Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Exodus 17:3–7
Second Reading Romans 5:1–2, 5–8
Gospel John 4:5–42 or John 4:4–14, 19b–39a, 40–42

For Romans 1:1-5, see also Trinity Sunday, Year C.

St. Augustine--knowing God's love preserves us from despair, knowing our sinfulness preserves us from pride:
‎‎Man, then, was to be persuaded how much God loved us, and what manner of men we were whom He loved; the former, lest we should despair; the latter, lest we should be proud. And this most necessary topic the apostle thus explains: “But God commendeth,” he says, “His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom 5:8-10) (Augustine, De Trin. 4.1.2, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 70)
 
St. Augustine--the Christian was first loved that he might be made fit to be loved:
‎‎Hear the Apostle speak; hear, as I said some time ago, lest thou be broken by despair; hear how thou wert loved when thou hadst nothing to be loved for, hear how thou wert loved when unsightly, deformed, before there was ought in thee which was meet to be loved. Thou wast first loved, that thou mightest be made meet to be loved. For Christ, as the Apostle says, “died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6) What! will you say that the ungodly deserved to be loved? I ask, what did the ungodly deserve? To be damned. Here you will answer, Yet, “Christ died for the ungodly.” Lo, what was done for thee when ungodly; what is reserved for thee now godly? (Augustine, Serm. 142.5, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 534)
 
Origen on worshipping God in spirit and in truth:
‎‎To this opinion of the Samaritan woman, therefore, who imagined that God was less rightly or duly worshipped, according to the privileges of the different localities, either by the Jews in Jerusalem or by the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim, the Saviour answered that he who would follow the Lord must lay aside all preference for particular places, and thus expressed Himself: “The hour is coming when neither in Jerusalem nor on this mountain shall the true worshippers worship the Father. God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn 4:23, 24) And observe how logically He has joined together the spirit and the truth: He called God a Spirit, that He might distinguish Him from bodies; and He named Him the truth, to distinguish Him from a shadow or an image. For they who worshipped in Jerusalem worshipped God neither in truth nor in spirit, being in subjection to the shadow or image of heavenly things; and such also was the case with those who worshipped on Mount Gerizim. (Origen, De Princ. 1.1.4, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 243)
 
St. Cyprian of Carthage--the living water Christ offers the woman at the well signifies baptism:
‎‎ As also, in another place, the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman, saying, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst for ever.” (Jn 4:13, 14) By which is also signified the very baptism of saving water, which indeed is once received, and is not again repeated. But the cup of the Lord is always both thirsted for and drunk in the Church. (Cyprian, Ep. 63.8, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 360)
 
St. Augustine on the weariness of Christ:
‎Nevertheless Jesus is weary, and weary with His journey; and He sits down, and that, too, near a well; and it is at the sixth hour that, being wearied, He sits down. All these things hint something, are intended to intimate something, they make us eager, and encourage us to knock. May Himself open to us and to you; He who has deigned to exhort us, so as to say, “Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” It was for thee that Jesus was wearied with His journey. We find Jesus to be strength, and we find Jesus to be weak: we find a strong and a weak Jesus: strong, because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: the same was in the beginning with God.” Wouldest thou see how this Son of God is strong? “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made:” and without labor, too, were they made. Then what can be stronger than He, by whom all things were made without labor? Wouldest thou know Him weak? “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The strength of Christ created thee, the weakness of Christ created thee anew. The strength of Christ caused that to be which was not: the weakness of Christ caused that what was should not perish. He fashioned us by His strength, He sought us by His weakness. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 15.6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 100)
 
St. Augustine--the water in the well signifies the pleasures of the world that do not satisfy:
‎What means, “Whoso shall drink of this water shall thirst again?” It is true as to this water; it is true as to what the water signified. Since the water in the well is the pleasure of the world in its dark depth: from this men draw it with the vessel of lusts. Stooping forward, they let down the lust to reach the pleasure fetched from the depth of the well, and enjoy the pleasure and the preceding lust let down to fetch it. For he who has not despatched his lust in advance cannot get to the pleasure. Consider lust, then, as the vessel; and pleasure as the water from the depth of the well: when one has got at the pleasure of this world, it is meat to him, it is drink, it is a bath, a show, an amour; can it be that he will not thirst again? (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 15.16, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 102-103)
 
