Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Habakkuk 1:2–3, 2:2–4
Second Reading 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14
Gospel Luke 17:5–10

St. Augustine--we only see our good by faith, so we must live by faith:
‎‎And thus it is written, “The just lives by faith,” (Hab. 2:4) for we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith; neither have we in ourselves power to live rightly, but can do so only if He who has given us faith to believe in His help do help us when we believe and pray. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 19.4.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 401)

St. John Chrysostom on recieving the Spirit of power and love:
That is, we did not receive the Spirit, that we should shrink from exertion, but that we may speak with boldness. For to many He gives a spirit of fear, as we read in the wars of the Kings. "A spirit of fear fell upon them." (Ex. 25:16?) That is, he infused terror into them. But to thee He has given, on the contrary, a spirit of power, and of love toward Himself. This, then, is of grace, and yet not merely of grace, but when we have first performed our own parts. For the Spirit that maketh us cry, "Abba, Father," inspires us with love both towards Him, and towards our neighbor, that we may love one another. For love arises from power, and from not fearing. For nothing is so apt to dissolve love as fear, and a suspicion of treachery. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 477)

John Cassian--faith is a gift that we must pray for:
‎‎But so thoroughly did the Apostles realize that everything which concerns salvation was given them by the Lord, that they even asked that faith itself should be granted from the Lord, saying: “Add to us faith” (Lk 17:5) as they did not imagine that it could be gained by free will, but believed that it would be bestowed by the free gift of God. (Cassian, Collat. 1.3.16, NPNP2, vol. 11, pg. 327)

St. Augustine--the Apostles knew of their need for faith and of whom to ask it:
‎‎For [the Apostles] themselves, as mindful of their own weakness, said to Him, as we read in a certain place in the Gospel, “Lord, increase our faith. (Lk 17:5) Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” The knowing that they had a deficiency, was the first advantage; a greater happiness still, to know who it was of whom they were asking. “Lord,” say they, “increase our faith.” See, if they did not bring their hearts as it were to the fountain, and knocked that that might be opened to them, out of which they might fill them. For He would that men should knock at Him, not that He might repel those that knock, but that He might exercise those who long. (Augustine, Serm. 80.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 349)

St. John Chrysostom--all that we do is merely toward payment of a debt:
‎‎For on the part of the servant the thing done was but a debt after all, if it had been done. For all things that we do, we do towards the payment of a debt. And this is why Himself said, “When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10.) If then we display charity, if we give our goods to them that need, we are fulfilling a debt; and that not only in that it was He who first began the acts of goodness, but because it is His goods that we are distributing if we ever do give. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 7, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 382)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Amos 6:1a, 4–7
Second Reading 1 Timothy 6:11–16
Gospel Luke 16:19–31

St. Augustine examines Amos 6 as an example of the eloquence of the Scriptures:
‎‎When, then, this rustic, or quondam rustic prophet, was denouncing the godless, the proud, the luxurious, and therefore the most neglectful of brotherly love, he called aloud, saying: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, who are heads and chiefs of the people, entering with pomp into the house of Israel! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines, and to all the best kingdoms of these: is their border greater than your border? Ye that are set apart for the day of evil, and that come near to the seat of oppression; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon couches that eat the lamb of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the herd; that chant to the sound of the viol. They thought that they had instruments of music like David; drinking wine in bowls, and anointing themselves with the costliest ointment: and they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Amos 6:1-6, Vulgate) Suppose those men who, assuming to be themselves learned and eloquent, despise our prophets as untaught and unskillful of speech, had been obliged to deliver a message like this, and to men such as these, would they have chosen to express themselves in any respect differently—those of them, at least, who would have shrunk from raving like madmen? (Augustine, De doctr. christ. 4.7.16-21, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 580)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--the Son also has immortality and dwells in light:
‎‎Accordingly he who predicates “unendingness” of the one and only God, and does not include the Son in the assertion of “unendingness” and “eternity,” maintains by such a proposition, that He Whom he thus contrasts with tire eternal and unending is perishable and temporary. But we, even when we are told that God “only hath immortality (1 Tim. 6:16),” understand by “immortality” the Son. For life is immortality, and the Lord is that life, Who said, “I am the Life (Jn 14:6).” And if He be said to dwell “in the light that no man can approach unto (1 Tim. 6:16),” again we make no difficulty in understanding that the true Light, unapproachable by falsehood, is the Only-begotten, in Whom we learn from the Truth itself that the Father is (Jn 14:11). Of these opinions let the reader choose the more devout, whether we are to think of the Only-begotten in a manner worthy of the Godhead, or to call Him, as heresy prescribes, perishable and temporary. (Greg. Nyss., Cont. Eun. 2.4, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 105)

