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)

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