Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Nehemiah 8:2–4a, 5–6, 8–10
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:12–30 or 1 Corinthians 12:12–14, 27
Gospel Luke 1:1–4, 4:14–21

St. Irenaeus speaks of the gift of the Spirit given to the Church:
For this gift of God [i.e. the Spirit of God] has been entrusted to the Church, as breath was to the first created man, for this purpose, that all the members receiving it may be vivified; and the [means of] communion with Christ has been distributed throughout it, that is, the Holy Spirit, the earnest of incorruption, the means of confirming our faith, and the ladder of ascent to God. “For in the Church,” it is said, “God hath set apostles, prophets, teachers,” (1 Co 12:28) and all the other means through which the Spirit works; of which all those are not partakers who do not join themselves to the Church, but defraud themselves of life through their perverse opinions and infamous behaviour. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.24, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 458)

St. Jerome on the different members--simple and educated--in the Church, and the call of both to holiness:
In the church one is the eye, another is the tongue, another the hand, another the foot, others ears, belly, and so on. Read Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians and learn how the one body is made up of different members. (1 Co 12:12-27) The rude and simple brother must not suppose himself a saint just because he knows nothing; and he who is educated and eloquent must not measure his saintliness merely by his fluency. Of two imperfect things holy rusticity is better than sinful eloquence. (Jerome, Ep.52, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 94)

St. John Chrysostom notes that God has ordained the diversity of gifts to bring about love and harmony through mutual dependence:
For even as the great gifts God hath not vouchsafed all to all men, but to some this, and to others that, so also did He in respect of the less, not proposing these either to all. And this He did, procuring thereby abundant harmony and love, that each one standing in need of the other might be brought close to his brother. This economy He established also in the arts, this also in the elements, this also in the plants, and in our members, and absolutely in all things. (Chrysostom, Hom 1 Cor. 32.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 188)
St. Bede the Venerable (here echoing St. Ambrose's Expostion) explains that Luke addresses his gospel to all who love God:
Theophilus means, “loving God” or “being loved by God.” Whoever then loves God, or desires to be loved by Him, let him think this Gospel to have been written to him, and preserve it as a gift presented to him, a pledge entrusted to his care. The promise was not to explain the meaning of certain new and strange things to Theophilus, but to set forth the truth of those words in which he had been instructed; as it is added, That thou mightest know the truth of those words in which thou hast been instructed; that is, “that thou mightest be able to know in what order each thing was said or done by the Lord.” (Bede, in proem Lucae quoted in Cat. Aur. vol. 3 pt. 1, pg. 6)
St. Cyril of Alexandria explains that the anointing and sending spoken of in the prophecy of Isaiah read by Our Lord pertains to His human nature:
In like manner we confess Him to have been anointed, inasmuch as He took upon Him our flesh, as it follows, Because he hath anointed me. For the Divine nature is not anointed, but that which is cognate to us. So also when He says that He was sent, we must suppose Him speaking of His human nature. For it follows, He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor. (Cyril of Alexandria, quoted in Cat Aur. vol. 3, pt. 1, pg. 155)
St. John Chrysostom on kinds of captivity and what Christ liberates us from:
The word captivity has many meanings. There is a good captivity, which St. Paul speaks of when he says, Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. There is a bad captivity also, of which it is said, Leading captive silly women laden with sins. There is a captivity present to the senses, that is by our bodily enemies. But the worst captivity is that of the mind, of which he here speaks. For sin exercises the worst of all tyrannies, commanding to do evil, and destroying them that obey it. From this prison of the soul Christ lets us free. (Chrys in Ps. 125 quoted in Cat Aur vol. 3, pt. 1, pg. 156)

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