St. John Chrysostom on "salvation is of the Jews":
‎‎“Woman, believe Me,” and what follows, then He addeth, “for salvation is of the Jews.” What He saith is of this kind: neither, that blessings to the world came from them, (for to know God and condemn idols had its beginning, from them, and with you the very act of worship, although ye do it not rightly, yet received its origin from them,) or else, He speaketh of His own Coming. Or rather, one would not be wrong in calling both these things “salvation” which He said was “of the Jews”; which Paul implied when he said, “Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all.” (Rom. ix. 5.) Seest thou how He commendeth the old Covenant, and showeth that it is the root of blessings, and that He is throughout not opposed to the Law, since He maketh the groundwork of all good things to come from the Jews? (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 33.1, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 116)
 
St. John Chrysostom on worshipping in spirit and truth:
‎‎Wherefore He saith, “they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” For because both Samaritans and Jews were careless about the soul, but took great pains about the body, cleansing it in divers ways, it is not, He saith, by purity of body, but by that which is incorporeal in us, namely the mind, that the incorporeal One is served. Sacrifice then not sheep and calves, but dedicate thyself to the Lord; make thyself a holocaust, this is to offer a living sacrifice. Ye must worship “in truth”; as former things were types, such as circumcision, and whole burnt offerings, and victims, and incense, they now no longer exist, but all is “truth.” For a man must now circumcise not his flesh, but his evil thoughts, and crucify himself, and remove and slay his unreasonable desires. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 33.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 116)
 
St. Hilary of Poitiers--God is Spirit and is worshipped in the Spirit:
‎The words, God is Spirit, do not alter the fact that the Holy Spirit has a Name of His own, and that He is the Gift to us. The woman who confined God to hill or temple was told that God contains all things and is self-contained: that He, the Invisible and Incomprehensible must be worshipper by invisible and incomprehensible means. The imparted gift and the object of reverence were clearly shewn when Christ taught that God, being Spirit, must be worshipped in the Spirit, and revealed what freedom and knowledge, what boundless scope for adoration, lay in this worship of God, the Spirit, in the Spirit. (Hilary, De Trin. 2.31, NPNF2, vol. 9. pg. 60-61)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 12:1–4a
Second Reading 2 Timothy 1:8b–10
Gospel Matthew 17:1–9

St. Augustine--God commands Abram to leave his country not just in body but also in soul:
‎‎But when, on his having already settled in Mesopotamia, that is, already gone out of the land of the Chaldeans, God says, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house,” (Ge 12:1) this means, not that he should cast out his body from thence, for he had already done that, but that he should tear away his soul. For he had not gone out from thence in mind, if he was held by the hope and desire of returning, —a hope and desire which was to be cut off by God’s command and help, and by his own obedience. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 16.15.2, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 320)

St. Jerome--Abram seeks what he knows not, not to lose Him whom he has found:
‎‎To Abraham it is said: “Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Ge 12:1) He leaves Chaldaea, he leaves Mesopotamia; he seeks what he knows not, not to lose Him whom he has found. He does not deem it possible to keep both his country and his Lord; even at that early day he is already fulfilling the prophet David’s words: “I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” (Ps 39:12) He is called “a Hebrew,” in Greek περατης, a passer-over, for not content with present excellence but forgetting those things which are behind he reaches forth to that which is before. (Php 3:13) He makes his own the words of the psalmist: “they shall go from strength to strength.” (Ps 84:7) Thus his name has a mystic meaning and he has opened for you a way to seek not your own things but those of another. You too must leave your home as he did, and must take for your parents, brothers, and relations only those who are linked to you in Christ. “Whosoever,” He says, “shall do the will of my father … the sameis my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:50) (Jerome, Ep. 71.2, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 152-153)

