101 – In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him

With the Incarnation of the Word and the Redemption of humanity, Our Lord Jesus Christ became the center of History, such that rendering him honor, serving him and propagating his name became the highest goal of all the baptized. These have never tired of increasing their knowledge of Christ in this life while awaiting the definitive encounter with Him in eternity.

It is in this investigation, stimulated by the faith and love, into the being of the Divine Redeemer that theological study finds its origin. Thus, Christology made notable advances throughout the centuries. But, these advances were particularly notable while overcoming tremendous obstacles, such as the christological heresies, for the Holy Spirit has never ceased to assist the Church in conserving the integral truth with respect to the doctrine of its Founder. After all, if Christ’s teachings of are of maximum importance, the understanding of His divine nature united to our human nature in the Person of the Word is even more so.

On different occasions, Pope Francis has manifested exceptional interpretations in the field of Christology. These interpretations are worthy of attention – they are subtle, often veiled in attractive speeches or at times in quick aphorisms, but express ideas that provoke thought and then concern.

Though brief, the affirmation that occasioned this post reveals an idea of Christ that requires clarity. Jesus is infinite mercy! Without doubt it is pleasant to meditate on the Gospel passages that show the divine goodness of Christ in relation to sinners, his disposition to teach all of those who approach him, his constant desire to cure them in body and and in soul. But Jesus also condemned the evil, attacked those who remained obstinately in error, made a whip with which he expelled the doves, cattle and sheep, and ‘caressed’ those who had transformed the house of God into a den of thieves…But, many seem not to understand this, or prefer not to think of this.

Could it be true that Jesus merely pretended an anger that he did not really bear? What does it mean to pretend? The Dictionary defines it: to ‘to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing; to make believe; to claim, represent, or assert falsely.

Jesus is God and therefore cannot do anything imperfectly. Consequently, he can neither lie nor deceive. Let us see what Catholic Doctrine has to tell us about this…so that we may better understand who our Divine Redeemer is.

Francis

papa_francisco_missa_diaria29092014

‘In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him’, the Pope explained, adding that at Emmaus Jesus says, ‘How foolish and slow of heart’. (Homily, Domus Sanctae Martha, November 29, 2013Full text in Spanish)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – The human-divine actions of Jesus Christ
II – Christ, the Truth, cannot be deceived and cannot deceive
III – Holy indignation in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ


I – The human-divine actions of Jesus Christ


Leo I
– The Son of God, descending from his heavenly throne enters into the infirmities of this world not leaving the Father’s glory

Council of Chalcedon (Ecumenical IV)
– Our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in divinity and in humanity; like unto us in all things but sin

III Council of Constantinople (Ecumenical VI)
– The Councils proclaim: Jesus is consubstantial with the Father

Leo IX
– Jesus is consubstantial, co-omnipotent, and co-equal to the Father through all things in divinity

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– In Jesus, God and man are inseparable

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)
– Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God

Honorius I
– In Jesus the divine nature performs what is of God, and the human performs what is of the flesh

XIV Synod of Toledo
– No one may take away from the divinity or subtract anything from the humanity of Christ

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine Person as its proper subject
– In his soul as in his body, Christ expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity

Saint Maximus the Confessor
– By union with the Word, the human nature of Jesus knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God

Pius XII
– Christ possessed all power, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; He was full of grace and truth, and had the knowledge of the beatific vision

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
– The flesh of Jesus Christ is the Word’s – therefore the affections of the flesh are also ascribed to the Word


II – Christ, the Truth, cannot be deceived and cannot deceive


Catechism of the Catholic Church
– The virtue of truth gives another his just due; it entails honesty and discretion
– Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Dissimulation is a lie told by the signs of outward deeds. All dissimulation is a sin

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Every lie is an unjust action to be chastised by God
– Those who love the truth should hate lies
– The darkness of falsehood is incompatible with the splendor of the divine light

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– In many Gospel passages, Jesus calls himself the Truth

Saint Clement of Rome
– Nothing is impossible with God, except to lie

Saint John Chrysostom
– Jesus’ actions were not the actions of a pretender; but of someone choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House of God
– ‘You shall know the truth from Me, and it shall free you from your sins’

