Monday, December 26, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Holy Family, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 3:2–6, 12–14 or Genesis 15:1–6, 21:1–3
Second Reading Colossians 3:12–21 or Colossians 3:12–17 or Hebrews 11:8, 11–12, 17–19
Gospel Luke 2:22–40 or Luke 2:22, 39–40


For Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14 and Col. 3:12-21, see Holy Family, Year C.
For Luke 2:22-40, see The Presentation of the Lord.

St. Justin Martyr--Abraham was accounted righteous on account of his faith:
‎‎For Abraham was declared by God to be righteous, not on account of circumcision, but on account of faith. For before he was circumcised the following statement was made regarding him: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.’ (Ge 15:6) And we, therefore, in the uncircumcision of our flesh, believing God through Christ, and having that circumcision which is of advantage to us who have acquired it—namely, that of the heart—we hope to appear righteous before and well-pleasing to God: since already we have received His testimony through the words of the prophets. (Justin Martyr, Dial. 92, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 245)

St. Irenaeus--Christ raises up heirs to Abraham in faith:
‎‎For not alone upon Abraham’s account did He say these things, but also that He might point out how all who have known God from the beginning, and have foretold the advent of Christ, have received the revelation from the Son Himself; who also in the last times was made visible and passable, and spake with the human race, that He might from the stones raise up children unto Abraham, and fulfil the promise which God had given him, and that He might make his seed as the stars of heaven, (Ge 15:5) as John the Baptist says: “For God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Mt 3:9) Now, this Jesus did by drawing us off from the religion of stones, and bringing us over from hard and fruitless cogitations, and establishing in us a faith like to Abraham. As Paul does also testify, saying that we are children of Abraham because of the similarity of our faith, and the promise of inheritance. (Ro 4:12; Ga 4:28) (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.7.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 470)

St. Augustine--Isaac a symbol of Christ:
‎‎“By faith,” he says, “Abraham overcame, when tempted about Isaac: and he who had received the promise offered up his only son, to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: thinking that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;” therefore he has added, “from whence also he received him in a similitude.” (He 11:17-19) In whose similitude but His of whom the apostle says, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all?” (Ro 8:32) And on this account Isaac also himself carried to the place of sacrifice the wood on which he was to be offered up, just as the Lord Himself carried His own cross. Finally, since Isaac was not to be slain, after his father was forbidden to smite him, who was that ram by the offering of which that sacrifice was completed with typical blood? For when Abraham saw him, he was caught by the horns in a thicket. What, then, did he represent but Jesus, who, before He was offered up, was crowned with thorns by the Jews? (Augustine, De civ. Dei 16.32.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 329)

St. John Chrysostom on the faith of Abraham:
‎‎He heard the opposite of the promises from Him who had made them; and yet he was not disturbed, but did them as if they had been in harmony [therewith]. For they were in harmony; being opposed indeed according to human calculations, but in harmony [when viewed] by Faith. And how this was, the Apostle himself has taught us, by saying, “accounting that God was able to raise Him up, even from the dead.” By the same faith (he means) by which he believed that God gave what was not, and raised up the dead, by the same was he persuaded that He would also raise him up after he had been slain in sacrifice. For it was alike impossible (to human calculation, I mean) from a womb which was dead and grown old and already become useless for child-bearing to give a child, and to raise again one who had been slain. But his previous faith prepared the way for things to come. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 25.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 478)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Christians are children of Abraham through faith and baptism:
‎‎Let us see, then, how Abraham is the father of many nations (Ro 4:17, 18). Of Jews he is confessedly the father, through succession according to the flesh. But if we hold to the succession according to the flesh, we shall be compelled to say that the oracle was false. For according to the flesh be is no longer father of us all: but the example of his faith makes us all sons of Abraham. How? and in what manner? With men it is incredible that one should rise from the dead; as in like manner it is incredible also that there should be offspring from aged persons as good as dead. But when Christ is preached as having been crucified on the tree, and as having died and risen again, we believe it. By the likeness therefore of our faith we are adopted into the sonship of Abraham. And then, following upon our faith, we receive like him the spiritual seal, being circumcised by the Holy Spirit through Baptism, not in the foreskin of the body, but in the heart, according to Jeremiah, saying, And ye shall be circumcised unto God in the foreskin of your heart: (Je 4:4) and according to the Apostle, in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, and the rest (Col 2:11, 12). (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 5.6, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 30)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Season Readings

The lectionary uses the same readings every year for Christmas; Mary, Mother of God; and Epiphany, so relevant excerpts from the Fathers can be found at:
Christmas Vigil
Christmas Midnight
Christmas Dawn
Christmas Day
Mary, Mother of God
Epiphany

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Samuel 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16
Second Reading Romans 16:25–27
Gospel Luke 1:26–38


St. Augustine--God's promise to David is fulfilled only in Christ:
‎‎He who thinks this grand promise was fulfilled in Solomon greatly errs; for he attends to the saying, “He shall build me an house,” but he does not attend to the saying, “His house shall be faithful, and his kingdom for evermore before me.” Let him therefore attend and behold the house of Solomon full of strange women worshipping false gods, and the king himself, aforetime wise, seduced by them, and cast down into the same idolatry: and let him not dare to think that God either promised this falsely, or was unable to fore-know that Solomon and his house would become what they did. But we ought not to be in doubt here, or to see the fulfillment of these things save in Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, (Ro 1:3) lest we should vainly and uselessly look for some other here, like the carnal Jews. For even they understand this much, that the son whom they read of in that place as promised to David was not Solomon; so that, with wonderful blindness to Him who was promised and is now declared with so great manifestation, they say they hope for another. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 17.8.2, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 348)

St. Ireneaus--Christ shall reign for ever:
‎‎And again, speaking in reference to the angel, he says: “But at that time the angel Gabriel was sent from God, who did also say to the virgin, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God.” (Lk 1:26) And he says concerning the Lord: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” (Lk 1:32) For who else is there who can reign uninterruptedly over the house of Jacob for ever, except Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of the Most High God, who promised by the law and the prophets that He would make His salvation visible to all flesh; so that He would become the Son of man for this purpose, that man also might become the son of God? (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.10.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 424)

Origen on the virginity of Mary:
‎‎And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, “Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? ” (Mt 13:55, 56) They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or “The Book of James,” (PJ 9) that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee,” (Lk 1:35) might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. (Origen, Comm. Matt. 10.17, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 424)

St. Justin Martyr--Eve and Mary:
‎‎For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; (Lk 1:35) and she replied, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word.’ ” (Lk 1:38) And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him. (Justin Martyr, Dial. 100, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 249)

St. Augustine--Mary dedicated her virginity to God:
‎‎Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spake in answer to the Angel announcing to her her conception; “How,” saith she, “shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Lk 1:34) Which assuredly she would not say, unless she had before vowed herself unto God as a virgin. But, because the habits of the Israelites as yet refused this, she was espoused to a just man, who would not take from her by violence, but rather guard against violent persons, what she had already vowed. Although, even if she had said this only, “How shall this take place?” and had not added, “seeing I know not a man,” certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse. She might have been bidden also to continue a virgin, that in her by fitting miracle the Son of God should receive the form of a servant, but, being to be a pattern to holy virgins, lest it should be thought that she alone needed to be a virgin, who had obtained to conceive a child even without sexual intercourse, she dedicated her virginity to God, when as yet she knew not what she should conceive, in order that the imitation of a heavenly life in an earthly and mortal body should take place of vow, not of command; through love of choosing, not through necessity of doing service. (Augustine, De sancta virgin. 4.4, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 418)

St. Hilary on the Annunciation:
‎‎an Angel blesses Mary and promises that she, a virgin, shall be the mother of the Son of God. Conscious of her virginity, she is distressed at this hard thing; the Angel explains to her the mighty working of God, saying, The Holy Ghost shall come from above into thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. (Lk 1:35) The Holy Ghost, descending from above, hallowed the Virgin’s womb, and breathing therein (for The Spirit bloweth where it listeth [Jn 3:8]), mingled Himself with the fleshly nature of man, and annexed by force and might that foreign domain. And, lest through weakness of the human structure failure should ensue, the power of the Most High overshadowed the Virgin, strengthening her feebleness in semblance of a cloud east round her, that the shadow, which was the might of God, might fortify her bodily frame to receive the procreative power of the Spirit. Such is the glory of the conception. (Hilary, De Trin. 2.26, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 59)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 61:1–2a, 10–11
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
Gospel John 1:6–8, 19–28


