Monday, January 10, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 49:3, 5–6
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 1:1–3
Gospel John 1:29–34

Origen--if Christ had not become a servant, he could not have been a light to the gentiles:
‎‎Again, let any one consider how Jesus was to His disciples, not as He who sits at meat, but as He who serves, and how though the Son of God He took on Him the form of a servant for the sake of the freedom of those who were enslaved in sin, and he will be at no loss to account for the Father’s saying to Him: (Is 49:3, 6) “Thou art My servant,” and a little further on: “It is a great thing that thou shouldst be called My servant.” For we do not hesitate to say that the goodness of Christ appears in a greater and more divine light, and more according to the image of the Father, because (Phil 2:6, 8) “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” than if He had judged it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, and had shrunk from becoming a servant for the salvation of the world. Hence He says, (Is 49:5, 6) desiring to teach us that in accepting this state of servitude He had received a great gift from His Father: “And My God shall be My strength. And He said to Me, It is a great thing for Thee to be called My servant.” For if He had not become a servant, He would not have raised up the tribes of Jacob, nor have turned the heart of the diaspora of Israel, and neither would He have become a light of the Gentiles to be for salvation to the ends of the earth. (Origen, Comm. Jo. 1.37, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 316)

St. John Chrysostom--true grace and peace come from God alone:
‎‎Now if our peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art Thou so puffed up, being saved by grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others? since this is what separation comes to. For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him. For neither do they abide secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held as enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is there any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love. For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 1.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 4)

Origen--the Lamb of God takes away sin till sin be taken away from the whole world:
Since, then, He takes away sin until every enemy shall be destroyed and death last of all, in order that the whole world may be free from sin, therefore John points to Him and says: (Jn 1:29) “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” It is not said that He will take it away in the future, nor that He is at present taking it, nor that He has taken it, but is not taking it away now. His taking away sin is still going on, He is taking it away from every individual in the world, till sin be taken away from the whole world, and the Saviour deliver the kingdom prepared and completed to the Father, a kingdom in which no sin is left at all, and which, therefore, is ready to accept the Father as its king, and which on the other hand is waiting to receive all God has to bestow, fully, and in every part, at that time when the saying (1 Co 5:28) is fulfilled, “That God may be all in all.” (Origen, Comm. Jo. 1.37, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 317)

St. Augustine explains John's statement that he "knew Him not":
‎‎Again, the account of the dove given in the Gospel according to John does not mention the time at which the incident happened, but contains a statement of the words of John the Baptist as reporting what he saw. In this section, the question rises as to how it is said, “And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 1:33) For if he came to I know Him only at the time when he saw the dove descending upon Him, the inquiry is raised as to how he could have said to Him, as He came to be baptized, “I ought rather to be baptized of Thee.” (Mt 3:14) For the Baptist addressed Him thus before the dove descended. From this, however, it is evident that, although he did know Him [in a certain sense] before this time,—for he even leaped in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elisabeth, (Lk 1:41) —there was yet something which was not known to him up to this time, and which he learned by the descending of the dove,—namely, the fact that He baptized in the Holy Spirit by a certain divine power proper to Himself; so that no man who received this baptism from God, even although he baptized some, should be able to say that that which he imparted was his own, or that the Holy Spirit was given by him. (Augustine, De consens. Ev. 2.15.32, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 120)

St. Ambrose--the Spirit descends to bear witness to the Son, to perfect the laver of baptism and to show that his working is one with the Father and the Son:
‎‎And has not God the Father been able to teach you, Who says: “Upon Whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, this is He Who baptizeth in the Holy Spirit”? (Jn 1:33) For the Spirit descended in the likeness of a dove, (Lk 3:22) that He might both bear witness to His wisdom, and perfect the sacrament of the spiritual laver, and show that His working is one with that of the Father and the Son. (Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct. 3.14.98, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 149)

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