Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Easter Sunday, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Acts 10:34a, 37–43
Second Reading Colossians 3:1–4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b–8
Gospel John 20:1–9 or Luke 24:1–12 or Luke 24:13–35

St. Gregory of Nyssa on thinking of things that are above:
So, likewise, on the contrary, if reason instead assumes sway over such emotions, each of them is transmuted to a form of virtue; for anger produces courage, terror caution, fear obedience, hatred aversion from vice, the power of love the desire for what is truly beautiful; high spirit in our character raises our thought above the passions, and keeps it from bondage to what is base; yea, the great Apostle, even, praises such a form of mental elevation when he bids us constantly to “think those things that are above (Col. 3:2);” and so we find that every such motion, when elevated by loftiness of mind, is conformed to the beauty of the Divine image. (Greg. Nyss., De hom. opif. 18.5, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 408)

St. Ambrose on our life being hidden with Christ:
As the Apostle says: “Our life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3) Let, then, no one here strive to shine, let none show pride, let none boast. Christ willed not to be known here, He would not that His Name should be preached in the Gospel whilst He lived on earth. He came to lie hid from this world. Let us therefore likewise hide our life after the example of Christ, let us shun boastfulness, let us not desire to be made known. It is better to live here in humility, and there in glory. “When Christ,” it says, “shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) (Ambrose, De offic. 3.5.36, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 73)

St. Leo the Great on Christ our Passover:
For by this transference the propitiation of the spotless Lamb and the fulfilment of all mysteries passed from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, from the sons according to the flesh to the sons according to the spirit: since as the Apostle says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” (1 Cor 5:7) Who offering Himself to the Father a new and true sacrifice of reconciliation, was crucified not in the temple, whose worship was now at an end, and not within the confines of the city which for its sin was doomed to be destroyed, but outside, “without the camp,” (Heb. 13:12) that, on the cessation of the old symbolic victims, a new Victim might be placed on a new altar, and the cross of Christ might be the altar not of the temple but of the world. (Leo the Great, Serm. 59.5, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 172)

St. John Chrysostom--the life of a Christian is a feast:
It is festival, therefore, the whole time in which we live. For though he said, “Let us keep the feast,” not with a view to the presence of the Passover or of Pentecost did he say it; but as pointing out that the whole of time is a festival unto Christians, because of the excellency of the good things which have been given. For what hath not come to pass that is good? The Son of God was made man for thee; He freed thee from death; and called thee to a kingdom. Thou therefore who hast obtained and art still obtaining such things, how can it be less than thy duty to “keep the feast” all thy life? (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 15.6, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 85-86)

St. Bede the Venerable sees in Luke 12 a figure of the Sacrament of the Altar:
According to the mystical meaning, by the women coming early in the morning to the sepulchre, we have an example given us, that having cast away the darkness of our vices, we should come to the Body of the Lord. For that sepulchre also bore the figure of the Altar of the Lord, wherein the mysteries of Christ s Body, not in silk or purple cloth, but in pure white linen, like that in which Joseph wrapped it, ought to be consecrated, that as He offered up to death for us the true substance of His earthly nature, so we also in commemoration of Him should place on the Altar the flax, pure from the plant of the earth, and white, and in many ways refined by a kind of crushing to death. But the spices which the women bring, signify the odour of virtue, and the sweetness of prayers by which we ought to approach the Altar. The rolling back of the stone alludes to the unclosing of the Sacraments which were concealed by the veil of the letter of the law which was written on stone, the covering of which being taken away, the dead body of the Lord is not found, but the living body is preached; for although we have known. Christ according to the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. But as when the Body of our Lord lay in the sepulchre, Angels are said to have stood by, so also at the time of consecration are they to be believed to stand by the mysteries of Christ. Let us then after the example of the devout women, whenever we approach the heavenly mysteries, because of the presence of the Angels, or from reverence to the Sacred Offering, with all humility, bow our faces to the earth, recollecting that we are but dust and ashes. (Bede in Cat. Aur. 3.2, 771-772)

St. Augustine--Christ "goes further" from those who do not come to know him in the breaking of the bread:
I see that one may say, Explain to me; what did that signify, that “He made a pretence of going further”? For if it had no further meaning, it is a deceit, a lie. We must then according to our rules of exposition, and distinctions, tell you what this “pretence of going further,” signified; “He made a pretence of going further,” and is kept back from going further. In so far then as the Lord Christ being as they supposed absent in respect of His Bodily presence, was thought to be really absent, He will as it were “go further.” But hold Him fast by faith, hold Him fast at the breaking of Bread. What shall I say more? Have ye recognised Him? If so, then have ye found Christ. I must not speak any longer on this Sacrament. They who put off the knowledge of this Sacrament, Christ goeth further from them. Let them then hold It fast, let them not let Him go; let them invite Him to their home, and so they are invited to heaven. (Augustine, Serm. 89.7, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 391)

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