Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Gospel Matthew 5:38–48

Tertullian--to fail in the reproof of a brother is to contract his sin:
‎‎If one failed in this duty of reproof, he in fact sinned, either because out of hatred he wished his brother to continue in sin, or else spared him from mistaken friendship, although possessing the injunction in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thy neighbor thou shalt seriously rebuke, and on his account shalt not contract sin.” (Lev 19:17) (Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.35, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 407)

St. Augustine--the command to love your neighbor is found in the law, but Christ makes it new by adding that we are to love has he has loved us:
‎‎The Lord Jesus declares that He is giving His disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another. “A new commandment,” He says, “I give unto you, that ye love one another.” But was not this already commanded in the ancient law of God, where it is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”? (Lev 19:18)Why, then, is it called a new one by the Lord, when it is proved to be so old? Is it on this account a new commandment, because He hath divested us of the old, and clothed us with the new man? For it is not indeed every kind of love that renews him that listens to it, or rather yields it obedience, but that love regarding which the Lord, in order to distinguish it from all carnal affection, added, “as I have loved you.” (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 65.1, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 317)

St. Jerome--we should not be partial toward wealth or poverty but judge each inidividual on the merits of his case:
‎‎“Thou shall not respect the person of the poor,” (Lev 19:15) a precept given lest under pretext of shewing pity we should judge unjust judgment. For each individual is to be judged not by his personal importance but by the merits of his case. His wealth need not stand in the way of the rich man, if he makes a good use of it; and poverty can be no recommendation to the poor if in the midst of squalor and want he fails to keep clear of wrong doing. (Jerome, Ep. 79.1, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 163)

St. Irenaeus--our bodies are temples of God, members of Christ and will partake of salvation:
‎‎And not only does he (the apostle) acknowledge our bodies to be a temple, but even the temple of Christ, saying thus to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?” (1 Cor 3:17) He speaks these things, not in reference to some other spiritual man; for a being of such a nature could have nothing to do with an harlot: but he declares “our body,” that is, the flesh which continues in sanctity and purity, to be “the members of Christ;”but that when it becomes one with an harlot, it becomes the members of an harlot. And for this reason he said, “If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.” How then is it not the utmost blasphemy to allege, that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Father dwells, and the members of Christ, do not partake of salvation, but are reduced to perdition? (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 5.6.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 532)

Tertullian--if the body is the temple of God, modesty is the sacristan and priestess of the temple:
‎‎For since, by the introduction into an appropriation (in) us of the Holy Spirit, we are all” the temple of God,” (1 Cor 3:16, 17, 6:19, 20) Modesty is the sacristan and priestess of that temple, who is to suffer nothing unclean or profane to be introduced (into it), for fear that the God who inhabits it should be offended, and quite forsake the polluted abode. (Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, 2.1, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 18)

St. John Chrysostom on becoming a fool unto the world:
‎As he bids one become, as it were, dead unto the world;—and this deadness harms not at all, but rather profits, being made a cause of life:—so also he bids him become foolish unto this world, introducing to us hereby the true wisdom. Now he becomes a fool unto the world, who slights the wisdom from without, and is persuaded that it contributes nothing towards his comprehension of the faith. As then that poverty which is according to God is the cause of wealth, and lowliness, of exaltation, and to despise glory is the cause of glory; so also the becoming a fool maketh a man wiser than all. For all, with us, goes by contraries. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 10.2, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 54)

St. John Chrysostom on "all things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's:
‎“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” In one sense “we are Christ’s, and in another sense “Christ is God’s,” and in a third sense is “the world ours.” For we indeed are Christ’s, as his work: “Christ is God’s, as a genuine Offspring, not as a work: in which sense neither is the world ours. So that though the saying is the same, yet the meaning is different. For “the world is ours,” as being a thing made for our sakes: but “Christ is God’s,” as having Him the Author of his being, in that He is Father. And “we are Christ’s,” as having been formed by Him. Now “if they are yours,” saith he, “why have ye done what is just contrary to this, in calling yourselves after their name, and not after Christ, and God?” (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 10.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 55)