St. Irenaeus on the anointing of Christ:
‎‎For in the name of Christ is implied, He that anoints, He that is anointed, and the unction itself with which He is anointed. And it is the Father who anoints, but the Son who is anointed by the Spirit, who is the unction, as the Word declares by Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me,” (Is 61:1)—pointing out both the anointing Father, the anointed Son, and the unction, which is the Spirit. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.18.3, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 446)

Tertullian--the fullment of Is 61:1-2 in the Beatitudes:
‎‎He who began (His course) with consolation for the poor, and the humble, and the hungry, and the weeping, was at once eager to represent Himself as Him whom He had pointed out by the mouth of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor.” (Is 61:1) “Blessed are the needy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Lk 6:21) “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” (Is 61:1) “Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.” (Lk 6:21) “To comfort all that mourn.” (Is 61:2) “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.” (Lk 6:21) (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 4.14, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 367)

St. Augustine on praying without ceasing:
‎‎When we cherish uninterrupted desire along with the exercise of faith and hope and charity, we “pray always.” But at certain stated hours and seasons we also use words in prayer to God, that by these signs of things we may admonish ourselves, and may acquaint ourselves with the measure of progress which we have made in this desire, and may more warmly excite ourselves to obtain an increase of its strength. For the effect following upon prayer will be excellent in proportion to the fervour of the desire which precedes its utterance. And therefore, what else is intended by the words of the apostle: “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Th 5:17) than, “Desire without intermission, from Him who alone can give it, a happy life, which no life can be but that which is eternal”? This, therefore, let us desire continually from the Lord our God; and thus let us pray continually. (Augustine, Ep. 130.9.18, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 465)

St. John Chrysostom on rejoicing always, even in affliction:
‎Ver. 16. “Rejoice alway.”
‎This is said with respect to the temptations that bring in affliction. Hear ye, as many as have fallen into poverty, or into distressing circumstances. For from these joy is engendered. For when we possess such a soul that we take revenge on no one, but do good to all, whence, tell me, will the sting of grief be able to enter into us? For he who so rejoices in suffering evil, as to requite even with benefits him that has done him evil, whence can he afterwards suffer grief? And how, you say, is this possible? It is possible, if we will. Then also he shows the way. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 10, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 367)

St. John Chrysostom--let not the wind of temptation, which comes through the opening of the senses, quench the Spirit in us:
‎On this account Paul says, “Quench not the Spirit,” that is, the gift of grace, for it is his custom so to call the gift of the Spirit. But this an impure life extinguishes. For as any one, who has sprinkled both water and dust upon the light of our lamp, extinguishes it, and if he does not this, but only takes out the oil—so it is also with the gift of grace. For if you have cast over it earthly things, and the cares of fluctuating matters, you have quenched the Spirit. And if you have done none of these things, but a temptation coming from some other quarter has vehemently assailed it, as some wind, and if the light be not strong, and it has not much oil, or you have not closed the opening, or have not shut the door, all is undone. But what is the opening? As in the lamp, so is it also in us: it is the eye and the ear. Suffer not a violent blast of wickedness to fall upon these, since it would extinguish the lamp, but close them up with the fear of God. The mouth is the door. Shut it, and fasten it, that it may both give light, and repel the attack from without. For instance, has any one insulted and reviled you? Do you shut the mouth; for if you open it, you add force to the wind. Do you not see in houses, when two doors stand directly opposite, and there is a strong wind, if you shut one, and there is no opposite draught, the wind has no power, but the greater part of its force is abated? So also now, there are two doors, thy mouth, and his who insults and affronts thee; if thou shuttest thy mouth, and dost not allow a draught on the other side, thou hast quenched the whole blast but if thou openest it, it will not be restrained. Let us not therefore quench it. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 11, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 370-371)

St. John Chrysostom on "prove all things":
‎Seest thou that this is what he means by, “Prove all things”? Because he had said, “Despise not prophesyings,” lest they should think that he opened the pulpit to all, he says, “Prove all things,” that is, such as are really prophecies; “and hold fast that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil”; not from this or that, but from all; that you may by proof distinguish both the true things and the false, and abstain from the latter, and hold fast the former. For thus both the hatred of the one will be vehement and the love of the other arises, when we do all things not carelessly, nor without examination, but with careful investigation. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 11, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 371)

St. Augustine on John's denial that he is Elijah:
‎‎Wherefore then did he say, “I am not Elias;” and the Lord, “He is Elias”? Because the Lord Jesus Christ wished in him to prefigure His own advent, and to say that John was in the spirit of Elias. And what John was to the first advent, that will Elias be to the second advent. As there are two advents of the Judge, so are there two heralds. The Judge indeed was the same, but the heralds two, but not two judges. It was needful that in the first instance the Judge should come tobe judged. He sent before Him His first herald; He called him Elias, because Elias will be in the second advent what John was in the first.
‎‎6. For mark, beloved brethren, how true it is what I say. When John was conceived, or rather when he was born, the Holy Spirit prophesied that this would be fulfilled in him: “And he shall be,” he said, “the forerunner of the Highest, in the spirit and power of Elias.” (Lk 1:17) What signifieth “in the spirit and power of Elias”? In the same Holy Spirit in the room of Elias. Wherefore in room of Elias? Because what Elias will be to the second, that John was to the first advent. Rightly therefore, speaking literally, did John reply. For the Lord spoke figuratively, “Elias, the same is John:” but he, as I have said, spoke literally when he said, “I am not Elias.” Neither did John speak falsely, nor did the Lord speak falsely; neither was the word of the herald nor of the Judge false, if only thou understand. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 4.5-7, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 27)

St. John Chrysostom--John is a prophet but is not the prophet:
‎Then they ask, “Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” (Matt. xvii. 10.) Yet surely he was a prophet. Wherefore then doth he deny it? Because again he looks to the intention of his questioners. For they expected that some especial prophet should come, because Moses said, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet of thy brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye harken.” (Deut. xviii. 15.) Now this was Christ. Wherefore they do not say, “Art thou a prophet?” meaning thereby one of the ordinary prophets; but the expression, “Art thou the prophet?” with the addition of the article, means, “Art thou that Prophet who was foretold by Moses?” and therefore he denied not that he was a prophet, but that he was “that Prophet.” (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 16.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 56)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Second Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11
Second Reading 2 Peter 3:8–14
Gospel Mark 1:1–8


For Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11, see Baptism of the Lord, Year C.

St. Ireneaus--St. Mark begins his Gospel with the confession of the prophets:
‎‎Wherefore also Mark, the interpreter and follower of Peter, does thus commence his Gospel narrative: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make the paths straight before our God.” Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord; Him, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had also made promise to Him, that He would send His messenger before His face, who was John, crying in the wilderness, in “the spirit and power of Elias,” (Lk 1:17) “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight paths before our God.” (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.10.5, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 425-426)

St. Clement of Alexandria--John the Baptist made himself an example of frugality and simplicity of life:
‎‎The blessed John, despising the locks of sheep as savouring of luxury, chose “camel’s hair,” and was clad in it, making himself an example of frugality and simplicity of life. For he also “ate locusts and wild honey,” (Mk 1:6) sweet and spiritual fare; preparing, as he was, the lowly and chaste ways of the Lord. For how possibly could he have worn a purple robe, who turned away from the pomp of cities, and retired to the solitude of the desert, to live in calmness with God, far from all frivolous pursuits—from all false show of good—from all meanness? (Clem. Alex., Paed. 2.11, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 266)

Tertullian--John's baptism prepares for the remission of sins granted through Christ:
‎‎And so “the baptism of repentance” (Ac 19:4) was dealt with as if it were a candidate for the remission and sanctification shortly about to follow in Christ: for in that John used to preach “baptism for the remission of sins,” (Mk 1:4) the declaration was made with reference to future remission; if it be true, (as it is,) that repentance is antecedent, remission subsequent; and this is “preparing the way.” (Lk 1:76) But he who “prepares” does not himself “perfect,” but procures for another to perfect. (Tertullian, De Bapt. 10, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 674)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: First Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 63:16b–17, 19b, 64:2–7
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 1:3–9
Gospel Mark 13:33–37

