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of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been made as Sodom, and we had been like to Gomorrha (Romans ix.).
It was commanded in Deuteronomy : If thou find as thou walkest by the way a bird's nest in a tree, or on the ground, and the dam sitting upon her young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take her with the young (Deut. xxii.). They are not to take both the Christ and His Apostles, but must leave a seed. H. Thou shalt not take her with the
young Words akin to these our Saviour now speaks to the wicked spirits : Me you may seize ; I deliver Myself up to your power. But all My brethren whom you have hitherto enslaved, you shall set free and let go. He shall deliver the poor from the mighty; the needy that had no helper. He shall
i save the children of the poor, and shall humble the oppressor. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, takes upon Him the iniquities of us all, and goes forth to meet Lucifer, and, by enduring meekly, conquers him : I broke the jaws of the wicked man, and out of his teeth I took away the prey (Job xxix.). He was wounded for our iniquities ; He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, AND BY HIS BRUISES WE ARE HEALED (Isaias liii.).
“ By Thy bitter Passion and Death, Lord Jesus, deliver us from hardness of heart."
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
Holy Mother, fount of love,
I. That the word might be fulfilled which He said : Of them whom Thou hast given Me, I have not lost any one.
In His parting prayer, after instituting and offering the Holy Sacrifice, He had said : Those whom Thou gavest Me, have I kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition. Our Lord may lose His disciples in more ways than
If they should be slain, He would lose them. If they withdraw from Him and cease to follow Him, without, however, turning against Him, He loses them as chosen disciples. If they fall away by great sin, and persevere in sin, as Judas has done, and become sons of perdition, then He loses them entirely and for ever.
When we hear the words spoken in the Cenacle : I have not lost any one but the son of perdition, we naturally interpret that our Blessed Lord is speaking of losing disciples through their apostasy; but here St. John tells us that He also intended to express that none of His Apostles would be taken from Him by force.
Some of the holy Fathers, however, think it probable that He foresees that if seized and tortured while their faith is in its present weak state, they would yield to persecution and fall away from Him, and so be lost in the worst sense.
J. Of them whom Thou hast given Me, I have not lost any one.
Secure indeed, and most blessed is he who dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, and shall abide under the protection of our Lord Jesus. For He is the strong man armed, who keepeth his court, and those things are in peace which he possesseth (St. Luke xi.). For never can there come a stronger than He to wrest them from Him.
“Guard us, O Lord, as the apple of Thine eye. Guard us from our own inconstancy, for we are prone to evil.”
K. Of those whom Thou hast given Me, I have not lost any one.
Parents and those in authority may occasion the loss of those under their charge by over severity, or indulgence ; by want of watchfulness, by not correcting.
Again, we may lose good and true friends, whom God has given to us, by an outburst of temper: He that upbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship (Ecclus. xxii.); or again, by ingratitude, or by abusing their trust.
If we have lost friends, what have we done to regain them ? Although thou hast drawn a sword at a friend, despair not, for there may be a returning (Ecclus. xxii.).
If we have occasioned the loss of any souls committed to us, what have we done to win them back? It will be
a grievous weight upon our conscience at death if we have lost those whom God gave to us, and done nothing to repair the loss.
STATION I. Then they came up, and laid hands on Jesus and held Him.
And they that were about Him, seeing what would follow,
said to Him : Lord, shall we strike with the sword ? And one of them struck the servant of the High Priest, and
cut off his right ear. Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the
servant of the High Priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus. And Jesus answering said, Suffer ye thus far (St. Matt. xxvi.; St. Luke xxii.; St. John xviii.). A. The order of these details seems to be :
1. Some of the servants who are with the Priests and Ancients in front of the soldiers come forward and lay hands on Jesus. It is even probable that some of the Priests themselves rush forward to seize Him.
2. The Apostles, who are close to Him, make resistance and say: Lord, shall we strike with the sword ?
3. Without waiting for His answer, Peter draws his sword, and aims a heavy blow at Malchus.
4. Thereupon our Saviour says calmly, but as one having power and authority : Suffer ye thus far.
B. Suffer ye thus far. Some commentators understand these words as addressed to Peter and the disciples, enjoining abstention from all violence. But others are of opinion, and this opinion seems more probable, that our Lord is speaking with authority to the Rulers and their servants, and bidding them for the present to unhand Him, as He has not yet given them permission for His capture. He wishes to use His hands in healing Malchus, and He wishes also, in His infinite compassion, to open the blinded eyes of the multitude, by showing them that they cannot have any power over Him but what He gives them.