St. Augustine--Christ forbids revenge, not the restraining of men from sin:
‎‎As to killing others in order to defend one’s own life, I do not approve of this, unless one happen to be a soldier or public functionary acting, not for himself, but in defence of others or of the city in which he resides, if he act according to the commission lawfully given him, and in the manner becoming his office. When, however, men are prevented, by being alarmed, from doing wrong, it may be said that a real service is done to themselves. The precept, “Resist not evil,” (Mt 5:39) was given to prevent us from taking pleasure in revenge, in which the mind is gratified by the sufferings of others, but not to make us neglect the duty of restraining men from sin. (Augustine, Ep. 47.5, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 293)

St. Augustine--the law brought the beginning o peace by moderating revenge, but perfect peace is to have no wish at all for vengeance:
It is the lesser righteousness of the Pharisees not to go beyond measure in revenge, that no one should give back more than he has received: and this is a great step. For it is not easy to find any one who, when he has received a blow, wishes merely to return the blow; and who, on hearing one word from a man who reviles him, is content to return only one, and that just an equivalent; but he avenges it more immoderately, either under the disturbing influence of anger, or because he thinks it just, that he who first inflicted injury should suffer more severe injury than he suffered who had not inflicted injury. Such a spirit was in great measure restrained by the law, where it was written, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;” by which expressions a certain measure is intended, so that the vengeance should not exceed the injury. And this is the beginning of peace: but perfect peace is to have no wish at all for such vengeance. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.19.56, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 24)

St. Augustine--that we must give to all who ask does not necessarily mean giving everything to him that asks:
But since it is a small matter merely to abstain from injuring, unless you also confer a benefit as far as you can, He therefore goes on to say, “Give to every one that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” “To every one that asketh,” says He; not, Everything to him that asketh: so that you are to give that which you can honestly and justly give. For what if he should ask money, wherewith he may endeavour to oppress an innocent man? what if, in short, he should ask something unchaste? But not to recount many examples, which are in fact innumerable, that certainly is to be given which may hurt neither thyself nor the other party, as far as can be known or supposed by man; and in the case of him to whom you have justly denied what he asks, justice itself is to be made known, so that you may not send him away empty. Thus you will give to every one that asketh you, although you will not always give what he asks; and you will sometimes give something better, when you have set him right who was making unjust requests. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 1.20.67, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 28-29)

St. John Chrysostom on how we ought to resist the evil one:
‎“What then?” it is said, “ought we not to resist the evil one?” Indeed. we ought, but not in this way, but as He hath commanded, by giving one’s self up to suffer wrongfully; for thus shall thou prevail over him. For one fire is not quenched by another, but fire by water. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 18.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 124)

St. John Chrysostom on the steps of virtue outlined by Our Lord:
‎‎Seest thou how many steps He hath ascended, and how He hath set us on the very summit of virtue? Nay, mark it, numbering from the beginning. A first step is, not to begin with injustice: a second, after he hath begun, to vindicate one’s self by equal retaliation; a third, not to do unto him that is vexing us the same that one hath suffered, but to be quiet; a fourth, even to give one’s self up to suffer wrongfully; a fifth, to give up yet more than the other, who did the wrong, wishes; a sixth, not to hate him who hath done so; a seventh, even to love him; an eighth, to do him good also; a ninth, to entreat God Himself on his behalf. Seest thou, what height of self-command? Wherefore glorious too, as we see, is the reward which it hath. That is, because the thing enjoined was great, and needed a fervent soul, and much earnestness, He appoints for it also such a reward, as for none of the former. For He makes not mention here of earth, as with respect to the meek; nor of comfort and mercy, as with regard to the mourners and the merciful; nor of the kingdom of Heaven; but of that which was more thrilling than all; our becoming like God, in such wise as men might become so. For He saith, “That ye may become like unto your Father which is in Heaven.” (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 18.4, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 126-127)

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