Apostolic Constitutions--God who formed us as clay will raise us up again:
‎‎Nay, and Isaiah says in his prayer to Him: “We are the clay, and Thou art the framer of us.” (Is 64:8) If, therefore, man be His workmanship, made by Christ, by Him most certainly will he after he is dead be raised again, with intention either of being crowned for his good actions or punished for his transgressions. (Apostolic Constitutions 5.7, ANF, vol. 7, pg. 439)

St. John Chrysostom on St. Paul calling God "my God":
‎‎“Unto my God.” Out of great affection he seizes on that which is common, and makes it his own; as the prophets also from time to time use to say, (Ps 43:4 and Ps 62:1) “O God, my God;” and by way of encouragement he incites them to use the same language also themselves. For such expressions belong to one who is retiring from all secular things, and moving towards Him whom he calls on with so much earnestness: since he alone can truly say this, who from things of this life is ever mounting upwards unto God, and always preferring Him to all, and giving thanks continually, not [only] for the grace already given, but whatever blessing hath been since at any time bestowed, for this also he offereth unto Him the same praise. Wherefore he saith not merely, “I give thanks,” but “at all times, concerning you;” instructing them to be thankful both always, and to no one else save God only. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 2.2, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 6)

St. John Chrysostom on the "fellowship of His Son":
‎‎But what means, “into the fellowship of His Son?” Hear him declaring this very thing more clearly elsewhere. (2 Ti 2:12) If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. Then, because it was a great thing which He had said, he adds an argument fraught with unanswerable conviction; for, saith he, “God is faithful,” i. e. “true.” Now if “true,” what things He hath promised He will also perform. And He hath promised that He will make us partakers of His only-begotten Son; for to this end also did He call us. For (Ro 11:29) “His gifts, and the calling of God,” are without repentance. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 2.8, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 8)

St. Athanasius on the grace of God, which is given in Christ Jesus:
‎‎For though the Father gives it, through the Son is the gift; and though the Son be said to vouchsafe it, it is the Father who supplies it through and in the Son; for ‘I thank my God,’ says the Apostle writing to the Corinthians, ‘always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you in Christ Jesus.’ (1 Co 1:4) And this one may see in the instance of light and radiance; for what the light enlightens, that the radiance irradiates; and what the radiance irradiates, from the light is its enlightenment. So also when the Son is beheld, so is the Father, for he is the Father’s radiance; and thus the Father and the Son are one. (Athanastius, Four Discourses against the Arians 3.25.13, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 401)

St. Gregory the Great--all must watch the doors of their hearts:
‎For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. And he gave his servants power over every work, when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work. He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping. Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. (Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evang. 9, Cat. Aur. 2.271)

St. Augustine--the day of the Lord comes to each one of us when we depart this life:
‎For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spake, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. But shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, Watch, lest when he cometh he find you sleeping? Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared. (Augustine, Ep. 199.3, Cat. Aur. 2.272)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Christ the King, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Ezekiel 34:11–12, 15–17
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 15:20–26, 28
Gospel Matthew 25:31–46


St. Augustine on 1 Co 15:21, 22:
‎‎If, however, we pass over and make no account of those sufferings which are of brief continuance, and which, when endured, are not to be repeated, we certainly cannot, in like manner, make no account of the fact that “by one man death came, and by one man came also the resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Co 15:21, 22) For, according to this apostolical, divine, and perspicuous declaration, it is sufficiently plain that no one goes to death otherwise than through Adam, and that no one goes to life eternal otherwise; than through Christ. For this is the force of all in the two parts of the sentence; as all men, by their first, that is, their natural birth, belong to Adam, even so all men, whoever they be, who come to Christ come to the second, that is, the spiritual birth. For this reason, therefore, the word all is used in both clauses, because as all who die do not die otherwise than in Adam, so all who shall be made alive shall not be made alive otherwise than in Christ. (Augustine, Ep. 166.7.21, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 530)

St. Augustine on "that God may be all in all":
‎‎What else was meant by His word through the prophet, “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people,” (Le 26:12) than, I shall be their satisfaction, I shall be all that men honorably desire,—life, and health, and nourishment, and plenty, and glory, and honor, and peace, and all good things? This, too, is the right interpretation of the saying of the apostle, “That God may be all in all.” (1 Co 15:28) He shall be the end of our desires who shall be seen without end, loved without cloy, praised without weariness. This outgoing of affection, this employment, shall certainly be, like eternal life itself, common to all. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 22.30.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 510)

St. Jerome explains in what sense Christ will be subject to the Father:
‎Christ then is subject to the Father in the faithful; for all believers, nay the whole human race, are accounted members of His body. But in unbelievers, that is in Jews, heathens, and heretics, He is said to be not subject; for these members of His body are not subject to the faith. But in the end of the world when all His members shall see Christ, that is their own body, reigning, they also shall be made subject to Christ, that is to their own body, that the whole of Christ’s body may be subject unto God and the Father, and that God may be all in all. He does not say “that the Father may be all in all” but that “God” may be, a title which properly belongs to the Trinity and may be referred not only to the Father but also to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. His meaning therefore is “that humanity may be subject to the Godhead.” (Jerome, Ep. 55.5, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 111-112)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--Christ's humanity is transfigured in glory that God may be all in all:
‎‎It is thus that God shall be all in all: according to the Dispensation He becomes by His Godhead and His manhood the Mediator between men and God, and so by the Dispensation He acquires the nature of flesh, and by the subjection shall obtain the nature of God in all things, so as to be God not in part, but wholly and entirely. The end of the subjection is then simply that God may be all in all, that no trace of the nature of His earthly body may remain in Him. Although before this time the two were combined within Him, He must now become God only; not, however, by casting off the body, but by translating it through subjection; not by losing it through dissolutions, but by transfiguring it in glory: adding humanity to His divinity, not divesting Himself of divinity by His humanity. And He is subjected, not that He may cease to be, but that God may be all in all, having, in the mystery of the subjection, to continue to be that which He no longer is, not having by dissolution to be robbed of Himself, that is, to be deprived of His being. (Hilary, De Trin. 11.40, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 214-215)

St. Ambrose--Christ's subjection is without degradation or weakness:
‎A unity of power puts aside all idea of a degrading subjection. His giving up of power, and His victory as conqueror won over death, have not lessened His power. Obedience works out subjection. Christ has taken obedience upon Himself, obedience even to taking on Him our flesh, the cross even to gaining our salvation. Thus where the work lies, there too is the Author of the work. When therefore, all things have become subject to Christ, through Christ’s obedience, so that all bend their knees in His name, then He Himself will be all in all. For now, since all do not believe, all do not seem to be in subjection. But when all have believed and done the will of God, then Christ will be all and in all. And when Christ is all and in all, then will God be all and in all; for the Father abides ever in the Son. How, then, is He shown to be weak, Who redeemed the weak? (Ambrose, De fide 5.15.182, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 307)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--Christ himself is aggrieved unless the needy and poor be supplied:
‎What more could Christ declare unto us? How more could He stimulate the works of our righteousness and mercy, than by saying that whatever is given to the needy and poor is given to Himself, and by saying that He is aggrieved unless the needy and poor be supplied? So that he who in the Church is not moved by consideration for his brother, may yet be moved by contemplation of Christ; and he who does not think of his fellow-servant in suffering and in poverty, may yet think of his Lord, who abideth in that very man whom he is despising. (Cyprian, De op. et eleem. 23, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 483)

St. Augustine--alms atone for sin:
‎‎Wherefore to those whom He is about to condemn, yea, rather to those whom He is about to crown, He will impute alms only, as though He would say, “It were a hard matter for me not to find occasion to condemn you, were I to examine and weigh you accurately and with much exactness to scrutinize your deeds; but, “Go into the kingdom, for I was hungry, and ye gave Me meat.” Ye shall therefore go into the kingdom, not because ye have not sinned, but because ye have redeemed your sins by alms. And again to the others, “Go ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” They too, guilty as they are, old in their sins, late in their fear for them, in what respect, when they turn their sins over in their mind, could they dare to say that they are undeservedly condemned, that this sentence is pronounced against them undeservedly by so righteous a Judge? In considering their consciences, and all the wounds of their souls, in what respect could they dare to say, We are unjustly condemned. Of whom it was said before in Wisdom, “Their own iniquities shall convince them to their face.” (Wis 4:20) Without doubt they will see that they are justly condemned for their sins and wickednesses; yet it will be as though He said to them, “It is not in consequence of this that ye think, but ‘because I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat.’ ” For if turning away from all these your deeds, and turning to Me, ye had redeemed all those crimes and sins by alms, those alms would now deliver you, and absolve you from the guilt of so great offences; for, “Blessed are the merciful, for to them shall be shown mercy.” (Mt 5:7) But now go away into everlasting fire. “He shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy.” (Jas 2:3) (Augustine, Serm. 60.10, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 293)

