Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 55:1–3
Second Reading Romans 8:35, 37–39
Gospel Matthew 14:13–21

St. Gregory Nazianzen--the Lord gives salvation freely:
‎‎Do not hesitate either at length of journey, or distance by sea; or fire, if this too lies before you; or of any other, small or great, of the hindrances that you may attain to the gift. But if without any labour and trouble at all you may obtain that which you desire, what folly it is to put off the gift: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” (Is 55:1) Esaias invites you, “and he that hath no money, come buy wine and milk, without money and without price.” O swiftness of His mercy: O easiness of the Covenant: This blessing may be bought by you merely for willing it; He accepts the very desire as a great price; He thirsts to be thirsted for; He gives to drink to all who desire to drink; He takes it as a kindness to be asked for the kindness; He is ready and liberal; He gives with more pleasure than others receive. (Ac 30:35) (Greg. Naz., Orat. 40.27, NPNF2, vol. 7. pg. 369-370)

St. Cyprian--persecution is a kind of examination for those who cling to Christ:
‎‎The Father corrects and protects us, if we still stand fast in the faith both in afflictions and perplexities, that is to say, cling closely to His Christ; as it is written, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Rom 8:35) None of these things can separate believers, nothing can tear away those who are clinging to His body and blood. Persecution of that kind is an examination and searching out of the heart. God wills us to be sifted and proved, as He has always proved His people; and yet in His trials help has never at any time been wanting to believers. (Cyprian, Ep. 7.5, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 287)

St. Augustine--we cling to Christ by love, not fear of punishment:
‎Observe how he does not say simply, “Who shall separate us from Christ?” but, indicating that by which we cling to Christ, he says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” We cling to Christ, then, by love, not by fear of punishment. Again, after having enumerated those things which seem to be sufficiently fierce, but have not sufficient force to effect a separation, he has, in the conclusion, called that the love of God which he had previously spoken of as the love of Christ. (Augustine, Ep. 145.6, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 497)

St. John Chrysostom--we are conquerors by the very things meant to plot against us:
‎For what is indeed wonderful is this, not that we are conquerors only, but that we are so by the very things meant as plots against us. And we are not merely conquerors, but we are “more than conquerors,” that is, are so with ease, without toil and labor. For without undergoing the real things, by only setting our mind aright, we raise our trophies against our enemies. And with good reason. For it is God that striveth together with us. Do not then be doubtful, if though beaten we get the better of our beaters, if driven out we overcome our persecutors, if dying we put the living to fight. For when you take the power and also the love of God into account, there is nothing to prevent these wondrous and strange things from coming to pass, and that victory the most advantageous should shine upon us. For they did not merely conquer, but in a wondrous way, and so that one might learn that those who plotted against them had a war not against men, but against that invincible Might. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 15, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 456)

St. John Chrysostom--if tribulation shall not separate us from the love of Christ, will we let money do so?:
‎‎For mighty is the sovereignty of love, it alienates the soul from all things else, and chains to the desired object. If thus we love Christ, all things here will seem to be a shadow, an image, a dream. We too shall say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress?” (Rom. 8:35.) He said not, “money, or wealth, or beauty,” (these are very mean and contemptible,) but he hath put the things which seem to be grievous, famines, persecutions, deaths. He then spat on these even, as being nought; but we for the sake of money separate ourselves from our life, and cut ourselves off from the light. And Paul indeed prefers “neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature,” to the love which is towards Him; but we, if we see a little portion of gold, are fired, and trample on His laws. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 87.3, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 330)

Origen--as Jesus healed the sick before he fed the crowd, so we must examine ourselves and be healed before approaching the Eucharist:
‎‎And first observe that when about to give to the disciples the loaves of blessing, that they might set them before the multitudes, He healed the sick, in order that, having been restored to health, they might participate in the loaves of blessing; for while they are yet sickly, they are not able to receive the loaves of the blessing of Jesus. But if any one, when he ought to listen to the precept, “But let each prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread,” etc., (1 Co 11:28) does not obey these words, but in haphazard fashion participates in the bread of the Lord and His cup, he becomes weak or sickly, or even—if I may use the expression—on account of being stupefied by the power of the bread, asleep. (Origen, Comm. Matt. 10.25, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 431)

St. John Chrysostom--Christ works miracles both with authority and with prayer:
‎Wherefore did He look up to Heaven, and bless? It was to be believed of Him, both that He is of the Father, and that He is equal to Him. But the proofs of these things seemed to oppose one another. For while His equality was indicated by His doing all with authority, of His origin from the Father they could no otherwise be persuaded, than by His doing all with great lowliness, and with reference to Him, and invoking Him on His works. Wherefore we see that He neither did these actions only, nor those, that both might be confirmed; and now He works miracles with authority, now with prayer. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 49.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 304-305)

St. John Chrysostom--Christ instructs the crowd in self-denial, humility, temperance and charity:
‎And He commands them to sit down on the trampled grass, instructing the multitudes in self-denial. For His will was not to feed their bodies only, but also to instruct their souls. As well by the place therefore, as by His giving them nothing more than loaves and fishes, and by setting the same before all, and making it common, and by affording no one more than another, He was teaching them humility, and temperance, and charity, and to be of like mind one towards another, and to account all things common. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 49.3, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 305-306)

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