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NOW the feast of the pasch, and of the Azymes was after two days; and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might by some wile lay hold on him, and kill him.

Ver. 1.  Though the evangelists generally use the words pasch and azymes promiscuously, yet S. Mark distinguishes them, being really different.  The pasch is used for the 14th day of the moon of the first month.  But the 15th day, on which they departed out of Egypt, was the feast of the azymes, or the unleavened bread; which continued seven days, till the 21st day of the moon inclusive.  Ven. Bede.

 

--- Pasch is also used for the sabbath day within the seven days of the solemnity; (Jo. xix. 14.) and also for all the sacrifices made during the seven days of the feast.



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2 But they said: Not on the festival day, lest there should be a tumult among the people.

Ver. 2.  They were not so much afraid of the sedition itself, as of the people delivering Christ out of their hands.  Ven. Bede.


3 And when he was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard: and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head.

Ver. 3.  Of precious spikenard.  This was a perfume extracted and distilled from the leaves, tops, or stalks, of the plant or herb called nard.  It was the custom of the eastern people to pour such precious perfumes on their own heads, or on the heads of their guests whom they had a mind to honour.  Wi.

 

--- This happened six days previous to the pasch.  The woman here mentioned was Mary, sister of Lazarus.  John xii. 3.

 

[†]  V. 3.  Unguenti nardi spicati pretiosi, murou nardou pistikhV polutelouV.  Both here in S. Mark, and also in S. John, C. xii. 3. we read pistikhV, which by the Greek agees with nard, and not with ointment.  The interpreters are much divided about the signification of the word pistikhV: some late writers would needs have pistikhV to come from piw or pinw, and to signify liquid, but this does not seem well grounded.  Others, with S. Aug. would have pistikhV to be taken from the name of some country or place from whence this precious nard was brought.  The most common opinion seems that of S. Hierom, with whom agree Theophylactus, and Euthymius, that pistika, derived from pistiV, signifies true and genuine nard, and so of the greatest price and value.


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Bethania

Bethania, is about one mile and a half from Jerusalem: Bethphage was between the two. V.

4 Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made?

Ver. 4.  It was chiefly Judas Iscariot that murmured here.  S. John only mentions him; perhaps some others had been excited to complain, by the traitor.  This is certain, that if any concurred in murmuring with Judas, they afterwards repented, on hearing the answer given immediately by our Saviour.  D. Dionys.


5 For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. 7 For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always.

Ver. 7.  Christ here answers the apostles, by informing them that he should not always be with them, but would shortly leave them, as to his corporal presence, though he spiritually will remain with them, and their successors, to the end of time.  Mat. xxviii.

 

--- Behold I am, &c.  He will not always be with them, so as to want their services.  Ven. Bede.


8 She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for burial.

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9 Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her. 10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them.

Ver. 10.  Many of the present day shudder at the thought of the horrid and inexpressible crime of Judas, in betraying his Master, his Lord, and his God, and yet do not take care to avoid the like wickedness themselves; for, as often as for a little gain they neglect the duties of faith and charity, they become traitors to God, who is charity and faith.  Ven. Bede.



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11 Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him. 12 Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the pasch, the disciples say to him: Whither wilt thou that we go, and prepare for thee to eat the pasch?

Ver. 12.  Whither wilt thou, &c.  By these words the disciples teach us to direct our every step according to the will of God; therefore does their Lord tell them, with whom he would eat the pasch, to go two of them into the city.  S. Jerom.



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13 And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them: Go ye into the city; and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him; 14 And whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The master saith, Where is my refectory, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples?

Ver. 14.  Were is my refectory:where I may eat the pasch, or the paschal supper of the lamb sacrificed?  Lit. in the Lat. where is my eating, or my refection? but it is generally agreed that here is meant a place to eat in.  Wi.

 

[†]  V. 14.  Ubi est refectio mea, ubi pascha manducem?  pou esti to kataluma, opou pasca . . fagw.

15 And he will shew you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. 16 And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch. 17 And when evening was come, he cometh with the twelve.

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18 And when they were at table and eating, Jesus saith: Amen I say to you, one of you that eateth with me shall betray me.

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19 But they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one: Is it I? 20 Who saith to them: One of the twelve, who dippeth with me his hand in the dish.

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21 And the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born.

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22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body.

