1 Now on the first day of the week [one day of the Sabbath] Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. [1]

2470 Having related the mysteries of the passion of Christ, the Evangelist now speaks of the resurrection. First, he says the resurrection was made known to certain women; secondly, to the disciples (v 19). The revelation of Christ's resurrection to the women went in stages: first, there is the open tomb; secondly, the appearance of the angel (v 11); thirdly, the sight of Christ (v 14). In regard to the first, he first mentions the sight of the open tomb; secondly, this news is reported to the disciples (v 2); and thirdly, they see for themselves (v 3).

2471 Four things can be noted about the first. First, the time: it was one day of the sabbath, that is, the first day of the week. The Jews considered the sabbath as a very sacred day, and all the other days were described in reference to the sabbath. Thus they spoke of the first day of the sabbath, the second day of the sabbath, and so on. Matthew [28:1] speaks of the "first day of the sabbath". But John speaks of "one day of the sabbath" because he is referring to a mystery, for this day of the resurrection was the beginning of a new creation: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground" (Ps 104:30); "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal 6:15). In Genesis (1:5), when Moses is speaking of the first day of creation he says "one day." "God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." And so the Evangelist uses these words of Moses because he wants to express a newness. And also because this day begins the day of eternity, which is one day, no night interrupting it, because the sun which makes this day will never set. "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb" (Rev 21:23); "There will be one day, which is known to the Lord, not day and night, for at evening time there will be light" [Zech 14:7].

2472 Secondly, the person who saw the tomb is given, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. A question arises here because Mark (16:1) makes mention of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome; and Matthew (28:1) also mentions "the other Mary." According to Augustine the resolution is that Mary Magdalene was more ardent and more devoted to Christ than the other women. [2] Thus we read that "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much" (Lk 7:47). And for this reason the Evangelist mentions her by name. This is also the reason why the Lord appeared to her first, "He appeared first to Mary Magdalene" (Mk 16:9); "She [Wisdom] hastens to make herself known to those who desire her" (Wis 6:14).

2473 Thirdly, the time is given, early, while it was still dark. Luke (23:55) tells us that the women who had come with Christ from Galilee saw his tomb and how his body was laid, and they prepared spices and ointments for it. They rested on the sabbath according to the commandment. As soon as the sabbath was over, on the first day of the week, before daylight, she [Mary Magdalene] came to the tomb, incited by her exceedingly great love: "Its flashes," the flashes of love, "are flashes of fire" (Song 8:6).

2474 The question arises why Mark says "very early, after the sun had risen" [Mk 16:2], while the Evangelist says, while it was still dark. The answer is that what Mark says should be understood as referring to the breaking of the day, so that the sun had risen, but had not yet appeared in the sky.

2475 Fourthly, we are told what Mary saw, she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. This was a sign that either someone had taken Christ away, or that he had arisen. When Matthew (28:2) says that "an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone," we should not think the stone was rolled away before Christ arose, but only after. For since Christ came forth from the closed womb of the Virgin even though his body was not glorified, it is not surprising if he passed through the tomb with his glorified body. The stone was taken away so that people could see that Christ was not there, and more easily believe in his resurrection.

2476 Next the Evangelist mentions that this was reported. Because of Mary's exceeding love she could not delay telling what she had seen to the disciples, so she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved: "This day is a day of good news; if we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us" (2 Kgs 7:9). And so one who hears the words of God should tell it to others without delay: "Let him who hears say, 'Come'" (Rev 22:17). Mary came to those who were the more important, and who loved Christ more ardently, so that they might either look for Jesus with her or share her sorrow.

She said to them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him. Mary saw the empty tomb, and not yet having it in her heart that Christ had risen, she said, and we do not know where they have laid him. We can see from this that Mary had not been alone at the tomb, and that she still had doubts about the resurrection. So it was not without reason that the Evangelist wrote that it was still dark, for this indicated the condition of their minds, in which there was the darkness of doubt: "They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness" (Ps 82:5). Note that in the Greek manuscripts it reads, my Lord, which shows the impetus of her love and her affectionate devotion: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you.... God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" (Ps 73:25).

2477 The Evangelist next shows how this was investigated. First, he indicates the eagerness with which Peter and John acted, for they left the place where they were, Peter then came out with the other disciple. Those who want to look into the mysteries of Christ have in a sense to come out from themselves and from their carnal way of living: "Come out, O daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon" [Song 3:11].

2478 Secondly, we see the details of their search. First, it is said that they ran, they both ran, they who loved Christ more than the others: "I will run in the way of your commandments" (Ps 119:32); "So run that you may obtain it," the prize (1 Cor 9:25).

2479 Secondly, we see how the disciples arrived, the other disciple outran Peter. John arrived first, and Peter followed.

2480 It is not without reason that the Evangelist is careful to tell us the smallest details. For these two disciples signify two peoples, the Jews [by John] and the Gentiles [by Peter]. Although the Jews were the first to have knowledge of the one true God, the Gentiles were an older people, because even the Jews originated from the Gentiles: "Go from your country and your kindred" (Gen 12:1). These two people were both running over the course of this world: the Jews using the written law, the Gentiles using the law of nature. Or, they were both running by their natural desire for happiness and for a knowledge of the truth, which all men desire to know by their very nature. But the other disciple, that is, the younger one, outran Peter, because the Gentiles came to a knowledge of the truth more slowly than the Jews, since formerly God was known only in Judea. So the Psalm says, "He has not dealt thus with any other nation" (Ps 147:20).

The other disciple reached the tomb first, because he [John, the younger, representing the Jews] was the first to look upon the mysteries of Christ, and the promise was first made to the Jews: "They are the Israelites, and to them belong the... promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" (Rom 9:4).

And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. And stooping, under the yoke of the law, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex 24:7), he saw the linen cloths lying there, that is, the figures or foreshadowings of all the mysteries, "But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains uplifted" (2 Cor 3:14). But he did not go in, for as long as he was unwilling to believe in the one who was dead he had not yet come to the knowledge of the truth. Another who did not go in was the brother of the prodigal son, for when he heard the celebrations, the music and the dancing, he "refused to go in" (Lk 15:28). Nevertheless, David promised that they would enter: "I will go to the altar of God" (Ps 43:4).

2481 Now the Evangelist recounts the arrival of Peter. As for the literal meaning, the fact that they ran together was a sign of their passionate devotion. John arrived first because he was a younger man than Peter. But considering the mystical sense, Peter follows John because the Gentiles who were converted to Christ were not joined to another church different from the church of the Jews, but were grafted on to the already existing olive tree and church. The Apostle praises them saying, "For you brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea" (1 Thess 2:14).

