Monday, April 11, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Palm Sunday, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

Gospel Matthew 21:1–11

First Reading Isaiah 50:4–7
Second Reading Philippians 2:6–11
Gospel Matthew 26:14–27:66 or Matthew 27:11–54

For the First and Second Readings, see Palm Sunday, Year C.

Origen--the Lord's entry into Jerusalem and:his entry into the soul:
‎Now Jesus is the word of God which goes into the soul that is called Jerusalem, riding on the ass freed by the disciples from its bonds. That is to say, on the simple language of the Old Testament, interpreted by the two disciples who loose it: in the first place him who applies what is written to the service of the soul and shows the allegorical sense of it with reference to her, and in the second place him who brings to light by the things which lie in shadow the good and true things of the future. But He also rides on the young colt, the New Testament; for in both alike we find the word of truth which purifies us and drives away all those thoughts in us which incline to selling and buying. But He does not come alone to Jerusalem, the soul, nor only with a few companions; for many things have to enter into us before the word of God which makes us perfect, and as many things have to come after Him, all, however, hymning and glorifying Him and placing under Him their ornaments and vestures, so that the beasts He rides on may not touch the ground, when He who descended out of heaven is seated on them. But that His bearers, the old and the new words of Scripture, may be raised yet higher above the ground, branches have to be cut down from the trees that they may tread on reasonable expositions. But the multitudes which go before and follow Him may also signify the angelic ministrations, some of which prepare the way for Him in our souls, and help in their adorning, while some come after His presence in us, of which we have often spoken, so that we need not now adduce testimonies about it. (Origen, Comm. Jo. 10.18, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 396-397)

St. John Chrysostom--the ass and colt signify Israel and the Gentiles:
‎‎But He did these things, as I said, signifying beforehand the things to come. For here the church is signified by the colt, and the new people, which was once unclean, but which, after Jesus sat on them, became clean. And see the image preserved throughout. I mean that the disciples loose the asses For by the apostles, both they and we were called; by the apostles were we brought near. But because our acceptance provoked them also to emulation, therefore the ass appears following the colt. For after Christ hath sat on the Gentiles, then shall they also come moving us to emulation. And Paul declaring this, said, “That blindnesss in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved.” (Rom 11:25, 26) For that it was a prophecy is evident from what is said. For neither would the prophet have cared to express with such great exactness the age of the ass, unless this had been so. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 66.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 406)

St. Augustine--Our Lord gives us an example of accepting God's will in prayer:
‎‎Accordingly, if anything is ordered in a way contrary to our prayer, we ought, patiently bearing the disappointment, and in everything giving thanks to God, to entertain no doubt whatever that it was right that the will of God and not our will should be done. For of this the Mediator has given us an example, inasmuch as, after He had said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” transforming the human will which was in Him through His incarnation, He immediately added, “Nevertheless, O Father, not as I will but as Thou wilt.” (Mt 26:39) Wherefore, not without reason are many made righteous by the obedience of One. (Rom 5:19) (Augustine, Ep. 130.14.26, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 467)

St. Augustine--Christ teaches that we must pray that we may not enter into temptation:
‎‎Wherefore, our Heavenly Master also says: “Watch and pray, that ye enter pot into temptation.” (Mt 26:41) Let every man, therefore, when fighting against his own concupiscence, pray that he enter not into temptation; that is, that he be not drawn aside and enticed by it. But he does not enter into temptation if he conquers his evil concupiscence by good will. And yet the determination of the human will is insufficient, unless the Lord grant it victory in answer to prayer that it enter not into temptation. What, indeed, affords clearer evidence of the grace of God than the acceptance of prayer in any petition? If our Saviour had only said, “Watch that ye enter not into temptation,” He would appear to have done nothing further than admonish man’s will; but since He added the words, “and pray,” He showed that God helps us not to enter into temptation. (Augustine, De grat. et lib. arb. 4.9, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 447)

St. Augustine--Our Lord refused to come down from the cross, giving us an example of patience:
‎‎They who crucified Him wagged their head, and standing before His Cross, as though they had attained the fruit of their cruel rage, they said in mockery, “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross. He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” (Mt 27:40, 42) He came not down, because He lay hid. For with far greater ease could He have come down from the Cross, who had power to rise again from the grave. He showed forth an example of patience for our instruction. (Augustine, Serm. 87.7.9, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 276)

