Monday, October 10, 2011

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 45:1, 4–6
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 1:1–5b
Gospel Matthew 22:15–21

St. John Chrysostom on the work of faith:
‎What is “the work of faith”? That nothing has turned aside your steadfastness. For this is the work of faith. If thou believest, suffer all things; if thou dost not suffer, thou dost not believe. For are not the things promised such, that he who believes would choose to suffer even ten thousand deaths? The kingdom of heaven is set before him, and immortality, and eternal life. He therefore who believes will suffer all things. Faith then is shown through his works. Justly might one have said, not merely did you believe, but through your works you manifested it, through your steadfastness, through your zeal. (Chrysotom, Hom. 1 Thess. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 324)

Tertullian--render your money to Caesar, but yourself to God:
‎‎“The things which are Caesar’s are to be rendered to Caesar.” (Mt 22:21; Mk 12:17; Lk 20:25) It is enough that He set in apposition thereto, “and to God the things which are God’s.” What things, then, are Caesar’s? Those, to wit, about which the consultation was then held, whether the poll-tax should be furnished to Caesar or no. Therefore, too, the Lord demanded that the money should be shown Him, and inquired about the image, whose it was; and when He had heard it was Caesar’s, said, “Render to Caesar what are Caesar’s, and what are God’s to God; ”that is, the image of Caesar, which is on the coin, to Caesar, and the image of God, which is on man, (See Ge 1:26, 27; 9:6, and comp. 1 Co 11:7) to God; so as to render to Caesar indeed money, to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God’s, if all things are Caesar’s? (Tertullian, De idol. 15, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 70)

St. Augustine--Christ's coin is man, bearing his image:
‎‎Truth is looked for in God’s image, not vanity. By the love of the truth then be that image, afterwhich we were created, engraven anew, and His Own tribute rendered to our Caesar. For so ye have heard from the Lord’s answer, when the Jews tempted Him, as He said, “Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites; show Me the tribute money,” (Mt 22:18, 19) that is, the impress and superscription of the image. Show me what ye pay, what ye get ready, what is exacted of you. And “they showed Him a denarius;” and “He asked whose image and superscription it had.” They answered, “Caesar’s.” So Caesar looks for his own image. It is not Caesar’s will that what he ordered to be made should be lost to him, and it is not surely God’s will that what He hath made should be lost to Him. Caesar, my Brethren, did not make the money; the masters of the mint make it; the workmen have their orders, he issues his commands to his ministers. His image was stamped upon the money; on the money was Caesar’s image. And yet he requires what others have stamped; he puts it in his treasures; he will not have it refused him. Christ’s coin is man. In him is Christ’s image, in him Christ’s Name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rules of duty. (Augustine, Serm. 90.10, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 397)

St. Augustine on the same theme:
‎‎We are God’s money: we have wandered away as coin from the treasury. The impression that was stamped upon us has been rubbed out by our wandering. He has come to refashion, for He it was that fashioned us at first; and He is Himself asking for His money, as Caesar for his. Therefore He says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s:” (Mt 22:21) to Caesar his money, to God yourselves. And then shall the truth be reproduced in us. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 40.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 228)

St. John Chrysostom--the things which are Caesar's includes only those which are no detriment to godliness:
‎‎But thou, when thou hearest, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” know that He is speaking only of those things, which are no detriment to godliness; since if it be any such thing as this, such a thing is no longer Caesar’s tribute, but the devil’s. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 70.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 427)

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