St. John Chrysostom--God called us according to his own eternal purpose:
‎“And this not of ourselves, it was the gift of God.” If then He is mighty in calling us, and good, in that He hath done it of grace and not of debt, we ought not to fear. For He Who, when we should have perished, saved us, though enemies, by grace, will He not much more cooperate with us, when He sees us working? “Not according to our own works,” he says, “but according to his own purpose and grace,” that is, no one compelling, no one counseling Him, but of His own purpose, from the impulse of His own goodness, He saved us; for this is the meaning of “according to His own purpose.” “Which was given us before the world began.” That is, it was determined without beginning that these things should be done in Christ Jesus. This is no light consideration, that from the first He willed it. It was not an after-thought. How then is not the Son eternal? for He also willed it from the beginning. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Tim. 2, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 480)

Tertullian--in the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah speak face to face with God:
‎‎Since, therefore, He reserves to some future time His presence and speech face to face with Moses—a promise which was afterwards fulfilled in the retirement of the mount (of transfiguration), when as we read in the Gospel,” Moses appeared talking with Jesus” (Mk 9:4; Mt 17:3)—it is evident that in early times it was always in a glass, (as it were,) and an enigma, in vision and dream, that God, I mean the Son of God, appeared—to the prophets and the patriarchs, as also to Moses indeed himself. (Tertullian, Adv. Praxeas 14, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 609)

Origen--he who sees Jesus in his transfiguration sees the Law and the prophets in converse with him: 
‎‎But when the Son of God in His transfiguration is so understood and beheld, that His face is a sun, and His garments white as the light, straightway there will appear to him who beholds Jesus in such form Moses,—the law—and Elijah,—in the way of synecdoche, not one prophet only, but all the prophets—holding converse with Jesus; for such is the force of the words “talking with Him; ” (Mt 17:3) but, according to Luke, “Moses and Elijah appeared in glory,” down to the words, “in Jerusalem.” But if any one sees the glory of Moses, having understood the spiritual law as a discourse in harmony with Jesus, and the wisdom in the prophets which is hidden in a mystery, (1 Co 2:7) he sees Moses and Elijah in glory when he sees them with Jesus. (Origen, Comm. Matt. 12.38, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 470)

St. John Chrysostom on why only Peter, James and John are taken up the mountain:
‎‎Wherefore doth He take with Him these only? Because these were superior to the rest. And Peter indeed showed his superiority by exceedingly loving Him; but John by being exceedingly loved of Him; and James again by his answer which he answered with his brother, saying, “We are able to drink the cup; (Mt 20:20, 22) nor yet by his answer only, but also by his works; both by the rest of them, and by fulfilling, what he said. For so earnest was he, and grievous to the Jews, that Herod himself supposed that he had bestowed herein a very great favor on the Jews, I mean in slaying him. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 56.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 345)

St. John Chrysostom on the fear of the apostles:
‎How was it that, when they heard these words, they were dismayed? And yet before this also a like voice was uttered at Jordan, and a multitude was present, and no one felt anything of the kind; and afterwards again, when also they said, “It thundered, … yet neither at that time did they experience anything like this. How then did they fall down in the mount? Because there was solitude, and height. and great quietness, and a transfiguration full of awe, and a pure light, and a cloud stretched out; all which things put them in great alarm. And the amazement came thick on every side, and they fell down both in fear at once and in adoration.
‎But that the fear abiding so long might not drive out their recollection, presently He puts an end to their alarm, and is seen Himself alone, and commands them to tell no man this, until He is risen from the dead. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 56.6, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 348)

St. Hilary of Poitiers--the Father wills that we listen to his Son: 
‎The glory which they saw was not sufficient attestation of His majesty; the voice proclaims, This is My Son. The Apostles cannot face the glory of God; mortal eyes grow dim in its presence. The trust of Peter and James and John fails them, and they are prostrate in fear. But this solemn declaration, spoken from the Father’s knowledge, comes to their relief; He is revealed as His Father’s own true Son. And over and above the witness of This and My to His true Sonship, the words are uttered, Hear Him. It is the witness of the Father from heaven, in confirmation of the witness borne by the Son on earth; for we are bidden to hear Him. Though this recognition by the Father of the Son removes all doubt, yet we are bidden also to accept the Son’s self-revelation. When the Father’s voice commands us to shew our obedience by hearing Him, we are ordered to repose an absolute confidence in the words of the Son. Since, therefore, the Father has manifested His will in this message to us to hear the Son, let us hear what it is that the Son has told us concerning Himself. (Hilary, De Trin. 6.24, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 106)

