1. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
2. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3. And they said among themselves, "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?"
4. And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6. And he saith unto them, "Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him."
7. "But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, and He said unto you."
8. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
Pseudo-Jerome: After the sadness of the sabbath, a happy day dawns upon them, which holds the chief place amongst days, for in it the chief light shines forth, and the Lord rises in triumph.
Wherefore it is said: "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome, had brought sweet spices."
Gloss: For these religious women after the burial of the Lord, as long as it was lawful to work, that is, up to sunset, prepared ointment, as Luke says. And because they could not finish their work from the shortness of the time, when the sabbath was over, that is, at sunset, as soon as the time for working came round again, they hastened to buy spices, as Mark says, that they might go in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus. Neither could they come to the sepulchre on the evening of the sabbath, for night prevented them.
Wherefore it goes on: "And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun."
Severianus, ap. Chrysologum, sermon 89: The women in this place run abroad with womanly devotion, for they do not bring Him faith as though He were alive, but ointments as to one dead; and they prepare the service of their grief for Him as buried, not the joys of heavenly triumph for Him as risen.
Theophylact: For they do not understand the greatness and dignity of the wisdom of Christ. But they came according to the custom of the Jews to anoint the body of Christ, that it might remain sweet-smelling, and might not burst forth into moisture, for spices have the property of drying up, and absorb the moisture of the body, so that they keep the body from corruption.
Greg., Hom. in. Evan., 21: But if we believe on Him who is dead, and are filled with the sweet smell of virtue, and seek the Lord with the fame of good works, we come to His sepulchre with spices.
There follows: "And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun."
Augustine, Con. Evang., iii, 24: What Luke expresses by "very early in the morning," and John by "early when it was yet dark," Mark must be understood to mean, when he says, "very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun," that is, when the sky was growing bright in the east, as is usual in places near the rising sun; for this is the light which we call the dawning. Therefore there is no discrepancy with the report which says, "while it [p. 335] was yet dark."
For when the day is dawning, the remains of darkness lessen in proportion as the light grows brighter; and we must not take the words "very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun," to mean that the sun himself was seen upon the earth, but as expressing the near approach of the sun into those parts, that is, when his rising begins to light up the sky.
Pseudo-Jerome: By "very early in the morning," he means what another Evangelist expresses by at the dawning [Luke 24:1, dilueulo]. But the dawn is the time between the darkness of night, and the brightness of day, in which the salvation of man is coming forth with a happy closeness, to be declared in the Church, just as the sun, when he is rising and the light is near, sends before him the rosy dawn, that with prepared eyes she may bear to see the graciousness of his glorious brightness, when the time of our Lord's Resurrection has dawned; that then the whole Church, after the example of the women, may sing the praises of Christ, since He has quickened the race of man after the pattern of His Resurrection, since He has given life, and has poured upon them the light of belief.
Bede, in Marc., 4, 40: As then the women shew the great fervency of their love, by coming very early in the morning to the sepulchre, as the history relates, according to the mystical sense an example is given to us, that with a shining face, and shaking off the darkness of wickedness, we may be careful to offer the fragrance of good works and the sweetness of prayer to the Lord.
Theophylact: He says, On the first of the sabbaths, that is, on the first of the days of the week. For the days of the week are called sabbaths, and by the word "una" is meant "prima".
Bede: Or else, by this phrase is meant the first day from the day of sabbaths, or rests, which were kept on the sabbath.
There follows: "And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?"
Severianus, Chrysologus: Your breast was darkened, your eyes shut, and therefore ye did not before see the glory of the opened sepulchre.
It goes on: "And they looked, and saw that the stone was rolled away."
Bede: Matthew shews clearly enough, that the stone was rolled away by an Angel. This rolling away of the stone means mystically the opening of the Christian Sacraments, which were held under the veil of the letter of the law; for the [p. 336] law was written on stone.
I goes on: "For it was very great."
Severianus, Chrysologus: Great indeed by its office rather than its size, for it can shut in and throw open the body of the Lord.
Greg.: But the women who came with spices see the Angels; because those minds who come to the Lord with their virtues, through holy desires, see the heavenly citizens.
Wherefore it goes on: "And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted."
Theophylact: Though Matthew says that the Angel was sitting on stone, whilst Mark relates that the women entering into the sepulchre saw a young man sitting, yet we need not wonder, for they afterwards saw sitting within the sepulchre the same Angel as sat without on the stone.