Saint Cyril of Alexandria
– Jesus, being the Truth cannot lie

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Christ is God; and God is true

Saint John Chrysostom
– Jesus Christ says nothing which is not of God and of the Spirit
– Christ’s word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled


III – Holy indignation in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ


Sacred Scripture
– Jesus looked around at them with anger
– Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there
– ‘You have made the Father’s house a den of thieves’
– Seeing Jesus’ anger, His disciples recalled the words of scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’
– Jesus reprimands the evil of the Pharisees
– Christ’s estimation of the leaders in Israel
– ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld’

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Severity and clemency are not opposed to one another
– Anger, when it is not through passion, is virtuous; and lack of anger can be a sin

Benedict XVI
– For God, justice and charity are not two different realities – they coincide in him
– Jesus showed how justice and mercy come together perfectly

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Mercy without justice is the mother of destruction

John Paul II
– There can be no love without justice

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– God punishes to incite repentance

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Whom the Lord loves, He corrects

Theophilus of Antioch
– God is angry with those who act wickedly

 Saint Augustine of Hippo
– The Lord expelled the merchants from the Temple not only on one occasion, but twice
– Jesus made a scourge of small cords, and with it lashed the unruly, who were making merchandise of God’s temple

Origenes
– Jesus exhibits no less power in expelling the merchants than in His other miracles

Saint Jerome
– The expelling of the merchants from the temple was one of the most wonderful miracles of the Lord

Saint John Chrysostom
– Jesus expelled the merchants to exhibit His zeal for the House of God, and so to correct any suspicion that He wished contradict the Father’s laws
– Jesus exposed himself to danger for love of the House of God

Alcuin of York
– Zeal is a certain fervor of the spirit

Saint Bede the Venerable
– Jesus cast out the merchants from the Temple signifying those who are externally among the good, and work hypocritically – their life and doctrine are reprobate


I – The human-divine actions of Jesus Christ


Leo I

  • The Son of God, descending from his heavenly throne enters into the infirmities of this world without leaving the Father’s glory

‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (Jn 1:14), that is, in the flesh that he took from a human being and which he animated with the spirit of rational life. The character of each nature, therefore, being preserved and United in one person […] the inviolable nature was United to a nature subject to suffering. […] Therefore, the true God was born in the complete and perfect nature of true man, complete in his nature and complete in ours […]. He assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching the human without diminishing the divine, because that self-emptying, through which the invisible rendered himself visible…was an inclination of mercy, not a defect of power. The Son of God, therefore, descending from his heavenly throne, enters into the infirmities of this world; and, not leaving the Father’s glory, he is generated in a new order and a new birth. (Denzinger-Hünermann 292-294. Pope Leo I, Letter Lectis dilectionis tuae to Bishop Flavian of Constantinople (Tomus I Leonis), June 13, 449)

Council of Chalcedon (Ecumenical IV)

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in divinity and in humanity; like unto us in all things but sin

Following therefore the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man composed of rational soul and body, the same one in being with the Father as to the divinity and one in being with us as to the humanity, like unto us in all things but sin. […] We confess that one and the same Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, must be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion or change, without division or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one Person and one hypostasis. He is not split or divided into two Person, but he is one and the same only begotten Son, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as formerly the prophets and later Jesus Christ himself have taught us about him and as has been handed down to us by the creed of the Fathers. (Denzinger-Hünermann 301-302. Council of Chalcedon (Fourth Ecumenical), Session V, The Chalcedonian Creed, October 22, 451)

III Council of Constantinople (Ecumenical VI)

  • The Councils proclaim: Jesus is consubstantial with the Father

Besides both in Synodical letters which were written by blessed Cyril against the impious Nestorius and to the oriental bishops, following also the five holy ecumenical councils and the holy and trusted Fathers, and defining harmoniously with them it confesses that our Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, one of the holy and consubstantial Trinity and giving forth the origin of life, perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in humanity, truly God and truly man, Himself of a rational soul and body; it confesses the same consubstantial with the Father according to Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to humanity, through all things like to us except in sin (Heb 4:15). (Denzinger-Hünermann 554. Third Council of Constantinople, Session 18, September 16, 681)