Pope St. Leo the Great--in the Transfiguration, Christ fulfills his promise that some of his disciples would see him coming in his kingdom:
‎[A]lthough they had recognised the majesty of God in Him, yet the power of His body, wherein His Deity was contained, they did not know. And, therefore, rightly and significantly, had He promised that certain of the disciples standing by should not taste death till they saw “the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom,” (Mt 16:28) that is, in the kingly brilliance which, as specially belonging to the nature of His assumed Manhood, He wished to be conspicuous to these three men. For the unspeakable and unapproachable vision of the Godhead Itself which is reserved till eternal life for the pure in heart, they could in no wise look upon and see while still surrounded with mortal flesh. The Lord displays His glory, therefore, before chosen witnesses, and invests that bodily shape which He shared with others with such splendour, that His face was like the sun’s brightness and His garments equalled the whiteness of snow. (Leo, Serm. 51.2, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 163)

For the Transfiguration, see also Second Sunday of Lent, Year C.

Sententiae Patristicae: First Sunday of Lent, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 2:7–9, 3:1–7
Second Reading Romans 5:12–19 or Romans 5:12, 17–19
Gospel Matthew 4:1–11

Tertullian--the commandment to not eat from the tree contained the entirety of the law in embryo:
‎[I]f they had loved the Lord their God, they would not have contravened His precept; if they had habitually loved their neighbour—that is, themselves —they would not have believed the persuasion of the serpent, and thus would not have committed murder upon themselves, by falling from immortality, by contravening God’s precept; from theft also they would have abstained, if they had not stealthily tasted of the fruit of the tree, nor had been anxious to skulk beneath a tree to escape the view of the Lord their God; nor would they have been made partners with the falsehood-asseverating devil, by believing him that they would be “like God;”and thus they would not have offended God either, as their Father, who had fashioned them from clay of the earth, as out of the womb of a mother; if they had not coveted another’s, they would not have tasted of the unlawful fruit. Therefore, in this general and primordial law of God, the observance of which, in the case of the tree’s fruit, He had sanctioned, we recognise enclosed all the precepts specially of the posterior Law, which germinated when disclosed at their proper times. (Tertullian, Answer to the Jews 2, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 152)

Origen--sin opened the eyes of sense, but closed the eyes of the mind that delighted in beholding God:
Moses, in his account of the creation of the world, introduces man before his transgression as both seeing and not seeing: seeing, when it is said of the woman, "The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise; " (Ge 3:6) and again not seeing, as when he introduces the serpent saying to the woman, as if she and her husband had been blind, "God knows that on the day that ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened; " (Ge 3:5) and also when it is said, "They did eat, and the eyes of both of them were opened." (Ge 3:7) The eyes of sense were then opened, which they had done well to keep shut, that they might not be distracted, and hindered from seeing with the eyes of the mind; and it was those eyes of the mind which in consequence of sin, as I imagine, were then closed, with which they had up to that time enjoyed the delight of beholding God and His paradise. (Origen, Cont. Cels. 7.39, ANF, vol. 4, pg. 626)

St. Augustine--the sin of disobedience was preceded by the sin of pride:
‎‎The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself. It was this that made him listen with pleasure to the words, “Ye shall be as gods,” (Gen 3:5) which they would much more readily have accomplished by obediently adhering to their supreme and true end than by proudly living to themselves. For created gods are gods not by virtue of what is in themselves, but by a participation of the true God. By craving to be more, man becomes less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices him. Accordingly, this wicked desire which prompts man to please himself as if he were himself light, and which thus turns him away from that light by which, had he followed it, he would himself have become light,—this wicked desire, I say, already secretly existed in him, and the open sin was but its consequence. For that is true which is written, “Pride goeth before destruction, and before honor is humility;” (Pr 18:12) that is to say, secret ruin precedes open ruin, while the former is not counted ruin. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 14.13.2, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 274)

