I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.
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Cornelius a Lapide
I must work, &c. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others understand by the word "day" the present life, and by "night" the future life. But this is what is common to all men. But Christ speaks of this day as specially relating to Himself and His own work. And therefore S. Augustine, Cyril, and Bede put a better and closer meaning on the word day, as speaking of the life of Christ on earth, and night as referring to His absence, meaning by this, that just as men cannot work at night on account of the darkness, so after death shall I no longer work as I do now for the salvation and redemption of men. "My day" ( John 8:56) means in like manner My birth and My life amongst men. He says this, as preparing the way for the healing of the blind man. "I am sent into the world to do good to men: this blind man presents himself and I will restore his sight." Symbolically: Night, says the Interlinear Gloss, is the persecution of the Apostles, especially by antichrist. Tropologically. The time of life given to every one to gain eternal glory is his "day." Night is his death (see Eccles. ix10). And S. Augustine (in loc.) says, "Night is that of which it is said, "Cast him into outer darkness." Then will be the night, when no man can work, but only receive for what he hath wrought. Work while thou art alive, lest thou be prevented by that night." It was common among poets and philosophers to call life day, and death night, and many instances and authorities are given from Pagan writers to this purpose. But to take some Christian ones, Messodamus, a very holy Prayer of Manasseh , was once asked by a friend to dine with him on the morrow. "I have had no morrow," he replied, "for many years: every day have I looked for the coming of death." And this is what S. Anthony (apud S. Athanasius) and Barlaam advised every devout and "religious" man to do. S. Jerome wisely says, "One who is ever thinking that he will die, easily makes light of everything," for he regards each day as his last.
"Fixed is the day of death alike to all,
Brief life"s short hours soon pass beyond recal."
—Virg. Ã†n. x.