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)

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