Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Second Sunday of Lent, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 15:5–12, 17–18
Second Reading Philippians 3:17–4:1 or Philippians 3:20–4:1
Gospel Luke 9:28b–36

St. Methodius of Olympus--the sacrifices of Abraham symbolize the offering to God of the soul, sense and mind (cf. 1 Thes 5:23):
Hence it is necessary that the perfect man offer up all, both the things of the soul and those of the flesh, so that he may be complete and not lacking. Therefore also God commands Abraham, (Ge 15:9) “Take Me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon;” which is admirably said; for remark, that concerning those things, He also gives this command, Bring them Me and keep them free from the yoke, even thy soul uninjured, like a heifer, and your flesh, and your reason; the last like a goat, since he traverses lofty and precipitous places, and the other like a ram, that he may in nowise skip away, and fall and slip off from the right way. For thus shalt thou be perfect and blameless, O Abraham, when thou hast offered to Me thy soul, and thy sense, and thy mind, which He mentioned under the symbol of the heifer, the goat, and the ram of three years old, as though they represented the pure knowledge of the Trinity. (Methodius of Olympus, Banquet of the Ten Virgins, 5.2, ANF, vol. 6, pg. 325)
 
St. Augustine--the brazier and torch are figures of the judgment by fire:
When it is added, “And when the sun was now setting there was a flame, and lo, a smoking furnace, and lamps of fire, which passed through between those pieces,” this signifies that at the end of the world the carnal shall be judged by fire. For just as the affliction of the city of God, such as never was before, which is expected to take place under Antichrist, was signified by Abraham’s horror of great darkness about the going down of the sun, that is, when the end of the world draws nigh,—so at the going down of the sun, that is, at the very end of the world, there is signified by that fire the day of judgment, which separates the carnal who are to be saved by fire from those who are to be condemned in the fire. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 16.24, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 324)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--how Christ subjects our nature to himself:
The Apostle tells us also of the special reward attained by this subjection which is made perfect by the subjection of belief: Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the works of His power, whereby He is able to subject all things to Himself (Phil. 3:21). There is then another subjection, which consists in a transition from one nature to another, for our nature ceases, so far as its present character is concerned, and is subjected to Him, into Whose form it passes. But by ‘ceasing’ is implied not an end of being, but a promotion into something higher. Thus our nature by being merged into the image of the other nature which it receives, becomes subjected through the imposition of a new form. (Hilary, De Trin. 9.35, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 213)

St. John Chrysostom on those whose God is their belly:
These are they, whose god is their belly; for if they have no spiritual thoughts, but have all their possessions here, and mind these things, with reason have they their belly for their god, in saying, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” And about thy body, thou grievest, tell me, that it is of earth, though thus thou art not at all injured. But thy soul thou draggest down to the earth, when thou oughtest to render even thy body spiritual; for thou mayest, if thou wilt. Thou hast received a belly, that thou mayest feed, not distend it, that thou mayest have the mastery over it, not have it as mistress over thee: that it may minister to thee for the nourishment of the other parts, not that thou mayest minister to it, not that thou mayest exceed limits. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 13, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 243)

St. Augustine on the brightness of the Transfigured Christ:
The Lord Jesus Himself shone bright as the sun; His raiment became white as the snow; and Moses and Elias talked with Him. (Mt 17:2, 3) Jesus Himself indeed shone as the sun, signifying that “He is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jn 1:9) What this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is He to the eyes of the heart; and what that is to the flesh of men, that is He to their hearts. Now His raiment is His Church. For if the raiment be not held together by him who puts it on, it will fall off. Of this raiment, Paul was as it were a sort of last border. For he says himself, “I am the least of the Apostles.” (1 Co 15:9) And in another place, “I am the last of the Apostles.” Now in a garment the border is the last and least part. Wherefore as that woman which suffered from an issue of blood, when she had touched the Lord’s border was made whole, (Mk 5:34) so the Church which came from out of the Gentiles, was made whole by the preaching of Paul. (Augustine, Serm. 77.2, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 347)

... and on the Lord's answer to Peter's three tents:
“If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” To this the Lord made no answer; but notwithstanding Peter was answered. “For while he yet spake, a bright cloud came, and overshadowed them.” (Mt 17:5) He desired three tabernacles; the heavenly answer showed him that we have One, which human judgment desired to divide. Christ, the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word in the Prophets. Why, Peter, dost thou seek to divide them? It were more fitting for thee to join them. Thou seekest three; understand that they are but One. (Ibid.)

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