13. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
BEDE; He did not stay many days there, on account of the Passover, which was approaching: And the Jews' passover was at hand.
ORIGEN; But what need of saying, of the Jews, when no other nation had the rite of the Passover? Perhaps' because there are two sorts of Passover, one human, which is celebrated in a way very different from the design of Scripture; another the true and Divine, which is kept in spirit and in truth. To distinguish it then from the Divine, it is said, of the Jews.
ALCUIN. And He went up to Jerusalem. The Gospels mention two journeys of our Lord to Jerusalem, one in the first year of His preaching, before John was sent to prison, which is the journey now spoken of; the other in the year of His Passion. Our Lord has set us here an example of careful obedience to the Divine commands. For if the Son of God fulfilled the injunctions of His own law, by keeping the festivals, like the rest, with what holy zeal should we servants prepare for and celebrate them?
ORIGEN; In a mystical sense, it was meet that after the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the banquet and wine, our Lord should take His mother, brethren, and disciples to the land of consolation (as Capernaum signifies ) to console, by the fruits that were to spring up and by abundance of fields, those who received His discipline, and the mind which had conceived Him by the Holy Ghost; and who were there to be holpen. For some there are bearing fruit, to whom our Lord Himself comes down with the ministers of His word and disciples, helping such, His mother being present. Those however who are called to Capernaum, do not seem capable of His presence long: that is, a land which admits lower consolation, is not able to take in the enlightenment from many doctrines; being capable to receive few only.
ALCUIN. Or Capernaum, we may interpret "a most beautiful village," and so it signifies the world, to which the Word of the Father came down.
BEDE; But He continued there only a few days, because he lived with men in this world only a short time.
ORIGEN; Jerusalem, as our Savior Himself said, is the city of the great King, into which none of those who remain on earth ascend, or enter. Only the soul which has a certain natural loftiness, and clear insight into things invisible, is the inhabitant of that city. Jesus alone goes up thither. But His disciples seem to have been present afterwards. The zeal of Your house has eaten me up. But it is as though in every one of the disciples who went up, it was Jesus who went up.
14. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16. And said to them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise.
17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up.
BEDE; Our Lord on coming to Jerusalem, immediately entered the temple to pray; giving us an example that, wheresoever we go, our first visit should be to the house of God to pray. And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting.
AUG. Such sacrifices were prescribed to the people, in condescension to their carnal minds; to prevent them from turning aside to idols. They sacrificed sheep, and oxen, and doves.
BEDE; Those however, who came from a distance, being unable to bring with them the animals required for sacrifice, brought the money instead. For their convenience the Scribes and Pharisees ordered animals to be sold in the temple, in order that, when the people had bought and offered them afterwards, they might sell them again, and thus make great profits. And changers of money sitting; changers of money sat at the table to supply change to buyers and sellers. But our Lord disapproving of any worldly business in His house, especially one of so questionable a kind, drove out all engaged in it.
AUG. He who was to be scourged by them, was first of all the scourger; and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple.
THEOPEHYL. Nor did He cast out only those who bought and sold, but their goods also: The sheep, and the oxen and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables, i.e. of the money changers, which were coffers of pence.
ORIGEN; Should it appear something out of the order of things, that the Son of God should make a scourge of small cords, to drive them out of the temple? We have one answer in which some take refuge, viz. the divine power of Jesus, Who, when He pleased, could extinguish the wrath of His enemies however innumerable, and quiet the tumult of their minds: The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought. This act indeed exhibits no less power, than His more positive miracles; nay rather, more than the miracle by which water was converted into wine: in that there the subject-matter was inanimate, here, the minds of so many thousands of men are overcome.
AUG. It is evident that this was done on two several occasions; the first mentioned by John, the last by the other three.
ORIGEN; John says here that He drove out the sellers from the temple; Matthew, the sellers and buyers. The number of buyers was much greater than of the sellers: and therefore to drive them out was beyond the power of the carpenter's Son, as He was supposed to be, had He not by His divine power put all things under Him, as it is said.