St. John Chrysostom on 1 Tim. 16:12:
‎Ver. 12. “Fight the good fight.”
‎Here he commends his boldness and manliness, that before all he confidently “made profession,” and he reminds him of his early instruction.
‎“Lay hold on eternal life.”
‎There is need not only of profession, but of patience also to persevere in that profession, and of vehement contention, and of numberless toils, that you be not overthrown. For many are the stumbling-blocks, and impediments, therefore the way is “strait and narrow.” (Matt. 6:14.) It is necessary therefore to be self-collected, and well girt on every side. All around appear pleasures attracting the eyes of the soul. Those of beauty, of wealth, of luxury, of indolence, of glory, of revenge, of power, of dominion, and these are all fair and lovely in appearance, and able to captivate those who are unsteady, and who do not love the truth. For truth has but a severe and uninviting countenance. And why? Because the pleasures that she promises are all future, whereas the others hold out present honors and delights, and repose; though all are false and counterfeit. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim 17, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 469)

St. Jerome--our common humanity with the poor and the sick:
‎‎ I know of many wealthy and devout persons who, unable to overcome their natural repugnance to such sights [of disease and poverty], perform this work of mercy by the agency of others, giving money instead of personal aid. I do not blame them and am far from construing their weakness of resolution into a want of faith. While however I pardon such squeamishness, I extol to the skies the enthusiastic zeal of a mind that is above it. A great faith makes little of such trifles. But I know how terrible was the retribution which fell upon the proud mind of the rich man clothed in purple for not having helped Lazarus. (Lk 16:19-24) The poor wretch whom we despise, whom we cannot so much as look at, and the very sight of whom turns our stomachs, is human like ourselves, is made of the same clay as we are, is formed out of the same elements. All that he suffers we too may suffer. Let us then regard his wounds as though they were our own, and then all our insensibility to another’s suffering will give way before our pity for ourselves. (Jerome, Ep. 77.6, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 160)

St. John Chrysostom on the fate of the rich man:
‎‎“How then,” saith some one, “do the wicked grow rich, how the unjust and impure, plunderers and covetous?” Not by God’s giving; (away with the thought!) but by plundering, and taking more than their due.33 “And how doth God allow them?” As He allowed that rich man, reserving him for greater punishment. (Luke 16:25.) Hear what (Abraham) saith to him; “Son, thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Therefore that we also come not to hear that voice, by living softly and idly, and gathering together for ourselves many sins, let us choose the true riches and right wisdom, that we may obtain the promised good things; to which may we all arrive, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 43.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 157)

St. Augustine on Dives and Lazarus:
‎‎Therefore have I said with true reason, “Live well, that ye die not ill,” that ye die not as that rich man died. Nothing proves an evil death, but the time after death. On the other hand, look at that poor man; not with the eyes, for so ye will err; let faith look at him, let the heart see him. Set him before your eyes lying on the ground, “full of sores, and the dogs” coming and “licking his sores.” Now when ye recall him before your eyes in this guise, immediately ye loathe him, ye turn your face away, and stop your nostrils: see then with the eyes of the heart. “He died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom.” The rich man’s family was seen bewailing him; the Angels were not seen rejoicing. What then did Abraham answer the rich man? “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst good things.” (Lk 16:25) Thou thoughtest nothing good, but what thou hadst in this life. Thou hast received them; but those days are past; and thou hast lost the whole; and thou hast remained behind to be tormented in hell.” (Augustine, Serm. 102.3.4, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 426)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Amos 8:4–7
Second Reading 1 Timothy 2:1–8
Gospel Luke 16:1–13 or Luke 16:10–13