St. Augustine--it is the poor man who begs, but He that is Rich recieves and will restore what is given:
‎‎Let no one fear to lay out upon the poor, let no one think that he is the receiver whose hand he sees. He receives it Who bade thee give it. And this I say not out of mine own l heart, or by any human conjecture; hear Him Himself, who at once exhorteth thee, and giveth thee a title of security. “I was an hungred,” saith He, and ye gave Me meat.” And when after the enumeration of all their kind offices, they answered, “When saw we Thee an hungred?” He answered, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these of Mine, ye have done it unto Me.” (Mt 25:40) It is the poor man who begs, but He that is Rich receives. Thou givest to one who will make away with it, He receiveth it Who will restore it. Nor will He restore only what He receiveth; He is pleased to borrow upon interest, He promiseth more than thou hast given. Give the rein now to thy avarice, imagine thyself an usurer. If thou wert an usurer indeed, thou wouldest be rebuked by the Church, confuted by the word of God, all thy brethren would execrate thee, as a cruel usurer, desiring to wring gain from other’s tears. But now be an usurer, no one will hinder thee. Thou art willing to lend to a poor man, who whenever he may repay thee will do it with grief; but lend now to a debtor who is well able to pay, and who even exhorteth thee to receive what he promiseth. (Augustine, Serm. 86.3.3, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 369)

St. Augustine--the least of Christ's brethren are those who leave all they have and follow him:
‎Who then are these least ones of Christ? They are those who have left all they had, and followed Him, and have distributed whatever they had to the poor; that unencumbered and without any worldly fetter they might serve God, and might lift their shoulders free from the burdens of the world, and winged as it were aloft. These are the least. And why the least? Because lowly, because not puffed up, not proud. Yet weigh them in the scales, these least ones, and thou wilt find them a heavy weight. (Augustine, Serm. 113.1.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 450)

St. John Chrysostom on sheep and goats:
‎‎Then, “shall be gathered together,” He saith, “all nations,” that is, the whole race of men. “And He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd his sheep.” For now they are not separated, but all mingled together, but the division then shall be made with all exactness. And for a while it is by their place that He divides them, and makes them manifest; afterwards by the names He indicates the dispositions of each, calling the one kids, the other sheep, that He might indicate the unfruitfulness of the one, for no fruit will come from kids; and the great profit from the other, for indeed from sheep great is the profit, as well from the milk, as from the wool, and from the young, of all which things the kid is destitute. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 79.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 475)

St. John Chrysostom--covetousness blinds us to the easiness of the Lord's command and the greatness of his promise:
‎‎And mark how easy are His injunctions. He said not, “I was in prison, and ye set me free; I was sick, and ye raised me up again;” but, “ye visited me,” and, “ye came unto me.” And neither in hunger is the thing commanded grievous. For no costly table did He seek, but what is needful only, and His necessary food, and He sought in a suppliant’s garb, so that all things were enough to bring punishment on them; the easiness of the request, for it was bread; the pitiable character of Him that requesteth, for He was poor; the sympathy of nature, for He was a man; the desirableness of the promise, for He promised a kingdom; the fearfulness of the punishment, for He threatened hell. The dignity of the one receiving, for it was God, who was receiving by the poor; the surpassing nature of the honor, that He vouchsafed to condescend so far; His just claim for what they bestowed, for of His own was He receiving. But against all these things covetousness once for all blinded them that were seized by it; and this though so great a threat was set against it. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 79.1, NPNF1, vol. 475)

St. John Chrysostom--the fire was prepared for the devil, but the damned impute it to themselves:
‎But to the others He saith, “Depart from me, ye cursed,” (no longer of the Father; for not He laid the curse upon them, but their own works), “into the everlasting fire, prepared,” not for you, but “for the devil and his angels.” For concerning the kingdom indeed, when He had said, “Come, inherit the kingdom,” He added, “prepared for you before the foundation of the world;” but concerning the fire, no longer so, but, “prepared for the devil.” I, saith He, prepared the kingdom for you, but the fire no more for you, but “for the devil and his angels;” but since ye cast yourselves therein, impute it to yourselves. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 79.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 476)

St. Athanasius--the kingdom was prepared for the blessed in Christ:
‎‎Wherefore also in the Judgment, when every one shall receive according to his conduct, He says, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ (Mt 25:34) How then, or in whom, was it prepared before we came to be, save in the Lord who ‘before the world’ was founded for this purpose; that we, as built upon Him, might partake, as well-compacted stones, the life and grace which is from Him? And this took place, as naturally suggests itself to the religious mind, that, as I said, we, rising after our brief death, may be capable of an eternal life, of which we had not been capable, men as we are, formed of earth, but that ‘before the world’ there had been prepared for us in Christ the hope of life and salvation. (Athanasius, Four Discourses against the Arians 2.22, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 389-390)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 6:12–16
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 or 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14
Gospel Matthew 25:1–13


Tertullian--the hope of the resurrection gives us patience in the face of the loss of loved ones:
‎‎Not even that species of impatience under the loss of our dear ones is excused, where some assertion of a right to grief acts the patron to it. For the consideration of the apostle’s declaration must be set before us, who says, “Be not overwhelmed with sadness at the falling asleep of any one, just as the nations are who are without hope.” (1 Th 4:13) And justly; or, believing the resurrection of Christ we believe also in our own, for whose sake He both died and rose again. Since, then, there is certainty as to the resurrection of the dead, grief for death is needless, and impatience of grief is needless. For why should you grieve, if you believe that (your loved one) is not perished? Why should you bear impatiently the temporary withdrawal of him who you believe will return? That which you think to be death is departure. He who goes before us is not to be lamented, though by all means to be longed for. That longing also must be tempered with patience. (Tertullian, De Pat. 9, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 713)

St. Augustine--the "sleep" of death differs for the good and the bad:
‎‎Hence it was in reference to His own power that He spoke of him as sleeping: for others also, who are dead, are frequently spoken of in Scripture as sleeping; as when the apostle says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope.” (1 Th 4:13) Therefore he also spoke of them as sleeping, because foretelling their resurrection. And so, all the dead are sleeping, both good and bad. But just as, in the case of those who sleep and waken day by day, there is a great difference as to what they severally see in their sleep: some experience pleasant dreams; others. dreams so frightful that the waking are afraid to fall asleep for fear of their recurrence: so every individual sleeps and wakens in circumstances peculiar to himself. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 49.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 273)

St. John Chrysostom on the final trumpet:
‎‎And why now doth He call them by angels, if He comes thus openly?’ To honor them in this way also. But Paul saith, that they “shall be caught up in clouds.” And He said this also, when He was speaking concerning a resurrection. “For (1 Th 4:16) the Lord Himself,” it is said, “shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel.” So that when risen again, the angels shall gather them together, when gathered together the clouds shall catch them up; and all these things are done in a moment, in an instant. For it is not that He abiding above calleth them, but He Himself cometh with the sound of a trumpet. And what mean the trumpets and the sound? They are for arousing, for gladness, to set forth the amazing nature of the things then doing, for grief to them that are left. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 76.5, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 460)

St. John Chrysostom--as He descends, we go forth to meet Him:
‎‎If He is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him; but those of the domestics who have offended remain within. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For He received Him up in the clouds, (Acts i. 9) and “we shall be caught up in the clouds.” Seest thou how great is the honor? and as He descends, we go forth to meet Him, and, what is more blessed than all, so we shall be with Him. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 8, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 356)

St. Augustine--the love of the wise virgins does not grow cold:
‎‎Where would ye have those wise virgins be? Are they not among those that “shall endure unto the end”? They would not be admitted within at all, Brethren, for any other reason, than because they have “endured unto the end.” No coldness of love then crept over them, in them love did not wax cold; but preserves its glow even unto the end. And because it glows even unto the end, therefore are the gates of the Bridegroom opened to them; therefore are they told to enter in, as that excellent servant, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Mt 25:21) (Augustine, Serm. 93.5.6, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 403)