BEDE; The Evangelist sets before us both natures of Christ: the human in that His mother accompanied Him to Capernaum; the divine, in that He said, Make not My Father's house an house of merchandise
CHRYS. Lo, He speaks of God as His Father, and they are not angry, for they think He means it in a common sense. But afterwards when He spoke more openly, and showed that He meant equality, they were enraged. In Matthew's account too, on driving them out, He says, You have made it (My Father's house) a den of thieves. This was just: before His Passion, and therefore He uses severer language. But the former being at the beginning of His miracles, His answer is milder and more indulgent.
AUG. So that temple was still a figure only, and our Lord cast out of it all who came to it as a market. And what did they sell? Things that were necessary for the sacrifice of that time. What if He had found men drunken? If the house of God ought not to be a house of merchandise, ought it to be a house of drunkenness?
CHRYS. But why did Christ use such violence? He was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many things which appeared to them transgressions of the Law. That He might not appear therefore to be acting contrary to God, He did this at His own peril; and thus gave them to understand, that He who exposed Himself to such peril to defend the decency of the house, did not despise the Lord of that house. For the same reason, to show His agreement with God, He said not, the Holy house, but, My Father's house.
It follows, And His disciples remembered what was written; The zeal of your house has eaten me up.
BEDE; His disciples seeing this most fervent zeal in Him, remembered that it was from zeal for His Father's house that our Savior drove the ungodly from the temple.
ALCUIN. Zeal, taken in a good sense, is a certain fervor of the Spirit, by which the mind, all human fears forgotten, is stirred up to the defense of the truth.
AUG. He then is eaten up with zeal for God's house, who desires to correct all that he sees wrong there; and, if he cannot correct, endures and mourns. In your house you busy yourself to prevent matters going wrong; in the house of God, where salvation is offered, ought you to be indifferent? Have you a friend? admonish him gently; a wife? coerce her severely; a maid-servant? even compel her with stripes. Do what you are able, according to your station.
ALCUIN. To take the passage mystically, God enters His Church spiritually every day, and marks each one's behavior there. Let us be careful then, when we are in God's Church, that we indulge not in stories, or jokes, or hatreds, or lusts, lest on a sudden He come and scourge us, and drive us out of His Church.
ORIGEN; It is possible even for the dweller in Jerusalem to incur guilt, and even the most richly endowed may stray. And unless these repent speedily, they lose the capacity wherewith they were endued. He finds them in the temple, i.e. in sacred places, or in the office of enunciating the Church's truths, some who make His Father's house an house of merchandise; i.e. who expose to sale the oxen whom they ought to reserve for the plough, lest by turning back they should become unfit for the kingdom of God: also who prefer the unrighteous mammon to the sheep, from which they have the material of ornament; also who for miserable gain abandon the watchful care of them who are called metaphorically doves, without all gall or bitterness. Our Savior finding these in the holy house, makes a scourge of small cords, and drives them out, together with the sheep and oxen exposed for sale, scatters the heaps of money, as unbeseeming in the house of God, and overthrows the tables set up in the minds of the covetous, forbidding them to sell doves in the house of God any longer. I think too that He meant the above, as a mystical intimation that whatsoever was to be performed with regard to that sacred oblation by the priests, was not to be performed after the manner of material oblations, and that the law was not to be observed as the carnal Jews wished. For our Lord, by driving away the sheep and oxen, and ordering away the doves, which were the most common offerings among the Jews, and by overthrowing the tables of material coins, which in a figure only, not in truth, bore the Divine stamp, (i.e. what according to the letter of the law seemed good,) and when with His own hand He scourged the people, He as much as declared that the dispensation was to be broken up and destroyed, and the kingdom translated to the believing from among the Gentiles.
AUG. Or, those who sell in the Church, are those who seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. They who will not be bought, think they may sell earthly things. Thus Simon wished to buy the Spirit, that he might sell Him: for he was one of those who sell doves. (The Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.) The dove however is not sold, but is given of free grace; for it is called grace.
BEDE; They then are the sellers of doves, who, after receiving the free grace of the Holy Spirit, do not dispense it freely , as they are commanded, but at a price: who confer the laying on of hands, by which the Holy Spirit is received, if not for money, at least for the sake of getting favor with the people, who bestow Holy Orders not according to merit, but favor.