 St. Augustine on the kind of knowledge Adam and Eve gained:
‎“The eyes of them both were opened,” not to see. for already they saw, but to discern between the good they had lost and the evil into which they had fallen. And therefore also the tree itself which they were forbidden to touch was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from this circumstance, that if they ate of it it would impart to them this knowledge. For the discomfort of sickness reveals the pleasure of health. “They knew,” therefore, “that they were naked,”—naked of that grace which prevented them from being ashamed of bodily nakedness while the law of sin offered no resistance to their mind. And thus they obtained a knowledge which they would have lived in blissful ignorance of, had they, in trustful obedience to God, declined to commit that offence which involved them in the experience of the hurtful effects of unfaithfulness and disobedience. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 14.17.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 276)

St. John Damascene--the knowledge imparted by the tree would have been a good thing for the mature, but Adam and Eve's appetites were still too strong:
The tree of knowledge was for trial, and proof, and exercise of man’s obedience and disobedience: and hence it was named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else it was because to those who partook of it was given power to know their own nature. Now this is a good thing for those who are mature, but an evil thing for the immature and those whose appetites are too strong, being like solid food to tender babes still in need of milk. For our Creator, God, did not intend us to be burdened with care and troubled about many things, nor to take thought about, or make provision for, our own life. (John Damascene, De Fide Orth. 2.11, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 29)

John Cassian--the temptation of Adam and the temptation of Christ:
‎‎For it was right that He who was in possession of the perfect image and likeness of God should be Himself tempted through those passions, through which Adam also was tempted while he still retained the image of God unbroken, that is, through gluttony, vainglory, pride; and not through those in which he was by his own fault entangled and involved after the transgression of the commandment, when the image and likeness of God was marred. For it was gluttony through which he took the fruit of the forbidden tree, vainglory through which it was said “Your eyes shall be opened,” and pride through which it was said “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Ge 3:5) With these three sins then we read that the Lord our Saviour was also tempted; with gluttony when the devil said to Him: “Command these stones that they be made bread:” with vainglory: “If Thou art the Son of God cast Thyself down:”with pride, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the worldand the glory of them and said: “All this will I give to Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me:” in order that He might by His example teach us how we ought to vanquish the tempter when we are attacked on the same lines of temptation as He was. And so both the former and the latter are spoken of as Adam; the one being the first for destruction and death, and the other the first for resurrection and life. Through the one the whole race of mankind is brought into condemnation, through the other the whole race of mankind is set free. (Cassian, Collat. 1.5.6, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 341)

St. Augustine--grace justifies man from Original Sin and personal sins:
[T]he first man brought one sin into the world, but this man took away not only that one sin, but all that He found added to it. Hence the apostle says: “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” (Rom 5:16) For it is evident that the one sin which we bring with us by nature would, even if it stood alone, bring us under condemnation; but the free gift justifies man from many offenses: for each man, in addition to the one sin which, in common with all his kind, he brings with him by nature, has committed many sins that are strictly his own. (Augustine, Enchir. 50, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 253-254)

St. Augustine on "the reign of death":
‎‎“Nevertheless,” says he, “death reigned from Adam even unto Moses, (Rom 5:14) —that is to say, from the first man even to the very law which was promulged by the divine authority, because even it was unable to abolish the reign of death. Now death must be understood “to reign,” whenever the guilt of sin so dominates in men that it prevents their attainment of that eternal life which is the only true life, and drags them down even to the second death which is penally eternal. This reign of death is only destroyed in any man by the Saviour’s grace, which wrought even in the saints of the olden time, all of whom, though previous to the coming of Christ in the flesh, yet lived in relation to His assisting grace, not to the letter of the law, which only knew how to command, but not to help them. In the Old Testament, indeed, that was hidden (conformably to the perfectly just dispensation of the times) which is now revealed in the New Testament. Therefore “death reigned from Adam unto Moses,” in all who were not assisted by the grace of Christ, that in them the kingdom of death might be destroyed, “even in those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” (Rom 5:14) that is, who had not yet sinned of their own individual will, as Adam did, but had drawn from him original sin, “who is the figure of him that was to come,” (Rom 5:14) because in him was constituted the form of condemnation to his future progeny, who should spring from him by natural descent; so that from one all men were born to a condemnation, from which there is no deliverance but in the Saviour’s grace. (Augustine, De pecc. merit. et. remiss. 1.11.13, NPN1, vol. 5, pg. 19)