St. Augustine--the bridegroom comes at midnight, when you are not aware:
‎‎He will come at midnight. What is, “will come at midnight”? Will come when thou art not aware. Why will He come when thou art not aware of it? Hear the Lord Himself, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Lord hath put in His own power.” (Ac 1:7) “The day of the Lord,” says the Apostle, “will come as a thief in the night.” (1 Th 5:2) Therefore watch thou by night that thou be not surprised by the thief. For the sleep of death—will ye, or nill ye—it will come. (Augustine, Serm. 93.7.8, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 403)

St. John Chrysostom--we must fill our lamps with oil now by almsgiving, for we cannot do so at the time of judgment:
‎“But go to them that sell, and buy.” And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then should they have sought them, not at that time.
‎2. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory.For thou wilt have need of much oil there. (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt. 78.1-2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 471)

Monday, October 24, 2011

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Malachi 1:14b–2:2b, 2:8–10
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 2:7b–9, 13
Gospel Matthew 23:1–12


St. Athanasius--Malachi 2:10 demonstrates how we were first creatures by nature, but then sons through adoption:
‎‎Wherefore, that this might be, ‘The Word became flesh,’ that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, ‘Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father?’ (Mal. 2:10) for first he puts ‘created,’ next ‘Father,’ to shew, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore ‘Father’ is proper to the Son; and not ‘creature,’ but ‘Son’ is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us. (Athanasius, Four Discourses against the Arians 4.21.59, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 380)

St. Augustine--St. Paul gives thanks to God who gives the gift of faith:
‎‎What is that for which he here gives thanks to God? Assuredly it is a vain and idle thing if He to whom he gives thanks did not Himself do the thing. But, since this is not a vain and idle thing, certainly God, to whom he gave thanks concerning this work, Himself did it; that when they had received the word of the hearing of God, they received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God. God, therefore, worketh in the hearts of men with that calling according to His purpose, of which we have spoken a great deal, that they should not hear the gospel in vain, but when they heard it, should be converted and believe, receiving it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God. (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 19.39, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 517)

St. Augustine--the word of faith preached by the apostles is the word of God:
‎‎‎Accordingly, this word of faith, because principally and primarily preached by the apostles who adhered to Him, was called their word. Not, however, on that account does it cease to be the word of God because it is called their word; for the same apostle says that the Thessalonians received it from him “not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13) “Of God,” for the very reason that it was freely given by God; but called “their word,” because primarily and principally committed to them by God to be preached. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 109.5, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 407-408)

St. Irenaeus--Christ blames those who repeat the words of the law, but without love:
‎‎“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and lay them upon men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not so much as move them with a finger.” (Mt 23:2-4) He therefore did not throw blame upon that law which was given by Moses, when He exhorted it to be observed, Jerusalem being as yet in safety; but He did throw blame upon those persons, because they repeated indeed the words of the law, yet were without love. And for this reason were they held as being unrighteous as respects God, and as respects their neighbours. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.12.4, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 476)

St. Augustine--a clergyman who leads an unprofitable life may still be heard with profit, since he teaches not his own doctrine:
‎‎Now Christ is the truth; yet we see that the truth can be preached, though not in truth,—that is, what is right and true in itself may be preached by a man of perverse and deceitful mind. And thus it is that Jesus Christ is preached by those that seek their own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. But since true believers obey the voice, not of any man, but of the Lord Himself, who says, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not;” (Mt 23:3) therefore it is that men who themselves lead unprofitable lives are heard with profit by others. For though they seek their own objects, they do not dare to teach their own doctrines, sitting as they do in the high places of ecclesiastical authority, which is established on sound doctrine. Wherefore our Lord Himself, before saying what I have just quoted about men of this stamp, made this observation: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” (Mt 23:2) The seat they occupied, then, which was not theirs but Moses’, compelled them to say what was good, though they did what was evil. And so they followed their own course in their lives, but were prevented by the seat they occupied, which belonged to another, from preaching their own doctrines. (Augustine, De doctr. christ. 4.27.59, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 595)

St. Augustine--Christ blames the Scribes not for occupying places of honor, but for loving them:
‎‎“Beware of the Scribes which love the chief seats in the synagogues, and the first rooms at feasts.” (Mt 23:6; Mk 12:39) Not because they hold them, but because they love them. For in these words he accused their heart. Now none can accuse the heart, but He who can inspect it. For meet it is that to the servant of God, who holds some post of honour in the Church, the first place should be assigned; because if it were not given him, it were evil for him who refuses to give it; but yet it is no good to him to whom it is given. It is meet and right then that in the congregation of Christians their Prelates should sit in eminent place, that by their very seat they may be distinguished, and that their office may be duly marked; yet not so that they should be puffed up for their seat; but that they should esteem it a burden, for which they are to render an account. But who knows whether they love this, or do not love it? This is a matter of the heart, it can have no other judge but God. (Augustine, Serm. 91.5.5, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 399)

St. John Chysostom--he that bears authority of teaching is triply to blame in transgressing the law:
‎“For they say,” He saith, and do not.” For every one is worthy of blame in transgressing the law, but especially he that bears the authority of teaching, for doubly and triply doth he deserve to be condemned. For one cause, because he transgresses; for another, that as he ought to amend others, and then halteth, he is worthy of a double punishment, because of his dignity; and in the third place, that he even corrupts the more, as committing such transgression in a teacher’s place. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 72.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 436)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 22:20–26
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 1:5c–10
Gospel Matthew 22:34–40


St. John Chrysostom on the joy of the Holy Ghost:
‎“With joy of the Holy Ghost,” he says. That no one may say, how speakest thou of “affliction”? how “of joy”? how can both meet in one? he has added, “with joy of the Holy Ghost.” The affliction is in things bodily, and the joy in things spiritual. How? The things which happened to them were grievous, but not so the things which sprang out of them, for the Spirit does not allow it. So that it is possible both for him who suffers, not to rejoice, when one suffers for his sins; and being beaten to take pleasure, when one suffers for Christ’s sake. For such is the joy of the Spirit. In return for the things which appear to be grievous, it brings out delight. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 325)

St. Augustine--to love your neighbor is to do all in your power to commend him to the love God:
‎‎For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God. It is, if I may say so by spiritually embracing Him that the intellectual soul is filled and impregnated with true virtues. We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. To this good we ought to be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love. Thus are fulfilled those two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul;” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mt 22:37-40) For, that man might be intelligent in his self-love, there was appointed for him an end to which he might refer all his actions, that he might be blessed. For he who loves himself wishes nothing else than this. And the end set before him is “to draw near to God.” (Ps 73:28) And so, when one who has this intelligent self-love is commanded to love his neighbor as himself, what else is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him the love of God? This is the worship of God, this is true religion, this right piety, this the service due to God only. If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 10.3.2, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 182)

St. Augustine on love of God and love of neighbor:
‎‎For this is the law of love that has been laid down by Divine authority: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself;” but, “Thou shall love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind:” (Mt 22:37-39) so that you are to concentrate all your thoughts, your whole life and your whole intelligence upon Him from whom you derive all that you bring. For when He says, “With all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” He means that no part of our life is to be unoccupied, and to afford room, as it were, for the wish to enjoy some other object, but that whatever else may suggest itself to us as an object worthy of love is to be borne into the same channel in which the whole current of our affections flows. Whoever, then, loves his neighbor aright, ought to urge upon him that he too should love God with his whole heart, and soul, and mind. For in this way, loving his neighbor as himself, a man turns the whole current of his love both for himself and his neighbor into the channel of the love of God, which suffers no stream to be drawn off from itself by whose diversion its own volume would be diminished. (Augustine, De doctr. christ. 1.22.21, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 528)

St. John Chrysostom on the likeness of the two commandments:
‎‎But wherefore “like unto this?” Because this makes the way for that, and by it is again established; “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light;”(Jn 3:20) and again, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” And what in conssequence of this? “They are corrupt, and become abminable in their ways.” (Ps 53:1) And again, “The love of money is the root of all evils; which while some coveted after they have erred from the faith;” (1 Tim 6:10) and, “He that loveth me, will keep my commandment.” (Jn 14:15)
‎‎But His commandments, and the sum of them, are, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself.” If therefore to love God is to love one’s neighbor, “For if thou lovest me,” He saith, “O Peter, feed my sheep,” (Jn 21:16, 17) but to love one’s neighbor worketh a keeping of the commandments, with reason doth He say, “On these hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:40) (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 71.1, NPNF1,  vol. 10, pg. 431)

