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.

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