St. John Chrysostom--Adam is a type of Christ:
‎‎How did [death] reign? “After the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” Now this is why Adam is a type of Christ. How a type? it will be said. Why in that, as the former became to those who were sprung from him, although they had not eaten of the tree, the cause of that death which by his eating was introduced; thus also did Christ become to those sprung from Him, even though they had not wrought righteousness, the Provider of that righteousness which through His Cross He graciously bestowed on us all. For this reason, at every turn he keeps to the “one,” and is continually bringing it before us, when he says, “As by one man sin entered into the world”—and, “If through the offence of one many be dead:” and, “Not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift;” and, “The judgment was by one to condemnation:” and again, “If by one (or, the one) man’s offence death reigned by one;” and “Therefore as by the offence of one.” And again, “As by one man’s disobedience many (or, the many) were made sinners.” And so he letteth not go of the one, that when the Jew says to thee, How came it, that by the well-doing of this one Person, Christ, the world was saved? thou mightest be able to say to him, How by the disobedience of this one person, Adam, came it to be condemned? And yet sin and grace are not equivalents, death and life are not equivalents, the Devil and God are not equivalents, but there is a boundless space between them. When then as well from the nature of the thing as from the power of Him that transacteth it, and from the very suitableness thereof (for it suiteth much better with God to save than to punish), the preëminence and victory is upon this side, what one word have you to say for unbelief, tell me? (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 10, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 402)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--we were cast out from paradise because of the tree of food, but allowed now because of the Tree of Jesus:
‎‎And wonder not that the whole world was ransomed; for it was no mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God, who died on its behalf. Moreover one man’s sin, even Adam’s, had power to bring death to the world; but if by the trespass of the one death reigned over the world, how shall not life much rather reign by the righteousness of the One? (Rom 5:17, 18) And if because of the tree of food they were then east out of paradise, shall not believers now more easily enter into paradise because of the Tree of Jesus? If the first man formed out of the earth brought in universal death, shall not He who formed him out of the earth bring in eternal life, being Himself the Life? (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 13.2, NPNF2, vol. 2, pg. 82)

St. Irenaeus on Christ's fast:
‎Fasting forty days, like Moses and Elias, He afterwards hungered, first, in order that we may perceive that He was a real and substantial man—for it belongs to a man to suffer hunger when fasting; and secondly, that His opponent might have an opportunity of attacking Him. For as at the beginning it was by means of food that [the enemy] persuaded man, although not suffering hunger, to transgress God’s commandments, so in the end he did not succeed in persuading Him that was an hungered to take that food which proceeded from God. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 5.21.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 549)

St. Augustine--Christ taught us to overcome the tempter by despising his will:
‎‎For ye know that when the Lord Christ was tempted, the devil suggested this to Him. For He was an hungred, since this too He vouchsafed to be, since this too made part of His Humiliation. The Bread was hungry, as the Way fainted, as saving Health was wounded, as the Life died. When then He was an hungred as ye know, the tempter said to Him, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (Mt 6:3) And He made answer to the tempter, teaching thee to answer the tempter. For to this end does the general fight, that the soldiers may learn. What answer did He make? “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Mt 4:4) And He did not make bread of the stones, who of course could as easily have done it, as He made of water wine. For it is an exercise of the same power to make bread of stone; but He did it not, that He might despise the tempter’s will. For no otherwise is the tempter overcome, but by being despised. And when He had overcome the devil’s temptation, “Angels came and ministered to Him.” (Mt 4:11) (Augustine, Serm. 123.2, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 473)