St. Leo the Great--love of neighbor must extend to all men:
‎‎And so, when the Lord says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, from all thy heart and from all thy mind: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” (Mt 22:37, 39) let the faithful soul put on the unfading love of its Author and Ruler, and subject itself also entirely to His will in Whose works and judgments true justice and tender-hearted compassion never fail. For although a man be wearied out with labours and many misfortunes, there is good reason for him to endure all in the knowledge that adversity will either prove him good or make him better. But this godly love cannot be perfect unless a man love his neighbour also. Under which name must be included not only those who are connected with us by friendship or neighbourhood, but absolutely all men, with whom we have a common nature, whether they be foes or allies, slaves or free. (Leo, Serm. 12.2, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 122)

Monday, October 10, 2011

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 45:1, 4–6
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 1:1–5b
Gospel Matthew 22:15–21


St. John Chrysostom on the work of faith:
‎What is “the work of faith”? That nothing has turned aside your steadfastness. For this is the work of faith. If thou believest, suffer all things; if thou dost not suffer, thou dost not believe. For are not the things promised such, that he who believes would choose to suffer even ten thousand deaths? The kingdom of heaven is set before him, and immortality, and eternal life. He therefore who believes will suffer all things. Faith then is shown through his works. Justly might one have said, not merely did you believe, but through your works you manifested it, through your steadfastness, through your zeal. (Chrysotom, Hom. 1 Thess. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 324)

Tertullian--render your money to Caesar, but yourself to God:
‎‎“The things which are Caesar’s are to be rendered to Caesar.” (Mt 22:21; Mk 12:17; Lk 20:25) It is enough that He set in apposition thereto, “and to God the things which are God’s.” What things, then, are Caesar’s? Those, to wit, about which the consultation was then held, whether the poll-tax should be furnished to Caesar or no. Therefore, too, the Lord demanded that the money should be shown Him, and inquired about the image, whose it was; and when He had heard it was Caesar’s, said, “Render to Caesar what are Caesar’s, and what are God’s to God; ”that is, the image of Caesar, which is on the coin, to Caesar, and the image of God, which is on man, (See Ge 1:26, 27; 9:6, and comp. 1 Co 11:7) to God; so as to render to Caesar indeed money, to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God’s, if all things are Caesar’s? (Tertullian, De idol. 15, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 70)

St. Augustine--Christ's coin is man, bearing his image:
‎‎Truth is looked for in God’s image, not vanity. By the love of the truth then be that image, afterwhich we were created, engraven anew, and His Own tribute rendered to our Caesar. For so ye have heard from the Lord’s answer, when the Jews tempted Him, as He said, “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites; show Me the tribute money,” (Mt 22:18, 19) that is, the impress and superscription of the image. Show me what ye pay, what ye get ready, what is exacted of you. And “they showed Him a denarius;” and “He asked whose image and superscription it had.” They answered, “Caesar’s.” So Caesar looks for his own image. It is not Caesar’s will that what he ordered to be made should be lost to him, and it is not surely God’s will that what He hath made should be lost to Him. Caesar, my Brethren, did not make the money; the masters of the mint make it; the workmen have their orders, he issues his commands to his ministers. His image was stamped upon the money; on the money was Caesar’s image. And yet he requires what others have stamped; he puts it in his treasures; he will not have it refused him. Christ’s coin is man. In him is Christ’s image, in him Christ’s Name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rules of duty. (Augustine, Serm. 90.10, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 397)

St. Augustine on the same theme:
‎‎We are God’s money: we have wandered away as coin from the treasury. The impression that was stamped upon us has been rubbed out by our wandering. He has come to refashion, for He it was that fashioned us at first; and He is Himself asking for His money, as Caesar for his. Therefore He says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s:” (Mt 22:21) to Caesar his money, to God yourselves. And then shall the truth be reproduced in us. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 40.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 228)

St. John Chrysostom--the things which are Caesar's includes only those which are no detriment to godliness:
‎‎But thou, when thou hearest, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” know that He is speaking only of those things, which are no detriment to godliness; since if it be any such thing as this, such a thing is no longer Caesar’s tribute, but the devil’s. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 70.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 427)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Eigth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 25:6–10a
Second Reading Philippians 4:12–14, 19–20
Gospel Matthew 22:1–14 or Matthew 22:1–10


St. John Chrysostom--St. Paul's joy is in the spiritual advancement of the Philippians:
‎‎[H]e praises them, and shows that this action was for the need, not of the receiver, but of the givers. This he doth, both that they who benefited him may not be lifted up with arrogance, and that they may become more zealous in well-doing, since they rather benefit themselves; and that they who receive may not fearlessly rush forward to receive, lest they meet with condemnation. For “it is more blessed,” He saith, “to give than to receive.” (Acts xx. 35.) Why then does he say, “I rejoice in the Lord greatly”? Not with worldly rejoicing, saith he, nor with the joy of this life, but in the Lord. Not because I had refreshment, but because ye advanced; for this is my refreshment. Wherefore he also saith “greatly”; since this joy was not corporeal, nor on account of his own refreshment, but because of their advancement. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 15, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 249)

St. John Chrysostom--there is great need of virtue in abundance as in need:
‎“But, says one, there is no need of wisdom or of virtue in order to abound.” There is great need of virtue, not less than in the other case. For as want inclines us to do many evil things, so too doth plenty. For many ofttimes, coming into plenty, have become indolent, and have not known how to bear their good fortune. Many men have taken it as an occasion of no longer working. But Paul did not so, for what he received he consumed on others, and emptied himself for them. This is to know. He was in nowise relaxed, nor did he exult at his abundance; but was the same in want and in plenty, he was neither oppressed on the one hand, nor rendered a boaster on the other. “Both to be filled,” saith he “and to be hungry, both to abound, and to be in want.” Many know not how to be full, as for example, the Israelites, “ate, and kicked” (Deut. xxxii. 15), but I am equally well ordered in all. He showeth that he neither is now elated, nor was before grieved: or if he grieved, it was on their account, not on his own, for he himself was similarly affected. (Chrysostom. Hom. Phil. 15, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 250)

St. Ambrose on St. Paul's humility:
‎‎“I know,” he says, “how to be abased.” (Phil. 4:12) An untaught humility has no claim to praise, but only that which possesses modesty and a knowledge of self. For there is a humility that rests on fear, one, too, that rests on want of skill and ignorance. Therefore the Scripture says: “He will save the humble in spirit.” (Ps 34:18) Gloriously, therefore, does he say: “I know how to be abased;” that is to say, where, in what moderation, to what end, in what duty, in which office. The Pharisee knew not how to be abased, therefore he was cast down. The publican knew, and therefore he was justified. (Lk 18:11) (Ambrose, De offic. 2.17.90, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 57)

John Cassian--the perfect man is affected by neither abundance nor want:
‎‎We shall then be ambidextrous, when neither abundance nor want affects us, and when the former does not entice us to the luxury of a dangerous carelessness, while the latter does not draw us to despair, and complaining; but when, giving thanks to God in either case alike, we gain one and the same advantage out of good and bad fortune. And such that truly ambidextrous man, the teacher of the Gentiles, testifies that he himself was, when he says: “For I have learnt in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith. I know both how to be brought low and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to De hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things in Him which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:11-13) (Cassian, Collat. 1.6.10, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 357)

St. Irenaeus--after our calling, we ought to be adorned with works of righteousness:
‎‎Still further did He also make it manifest, that we ought, after our calling, to be also adorned with works of righteousness, so that the Spirit of God may rest upon us; for this is the wedding garment, of which also the apostle speaks, “Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up by immortality.” (2 Co 5:4) But those who have indeed been called to God’s supper, yet have not received the Holy Spirit, because of their wicked conduct “shall be,” He declares, “cast into outer darkness.” (Mt 22:13) He thus clearly shows that the very same King who gathered from all quarters the faithful to the marriage of His Son, and who grants them the incorruptible banquet, [also] orders that man to be cast into outer darkness who has not on a wedding garment, that is, one who despises it. For as in the former covenant, “with many of them was He not well pleased;” (1 Co. 10:5) so also is it the case here, that “many are called, but few chosen.” (Mt 22:14) (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 4.36.6, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 517)