Leo IX

  • Jesus is consubstantial, co-omnipotent, and co-equal to the Father through all things in divinity

I believe also that the Son of God the Father, the Word of God, was born eternally before all time from the Father, consubstantial, co-omnipotent, and co-equal to the Father through all things in divinity born of the Holy Spirit from the ever virgin Mary in time, with a rational soul, having two nativities, the one from the Father, eternal, the other from the Mother, in time; having two wills and operations, true God and true man, individual in each nature and perfect. (Denzinger-Hünermann 681. Leo IX, Letter Congratulamur vehementer to Peter, Patriarch of Antioch, April 13, 1053)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • In Jesus, God and man are inseparable

The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 469)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

  • Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God

He Who is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin. (Vatican Council II. Pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes, no. 22, December 7, 1965)

Honorius I

  • In Jesus the divine nature performs what is of God, and the human performs what is of the flesh

So far as pertains to ecclesiastical doctrine, what we ought to hold or to preach on account of the simplicity of men and the inextricable ambiguities of questions (which) must be removed […] is to define not one or two operations in the mediator of God and of men, but both natures united in one Christ by a natural union, when we should confess those operating with the participation of the other and the operators, both the divine, indeed, performing what is of God, and the human performing what is of the flesh; teaching [that they operate] neither separately, nor confusedly, nor interchangeably, the nature of God changed into man, and the human changed into God; but confessing the complete differences of the natures. . . Therefore, doing away with . . . the scandal of the new invention, we, when we are explaining, should not preach one or two operations; but instead of one operation, which some affirm, we should confess one operator, Christ the Lord, in both natures; and instead of two operations-when the expression of two operations has been done away with-rather of the two natures themselves, that is of divinity and of the flesh assumed, in one person, the Only-begotten of God the Father unconfusedly, inseparably, and unchangeably performing their proper (works) with us. (Denzinger-Hünermann 488. Honorius I, Letter Scripta dilectissimi filii to Sergius of Constantinople, 643)

XIV Synod of Toledo

  • No one may take away from the divinity or subtract anything from the humanity of Christ

He, not having anything less of the dignity and taking nothing imperfect from humanity, is not divided by the two natures, nor is he twofold in his Person, but, as complete God and complete man apart from any sin, he is one Christ in the singularity of Person. Existing thus one in the two natures, he is resplendent with signs of divinity and subject to the sufferings of humanity. […] Therefore, if anyone, concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born from the womb of the Christ, the Son of God, born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, should either take away from the divinity or subtract anything from the humanity, except only the law of sin, and does not believe sincerely that he exists as true God and complete man in one Person, let him be anathema. (Denzinger-Hünermann 564. XIV Synod of Toledo, November 14-20, 684)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine Person as its proper subject

‘There is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity’ (Council of Constantinople II – 553AD). Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: ‘He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity’. (ibid. no. 432) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 468)

  • In his soul as in his body, Christ expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity

Because ‘human nature was assumed, not absorbed’, (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22) in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ’s human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from ‘one of the Trinity’. The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity (cf. Jn 14:9-10). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 470)

Saint Maximus the Confessor

  • By union with the Word, the human nature of Jesus knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God

The Son of God knew all things; and this of himself, who had clothed himself in the human condition; not by his nature, but rather as united to the Word […].The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God. (Saint Maximus the Confessor. Quaestiones et dubia, no. 66: PG 90, 840)

Pius XII

  • Christ possessed all power, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; He was full of grace and truth, and had the knowledge of the beatific vision

To Him has been given power over all flesh’ (cf. Jn 17:2); ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him abundantly’ (cf. Col 2:3). The knowledge which is called ‘vision’ He possesses with such clarity and comprehensiveness that it surpasses similar celestial knowledge found in all the saints of heaven. So full of grace and truth is He that of His inexhaustible fullness we have all received (cf. Jn 1:14-16). (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici corporis Christi, no. 48, June 29, 1943)

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria

  • The flesh of Jesus Christ is the Word’s – therefore the affections of the flesh are also ascribed to the Word