Ver. 22.  This which I now give, and which you now receive; for the bread is not the figure only of Christ, but is changed into the true body of Christ; and he himself says, The bread, which I will give you, is my flesh.  S. John vi.  But the flesh of Christ is not seen, on account of our infirmity; for if we were allowed to see with our eyes the flesh and blood of Jesus, we should not dare to approach the blessed sacrament.  Our Lord therefore condescending to our weakness, preserves the outward species of bread and wine, but changes the bread and wine into the reality of flesh and blood.  Theophy.

 

--- S. Chrysostom, in his thirtieth sermon on the treason of Judas, says: "Christ is also now present to adorn our table, (altar) the same that was present to adorn that table.  For it is not man that causes the elements to become the body and blood of Christ, but the very Christ, the same that was crucified for us: oude gar anqrwpoV estin o koiwn ta prokeimena ginesqai swma kai aima cristou all autoV o staurwqeiV uper hmwn cristoV.  The priest stands his vicegerent, and pronounces the words, but the power and grace is of God.  He says, this is my body, and the word changes the elements: and as the sentence 'increase and multiply, and fill the earth, was spoken once, but still imparts fecundity to human nature throughout all time: so these words (of consecration) once spoken, constitute an absolute, perfect sacrifice upon every altar of the Church from that day to this, yea even to the time when Christ shall come again at the last day."  Schma plhrwn esthken o iereuV, ta rhmata fqeggomenoV ekeina h de dunamiV, kai h cariV tou qeou esti.  touto mou esti to swma, fhsi touto to rhma metarruqmizei ta prokeimena.  Kai kaqaper h fwnh ekeinh h legousa  ²auxanesqe, kai plhqunesqe, kai plhrwsate thn ghn,² erreqh men apax, dia pantoV de tou cronou ginetai ergw endunamousa thn fusin thn hmeteran proV paidopoiian.  outw kai h fwnh auth apax lecqeisa, kaq ekasthn trapezan en taiV ekklhsiaiV, ex ekeinou mecri shmeron, kai mecri thV autou parousiaV, thn qusian aphrtismenhn ergazetai.  S. Chrysostom, Serm. xxx, on the treachery of Judas.

 

--- These words are so plain, that it is difficult to imagine others more explicit.  Their force and import will however appear in a still stronger light, if we consider the formal promise Christ had made to his apostles, as related by S. John, that he would give them his flesh to eat, that same flesh he was to deliver up for the life of the world.  He on that occasion confirmed with remarkable emphasis of expression the reality of this manducation, assuring them that his flesh was meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; and when some of the disciples were shocked at such a proposal, he still insisted that unless they eat his flesh, they should have no life in them.  The possibility of it he evinced from his divine power, to be exemplified in his miraculous ascension; the necessity of it he established, by permitting those to abandon him who refused to believe it; and the belief of it he enforced on the minds of his disciples, from the consideration that he, their teacher, was the Son of God, and the author of their eternal salvation.  The apostles were deeply impressed with these thoughts, previously to the institution of the holy Eucharist; consequently when they beheld Jesus Christ, just before his death, taking bread into his sacred hands; when after blessing it with solemnity, they heard him say, Take, eat; this is my body, which shall be given for you; they must necessarily have concluded, that it was truly his body, which he now gave them to eat, according to his former promise.  And though their reason or senses might have started difficulties, yet all these were obviated by their belief of his being God, and consequently able to effect whatever he pleased, and to make good whatever he said. 

 

--- Moreover, if we consult tradition, we shall find that the Greek, as well as the Latin Church, has uniformly declared in favour of the literal sense of Christ's words, as may be seen at large in all Catholic controvertists.  The learned author of the Perpetuité de la Foi, and his continuator, Renaudot, in the two additional quarto volumes, have invincibly demonstrated, that the belief of all the Oriental Christians perfectly coincides with that of the Catholic Church, respecting the real presence.  Dr. Philip Nicolai, though a Protestant, candidly acknowledges, in his first book of the Kingdom of Christ, p. 22, "that not only the churches of the Greeks, but also the Russians, the Georgians, the Armenians, the Judæans, and the Ethiopians, as many of them as believe in Christ, hold the true and real presence of the body and blood of our Lord."  This general agreement amongst the many Churches of the Christian world, affords the strongest evidence against Secker and others, who pretend that the doctrine of the real presence is a mere innovation; which was not started till 700 years after Christ's death.  For, how will their supposition accord with the belief of the Nestorians and Eutychians, who were separated from the Church of Rome long before that period, and who were found to agree exactly with Catholics concerning this important tenent?