St. Augustine applies the parable of the wedding feast to those called to the Eucharistic feast:
‎‎All the faithful know the marriage of the king’s son, and his feast, and the spreading of the Lord’s Table is open to them all who will. But it is of importance to each one to see how he approaches, even when he is not forbidden to approach It. For the Holy Scriptures teach us that there are two feasts of the Lord; one to which the good and evil come, the other to which the evil come not. So then the feast, of which we have just now heard when the Gospel was being read, has both good and evil guests. All who excused themselves from this feast are evil; but not all those who entered in are good. You therefore who are the good guests at this feast do I address, who have in your minds the words, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.” (1 Co. 11:29) All you who are such do I address, that ye look not for the good without, that ye bear with the evil within. (Augustine, Serm. 90.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 392)

St. John Chrysostom--the wedding garment is the life and practice expected of the one who is called:
‎Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith, and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the garment is life and practice.
‎And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 69.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 423)

Monday, September 26, 2011

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading  Isaiah 5:1–7
Second Reading  Philippians 4:6–9
Gospel  Matthew 21:33–43


For the second reading, see also Advent 3, Year C.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--the field that brough forth thorns and the crown of thorns:
‎‎They gave Him, it says, wine mingled with myrrh. (Mk 15:23) Now myrrh is in taste like gall, and very bitter. Are these things what ye recompense unto the Lord? Are these thy offerings, O Vine, unto thy Master? Rightly did the Prophet Esaias aforetime bewail you, saying, My well-beloved had a vineyard in a hill in a fruitful place; and (not to recite the whole) I waited, he says, that it should bring forth grapes; I thirsted that it should give wine; but it brought forth thorns; (Is 5:1, 2) for thou seest the crown, wherewith I am adorned. What then shall I now decree? I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the clouds which are the Prophets were removed from them, and are for the future in the Church. (Cyril, Cat. Lect. 13.29, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 90)

St. Ambrose--those deprived of the fertilizing rain of prophecy suffer the drought of unbelief:
‎‎Nor is it strange that [Israel] should suffer the drought of unbelief, whom the Lord deprived of the fertilising of the shower of prophecy, saying: “I will command My clouds that they rain not upon that vineyard.” (Is 5:6) For there is a health-giving shower of salutary grace, as David also said: “He came down like rain upon a fleece. and like drops that drop upon the earth.” (Ps 72:6) The divine Scriptures promised us this rain upon the whole earth, to water the world with the dew of the Divine Spirit at the coming of the Saviour. The Lord, then, has now come, and the rain has come; the Lord has come bringing the heavenly drops with Him, and so now we drink, who before were thirsty, and with an interior draught drink in that Divine Spirit. (Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct. 1, Prol. 8, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 94)

St. Augustine on what it can mean to "make your requests known" to God who knows all:
‎‎Whence, also, when the same apostle says, “Let your requests be made known unto God,” (Phil 4:6) this is not to be understood as if thereby they become known to God, who certainly knew them before they were uttered, but in this sense, that they are to be made known to ourselves in the presence of God by patient waiting upon Him, not in the presence of men by ostentatious worship. Or perhaps that they may be made known also to the angels that are in the presence of God, that these beings may in some way present them to God, and consult Him concerning them, and may bring to us, either manifestly or secretly, that which, hearkening to His commandment, they may have learned to be His will, and which must be fulfilled by them according to that which they have there learned to be their duty; for the angel said to Tobias: (Tob 12:12) “Now, therefore, when thou didst pray, and Sara thy daughter-in-law, I did bring the remembrance of your prayers before the Holy One.” (Augustine, Ep. 130.9.18, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 465)

St. John Chrysostom on Phil. 4:9:
‎What meaneth, “whatsoever things are lovely”? Lovely to the faithful, lovely to God. “Whatsoever things are true.” Virtue is really true, vice is falsehood. For the pleasure of it is a falsehood, and its glory is falsehood, and all things of the world are falsehood. “Whatsoever things are pure.” This is opposed to the words “who mind earthly things.” “Whatsoever things are honorable.” This is opposed to the words “whose god is their belly.” “Whatsoever things are just,” i.e. saith he, “whatsoever things are of good report.” “If there be any virtue, if there be any praise.” Here he willeth them to take thought of those things too which regard men. “Think on these things,” saith he. Seest thou, that he desires to banish every evil thought from our souls; for evil actions spring from thoughts. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 14, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 247)

St. Augustine on the parable of the tenants:
‎The vineyard was planted when the law was given in the hearts of the Jews. The Prophets were sent, seeking fruit, even their good life: the Prophets were treated despitefully by them, and were killed. Christ also was sent, the Only Son of the Householder; and they killed Him who was the Heir, and so lost the inheritance. Their evil counsel turned out contrary to their designs. They killed Him that they might possess the inheritance; and because they killed Him, they lost it. (Augustine, Serm. 87.2.3, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 374)

St. John Chrysostom on the care and long-suffering of the householder:
‎‎And observe also both His great care, and the excessive idleness of these men. For what pertained to the husbandmen, He Himself did, the hedging it round about, the planting the vineyard, and all the rest, and He left little for them to do; to take care of what was there, and to preserve what was given to them. For nothing was left undone, but all accomplished; and not even so did they gain, and this, when they had enjoyed such great blessings from Him. For when they had come forth out of Egypt, He gave a law, and set up a city, and built a temple, and prepared an altar.
‎‎“And went into a far country;” that He bore long with them, not always bringing the punishments close upon their sins; for by His going into a far country, He means His great long-suffering. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 68.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 415)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pseudo-Dionysius on Community Pricing

Logos has put the works of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopogite up on Community Pricing.

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Ezekiel 18:25–28
Second Reading Philippians 2:1–11 or Philippians 2:1–5
Gospel Matthew 21:28–32


For the more on Second Reading, see also, Palm Sunday, Year C.

St. John Chrysostom on "having the same love":
‎“Having the same love.” That is, let it not be simply about faith alone, but also in all other things; for there is such a thing as to be of the same mind, and yet not to have love. “Having the same love,” that is, love and be loved alike; do not thou enjoy much love, and show less love, so as to be covetous even in this matter; but do not suffer it in thyself. “Of one accord,” he adds, that is, appropriating with one soul, the bodies of all, not in substance, for that is impossible, but in purpose and intention. Let all things proceed as from one soul. What means “of one accord”? He shows when he says “of one mind.” Let your mind be one, as if from one soul. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 203)
St. John Chrysostom on vainglory and humility:
‎He finally demands this of them, and tells them the way how this may be. “Doing nothing through faction or vainglory.” This, as I always say, is the cause of all evil. Hence come fightings and contentions. Hence come envyings and strifes. Hence it is that love waxes cold, when we love the praise of men, when we are slaves to the honor which is paid by the many, for it is not possible for a man to be the slave of praise, and also a true servant of God. How then shall we flee vainglory? for thou hast not yet told us the way. Listen then to what follows.“But in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself.” Oh how full of true wisdom, how universal a gathering-word of our salvation is the lesson he has put forth! If thou deemest, he means, that another is greater than thyself, and persuadest thyself so, yea more, if thou not only sayest it, but art fully assured of it, then thou assignest him the honor, and if thou assignest him the honor, thou wilt not be displeased at seeing him honored by another. Do not then think him simply greater than thyself, but “better,” which is a very great superiority, and thou dost not think it strange nor be pained thereby, if thou seest him honored. Yea, though he treat thee with scorn, thou dost bear it nobly, for thou hast esteemed him greater than thyself. Though he revile thee, thou dost submit. Though he treat thee ill, thou bearest it in silence. For when once the soul is fully assured that he is greater, it falls not into anger when it is ill-treated by him, nor yet into envy, for no one would envy those who are very far above himself, for all things belong to his superiority. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 5, NPNF1 vol. 13, pg. 203-204)

Pseudo-Chrysostom--the two sons may be interpreted as the Gentiles and the Jews:
‎A certain man had two sons. Who is he but God, who created all men, who being by nature Lord of all, yet would rather be loved as a father, than feared as a Lord. The elder son was the Gentile people, the younger the Jews, since from the time of Noah there had been Gentiles. And he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. To day, i. e. during this age. He spoke with him, not face to face as man, but to his heart as God, instilling understanding through the senses. To work in the vineyard is to do righteousness; for to cultivate the whole thereof, I know not that any one man is sufficient. (Ps-Chrysostom, Op. Imperf. in Mat., cited in Cat. Aur. 1.724-725)

