Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Pentecost, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Acts 2:1–11
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13 or Romans 8:8–17
Gospel John 20:19–23 or John 14:15–16, 23b–26

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Holy Spirit manifested in wind and fire at Pentecost:
‎‎And lest men should be ignorant of the greatness of the mighty gift coming down to them. there sounded as it were a heavenly trumpet, For suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind (Acts 2:2), signifying the presence of Him who was to grant power unto men to seize with violence the kingdom of God; that both their eyes might see the fiery tongues, and their ears hear the sound. And it filled all the house where they were sitting; for the house became the vessel of the spiritual water; as the disciples sat within, the whole house was filled. Thus they were entirely baptized according to the promise, and invested soul and body with a divine garment of salvation. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives lustre to the soul. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 17.15, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 128)

St. Augustine--the Church now speaks with the tongues of all nations:
‎‎They “were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with the tongues of all nations;” (Ac 2:4) now was the calling manifest, now He went out to hire. For now the power of truth began to be made known to all. For then even one man having received the Holy Ghost, spake by himself with the tongues of all nations. But now in the Church oneness itself, as one man speaks in the tongues of all nations. For what tongue has not the Christian religion reached? to what limits does it not extend? (Augustine, Serm. 87.7.9, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 376)

Tertullian--St. Paul condemns the works of the flesh, not the substance of the flesh:
‎‎You may notice that the apostle everywhere condemns the works of the flesh in such a way as to appear to condemn the flesh; but no one can suppose him to have any such view as this, since he goes on to suggest another sense, even though somewhat resembling it. For when he actually declares that “they who are in the flesh cannot please God,” he immediately recalls the statement from an heretical sense to a sound one, by adding, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” (Rom 8:8, 9) Now, by denying them to be in the flesh who yet obviously were in the flesh, he showed that they were not living amidst the works of the flesh, and therefore that they who could not please God were not those who were in the flesh, but only those who were living after the flesh; whereas they pleased God, who, although existing in the flesh, were yet walking after the Spirit. (Tertullian, De Resurrectione 46, ANF vol. 3, pg. 579)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--our work done in obedience to the Spirit of adoption gives us the title of sons of God:
‎‎The Teacher of the Gentiles, the Apostle of Christ, has left us no uncertainty, no opening for error in his presentation of the doctrine. He is quite clear upon the Subject of children by adoption; of those who by faith attain so to be and so to be named. in his own words, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom 8:14, 15) This is the name granted to us, who believe, through the sacrament of regeneration; our confession of the faith wins us this adoption. For our work done in obedience to the Spirit of God gives us the title of sons of God. Abba, Father, is the cry which we raise, not the expression of our essential nature. For that essential nature of ours is untouched by that tribute of the voice. It is one thing for God to be addressed as Father; another thing for Him to be the Father of His Son. (Hilary, De Trin. 2.34, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 114)

St. John Chrysostom--by "in the flesh", St. Paul means not in the body, but in that life which is fleshly and worldly:
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

‎What then? Are we, it will be said, to cut our bodies in pieces to please God, and to make our escape from the flesh? and would you have us be homicides, and so lead us to virtue? You see what inconsistencies are gendered by taking the words literally. For by “the flesh” in this passage, he does not mean the body, or the essence of the body, but that life which is fleshly and worldly, and uses self-indulgence and extravagance to the full, so making the entire man flesh. For as they that have the wings of the Spirit, make the body also spiritual, so do they who bound off from this, and are the slaves of the belly, and of pleasure, make the soul also flesh, not that they change the essence of it, but that they mar its noble birth. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 13, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 434-435)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--Christ bestowed the power to remit sins to those who are set over the Church:
‎ But it is manifest where and by whom remission of sins can be given; to wit, that which is given in baptism. For first of all the Lord gave that power to Peter, upon whom He built the Church, and whence He appointed and showed the source of unity—the power, namely, that whatsoever he loosed on earth should be loosed in heaven. And after the resurrection, also, He speaks to the apostles, saying, “As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith, unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (Jn 20:21-23) Whence we perceive that only they who are set over the Church and established in the Gospel law, and in the ordinance of the Lord, are allowed to baptize and to give remission of sins; but that without, nothing can either be bound or loosed, where there is none who can either bind or loose anything. (Cyprian, Ep. 73.7-8, ANF 5, pg. 381)

St. Augustine--the Holy Spirit is necessary to love Christ and keep His commandments. Those who do so become worthy of a fuller possesion:
‎And how, then, did they love, but in the Holy Spirit? And yet they are commanded to love Him and keep His commandments, previous and in order to their receiving the Holy Spirit: and yet, without having that Spirit, they certainly could not love Him and keep His commandments.

We are therefore to understand that he who loves has already the Holy Spirit, and by what he has becomes worthy of a fuller possession, that by having the more he may love the more. Already, therefore, had the disciples that Holy Spirit whom the Lord promised, for without Him they could not call Him Lord; but they had Him not as yet in the way promised by the Lord. Accordingly they both had, and had Him not, inasmuch as they had Him not as yet to the same extent as He was afterwards to be possessed. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 74.1-2, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 334)

For 1 Corinthians 12, cf. Ordinary Time 2, Year C.
For John 20, cf. Easter 2, Year C.
For John 14, cf. Easter 6, Year C.

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