Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 6:12–16
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 or 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14
Gospel Matthew 25:1–13

Tertullian--the hope of the resurrection gives us patience in the face of the loss of loved ones:
‎‎Not even that species of impatience under the loss of our dear ones is excused, where some assertion of a right to grief acts the patron to it. For the consideration of the apostle’s declaration must be set before us, who says, “Be not overwhelmed with sadness at the falling asleep of any one, just as the nations are who are without hope.” (1 Th 4:13) And justly; or, believing the resurrection of Christ we believe also in our own, for whose sake He both died and rose again. Since, then, there is certainty as to the resurrection of the dead, grief for death is needless, and impatience of grief is needless. For why should you grieve, if you believe that (your loved one) is not perished? Why should you bear impatiently the temporary withdrawal of him who you believe will return? That which you think to be death is departure. He who goes before us is not to be lamented, though by all means to be longed for. That longing also must be tempered with patience. (Tertullian, De Pat. 9, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 713)

St. Augustine--the "sleep" of death differs for the good and the bad:
‎‎Hence it was in reference to His own power that He spoke of him as sleeping: for others also, who are dead, are frequently spoken of in Scripture as sleeping; as when the apostle says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope.” (1 Th 4:13) Therefore he also spoke of them as sleeping, because foretelling their resurrection. And so, all the dead are sleeping, both good and bad. But just as, in the case of those who sleep and waken day by day, there is a great difference as to what they severally see in their sleep: some experience pleasant dreams; others. dreams so frightful that the waking are afraid to fall asleep for fear of their recurrence: so every individual sleeps and wakens in circumstances peculiar to himself. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 49.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 273)

St. John Chrysostom on the final trumpet:
‎‎And why now doth He call them by angels, if He comes thus openly?’ To honor them in this way also. But Paul saith, that they “shall be caught up in clouds.” And He said this also, when He was speaking concerning a resurrection. “For (1 Th 4:16) the Lord Himself,” it is said, “shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel.” So that when risen again, the angels shall gather them together, when gathered together the clouds shall catch them up; and all these things are done in a moment, in an instant. For it is not that He abiding above calleth them, but He Himself cometh with the sound of a trumpet. And what mean the trumpets and the sound? They are for arousing, for gladness, to set forth the amazing nature of the things then doing, for grief to them that are left. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 76.5, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 460)

St. John Chrysostom--as He descends, we go forth to meet Him:
‎‎If He is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him; but those of the domestics who have offended remain within. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For He received Him up in the clouds, (Acts i. 9) and “we shall be caught up in the clouds.” Seest thou how great is the honor? and as He descends, we go forth to meet Him, and, what is more blessed than all, so we shall be with Him. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 8, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 356)

St. Augustine--the love of the wise virgins does not grow cold:
‎‎Where would ye have those wise virgins be? Are they not among those that “shall endure unto the end”? They would not be admitted within at all, Brethren, for any other reason, than because they have “endured unto the end.” No coldness of love then crept over them, in them love did not wax cold; but preserves its glow even unto the end. And because it glows even unto the end, therefore are the gates of the Bridegroom opened to them; therefore are they told to enter in, as that excellent servant, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Mt 25:21) (Augustine, Serm. 93.5.6, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 403)

St. Augustine--the bridegroom comes at midnight, when you are not aware:
‎‎He will come at midnight. What is, “will come at midnight”? Will come when thou art not aware. Why will He come when thou art not aware of it? Hear the Lord Himself, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Lord hath put in His own power.” (Ac 1:7) “The day of the Lord,” says the Apostle, “will come as a thief in the night.” (1 Th 5:2) Therefore watch thou by night that thou be not surprised by the thief. For the sleep of death—will ye, or nill ye—it will come. (Augustine, Serm. 93.7.8, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 403)

St. John Chrysostom--we must fill our lamps with oil now by almsgiving, for we cannot do so at the time of judgment:
‎“But go to them that sell, and buy.” And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then should they have sought them, not at that time.
‎2. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory.For thou wilt have need of much oil there. (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt. 78.1-2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 471)

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