Augustine: Either let us suppose that Matthew was silent about that Angel, whom they saw on entering, whilst Mark said nothing of him, whom they say outside sitting on the stone, so that they saw two and heard separately from two, the things which the Angels said concerning Jesus; or we must understand by "entering into the sepulchre," their coming within some inclosure, by which is it probable that the place was surrounded a little space before the stone, by the cutting out of which the burial place had been made, so that they saw sitting on the right hand in that space him whom Matthew designates as sitting on the stone.
Theophylact: But some say the women mentioned by Matthew were different from those in Mark. But Mary Magdalene was with all parties, from her burning zeal and ardent love.
Severianus: The women, then, entered the sepulchre, that being buried with Christ, they might rise again from the tomb with Christ. They see the young man, that is, they see the time of the Resurrection, for the Resurrection has no old age, and the period, in which man knows neither birth nor death, admits of no decay, and requires no increase. Wherefore what they saw was a young man, not an old man, nor an infant, but the age of joy.
Bede: Now they saw a young man sitting on the right side, that is, on the south part of the place where the body was laid. For the body, which was lying on its back, and had its head to the west, must have had its right to the south.
Greg.: But what is meant by the left hand, but this present life, and what by the right, but everlasting [p. 337] life? Because then our Redeemer had already gone through the decay of this present life, fitly did the Angel, who had come to announce His everlasting life, sit on the right hand.
Severianus, Chrysologus: Again, they saw a young man sitting on the right, because the Resurrection has nothing sinister in it. They also see him dressed in a long white robe; that robe is not from mortal fleece, but of living virtue, blazing with heavenly light, not of an earthly dye, as saith the Prophet, "Thou deckest thyself with light as with a garment;" [Ps 104:2] and of the just it is said, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun." [Matt 13:43]
Greg.: Or else, he appeared covered with a white robe, because he announced the joys of our festivity, for the whiteness of the robe shews the splendour of our solemnity.
Pseudo-Jerome: The white robe is also true joy, now that the enemy is driven away, the kingdom won, the King of Peace sought for and found and never let go by us. This young man then shews an image of the Resurrection to them who feared death. But their being frightened shews that "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." [1 Cor 2:9]
There follows: "And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted."
Greg.: As though he had said, Let them fear, who love not the coming of the inhabitants of heaven; let them fear, who, weighed down with carnal desires, despair that they can ever attain to their company; but why should ye fear, ye who see your own fellow citizens.
Pseudo-Jerome: For there is no fear in love. Why should they fear, who had found Him whom they sought?
Greg.: But let us hear what the Angel adds; "Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus means the Saviour, but at that time there may have been many a Jesus, not indeed really, but in name, therefore the place Nazareth is added, that it might be evident of what Jesus it was spoken. And immediately he subjoins the reason, "Which was crucified."
Theophylact: For he does not blush at the Cross, for in it is the salvation of men, and the beginning of the Blessed.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the bitter root of the Cross has disappeared. The flower of life has burst forth with its fruits, that is, He who lay in death has risen in glory.
Wherefore he adds, "He is risen; He is not here."
Greg.: "He is not here," is spoken of His carnal presence, for He was not absent [p. 338] from any place as to the presence of His majesty.
Theophylact: As if he had said, Do ye wish to be certain of His Resurrection, he adds, "Behold the place where they laid Him."
This too was the reason why he had rolled away the stone, that he might shew them the place.
Pseudo-Jerome: But immortality is shewn to mortals as [debita, ap. Pseudo-Hier.] due to thankfulness, that we may understand what we were, and that we may know what we are to be.
There follows: "But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee."
The women are ordered to tell the Apostles, that as by a woman death was announced, so also might life rising again. But He says specially unto Peter, because he had shewn himself unworthy of being a disciple, since he had thrice denied his Master; but past sins cease to hurt us when they cease to be pleasing to us.
Greg.: If again the Angel had not expressly name him who had denied his Master, he would not have dared to come amongst the disciples; he is therefore called by name, lest he should despair on account of his denial.