It became the Lord, in putting on human flesh, to put it on whole with the affections proper to it; that, as we say that the body was His own, so also we may say that the affections of the body were proper to Him alone, though they did not touch Him according to His Godhead. If then the body had been another’s, to him too had been the affections attributed; but if the flesh is the Word’s (for ‘the Word became flesh’), of necessity then the affections also of the flesh are ascribed to Him, whose the flesh is. And to whom the affections are ascribed, such namely as to be condemned, to be scourged, to thirst, and the cross, and death, and the other infirmities of the body, of Him too is the triumph and the grace. For this cause then, consistently and fittingly such affections are ascribed not to another, but to the Lord; that the grace also may be from Him, and that we may become, not worshippers of any other, but truly devout towards God, because we invoke no originate thing, no ordinary man, but the natural and true Son from God, who has become man, yet is not the less Lord and God and Saviour. (Saint Athanasius of Alexandria. Against the Arians, discourse III, no. 32-33)


II – Christ, the Truth, cannot be deceived and cannot deceive


Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • The virtue of truth gives another his just due; it entails honesty and discretion

The virtue of truth gives another his just due. Truthfulness keeps to the just mean between what ought to be expressed and what ought to be kept secret: it entails honesty and discretion. In justice, ‘as a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, 109, 3, corp. art.). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2469)

  • Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships

‘A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.’ The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: ‘You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ […] Lying is the most direct offense against the truth […] By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. […] Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships. Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2482-2483.2485-2487)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Dissimulation is a lie told by the signs of outward deeds. All dissimulation is a sin

It belongs to the virtue of truth to show oneself outwardly by outward signs to be such as one is. Now outward signs are not only words, but also deeds. Accordingly just as it is contrary to truth to signify by words something different from that which is in one’s mind, so also is it contrary to truth to employ signs of deeds or things to signify the contrary of what is in oneself, and this is what is properly denoted by dissimulation. Consequently dissimulation is properly a lie told by the signs of outward deeds. Now it matters not whether one lie in word or in any other way, as stated above (q. 110, a. 1, ad 2). Wherefore, since every lie is a sin, as stated above (q. 110, a. 3), it follows that also all dissimulation is a sin. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 111, a. 1)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Every lie is an unjust action to be chastised by God

Or, is a lie sometimes good, or sometimes a lie not evil? Why then is it written, ‘You hate, Lord, all that work iniquity; You will destroy all that speak leasing.’ For he has not excepted some, or said indefinitely, ‘You will destroy them that speak leasing;’ so as to permit some, not all, to be understood: but it is an universal sentence that he has passed, saying, ‘You will destroy all who speak leasing.’ Or, because it is not said, You will destroy all who speak all leasing, or, who speak any leasing whatsoever; is it therefore to be thought that there is place allowed for some lie; to wit, that there should be some leasing, and them who speak it, God should not destroy, but destroy them all which speak unjust leasing, not what lie soever, because there is found also a just lie, which as such ought to be matter of praise, not of crime? (Saint Agustine of Hippo. Against Lying, no. 1)

  • Those who love the truth should hate lies

Of lies are many sorts, which indeed all, universally, we ought to hate. For there is no lie that is not contrary to truth. For, as light and darkness, piety and impiety, justice and iniquity, sin and right-doing, health and weakness, life and death, so are truth and a lie contrary the one to the other. Whence by how much we love the former, by so much ought we to hate the latter. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Against Lying, no. 4)

  • The darkness of falsehood is incompatible with the splendor of the divine light

We can speak the truth, but we can also lie; although we are bound to speak the truth, still we have it in our power to lie when we will. But far be it from us to think that the darkness of falsehood could be found in the splendor of the divine light. He spoke as the Light, spoke as the Truth; but the light was shining in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not: therefore they judged after the flesh. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Tractates on the Gospel of Saint John, Tractate 36, no. 3)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • In many Gospel passages, Jesus calls himself the Truth

In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world,’ he is the Truth (Jn 1:14). ‘Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness’ (Jn 12:46). The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know ‘the truth [that] will make you free’ and that sanctifies (Jn 8:32). To follow Jesus is to live in ‘the Spirit of truth,’ whom the Father sends in his name and who leads ‘into all the truth’ (Jn 16:13). To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes or No’” (Mt 5:37). Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2466.2468)

