Monday, August 9, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Jeremiah 38:4–6, 8–10
Second Reading Hebrews 12:1–4
Gospel Luke 12:49–53

St. Augustine--faith in Jesus is an unmerited gift, as He is the beginniner and finisher of faith:
‎[O]ur being born again of water and the Spirit is not recompensed to us for any merit, but freely given; and if faith has brought us to the laver of regeneration, we ought not therefore to suppose that we have first given anything, so that the regeneration of salvation should be recompensed to us again; because He made us to believe in Christ, who made for us a Christ on whom we believe. He makes in men the beginning and the completion of the faith in Jesus who made the man Jesus the beginner and finisher of faith; (Heb. 12:2) for thus, as you know, He is called in the epistle which is addressed to the Hebrews. (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 15.31, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 313)

St. John Chrysostom--by His ignominious death, Christ teaches us to make no account ofthe glory of men:
‎“Who for the joy that was set before Him” (he says) “endured the cross, despising the shame.” But what is, “Despising the shame”? He chose, he means, that ignominious death. For suppose that He died. Why [should He] also [die] ignominiously? For no other reason, but to teach us to make no account of glory from men. Therefore though under no obligation He chose it, teaching us to be bold against it, and to set it at nought. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 28.4, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 493)

Tertullian on the baptism of blood:
‎‎We have indeed, likewise, a second font, (itself withal one with the former,) of blood, to wit; concerning which the Lord said, “I have to be baptized with a baptism,” (Lk 12:50) when He had been baptized already. For He had come “by means of water and blood,” (1 Jn 5:6) just as John has written; that He might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood; to make us, in like manner, called by water, chosen  by blood. These two baptisms He sent out from the wound in His pierced side, (Jn 19:34) in order that they who believed in His blood might be bathed with the water; they who had been bathed in the water might likewise drink the blood. (Jn 6:53, etc.) This is the baptism which both stands in lieu of the fontal bathing when that has not been received, and restores it when lost. (Tertullian, De bapt. 16, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 677)

St. Gregory Nazianzen--Christ desires to send a cleansing fire:
‎‎For I know a cleansing fire which Christ came to send upon the earth, (Lk 12:49) and He Himself is anagogically called a Fire. This Fire takes away whatsoever is material and of evil habit; and this He desires to kindle with all speed, for He longs for speed in doing us good, since He gives us even coals of fire to help us. (Is 47:14, LXX) (Greg. Naz., Orat. 40.36, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 373)

St. Augustine on the fire of divine charity:
‎‎‎[W]hen the divine majesty has begun to disclose itself as far as suffices for man while a dweller on the earth, such fervent charity is produced, and such a flame of divine love is kindled, that by the burning out of all vices, and by the purification and sanctification of the man, it becomes plain how divine are these words, “I am a consuming fire,” (Deut. 4:24) and, “I have come to send fire on the earth.” (Lk 12:49) These two utterances of one God stamped on both Testaments, exhibit with harmonious testimony, the sanctification of the soul, pointing forward to the accomplishment of that which is also quoted in the New Testament from the Old: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? Where. O death, is thy contest?” (Hos 13:14; 1 Co 15:54, 55) (Augustine, De mor. Eccl. 30.64, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 58- 59)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 18:6–9
Second Reading Hebrews 11:1–2, 8–19 or Hebrews 11:1–2, 8–12
Gospel Luke 12:32–48 or Luke 12:35–40

St. John Chrysostom on "faith is the substance of things hoped for":
‎‎“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” O what an expression has he used, in saying, “an evidence of things not seen.” For [we say] there is “evidence,” in the case of things that are very plain. Faith then is the seeing things not plain (he means), and brings what are not seen to the same full assurance with what are seen. So then neither is it possible to disbelieve in things which are seen, nor, on the other hand can there be faith unless a man be more fully assured with respect to things invisible, than he is with respect to things that are most clearly seen. For since the objects of hope seem to be unsubstantial, Faith gives them substantiality, or rather, does not give it, but is itself their substance. For instance, the Resurrection has not come, nor does it exist substantially, but hope makes it substantial in our soul. This is [the meaning of] “the substance of things.” (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 21.4, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 462-463)

