Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Micah 5:1–4a
Second Reading Hebrews 10:5–10
Gospel Luke 1:39–45

Theodoret explains Mic 5:2 as a prophecy of the Incarnation of the eternally begotten Son.Thus through Micah God says “Thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah art not the least among the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel, whose goings forth have been as of old from everlasting.” (Mt 2:6 & Mic 5:2) Now by saying “From thee shall come forth a ruler” he exhibits the oeconomy of the incarnation; and by adding “whose goings forth have been as of old from everlasting” he declares the Godhead begotten of the Father before the ages. (Theodoret, Letter 151, NPNF2, vol. 3, p. 325)
St. John Chrysostom on Hebrews 10:5.
Here he does not blame those who offer, showing that it is not because of their wickednesses that He does not accept them, as He says elsewhere, but because the thing itself has been convicted for the future and shown to have no strength, nor any suitableness to the times. What then has this to do with the “sacrifices” being offered “oftentimes”? Not only from their being “oftentimes” [offered] (he means) is it manifest that they are weak, and that they effected nothing; but also from God’s not accepting them, as being unprofitable and useless. And in another place it is said, “If Thou hadst desired sacrifice I would have given it.” (Ps. 51:16.) Therefore by this also he makes it plain that He does not desire it. Therefore sacrifices are not God’s will, but the abolition of sacrifices. Wherefore they sacrifice contrary to His will. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 18.1, NPNF1, vol. 18, p. 451)
St. Leo the Great uses Elizabeth's greeting to Mary in arguing against the Nestorian denial that Mary is "Theotokos".
[W]ithout losing that unchangeable essence which belongs to Him together with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity and without respect of time, the “Word became flesh” within the Virgin’s womb in such wise that by that one conception and one parturition she was at the same time, in virtue of the union of the two substances, both handmaid and mother of the Lord. This Elizabeth also knew, as Luke the evangelist declares, when she said: “Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). (Leo the Great, Letter 124.2. NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 91)

Gregory Thaumaturgus on the blessedness of Mary.
“And Elisabeth spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed art thou among women.” (Lk 1:42, 43) For thou hast become to women the beginning of the new creation. Thou hast given to us boldness of access into paradise, and thou hast put to flight our ancient woe. For after thee the race of woman shall no more be made the subject of reproach. No more do the successors of Eve fear the ancient curse, or the pangs of childbirth. For Christ, the Redeemer of our race, the Saviour of all nature, the spiritual Adam who has healed the hurt of the creature of earth, cometh forth from thy holy womb. (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Second Homily on the Annunciation, ANF, vol. 6, p. 64)

Ephrem the Syrian on the vivified womb of Elizabeth
Our Lord prepared his herald in a dead womb, to show that he came after a dead Adam. He vivified Elizabeth's womb first, and then vivified the soil of Adam through his body. (Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron 1.30 in Luke. ACC, 21)

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