. Matthew 28:6 Other ancient authorities read the Lord.

Cited in the Catechism:  In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 500, 641, 645, 652, 654 and 2174.
Commentary
Jesus rises from the dead and appears to the women, The soldiers are bribed
28:1–15. The resurrection of Jesus, which happened in the early hours of the Sunday morning, is a fact which all the evangelists state clearly and unequivocally. Some holy women discover to their surprise that the tomb is open. On entering the hall (cf. Mk 16:5–6), they see an angel who says to them, “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.” The guards who were on duty when the angel rolled back the stone go to the city and report what has happened to the chief priests. These, because of the urgency of the matter, decide to bribe the guards; they give them a considerable sum of money on condition that they spread the word that his disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus when they were asleep. “Wretched craftiness,” says St Augustine, “do you give us witnesses who were asleep? It is you who are really asleep if this is the only kind of explanation you have to offer!” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 63, 15). The apostles, who a couple of days before fled in fear, will, now that they have seen him and have eaten and drunk with him, become tireless preachers of this great event: “This Jesus”, they will say, “God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

Just as he foretold he would go up to Jerusalem and be delivered to the leaders of the Jews and put to death, he also prophesied that he would rise from the dead (Mt 20:17–19; Mk 10:32–34; Lk 18:31–34). By his resurrection he completes the sign he promised to give unbelievers to show his divinity (Mt 12:40).

The resurrection of Christ is one of the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. In fact, St Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14); and, to prove his assertion that Christ rose, he tells us “that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Cor 15:5–8). The creeds state that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (Nicene Creed), by his own power (Ninth Council of Toledo, De Redemptione), by a true resurrection of the flesh (Creed of St Leo IX), reuniting his soul with his body (Innocent III, Eius exemplo), and that this fact of the resurrection is historically proven and provable (St Pius X, Lamentabili).

“By the word ‘resurrection’ we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead … but that he rose by his own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to him alone. Our Lord confirmed this by the divine testimony of his own mouth when he said: ‘I lay down my life, that I may take it again.[…] I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again’ (Jn 10:17–18). To the Jews he also said, in corroboration of his doctrine: ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’ (Jn 2:19–20) […]. We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that he was raised by the Father (cf. Acts 2:24; Rom 8:11); but this refers to him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that he rose by his own power, relate to him as God” (St Pius V, Catechism, 1, 6, 8).

Christ’s resurrection was not a return to his previous earthly existence; it was a “glorious” resurrection, that is to say, attaining the full development of human life—immortal, freed from all limitations of space and time. As a result of the resurrection, Christ’s body now shares in the glory which his soul had from the beginning. Here lies the unique nature of the historical fact of the resurrection. He could be seen not by anyone but only by those to whom he granted that grace, to enable them to be witnesses of this resurrection, and to enable others to believe in him by accepting the testimony of the seers.

Christ’s resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our redemption. For, Jesus Christ through his death freed us from sins; but by his resurrection he restored to us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, opened for us the gates of eternal life (cf. Rom 4:25). Also, the fact that he rose from the dead by his own power is a definitive proof that he is the Son of God, and therefore his resurrection fully confirms our faith in his divinity.

The resurrection of Christ, as has been pointed out, is the most sublime truth of our faith. That is why St Augustine exclaims: “It is no great thing to believe that Christ died; for this is something that is also believed by pagans and Jews and by all the wicked: everyone believes that he died. The Christians’ faith is in Christ’s resurrection; this is what we hold to be a great thing—to believe that he rose” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 120).

The mystery of the Redemption wrought by Christ, which embraces his death and resurrection, is applied to every man and woman through Baptism and the other sacraments, by means of which the believer is as it were immersed in Christ and in his death, that is to say, in a mystical way he becomes part of Christ, he dies and rises with Christ: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

An ardent desire to seek the things of God and an interior taste for the things that are above (cf. Col 3:1–3) are signs of our resurrection with Christ.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome