St. Thomas Aquinas,
Catena Aurea (Golden Chain),
Gospel of John, Chapter
(John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington:London, 1842)
12. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved
13. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
14. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.
15. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his
Lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard
of my Father I have made known to you.
16. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that
you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that
whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.
THEOPHYL. Having said, If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My
love, He shows what commandments they are to keep: This is My commandment,
That you love one another.
GREG. But when all our Lord's sacred discourses are full of His
commandments, why does He give this special commandment respecting love, if
it is not that every commandment teaches love, and all precepts are one?
Love and love only is the fulfillment of every thing that is enjoined. As
all the boughs of a tree proceed from one root, so all the virtues are
produced form one love: nor has the branch, i.e. the good work, any life,
except it abide in the root of love.
AUG. Where then love is, what can be wanting? Where it is not, what can
profit? But this love is distinguished from men's love to each other as men,
by adding, As I have loved you. To what end did Christ love us, but that we
should reign with Him? Let us therefore so love one another, as that our
love be different from that of other men; who do not love one another, to
the end that God may be loved, because they do not really love at all. They
who love one another for the sake of having God within them, they truly love
GREG. The highest, the only proof of love, is to love our adversary; as did
the Truth Himself, who while He suffered on the cross, showed His love for
His persecutors: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
(Luke 23:34). Of which love the consummation is given in the next words:
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends. Our Lord came to die for His enemies, but He says that He is going
to lay down His life for His friends, to show us that by loving, we are able
to gain over our enemies, so that they who persecute us are by anticipation
AUG. Having said, This is My commandment: that you love one another, even as
I have loved you (1 Jn 3); it follows, as John said in his Epistle, that as
Christ laid down His life for us, so we should lay down our lives for the
brethren. This the martyrs have done with ardent love And therefore in
commemorating them at Christ's table, we do not pray for them, as we do for
others, but we rather pray that we may follow their steps. For they have
shown the same love for their brother, that has been shown them at the
GREG. But whoever in time of tranquillity will not give up his time to God,
how in persecution will he give up his soul? Let the virtue of love then,
that it may be victorious in tribulation, be nourished in tranquillity by
deeds of mercy.
AUG From one and the same love, we love God and our neighbor, but God for
His own sake, our neighbor for God's. So that, there being two precepts of
love, on which hang all the Law and the Prophets, to love God, and to love
our neighbor, Scripture often unites them into one precept. For if a man
love God, it follows s that he does what God commands, and if so, that he
loves his neighbor, God having commanded this. Wherefore He proceeds: You
are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.
GREG. A friend is as it were a keeper of the soul. He who keeps God's
commandments, is rightly called His friend.
AUG. Great condescension! Though to keep his Lord's commandments is only
what a good servant is obliged to do, yet, if they do so, He calls them His
friends. The good servant is both the servant and the friend. But how is
this? He tells us: Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows
not what his Lord does. Shall we therefore cease to be servants, as soon as
ever we are good servants? And is not a good and tried servant sometimes
entrusted with his master's secrets, still remaining a servant? We must
understand then that there are two kinds of servitude, as there are two
kinds of fear. There is a fear which perfect love casts out; which also has
in it a servitude, which will be cast out together with the fear. And there
is another, a pure fear, which remains forever.
It is the former state of servitude, which our Lord refers to, when He says,
Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his Lord
does; not the state of that servant to whom it is said, Well done, you good
servant, enter you into the joy of your Lord (Matt 25:21), but of him of
whom it was said below, The servant abides not in the house for ever, but
the Son abides ever. Forasmuch then as God has given us power to become the
sons of God, so that in a wonderful way, we are servants, and yet not
servants, we know that it is the Lord who does this. This that servant is
ignorant of, who knows not what his Lord does, and when he does any good
thing, is exalted in his own conceit, as if he himself did it, and not his
Lord; and boasts of himself, not of his Lord.
But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of My
Father, I have made known to you.
THEOPHYL. As if He said, The servant knows not the counsels of his lord; but
since I esteem you friends, I have communicated my secrets to you.
AUG. But how did He make known to His disciples all things that He had heard
from the Father, when He forebore saying many things, because He knew they
as yet could not bear them? He made all things known to His disciples, i.e.,
He knew that He should make them known to them in that fullness of which the
Apostle said, Then we shall know, even as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). For as
we look for the death of the flesh, and the salvation of the soul, so should
we look for that knowledge of all things, which the Only-Begotten heard from
GREG. Or all things which He heard from the Father, which He wished to be
made known to His servants: the joys of spiritual love, the pleasures of our
heavenly country, which He impresses daily on our minds by the inspiration
of His love. For while we love the heavenly things we hear, we know them by
loving, because love is itself knowledge. He had made all things known to
them then, because being withdrawn from earthly desires, they burned with
the fire of divine love.
CHRYS. All things, i.e., all things that they ought to hear. I have heard,
shows that what He had taught was no strange doctrine, but received from the
GREG. But let no one who has attained to this dignity of being called the
friend of God, attribute this superhuman gift to his own merits:
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.
AUG. Ineffable grace! For what were we before Christ had chosen us, but
wicked, and lost? We did not believe in Him, so as to be chosen by Him: for
had He chosen us believing, He would have chosen us choosing. This passage
refutes the vain opinion of those who say that we were chosen before the
foundation of the world, because God foreknew that we should be good, not
that He Himself would make us good.
For had He chosen us, because He foreknew that we should be good, He would
have foreknown also that we should first choose Him, for without choosing
Him we cannot be good; unless indeed he can be called good, who has not
chosen good. What then has He chosen in them who are not good? you can not
say, I am chosen because I believed; for had you believed in Him, you had
chosen Him. Nor can you say, Before I believed I did good works, and
therefore was chosen. For what good work is there before faith? What is
there for us to say then, but that we were wicked, and were chosen, that by
the grace of the chosen we might become good?
AUG. They are chosen then before the foundation of the world, according to
that predestination by which God foreknew His future acts. They are chosen
out of the world by that call whereby God fulfills what He has predestined:
whom He did predestine, them He also called (Rom 8:30).
AUG. Observe, He does not choose the good; but those, whom He has chosen, He
makes good: And I have ordained you that you should go, and bring forth
fruit. This is the fruit which He meant, when He said, Without Me you can do
nothing. He Himself is the way in which He has set us to go.
GREG. I have set you, i.e., have planted you by grace, that you should go by
will: to will being to go in mind, and bring forth fruit, by works. What
kind of fruit they should bring forth He then shows: And that your fruit may
remain; for worldly labor hardly produces fruit to last our life; and if it
does, death comes at last, and deprives us of it all. But the fruit of our
spiritual labors endures even after death; and begins to be seen at the very
time that the results of our carnal labor begin to disappear. Let us then
produce such fruits as may remain, and of which death, which destroys every
thing, will be the commencement.
AUG. Love then is one fruit, now existing in desire only, not yet in
fullness. Yet even with this desire whatever we ask in the name of the
Only-Begotten Son, the Father gives us: That whatsoever you shall ask the
Father in My name, He may give it you. We ask in the Savior's name, whatever
we ask, that will be profitable to our salvation.