Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Jeremiah 17:5–8
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16–20
Gospel Luke 6:17, 20–26

The Pseudo-Ignatian letter to the Antiochians argues that Jeremiah's curse applies to those who deny Christ's divinity:
And he that rejects the incarnation, and is ashamed of the cross for which I am in bonds, this man is antichrist. (cf. 1 Jn 2:22, 4:3; 2 Jn 7) Moreover, he who affirms Christ to be a mere man is accursed, according to the [declaration of the] prophet, (Jer 17:5) since he puts not his trust in God, but in man. Wherefore also he is unfruitful, like the wild myrtle-tree. (Ps-Ignatius to the Antiochians 5, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 111)

St. John Chrysostom argues that, even though the soul is immortal, we are pitiable without the hope of resurrection:
What sayest thou, O Paul? How “in this life only have we hope,” if our bodies be not raised, the soul abiding and being immortal? Because even if the soul abide, even if it be infinitely immortal, as indeed it is, without the flesh it shall not receive those hidden good things, as neither truly shall it be punished. For all things shall be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, “that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Co 5:10) Therefore he saith, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.” For if the body rise not again, the soul abides uncrowned without that blessedness which is in heaven. And if this be so, we shall enjoy nothing then at all: and if nothing then, in the present life is our recompense. “What then in this respect can be more wretched than we?” saith he. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 39.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 235)

Tertullian on suffering curses with patience:
If the tongue’s bitterness break out in malediction or reproach, look back at the saying, “When they curse you, rejoice.” (Mt 5:11; Lk 6:22-23) The Lord Himself was “cursed” in the eye of the law; (Dt 21:23; Gal 3:13) and yet is He the only Blessed One. Let us servants, therefore, follow our Lord closely; and be cursed patiently, that we may be able to be blessed. If I hear with too little equanimity some wanton or wicked word uttered against me, I must of necessity either myself retaliate the bitterness, or else I shall be racked with mute impatience. When, then, on being cursed, I smite (with my tongue,) how shall I be found to have followed the doctrine of the Lord, in which it has been delivered that “a man is defiled, not by the defilements of vessels, but of the things which are sent forth out of his mouth.” Again, it is said that “impeachment awaits us for every vain and needless word.” (Mt 12:36) It follows that, from whatever the Lord keeps us, the same He admonishes us to bear patiently from another. (Tertullian, De pat. 8, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 712)

St. Ambrose compares the Lukan Beatitudes to the four cardinal virtues:
In that He says, Blessed are the poor, thou hast temperance; which abstains from sin, tramples upon the world, seeks not vain delights. In Blessed are they that hunger, thou hast righteousness; for he who hungers suffers together with the hungry, and by suffering together with him gives to him, by giving becomes righteous, and his righteousness abideth for ever. In Blessed are they that weep now, thou hast prudence; which is to weep for the things of time, and to seek those which are eternal. In Blessed are ye when men hate you, thou hast fortitude ; not that which deserves hatred for crime, but which suffers persecution for faith. For so thou wilt attain to the crown of suffering, if thou slightest the favour of men, and seekest that which is from God.
Temperance therefore brings with it a pure heart ; righteousness, mercy ; prudence, peace ; fortitude, meekness. The virtues are so joined and linked to one another, that he who has one seems to have many ; and the Saints have each one especial virtue, but the more abundant virtue has the richer reward. What hospitality in Abraham, what humility, but because he excelled in faith, he gained the preeminence above all others. To every one there are many rewards because many incentives to virtue, but that which is most abundant in a good action, has the most exceeding reward. (Exposition of Luke, quoted in Cat Aur. 3.1, 212)

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