Monday, July 19, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 18:1–10a
Second Reading Colossians 1:24–28
Gospel Luke 10:38–42

St. John Chrysostom--Abraham's hospitality to the angels is an example to us, who are told that it is Christ whom we serve in others:
‎For he spent the whole day upon it, waiting for this goodly prey, and when he saw it, leaped upon it, and ran to meet them, and worshipped upon the ground, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Thy sight, pass not away from Thy servant.” (Ge 18:3) Not as we do, if we happen to see a stranger or a poor man, knitting our brows, and not deigning even to speak to them. And if after thousands of entreaties we are softened, and bid the servant give them a trifle, we think we have quite done our duty. But he did not so, but assumed the fashion of a suppliant and a servant, though he did not know who he was going to take under his roof. But we, who have clear information that it is Christ Whom we take in, do not grow gentle even for this. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 21, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 504)

St. John Chrysostom--St. Paul's sufferings are not his own but Christ's:
‎“And fill up,” he saith, “that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh.” It seems indeed to be a great thing he has said; but it is not of arrogancy, far be it, but even of much tender love towards Christ; for he will not have the sufferings to be his own, but His, through desire of conciliating these persons to Him. And what things I suffer, I suffer, he saith, on His account: not to me, therefore, express your gratitude, but to him, for it is He Himself who suffers. (Chrysostom, Hom. Col. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 276)

St. Jerome exorts Eustochium to follow the example of Mary in the contemplative life:
‎‎Read the gospel and see how Mary sitting at the feet of the Lord is set before the zealous Martha. In her anxiety to be hospitable Martha was preparing a meal for the Lord and His disciples; yet Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. But few things are needful or one. And Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:41, 42) Be then like Mary; prefer the food of the soul to that of the body. Leave it to your sisters to run to and fro and to seek how they may fitly welcome Christ. But do you, having once for all cast away the burden of the world, sit at the Lord’s feet and say: “I have found him whom my soul loveth; I will hold him, I will not let him go.” (Cant. 3:4) And He will answer: “My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” (Cant. 6:9) Now the mother of whom this is said is the heavenly Jerusalem. (Gal. 4:26) (Jerome, Ep. 22.24, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 32)

John Cassian on the superiority of the contemplative life exemplified by Mary:
‎For when the Lord says: “Thou art careful and troubled about many things, but few things are needful or only one,” He makes the chief good consist not in practical work however praiseworthy and rich in fruits it may be, but in contemplation of Him, which indeed is simple and “but one”; declaring that “few things” are needful for perfect bliss, i.e., that contemplation which is first secured by reflecting on a few saints: from the contemplation of whom, he who has made some progress rises and attains by God’s help to that which is termed “one thing,” i.e., the consideration of God alone, so as to get beyond those actions and services of Saints, and feed on the beauty and knowledge of God alone. “Mary” therefore “chose the good, part, which shall not be taken away from her. And this must be more carefully considered. For when He says that Mary chose the good part, although He says nothing of Martha, and certainly does not appear to blame her, yet in praising the one, He implies that the other is inferior. Again when He says “which shall not be taken away from her” He shows that from the other her portion can be taken away (for a bodily ministry cannot last forever with a man), but teaches that this one’s desire can never have an end. (Cassian, Collat. 1.1.8, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 298)

St. Augustine--Mary is a similitude of the joy of heaven which shall not be taken away:
‎‎Mary, sitting at the feet of the Lord, and earnestly listening to His word, foreshowed a similitude of this joy; resting as she did from all business, and intent upon the truth, according to that manner of which this life is capable, by which, however, to prefigure that which shall be for eternity. For while Martha, her sister, was cumbered about necessary business, which, although good and useful, yet, when rest shall have succeeded, is to pass away, she herself was resting in the word of the Lord. And so the Lord replied to Martha, when she complained that her sister did not help her: “Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:30-42) He did not say that Martha was acting a bad part; but that “best part that shall not be taken away.” For that part which is occupied in the ministering to a need shall be “taken away” when the need itself has passed away. Since the reward of a good work that will pass away is rest that will not pass away. In that contemplation, therefore, God will be all in all; because nothing else but Himself will be required, but it will be sufficient to be enlightened by and to enjoy Him alone. (Augustine, De Trin. 1.10.20, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 28)

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