Augustine, de. Con. Evan., iii, 25: By saying, "He will go before you into Galilee, there shall ye see Him, and He said unto you," he seems to imply, that Jesus would not shew Himself to His disciples after His Resurrection except in Galilee, which shewing of Himself Mark himself has not ['sec', ap. Aug. (?)] mentioned. For that which He has related, "Early the first day of the week He appeared to Mary Magdalene," and "after that to two of them as they walked and went into the country," we know took place in Jerusalem, on the very day of the resurrection; then he comes to His last manifestation, which we know was on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem.
Mark therefore never relates the fulfilment of that which was foretold by the Angel; but Matthew does not mention any place at all, where the disciples saw the Lord after He arose, except Galilee, according to the Angel's prophecy. But since it is not set down when this happened, whether first, before He was seen any where else, and since the very place where Matthew says that He went into Galilee to the mountain, does not explain the day, or the order of the narration, Matthew does not oppose the account of the others, but assists in explaining and receiving them.
But nevertheless, since the Lord was not first to shew Himself there, but sent [p. 339] word that He was to be seen in Galilee, where He was seen subsequently, it makes every faithful Christian on the look out, to find out in what mysterious sense it may be understood.
Greg.: For Galilee mean 'a passing over' [transmigratio]; for our Redeemer had already passed from His Passion to His Resurrection, from death unto life, and we shall have joy in seeing the glory of His Resurrection, if only we pass over from vice to the heights of virtue. He then who is announced at the tomb, is shewn in 'passing over,' because He who is first known in mortification of the flesh, is seen in this passing over of the soul.
Pseudo-Jerome: This sentence is but short in the number of syllables, but the promise is vast in its greatness. Here is the fountain of our joy, and the source of everlasting life is prepared. Here all that are scattered are brought together, and the contrite hearts are healed. There, he says, ye shall see Him, but not as ye have seen Him.
Augustine: It is also signified that the grace of Christ is about to pass over from the people of Israel to the Gentiles, by whom the Apostles would never have been received when they preached, if the Lord had not gone before them and prepared a way in their hearts; and this is what is meant by, "He goeth before you into Galilee, there shall ye see Him," that is, there shall ye find His members.
There follows: "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed."
Theophylact: That is, they trembled because of the vision of Angels, and were amazed because of the Resurrection.
Severianus, Chrysologus: The Angel sits on the sepulchre, the women fly from it; he, on account of his heavenly substance, is confident, that are troubled because of their earthly frame. He who cannot die, cannot fear the tomb, but the women both fear from what was then done, and still, as being mortals, fear the sepulchre as mortals are wont.
Pseudo-Jerome: This also is spoken of the life to come, in which grief and groaning will flee away. For the women prefigure before the Resurrection all that is to happen to them after the Resurrection, namely, they flee away from death and fear.
There follows: "Neither said they any thing to any man, for they were afraid."
Theophylact: Either on account of the Jews, or else they said nothing because the fear of the vision prevented them.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., iii, 24: We may however enquire how Mark can say this, when Matthew says, "they departed [p. 340] quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word," [Matt 28:8] unless we understand it to mean, that they did not dare to say a word to any of the Angels themselves, that is, to answer the words which they had spoken to them; or else to the guards whom they saw lying there; for that joy of which Matthew speaks is not inconsistent with the fear which Mark mentions. For we ought to have understood that both feelings were in their minds, even though Matthew had not mentioned the fear. But since he has also said that they came out with fear and great joy, he does not allow room for any question to be raised.
Severianus, Chrysologus: It is said also in a marked manner, that they said nothing to any one, because it is the part of women to hear, and not to speak, to learn, not to teach.
9. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.
10. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11. And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12. After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., iii, 25: Now we must consider how the Lord appeared after the Resurrection. For Mark says, "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils."
Bede: John tells us most fully how and when this appearance took place. But the Lord rose in the morning from the sepulchre in which He had been laid in the evening, that those words of the Psalm might be fulfilled, "Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." [Ps 29:6]
Theophyact: Or else put a stop at, "Now when Jesus was risen," and then read, "early the first day of the week He appeared," &c. [p. 341]
Greg.: For as Samson at midnight not only left Gaza, but also carried away the gates of it, so also our Redeemer rising before the light, did not only come out free from hell, but destroyed also the very gates of hell.
[Hom. in Evan., 33] But Mark here testifies that seven devils were cast out of Mary; and what is meant by "seven devils" save all vices? for as by seven days is understood all time, so by the number seven [see note d, p.149] a whole is fitly figured.