Tertullian on Luke 12:35-16:
‎‎We are servants because we have a Lord in our God. We ought “to have our loins girded: ” (Lk 12:35) in other words, we are to be free from the embarrassments of a perplexed and much occupied life; “to have our lights burning,” (Lk 12:35) that is, our minds kindled by faith, and resplendent with the works of truth. And thus “to wait for our Lord,” (Lk 12:36) that is, Christ. Whence “returning? ”If “from the wedding,” He is the Christ of the Creator, for the wedding is His. (Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.29, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 398)

St. Cyrpian closes his treatise On the Unity of the Church with an exhortation to vigilance in following the Lord's commands:
‎‎Let us, beloved brethren, arouse ourselves as much as we can; and breaking the slumber of our ancient listlessness, let us be watchful to observe and to do the Lord’s precepts. Let us be such as He Himself has bidden us to be, saying, “Let your loins be girt, and your lamps burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He shall come from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open to Him. Blessed are those servants whom their Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching.” (Lk 12:35) We ought to be girt about, lest, when the day of setting forth comes, it should find us burdened and entangled. Let our light shine in good works, and glow in such wise as to lead us from the night of this world to the daylight of eternal brightness. Let us always with solicitude and caution wait for the sudden coming of the Lord, that when He shall knock, our faith may be on the watch, and receive from the Lord the reward of our vigilance. If these commands be observed, if these warnings and precepts be kept, we cannot be overtaken in slumber by the deceit of the devil; but we shall reign with Christ in His kingdom as servants that watch. (Cyril, De unit. eccl. 27, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 429-430)

St. Methodius of Olympus--the watches of the night as a figure of the periods of a human life:
‎For consider, O virgins, when He mentions three watches of the night, and His three comings, He shadows forth in symbol our three periods of life, that of the boy, of the full-grown man, and of the old man; so that if He should come and remove us from the world while spending our first period, that is, while we are boys, He may receive us ready and pure, having nothing amiss; and the second and the third in like manner. For the evening watch is the time of the budding and youth of man, when the reason begins to be disturbed and to be clouded by the changes of life, his flesh gaining strength and urging him to lust. The second is the time when, afterwards advancing to a full-grown man, he begins to acquire stability, and to make a stand against the turbulence of passion and self-conceit. And the third, when most of the imaginations and desires fade away, the flesh now withering and declining to old age. (Methodius of Olympus, Banquet of the Ten Virgins 5.2, ANF, vol. 6, pg. 326)

Apostolic Constitutions--much will be required of the bishop, to whom the Lord entrusts the power of binding and loosing:
‎‎Be sensible, therefore, O bishop, of the dignity of thy place, that as thou hast received the power of binding, so hast thou also that of loosing. Having therefore the power of loosing, know thyself, and behave thyself in this world as becomes thy place, being aware that thou hast a great account to give. “For to whom,” as the Scripture says, “men have entrusted much. of him they will require the more.” (Lk 12:48) (Apostolic Constitutions 2.2, ANF, vol. 7, pg. 403)

St. Augustine on having your loins girt and lamps burning, waiting for the return of the Lord:
‎‎For we shall then have perfect peace, when, our nature cleaving inseparably to its Creator, we shall have nothing of ourselves opposed to ourselves. This our Saviour also Himself would have us to understand, so far as seems to me when He said, “Let your loins be girt, and your lamps burning.” (Lk 12:35) What is it, to gird the loins? To restrain lusts, which is the work of continence. But to have lamps burning is to shine and glow with good works, which is the work of righteousness. Nor was He here silent with what end we do these things, adding and saying, “And you like unto men waiting for their Lord, when He cometh from the marriage.” (Lk 12:36) But, when He shall have come, He will reward us, who have kept ourselves from those things which lust, and have done those things which charity hath bidden us: that we may reign in His perfect and eternal peace, without any strife of evil, and with the highest delight of good. (Augustine, De cont. 7.17, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 386)