Monday, October 25, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 11:22–12:2
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
Gospel Luke 19:1–10

St. Clement of Alexandria--God cannot hate what he wills to exist:
‎‎‎“For there is nothing which the Lord hates.” (Wisdom 11:24) For assuredly He does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which He wishes not to exist. Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists. If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist. But nothing exists, the cause of whose existence is not supplied by God. Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word. For both are one—that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1) If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them. Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being. Therefore God is loving; consequently the Word is loving. (Clem. Alex., Paed. 1.8, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 225)

St. Augustine--God loves what he has created in us, but hates our sins, which are our own:
‎‎He, therefore. had love toward us even when we were practising enmity against Him and working iniquity; and yet to Him it is said with perfect truth, “Thou hatest, O Lord, all workers of iniquity.” (Ps. 5:5) Accordingly, in a wonderful and divine manner, even when He hated us, He loved us; for He hated us, in so far as we were not what He Himself had made; and because our own iniquity had not in every part consumed His work, He knew at once both how, in each of us, to hate what we had done, and to love what He had done. And this, indeed, may be understood in the case of all regarding Him to whom it is truly said, “Thou hatest nothing that Thou hast made.” (Wisdom 11:25) For He would never have wished anything that He hated to exist, nor would aught that the Omnipotent had not wished exist at all, were it not that in what He hated there was also something that He loved. For He justly hateth and reprobateth vice as utterly repugnant to the principle of His procedure, yet He loveth even in the persons of the vitiated what is susceptible either of His own beneficence through healing, or of His judgment by condemnation. In this way God at the same time hateth nothing of what He has made; for as the Creator of natures, and not of vices, it was not He who made the evil that He hateth; and of these same evils, all is good that He really doeth, either by mercifully healing them, or by judicially regulating them. (Augustine, Tr. in ev. Joan. 110.6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 411)

St. John Chrysostom on how Christ is glorified in us and we in him:
‎How is He glorified in us? Because we prefer nothing before Him. How are we glorified in Him? Because we have received power from Him, so that we do not at all yield to the evils that are brought upon us. For when temptation happens, at the same time God is glorified, and we too. For they glorify Him, because He has so nerved us; they admire us, because we have rendered ourselves worthy. And all these things are done by the grace of God. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Thess. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 385)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--they are children of Abraham who give alms like Zacchaeus:
‎‎In fine, He calls those the children of Abraham whom He sees to be laborious in aiding and nourishing the poor. For when Zacchaeus said, “Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have done any wrong to any man, I restore fourfold,” Jesus answered and said, “That salvation has this day come to this house, for that he also is a son of Abraham.” (Lk 19:8, 9) For if Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, certainly he who gives alms according to God’s precept believes in God, and he who has the truth of faith maintains the fear of God; moreover, he who maintains the fear of God considers God in showing mercy to the poor. (Cyprian, De op. et eleem. 8, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 478)

St. Bede the Venerable--Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham because he imitates his faith:
Zacchaeus is called the son of Abraham, not because he was born of Abraham’s seed, but because he imitates his faith, that as Abraham left his country and his father’s house, so he abandoned all his goods in giving them to the poor. And He well says, “He also,” to declare that not only those who had lived justly, but those who are raised up from a life of injustice, belong to the sons of promise. (ad loc. in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 627)

St. Gregory the Great--those who, like Zacchaeus chose what is foolish in the eyes of the world contemplate most closely the wisdom of God:
Or because the sycamore is from its name called the foolish fig, the little Zacchaeus gets up into the sycamore and sees the Lord, for they who humbly choose the foolish things of this world are those who contemplate most closely the wisdom of God. For what is more foolish in this world than not to seek for what is lost, to give our possessions to robbers, to return not injury for injury? However, by this wise foolishness, the wisdom of God is seen, not yet really as it is, but by the light of contemplation. (Moral. 27.46 in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 629)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18
Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18
Gospel Luke 18:9–14

St. John Chrysostom--we are called, as Paul, to offer ourselves as a pure sacrifice:
‎For if they that offered the sacrifices of old were bid to look on every side, and were not permitted to offer an animal “that hath anything superfluous or lacking, or is scurvy, or scabbed” (Lev. xxii. 22, Lev. 22:23), much more must we, who offer not senseless animals, but ourselves, exhibit more strictness, and be pure in all respects, that we also may be able to say as did Paul, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (2 Tim. iv. 6.) For he was purer than any sacrifice, and so he speaks of himself as “ready to be offered.” But this will be brought about if we kill the old man, if we mortify our members that are upon the earth, if we crucify the world unto ourselves. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 20, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 497)