St. John Chrysostom--that Christ's passion was foretold does not excuse Judas's guilt:
‎But some one will say, Yet if it was written that He was to suffer these things, wherefore is Judas blamed, for he did the things that were written? But not with this intent, but from wickedness. For if thou inquire not concerning the motive, thou wilt deliver even the devil from the charges against him. But these things are not, they are not so. For both the one and the other are deserving of countless punishments, although the world was saved. For neither did the treason of Judas work out salvation for us, but the wisdom of Christ, and the good contrivance of His fair skill, using the wickednesses of others for our advantage. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 81.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 486)

St. John Chrysostom on why Christ instituted the Eucharist at the time of the passover:
‎“And as they were eating, He took bread, and brake it.” Why can it have been that He ordained this sacrament then, at the time of the passover? That thou mightest learn from everything, both that He is the lawgiver of the Old Testament, and that the things therein are foreshadowed because of these things. Therefore, I say, where the type is, there He puts the truth. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 82.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 491)

St. John Chrysostom on why Christ instituted the Eucharist at the time of the passover:
‎“And as they were eating, He took bread, and brake it.” Why can it have been that He ordained this sacrament then, at the time of the passover? That thou mightest learn from everything, both that He is the lawgiver of the Old Testament, and that the things therein are foreshadowed because of these things. Therefore, I say, where the type is, there He puts the truth.
‎But the evening is a sure sign of the fullness of times, and that the things were now come to the very end.
‎And He gives thanks, to teach us how we ought to celebrate this sacrament, and to show that not unwillingly doth He come to the passion, and to teach us whatever we may suffer to bear it thankfully, thence also suggesting good hopes. For if the type was a deliverance from such bondage, how much more will the truth set free the world, and will He be delivered up for the benefit of our race. Wherefore, I would add, neither did He appoint the sacrament before this, but when henceforth the rites of the law were to cease. And thus the very chief of the feasts He brings to an end, removing them to another most awful table, and He saith, “Take, eat, This is my body, Which is broken for many.” (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 82.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 491)

St. John Chrysostom--we proclaim the sufferings of Christ:
‎And these things are read amongst us, when all meet together. For that the heathens may not say, that ye display to people and nations the things that are glorious and illustrious, such as the signs and the miracles, but that ye hide these which are matters of reproach; the grace of the Spirit hath brought it to pass, that in the full festival, when men in multitude and women are present, and all, as one may say, at the great eve of the passover, then all these things should be read; when the whole world is present, then are all these acts proclaimed with a clear voice. And these being read, and made known to all, Christ is believed to be God and, besides all the rest, is worshipped, even because of this, that He vouchsafed to stoop so much for us as actually to suffer these things, and to teach us all virtue.
‎These things then let us read continually; for indeed great is the gain, great the advantage to be thence obtained. For when thou seest Him, both by gestures and by deeds, mocked and worshipped with so much derision, and beaten and suffering the utmost insults, though thou be very stone, thou wilt become softer than any wax, and wilt cast out of thy soul all haughtiness. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 87.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 516)

St. John Damascene--Christ was not forsaken by his divinity, but spoke as making our personality his own:
‎‎Further, these words, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Mt 27:46) He said as making our personality His own. For neither would God be regarded with us as His Father, unless one were to discriminate with subtle imaginings of the mind between that which is seen and that which is thought, nor was He ever forsaken by His divinity: nay, it was we who were forsaken and disregarded. So that it was as appropriating our personality that He offered these prayers. (John Damascene, De Fide Orth. 3.24, NPNF2, vol. 23, pg. 71)

St. Ambrose--in the hour of mockery and insult, the elements did Christ homage:
‎‎Even in the very hour of mockery and insult, acknowledge His Godhead. He hung upon the Cross, and all the elements did Him homage. (Mt 27:51) The sun withdrew his rays, the daylight vanished, darkness came down and covered the land, the earth trembled; yet He Who hung there trembled not. What was it that these signs betokened, but reverence for the Creator? (Ambrose, De fide 2.11.96, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 236)

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