Theophylact: But Mary had seven devils, because she was filled with all vices. Or else, by seven devils are meant seven spirits contrary to the seven virtues, as a spirit without fear, without wisdom, without understanding, and whatsoever else is opposed to the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Pseudo-Jerome: Again, He is shewn to her, out of whom He had cast seven devils, because harlots and publicans shall go before the synagogue into the kingdom of heaven, as the thief reached it before the Apostles.
Bede: In the beginning also woman brought man into sin, now she, who first tasted death, first sees the Resurrection, lest she should have to bear the reproach of perpetual guilt amongst men; and she who had been the channel of guilt to man, now has become the first channel of grace.
For it goes on: "And she went and told them that had been with Him as they mourned and wept."
Pseudo-Jerome: They mourn and weep because they had not yet seen, but after a short time they shall receive a consolation. For blessed are they that weep now, for they shall be comforted.
Bede: Fitly too is this woman, who was the first to announce the joy of our Lord's Resurrection, said to have been cured of seven devils, lest any one worthily repenting of his sins should despair of pardon for what he had done, and that is might be shewn that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." [Rom 5:20]
Severianus, Chrysologus: Mary brings the news, not now as a woman, but in the person of the Church, so that, as above woman was silent, here as the Church she might bring tidings and speak.
There follows: "And they when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, believed not."
Greg.: That the disciples were slow in believing our Lord's Resurrection was not so much a weakness of theirs as it is our strength. For the Resurrection itself through their doubts was manifested by many proofs; and whilst we read and acknowledge them, what do we but become firmer through their doubting?
There follows: "After this He appeared in [p. 342] another form unto two of them as they walked and went to a farm house."
Augustine: Luke relates the whole story respecting these two, one of whom was Cleophas, but Mark here touches but slightly upon it. That village of which Luke speaks may without absurdity be supposed to be what is here called a farm house, and indeed in some Greek manuscripts it is called, the country. But by this name are understood not only villages, but also boroughs and country towns, because they are without the city, which is the head and mother of all the rest.
That which Mark expresses by the Lord's appearance "in another form," is what Luke means by saying that "their eye were holden that they could not know Him." For something was upon their eyes, which was allowed to remain there, until the breaking of bread.
Severianus, Chrysologus: But let no one suppose that Christ changed the form of His face by His Resurrection, but the form is changed when of mortal it becomes immortal, so that this means that He gained a glorious countenance, not that He lost the substance of His countenance. But He was seen of two; because faith in the Resurrection is to be preached and shewn to two people, that is, the Gentiles and the Jews.
There follows: "And they went and told it unto the residue, neither believed they them."
How are we to understand the words of Mark compared with the account of Luke, that they then said, "The Lord hath risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon," [Luke 24:34] if we do not suppose that there were some there who would not believe?
Theophylact: For he does not say this of the eleven, but of some others, whom He calls the residue.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystic sense we may understand that faith here labours, leading the active life, but there it reigns secure in the contemplative vision. Here we see His face through a glass, there we shall see the truth face to face, wherefore He was shewn to them as they were walking, that is, labouring, in another form. And when it was told, the disciples did not believe, because they saw, like Moses, that which was not enough for them, for he said, "Shew me Thyself;" [Ex 33:18] forgetting his flesh, he prays in this life for that which we hope for in the life to come.
14. Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they [p. 343] sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.
15. And He said unto them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believed not shall be damned."
17. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
18. "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Gloss: Mark, when about to finish his Gospel, relates the last appearance of our Lord to His disciples after His Resurrection, saying, "For the last time He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat."
Greg.: We should observe that Luke says in the Acts, "As He was eating with them [convescens] He commanded that they should not depart from Jerusalem," [Acts 1:4] and shortly afterwards, "while they beheld He was taken up." [Acts 1:9] For He ate, and then ascended, that by the act of eating, the truth of the flesh might be declared.
Wherefore it is also here said that "He appeared to them for the last time as they sat at meat."
Pseudo-Jerome: But He appeared when all the eleven were together, that all might be witnesses, and relate to all men what they had seen and heard in common.
It goes on: "And upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them who had seen Him after His Resurrection."