2482 Thirdly, we see the order in which they entered, Peter first, and then John.

2483 The Evangelist says that Peter entered the tomb. According to the literal meaning, although John arrived first, he did not enter because of his respect for Peter. But considering the mystical interpretation, this signifies that the Jewish people, who were the first to hear of the mysteries of the incarnation, would be converted to the faith after the Gentiles: "That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness have attained it... but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based in law did not succeed in fulfilling that law" (Rom 9:30). John saw only the linen cloths. He, Peter, also saw the linen cloths because we [Gentiles] do not reject the Old Testament, for as Luke says, "Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (Lk 24:45). But in addition Peter saw the napkin which had been on his head: "The head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3). Thus to see the napkin which had been on the head of Jesus is to have faith in the divinity of Christ, which the Jews refused to accept. This napkin is described as not lying with the linen cloths, and rolled up, having a place by itself, because the divinity of Christ is covered over, and it is apart from every creature because of its excellence: "God who is over all be blessed for ever" (Rom 9:5); "Truly, you art a God who hides yourself" (Is 45:15). He saw the napkin rolled up, to form a circle. And when linen is rolled this way one can not see its beginning or end, for the eminence of the divinity neither begins nor ends: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13:8); "You are the same, and your years have no end" (Ps 102:27). The napkin was in one place, a place by itself, because God does not dwell where minds are divided; those who merit his grace are those who are one in charity: "His place is in peace" [Ps 76:2]; "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33).

2484 Or, in another interpretation, the napkin, which workers use to wipe the sweat off their faces can be understood to indicate the labor of God. For while God always remains tranquil, he presents himself as laboring and burdened when he endures the stubborn depravity of mankind: "They have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them" (Is 1:14). Christ took on this burden in a special way when he took on a human nature: "Let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults" (Lam 3:30). This napkin is found separate and apart from the other cloths because the sufferings of our Redeemer are far apart and separate from our sufferings. The other linen cloths, which are related to the members of the body as the napkin is to the head, indicate the sufferings of the saints, which are separate from the napkin, that is, the sufferings of Christ, for Christ suffered without fault what we suffer because of our faults: "For Christ also died... the righteous for the unrighteous" (1 Pet 3:18). He went to his death willingly ‑"No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (10:18); "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us" (Eph 5:2) ‑ while the saints go to their death reluctantly, "Another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (21:18).

2485 Why was the Evangelist so careful to mention all these details? Chrysostom says this was done to counter the false rumor spread by the Jews that the body of Christ had been secretly taken away, as we see from Matthew (28:13). [3] For if Christ's body had been stolen away as they said, the disciples would surely not have removed the wrappings, especially since they had to work fast because the guards were near. Nor would they be so careful to lift off the napkin and roll it up and place it in a separate place. They would simply have taken the body as they found it. This was why he allowed himself to be buried with myrrh and aloes: they glue the cloths to the body so that they cannot be quickly removed.

2486 When the Evangelist says, Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, he tells of John's entrance. John did not remain outside but entered after Peter, because when the world is ending, the Jews will also be gathered into the faith: "A hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:25); "A remnant will be saved" [Is 10:21].

2487 Or, another interpretation, in the mystical sense. These two disciples stand for two kinds of people: John represents those who are devoted to the contemplation of truth, and Peter stands for those whose main interest is to carry out the commandments. In fact, "Simon" means "obedient." Now it very often happens that contemplatives, because they are docile, are the first to become acquainted with a knowledge of the mysteries of Christ ‑ but they do not enter, for sometimes there is knowledge, but little or no love follows. While those in the active life, because of their continuing fervor and earnestness, even though they are slower to understand, enter into them more quickly, so that those who are later to arrive, are the first to penetrate the divine mysteries: "So the last will be first, and the first last" (Mt 20:16).

2488 Next when he says, he saw and believed, we see the effect of the investigation. At first glance it seems to mean that he saw the situation and believed that Christ had arisen. But according to Augustine this is not correct, because the next thing the Evangelist says is, for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. [4] Therefore, one must say that he saw the empty tomb and believed what the woman had said, which is that someone had taken the Lord. Then we read, for as yet they did not know the scripture, because the meaning of the Scripture was not yet opened to them so they could understand it (Lk 24:45).

But certainly Christ had foretold his passion and resurrection? "I will rise on the third day" [Mt 20:19]. I answer that we should say that in keeping with the way they heard his parables, they failed here also to understand many things which he had said plainly, thinking that he meant something else.

2489 Or, according to Chrysostom's understanding, he saw the linen cloths so folded and arranged which would not have been the case if the body had been furtively snatched away; and believed, with a true faith, that Christ had risen from the dead. [5] What follows, for as yet they did not know the scripture, refers to the statement, he saw and believed. It was like saying: before he saw these things he did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead; but when he saw he believed that he had risen from the dead.


10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, "'Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

2490 Having told how Mary Magdalene came to the opened tomb, the Evangelist now tells how she came to see the angels: first, we see her devotion; secondly, she sees the angels (v 12); thirdly, we have her conversation with them (v 13). Her devotion, which made her fit to see the angels, is praised for three things.

2491 First, it was constant, and it deserves praise, especially considering that the disciples left, the disciples went back, not yet understanding the scripture "that he must rise from the dead," back to their homes, where they were staying and from where they had run to the tomb. Their fear was so great that they did not stay together: I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter" [Zech 13:7]; "The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street" (Lam 4:1). Further, she stood there, lingering near the tomb, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. The disciples had left, but a stronger and more burning affection fixed the weaker sex to the spot.

2492 A question arises here, because Mark (16:5‑8) says that the women "went out and fled from the tomb." Therefore, they must have been within it. Why then does John say that Mary stood outside ? We should say to answer this that the tomb of Christ was hewn out of rock and surrounded by a garden, as was stated before. Sometimes, therefore, the Evangelists calls only the place where the body of Christ had been laid the tomb, and at other times the entire enclosure is called the tomb. Thus when the women are said to enter into the tomb [as in Mark 16:5], this should be understood to mean the entire enclosure. But when it says here that Mary stood outside, the Evangelist is referring to the tomb hewn out of rock. But this rock‑hewn tomb was within the enclosure they had already entered. Mary was standing here because of the unwavering love which had inflamed her heart "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58); "Our feet have been standing within your gates" (Ps 122:2).

2493 Secondly, Mary's devotion is admired because it issued in tears, for she stood there weeping: "She weeps bitterly in the night" (Lam 1:2). There are two kinds of tears: tears of compunction, to wash away sins ‑ "Every night I flood my bed with tears" (Ps 6:7) ‑ and tears of devotion, from a desire for heavenly things ‑ "He goes forth," hastening towards heavenly things, "weeping, bearing the seed for sowing" (Ps 126:6). Mary Magdalene had copious tears of compunction at the time of her conversion, when she had been the village sinner. Then, in her love for the truth, she washed the stains of her sins with her tears: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much" (Lk 7:47). She also shed abundant tears of devotion over the passion and resurrection of Christ, as we see here.