AUG. By the oxen may be understood the Apostles and Prophets, who have dispensed to us the holy Scriptures. Those who by these very Scriptures deceive the people, from whom they seek honor, sell the oxen; and they sell the sheep too, i.e. the people themselves; and to whom do they sell them, but to the devil? For that which is cut off from the one Church, who takes away, except the roaring lion, who goes about every where, and seeks whom he may devour?
BEDE; Or, the sheep are works of purity and piety, and they sell the sheep, who do works of piety to gain the praise of men. They exchange money in the temple, who, in the Church, openly devote themselves to secular business. And besides those who seek for money, or praise, or honor from Holy Orders, those too make the Lord's house a house of merchandise, who do not employ the rank, or spiritual grace, which they have received in the Church at the Lord's hands, with singleness of mind, but with an eye to human recompense.
AUG. Our Lord intended a meaning to be seen in His making a scourge of small cords, and then scourging those who were carrying on the merchandise in the temple. Every one by his sins twists for himself a cord, in that he goes on adding sin to sin. So then when men suffer for their iniquities, let them be sure that it is the Lord making a scourge of small cords, and admonishing them to change their lives: which if they fail to do, they will hear at the last, Bind him hand and foot.
BEDE; With a scourge then made of small cords, He cast them out of the temple; for from the part and lot of the saints are cast out all, who, thrown externally among the Saints, do good works hypocritically, or bad openly. The sheep and the oxen too He cast out, to show that the life and the doctrine of such were alike reprobate. And He overthrew the change heaps of the money-changers and their tables, as a sign that, at the final condemnation of the wicked, He will take away the form even of those things which they loved. The sale of doves He ordered to be removed out of the temple, because the grace of the Spirit, being freely received, should be freely given.
ORIGEN; By the temple we may understand too the soul wherein the Word of God dwells; in which, before the teaching of Christ, earthly and bestial affections had prevailed. The ox being the tiller of the soil, is the symbol of earthly affections: the sheep, being the most irrational of all animals, of dull ones; the dove is the type of light and volatile thoughts; and money, of earthly good things; which money Christ cast out by the Word of His doctrine, that His Father's house might be no longer a market.
18. Then answered the Jews and said to him, What sign show you to us, seeing that you do these things?
19. Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?
21. But he spoke of the temple of his body.
22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
THEOPHYL. The Jews seeing Jesus thus acting with power, and having heard Him say, Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise, ask of Him a sign; Then answered the Jews and said to Him, What sign show You to us, seeing that You do these things?
CHRYS. But were signs necessary for His putting a stop to evil practices? Was not the having such zeal for the house of God, the greatest sign of His virtue? They did not however remember the prophecy, but asked for a sign; at once irritated at the loss of their base gains, and wishing to prevent Him from going further. For this dilemma, they thought, would oblige Him either to work miracles, or give up His present course.
But He refuses to give them the sign, as He did on a like occasion, when He answers, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; only the answer is more open there than here. He however who even anticipated men's wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it. As it was, Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
BEDE; For inasmuch as they sought a sign from our Lord of His right to eject the customary merchandise from the temple, He replied, that that temple signified the temple of His Body, in which was no spot of sin; as if He said, As by My power I purify your inanimate temple from your merchandise and wickedness; so the temple of My Body, of which that is the figure, destroyed by your hands, on the third day I will raise again.
THEOPHYL. He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shows that their intentions were not hidden from Him. Let the Arians observe how our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.
AUG. The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise You me up, and I shall reward them. But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He said below, I and My Father are one.
CHRYS. But why does He give them the sign of His resurrection? Because this was the greatest proof that He was not a mere man; showing, as it did, that He could triumph over death, and in a moment overthrow its long tyranny.
ORIGEN. Both those, i.e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with lively stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, You are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days, and established in the new heaven and the new earth. For as that sensible body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward rose again; so the whole body of Christ's saints was crucified with Christ, (each glorying in that cross, by which He Himself too was crucified to the world,) and, after being buried with Christ, has also risen with Him, walking in newness of life. Yet have we not risen yet in the power of the blessed resurrection, which is still going on, and is yet to be completed. Whence it is not said, On the third day I will build it up, but, in three days; for the erection is being in process throughout the whole of the three days.