Augustine: But how was this done "the last time?" The last occasion on which the Apostles saw the Lord upon earth happened forty days after the Resurrection; but would He then have upbraided them for not believing those who had seen Him risen, when they themselves had so often seen Him after His Resurrection? It remains therefore that we should understand that Mark wished to say it in few words, and said "for the last time," because it was the last time that He shewed Himself that day, as night was coming on, when the [p. 344] disciples returned from the country into Jerusalem, and found, as Luke says, [Luke 24:33] the eleven and those who were with them, speaking together concerning the Resurrection of our Lord.
But there were some there who did not believe; when these then were sitting at meat, (as Mark says,) and were still speaking, (as Luke relates,) "The Lord stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you;" [Luke 24:36] as Luke and John [John 20:19] say. The rebuke therefore which Mark here mentions must have been amongst those words, which Luke and John say, that the Lord at that time spoke to the disciples. But another question is raised, how Mark says that He appeared when the eleven sat at meat, if the time was the first part of the night on the Lord's day, when John plainly says that Thomas was not with them, who, we believe, had gone out, before the Lord came in to them, after those two had returned from the village, and spoken with the eleven, as we find in Luke's Gospel. But Luke in his relation leaves room for supposing that Thomas went out first, while they spoke these things, and that the Lord entered afterwards; Mark however from his saying, "for the last time He appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat," forces us to believe that he was there, unless indeed, though one of them was absent, he chose to call them, the eleven, because the company of the Apostles was then called by this number, before Matthias was chosen into the place of Judas.
Or if this be a harsh way of understanding it, let us understand that it means that after many appearances, He shewed Himself for the last time, that is, on the fortieth day, to the Apostles, as they sat at meat, and that since He was about to ascend from them, He rather wished on that day to reprove them for not having believed those who had seen Him risen before seeing Him themselves, because after His ascension even the Gentiles on their preaching were to believe a Gospel, which they had not seen.
And so the same Mark immediately after that rebuke says, "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." And lower down, "He that believeth not shall be condemned." Since then they were to preach this, were not they themselves to be first rebuked, because before they saw the Lord they had not believed those to whom He had first appeared? [p. 345]
Greg.: Another reason also why our Lord rebuked His disciples, when He left them as to His bodily presence, was, that the words which He spoke on leaving them might remain more deeply impressed upon the hearts of His hearers.
Pseudo-Jerome: But He rebukes their want of faith, that faith might take its place; He rebukes the hardness of their stony heart, that the fleshy heart, full of love, might take its place.
Greg.: After rebuking the hardness of their hearts, let us hear the words of advice which He speaks. For it goes on: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Every man must be understood by "every creature;" for man partakes something of every creatures; he has existence as have stones, life as trees, feeling as animals, understanding as have Angels. For the Gospel is preached to every creature, because He is taught by it, for whose sake all are created, whom all things are in some way like, and from whom therefore they are not alien.
By the name of every creature also every nation of the Gentiles may be meant. For it had been said before, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles." [Matt 10:5] But now it is said, "Preach the Gospel to every creature," so that the preaching of the Apostles which was thrust aside by Judaea, might be an assistance to us, since Judaea had haughtily rejected it, thus witnessing to her own damnation.
Theophylact: Or else; to every creature, that is, whether believing or unbelieving.
It goes on: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." For it is not enough to believe, for he who believeth and is not baptized, but is a catechumen, has not yet attained to perfect salvation.
Greg.: But perhaps some one may say in himself, I have already believed, I shall be saved. He says what is true, if he keeps his faith by works; for that is a true faith, which does not contradict by its deeds what it says in words.
There follows: "But he that believeth not shall be damned."
Bede: What shall we say here about infants, who by reason of their age cannot yet believe; for as to older persons there is no question. In the Church then of our Saviour, children believe by others, as also they drew from others the sins which are remitted to them in baptism.
It goes on: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [p. 346] they shall take up serpents."
Theophlyact: That is, they shall scatter before them serpents, whether intellectual or sensible, as it is said, Ye shall tread upon serpents and scorpions, [Luke 10:19] which is understood spiritually. But it may also mean sensible serpents, as when Paul received no hurt from the viper.
There follows: "And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." We read of many such cases in history, for many persons have drank poison unhurt, by guarding themselves with the sign of Christ.
It goes on: "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Greg.: Are we then without faith because we cannot do these signs? Nay, but these things were necessary in the beginning of the Church, for the faith of believers was to be nourished by miracles, that it might increase. Thus we also, when we plant groves, strong in the earth; but when once they have firmly fixed their roots, we leave off irrigating them.
