Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 1 Kings 19:9a, 11–13a
Second Reading Romans 9:1–5
Gospel Matthew 14:22–33

St. Irenaeus--the Lord's appearance in the whisper pointed to his coming as a man:
‎‎For by such means was the prophet—very indignant, because of the transgression of the people and the slaughter of the prophets—both taught to act in a more gentle manner; and the Lord’s advent as a man was pointed out, that it should be subsequent to that law which was given by Moses, mild and tranquil, in which He would neither break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. (Is 42:3) The mild and peaceful repose of His kingdom was indicated likewise. For, after the wind which rends the mountains, and after the earthquake, and after the fire, come the tranquil and peaceful times of His kingdom, in which the spirit of God does, in the most gentle manner, vivify and increase mankind. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.20.10, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 490)

John Cassian--Paul submits himself in love for the salvation of others:
‎‎Though then in many ways he preferred this excellent good to all the fruits of his preaching, yet he submits himself in consideration of love, without which none can gain the Lord; and for their sakes, whom hitherto he had soothed with milk as nourishment from the breasts of the gospel, does not refuse to be parted from Christ, which is bad for himself though useful for others. For he is driven to choose this the rather by that excessive goodness of his whereby for the salvation of his brethren he is ready, were it possible, to incur even the last evil of an Anathema. “For I could wish,” he says, “that I myself were Anathema from Christ for my brethren’s sake, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites,” (Rom 9:3, 4) i.e., I could wish to be subject not only to temporal, but even to perpetual punishment, if only all men, were it possible, might enjoy the fellowship of Christ: for I am sure that the salvation of all would be better for Christ and for me than my own. (Cassian, Collat. 3.23.5, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 522)

Origen--Christ rescues us in temptation as he rescued the disciples in the boat:
‎‎The simpler disciple, then, may be satisfied with the bare narrative; but let us remember, if ever we fall into distressful temptations, that Jesus has constrained us to enter into their boat, wishing us to go before Him unto the other side; for it is not possible for us to reach the other side, unless we have endured the temptations of waves add contrary wind. Then when we see many difficulties besetting us, and with moderate struggle we have swum through them to some extent, let us consider that our boat is in the midst of the sea, distressed at that time by the waves which wish us to make shipwreck concerning faith or some one of the virtues; but when we see the spirit of the evil one striving against us, let us conceive that then the wind is contrary to us. When then in such suffering we have spent three watches of the night—that is, of the darkness which is in the temptations—striving nobly with all our might and watching ourselves so as not to make shipwreck concerning the faith or some one of the virtues,—the first watch against the father of darkness and wickedness, the second watch against his son “who opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or thing that is worshipped,” (2 Thess 2:4) and the third watch against the spirit that is opposed to the Holy Spirit, then we believe that when the fourth watch impendeth, when “the night is far spent, and the day is at hand,” (Rom 13:12) the Son of God will come to us, that He may prepare the sea for us, walking upon it. (Origen, Comm. Matt. 11.6, ANF, vol. 10, pg. 435-436)

St. Augustine--the wood of the ship that carries us through the tempest is the Cross:
‎‎Yet in all this that the Lord did, He instructs us as to the nature of our life here. In this world there is not a man who is not a stranger; though all do not desire to return to their own country. Now by this very journey we are exposed to waves and tempests; but we must needs be at least in the ship. For if there be perils in the ship, without the ship there is certain destruction. For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world. We are exposed to the violence of the waves; but He who helpeth us is God. (Augustine, Serm. 75.2.2, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 337)

St. John Chrysostom--St. Peter asks that the Lord bid him come out of love not for show:
‎‎He said not, “Pray and entreat,” but, “bid.” Seest thou how great his ardor, how great his faith? Yet surely he is hereby often in danger, by seeking things beyond his measure. For so here too he required an exceedingly great thing, for love only, not for display. For neither did he say, “Bid me walk on the water,” but what? “Bid me come unto Thee.” For none so loved Jesus. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 50.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 311)

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