Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Acts 14:21–27
Second Reading Revelation 21:1–5a
Gospel John 13:31–33a, 34–35

Tertullian--sorrow and death will be removed by the cessation of their causes:
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death,” (Rev 21:4) and therefore no more corruption, it being chased away by incorruption, even as death is by immortality. If sorrow, and mourning, and sighing, and death itself, assail us from the afflictions both of soul and body, how shall they be removed, except by the cessation of their causes, that is to say, the afflictions of flesh and soul? (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 58, ANF vol. 3, pg 590)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--Since God is love, we who are made in Him image should be characterized by love, also:
God is love, and the fount of love: for this the great John declares, that “love is of God,” and “God is love” (1 Jn 4:7, 8): the Fashioner of our nature has made this to be our feature too: for “hereby,” He says, “shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another” (Jn 13:35):—thus, if this be absent, the whole stamp of the likeness is transformed. (Greg. Nyss. De hom. opif. 5.2, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 391)

John Cassian--the good monk is known not by signs and wonders but by his love:
He says not: “if ye do signs and miracles in the same way,” but “if ye have to one another;” and this it is certain that none but the meek and humble can keep. Wherefore our predecessors never reckoned those as good monks or free from the fault of vainglory, who professed themselves exorcists among men, and proclaimed with boastful ostentation among admiring crowds the grace which they had either obtained or which they claimed. But in vain, for “he who trusteth in lies feedeth the winds: and the same runneth after birds that fly away.” (Prov 10:4) For without doubt that will happen to them which we find in Proverbs: “As the winds and clouds and rain are very clear so are these who boast of a fictitious gift.” (Prov 25:14) And so if any one does any of these things in our presence, he ought to meet with commendation from us not from admiration of his miracles, but from the beauty of his life, nor should we ask whether the devils are subject to him, but whether he possesses those features of love which the Apostle describes. (Cassian, Collat. 2.15.7, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 448)

St. Augustine--Jesus' announcement that he is glorified after the departure of Judas foreshadows His glorification at the end of time when the wheat and tares will be separated:
According, then, to the usage of Scripture language, which speaks of the signs as if they were the things signified, the Lord makes use of the words, “Now is the Son of man glorified;” indicating that in the completed separation of that arch sinner [Judas] from their company, and in the remaining around Him of His saints, we have the foreshadowing of His glorification, when the wicked shall be finally separated, and He shall dwell with His saints through eternity. (Augustine, Tract. in ev Joan. 63.2, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 315)

St. Augustine--love of God and love of neighbor imply one another:
Think not then, my brethren, that when the Lord says, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another,” there is any overlooking of that greater commandment, which requires us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind; for along with this seeming oversight, the words “that ye love one another” appear also as if they had no reference to that second commandment, which says, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” For “on these two commandments,” He says, “hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40) But both commandments may be found in each of these by those who have good understanding. For, on the one hand, he that loveth God cannot despise His commandment to love his neighbor; and on theother, he who in a holy and spiritual way loveth his neighbor, what doth he love in him but God? (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 65.2, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 318)

St. John Chrysostom on Jn 13:35--our virtues and our vices are what most attract or offend the non-believer:
For nothing so raises respect in the heathen as virtue, nothing so offends them as vice. And with good reason. When one of them sees the greedy man, the plunderer, exhorting others to do the contrary, when he sees the man who was commanded to love even his enemies, treating his very kindred like brutes, he will say that the words are folly. When he sees one trembling at death, how will he receive the accounts of immortality? When he sees us fond of rule, and slaves to the other passions, he will more firmly remain in his own doctrines, forming no high opinion of us. We, we are the cause of their remaining in their error. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 72.5, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 266-267)

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