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)

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