Saint Clement of Rome

  • Nothing is impossible with God, except to lie

Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God, except to lie. Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us, and let us consider that all things are near unto Him. (Saint Clement of Rome. Letter to the Corinthians, Ch. 27)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • Jesus’ actions were not the actions of a pretender; but of someone choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House of God

For he did not merely ‘cast them out,’ but also ‘overturned the tables,’ and ‘poured out the money,’ giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them; but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House. (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 23 on the Gospel of Saint John)

  • ‘You shall know the truth from Me, and it shall free you from your sins’

‘You shall know the truth,’ that is, ‘shall know Me, for I am the truth. All the Jewish matters were types, but you shall know the truth from Me, and it shall free you from your sins.’ (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 23 on the Gospel of Saint John)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

  • Jesus, being the Truth, cannot lie

Receive in faith the Saviour’s word; for He, being the Truth, cannot lie. And so will you honour Him; for as the very wise John says, “He that receives His witness has set his seal that God is true. For He Whom God sent speaks the words of God.” For the words of God are of course true, and in no manner whatsoever can they be false. (Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, 22:17-22, Sermon CXLII.)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Christ is God; and God is true

‘He that received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true.’ What means ‘has set to his seal that God is true,’ if it be not that man is a liar, and God is true? For no human being can speak any truth, unless he be enlightened by Him who cannot lie. God, then, is true; but Christ is God. Would you prove this? Receive His testimony and you find it. For ‘he that has received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true.’ Who is true? The same who came from heaven, and is above all, is God, and true. But if you do not yet understand Him to be God, you have not yet received His testimony: receive it, and you put your seal to it; confidently you understand, definitely you acknowledge, that God is true. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Tractates on the Gospel of Saint John, Tractate 14, no. 8)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • Jesus Christ says nothing which is not of God and of the Spirit

‘God is true;’ thus showing, that no man could disbelieve Christ without making God who sent Him guilty of a falsehood. Because, since He says nothing save what is from the Father, but all that He says is His, he that hears not Him, hears not Him that sent Him. […] He says nothing which is not ‘of God,’ or which is not of ‘the Spirit.’ (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 30 on the Gospel of Saint John)

  • Christ’s word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled

Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings. For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 82 on Saint Matthew, no. 4)


III- Holy indignation in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ


Sacred Scripture

  • Jesus looked around at them with anger

Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ (Mk 3:5)

  • Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of thieves.” (Mt 21:12-13)

  • ‘You have made the Father’s house a den of thieves’

They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’? But you have made it a den of thieves.” (Mk 11:13-17)

  • Seeing Jesus’ anger, His disciples recalled the words of scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’ His disciples recalled the words of scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ (Jn 2:13-17)

  • Jesus reprimands the evil of the Pharisees

You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. (Mt 12:34)

  • Christ’s estimation of the leaders in Israel

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. (But) these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? (Mt 23:13-33)

  • ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld’

But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capharnaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Lk 10:14-16)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Severity and clemency are not opposed to one another

Meekness is not directly opposed to severity; for meekness is about anger. On the other hand, severity regards the external infliction of punishment, so that accordingly it would seem rather to be opposed to clemency, which also regards external punishing, as stated above (a.1). Yet they are not really opposed to one another, since they are both according to right reason. For severity is inflexible in the infliction of punishment when right reason requires it; while clemency mitigates punishment also according to right reason, when and where this is requisite. Wherefore they are not opposed to one another as they are not about the same thing. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 157, a. 2, ad. 1)

  • Anger, when it is not through passion, is virtuous; and lack of anger can be a sin

Anger may be understood in two ways. In one way, as a simple movement of the will, whereby one inflicts punishment, not through passion, but in virtue of a judgment of the reason: and thus without doubt lack of anger is a sin. This is the sense in which anger is taken in the saying of Chrysostom, for he says (Hom. 11 in Matth., in the Opus Imperfectum, ascribed to Saint John Chrysostom): ‘Anger, when it has a cause, is not anger but judgment. For anger, properly speaking, denotes a movement of passion’: and when a man is angry with reason, his anger is no longer from passion: wherefore he is said to judge, not to be angry. In another way anger is taken for a movement of the sensitive appetite, which is with passion resulting from a bodily transmutation. This movement is a necessary sequel, in man, to the movement of his will, since the lower appetite necessarily follows the movement of the higher appetite, unless there be an obstacle. Hence the movement of anger in the sensitive appetite cannot be lacking altogether, unless the movement of the will be altogether lacking or weak. Consequently lack of the passion of anger is also a vice, even as the lack of movement in the will directed to punishment by the judgment of reason. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 158, a. 8)

