Monday, February 21, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Isaiah 49:14–15
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 4:1–5
Gospel Matthew 6:24–34

John Cassian--the providence and love of God is compared to the heart of a kind mother:
‎‎This providence and love of God therefore, which the Lord in His unwearied goodness vouchsafes to show us, He compares to the tenderest heart of a kind mother, as He wishes to express it by a figure of human affection, and finds in His creatures no such feeling of love, to which he could better compare it. And He uses this example, because nothing dearer can be found in human nature, saying: “Can a mother forget her child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?” But not content with this comparison He at once goes beyond it, and subjoins these words: “And though she may forget, yet will not I forget thee.” (Is 49:15) (John Cassian, Collat. 2.13.17, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 434)

Origen--we must keep our hearts with watchfulness, as the Lord will make their counsels manifest:
‎‎The spring and source, then, of every sin are evil thoughts; for, unless these gained the mastery, neither murders nor adulteries nor any other such thing would exist. Therefore, each man must keep his own heart with all watchfulness; (Pr 4:23) for when the Lord comes in the day of judgment, “He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1 Co 4:5) “all the thoughts of men meanwhile accusing or else excusing them,” (Ro 2:15) “when their own devices have beset them about.” (Hos 7:2) (Origen, Comm. Matt. 11.15, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 444)

St. Augustine--the Light that will make hidden things manifest is God Himself:
‎[B]ut when the Lord cometh, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1 Co 4:5) then shall nothing in any one be concealed from his neighbour; nor shall there be anything which any one might reveal to his friends, but keep hidden from strangers, for no stranger shall be there. What tongue can describe the nature and the greatness of that light by which all those things which are now in the hearts of men concealed shall be made manifest? who can with our weak faculties even approach it? Truly that Light is God Himself, for “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all;” (1 Jn 1:5) but He is the Light of purified minds, not of these bodily eyes. And the mind shall then be, what meanwhile it is not, able to see that light. (Augustine, Ep. 92.2, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 380)

St. Augustine--in heaven, we shall love our neighbor based on knowledge of his interior virtue which the Lord will bring to light:
‎‎We love God now by faith, then we shall love Him through sight. Now we love even our neighbor by faith; for we who are ourselves mortal know not the hearts of mortal men. But in the future life, the Lord “both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God;” (1 Co 4:5) for every man shall love and praise in his neighbor the virtue which, that it may not be hid, the Lord Himself shall bring to light. (Augustine, Enchir. 121.32, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 276)

St. John Chrysostom--only the Lord can judge our secret doings:
‎For neither in this instance is he speaking of those sins which all own to be such, but about preferring one before another, and making comparisons of modes of life. For these things He alone knows how to judge with accuracy, who is to judge our secret doings, which of these be worthy of greater and which of less punishment and honor. But we do all this according to what meets our eye. “For if in mine own errors,” saith he, “I know nothing clearly, how can I be worthy to pass sentence on other men? And how shall I who know not my own case with accuracy, be able to judge the state of others?” Now if Paul felt this, much more we. For (to proceed) he spake these things, not to exhibit himself as faultless, but to shew that even should there be among them some such person, free from transgression, not even he would be worthy to judge the lives of others: and that if he, though conscious to himself of nothing declare himself guilty, much more they who have ten thousand sins to be conscious of in themselves. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 11.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg 60)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the disciple prays only for his "daily bread", since he is to take no thought of tomorrow:
‎‎But he who has begun to be Christ’s disciple, renouncing all things according to the word of his Master, ought to ask for his daily food, and not to extend the desires of his petition to a long period, as the Lord again prescribes, and says, “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow itself shall take thought for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” (Mt 6:34) With reason, then, does Christ’s disciple ask food for himself for the day, since he is prohibited from thinking of the morrow; because it becomes a contradiction and a repugnant thing for us to seek to live long in this world, since we ask that the kingdom of God should come quickly. (Cyprian, De orat. Dom. 19, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 452)

St. Augustine--God requires us to seek from him alone temporal goods in addition to eternal goods so that desire of them might not draw us from the worship of Him:
‎‎‎ “Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall He clothe you, O ye of little faith.!” (Mt 6:28-30) It was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone even these petty temporal boons. and the earthly necessaries of this transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising and forsaking such things. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 10.14.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 189)

St. Augustine on distinguishing between the good we ought to seek and the things that are necessary on account of that good:
‎‎Here He shows most manifestly that these things are not to be sought as if they were our blessings in such sort, that on account of them we ought to do well in all our actings, but yet that they are necessary. For what the difference is between a blessing which is to be sought, and a necessary which is to be taken for use, He has made plain by this sentence, when He says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33) The kingdom and the righteousness of God therefore are our good; and this is to be sought, and there the end is to be set up, on account of which we are to do everything which we do. But because we serve as soldiers in this life, in order that we may be able to reach that kingdom, and because our life cannot be spent without these necessaries, “These things shall be added unto you,” says He; “but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” For in using that word “first,” He has indicated that this is to be sought later, not in point of time, but in point of importance: the one as being our good, the other as being something necessary for us; but the necessary on account of that good. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 2.16.53, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 50-51)

St. John Chrysostom--wealth can hurt us doubly in drawing us from God and enslaving us to mammon:
‎Thus, “wealth,” saith He, “hurts you not in this only, that it arms robbers against you, nor in that it darkens your mind in the most intense degree, but also in that it casts you out of God’s service, making you captive of lifeless riches, and in both ways doing you harm, on the one hand, by causing you to be slaves of what you ought to command; on the other, by casting you out of God’s service, whom, above all things, it is indispensable for you to serve.” For just as in the other place, He signified the mischief to be twofold, in both laying up here, “where moth corrupteth,” and in not laying up there, where the watch kept is impregnable; so in this place, too, He shows the loss to be twofold, in that it both draws off from God, and makes us subject to mammon. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 21.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, 146)

St. John Chrysostom--we ought to be confident that our Father will take care of our necessities:
‎And He adds along with this yet another argument. Of what kind then is it? That “ye have need” of them. What He saith is like this. What! are these things superfluous, that He should disregard them? Yet not even in superfluities did He show Himself wanting in regard, in the instance of the grass: but now are these things even necessary. So that what thou considerest a cause for thy being anxious, this I say is sufficient to draw thee from such anxiety. I mean, if thou sayest, “Therefore I must needs take thought, because they are necessary;” on the contrary, I say, “Nay, for this self-same reason take no thought, because they are necessary.” Since were they superfluities, not even then ought we to despair, but to feel confident about the supply of them; but now that they are necessary, we must no longer be in doubt. For what kind of father is he, who can endure to fail in supplying to his children even necessaries? So that for this cause again God will most surely bestow them. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 22.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 152)

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