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Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 2

By John W. Rettig; Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo | Go to book overview

TRACTATE 19

On John 5.19-30

IN THE PREVIOUS SERMON, as far as [the matter] excited our enthusiasm and impelled our poor understanding, we spoke, taking occasion from the gospel's words, where it was written, "The Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing." And we said what the Son's "seeing" is, that is, the Word's "seeing," because the Son is the Word. And [we also said], because all things were made through the Word, how it can be understood that the Son first sees the Father doing, and only then he himself does what he has seen done, although the Father does nothing except through the Son. For, "all things were made through him and without him was made nothing."1 Yet we did not offer any explanation, but because we did not understand any explanation. Sometimes, to be sure, speech is defective even where the understanding advances toward perfection, how much more does speech suffer defectiveness when the understanding does not have an advancing toward perfection.

(2) So now, as far as the Lord grants it, let us briefly run through the reading, and today at least let us complete the task which is owed. If, perchance, any time or strength remains, we shall reexamine, if we can (as far as it is possible both by us and with you), what the "seeing" of the Word is, what "to be shown to the Word" is. To be sure, if all these things which were said here are understood carnally according to human meaning, a soul, full of imagined appearances, makes nothing else for us except certain images as of two

____________________
1
. Cf. Jn 1.3.

-139-

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