2494 Thirdly, her devotion is admired because of her earnest search for Christ, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. This weeping of Mary came from the desire of love. For it is the nature of love to want its beloved present; and if the beloved cannot be really present, it at least wants to think of the beloved: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mt 6:21). Mary shed these bitter tears because the eyes which had sought her Lord and did not find him were now freed for tears, and she grieved the more because he had been taken from the tomb. The life of such a Teacher had been destroyed, but his memory remained. Since Mary could not have him present, she wanted at least to look at the place where he had been buried, so she stooped to look into the tomb. We learn from this that we should look at the death of Christ with a humble heart: "You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes" (Mt 11:25). She stooped to look, giving us the example to look continually on the death of Christ with the eyes of our mind, for one look is not enough for one who loves, for the force of love increases the desire to explore: "Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb 12:2). She stooped to look, pressed down by the love of Christ: "The love of Christ presses us" [2 Cor 5:14]. Or again, according to Augustine, by a divine impulse in her soul she was made to look about, and saw something greater, the angels: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom 8:14). [6]

2495 Next the Evangelist describes the sight of the angels (v 12). He mentions four things.

2496 First, what Mary saw, which was that she saw two angels, which goes to show that all orders of angels, both those "assisting" and those "ministering," were in service to Christ: "Let all God's angels worship him" (Heb 6:1).

A question arises here because Matthew (28:2) and Mark (16:5) say that Mary and the other women saw one angel on the right side of the tomb, while here we have two angels and they are inside. Each one is correct, for Matthew and Mark tell what occurred first, when the women first came, and believing that Christ was taken, returned to the disciples. But John recounts what happened after Mary returned with the disciples and remained after they had left.

2497 Secondly, he mentions their raiment, in white. This shows the splendor of the resurrection and the glory of the risen Christ: "They shall walk with me in white" (Rev 3:4). Indeed, we read that the armies of heaven followed him and were clothed in white, that is, raised to heavenly glory (Rev 19:14).

2498 Thirdly, we see that they were sitting. This indicates the calmness and power of Christ, who being now at rest from all afflictions, reigns in immortal flesh and sitting at the right hand of the Father: "Sit at my right hand" (Ps 110:1); he will sit "upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom" (Is 9:7).

2499 Fourthly, we see how they were positioned, one at the head and one at the feet. We can refer this to three things. First, to the two Testaments. The word "angel" in Greek means "messenger," and both Testaments brought messages about Christ: "And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!'" (Mt 21:9). So the angel sitting at the head signifies the Old Testament, and the angel at the feet the New Testament.

Secondly, we can relate this to those who preach Christ. There are two natures in Christ, the divine and the human: the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3), and the feet of Christ are his human nature: "We will adore in the place where his feet stood" [Ps 132:7]. So, those who preach the divinity of Christ ‑ as in "In the beginning was the Word" (1:1) ‑ are sitting at the head; those who preach his humanity ‑ as in "And the Word became flesh" (1:14) ‑ are sitting at the feet.

Thirdly, we can refer this to the time when the mysteries of Christ are announced. Then one angel sits at the head and the other at the feet because they signified that the mysteries of Christ would be announced from the head or beginning of the world to its end: "You proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26).

2500 Next, the Evangelist gives the greeting of the angels (20:13): first their question; and then Mary's answer.

2501 Concerning the first, the angels knew that Mary was uncertain about the resurrection and so as if beginning anew they asked her the reason for her tears: they, the angels, said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? This was like saying: Do not cry for there is no need for it, because "Weeping may tarry for the night," of the passion, "but joy comes with the morning," of the resurrection (Ps 30:5); "Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded" (Jer 31:16). In this regard we can recall to mind that Gregory said that the very same sacred words which excite our tears of love console those same tears when they promise us hope in our Redeemer: "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul" (Ps 94:19). [7]

2502 Mary thought that they were questioning her because of their ignorance, and regarded them not as angels but as men; so she gave the reason for her tears: They have taken the Lord, that is, the body of my Lord. Here she was referring to a part by mentioning the whole, just like we profess that the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God was buried, although only his flesh was buried, because his divinity was never separated from his flesh. And I do not know where they have laid him. This was the reason for her desolation: she did not know where to go to find him to soothe her sorrow.

2503 Is it a consolation for one who loves to have something that belonged to the beloved? According to Augustine, in his Confessions, this would be more a cause of sorrow. For this reason he said that he fled from all the places where he had formerly spent time with his friend. [8] Still, Chrysostom says that this would be a cause of consolation. [9] Each of these is true. In all cases where there is a mixture of joy and sadness, the hope for the thing desired brings pleasure ‑ "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation" (Rom 12:12) ‑ and also brings sorrow ‑ "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prv 13:12). But hope does not cause these from the same point of view. Hope causes joy because it regards the thing loved as able to be obtained; but insofar as this thing is actually absent it produces sorrow. It is like that here: something belonging to a friend, because it stands for the friend, is pleasant to the lover; while inasmuch as it recalls the absence of the one loved it produces sadness.


14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the [my] Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 18 Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [10]

2504 Now the Evangelist shows how Mary came to see Christ: first, he tells how she saw Christ; secondly, how he was recognized by her. Concerning the first, we see her seeing Christ; and then what Christ said to her.

2505 Firstly, then, Saying this, that is, when Mary said this to the angels, she turned round. Chrysostom wonders why Mary, who was speaking to the angels, whom she considered to be at least men deserving of respect, turned around before they had a chance to answer her. [11] The answer is that while Mary was responding to the angels' question Christ arrived and the angels stood out of reverence. When Mary saw this, she was puzzled and turned around to see what had made them stand up. Thus in Luke (24:4) mention is made that the two angels were seen standing.

Having turned around, Mary saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus, for he did not appear glorious to her, although the angels saw him as glorious and were honoring him. We see from this that if anyone desires to see Christ, they must turn round to him: "Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you" (Zech 1:3). Those come to the point of seeing him who entirely turn themselves to him by love: "She [Wisdom] hastens to make herself known to those who desire her" (Wis 6:14).

Mystically, this signifies that at one time Mary had turned her back to Christ by her disbelief, but when she turned her soul to knowing him, she turned round to him.

2506 Why didn't Mary recognize Christ, since he was the same person as before? We should say that it was either because she did not believe that the one she had seen dead had risen, or else her eyes were held so that she would not recognize him, like the two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Lk 24:16).

2507 The words of Christ are now given: Woman, why are you weeping? First we see Christ's question; then Mary's answer.

2508 Concerning the first, note that Mary was advancing step by step: for the angels asked her why she was weeping, but Christ asked her whom she was looking for, for her weeping was caused by the desire which led her to look. Christ asked her whom she was looking for in order to increase this desire, for when she spoke of the one she was seeking, her love burned more intensely, and so she would continue to seek him: "Seek his presence continually" (Ps 105:4); "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day" (Prv 4:18).

2509 When the Evangelist says, Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, we see Mary's answer: first, whom she thought was questioning her; then her response.

2510 Mary thought the gardener was speaking to her, because she knew that the guards had already fled, frightened by the earthquake and the sight of the angels, and that the only one who would be there would be the one taking care of it, the gardener. As Gregory says: "This woman, in erring did not err, when she thought that Christ was a gardener, for he planted the seeds of virtue in her heart by the strength of his love." [12] "I will water my orchard and drench my garden plot" (Sir 24:31).

2511 Mary said to Jesus, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me. She calls him Sir in order to gain his good‑will. But since this "gardener" had just arrived, and Mary had not told him whom she was looking for, why does she say, if you have carried him away? Who was him ? We should say that the force of love usually causes the lover to think that no one would be ignorant of the one who is always in his thoughts. For example, we read in Luke that our Lord asked [on the road to Emmaus] "What is this conversation which your are holding with each other as your walk?" And one of the disciples answered, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days" (Lk 24:17).

