Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Palm Sunday, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

Gospel Luke 19:28–40

First Reading Isaiah 50:4–7
Second Reading Philippians 2:6–11
Gospel Luke 22:14–23:56 or Luke 23:1–49

St. Gregory Nazianzen on Christ's entry into Jerusalem:
He rode upon a colt, almost, blame me not for folly, as my Jesus did upon that other colt, (Lk 19:35) whether it were the people of the Gentiles, whom He mounts in kindness, by setting it free from the bonds of ignorance, or something else, which the Scripture sets forth. He was welcomed with branches of trees, and garments with many Bowers and of varied hue were torn off and strewn before him and under his feet: there alone was all that was glorious and costly and peerless treated with dishonour. Like, once more, to the entry of Christ were those that went before with shouts and followed with dances; only the crowd which sung his praises was not of children only, but every tongue was harmonious, as men contended only to outdo one another. I pass by the universal cheers, and the pouring forth of unguents, and the nightlong festivities, and the whole city gleaming with light, and the feasting in public and at home, and all the means of testifying to a city’s joy, which were then in lavish and incredible profusion bestowed upon him. Thus did this marvellous man, with such a concourse, regain his own city. (Greg. Naz. Orat. 21.29, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 278)

St. Irenaeus--Christ does away with the disobedience of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil with the obedience of the Tree of the Cross:
And not by the aforesaid things alone has the Lord manifested Himself, but [He has done this] also by means of His passion. For doing away with [the effects of] that disobedience of man which had taken place at the beginning by the occasion of a tree, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;” (Phil 2:8) rectifying that disobedience which had occurred by reason of a tree, through that obedience which was [wrought out] upon the tree [of the cross]. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 5.16, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 544)

St. Augustine on "even the death of the cross":
For when the apostle was commending to us His obedience even unto death, it was not enough for him to say, “He became obedient unto death;” for it was not unto death of any kind whatever: but he added, “even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8) Among all kinds of death, there was nothing worse than that death. In short, that wherein one is racked by the most intense pains is called cruciatus, which takes its name from crux, a cross. For the crucified, hanging on the tree, nailed to the wood, were killed by a slow lingering death. To be crucified was not merely to be put to death; for the victim lived long on the cross, not because longer life was chosen, but because death itself was stretched out that the pain might not be too quickly ended. He willed to die for us, yet it is not enough to say this; He deigned to be crucified, became obedient even to the death of the cross. He who was about to take away all death, chose the lowest and worst kind of death: He slew death by the worst of deaths. To the Jews who understood not, it was indeed the worst of deaths, but it was chosen by the Lord. For He was to have that very cross as His sign; that very cross, a trophy, as it were, over the vanquished devil, He was to put on the brow of believers, so that the apostle said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14) (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan 36.4, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 209)

St. John Chrysostom--when Christ is glorified, the Father is also glorified:
“And every tongue,” should “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is, that all should say so; and this is glory to the Father. Seest thou how wherever the Son is glorified, the Father is also glorified? Thus too when the Son is dishonored, the Father is dishonored also. If this be so with us, where the difference is great between fathers and sons, much more in respect of God, where there is no difference, doth honor and insult pass on to Him. If the world be subjected to the Son, this is glory to the Father. And so when we say that He is perfect, wanting nothing, and not inferior to the Father, this is glory to the Father, that he begat such a one. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 7, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 216)

St. Irenaeus on how our Lord teaches us to love our enemies from the Cross:
And from this fact, that He exclaimed upon the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Lk 23:34) the long-suffering, patience, compassion, and goodness of Christ are exhibited, since He both suffered, and did Himself exculpate those who had maltreated Him. For the Word of God, who said to us, “Love your enemies, and pray for those that hate you,”349 Himself did this very thing upon the cross; loving the human race to such a degree, that He even prayed for those putting Him to death. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.18.5, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 447)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--Christ's prayer in the garden shows his fellowhip with human anxiety and his association with the Will that he shares with the Father:
He prays that the cup may pass from Him, when it was certainly already before Him: for even then was being fulfilled that pouting forth of His blood of the New Testament for the sins of many. He does not pray that it may not be with Him; but that it may pass away from Him. Then He prays that His will may not be done, and wills that what He wishes to be effected, may not be granted Him. For He says, Yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt: signifying by His spontaneous prayer for the cup’s removal His fellowship with human anxiety, yet associating Himself with the decree of the Will which He shares inseparably with the Father. (Hilary, De. Trin. 10.37, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 191)

St. Ambrose--the temptation of St. Peter warns us against presumption:
Peter also, though full of faith and devotion, yet because, not yet conscious of our common weakness, he had presumptuously said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Thy sake,” (Jn 13:37) fell into the trial of his presumption before the cock crowed thrice. (Lk 22:60, 61) Although, indeed, that trial was a lesson for our salvation, that we might learn not to think little of the weakness of the flesh, lest through thus thinking little of it we should be tempted. If Peter was tempted, who can presume? who can maintain that he cannot be tempted? And without doubt for our sakes was Peter tempted, so that, the proving of the temptation did not take place in a stronger than he, but that in him we should learn how, resisting in temptations, although tried even by care for our lives, we might yet overcome the sting of the temptation with tears of patience. (Ambrose, De excessu fratris 2.27, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 177)

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