Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 8:23–9:3
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 1:10–14, 17
Gospel Matthew 4:12–23 or Matthew 4:12–17

St. Augustine--the validity of baptism does not depend on the worthiness of the man who gives it, because it is the baptism of Christ:
‎‎And so Paul gives thanks to God that he baptized none of those men who, as though forgetting in whose name they had been baptized, were for dividing themselves into factions under the names of different individuals. (1 Cor 1:12-15) For when baptism is as valid at the hands of a contemptible man as it was when given by an apostle, it is recognized as the baptism neither of this man nor of that, but of Christ. (Augustine, De bapt. 5.13.15, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 469)

St. Augustine--the apostles baptize not with their own baptism, but as servants, with the baptism of Christ:
‎‎But the Lord Jesus Christ could, if He wished, have given power to one of His servants to give a baptism of his own, as it were, in His stead, and have transferred from Himself the power of baptizing, and assigned it to one of His servants, and have given the same power to the baptism transferred to the servant as it had when bestowed by the Lord. This He would not do, in order that the hope of the baptized might be in him by whom they acknowledged themselves to have been baptized. He would not, therefore, that the servant should place his hope in the servant. And therefore the apostle exclaimed, when he saw men wishing to place their hope in himself, “Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Co 1:13) Paul then baptized as a servant, not as the power itself; but the Lord baptized as the power. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 5.7, NPNF1, vol. 7. pg. 33)

St. John Chrysostom--the greatness of baptism is the greatness of the Him who is invoked, not of him who baptizes:
‎“I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius.” “Why are you elate at having baptized, when I for my part even give thanks that I have not done so!” Thus saying, by a kind of divine art (οιχονομιχπς) he does away with their swelling pride upon this point; not with the efficacy of the baptism, (God forbid,) but with the folly of those who were puffed up at having been baptizers: first, by showing that the Gift is not theirs; and, secondly, by thanking God therefore. For Baptism truly is a great thing: but its greatness is not the work of the person baptizing, but of Him who is invoked in the Baptism: since to baptize is nothing as regards man’s labor, but is much less than preaching the Gospel. Yea, again I say, great indeed is Baptism, and without baptism it is impossible to obtain the kingdom. Still a man of no singular excellence is able to baptize, but to preach the Gospel there is need of great labor. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 3.6, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 12)

St. John Chrysostom--Christ chose unlearned men as apostles that the Gospel might not be harmed by vain glory or arrogance:
‎But here at the very outset he gives a severe blow, saying, “Lest the Cross of Christ be made void.” Why then pride thyself on a thing which ought to make thee hide thy face? Since, if this wisdom is at war with the Cross and fights with the Gospel, it is not meet to boast about it, but to retire with shame. For this was the cause why the Apostles were not wise; not through any weakness of the Gift, but lest the Gospel preached suffer harm. The sort of people therefore above mentioned were not those employed in advocating the Word: rather they were among its defamers. The unlearned men were the establishers of it. This was able to check vain glory, this to repress arrogance, this to enforce moderation. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 3.7, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 13)

St. John Chrysostom on why Christ began his preaching after the imprisonment of John the Baptist:
‎‎And moreover it was necessary that what concerned Him should be spoken by another first and not by Himself. For if even after both testimonies and demonstrations so many and so great, they sad, “Thou bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true:” (Jn 8:13) had He, without John’s saying anything, come into the midst, and first borne record Himself; what would they not have said? For this cause, neither did He preach before John, nor did He work miracles, until John was cast into prison; lest in this way the multitude should be divided. Therefore also John did no miracle at all; that by this means also might give over the multitude to Jesus, His miracles drawing them unto Him. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 14.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 87)

St. John Chrysostom on the response in faith of the apostles to the call of Christ:
‎But mark both their faith, and their obedience. For though they were in the midst of their work (and ye know how greedy a thing fishing is), when they heard His command. they delayed not, they procrastinated not, they said not, “let us return home, and converse with our kinsfolk,” but “they forsook all and followed,” even as Elisha did to Elijah”13 Because such is the obedience which Christ seeks of us, as that we delay not even a moment of time, though something absolutely most needful should vehemently press on us. Wherefore also when some other had come unto Him, and was asking leave to bury his own father,14 not even this did He permit him to do: to signify that before all we ought to esteem the following of Himself.
‎But if thou should say, “the promise is very great;” even for this do I most admire them, for that when they had not as yet seen any sign, they believed in so great a reach of promise, and accounted all but second to that attendance. And this, because they believed that by what words they were caught, by the same they would be able to catch others also.
‎To these, then, such was His promise: but to James and John He sixth no such thing. For the obedience of those that had gone before had by this time paved the way for these. And besides they had also heard many things before concerning Him. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 14.3, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 88)


Joseph said...

This is so beautiful, such a deep insight, inspiring and spiritual.

Joseph said...

Such beautiful words, showing deep understanding, both inspiring and spiritual.
Thanks Dad!