2512 When Mary says, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away, she shows a wonderful courage which would not be driven off by the sight of a dead person, and she would have tried to carry the body away even though it was beyond her strength. But this is what 1 Corinthians (13:7) says, "Love hopes all things." She wanted to take him so the Jews would not violate the dead body and to carry it to another secret grave.

2513 Next the Evangelist shows Mary recognizing Christ. The Evangelist uses the name Mary, while before he had used the general word "woman," (v 13;15). He calls her by her own name to show that she was well known to the saints ‑ "He determines the number of the stars, he gives to them their names" (Ps 147:4); "I know you by name" (Ex 33:12) ‑ and to indicate that although all things are moved by God with a general motion, yet a special grace is needed for a person's justification.

The effect of her being called by Christ was that she turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabboni! (which means Teacher).

2514 Wasn't Mary always looking at Christ when he was speaking to her? According to Augustine, this present turning refers to her interior state of mind: before, although she was facing Christ, she thought he was someone else, the gardener; but now her heart was turned and she recognized him for what he was. [13]

Or, one could say that, as was said, she thought he was someone else, and so while she was talking to him she did not look at him but was concerned with the Christ she carried in her heart, and was looking about for some trace of him.

Christ called her by her own name, Mary: This was like saying: Where are you looking? Recognize him who has recognized you. As soon as she heard her name she recognized him, and said, Rabboni, which means Teacher, for this was what she used to call him. We can understand from this that the cause of our justification and of our profession of faith is to have been called by Christ.

2515 Next, the Evangelist shows Mary receiving instructions from Christ: one of them is negative, the other positive, go to my brethren.

2516 He does two things about the first: he states the prohibition, and then gives the reason for it. Christ warns Mary not to touch him, saying, Do not hold me. Even though we do not read here that Mary wanted to touch Christ, Gregory says we can see from this that Mary fell at the feet of Christ and wanted to grasp the one she had recognized. [14] He adds the reason, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. It seems from this that after his resurrection, Christ did not want to be touched before he ascended. But the opposite is found in Luke (24:39): "Handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones." It is no answer to say that Christ wanted to be touched by his disciples, but not by the women, for we see in Matthew (28:9), that Mary Magdalene and other women came to him and did grasp him by his feet. Therefore, we should understand, according to the letter of the text, that Mary saw angels at two times: the first time was with the other women, when she saw one angel sitting on the stone, as Matthew (28:2) says, and Mark (16:5); the second time was when she returned and saw two angels inside the tomb, as John (20:12) says. Similarly, she also saw Christ two times: first in the garden, when she thought he was the gardener, as we just saw; secondly, she saw him when she was running with the other women to tell the disciples what they had seen (in order to strengthen them in their faith in the resurrection). It was this second time that they approached and held Christ's feet, as Matthew (28:9) and Mark (16:9) say.

2517 There are two mystical reasons why Christ did not want to be touched. First, because this particular woman signified the Church of the Gentiles, which was not to touch Christ by faith until he had ascended to the Father: "A congregation of people will surround you; for their sakes return on high" [Ps 7:8]. The other reason is given by Augustine in his work on The Trinity. [15] It is that touch is the last stage of knowledge: when we see something, we know it to a certain extent, but when we touch it our knowledge is complete. Now this particular woman had some faith in Christ, which was that he was a holy man; and this was why she called him Teacher. But she had not yet reached the point of believing that he was equal to the Father and one with God. Thus Christ says, Do not hold me, that is, do not allow what you now believe of me to be the limit of your faith, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, that is, in your heart, because you do not believe that I am one with him - yet she did believe this later. In a way Christ did ascend to the Father within her when she had advanced in the faith to the point of believing that he was equal to the Father.

2518 Or, we could say, with Chrysostom, that after this woman saw that Christ had arisen, she thought he was in the same state as he was before, having a life subject to death. [16] She wanted to be with him as she was before his passion, and in her joy thought there was nothing extraordinary about him, although Christ's flesh had become much better by arising. To correct this impression Christ said, Do not hold me. It was like saying: Do not think that I have a mortal life, and can associate with you as before: "Even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer" (2 Cor 5:16). This is what he adds when he says, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Accordingly, this statement does not give the reason for his prohibition, but an answer to an implicit question. It was like saying: Although you see me remaining here, it is not because my flesh is not glorified but because I have not yet ascended to my Father. For before he ascended he wanted to strengthen in the hearts of the apostles their faith in his resurrection and in his divinity.

2519 After this he gives his positive directions, go to my brethren, that is the apostles, because they are his brethren by his having the same nature: "He had to be made like his brethren in every respect" (Heb 2:17); and they are his brethren by being adopted through grace, because they are the adopted children of his Father, of whom he is the natural Son.

Notice the three privileges given to Mary Magdalene. First, she had the privilege of being a prophet because she was worthy enough to see the angels, for a prophet is an intermediary between angels and the people. Secondly, she had the dignity or rank of an angel insofar as she looked upon Christ, on whom the angels desire to look. Thirdly, she had the office of an apostle; indeed, she was an apostle to the apostles insofar as it was her task to announce our Lord's resurrection to the disciples. Thus, just as it was a woman who was the fist to announce the words of death, so it was a woman who would be the first to announce the words of life.

2520 And say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father. "I go to the Father" (14:12); "He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens" (Eph 4:10). Arius based his error on these words, my Father and your Father. He took it to mean that God is the Father of the Son in the same way that he is our Father, and that he is the God of the Son in the same way that he is our God. The answer to this is that the meaning of these words must be gathered from the circumstances in which they were spoken. Christ said before, go to my brethren. But Christ had these brethren insofar he had a human nature, and in his human nature he is subject to the Father as a creature to the Creator, for the body of Christ is something created.

2521 Or, according to Augustine, Christ is speaking of himself and referring to each of his natures. [17] I am ascending to my Father and your Father refers to his divine nature, and from this point of view he has as Father God, to whom he is equal and like in nature. Thus, the meaning is my Father by nature, and your Father by grace. It is saying in effect: the fact that you are adopted children by grace is due to me: "God sent forth his Son... so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4); "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first‑born among many brethren" (Rom 8:29). When he adds, to my God and your God, he is referring to his human nature. From this point of view God rules him; thus he says, my God, under whom I am a man. And your God, and between him and you I am the mediator: for God is our God because through Christ we are pleasing to him: "Having then been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained access by faith to this grace in which we stand; and we exult in the hope of the glory of the children of God" [Rom 5:1]; "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19).

2522 Mary was quick to obey, as we see from Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples etc. "For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you" (1 Cor 11:23); "What I have heard from the Lord of hosts, the God is Israel, I announce to you" (Is 21:10).