Origen--the prayers of Christians a more effective help to rulers than soldiers:
‎‎we do, when occasion requires, give help to kings, and that, so to say, a divine help, “putting on the whole armour of God.” (Eph. 6:11) And this we do in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; ” (1 Tim 2:1, 2) and the more any one excels in piety, the more effective help does he render to kings, even more than is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and slay as many of the enemy as they can. (Origen, Cont. Cels. 8.73, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 667)

St. Augustine on Christ the Mediator:
‎‎‎But the true Mediator, whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast pointed out to the humble, and didst send, that by His example also they might learn the same humility—that “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5) appeared between mortal sinners and the immortal Just One—mortal with men, just with God; that because the reward of righteousness is life and peace, He might, by righteousness conjoined with God, cancel the death of justified sinners, which He willed to have in common with them. Hence He was pointed out to holy men of old; to the intent that they, through faith in His Passion to come, even as we through faith in that which is past, might be saved. For as man He was Mediator; but as the Word He was not between, (medius) because equal to God, and God with God, and together with the Holy Spirit one God. (Augustine, Conf. 10.43.68, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 162)

St. Augustine--no man is saved unless God wills it, so we must pray for our salvation:
‎‎Accordingly, when we hear and read in Scripture that He “will have all men to be saved,” (1 Tim 2:4) although we know well that all men are not saved, we are not on that account to restrict the omnipotence of God, but are rather to understand the Scripture, “Who will have all men to be saved,” as meaning that no man is saved unless God wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart from His will; and that, therefore, we should pray Him to will our salvation, because if He will it, it must necessarily be accomplished. (Augustine, Enchir. 103.27, NPNF1, vol. 8, pg. 270)

St. John Chrysostom on offering prayers and thanksgiving:
‎‎He says, “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.” For we must give thanks to God for the good that befalls others, as that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain both upon the just and the unjust. Observe how he would unite and bind us together, not only by prayer but by thanksgiving. For he who is urged to thank God for his neighbor’s good, is also bound to love him, and be kindly disposed towards him. And if we must give thanks for our neighbor’s good, much more for what happens to ourselves, and for what is unknown, and even for things against our will, and such as appear grievous to us, since God dispenses all things for our good. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 6, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 427)

John Cassian--the things we have are not our own:
‎‎In leaving then these visible goods of the world we forsake not our own wealth, but that which is not ours, although we boast of it as either gained by our own exertions or inherited by us from our forefathers. For as I said nothing is our own, save this only which we possess with our heart, and which cleaves to our soul, and therefore cannot be taken away from us by any one. But Christ speaks in terms of censure of those visible riches, to those who clutch them as if they were their own, and refuse to share them with those in want. “If ye have not been faithful in what is another’s, who will give to you what is your own?” (Lk 16:12) Plainly then it is not only daily experience which teaches us that these riches are not our own, but this saying of our Lord also, by the very title which it gives them. (Cassian, Collat. 1.3.10, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 324-325)

St. John Chrysostom--make "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" by giving alms:
‎‎Let us make then to ourselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke xvi. 9), that is: Let us give alms; let us exhaust our possessions upon them, that so we may exhaust that fire: that we may quench it, that we may have boldness there. For there also it is not they who receive us, but our own work: for that it is not simply their being our friends which can save us, learn from what is added. For why did He not say, “Make to yourselves friends, that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations,” but added also the manner? For saying, “of the mammon of unrighteonsness,” He points out that we must make friends of them by means of our possessions, showing that mere friendship will not protect us, unless we have good works, unless we spend righteously the wealth unrighteously gathered. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 1.4, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 369)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 32:7–11, 13–14
Second Reading 1 Timothy 1:12–17
Gospel Luke 15:1–32 or Luke 15:1–10