1. Some students of the Holy Scriptures raise the question whether St. Peter had a sword. They think it unlikely that he had, and conjecture that he wounded Malchus with one of the large sacrificial knives used in the immolation of the Lamb. But there does not seem to be any good reason why we should not adhere to the more obvious sense of the Gospel narrative. Our Blessed Saviour says, He that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. The disciples take His words literally, and answer, Lord, behold here are two swords. And He said to them, It is enough. It is not anything surprising, that two swords are found in the house of the owner of the large and well-appointed guestchamber. Neither is it surprising that St. Peter, who believes that danger is near, and who is resolved to die with his Master, girds himself with one of the swords.
St. John, who is supplying details accurately, writes : Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it. St. Matthew's words are equally clear: One of them, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword. St. John afterwards tells us that our Lord said to him : Put up thy sword into the scabbard. 1
2. St. John, who wrote long after the others, is the only one who gives the name of St. Peter : the other Evangelists use words such as these : One of them struck the servant. When they wrote, Malchus and his friends might possibly have sought to be revenged, had they known who struck the blow. When St. John wrote, St. Peter was out of their reach, and Malchus may have been converted to Christianity.
3. Some of the holy Fathers are of opinion that St. Peter, when he struck the blow, fully intended to kill the servant who dared to lay hands on his Divine Master, and they ask the question whether by this act he incurred the guilt of mortal sin.
St. Augustine thinks that he sinned grievously. St. Chrysostom, St. Leo, Venerable Bede and others think not; as he knew how Phineas had been commended for striking a death-blow. They therefore commend his zeal in striking, and his humility and obedience in putting up his sword.
4. Why did not the soldiers strike down St. Peter with their swords ? From the context it seems to be clear that the Priests and Pharisees and their servants were to the front, and the soldiers in the background, to be used when needed. It is quite probable, as has been said, that some of the infuriated Priests were themselves among the first to lay hands on Jesus.
Then why did not the servants use their clubs to avenge Malchus ? Doubtless they would have done so had not they been overawed by our Saviour's command : “Sinite modo”_Suffer ye thus far. Speaking calmly, but with authority, He makes them understand that they need not retaliate, that no harm is to come from the blow.
i The Greek word uáxaipay, however, used here and in the other passages, does not help us much to determine the sense. At different times it seems to have been used for a sacrificial knife, or a dagger, or the short, curved sword.
Some interpreters are of opinion that the servants had already bound Him when He said these words : Suffer ye thus far, and that His meaning was, “Suffer Malchus to come to Me," or, “Suffer Me to stretch out My hand to him”.
According to the interpretation which we are following, our Lord for the moment forbids all violence, and also forbids them to lay hands on Him till He gives permission.
C. Simon Peter struck the servant of the High Priest.
If St. Peter does sin through over zeal, consider how often, how very often, we sin through want of zeal in God's honour and our neighbour's salvation.
Catholics are sometimes afraid to observe the precept of abstinence lest men should notice them; afraid to approach Holy Communion because others are not going, and they will be considered singular; afraid to check discourses about things of which St. Paul writes : Let them not be so much as mentioned among you, as becometh saints. So, too, when an absent man is assailed by a venomous tongue simply because he is absent, and therefore powerless to defend himself, we might often silence the calumniator or detractor by a vord or a frown; but we dare not. We fear men more than God; we forget the word that our Blessed Saviour spoke: Every one that shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father Who is in Heaven. But he that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father Who is in Heaven (St. Matt. x.).
Again, what more prolific source of evils in the Church of Christ than a want of zeal in those who hold authority either in domestic life or public life, and suffer abuses to multiply unchecked ? The Prophet of the Lord, speaking as if he were an enemy, says: All ye beasts of the field, come to devour; all ye beasts of the forest. The watchmen are all blind, they are all ignorant ; dumb dogs not able to bark : seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams (Isaias lvi.).