19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were [gathered together], for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [18]

2523 Having described how Christ appeared to the holy women, the Evangelist now tells of his appearance to the apostles: first, his appearance at Jerusalem before all except Thomas; secondly, his appearance when Thomas was present (v 26); thirdly, the events near the Sea of Tiberias (ch 21). Three things are done regarding the first: first, we see our Lord appear; secondly, we see a duty imposed on the apostles, I send you; thirdly, our Lord gives them a spiritual gift, Receive the Holy Spirit. He does three things about the first: he mentions the circumstances of Christ's appearance; secondly, the details of the appearance, (v 19); thirdly, the result of this, the disciples were glad.

The Evangelist mentions four circumstances in our Lord's appearance to the disciples. First, he mentions the time of day, on the evening; secondly, what day it was, of that day, thirdly, the condition of the place, the doors being shut; and fourthly, the state of the disciples, where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews.

2524 The time of our Lord's appearance was in the evening; and there were two literal reasons for this. First, he wanted to appear when they were all together; consequently, he waited until evening, so that those who had been at various places during the day would be found together in the evening, when they gathered together. Secondly, our Lord appeared to strengthen and comfort them. And so he chose a time when they would be more afraid and in need of comfort and strength; this was in the evening: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps 46:1).

There is also a mystical reason: for at the end of the world our Lord will appear to the faithful in the middle of the night when the cry is heard that the bridegroom is coming to reward them. "And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to the steward, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages' (Mt 20:8).

2525 The day Christ appeared was the very day on which he arose, for it was the evening of that day, the first day of the week, Sunday. We saw this day mentioned in (20:1).

From the Gospels we can see that our Lord appeared five times on that day: Once to Magdalene alone (which we just considered v 14), and again to her when she was returning to the disciples with the other women, when they approached and held our Lord's feet [Mt 28:9]. The third time was to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13). The fourth time was to Simon Peter; but how, when or where he appeared we do not know, but just that he appeared: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon" (Lk 24:34). The fifth time was when he appeared to all the disciples together in the evening, as John mentions here (v 19).

This is the reason why we sing: "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps 118:24). We can also understand from these events that on the day of the general resurrection Christ will appear openly to all women, sinners, pilgrims, apostles and apostolic men, because "Every eye will see him, every one who pierced him" (Rev 1:7).

2526 The place is described as having the doors shut. The literal reason for this being that it was late, during the night, and also for fear of the Jews. From Christ's point of view the doors were shut so he could show them his power by entering through closed doors.

2527 Regarding this point, some say that to enter through closed doors is a property of the glorified body. They say that due to some inherent property in a glorified body, it can be simultaneously present in the same place as another body. Thus, this is accomplished without a miracle. But this position cannot stand, for the fact that a non‑glorified human body cannot be simultaneously in the same place as another body is due to its very nature. Consequently, if the glorified body has an inherent ability to be in a place occupied at the same time by another body, it must be because it lacks the property which now prevents this in the case of a non‑glorified body. But this latter property cannot be separated or destroyed from a body, since it is not a mathematical bulk, as they say, but the very dimensions of the quantified body through which it has a local position. Thus the Philosopher, when he argues against those who posit ideas and matter, asserts that even on the assumption that the entire region above the earth is a vacuum, no sense‑perceptible body could exist there in the same place as another body because of their quantitative dimensions. [19] Now no property of a glorified body can remove the dimensions from a body and have it still remain a body. Thus we should say that Christ did this miraculously, by the power of his divinity, and that whenever something similar happens with the saints, it is miraculous and requires a new miracle. Augustine and Gregory teach this explicitly. Augustine says: "Do you want to know how Christ could enter through closed doors? If you understood how, it would not be a miracle. Where reason falls, faith instructs." [20] And he adds: "He was able to enter with the doors shut, who was born without his mother's virginity being taken away." [21] So, just as Christ's leaving the womb of his virgin mother was a miracle of his divine power, so was his entering through closed doors.

2528 In the mystical interpretation we can understand that Christ appears to us when our doors, that is, our external senses, are closed in prayer: "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door" (Mt 6:6). It is also a reminder that at the end of the world those who are prepared will be admitted to the marriage feast, and then the door will be shut (Mt 25:10).

2529 We should imitate the conduct of the apostles, for they are described as gathered together. This too is not without its mystery: for Christ came when they were united together, and the Holy Spirit descended on them when they were united together, because Christ and the Holy Spirit are present only to those who are united in charity: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20).

2530 Now three things are mentioned about the appearance of Christ: the way he showed himself; the greeting he gave them; and the way he gave them definite evidence of his real presence.

2531 Christ showed that he was present with them beyond any doubt because Jesus came and stood among them. Jesus came, personally, as he had promised: "I go away, and I will come to you" (14:28). And he stood among them, so that each one could recognize him with certainty. Thus the Jews who did not know him are blamed "Among you stands one whom you do not know" (1:26). Again, Jesus stood among them, the disciples, to show that he was human like them: "with a garland of brethren around him, he was like a young cedar on Lebanon" (Sir 50:12). Again, he stood among them, lowering himself, for he lived among them as one of them: "If they make you master of the feast, do not exalt yourself; be among them as one of them" (Sir 32:1); "I am among you as one who serves" (Lk 22:27). Also, he wanted to show that we ought to stand among the virtues: "This is the way, walk in it; do not turn asde to the right or to the left" [Is 30:21]. One who goes beyond the middle road of virtue goes to the right; one who falls short of the middle road goes to the left.

2532 He greets them with the words, Peace be with you. It was necessary to say this because their peace was disturbed in many ways. Their peace with God was troubled; they had sinned against him, some by denying him, others by running away: "You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered'" (Mt 26:31). To cure this Jesus offers them the peace of reconciliation with God: "We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom 5:10), which he accomplished by his suffering. Their peace with themselves was disturbed because they were depressed and hesitant in their faith. And he offers his peace to cure this: "Great peace have those who love your law" (Ps 119:165). Their peace with others was disturbed because they were being persecuted by the Jews. And to this he says, Peace be with you, to counter the persecution of the Jews: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (14:27).

2533 Jesus gives them sure proof that it is really himself by showing them his hands and side. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side, because in them the marks of his passion remained in a special way: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself" (Lk 24:39). And when in glory he will show himself in the same way: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word" (14:23), "and I will manifest myself to him" (14:21).

2534 Now the effect of his appearance is mentioned: this was the joy in the hearts of the disciples when they saw the Lord, as he had promised: "I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice" (16:22). This joy will be complete for the good in their native land, when they have the clear vision of God: "You shall see and your heart shall rejoice; and your bones shall flourish like the grass" (Is 66:14).

2535 Now he charges the apostles with their ministry: first, he grants them the bond of peace; secondly, he charges them, as the Father has sent me.

2536 Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. He said this to counter a twofold anxiety. The first time he said, Peace be with you, was to combat the anxiety caused by the Jews; but when he said the second time, Peace be with you, this was to deal with the anxiety to come from the Gentiles: "In me you may have peace... in the world you have tribulation" (16:33). He said this because they were about to be sent to the Gentiles.