St. John Chrysostom on fighting the good fight:
‎“A good fight,” he says, therefore do thou engage in it. But is that a good fight, where there are imprisonment, chains, and death? Yea, he says for it is fought in the cause of Christ, and great crowns are won in it. “The good fight”! There is no worthier than this contest. This crown is without end. This is not of olive leaves. It has not a human umpire. It has not men for spectators. The theater is crowded with Angels. There men labor many days, and suffer hardships, and for one hour they receive the crown, and immediately all the pleasure passes away. But here far otherwise, it continues for ever in brightness, glory, and honor. Henceforth we ought to rejoice. For I am entering on my rest, I am leaving the race. Thou hast heard that “it is better to depart and to be with Christ.” (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 9, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 510)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the publican is justified because he trusts not in his own innocence:
‎And let not the worshipper, beloved brethren, be ignorant in what manner the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple. Not with eyes lifted up boldly to heaven, nor with hands proudly raised; but beating his breast, and testifying to the sins shut up within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. And while the Pharisee was pleased with himself, this man who thus asked, the rather deserved to be sanctified, since he placed the hope of salvation not in the confidence of his innocence, because there is none who is innocent; but confessing his sinfulness he humbly prayed, and He who pardons the humble heard the petitioner. (Cyprian, De orat. dom. 6, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 449)

St. Augustine--the Pharisee is condemned becauser he has no desire for further righteousness:
‎He wished, indeed, for noaddition to his own righteousness; but yet, by giving thanks to God, he confessed that all he had he had received from Him. Notwithstanding, he was not approved, both because he asked for no further food of righteousness, as if he were already filled, and because he arrogantly preferred himself to the publican, who was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. (Augustine, De pecc. merit. et remiss. 2.5.6, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 46)

Monday, October 11, 2010

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 17:8–13
Second Reading 2 Timothy 3:14–4:2
Gospel Luke 18:1–8

Tertullian--Moses' hands extended prefigured Christ's hands extended on the Cross:
‎‎But, to come now to Moses, why, I wonder, did he merely at the time when Joshua was battling against Amalek, pray sitting with hands expanded, when, in circumstances so critical, he ought rather, surely, to have commended his prayer by knees bended, and hands beating his breast, and a face prostrate on the ground; except it was that there, where the name of the Lord Jesus was the theme of speech—destined as He was to enter the lists one day singly against the devil—the figure of the cross was also necessary, (that figure) through which Jesus was to win the victory? (See Ex. 17:8-16 and comp. Col. 2:14, 15) (Tertullian, Adv. Judaeos 10, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 165)

St. Clement of Alexandria--nothing is capable of assimilating man to God as His Word:
‎‎But godliness, that makes man as far as can be like God, designates God as our suitable teacher, who alone can worthily assimilate man to God. This teaching the apostle knows as truly divine. “Thou, O Timothy,” he says, “from a child hast known the holy letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15) For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls “inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints, as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. For this, and nothing but this, is His only work—the salvation of man. (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen 9, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 196)

St. John Chrysostom on the wisdom given by the Scriptures:
‎‎‎And speaking of the holy Scriptures, he has added, “Which are able to make thee wise,” that is, they will not suffer thee to have any foolish feeling, such as most men have. For he who knows the Scriptures as he ought, is not offended at anything that happens; he endures all things manfully, referring them partly to faith, and to the incomprehensible nature of the divine dispensation, and partly knowing reasons for them, and finding examples in the Scriptures. Since it is a great sign of knowledge not to be curious about everything, nor to wish to know all things. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 8, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 507)

St. John Damascene on the profitableness of Scripture:
‎‎All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable. (2 Tim. 3:16) Wherefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of waters, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season, (Ps. 1:3) viz. orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation. For in these we find both exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every vice. (Damascene, De Fide Orth. 4.17, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 89)

St. Hippolytus interprets the parable of the unjust judge as speaking of the Antichrist:
‎‎By the unrighteous judge, who fears not God, neither regards man, he means without doubt Antichrist, as he is a son of the devil and a vessel of Satan. For when he has the power, he will begin to exalt himself against God, neither in truth fearing God, nor regarding the Son of God, who is the Judge of all. And in saying that there was a widow in the city, he refers to Jerusalem itself, which is a widow indeed, forsaken of her perfect, heavenly spouse, God. She calls Him her adversary, and not her Saviour. (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist 57, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 216)

