Monday, December 26, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Holy Family, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 3:2–6, 12–14 or Genesis 15:1–6, 21:1–3
Second Reading Colossians 3:12–21 or Colossians 3:12–17 or Hebrews 11:8, 11–12, 17–19
Gospel Luke 2:22–40 or Luke 2:22, 39–40


For Sir. 3:2-6, 12-14 and Col. 3:12-21, see Holy Family, Year C.
For Luke 2:22-40, see The Presentation of the Lord.

St. Justin Martyr--Abraham was accounted righteous on account of his faith:
‎‎For Abraham was declared by God to be righteous, not on account of circumcision, but on account of faith. For before he was circumcised the following statement was made regarding him: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.’ (Ge 15:6) And we, therefore, in the uncircumcision of our flesh, believing God through Christ, and having that circumcision which is of advantage to us who have acquired it—namely, that of the heart—we hope to appear righteous before and well-pleasing to God: since already we have received His testimony through the words of the prophets. (Justin Martyr, Dial. 92, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 245)

St. Irenaeus--Christ raises up heirs to Abraham in faith:
‎‎For not alone upon Abraham’s account did He say these things, but also that He might point out how all who have known God from the beginning, and have foretold the advent of Christ, have received the revelation from the Son Himself; who also in the last times was made visible and passable, and spake with the human race, that He might from the stones raise up children unto Abraham, and fulfil the promise which God had given him, and that He might make his seed as the stars of heaven, (Ge 15:5) as John the Baptist says: “For God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Mt 3:9) Now, this Jesus did by drawing us off from the religion of stones, and bringing us over from hard and fruitless cogitations, and establishing in us a faith like to Abraham. As Paul does also testify, saying that we are children of Abraham because of the similarity of our faith, and the promise of inheritance. (Ro 4:12; Ga 4:28) (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.7.2, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 470)

St. Augustine--Isaac a symbol of Christ:
‎‎“By faith,” he says, “Abraham overcame, when tempted about Isaac: and he who had received the promise offered up his only son, to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: thinking that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;” therefore he has added, “from whence also he received him in a similitude.” (He 11:17-19) In whose similitude but His of whom the apostle says, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all?” (Ro 8:32) And on this account Isaac also himself carried to the place of sacrifice the wood on which he was to be offered up, just as the Lord Himself carried His own cross. Finally, since Isaac was not to be slain, after his father was forbidden to smite him, who was that ram by the offering of which that sacrifice was completed with typical blood? For when Abraham saw him, he was caught by the horns in a thicket. What, then, did he represent but Jesus, who, before He was offered up, was crowned with thorns by the Jews? (Augustine, De civ. Dei 16.32.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 329)

St. John Chrysostom on the faith of Abraham:
‎‎He heard the opposite of the promises from Him who had made them; and yet he was not disturbed, but did them as if they had been in harmony [therewith]. For they were in harmony; being opposed indeed according to human calculations, but in harmony [when viewed] by Faith. And how this was, the Apostle himself has taught us, by saying, “accounting that God was able to raise Him up, even from the dead.” By the same faith (he means) by which he believed that God gave what was not, and raised up the dead, by the same was he persuaded that He would also raise him up after he had been slain in sacrifice. For it was alike impossible (to human calculation, I mean) from a womb which was dead and grown old and already become useless for child-bearing to give a child, and to raise again one who had been slain. But his previous faith prepared the way for things to come. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 25.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 478)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Christians are children of Abraham through faith and baptism:
‎‎Let us see, then, how Abraham is the father of many nations (Ro 4:17, 18). Of Jews he is confessedly the father, through succession according to the flesh. But if we hold to the succession according to the flesh, we shall be compelled to say that the oracle was false. For according to the flesh be is no longer father of us all: but the example of his faith makes us all sons of Abraham. How? and in what manner? With men it is incredible that one should rise from the dead; as in like manner it is incredible also that there should be offspring from aged persons as good as dead. But when Christ is preached as having been crucified on the tree, and as having died and risen again, we believe it. By the likeness therefore of our faith we are adopted into the sonship of Abraham. And then, following upon our faith, we receive like him the spiritual seal, being circumcised by the Holy Spirit through Baptism, not in the foreskin of the body, but in the heart, according to Jeremiah, saying, And ye shall be circumcised unto God in the foreskin of your heart: (Je 4:4) and according to the Apostle, in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, and the rest (Col 2:11, 12). (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 5.6, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 30)

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