Hearing the unworthy Decollation of John Baptist by Herod, (13) he betakes him to his usual solitariness in the desert, and there feeds 5000 with five loaves. (23) And then after the night spent in the mountain in prayer, he walks upon the sea (signifying the wide world) (28) yea and Peter also: whereupon they adore him as the Son of God. (35) And with the very touch of his garment’s hem he heals innumerable.
AT that time * Herod the Tetrarch heard the fame of Jesus: 2and said to his servants: This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead, and therefore virtues work in him. 3For Herod apprehended John and bound him, and put him into prison • because of Herodias, his brother’s ✝ wife. 4For John said unto him: It is not lawful for you to have her. 5And willing to put him to death, he feared the People: because they esteemed him as a Prophet. 6But on Herod’s birth-day, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod. 7Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him. 8But she being instructed before of her mother says: Give me here in a dish the head of John the Baptist. 9And the king was struck sad: yet because of his (a) oath, and for them that sat with him at table, he commanded it to be given. 10And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11And his head was brought in a dish: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother. 12And his Disciples came and took the body, and • buried it (b) and came and told Jesus.
13Which when Jesus had heard, * he • retired from thence by boat, into a desert place apart, and the multitudes having heard of it, followed him on foot out of the cities. 14And he coming forth saw a great multitude, and pitied them, and cured their diseased. 15And when it was evening, his Disciples came unto him, saying: It is a desert place, and the hour is now past: dismiss the multitudes that going into the towns, they may buy themselves victuals. 16But Jesus said to them: They have no need to go: give ye them to eat. 17They answered him: We have not here, but five loaves, and two fishes. 18Who said to them: Bring them hither to me. 19And when he had commanded the multitude to sit down upon the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up unto Heaven he blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to his Disciples, and • the Disciples to the multitudes. 20And they did all eat, and had their fill. And they took the leavings, twelve full baskets of the fragments. 21And the number of them that did eat was, five thousand men, beside women and children.
22And forthwith Jesus commanded his Disciples to go up into the boat, and to go before him over the water, till he dismissed the multitudes. 23And having dismissed the multitude, he * ascended into a mountain alone to pray. And when it was evening, he was there alone. 24But the boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night, he came unto them walking upon the sea. 26And seeing him upon the • sea walking, they were troubled saying: That it is a Ghost: and for fear they cried out. 27And immediately Jesus spoke unto them, saying: Have confidence it is I, fear ye not. 28And Peter making answer said: Lord if it be you, bid me come to you upon the waters. 29And he said, Come. And Peter descending out of the boat, • walked upon the water to come to Jesus. 30But seeing the wind rough, he was afraid: and when he began to be drowned, he cried out saying: Lord, save me. 31And incontinent (c) Jesus stretching forth his hand took hold of him, and said unto him: O you of little faith, why did you doubt? 32And when they were gone up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And they that were in the boat, came and adored him, saying: Indeed you are the Son of God. ✠
34And having passed the water, they came into the country of Genesar. 35And when the men of that place understood of him, they sent into all that country, and brought unto him all that were ill at ease: 36and they besought him that they might touch but the (d) hem of his garment, and whosoever did touch, were made whole.
↑ 3. Because of Herodias.) It is too ordinary in Princes to put them to death that freely tell them such faults: women, whom they fancy, especially inciting them to such mischief.
↑ 12. Buried it.) An example of duty toward the dead bodies of the Faithful: wherein see the difference of Catholic Christian men, and of all Infidels, be they Pagans, Apostates, or Heretics. For whereas the Christians had laid the body of this Blessed Prophet and Martyr in Samaria with the Relics of Elias and Abdias, by virtue whereof wonderful miracles were wrought in that place, in Julian the Apostate’s time, when men might do all mischief freely against Christian religion, the Pagans opened the tomb of St. John Baptist, burnt his bones, scattered the ashes about the fields: but certain religious Monks coming thither a pilgrimage at the same time, adventured their life and saved as much of the holy Relics as they could, and brought them to their Abbot Philip, a man of God: who esteeming them too great a treasure for him and his to keep for their private devotion, sent them to Athanasius the Bishop of Alexandria; and he with all reverence laid them in such a place (as it were by the Spirit of Prophecy) where afterward by occasion of them was built a goodly chapel, Theod. lib. 3 ch. 6. Ruff. lib. 2 ch. 27, 28. Mark here that the Heretics of our time do as those Pagans, to the bodies and Relics of all Blessed Saints that they can destroy: and Catholics contrarywise have the religious devotion of those old Christians, as appears by the honour done now to his head at Amians in France.
↑ 13. Retired.) Christ much esteemed John, and withdrew himself aside, to give example of moderate mourning for the departed, and to show the horror of that execrable murder: as in the Primitive Church many good men seeing the miserable state of the world in time of persecution, and the sins that abounded withal, took an occasion to forsake those tumults, and to give themselves to contemplation; and for that purpose retired into the deserts of Aegypt and elsewhere, to do penance for their own sins, and the sins of the world. Whereupon partly rose that infinite number of Monks and Eremites, of whom the Fathers and Ecclesiastical histories make mention, Jero. to. 2 in vit. Pauli Eremitae. Sozo. lib. 1 ch. 12, 13.
↑ 19. The Disciples to the multitudes.) A figure of the ministry of the Apostles; who as they here had the distribution and ordering of these miraculous loaves, so had they also to bestow and dispense all the food of our souls, in ministering of the Word and Sacraments, neither may laymen challenge the same.
↑ 26. Walking.) When not only Christ, but by his power Peter also walks upon the waters, it is evident that he can dispose of his own body above nature, and contrary to the natural conditions thereof, as to go through a door, Jo. 20, to be in the compass of a little bread, Epiphan. in Anchorato.
↑ 29. Walked.) Peter (says St. Bernard) walking upon the waters, as Christ did, declared himself the only Vicar of Christ, which should be Ruler not over one People, but over all. For many waters, are many peoples, Bernard lib. 2 de confid. ch. 8. See the place, how he deduces from Peter the like authority and jurisdiction to his Successor the Bishop of Rome.