THEOPHYL. The Jews, supposing that He spoke of the material temple, scoffed: Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days?
ALCUIN. Note, that they allude here not to the first temple under Solomon, which was finished in seven years, but to the one rebuilt under Zorobabel. This was forty-six years building, in consequence of the hindrance raised by the enemies of the work.
ORIGEN. Or some will reckon perhaps the forty and six years from the time that David consulted Nathan the Prophet on the building of the temple. David from that time was busy in collecting materials. But perhaps the number forty may with reference to the four corners of the temple allude to the four elements of the world, and the number six, to the creation of man on the sixth day.
AUG. Or it may be that this number fits in with the perfection of the Lord's Body. For six times forty-six are two hundred and seventy-six days, which make up nine months and six days, the time that our Lord's Body was forming in the womb; as we know by authoritative traditions handed down from our fathers, and preserved by the Church. He was, according to general belief, conceived on the eighth of the Kalends of April, the one which He suffered, and born on the eighth of the Kalends of January. The intervening time contains two hundred and seventy-six days, i.e. six multiplied by forty.
AUG. The process of human conception is said to be this. The first six days produce a substance like milk, which in the following nine is converted into blood; in twelve more is consolidated, in eighteen more is formed into a perfect set of limbs, the growth and enlargement of which fills up the rest of the time till the birth. For six, and nine, and twelve, and eighteen, added together are forty-five, and with the addition of one (which stands for the summing up, all these numbers being collected into one) forty-six. This multiplied by the number six, which stands at the head of this calculation, makes two hundred and seventy-six, i.e. nine months a and six days. It is no unmeaning information then that the temple was forty and six years building; for the temple prefigured His Body, and as many years as the temple was in building, so many days was the Lord's Body in forming.
AUG. Or thus, if you take the four Greek words, anatole, the east; dysis, the west; arctos, the north; and mesembria, the south; the first letters of these words make Adam. And our Lord says that He will gather together His saints from the four winds, when He comes to judgment. Now these letters of the word Adam, make up, according to Greek figuring, the number of the years during which the temple was building. For in Adam we have alpha, one; delta, four; alpha again, one; and forty; making up together forty-six. The temple then signifies the body derived from Adam; which body our Lord did not take in its sinful state, but renewed it, in that after the Jews had destroyed it, He raised it again the third day. The Jews however, being carnal, understood carnally; He spoke spiritually. He tells us, by the Evangelist, what temple He means; But He spoke of the temple of His Body.
THEOPHYL. From this Apollinarius draws an heretical inference: and attempts to show that Christ's flesh was inanimate, because the temple was inanimate. In this way you will prove the flesh of Christ to be wood and stone, because the temple is composed of these materials. Now if you refuse to allow what is said, Now is My soul troubled; and, I have power to lay it (My life) down, to be said of the rational soul, still how will you interpret, Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend My spirit? you cannot understand this of an irrational soul: or again, the passage, You shall not leave My soul in hell.
ORIGEN. Our Lord's Body is called the temple, because as the temple contained the glory of God dwelling therein, so the Body of Christ, which represents the Church, contains the Only-Begotten, Who is the image and glory of God.
CHRYS. Two things there were in the mean time very far removed from the comprehension of the disciples: one, the resurrection of our Lord's Body: the other, and the greater mystery, that it was God who dwelt in that Body: as our Lord declares by saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
And thus it follows, When therefore He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
ALCUIN. For before the resurrection they did not understand the Scriptures, because they had not yet received the Holy Ghost, Who was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. But on the day of the resurrection our Lord appeared and opened their meaning to His disciples; that they might understand what was said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. And then they believed the prediction of the Prophets that Christ would rise the third day, and the word which Jesus had spoken to them: Destroy this temple, &c.
ORIGEN. But (in the mystical interpretation) we shall attain to the full measure of faith, at the great resurrection of the whole body of Jesus, i.e. His Church; inasmuch as the faith which is from sight, is very different from that which sees as through a glass darkly.
Catena Aurea John 2