St. Thomas Aquinas,
Catena Aurea (Golden Chain),
Gospel of Mark, Chapter
(John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington:London, 1842)
32. And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before
them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he
took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen to
33. Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be
delivered to the chief priests, and to the Scribes; and they shall condemn
him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
34. And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him,
and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.
BEDE; The disciples remembered the discourse in which the Lord had foretold
that He was about to suffer many things from the chief priests and scribes,
and therefore in going up to Jerusalem, they were amazed. And this is what
is meant, when it is Said, And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went before them.
THEOPHYL. To show that He runs to meet His Passion, and that He does not
refuse death, for the sake of our salvation; and they were amazed, and as
they followed, they were afraid.
BEDE; Either lest they themselves should perish with Him, or at all events
lest He, whose life and ministry was their joy, should fall under the hand
of His enemies. But the Lord, foreseeing that the minds of His disciples
would be troubled by His Passion, foretells to them both the pain of His
Passion, and the glory of His resurrection; wherefore there follows, And he
took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen to
THEOPHYL. He did this to confirm the hearts of the disciples, that from
hearing these things beforehand, they might the better bear them afterwards,
and might not be alarmed at their suddenness, and also in order to show them
that He suffered voluntarily; for he who fore-knows a danger, and flies not,
though flight is in his power, evidently of his own will gives himself up to
suffering. But He takes His disciples apart, because it was fitting that He
should reveal the mystery of this Passion to those who were more closely
connected with Him.
CHRYS. And He enumerates each thing that was to happen to Him; lest if He
should pass any thing over, they should be troubled afterwards at suddenly
seeing it; wherefore he adds, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of
GLOSS. That is, He to whom suffering belongs; for the Godhead cannot suffer.
Shall be delivered, that is, by Judas, to the Chief Priests, and to the
Scribes, and they shall condemn him to death; judging Him to due guilty of
death; and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, that is, to Pilate the
Gentile; and his soldiers shall mock him, and shall spit upon him and
scourge him, and put him to death.
CHRYS. But that when they were saddened on account of His passion and death,
they should then also look for His resurrection, He adds, And the third day
he shall rise again; for since He had not hid from them the sorrows and
insults which happened, it was fitting that they should believe Him on other
35. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to him, saying, Master,
we would that you should do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36. And he said to them, What would you that I should do for you?
37. They said to him, Grant to us that we may sit, one on your right hand,
and the other on your left hand, in your glory.
38. But Jesus said to them, You know not what you ask: can you drink of the
cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized
39. And they said to him, We can. And Jesus said to them, You shall indeed
drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized
withal shall you be baptized:
40. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but
it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
CHRYS. The disciples hearing Christ oftentimes speaking of His kingdom,
thought that this kingdom was to be before His death, and therefore now that
His death was foretold to them, they came to Him, that they might
immediately be made worthy of the honors of the kingdom: wherefore it is
said, And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him, saying, Master,
we would that you should do for us whatever we shall desire.
For ashamed of the human weakness which they felt, they came to Christ,
taking Him apart from the disciples; but our Savior, not from ignorance of
what they wanted to ask, but from a wish of making them answer Him, puts
this question to them; And he said to them, What would you that I should do
THEOPHYL. Now the above mentioned disciples thought that He was going up to
Jerusalem, to reign there, and then to suffer what He had foretold. And with
these thoughts, they desired to sit on the right and the left hand;
wherefore there follows, They said to him, Grant to us that we may sit, one
on your right hand, the other on your left hand, in the glory.
AUG. Matthew has expressed that this was said not by themselves, but by
their mother, since she brought their wishes to the Lord; wherefore Mark
briefly implies rather that they themselves, than that their mother, had
used the words.
CHRYS. Or we may fitly say that both took place; for seeing themselves
honored above the rest, they thought that they could easily obtain the
foregoing petition; and that they might the more easily succeed in their
request, they took their mother with them, that they might pray to Christ
together with her.
AUG. Then the Lord both according to Mark, and too Matthew, answered them
rather than their mother. For it goes on, But Jesus said to them, You know
not what you ask.
THEOPHYL. It will not be as you think, that I am to reign as a temporal king
in Jerusalem, but all these things, that is, these which belong to My
kingdom, are beyond your understanding; for to sit on My right hand is so
great a thing that it surpasses the Angelic orders.
BEDE; Or else, they know not what they ask, who seek from the Lord a seat of
glory, which they do not yet merit.
CHRYS. Or else He says, You know not what you ask; as if He said, You speak
of honors, but I am discoursing of wrestlings and toil; for this is not a
time of rewards, but of blood, of battles, and dangers. Wherefore He adds,
Can you drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism
that I am baptized withal? He draws them on by way of question, that by
communication with Himself, their eagerness might increase.
THEOPHYL. But by the cup and baptism, He means the cross; the cup, that is,
as being a potion by Him sweetly received, but baptism is the cause of the
cleansing of our sins. And they answer Him, without understanding what He
had said; wherefore it goes on: And they said to him, We can; for they
thought that He spoke of a visible cup, and of the baptism of which the Jews
made use, that is, the washings before their meals.
CHRYS. And they answered thus quickly, because they expected that what they
had asked would he listened to; it goes on: And Jesus said to them, You
shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I
am baptized withal shall you be baptized; that is, you shall be worthy of
martyrdom, and suffer even as I.
BEDE; A question is raised, however, how James and John drank the cup of
martyrdom, or how they were baptized with the baptism of the Lord, when the
Scripture relates, that only James the Apostle was beheaded by Herod whilst
John finished his life by a natural death. But if we read ecclesiastical
histories, in which it is related, that he also on account of the witness
which he bore was cast into a cauldron of burning oil, and was immediately
sent away to the island of Patmos, we shall then see that the spirit of
martyrdom was in him, and that John drank the cup of confession, which the
Three Children also drank in the furnace of fire, though the persecutor did
not spill their blood. It goes on: But to sit on my right hand and on my
left hand is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is
CHRYS. Where two questions are raised, one is, whether a seat on His right
hand is prepared for any one; the other, whether the Lord of all has it not
in His power to give it to those for whom it is prepared. To the first then
we say, that no one sits on His right hand or on His left, for that throne
is inaccessible to a creature. How then did He say, To sit on my right hand
or on my left is not mine to give you, as though it belonged to some who
were to sit there? He however answers the thoughts of those who asked Him,
condescending to their meaning; for they did not know that lofty throne and
seat, which is on the right hand of the Father, but sought one thing alone,
that is, to possess the chief place, and to be set Over others. And since
they had heard it said of the Apostles, that they were to sit on twelve
thrones, they begged for a place higher than all the rest, not knowing what
To the second question we must say, that such a gift does not transcend the
power of the Son of God, but what is said by Matthew, it is prepared by My
Father, is the same as if it were said, "by Me" wherefore also Mark did not
say here, by My Father. What therefore Christ says here is this, you shall
die, he says, for Me, but this is not enough to enable you to obtain the
highest place, for if another person comes possessing besides martyrdom all
other virtues, he will possess much more than you; for the chief place is
prepared for those, who by works are enabled to become the first. Thus then
the Lord instructed them not to trouble themselves vainly and absurdly for
high places; at the same time He would not have Him made sad.
BEDE; Or else, it is not mine to give to you, that is, to proud persons, for
such as yet they were. It is prepared for other persons, and be you other,
that is, lowly, and it is prepared for you.
[With gratitude to the
Christian Classics Ethereal Library for this text.]