Easter Vigil – Matt 28:2b

2 . . . For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

Bede: Forasmuch as Christ is both God and man, therefore there lack not amidst the acts of His humanity the ministrations of Angels, due to Him as God. “And came and rolled back the stone;” not to open the door for the Lord to come forth, but to give evidence to men that He was already come forth. For He who as mortal had power to enter the world through the closed womb of a Virgin, He when become immortal, was able to depart out of the world by rising from a sealed sepulchre.

Remigius: The rolling back of the stone signifies the opening of Christ’s sacraments, which were covered by the letter of the Law. For the Law having been written on stones, is here denoted by the stone.

Chrysologus: He said not rolled, but “rolled back;” because the rolling to of the stone was a proof of death; the rolling it back asserted the resurrection. The order of things is changed; The Tomb devours death, and not the dead; the house of death becomes the mansion of life; a new law is imposed upon it, it receives a dead, and renders up a living, man.

He sat down, who was incapable of weariness; but sat as a teacher of the faith, a master of the Resurrection; upon the stone, that the firmness of his seat might assure the stedfastness of the believers; the Angel rested the foundations of the Faith upon that rock, on which Christ was to found His Church.

Or, by the stone of the sepulchre may be denoted death, under which we all lay; and by the Angel sitting thereon, is shewn that Christ hath by His might subdued death.

Bede: The Herald of the Resurrection is related to have been seated, to shew that now He had overcome him that had the power of death, He had mounted the throne of the everlasting kingdom. He sate upon the stone, now rolled back, wherewith the mouth of the sepulchre had been closed, to teach that He by His might had burst the bonds of the tomb.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Easter Vigil – Matt 28:2a

2 And behold there was a great earthquake. . . .

Bede: The earthquake at the Resurrection, as also at the Crucifixion, signifies that worldly hearts must be first moved to penitence by a health-giving fear through belief in His Passion and Resurrection.

Jerome: Our Lord, Son at once of God and man, according to His two-fold nature of Godhead and of flesh, gives a sign one while of His greatness, another while of His lowliness. Thus, though now it was man who was crucified, and man who was buried, yet the things that were done around shew the Son of God.

Hilary: The earthquake is the might of the resurrection, when the sting of death being blunted, and its darkness illuminated, there is stirred up a quaking of the powers beneath, as the Lord of the heavenly powers rises again.

This is an instance of the mercy of God the Father, to supply the ministry of heavenly power to the Son on His resurrection from the grave; and he is therefore the proclaimer of this first resurrection, that it may be heralded by some attendant token of the Father’s good pleasure.

Chrysologus: If the earth thus quaked when the Lord rose again to the pardon of the Saints, how will it quake when He shall rise again to the punishment of the wicked? As the Prophet speaks, “The earth trembled when the Lord rose again to judgment.” [Ps 76:8] And how will it endure the Lord’s presence, when it was unable to endure the presence of His Angel?

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Easter Vigil – Matt 28:1

1 And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.

Bede: The women returning from the sepulchre prepared spices and ointments as long as it was lawful to work; on the sabbath they rested, according to the commandment, as Luke plainly declares [Luke 23:56]; and when the Sabbath was past and the evening was come, and the season of labour returned, with zealous devotion they proceeded to purchase such spices as they yet lacked, (this is implied in Mark’s words, “when the sabbath was past” [Mark 16:1]), that they might go and anoint Jesus, for which purpose they come early in the morning to the sepulchre.

From the beginning of the creation of the world until now, the course of time has followed this arrangement, that the day should go before the night, because man, fallen by sin from the light of paradise, has sunk into the darkness and misery of this world. But now most fitly night goes before day, when, through faith in the resurrection, we are brought back from the darkness of sin and the shadow of death to the light of life, by the bounty of Christ.

Chrysologus: Late runs woman for pardon, who had run early to sin; in paradise she had taken up unbelief, from the sepulchre she hastes to take up faith; she now hastens to snatch life from death, who had before snatched death from life.

Mary is the name of Christ’s mother; and one name is twice repeated for two women, because herein is figured the Church coming out of the two nations, the Gentiles and the Jews, and being yet one. Mary came to the sepulchre, as to the womb of the resurrection, that Christ might be the second time born out of the sepulchre of faith, who after the flesh had been born of her womb; and that as a virgin had borne Him into this life present, so a sealed sepulchre might bring Him forth into life eternal. It is proof of Deity to have left a womb virgin after birth, and no less to have come forth in the body from a closed sepulchre.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Good Friday – John 19:38-42

38 And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

Chrysostom: He was not of the twelve, but of the seventy, for none of the twelve came near. . . . Joseph was a person of rank, and known to Pilate; so he went to him, and the favor was granted.

Bede: He did not come as a disciple, but simply to perform a work of mercy, which is due to the evil as well as to the good.

39 And Nicodemus also came, (he who at the first came to Jesus by night,) bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Augustine: Nicodemus at the first came to Jesus by night [John 3:2]. . . . From these words then we are to infer that that was not the only time that Nicodemus went to our Lord, but simply the first time; and that he came afterwards and heard Christ’s discourses, and became a disciple.