2537 Accordingly, Jesus immediately enjoins them, As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. This shows that he is the intermediary between us and God: "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5). This was a source of strength for the disciples: for they recognized the authority of Christ, and knew that he was sending them by divine authority. They were also strengthened because they recognized their own dignity, the dignity of being apostles; for an apostle is one who is sent. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you: that is, as the Father, who loves me, sent me into the world to suffer for the salvation of the faithful ‑ "For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (3:17) ‑ so I, who love you, send you to undergo suffering for my name ‑ "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves" (Mt 10:16).

2538 Jesus makes them adequate for their task by giving them the Holy Spirit, "God, who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:6). In this giving of the Spirit, he first grants them a sign of this gift, which is, that he breathed on them. We see something like this in Genesis (2:7), when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," of natural life, which the first man corrupted, but Christ repaired this by giving the Holy Spirit. We should not suppose that this breath of Christ was the Holy Spirit; it was a sign of the Spirit. So Augustine says, in The Trinity: "This bodily breath was not the substance of the Holy Spirit, but a fitting sign that the Holy Spirit proceeds not just from the Father but also from the Son." [22]

2539 Notice that the Holy Spirit was sent over Christ, first, in the appearance of a dove, at his baptism (1:32), and then in the appearance of a cloud, at his transfiguration (Mt 17:5). The reason for this is that the grace of Christ, which is given by the Holy Spirit, was to be distributed to us by being proliferated through the sacraments. Consequently, at Christ's baptism the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, which is an animal known for its proliferation. And since the grace of Christ comes through teaching, the Spirit descended in a luminous cloud, and Christ is seen to be a Teacher, "Listen to him" (Mt 17:5). The Spirit descended over the apostles the first time through a breath to indicate the proliferation of grace through the sacraments, whose ministers they were. Thus Christ said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). The second time the Spirit descended on them in tongues of fire to indicate the proliferation of grace through teaching; and so we read in Acts (2:4) that right after they were filled with the Holy Spirit they began to speak.

2540 We see the words used when the Spirit was given, Receive the Holy Spirit. But did they receive the Holy Spirit then? It seems not, for since Christ had not yet ascended, it was not fitting that he give gifts to us. Indeed, according to Chrysostom, there were some who said that Christ did not give them the Holy Spirit at that time, but prepared them for the future giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. [23] They were brought to this opinion because Daniel (10:8) could not endure his sight of an angel, and so these disciples could not have endured the coming of the Holy Spirit unless they had been prepared. But Chrysostom himself says that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples, not for all tasks in general, but for a specific task, that is, to forgive sin. Augustine and Gregory say that the Holy Spirit has two precepts of love: love of God and of neighbor. [24] Therefore, the Holy Spirit was given the first time on earth to indicate the precept of the love of neighbor; and the Spirit was given the second time from heaven to indicate the precept of the love of God.

2541 Thirdly, we see the fruit of the gift, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. This forgiving of sins is a fitting effect of the Holy Spirit. This is so because the Holy Spirit is charity, love, and through the Holy Spirit love is given to us: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). Now it is only through love that sins are forgiven, for "Love covers all offenses" (Prv 10:12); "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet 4:8).

2542 We can ask here why we read, If you forgive the sins of any, for only God forgives sins? Some say that only God forgives the sin, while the priest absolves only from the debt of punishment, and pronounces the person free from the stain of sin. This is not true: for the sacrament of Penance, since it is a sacrament of the New Law, gives grace, as does Baptism. Now in the sacrament of Baptism, the priest baptizes as an instrument, and yet he confers grace. It is similar in the sacrament of Penance, the priest absolves from the sin and the punishment as a minister and sacramentally, insofar as he administers the sacrament in which sins are forgiven. The statement that God alone forgives sins authoritatively is true. So also, only God baptizes, but the priest is the minister, as was said.

2543 Another question arises from the statements, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. It seems from this that one who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot forgive sins. We should say about this that if the forgiveness of sins was the personal work of the priest, that is, that he did this by his own power, he could not sanctify anyone unless he himself were holy. But the forgiveness of sins is the personal work of God, who forgives sins by his own power and authority. The priest is only the instrument. Therefore, just as a master, through his servant and minister, whether good or bad, can accomplish what he wills, so our Lord, through his ministers, even if they are evil, can confer the sacraments, in which grace is given.

2544 Again, there is a question about, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. We should say, as we already did, that in the sacraments the priest acts as a minister: "This is how one should regard us, as servants [ministers] of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1). Thus, in the same way that God forgives and retains sins, so also does the priest. Now God forgives sins by giving grace, and he is said to retain by not giving grace because of some obstacle in the one who is to receive it. So also the minister forgives sins, insofar as he dispenses a sacrament of the Church, and he retains insofar as he accounts someone unworthy to receive the sacrament.


24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin [Didymus], was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." [25]

2545 After describing our Savior's appearance, the Evangelist now mentions the doubt of one of the disciples. First, we see that this disciple was absent; secondly, he is told about our Lord's appearance; and thirdly, we see his stubborn doubt.

2546 The disciple who was absent is first identified by his name, Thomas, which means a "twin" or an "abyss." An abyss has both depth and darkness. And Thomas was an abyss on account of the darkness of his disbelief, of which he was the cause. Again, there is an abyss ‑ the depths of Christ's compassion - which he had for Thomas. We read: "Abyss calls to abyss" [Ps 42:7]. That is, the depths of Christ's compassion calls to the depths of darkness [of disbelief] in Thomas, and Thomas' abyss of unwillingness [to believe] calls out, when he professes the faith, to the depths of Christ.

Secondly, the dignity of the disciple is mentioned, for he was one of the twelve. There were not actually twelve at that time, for Judas had died (Mt 25:5), but he was called one of the twelve because he had been called to that elevated rank which our Lord had set apart as twelve in number: "He called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles" (Lk 6:13). And God wanted this number to always remain unchanged.

Thirdly, he is described by the meaning of his name, Thomas, called Didymus. Thomas is a Syrian or a Hebrew name and has two meanings: twin and abyss. The English word "twin" is "Didymus" in Greek. Because John wrote his Gospel in Greek, he used the word Didymus. Perhaps he was called the Twin because he was from the tribe of Benjamin, in which some or all were twins. Or, this name could be taken from his doubting, for one who is certain holds firmly to one side, but one who doubts accepts one opinion but fears another might be true.

2547 Thomas... was not with them, the disciples, when Jesus came, for he returned later than the others who had scattered during the day, and so he had missed the comfort of seeing the Lord, the conferring of peace and the breath giving the Holy Spirit. This teaches us not to become separated from one's companions, "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some" (Heb 10:25). As Gregory says, it was not by accident that this chosen disciple was missing, but by God's will. [26] It was in the plans of the divine pity that by feeling the wounds in the flesh of his Teacher, the doubting disciple should heal in us the wounds of disbelief.