Benedict XVI

  • For God, justice and charity are not two different realities – they coincide in him

Justice and mercy, justice and charity on which the Church’s charity is hinged, are two different realities only for the human person. For we distinguish carefully between a just act and an act of love. For us ‘just’ means ‘what is due to the other’, while ‘merciful’ is what is given out of kindness. One seems to exclude the other. Yet for God it is not like this: justice and charity coincide in him; there is no just action that is not also an act of mercy and pardon, and at the same time, there is no merciful action that is not perfectly just. How far God’s logic is from our own! And how different is his way of acting from ours! (Benedict XVI. Address in the Rebiddia District Prison, December 18, 2011)

  • Jesus showed how justice and mercy come together perfectly

In God, justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through the testimony of his life. (Benedict XVI. Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, 45th World Day of Peace, January 1, 2012)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Mercy without justice is the mother of destruction

Justice without mercy is cruelty; while mercy without justice is the mother of destruction. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Ch. 5, lec.2)

John Paul II

  • There can be no love without justice

Christ left us the commandment to love our neighbour. In this commandment, everything that concerns justice is also contained. There can be no love without justice. Love ‘surpasses’ justice, but at the same time it finds its verification in justice. Even a father and a mother, loving their own child, must be just in his regard. If justice is uncertain, love, too, runs a risk. To be just means giving each one what is due to him. (John Paul II. General Audience, no. 4, November 8, 1978)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • God punishes to incite repentance

But when we are judged by the Lord, i.e., punished in this world, we are chastened, i.e., this is done for our correction, in order, namely, that each one withdraw from sin on account of the punishment he endured. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 11:27-34, no. 705)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Whom the Lord loves, He corrects

Thus an irreligious Pagan might bring the same reproaches against Christ […] He might say that Christ lacked foresight, not only because He was astonished at the faith of the centurion, but because He chose Judas as a disciple who proved disobedient to His commands. […] He might also cavil at Christ’s not knowing who touched Him, when the woman suffering from an issue of blood touched the hem of His garment; […] Again, he might call Christ greedy of the blood, not of beasts, but of men, because he said, ‘He that loses his life for my sake, shall keep it unto life eternal’ (Mt 10:39); […] He might say that Christ was angry with both His friends and His enemies: with His friends, because He said, ‘The servant that knows his lord’s will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;’ and with His enemies, because He said, ‘If any one shall not receive you, shake off against him the dust of your shoes; verily I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for that city’ (Mt 10:14-15); […] Or he might say that Christ shed the blood of many without mercy, for a slight offense or for nothing. For to a Pagan there would appear to be little or no harm in not having a wedding garment at the marriage feast, for which our King in the Gospel commanded a man to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness; […] ‘Whom the Lord loves He corrects, and chastises every son whom He receives’ (Prov 3:12); and, ‘If we receive good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not also receive evil?’ (Job 2:10)? So we read also in the New Testament, ‘Whom I love I rebuke and chasten’ (Rev 3:19); and, ‘If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged of the Lord; but when we are judged, we are corrected of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world’ (1Cor 11:31-32). (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Contra Faustum Book XXII, no. 14)

Theophilus of Antioch

  • God is angry with those who act wickedly

‘Is God angry?’ Yes; He is angry with those who act wickedly, but He is good, and kind, and merciful, to those who love and fear Him; for He is a chastener of the godly, and father of the righteous; but he is a judge and punisher of the impious. (Theolphilus of Antioch. Theophilus to Autolycus, Book I, Ch. III)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • The Lord expelled the merchants from the Temple not only on one occasion, but twice

When He had made a scourge of small cords, drove out of the temple those who were selling in it. This makes it evident that this act was performed by the Lord not on a single occasion, but twice over; but that only the first instance is put on record by John, and the last by the other three. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II, 67, 129)