These signs and miracles have other things which we ought to consider more minutely. For Holy Church does every day in spirit what then the Apostles did in body; for when her Priests by the grace of exorcism lay their hands on believers, and forbid the evil spirits to dwell in their minds, what do they, but cast out devils?
And the faithful who have left earthly words, and whose tongues sound forth the Holy Mysteries, speak a new language; they who by their good warnings take away evil from the hearts of others, take up serpents; and when they are hearing words of pestilent persuasion, without being at all drawn aside to evil doing, they drink a deadly thing, but it will never hurt them; whenever they see their neighbours growing weak in good works, and by their good example strengthen their life, they lay their hands on the sick, that they may recover.
And all these miracles are greater in proportion as they are spiritual, and by them souls and not bodies are raised.
19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20. And they went forth, and preached every where, [p. 347] the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
Pseudo-Jerome: The Lord Jesus, who had descended from heaven to give liberty to our weak nature, Himself also ascended above the heavens; wherefore it is said, "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven."
Augustine: By which words He seems to shew clearly enough that the foregoing discourse was the last that He spake to them upon earth, though it does not appear to bind us down altogether to this opinion. For He does not say, After He had thus spoken unto them, wherefore it admits of being understood not as if that was the last discourse, but that the words which are here used, "After the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received into heaven," might belong to all His other discourses. But since the arguments which we have used above make us rather suppose that this was the last time, therefore we ought to believe that after these words, together with those which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, our Lord ascended into heaven.
Greg.: We have seen in the Old Testament that Elias was taken up into heaven. But the ethereal heaven is one thing, the aerial is another. The aerial heaven is nearer the earth, Elias then was raised into the aerial heaven, that he might be carried off suddenly into some secret region of the earth, there to live in great calmness of body and spirit, until he returns at the end of the world, to pay the debt of death. We may also observe that Elias mounted up in a chariot, that by this they might understand that a mere man requires help from without. But our Redeemer, as we read, was not carried up by a chariot, not by angels, because He who had made all things was borne over all by His own power.
We must also consider what Mark subjoins, "And sat at the right hand of God," since Stephen says, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Now sitting is the attitude of a judge, standing of one fighting or helping. Therefore Stephen, when toiling in the contest, saw Him standing, whom he had for his helper; but Mark describes [p. 348] Him as sitting after His assumption into heaven, because after the glory of His assumption, He will in the end be seen as a judge.
Augustine, de Symbolic, 7: Let us not therefore understand this sitting as though He were placed there in human limbs, as if the Father sat on the left, the Son on the right, but by the right hand itself we understand the power which He as man received from God, that He should come to judge, who first had come to be judged. For by sitting we express habitation, as we say of a person, he sat himself down in that country for many years; in this way then believe that Christ dwells at the right hand of God the Father. For He is blessed and dwells in blessedness, which is called the right hand of the Father; for all is right hand there, since there is no misery.
It goes on: "And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs and wonders."
Bede: Observe that in proportion as Mark began his history later, so he makes it reach in writing to more distant times, for he began from the commencement of the preaching of the Gospel by John, and he reaches in his narrative those times in which the Apostles sowed the same word of the Gospel throughout the world.
Greg.: But what should we consider in these words, if it be not that obedience follows the precept and signs follow the obedience? For the Lord had commanded them, "Go into all the world preaching the Gospel," and, Ye shall be witnesses even unto the ends of the earth.
Augustine, Epist., CXCIX , 12: But how was this preaching fulfilled by the Apostles, [Acts 1:8] since there are many nations in which it has just begun, and others in which it has not yet begun to be fulfilled? Truly then this precept was not so laid upon the Apostles by our Lord, as though they alone to whom He then spoke were to fulfil so great a charge; in the same way as He says, "Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," apparently to them alone; but who does not understand that the promise is made to the Catholic Church, which though some are dying, others are born, shall be here unto the end of the world?
Theophylact: But we must also know from this that words are confirmed by deeds as then, in the Apostles, works confirmed their words, for signs followed. Grant then, O [p. 349] Christ, that the good words which we speak may be confirmed by works and deeds, so that at the last, Thou working with us in word and in deed, we may be perfect, for Thine as is fitting is the glory both of word and deed.
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