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).