  • Jesus made a scourge of small cords, and with it lashed the unruly, who were making merchandise of God’s temple

What follows upon this? ‘And the Jews’ passover was at hand; and He went up to Jerusalem.’ The narrator relates another matter, as it came to his recollection. ‘And He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made, as it were, a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple; the oxen likewise, and the sheep; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; and make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise’. […] It was not a great sin, then, if they sold in the temple that which was bought for the purpose of offering in the temple: and yet He cast them out thence. If, while they were selling what was lawful and not against justice (for it is not unlawful to sell what it is honorable to buy), He nevertheless drove those men out, and suffered not the house of prayer to be made a house of merchandise. […] Yet we say, brethren (for He did not spare those men: He who was to be scourged by them first scourged them), that He gave us a certain sign, in that He made a scourge of small cords, and with it lashed the unruly, who were making merchandise of God’s temple. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Tractates on the Gospel of Saint John, Tractate 10, no. 4-5)

Origen

  • Jesus exhibits no less power in expelling the merchants than in His other miracles

Should it appear something out of the order of things, that the Son of God should make a scourge of small cords, to drive them out of the temple? We have one answer in which some take refuge, viz. the divine power of Jesus, Who, when He pleased, could extinguish the wrath of His enemies however innumerable, and quiet the tumult of their minds: The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought. This act indeed exhibits no less power, than His more positive miracles; nay rather, more than the miracle by which water was converted into wine: in that there the subject-matter was inanimate, here, the minds of so many thousands of men are overcome. (Origen quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea in Jn 2:14-17)

Saint Jerome

  • The expelling of the merchants from the temple was one of the most wonderful miracles of the Lord

Among all the miracles wrought by our Lord, this seems to me the most wonderful, that one man, and He at that time mean to such a degree that He was afterwards crucified, and while the Scribes and Pharisees were exasperated against Him seeing their gains thus cut off, was able by the blows of one scourge to cast out so great a multitude. Surely a flame and starry ray darted from his eyes, and the majesty of the Godhead was radiant in his countenance. (Saint Jerome cited by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Mt 21:10-16)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • Jesus expelled the merchants to exhibit His zeal for the House of God, and so to correct any suspicion that He wished contradict the Father’s laws

He cast out of the Temple those dealers and money changers, and those who sold doves, and oxen, and sheep, and who passed their time there for this purpose. Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father’s house ‘a den of thieves,’ but this one, ‘Make not My Father’s house) an house of merchandise’ (Jn 2:16). They do not in this contradict each other, but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as (being made) ‘a den of thieves,’ but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place a second time. ‘And wherefore’, says one, ‘did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them ‘Samaritan’ and ‘demoniac’? For He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out.’ […] ‘But wherefore did He this?’ Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law, in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshipped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 23 on the Gospel of Saint John, no. 1-2)

  • Jesus exposed himself to danger for love of the House of God

For he did not merely ‘cast them out,’ but also ‘overturned the tables,’ and ‘poured out the money,’ […] For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House. And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 23 on the Gospel of Saint John, no. 1-2)

Alcuin of York

  • Zeal is a certain fervor of the spirit

Zeal, taken in a good sense, is a certain fervor of the Spirit, by which the mind, all human fears forgotten, is stirred up to the defense of the truth. (Alcuin of York quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena aurea in Jn 2: 13-17)

Saint Bede the Venerable

  • Jesus cast out the merchants from the Temple signifying those who are externally among the good, and work hypocritically – their life and doctrine are reprobate

With a scourge then made of small cords, He cast them out of the temple; for from the part and lot of the saints are cast out all, who, thrown externally among the Saints, do good works hypocritically, or bad openly. The sheep and the oxen too He cast out, to show that the life and the doctrine of such were alike reprobate. And He overthrew the change heaps of the money-changers and their tables, as a sign that, at the final condemnation of the wicked, He will take away the form even of those things which they loved. The sale of doves He ordered to be removed out of the temple, because the grace of the Spirit, being freely received, should be freely given. (Saint Bede the Venerable quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea in Jn 2:13-17)


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