40 They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Bede: Hence hath come down the custom of the Church, of consecrating the Lord’s body not on silk or gold cloth, but in a clean linen cloth.

Chrysostom: They bring the spices most efficacious for preserving the body from corruption, treating Him as a mere man. Yet this show great love.

Augustine: The Evangelist intimates, that in paying the last offices of the dead, the custom of the nation is to be followed.

41 Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. 42 There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Augustine: As no one before or after Him was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so in this grave was there none buried before or after Him.

Theophylact: In that it was a new sepulcher, we are given to understand, that we are all renewed by Christ’s death, and death and corruption destroyed. Mark too the exceeding poverty that He took up for our sakes. He had no house in His lifetime, and now He is laid in another’s sepulcher at His death, and His nakedness covered by Joseph.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).

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Good Friday – John 19:31-37

31 Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Theophylact: It was commanded in the Law that the sun should not set on the punishment of anyone; or they were unwilling to appear tormentors and homicides on a feast day.

32 The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. 33 But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.

Augustine: The Evangelist has expressed himself cautiously; not struck, or wounded, but opened His side: whereby was opened the gate of life, from whence the sacraments of the Church flowed, without which we cannot enter into that life which is the true life: And forthwith came thereout blood and water. That blood was shed for the remission of sins, that water tempers the cup of salvation. This it was which was prefigured when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, by which the animals that were not to perish by the deluge entered; which animals prefigured the Church. To shadow forth this, the woman was made out of the side of the sleeping man; for this second Adam bowed His head, and slept on the cross, that out of that which came therefrom, there might be formed a wife for Him.

35 And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.

Theophylact: The water flowing is an irresistible miracle, and therefore the Evangelist adds, And he that saw it bare record.

Chrysostom: As if to say, I did not hear it from others, but saw it with mine own eyes.

36 For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. 37 And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Augustine: A bone of Him shall not be broken, a commandment which applied to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb under the old law [Exod 12:46], which sacrifice foreshadowed our Lord’s. . . . Another Scripture said, They shall look on Him whom they pierced [Zech 12:10], a prophecy which implies that Christ will come in the very flesh in which He was crucified.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).

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Good Friday – Luke 23:45-46

45 And the sun was darkened, . . .

Augustine: This darkening of the sun it is quite plain did not happen in the regular and fixed course of the heavenly bodies, because it was then the Passover, which is always celebrated at the full moon. But a regular eclipse of the sun does not take place except at new moon.

Dionysius: We observed that this obscuration began from the east, and having reached as far as the sun’s western border at length returned, and that the loss and restoration of light took place not from the same side, but from opposite sides of the diameter. Such were the miraculous events of that time, and possible to Christ alone who is the cause of all things.

[Ed. note: During a naturally-occurring solar eclipse the obscuration of the sun begins on the western side of the sun and moves across the sun in an eastwardly direction.]

45 . . . and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

Ambrose: The old veil is rent that the Church may hang up the new walls of faith.

Theophylact: The veil which kept us asunder from the holy things which are in heaven, is broken through, namely, enmity and sin.

46 And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. . . .

Bede: By invoking the Father He declares Himself to be the Son of God, but by commending His Spirit, He signifies not the weakness of His strength, but His confidence in the same power with the Father.

Ambrose: The flesh dies that the Spirit may rise again. The Spirit is commended to the Father, that heavenly things also may be loosed from the chain of iniquity, and peace be made in heaven, which earthly things should follow.

Athanasius: He commends to His Father through Himself all mankind quickened in Him; for we are His members; as the Apostle says, Ye are all one in Christ [Gal 3:28].

46 . . . And saying this, he gave up the ghost.

Theophylact: Crying with a loud voice He gives up the ghost, because He had in Himself the power of laying down His life and taking it up again.

Ambrose: He gave up His Spirit, because He did not lose it as one unwilling; for what a man sends forth is voluntary, what he loses, compulsory.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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Good Friday – John 19:28-30

28 Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. 29 Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. 30 Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.

Augustine: Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished; i.e. knowing the prophecy in the Psalms, And when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink [Ps 69:21], said, I thirst.

The hyssop around which they put the sponge full of vinegar, being a mean herb, taken to purge the breast, represents the humility of Christ, which they hemmed in and thought they had circumvented. For we are made clean by Christ s humility.

Bede: It may be asked here, why it is said, When Jesus had received the vinegar, when another Evangelist says, He would not drink [Matt 27:34]. But this is easily settled. He did not receive the vinegar, to drink it, but fulfill the prophecy.

Chrysostom: He did not bow His head because He gave up the ghost, but He gave up the ghost because at that moment He bowed His head. Whereby the Evangelist intimates that He was Lord of all.

Augustine: Who ever had such power to sleep when he wished, as our Lord had to die when He wished? What power must He have, for our good or evil, Who had such power dying?

Theophylact: Our Lord gave up His ghost to God the Father, showing that the souls of the saints do not remain in the tomb, but go into the hand of the Father of all while sinners are reserved for the place of punishment, i.e. hell.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).

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