Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16–19
Second Reading Romans 8:26–27
Gospel Matthew 13:24–43 or Matthew 13:24–30


St. Augustine--God's wrath is not like a man's wrath, for he judges with calmness:
For the wrath of God is not, as is that of man, a perturbation of the mind; but it is the wrath of Him to whom Holy Scripture says in another place, “But Thou, O Lord, mastering Thy power, judgest with calmness.” (Wisd. 12:18) (Augustine, De Trin. 13.16.21, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 179)

St. Augustine--the Holy Spirit teaches us to sigh after our native country:
‎‎Now if the dove’s note is a moaning, as we all know it to be, and doves moan in love, hear what the apostle says, and wonder not that the Holy Ghost willed to be manifested in the form of a dove: “For what we should pray for as we ought,” says he, “we know not; but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26) What then, my brethren? shall we say this, that the Spirit groans where He has perfect and eternal blessedness with the Father and the Son? For the Holy Spirit is God, even as the Son of God is God, and the Father God. I have said “God” thrice, but not three Gods; for indeed it is God thrice rather than three Gods; because the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God: this you know full well. It is not then in Himself with Himself in that Trinity, in that blessedness, in that His eternal substance, that the Holy Spirit groans; but in us He groans because He makes us to groan. Nor is it a little matter that the Holy Spirit teaches us to groan, for He gives us to know that we are sojourners in a foreign land, and He teaches us to sigh after our native country; and through that very longing do we groan. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 6.2, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 39)

St. John Chrysostom--man, in his feebleness, needs the Spirit even to know what is desirable:
‎“For we know not what we should pray for as we ought.”
‎And this he said to show the Spirit’s great concern about us, and also to instruct them not to think for certainty that those things are desirable which to man’s reasonings appear so. For since it was likely that they, when they were scourged, and driven out, and suffering grievances without number, should be seeking a respite, and ask this favor of God, and think it was advantageous to them, by no means (he says) suppose that what seem blessings to you really are so. For we need the Spirit’s aid even to do this. So feeble is man, and such a nothing by himself. (Chrysostom, Hom. Rom. 14, NPNF1, vol. 11, pg. 446-447)

St. Hilary--man, who knows nott how to pray, has no right to demand that he shall be heard:
‎‎The words of St. Paul teach us that no man knows how he ought to pray: For we know not how to pray as we ought. (Rom. 8:26) Man in his weakness, therefore, has no right to demand that his prayer shall be heard: for even the teacher of the Gentiles does not know the true object and scope of prayer, and that, after the Lord had given a model. (Hilary, Tract. super Ps. 53.6, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 244)

Origen--the evil one sows false opinions in the minds of those who do not watch and pray:
‎‎But while men are asleep who do not act according to the command of Jesus, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation,” (Mt 26:41) the devil on the watch sows what are called tares—that is, evil opinions—over and among what are called by some natural conceptions, even the good seeds which are from the Word. And according to this the whole world might be called a field, and not the Church of God only, for in the whole world the Son of man sowed the good seed, but the wicked one tares,—that is, evil words,—which, springing from wickedness, are children of the evil one. And at the end of things, which is called “the consummation of the age,” (Mt 13:39) there will of necessity be a harvest, in order that the angels of God who have been appointed for this work may gather up the bad opinions that have grown upon the soul, and overturning them may give them over to fire which is said to burn, that they may be consumed. And so the angels and servants of the Word will gather from all the kingdom of Christ all things that cause a stumbling-block to souls and reasonings that create iniquity, which they will scatter and cast into the burning furnace of fire. Then those who become conscious that they have received the seeds of the evil one in themselves, because of their having been asleep, shall wail and, as it were, be angry against themselves; for this is the “gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 13:42) (Origen, Comm. Matt. 10.2, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 414-415)

St. Augustine encourages patience until the harvest:
‎‎O ye Christians, whose lives are good, ye sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! the harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. We in this time present are like those servants of whom it was said, “Wilt Thou that we go and gather them up?” (Mt 13:28) for we were wishing, if itmight be so, that no evil ones should remain among the good. But it has been told us, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Mt 13:30) Why? For ye are such as may be deceived. Hear finally; “Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” (Mt 13:29) What good are ye doing? Will ye by your eagerness make a waste of My harvest? The reapers will come, and who the reapers are He hath explained, “And the reapers are the angels.” (Mt 13:39) We are but men, the reapers are the angels. We too indeed, if we finish our course, shall be equal to the angels of God; but now when we chafe against the wicked, we are as yet but men. (Augustine, Serm. 73.4, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 335)

St. John Chrysostom--the error comes after the truth, like the enemy who sows tares:
‎Then He mentions also the manner of his device. For “while men slept,” saith He. It is no small danger, which He hereby suspends over our rulers, to whom especially is entrusted the keeping of the field; and not the rulers only, but the subjects too.
‎And He signifies also that the error comes after the truth, which the actual event testifies. For so after the prophets, were the false prophets; and after the apostles, the false apostles; and after Christ, Antichrist For unless the devil see what to imitate, or against whom to plot, he neither attempts, nor knows how. Now then also, having seen that “one brought forth a hundred, another sixty, another thirty,” he proceeds after that another way. That is, not having been able to carry away what had taken root, nor to choke, nor to scorch it up, he conspires against it by another craft, privily casting in his own inventions. (Chrysotom, Hom. Mt. 46.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 288)


St. John Chrysostom--Christ sows in person but punishes through angels:
‎For whereas He Himself is the sower, and that of His own field, and out of His own kingdom He gathers, it is quite clear that the present world also is His.
‎But mark His unspeakable love to man, and His leaning to bounty, and His disinclination to punishment; in that, when He sows, He sows in His own person, but when He punishes, it is by others, that is, by the angels. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 47.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 293)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--the mind of man shines like the sun when it leaves the darkness of the earth:
‎‎In like manner, then, as this air round the earth is forced upwards by some blast and changes into the pure splendour of the ether, so the mind of man leaves this murky miry world, and under the stress of the spirit becomes pure and luminous in contact with the true and supernal Purity; in such an atmosphere it even itself emits light, and is so filled with radiance, that it becomes itself a Light, according to the promise of our Lord that “the righteous should shine forth as the sun.” (Mt 13:43) We see this even here, in the case of a mirror, or a sheet of water, or any smooth surface that can reflect the light; when they receive the sunbeam they beam themselves; but they would not do this if any stain marred their pure and shining surface. We shall become then as the light, in our nearness to Christ’s true light, if we leave this dark atmosphere of the earth and dwell above. (Gregory of Nyssa, De virg. 11, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 356)

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