Pseudo-Chrysostom--the common people, professing a secular life, but turning repentent to God superior to the impenitent priests:
‎He brings forward the parable of the two sons, shewing them therein that the common sort, who from the first professed secular lives, were better than the Priests who from the first professed the service of God, inasmuch as the people at length turned repentant to God, but the Priests impenitent, never left off to sin against God. And the elder son represents the people; because the people is not for the sake of the Priests, but the Priests are for the sake of the people. (Ps-Chrysostom, Op. Imperf. in Mat., cited in Cat. Aur. 1.727)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 55:6–9
Second Reading Philippians 1:20c–24, 27a
Gospel Matthew 20:1–16a


St. Augustine--the perfect in charity desire to meed Christ in judgment as did St. Paul:
‎‎When a person still desires this life, that person, when the day of death comes, patiently endures death: he struggles against himself that he may follow the will of God, and in his mind desires that which God chooseth, not what man’s will chooseth: from desire of the present life there comes a reluctance against death, but yet he takes to him patience and fortitude, that he may with an even mind meet death; he dies patiently. But when a man desires, as the apostle saith, “to be dissolved and to be with Christ,” (Phil 1:23, 24) that person, not patiently dies, but patiently lives, delightedly dies. See the apostle patiently living, i.e. how with patience he here, not loves life, but endures it. “To be dissolved,” saith be, “and to be with Christ, is far better: but to continue in the flesh is necessary for your sakes.” Therefore, brethren, do your endeavor, settle it inwardly with yourselves to make this your concern, that ye may desire the day of judgment. No otherwise is charity proved to be perfect, but only when one has begun to desire that day. But that man desires it, who hath boldness in it, whose conscience feels no alarm in perfect and sincere charity. (Augustine, Tract. in ep. Joan. 9.2-3, NPNF1, vol. 7. pg. 514-515)

St. John Chrysostom--death itself is neither good nor ill, but what follows it is:
‎“It is good for me to depart and be with Christ,” for even death is a thing indifferent; since death itself is no ill, but to be punished after death is an ill. Nor is death a good, but it is good after our departure “to be with Christ.” What follows death is either good or ill.
‎Let us then not simply grieve for the dead, nor joy for the living simply. But how? Let us grieve for sinners, not only when dying, but also while living. Let us joy for the just, not only while living, but also when dead. For those though living are dead, while these although dead, yet live: those even while here are to be pitied of all, because they are at enmity with God; the other even when they have departed Thither, are blessed, because they are gone to Christ. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 3, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 196)
St. Basil on the meaning of "to me live is Christ":
‎‎For if, to me, “to live is Christ,” (Phil 1:21) truly my words ought to be about Christ, my every thought and deed ought to depend upon His commandments, and my soul to be fashioned after His. (Basil, Ep. 159.1, NPNF2, vol. 8, pg. 212)

St. Ambrose on "to live is Christ and to die is gain":
‎‎We see, then, that this death is a gain and life a penalty, so that Paul says: “To me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) What is Christ but the death of the body, the breath of life? And so let us die with Him, that we may live with Him. Let there then be in us as it were a daily practice and inclination to dying, that by this separation from bodily desires, of which we have spoken, our soul may learn to withdraw itself, and, as it were placed on high, when earthly lusts cannot approach and attach it to themselves, may take upon herself the likeness of death, that she incur not the penalty of death. (Ambrose, De excessu fratris 2.40, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 180)

St. Augustine on equality and difference in eternal life:
‎‎What then, say they, is the meaning of that penny, which is given in payment to all alike when the work of the vineyard is ended? whether it be to those who have labored from the first hour, or to those who have labored one hour? (Mt 20:9, 10) What assuredly doth it signify, but something, which all shall have in common, such as is life eternal itself, the kingdom of heaven itself, where shall be all, whom God hath predestinated, called, justified, glorified? “For it behoveth that this corruptible put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” (1 Co 15:53) This is that penny, wages for all. Yet “star differeth from star in glory; so also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Co 15:41, 42) These are the different merits of the Saints. For, if by that penny the heaven were signified, have not all the stars in common to be in the heaven? And yet, “There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another of the stars.” If that penny were taken for health of body, have not all the members, when we are well, health in common; and, should this health continue even unto death, is it not in all alike and equally? And yet, “God hath set the members, each one of them, in the body, as He would;” (1 Co 12:18) that neither the whole be an eye, nor the whole hearing, nor the whole smelling: and, whatever else there is, it hath its own property, although it have health equally with all. Thus because life eternal itself shall be alike to all, an equal penny was assigned to all; but, because in that life eternal itself the lights of merits shall shine with a distinction, there are “many mansions” in the house of the Father: (Jn 14:2) and, by this means, in the penny not unlike, one lives not longer than another; but in the many mansions, one is honored with greater brightness than another. (Augustine, De sancta virgin. 26.26, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 426)

St. Augustine on how those called late seem to recieve their reward earlier:
‎So then though they all received at the same hour, yet because some received after one hour, others after twelve hours, they who received after so short a time are said to have received first. The first righteous men, as Abel, and Noe, called as it were at the first hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. Other righteous men after them, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of their age, called as it were at the third hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. Other righteous men, as Moses, and Aaron, and whosoever with them were called as it were at the sixth hour, will receive together with us the blessedness of the resurrection. After them the Holy Prophets, called as it were at the ninth hour, will receive together with us the same blessedness. In the end of the world all Christians, called as it were at the eleventh hour, will receive with the rest the blessedness of that resurrection. All will receive together; but consider those first men, after how long a time do they receive it? If then those first receive after a long time, we after a short time; though we all receive together, yet we seem to have received first, because our hire will not tarry long in coming. (Augustine, Serm. 87.4.5, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 374-375)

St. Augustine--the equality of the reward promised to those called later in the day not an excuse to delay turning to the Lord:
‎But, Brethren, hearken ye and understand, lest any put off to come into the vineyard, because he is sure, that, come when he will, he shall receive this denarius. And sure indeed he is that the denarius is promised him; but this is no injunction to put off. For did they who were hired into the vineyard, when the householder came out to them to hire whom he might find, at the third hour for instance, and did hire them, did they say to him, “Wait, we are not going thither till the sixth hour”? or they whom he found at the sixth hour, did they say, “We are not going till the ninth hour”? or they whom he found at the ninth hour, did they say, “We are not going till the eleventh? For he will give to all alike; why should we fatigue ourselves more than we need?” What He was to give, and what He was to do, was in the secret of His own counsel: do thou come when thou art called. For an equal reward is promised to all; but as to this appointed hour of working, there is an important question. For if, for instance, they who are called at the sixth hour, at that age of life that is, in which as in the full heat of noon, is felt the glow of manhood’s years; if they, called thus in manhood, were to say, “Wait, for we have heard in the Gospel that all are to receive the same reward, we will come at the eleventh hour, when we shall have grown old, and shall still receive the same. Why should we add to our labour?” it would be answered them thus, “Art not thou willing to labour now, who dost not know whether thou shalt live to old age? Thou art called at the sixth hour; come. The Householder hath it is true promised thee a denarius, if thou come at the eleventh hour, but whether thou shalt live even to the seventh, no one hath promised thee. I say not to the eleventh, but even to the seventh hour. Why then dost thou put off him that calleth thee, certain as thou art of the reward, but uncertain of the day? Take heed then lest peradventure what he is to give thee by promise, thou take from thyself by delay.” Now if this may rightly be said of infants as belonging to the first hour, if it may be rightly said of boys as belonging to the third, if it may be rightly said of men in the vigour of life, as in the full-day heat of the sixth hour; how much more rightly may it be said of the decrepit? Lo, already is it the eleventh hour, and dost thou yet stand still, and art thou yet slow to come? (Augustine, Serm. 87.6.8, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 375)

St. John Chrysostom on the intent of the parable of the workers in the vineyard:
‎From everything then it is manifest to us, that the parable is spoken with reference to them who from earliest youth, and those who in old age and more tardily, lay hold on virtue; to the former, that they may not be proud, neither reproach those called at the eleventh hour; to the latter, that they may learn that it is possible even in a short time to recover all.
‎For since He had been speaking about earnestness, and the casting away of riches, and contempt of all one’s possessions, but this needed much vigor of mind and youthful ardor; in order to kindle in them a fire of love, and to give vigor to their will, He shows that it is possible even for men coming later to receive the hire of the whole day.
‎But He doth not say it thus, lest again He should make them proud, but he shows that the whole is of His love to man, and because of this they shall not fail, but shall themselves enjoy the unspeakable blessings. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 64.4, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 395)