St. John Chrysostom--Moses's care for Israel and example to all pastors:
‎‎This is the sympathy of a teacher, this is the natural care of a father. For Moses too, when it was in his power to have been delivered from the ingratitude of the Jews, and to have laid the more glorious foundation of another and far greater people, (“Let Me alone,” said God, “that I may consume them, and make of thee a nation mightier than this”—Ex. 32:10,) because he was a holy man, the servant of God, and a friend very true and generous, he did not endure even to hearken to this word, but chose rather to perish with those who had been once allotted to him, than without them to be saved and be in greater honor. Such ought he to be who has the charge of souls. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 13.1, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 44)

St John Chrysostom on the humility of St. Paul:
‎“I thank the Lord, who hath enabled me.” Observe how he thanks God even for that which was his own part. For he acknowledges it as a favor from Him that he was “a chosen vessel.” For this, O blessed Paul, was thy own part. “For God is no respecter of persons.” But I thank Him that he “thought me worthy of this ministry.” For this is a proof that He esteemed me faithful. The steward in a house is not only thankful to his master that he is trusted, but considers it as a sign that he holds him more faithful than others: so it is here. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 417)

St. John Chrysostom on honoring God:
‎“To Him be honor and glory forever. Amen.”
‎Now honor and glory are not mere words; and since He has honored us not by words only, but by what He has done for us, so let us honor Him by works and deeds. Yet this honor touches us, while that reaches not Him, for He needs not the honor that comes from us, we do need that which is from Him.
‎In honoring Him, therefore, we do honor to ourselves. He who opens his eyes to gaze on the light of the sun, receives delight himself, as he admires the beauty of the star, but does no favor to that luminary, nor increases its splendor, for it continues what it was; much more is this true with respect to God. He who admires and honors God does so to his own salvation, and highest benefit; and how? Because he follows after virtue, and is honored by Him. For “them that honor Me,” He says, “I will honor.” (1 Sam. iv. 30) How then is He honored, if He enjoys no advantage from our honor? Just as He is said to hunger and thirst. For He assumes everything that is ours, that He may in anywise attract us to Him. He is said to receive honors, and even insults, that we may be afraid. But with all this we are not attracted towards Him! (Chysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 421)

Apostolic Constitutions--the bishop is to seek out the lost sheep:
‎‎But do thou, like a compassionate shepherd, and a diligent feeder of the flock, search out, and keep an account of thy flock. Seek that which is wanting; (Mt 18:12) as the Lord God our gracious Father has sent His own Son, the good Shepherd and Saviour, our Master Jesus, and has commanded Him to “leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains, and to go in search after that which was lost, and when He had found it, to take it upon His shoulders, and to carry it into the flock, rejoicing that He had found that which was lost.” (Lk 15:4) In like manner, be obedient, O bishop, and do thou seek that which was lost, guide that which has wandered out of the right way, bring back that which is gone astray: for thou hast authority to bring them back, and to deliver those that are broken-hearted by remission. (Apostolic Constitutions 2.20, ANF, vol. 7, pg. 405)

St. John Chrysostom--God brings back the lost sheep with gentleness:
‎‎Now that sheep which had got separated from the ninety and nine, (Lk 15:4, 5) and then was brought back again, represents to us nothing else than the fall and return of the faithful; for it was a sheep not of some alien flock, but belonging to the same number as the rest, and was for merly pastured by the same shepherd, and it strayed on no common straying, but wandered away to the mountains and in valleys, that is to say some long journey, far distant from the right path. Did he then suffer it to stray? By no means, but brought it back neither driving it, nor beating it, but taking it upon his shoulders. For as the best physicians bring back those who are far gone in sickness with careful treatment to a state of health, not only treating them according to the laws of the medical art, but sometimes also giving them gratification: even so God conducts to virtue those who are much depraved, not with great severity, but gently and gradually, and supporting them on every side, so that the separation may not become greater, nor the error more prolonged. (Chrysostom, Theod. laps. 1.7, NPNF1, vol. 9, pg. 96)

For Luke 15:11-32, see Lent 4, Year C.