Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary
First Reading Zechariah 9:9–10
Second Reading Romans 8:9, 11–13
Gospel Matthew 11:25–30


For the first reading, see also selections on Mt. 21:1-11 for Palm Sunday, Year A.
For the second reading, see Pentecost, Year C.

St. Justin Martyr--the ass and colt represent Israel and the Gentiles:
‎Now, that the Spirit of prophecy, as well as the patriarch Jacob, mentioned both an ass and its foal, which would be used by Him; and, further, that He, as I previously said, requested His disciples to bring both beasts; [this fact] was a prediction that you of the synagogue, along with the Gentiles, would believe in Him. For as the unharnessed colt was a symbol of the Gentiles even so the harnessed ass was a symbol of your nation. For you possess the law which was imposed [upon you] by the prophets. (Justin, Dial. 53, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 222)

St. Irenaeus--no one can know the Father, unless through the Word of God:
‎‎For no one can know the Father, unless through the Word of God, that is, unless by the Son revealing [Him]; neither can he have knowledge of the Son, unless through the good pleasure of the Father. But the Son performs the good pleasure of the Father; for the Father sends, and the Son is sent, and comes. And His Word knows that His Father is, as far as regards us, invisible and infinite; and since He cannot be declared [by any one else], He does Himself declare Him to us; and, on the other hand, it is the Father alone who knows His own Word. And both these truths has our Lord declared. Wherefore the Son reveals the knowledge of the Father through His own manifestation. For the manifestation of the Son is the knowledge of the Father; for all things are manifested through the Word. In order, therefore, that we might know that the Son who came is He who imparts to those believing on Him a knowledge of the Father, He said to His disciples: “No man knoweth the Son but the Father, nor the Father but the Son, and those to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him;” thus setting Himself forth and the Father as He [really] is, that we may not receive any other Father, except Him who is revealed by the Son. (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 4.6.3, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 468)

Tertullian--true doctrine found in the churches founded by the apostles, to whom Christ revealed the Father:
‎‎From this, therefore, do we draw up our rule. Since the Lord Jesus Christ sent the apostles to preach, (our rule is) that no others ought to be received as preachers than those whom Christ appointed; for “no man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” (Mt 11:27) Nor does the Son seem to have revealed Him to any other than the apostles, whom He sent forth to preach—that, of course, which He revealed to them. Now, what that was which they preached—in other words, what it was which Christ revealed to them—can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves, both viva voce, as the phrase is, and subsequently by their epistles. If, then, these things are so, it is in the same degree manifest that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches—those moulds and original sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the (said) churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God. (Tertullian, Praesc. Haer. 21, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 252)

Origen--knowledge of God is beyond the reach of human nature and can only be had by grace:
‎‎Celsus supposes that we may arrive at a knowledge of God either by combining or separating certain things after the methods which mathematicians call synthesis and analysis, or again by analogy, which is employed by them also, and that in this way we may as it were gain admission to the chief good. But when the Word of God says, “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,” (Mt 11:27) He declares that no one can know God but by the help of divine grace coming from above, with a certain divine inspiration. Indeed, it is reasonable to suppose that the knowledge of God is beyond the reach of human nature, and hence the many errors into which men have fallen in their views of God. It is, then, through the goodness and love of God to mankind, and by a marvellous exercise of divine grace to those whom He saw in His foreknowledge, and knew that they would walk worthy of Him who had made Himself known to them, and that they would never swerve from a faithful attachment to His service, although they were condemned to death or held up to ridicule by those who, in ignorance of what true religion is, give that name to what deserves to be called anything rather than religion. (Origen, Cont. Cels. 7.44, ANF. vol. 4, pg. 628-620)

St. Augustine--God reveals himself to the humble:
‎‎Under the name of the wise and prudent, He hath Himself explained that the proud are understood, when He said, “Thou hast revealed them unto babes.” Therefore from those who are not babes Thou hast hidden them. What is from those who are not babes? From those who are not humble. And who are they but the proud? O way of the Lord! Either there was none, or it lay hid, that it might be revealed to us. Why did the Lord exult? “Because it was revealed unto babes.” We must be little babes; for if we would wish to be great, “wise and prudent” as it were, it is not revealed unto us. Who are these great ones? The wise and prudent. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Ro 1:22) Here then thou hast a remedy suggested from its opposite. For if by “professing thyself wise, thou art become a fool; profess thyself a fool, and thou wilt be wise.” (Augustine, Serm. 67.5.8, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 131)

St. Augustine--love makes all burdens light:
‎‎For love makes all, the hardest and most distressing things, altogether easy, and almost nothing. How much more surely then and easily will charity do with a view to true blessedness, that which mere desire does as it can, with a view to what is but misery? How easily is any temporal adversity endured, if it be that eternal punishment may be avoided, and eternal rest procured! Not without good reason did that vessel of election say with exceeding joy “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Ro 8:18) See then how it is that that” yoke is easy, and that burden light.” And if it be strait to the few who choose it, yet is it easy to all who love it. The Psalmist saith, “Because of the words of Thy lips I have kept hard ways.” (Ps 17:3) But the things which are hard to those who labour, lose their roughness to those same men when they love. (Augustine, Serm. 70.3, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 317-318)

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