St. John Chrysostom--the devil is most likely to attack us when we are alone:
‎And see whither the Spirit led Him up, when He had taken Him; not into a city and forum, but into a wilderness. That is, He being minded to attract the devil, gives him a handle not only by His hunger, but also by the place. For then most especially doth the devil assail, when he sees men left alone, and by themselves. Thus did he also set upon the woman in the beginning, having caught her alone, and found her apart from her husband. Just as when he sees us with others and banded together, he is not equally confident, and makes no attack. Wherefore we have the greatest need on this very account to be flocking together continually, that we may not be open to the devil’s attacks. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 13.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 80)

St. Ambrose on the power of fasting:
‎‎Wherefore also the Lord Jesus, wishing to make us more strong against the temptations of the devil, fasted when about to contend with him, that we might know that we can in no other way overcome the enticements of evil. Further, the devil himself hurled the first dart of his temptations from the quiver of pleasure, saying: “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Mt 4:3) After which the Lord said: “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word of God;” (Mt 4:4) and would not do it, although He could, in order to teach us by a salutary precept to attend rather to the pursuit of reading than to pleasure. (Ambrose, Ep. 63.15, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 459)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Deuteronomy 11:18, 26–28, 32
Second Reading Romans 3:21–25, 28
Gospel Matthew 7:21–27

St. Augustine on the righteousness of God witnessed by the law and prophets:
‎‎But I ask your attention, O man, to what follows. “But now the righteousness of God,” says he, “without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom 3:21) Does this then sound a light thing in deaf ears? He says, “The righteousness of God is manifested.” Now this righteousness they are ignorant of, who wish to establish one of their own; they will not submit themselves to it. (Rom 10:3) His words are, “The righteousness of God is manifested:” he does not say, the righteousness of man, or the righteousness of his own will, but the “righteousness of God,”—not that whereby He is Himself righteous, but that with which He endows man when He justifies the ungodly. This is witnessed by the law and the prophets; in other words, the law and the prophets each afford it testimony. The law, indeed, by issuing its commands and threats, and by justifying no man, sufficiently shows that it is by God’s gift, through the help of the Spirit, that a man is justified; and the prophets, because it was what they predicted that Christ at His coming accomplished. (Augustine, De spir. et litt. 9.15, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 88-89)

St. John Chrysostom on Romans 3:24–25:
‎‎See by how many proofs he makes good what was said. First, from the worthiness of the person, for it is not a man who doeth these things, that He should be too weak for it, but God all-powerful. For it is to God, he says, that the righteousness belongs. Again, from the Law and the Prophets. For you need not be afraid at hearing the “without the Law,” inasmuch as the Law itself approves this. Thirdly, from the sacrifices under the old dispensation. For it was on this ground that he said, “In His blood,” to call to their minds those sheep and calves. For if the sacrifices of things without reason, he means, cleared from sin, much more would this blood. And he does not say barely λυτρωσεως, but απολυτρωσεως, entire redemption, to show that we should come no more into such slavery. And for this same reason he calls it a propitiation, to show that if the type had such force, much more would the reality display the same. But to show again that it was no novel thing or recent, he says, “fore-ordained” (Auth. Version marg.); and by saying God “fore-ordained,” and showing that the good deed is the Father’s, he showeth it to be the Son’s also. For the Father “fore-ordained,” but Christ in His own blood wrought the whole aright. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 7, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 377-378)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commands?
Finally, these persons He calls strong and stedfast; these He declares to be founded in robust security upon the rock, established with immoveable and unshaken firmness, in opposition to all the tempests and hurricanes of the world. "Whosoever," says He, "heareth my words, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, that built his house upon a rock: the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." (Mt 7:24) We ought therefore to stand fast on His words, to learn and do whatever He both taught and did. But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do? Or whence shall he attain to the reward of faith, who will not keep the faith of the commandment? He must of necessity waver and wander, and, caught away by a spirit of error, like dust which is shaken by the wind, be blown about; and he will make no advance in his walk towards salvation, because he does not keep the truth of the way of salvation. (Cyprian, De unit. eccl. 2, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 421-422)