 

--- See this point clearly given in Rutter's Evangelical Harmony.



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The Last Supper

The Last Supper

And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body.

23 And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.

Ver. 24.  Which shall be shed.  With words so explicit, with the unanimous agreement of the Eastern and Western Churches, how can any Dissenters bring themselves to believe that there is nothing more designed, or given, than a memorial of Christ's passion and death?  Catholics, who believe in the real presence, do certainly renew in themselves the remembrance of our Saviour's death and passion, with more lively sentiments of devotion than they who believe it to be mere bread and wine.  The outward forms of bread and wine, which remain in the Eucharist, are chiefly designed to signify or represent to us three things; viz. 1. The passion of Christ, of which they are the remembrance; 2. the body and blood of Christ, really, though sacramentally present, of which they are the veil; and 3. everlasting life, of which they are the pledge.

 

--- N. B. In speaking of the real presence in the Eucharist, Catholics hold that Christ is corporally and substantially present, but not carnally; i.e. not in that gross, natural, and sensible manner, in which or separated brethren so frequently misrepresent our doctrine.


25 Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Ver. 25.  This vine represents the Synagogue, according to Isaias.  The vine, or vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.  Of this vine Christ drank for some time; and though many of the branches were become useless, there were yet many that still brought forth fruit.  But Christ now going to his passion, declares that it would be no longer acceptable to him, since the figures were not to pass into reality.  Ven. Bede.


26 And when they had said an hymn, they went forth to the mount of Olives.

Ver. 26.  Jesus Christ is seized upon Mount Olivet, whence he ascended into heaven; that we might know that the place on earth where we watch and pray, where we suffer chains without resistance, is the place whence we are to ascend into heaven.  S. Jerom.




27 And Jesus saith to them: You will all be scandalized in my regard this night; for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed.

Ver. 27.  Christ permitted his disciples to fall, that they might learn not to trust in themselves.  To strengthen his prediction, he adduces the testimony of Zacharias the prophet, (xiii. 7.) I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed.  Theophy. . . . This text is expressed in other words, being there spoken in the person of the prophet: Strike the pastor, and the sheep shall be dispersed.  Ven. Bede.

 

--- By these words, the prophet prays for the passion of the Lord.  The Almighty Father answers his prayer: I will strike the shepherd.  The Son is sent by the Father, and is stricken by becoming incarnate and suffering death.  S. Jerom.



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28 But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

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29 But Peter saith to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, yet not I.

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30 And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, to day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shall deny me thrice.

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31 But he spoke the more vehemently: Although I should die together with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all.

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32 And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray.

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33 And he taketh Peter and James and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. 34 And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. 35 And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from him.

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36 And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour?

Ver. 37.  You who were ready to die for me, cannot watch with me!  We are here taught a great duty of a Christian life, and that is, to beg of God, that he would give us strength to observe and follow the motions and inspirations of his Holy Spirit, and never to resist the calls of heaven.


38 Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 39 And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. 40 And when he returned, he found them again asleep, (for their eyes were heavy,) and they knew not what to answer him. 41 And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough: the hour is come: behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise up, let us go. Behold, he that will betray me is at hand. 43 And while he was yet speaking, cometh Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve: and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the ancients.

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44 And he that betrayed him, had given them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he; lay hold on him, and lead him away carefully. 45 And when he was come, immediately going up to him, he saith: Hail, Rabbi; and he kissed him.

Ver. 45.  Our Lord received the kiss of the traitor, that he might not appear to avoid being delivered up; and at the same time he fulfilled that of the Psalmist, with those who hated peace, I was peaceful.  Ps. cxix. 7.



The Judas Kiss

The Judas Kiss

And when he was come, immediately going up to him, he saith: Hail, Rabbi; and he kissed him.

46 But they laid hands on him, and held him.

Ver. 46.  Here is Joseph betrayed and sold by his brethren, and pierced in his soul with a sword.  S. Jerom.


47 And one of them that stood by, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the chief priest, and cut off his ear.

Ver. 47.  This was Peter, as we learn from S. John xviii. 10.  He is here actuated with his usual ardent zeal, calling to mind the example of Phinees, who by executing justice on the wicked, merited the reward of justice, and a continual priesthood.  Ven. Bede.