St. Cyprian applies Our Lord's question about whether he would find faith on earth to his own times:
‎‎But in us unanimity is diminished in proportion as liberality of working is decayed. Then they used to give for sale houses and estates; and that they might lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, presented to the apostles the price of them, to be distributed for the use of the poor. But now we do not even give the tenths from our patrimony; and while our Lord bids us sell, we rather buy and increase our store. Thus has the vigour of faith dwindled away among us; thus has the strength of believers grown weak. And therefore the Lord, looking to our days, says in His Gospel, “When the Son of man cometh, think you that He shall find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:18) We see that what He foretold has come to pass. (Cyprian, De unit. eccl. 26, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 429)

St. Augustine on the parable of the unjust judge:
... as of that “judge who neither feared God, nor regarded man,” (Lk 18:2) and yet when a certain widow besought him day by day, overcome by her importunity, he gave her that which he could not in kindness give her, against his will. But our Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the midst of us a Petitioner, with God a Giver, would not surely exhort us so strongly to ask, if He were not willing to give. Let then the slothfulness of men be put to shame; He is more willing to give, than we to receive; He is more willing to show mercy, than we to be delivered from misery; and doubtless if we shall not be delivered, we shall abide in misery. For the exhortation He giveth us, He giveth only for our own sakes. (Augustine, Serm. 105.1.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 431)

St. Augustine on the interelation of faith and prayer:
‎‎ He added and said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) If faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe? Whence also the blessed Apostle, when he exhorted to prayer, said, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) And in order to show that faith is the fountain of prayer, he went on and said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:14) So then that we may pray, let us believe; and that this same faith whereby we pray fail not, let us pray. Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself. (Augustine, Serm. 115.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 454)

Monday, October 4, 2010

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Kings 5:14–17
Second Reading 2 Timothy 2:8–13
Gospel Luke 17:11–19

St. Irenaeus--the cleansing of Naaman prefigures our cleansing from sin in baptism:
‎‎“And dipped himself,” says [the Scripture], “seven times in Jordan.” (2 Kgs 5:14) It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: “Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Jn 3:5) (Irenaeus, Fragments, 34, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 574)

St. John Chrysostom--only cowardice and unbelief can bind our tongues from proclaiming the Word:
‎“But the word of God is not bound.” That is, if we were soldiers of this world, and waged an earthly warfare, the chains that confine our hands would avail. But now God has made us such that nothing can subdue us. For our hands are bound, but not our tongue, since nothing can bind the tongue but cowardice and unbelief alone; and where these are not, though you fasten chains upon us, the preaching of the Gospel is not bound. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 489)

St. John Chrysystom--we die with Christ in baptism and in our sufferings:
‎‎But how are we “dead with Him”? This death he means both of that in the Laver, and that in sufferings. For he says, “Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. iv. 10); and, “We are buried with Him by baptism into death” (Rom. vi. 4); and, “Our old man is crucified with Him”; and, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death.” (Rom. vi. 5, Rom. 6.) But he also speaks here of death by trials: and that more especially, for he was also suffering trials when he wrote it. And this is what he says, “If we have suffered death on His account, shall we not live on His account? This is not to be doubted. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,’ ” not absolutely, we shall reign, but “if we suffer,” showing that it is not enough to die once, (the blessed man himself died daily,) but there was need of much patient endurance; and especially Timothy had need of it. For tell me not, he says, of your first sufferings, but that you continue to suffer. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 492)

Theophylact on the ten lepers:
We may gather from this that a man is not one whit hindered from pleasing God because he comes from a cursed race, only let him bear in his heart an honest purpose. Further, let not him that is born of saints boast himself, for the nine who were Israelites were ungrateful; and hence it follows, And Jesus answering him said. Were there not ten cleansed? (Theophylact in Cat. Aur. 3.587)

St. Augustine--the Old Testament priesthood prefigures the priesthood of the Church:
Now we find that of those upon whom our Lord bestowed bodily mercies, not one did He send to the priests, save the lepers, for the Jewish priesthood was a figure of that priesthood which is in the Church. All vices our Lord corrects and heals by His own power working inwardly in the conscience, but the teaching of infusion by means of the Sacrament, or of catechizing by word of mouth, was assigned to the Church. (Augustine, de Quest. Ev. 2.40 in Cat. Aur. 3. 588)