Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5

Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5

Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5

Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 5

Synopsis

In this volume, which concludes John W. Rettig's translation of St. Augustine's Tractates on the Gospel of John, Augustine applies his keen insight and powers of rhetoric to the sacred text, drawing the audience into an intimate contemplation of Jesus through the course of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Augustine clarifies the meanings of words and phrases (often appealing to the Greek text), resolves obscurities, and reconciles apparent contradictions. He explains the Scriptures on several levels of meaning and draws from them practical implications for the Christian life. Always evident in his teaching and exhortation is his strong desire to lead souls to a knowledge and love of God. Because the scriptural readings for Holy Week and the Octave of Easter were fixed to some extent, during the Easter Octave in A.D. 407 Augustine had to interrupt his exposition of John's Gospel after delivering the twelfth tractate. In order to maintain some continuity, he decided to preach upon the First Epistle of John. Its central theme, which Augustine saw to be caritas (Christian love), was especially appropriate at this time, for the Donatist schism had torn many away from the Church at Hippo. In the ten tractates on the First Epistle of John, Augustine develops an outline of his theology on love and explains its implications for the Mystical Body of Christ. He teaches that those who hate the members of Christ cannot truly love Christ - even if they profess otherwise, even if they were to lay down their lives for Him. In these tractates Augustine once again reveals himself as the humble and zealous pastor of souls. His words seem to radiate the very love about which he speaks, so that few ofhis listeners could accuse him of preaching what he himself did not practice.

Excerpt

Mary Magdalene had reported to his disciples Peter and John that the Lord had been taken from the sepulcher, and they, coming there, found only the linen cloths in which his body had been enwrapped. and what else could they believe except what she had said, which she herself also had believed? "The disciples therefore departed again to their own quarters," that is, where they were staying and from where they had come to the sepulcher. "But Mary stood outside at the sepulcher, weeping." For although the men returned, a stronger feeling of affection held the weaker sex fixed in the same place. and the eyes that had sought for the Lord and had not found him were now free for tears, grieving more that he had been taken away from the sepulcher than that he had been slain on the wooden cross, since not even a memorial-place was left behind of so great a Teacher whose life had been purloined from them. and so this grief was now holding the woman at the sepulcher. "Then while she was weeping, she stooped down and looked in the sepulcher." Why she did this I do not know. For she was not without knowledge that he for whom she was looking was no longer there inasmuch as she herself had reported to the disciples also that he was taken from there, and they had come to the sepulcher, and not only by looking in but also by going in they had sought the body and had not found it. What, therefore, does it mean that this woman, while she was weeping, stooped down and looked into the sepulcher again? Can it be that, because she was grieving exceedingly, she thought that ready belief ought not be given either her own or their eyes? Or rather was her decision to look produced in her mind by a divine impulse? For she did look. "And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid." What does it mean that one was sitting at . . .

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