 

--- S. Mark conceals his master's name, lest he should seem to be publishing the ardour of his zeal for Christ.  Theophy.


48 And Jesus answering, said to them: Are you come out as to a robber, with swords and staves to apprehend me?
49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me. But that the scriptures may be fulfilled. 50 Then his disciples leaving him, all fled away.

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51 And a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and they laid hold on him.

Ver. 51.  This probably was the owner, or the son of the owner of the garden, who hearing the tumult came to see what was the cause.  It must have been a young man from the Greek word neaniskoV.  T.


52 But he, casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked. 53 And they brought Jesus to the high priest; and all the priests and the scribes and the ancients assembled together.

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54 And Peter followed him from afar off, even into the court of the high priest; and he sat with the servants at the fire, and warmed himself.

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55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for evidence against Jesus, that they might put him to death, and found none.

Ver. 55.  Though the law prescribed there should be only one high priest, yet at this time there were many, being appointed yearly by the Roman governor; and those are here called chief priests who had once been invested with the dignity of high priest, but were at that time out of office.  Theophy.



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56 For many bore false witness against him, and their evidences were not agreeing.

Ver. 56.  Their evidence did not agree.  Others translate, their testimonies were not sufficient;† that is, so as to amount to a crime that made him guilty of death.  The Greek, as well as the Latin text, may be taken in either sense.  The high priest, vexed at this, stood up, and asked him questions, hoping to make him appear guilty by his own confession.  Wi.

 

--- This latter sense is given to the same expression, v. 59. infra.

 

[†]  V. 56.  Convenientia testimonia non erant.  isai ai marturiai ouk hsan.  The word isai may either signify that they did not agree together, or that they were not sufficient to get him condemned, which latter is the opinion of Erasmus, who translates, non erant idonea.

57 And some rising up, bore false witness against him, saying:

Ver. 57.  Thus has iniquity lied to itself, (Ps. xxvi.) as formerly in the case of the wife of Putiphar against Joseph, (Gen. xxix.) and the elders against Susanna.  Dan.  S. Jerom.


58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another not made with hands.

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59 And their witness did not agree. 60 And the high priest rising up in the midst, asked Jesus, saying: Answerest thou nothing to the things that are laid to thy charge by these men?
61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him: Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed God?

Ver. 61.  Our Redeemer was silent, because he knew they would not attend to his words; therefore does he say in S. Luke, If I shall tell you, you will not believe me.  Theophy.


62 And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven.

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63 Then the high priest rending his garments, saith: What need we any further witnesses?

Ver. 63.  Caiphas, in order to excite their hatred against what was said, rent his garments, and thus deprived himself of the priestly dignity, by transgressing the precept; which, speaking of the high priest says: He shall not uncover his head, and his garments he shall not rend.  Lev. xxi. 10.  S. Leo the Great.

 

--- By the high priest rending his garments he shews, that the Jewish priesthood, on account of their crimes, was now dissolved; whereas the tunic of Christ, by which the one true Catholic Church is prefigured, was seamless, and not to be divided.  Ven. Bede.


64 You have heard the blasphemy. What think you? Who all condemned him to be guilty of death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him: Prophesy: and the servants struck him with the palms of their hands.

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66 Now when Peter was in the court below, there cometh one of the maidservants of the high priest.

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67 And when she had seen Peter warming himself, looking on him she saith: Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

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68 But he denied, saying: I neither know nor understand what thou sayest. And he went forth before the court; and the cock crew. 69 And again a maidservant seeing him, began to say to the standers by: This is one of them.

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70 But he denied again. And after a while they that stood by said again to Peter: Surely thou art one of them; for thou art also a Galilean.

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71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying; I know not this man of whom you speak.

Ver. 71.  In this one apostle, Peter, the first and chief in the order of apostles, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be signified, viz. the strong and the weak, because the Church is not without both.  S. Austin, Serm. xiii. de verb.  Do.

 

--- Again, our Saviour would shew by the example of the chief apostle, that no man ought to presume of himself, when even S. Peter was not secure and immoveable.  Idem. tract. lxvi. in Evan. Joan. and S. Leo. serm. ix. de Pass.  Do.


72 And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said unto him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny me. And he began to weep.

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