Here we have the strongest signs of God's profound pity. First, in this: that he loves the human race so much that he sometimes allows tribulations to afflict his elect, so that from these some good can accrue to the human race. This was the reason he allowed the apostles, the prophets and the holy martyrs to be afflicted: "Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth" (Hos 6:5); "If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted it is for your comfort which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer" (2 Cor 1:6). Even more remarkable is that God allows some saint to fall into sin in order to teach us. Why did God allow some saints and holy men to sin gravely (as David did by adultery and murder) if not to teach us to be more careful and humble? It is so that one who thinks he is standing firm will take care not to fall, and so that one who has fallen will make the effort to rise. Thus, Ambrose said to the Emperor Theodosius: "The one you followed by sinning, try now to follow by repenting." [27] And Gregory says that the disbelief of Thomas was of more benefit to our faith than the faith of the disciples who did believe. [28]

2548 Thomas is told about our Lord's appearance. Because he had not been with the others, the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord. This was by the divine plan, which is that what one receives from God should be shared with others: "As each has received a gift, employ it for one another" (1 Pet 4:10); "I have seen the Lord, and I have been saved" [Gen 32:30].

2549 When Thomas said, Unless I see the print of the nails.... we see how stubborn he was in doubting. It would have been justifiable if he had not immediately believed, for we read, "One who trusts others too quickly is light‑minded" (Sir 19:4). But to overdo one's search, especially about the secrets of God, shows a coarseness of mind: "As it is not good to eat much honey, so one who searches into the majesty [of God] is overwhelmed by its glory" [Prv 25:27]; "Seek not what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power. Reflect upon what has been assigned to you, for you do not need what is hidden" (Sir 3:22).

2550 Thomas was difficult to convince and unreasonable in his demands. He was difficult because he refused to believe without some sensible facts, not just from one sense but from two, sight ‑ unless I see in his hands the print of the nails ‑ and touch ‑ and place my hand in his side. He was unreasonable because he insisted on seeing the wounds before believing, although he would be seeing something greater, that is, the entire person risen and restored. And although Thomas said these things because of his own doubts, this was arranged by God for our benefit and progress. It is certain that Christ, who arose as a complete person, could have healed the marks of his wounds; but he kept them for our benefit.


26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? [Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed.] Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe [have believed]." 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. [29]

2551 Now the Evangelist presents our Lord's second appearance. It was to all the disciples, including Thomas. First, he mentions Christ appearing; secondly, we see that Thomas is now convinced; thirdly, the Evangelist comments on what he has included in his gospel (30). He does three things about the first: the time of Christ's appearance is mentioned; then to whom he appeared; and thirdly, the way he came (v 26).

2552 The time was eight days later, that is, from the day of our Lord's resurrection, on the evening of which he first appeared. One literal reason for mentioning the time was so that the Evangelist could show that although Christ had appeared frequently to the disciples, he did not remain with them continually, since he had not arisen to the same kind of life, just as we will not rise to the same kind of life: "All the days of my service I would wait, till my release should come" [Job 14:14]. A reason for the delay was so that Thomas, hearing about our Lord's first appearance from the disciples, would develop a stronger desire and become more disposed to believe. A mystical reason for our Lord's appearance after eight days is that this indicates how he will appear to us in glory [as immortal, etc.]: "When he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jn 3:2). He will appear to us in the eighth age, which is the age of those who have risen from the dead.

2553 The Evangelist shows to whom he appeared when he says, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. We should note that Thomas was the only one who needed this appearance of Christ, but even so our Lord did not appear to him alone, but to the group. This shows that it is not very pleasing to God to exist in isolation, but it is to live in a unity of charity with others: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20). Those to whom Christ appears [in this life] are not all gathered into one group, and this present assembly of the disciples did not include every such one. But in the future all will be gathered together, and no one absent: "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together" (Mt 24:28); "He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Mt 24:31).

2554 He shows the way Christ appeared by saying, The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, Peace be with you. This was explained before. The Evangelist notes three things here. First, how Christ came, the doors were shut. As Augustine says, this was done miraculously, by the same power which enabled him to walk on the water. [30] Secondly, where he stood, among them, so he could be seen by all, as was fitting. Thirdly, we see what he said, Peace be with you, that is, the peace coming from reconciliation, reconciliation with God, which Jesus said had now been accomplished: "We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom 5:10); "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col 1:20). Jesus also announced to them the future peace of eternity and immortality, which he had promised them: "He makes peace in your borders" (Ps 147:14); and also the peace of charity and unity, which he commanded them to maintain: "Be at peace with one another" (Mk 9:49).

2555 Now the Evangelist shows how the doubting disciple was rescued and persuaded. Here we see a second sign of God's pity, which is that he quickly comes to help his elect even though they fall. Indeed, the elect fall at times, just like the reprobate. But there is a difference: the reprobate are crushed, but the Lord quickly puts his hand under the elect so they can rise up: "When a just person falls he will not be crushed, for the Lord will put his hand under him" [Ps 37:27]; "When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up" (Ps 94:18). And so our Lord quickly puts his hand under the fallen Thomas so that when Thomas said, Unless I see... I will not believe, our Lord rescues him, saying, Put your finger here. Three things are mentioned here: first, our Lord shows his wounds; secondly, we see Thomas' profession; and thirdly, his slowness to believe is reproved.

2556 Regarding the first, note that Thomas laid down his own conditions for believing, which were that he see and feel Christ's wounds, as was said. If these conditions were met, he promised to believe. So our Lord, helping him by the presence of his divinity, rescued him by meeting these conditions. First, we see the conditions being met; secondly Thomas is asked to keep his promise (v 27).

2557 One condition was that he feel the wounds, so Christ said, Put your finger here. A problem arises here because there can be no defects in a glorified body, and wounds are defects. How then can there be wounds in the body of Christ? Augustine answers this in this book, On the Creed, when he says: "Christ could have removed all traces of his wounds from his risen and glorified body, but he had reasons for retaining them. First, to show them to Thomas, who would not believe unless he touched and saw. Again, he will use them to rebuke unbelievers and sinners at the judgment. He will not say to them, as he did to Thomas, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed,' but rather, to convict them, 'Behold the man you have crucified, the wounds you have inflicted. Look at the side you have pierced. It was opened for your sake, and you refused to enter.'" [31]

2558 Another question on this point is whether or not the traces of the martyrs' wounds will remain on their bodies. Augustine, in his The City of God (22), answers this in a similar manner, saying they will remain, not as a disfigurement but like a great ornamental beauty. He says "These wounds in their body will not be a deformity, but a dignity. And although on their bodies, they will radiate not a bodily but a spiritual beauty. Of course, the martyrs who suffered amputation or decapitation will not appear in the resurrection without their hands and members ‑ for they too have been told that not a hair of their head would perish. Indeed, even though their members were mutilated or cut off, they will be restored, yet the traces of their wounds will remain." [32]

2559 Gregory asks how the Lord could offer his body to be touched because it was incorruptible, for what is incorruptible cannot be touched. [33] "Christ being raised from the dead will never die again" (Rom 6:9). The heretic, Eutyches, was influenced by this to say that the body of Christ and the bodies of all those who rise will not be touchable, but fine and spiritual, like the wind or a breath. But since this is contrary to what our Lord said - "Handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Lk 24:39) ‑ our Lord showed that he was incorruptible and touchable to demonstrate that his body after his resurrection was of the same nature as before, and what had been corruptible had now put on incorruption (1 Cor 15:53). It was the same in nature, but with a different glory: for what had been heavy and lowly arose in glory and subtlety, as the effect of spiritual power.

