Monday, October 3, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Eigth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 25:6–10a
Second Reading Philippians 4:12–14, 19–20
Gospel Matthew 22:1–14 or Matthew 22:1–10


St. John Chrysostom--St. Paul's joy is in the spiritual advancement of the Philippians:
‎‎[H]e praises them, and shows that this action was for the need, not of the receiver, but of the givers. This he doth, both that they who benefited him may not be lifted up with arrogance, and that they may become more zealous in well-doing, since they rather benefit themselves; and that they who receive may not fearlessly rush forward to receive, lest they meet with condemnation. For “it is more blessed,” He saith, “to give than to receive.” (Acts xx. 35.) Why then does he say, “I rejoice in the Lord greatly”? Not with worldly rejoicing, saith he, nor with the joy of this life, but in the Lord. Not because I had refreshment, but because ye advanced; for this is my refreshment. Wherefore he also saith “greatly”; since this joy was not corporeal, nor on account of his own refreshment, but because of their advancement. (Chrysostom, Hom. Phil. 15, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 249)

St. John Chrysostom--there is great need of virtue in abundance as in need:
‎“But, says one, there is no need of wisdom or of virtue in order to abound.” There is great need of virtue, not less than in the other case. For as want inclines us to do many evil things, so too doth plenty. For many ofttimes, coming into plenty, have become indolent, and have not known how to bear their good fortune. Many men have taken it as an occasion of no longer working. But Paul did not so, for what he received he consumed on others, and emptied himself for them. This is to know. He was in nowise relaxed, nor did he exult at his abundance; but was the same in want and in plenty, he was neither oppressed on the one hand, nor rendered a boaster on the other. “Both to be filled,” saith he “and to be hungry, both to abound, and to be in want.” Many know not how to be full, as for example, the Israelites, “ate, and kicked” (Deut. xxxii. 15), but I am equally well ordered in all. He showeth that he neither is now elated, nor was before grieved: or if he grieved, it was on their account, not on his own, for he himself was similarly affected. (Chrysostom. Hom. Phil. 15, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 250)

St. Ambrose on St. Paul's humility:
‎‎“I know,” he says, “how to be abased.” (Phil. 4:12) An untaught humility has no claim to praise, but only that which possesses modesty and a knowledge of self. For there is a humility that rests on fear, one, too, that rests on want of skill and ignorance. Therefore the Scripture says: “He will save the humble in spirit.” (Ps 34:18) Gloriously, therefore, does he say: “I know how to be abased;” that is to say, where, in what moderation, to what end, in what duty, in which office. The Pharisee knew not how to be abased, therefore he was cast down. The publican knew, and therefore he was justified. (Lk 18:11) (Ambrose, De offic. 2.17.90, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 57)

John Cassian--the perfect man is affected by neither abundance nor want:
‎‎We shall then be ambidextrous, when neither abundance nor want affects us, and when the former does not entice us to the luxury of a dangerous carelessness, while the latter does not draw us to despair, and complaining; but when, giving thanks to God in either case alike, we gain one and the same advantage out of good and bad fortune. And such that truly ambidextrous man, the teacher of the Gentiles, testifies that he himself was, when he says: “For I have learnt in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith. I know both how to be brought low and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to De hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things in Him which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:11-13) (Cassian, Collat. 1.6.10, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 357)

St. Irenaeus--after our calling, we ought to be adorned with works of righteousness:
‎‎Still further did He also make it manifest, that we ought, after our calling, to be also adorned with works of righteousness, so that the Spirit of God may rest upon us; for this is the wedding garment, of which also the apostle speaks, “Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up by immortality.” (2 Co 5:4) But those who have indeed been called to God’s supper, yet have not received the Holy Spirit, because of their wicked conduct “shall be,” He declares, “cast into outer darkness.” (Mt 22:13) He thus clearly shows that the very same King who gathered from all quarters the faithful to the marriage of His Son, and who grants them the incorruptible banquet, [also] orders that man to be cast into outer darkness who has not on a wedding garment, that is, one who despises it. For as in the former covenant, “with many of them was He not well pleased;” (1 Co. 10:5) so also is it the case here, that “many are called, but few chosen.” (Mt 22:14) (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 4.36.6, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 517)

St. Augustine applies the parable of the wedding feast to those called to the Eucharistic feast:
‎‎All the faithful know the marriage of the king’s son, and his feast, and the spreading of the Lord’s Table is open to them all who will. But it is of importance to each one to see how he approaches, even when he is not forbidden to approach It. For the Holy Scriptures teach us that there are two feasts of the Lord; one to which the good and evil come, the other to which the evil come not. So then the feast, of which we have just now heard when the Gospel was being read, has both good and evil guests. All who excused themselves from this feast are evil; but not all those who entered in are good. You therefore who are the good guests at this feast do I address, who have in your minds the words, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.” (1 Co. 11:29) All you who are such do I address, that ye look not for the good without, that ye bear with the evil within. (Augustine, Serm. 90.1, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 392)

St. John Chrysostom--the wedding garment is the life and practice expected of the one who is called:
‎Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith, and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the garment is life and practice.
‎And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 69.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 423)

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