St. Augustine--in what sense can Christ, who knows all things, say "I know you not":
As He will also say at last to such as are placed on His left hand at the day of judgment: "I know you not." (Mt 7:23) Now what is that which He knows not, who knows all things, both good and evil, in man? But what is the meaning of the words, "I know you not," unless it be that you are now such as I never made you? Precisely as that passage runs, which is spoken of the Lord Jesus Christ, that "He knew no sin." (2 Co 5:21) How knew it not, except that He had never made it? And, therefore, how is to be understood the passage, "The ways which are on the right hand the Lord knoweth," except in the sense that He made those ways Himself,—even "the paths of the righteous," which no doubt are "those good works that God," as the apostle tells us, "hath before ordained that we should walk in them"? (

 St. Augustine--how is Mt 7:21 to be reconciled with 1 Co 12:3:
But the question may fairly be started, how with this sentence the statement of the apostle is to be reconciled, where he says, "No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost:" (1 Co 12:3) for neither can we say that any who have the Holy Spirit will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, if they persevere onwards to the end; nor can we affirm that those who say, "Lord, Lord," and yet do not enter into the kingdom of heaven, have the Holy Spirit. How then does no one say "that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," unless it is because the apostle has used the word "say" here in a strict and proper sense, so that it implies the will and understanding of him who says? But the Lord has used the word which He employs in a general sense: "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." For he also who neither wishes nor understands what he says, seems to say it; but he properly says it, who gives expression to his will and mind by the sound of his voice: just as, a little before, what is called "joy" among the fruits of the Spirit is called so in a strict and proper sense, not in the way in which the same apostle elsewhere uses the expression, "Rejoiceth not in iniquity:" (1 Co 13:6) as if any one could rejoice in iniquity: for that transport of a mind making confused and boisterous demonstrations of joy is not joy; for this latter is possessed by the good alone. Hence those also seem to say it, who neither perceive with the understanding nor engage with the deliberate consent of the will in this which they utter, but utter it with the voice merely; and after this manner the Lord says, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." But truly and properly those parties say it whose utterance in speech really represents their will and intention; and it is in accordance with this signification that the apostle has said, "No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 2.25.83, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 61-62)

 St. John Chrysostom--the wicked labor in vain:
‎‎“And every one,” saith He, “that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” (Mt 7:26)
‎‎And well did He call this man “foolish”: for what can be more senseless than one building a house on the sand, and while he submits to the labor, depriving himself of the fruit and refreshment, and instead thereof undergoing punishment? For that they too, who follow after wickedness, do labor, is surely manifest to every one: since both the extortioner, and the adulterer, and the false accuser, toil and weary themselves much to bring their wickedness to effect; but so far from reaping any profit from these their labors, they rather undergo great loss. For Paul too intimated this when he said, “He that soweth to his flesh, shall of his flesh reap corruption.” (Gal 6:8) To this man are they like also, who build on the sand; as those that are given up to fornication, to wantonness, to drunkenness, to anger, to all the other things. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 24.4, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 170)

John Cassian--the saint differs from the sinner not in that he is not tempted, but in that his foundation is secure:
‎‎When then anyone is overcome by a wrong, and blazes up in a fire of anger, we should not hold that the bitterness of the insult offered to him is the cause of his sin, but rather the manifestation of secret weakness, in accordance with the parable of our Lord and Saviour which He spoke about the two houses, (Mt 7:24) one of which was founded upon a rock, and the other upon the sand, on both of which He says that the tempest of rain and waters and storm beat equally: but that one which was founded on the solid rock felt no harm at all from the violence of the shock, while that which was built on the shifting and moving sand at once collapsed. And it certainly appears that it fell, not because it was struck by the rush of the storms and torrents. but because it was imprudently built upon the sand. For a saint does not differ from a sinner in this, that he is not himself tempted in the same way, but because he is not worsted even by a great assault, while the other is overcome even by a slight temptation. (Cassian, Collat. 3.18.13, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 485) 
Eph 2:10) Whereas the left-hand ways—those perverse paths of the unrighteous—He truly knows nothing of, because He never made them for man, but man made them for himself. (Augustine, Ep. 215.6, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 440)