Monday, July 19, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 18:20–32
Second Reading Colossians 2:12–14
Gospel Luke 11:1–13

St. Hilary of Poitiers on God's apparent profession of ignorance in Gen. 18:20, 21:
‎‎Whenever God says that He does not know, He professes ignorance indeed, but is not under the defect of ignorance. It is not because of the infirmity of ignorance that He does not know, but because it is not yet the time to speak, or the divine Plan to act. Thus He says to Abraham, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is full, and their sin is very grievous. Therefore I will go down now, and see if they have done altogether according to the cry of it: and if not, I will know (Gen 18:20, 21) . Here we perceive God not knowing that which notwithstanding He knows. He knows that their sins are very grievous, but He comes down again to see whether they have done altogether, and to know if they have not. We observe, then, that He is not ignorant, although He does not know, but that, when the time comes for action, He knows. This knowledge is not, therefore, a change from ignorance, but the coming of the fulness of time. He waits still to know, but we cannot suppose that He does not know: therefore His not knowing what He knows, and His knowing what He does not know, is nothing else than a divine economy in word and deed. (Hilary, De Trin. 9.63, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 177)

St. John Chrysostom on Col. 3:13-14:
‎“Having forgiven us,” he saith, “all our trespasses,” those which produced that deadness. What then? Did He allow them to remain? No, He even wiped them out; He did not scratch them out merely; so that they could not be seen. “In doctrines” [ordinances], he saith. What doctrines? The Faith. It is enough to believe. He hath not set works against works, but works against faith. And what next? Blotting out is an advance upon remission; again he saith, “And hath taken it out of the way.” Nor yet even so did He preserve it, but rent it even in sunder, “by nailing it to His Cross.” “Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Nowhere has he spoken in so lofty a strain. (Chrysostom, Hom. Col. 6, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 286)

St. Clement of Alexandria--God gives knowledge to those who ask questions in the Scriptures:
‎‎“Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; ask, and it shall be given you.” (Mt 7:7, Lk 11:9)
‎‎Accordingly, by investigation, the point proposed for inquiry and answer knocks at the door of truth, according to what appears. And on an opening being made through the obstacle in the process of investigation, there results scientific contemplation. To those who thus knock, according to my view, the subject under investigation is opened.
‎‎And to those who thus ask questions, in the Scriptures, there is given from God (that at which they aim) the gift of the God-given knowledge, by way of comprehension, through the true illumination of logical investigation. For it is impossible to find, without having sought; or to have sought, without having examined; or to have examined, without having unfolded and opened up the question by interrogation, to produce distinctness; or again, to have gone through the whole investigation, without thereafter receiving as the prize the knowledge of the point in question. (Clem. Alex., Strom. 8.1, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 557)

St. Augustine draws a parallel between the fish, egg and bread and the theological virtues:
‎‎We have here what corresponds to those three things which the apostle commends: faith is signified by the fish, either on account of the element of water used in baptism, or because it remains unharmed amid the tempestuous waves of this world,contrasted with which is the serpent, that with poisonous deceit persuaded man to disbelieve God; hope is signified by the egg, because the life of the young bird is not yet in it, but is to be is not seen, but hoped for, because “hope which is seen is not hope,” (Rom 8:24) —contrasted with which is the scorpion, for the man who hopes for eternal life forgets the things which are behind, and reaches forth to the things which are before, for to him it is dangerous to look back; but the scorpion is to be guarded against on account of what it has in its tail, namely, a sharp and venomous sting; charity, is signified by bread, for “the greatest of these is charity,” and bread surpasses all other kinds of food in usefulness,—contrasted with which is a stone, because hard hearts refuse to exercise charity. Whether this be the meaning of these symbols, or some other more suitable be found, it is at least certain that He who knoweth how to give good gifts to His children urges us to “ask and seek and knock.” (Augustine, Ep. 130.8.16, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 346, cf. Serm. 105)

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