2560 Our Lord continued, saying, see my hands, which hung on the cross, and put out your hand, and place it in my side, which was pierced by the spear, and realize that I am the same person who had hung upon the cross. As for the mystical interpretation, a finger signifies knowledge, and a hand signifies our works. Thus when Thomas is told to put his finger and hand into the wounds of Christ, we are being told to use our knowledge and works for the service of Christ: "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6:14).

2561 Our Lord holds Thomas to his promise saying, do not be faithless, but believing: "Be faithful unto death" (Rev 2:10).

2562 The Evangelist now mentions Thomas' profession. It seems that Thomas quickly became a good theologian by professing a true faith. He professed the humanity of Christ when he said, My Lord, for he had called Christ this before the passion: "You call me Teacher and Lord" (Jn 13:13). And he professed the divinity of Christ when he said, and my God. Before this, the only one who had called Christ God was Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16); "This is the true God and eternal life" (1 Jn 5:20).

2563 Our Lord reproaches Thomas for being slow to believe, because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed; and then he praises the others for being quick to believe.

2564 Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. There is a problem here: for since faith is the substance of the things we hope for, the conviction about things that are not seen (Heb 11:1), why does our Lord say, because you have seen me you have believed ? We should say in answer that Thomas saw one thing and believed another. He saw the man and the wounds, and from these he believed in the divinity of the one who had arisen.

2565 There is a second question. Because Thomas said that he would not believe unless he saw and touched, and our Lord was willing for him to see and touch, it seems our Lord should have replied, "because you have seen and touched me you have believed." One can say, with Augustine, that we use the sense of sight for any of the senses. [34] We say, "See how warm it is"; "See how it sounds"; "See how it tastes and smells." So our Lord said, Put your finger here, and see, not because the finger can see, but as meaning, "Touch and perceive." So Christ says here, because you have seen me, that is, because you have perceived through touch. Or, one could say that Thomas became flustered when he saw Christ's wounds and scars, and before he touched Christ with his finger he believed and said, My Lord and my God. For Gregory, Thomas did touch Christ, but did not profess his faith until he saw [the wounds]. [35]

2566 When Christ said, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, he was praising the readiness of others to believe; and this applies especially to us. He says, "have believed" rather than "shall believe" because of the certitude [of his knowledge].

Luke seems to say the contrary: "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see" (Lk 10:23). Thus, those who have seen are more blessed that those who have not seen. I answer that blessedness is of two kinds. One is the actual state of blessedness, which consists in God's reward, where the better one sees the happier, the more blessed, he is. In this respect, the eyes that see are blessed, because this is the reward of grace. The other blessedness is the hoped‑for blessedness, which is based on one's merits. And in this case the more one can merit the more blessed he is. And, the one who believes and does not see, merits more than one who believes when he sees.

2567 Now the Evangelist gives his epilogue: first he mentions the incompleteness of his gospel; secondly, the benefits it will give (v 31). Its incompleteness is clear, for Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, "Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?" (Job 26:14); "Many things greater than these lie hidden, for we have seen but few of his works" (Si 43:32). According to Chrysostom, John said this because he mentioned fewer miracles than the other evangelists and he did not want it to be thought that he was denying these other miracles, and so he especially added, which are not written in this book. [36] Or, John could be referring to the passion and resurrection of Christ, meaning that after his resurrection Christ gave many indications of his resurrection "in the presence of the disciples" that were not shown to others: "God... made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses," (Acts 10:40).

2568 Now he mentions the benefits given by this gospel. It is useful for producing faith: these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Indeed, all Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, are for this purpose: "The beginning of the book writes about me" [Ps 40:7]; "Search the scriptures... it is they that bear witness to me" (5:39). Another benefit of his gospel is that it also produces the fruit of life, and that believing you may have life: the life of righteousness, which is given by faith ‑ "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Hab 2:4) ‑ and in the future, the life of vision, which is given by glory. This life is in his name, the name of Christ: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

[1] St. Thomas refers to Jn 20:1 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 51, a. 4, ad 2; q. 53, a. 2, obj. 3; q. 83, a. 2, ad 4.

[2] De consensus evangelistarum, 3, ch. 24; PL 34; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:1-9.

[3] In Ioannem hom., 85, ch. 5; PG 59, col 466; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:1-9.

[4] Tract. in Io., 120, ch. 9, col. 1955; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:1-9.

[5] In Ioannem hom., 85, ch. 5; PG 59, col 466.

[6] Tract. in Io., 121, ch. 1, col. 1956; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[7] XL homiliae in Evangelista, fin; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[8] Augustine, Confessions.

[9] In Ioannem hom., 86, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 467; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[10] St. Thomas refers to Jn 20:17 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 20, a. 2, s. c. 3; q. 23, a. 2, obj, 2; q. 23, a. 2, ad 2; q. 55, a. 6, obj. 3; q. 57, a. 1, obj. 4, and s. c.; q. 80, a. 4, ad 1.

[11] In Ioannem hom., 86, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 468; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[12] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 25; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[13] Tract. in Io., 121, ch. 2, col. 1956-7; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[14] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 25; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[15] De Trin., 1, 3; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[16] In Ioannem hom., 186, ch. 2; PG 59; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[17] Tract. in Io., 121, ch. 3, col. 1957-8; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:10-18.

[18] St. Thomas refers to Jn 20:19 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 54, a. 1, obj. 1; q, 55, a. 3, s. c.; Jn 20:20: ST III, q. 55, a. 3, obj. 1; Jn 20:22: ST I, q. 91, a. 4, ad 3; III, q. 3, a. 8, obj. 3; Jn 20:23: ST III, q. 3, a. 8, obj. 3; q. 84, a. 3, ad 3.

[19] Aristotle.

[20] Serm. Pasch., 110; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:19-25.

[21] Tract. in Io., 121, ch. 4, col. 1958; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:19-25.

[22] De Trin., 4, ch. 20; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:19-25.

[23] In Ioannem hom., 86; PG 59; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:19-25.

[24] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 26; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:19-25.

[25] St. Thomas refers to Jn 20:25-28 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 14, a. 4, s. c.

[26] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 26; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[27] Ambrose.

[28] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 26; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[29] St. Thomas refers to Jn 20:26 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 55, a. 3, s. c.; Jn 20:27: ST III, q. 54, a. 4, s. c.; Jn 20:26: ST III, q. 55, a. 3, obj. 4 and s. c.; Jn 20:29: ST II-II, q. 1, a. 4, obj. 1; III, q. 41, a. 2, ad 1; q. 55, a. 5, obj. 3; Jn 20: 31: ST I, q. 1. a. 8, obj. 1; I-II, q. 106, a. 1, obj. 1.

[30] Serm. Tap. ad Cat., 2, 8; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[31] De Symbolo, 2, 8; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[32] De Civitate Dei, 22, 19; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[33] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 26; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[34] Tract. in Io., 121, ch. 5, col. 1958; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[35] XL homiliae in Evangelista, 26; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.

[36] In Ioannem hom., 87; PG 59; cf. Catena Aurea, 20:26-31.