Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 61:1–2a, 10–11
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
Gospel John 1:6–8, 19–28

St. Irenaeus on the anointing of Christ:
‎‎For in the name of Christ is implied, He that anoints, He that is anointed, and the unction itself with which He is anointed. And it is the Father who anoints, but the Son who is anointed by the Spirit, who is the unction, as the Word declares by Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me,” (Is 61:1)—pointing out both the anointing Father, the anointed Son, and the unction, which is the Spirit. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.18.3, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 446)

Tertullian--the fullment of Is 61:1-2 in the Beatitudes:
‎‎He who began (His course) with consolation for the poor, and the humble, and the hungry, and the weeping, was at once eager to represent Himself as Him whom He had pointed out by the mouth of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor.” (Is 61:1) “Blessed are the needy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Lk 6:21) “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” (Is 61:1) “Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.” (Lk 6:21) “To comfort all that mourn.” (Is 61:2) “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.” (Lk 6:21) (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 4.14, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 367)

St. Augustine on praying without ceasing:
‎‎When we cherish uninterrupted desire along with the exercise of faith and hope and charity, we “pray always.” But at certain stated hours and seasons we also use words in prayer to God, that by these signs of things we may admonish ourselves, and may acquaint ourselves with the measure of progress which we have made in this desire, and may more warmly excite ourselves to obtain an increase of its strength. For the effect following upon prayer will be excellent in proportion to the fervour of the desire which precedes its utterance. And therefore, what else is intended by the words of the apostle: “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Th 5:17) than, “Desire without intermission, from Him who alone can give it, a happy life, which no life can be but that which is eternal”? This, therefore, let us desire continually from the Lord our God; and thus let us pray continually. (Augustine, Ep. 130.9.18, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 465)

St. John Chrysostom on rejoicing always, even in affliction:
‎Ver. 16. “Rejoice alway.”
‎This is said with respect to the temptations that bring in affliction. Hear ye, as many as have fallen into poverty, or into distressing circumstances. For from these joy is engendered. For when we possess such a soul that we take revenge on no one, but do good to all, whence, tell me, will the sting of grief be able to enter into us? For he who so rejoices in suffering evil, as to requite even with benefits him that has done him evil, whence can he afterwards suffer grief? And how, you say, is this possible? It is possible, if we will. Then also he shows the way. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 10, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 367)

St. John Chrysostom--let not the wind of temptation, which comes through the opening of the senses, quench the Spirit in us:
‎On this account Paul says, “Quench not the Spirit,” that is, the gift of grace, for it is his custom so to call the gift of the Spirit. But this an impure life extinguishes. For as any one, who has sprinkled both water and dust upon the light of our lamp, extinguishes it, and if he does not this, but only takes out the oil—so it is also with the gift of grace. For if you have cast over it earthly things, and the cares of fluctuating matters, you have quenched the Spirit. And if you have done none of these things, but a temptation coming from some other quarter has vehemently assailed it, as some wind, and if the light be not strong, and it has not much oil, or you have not closed the opening, or have not shut the door, all is undone. But what is the opening? As in the lamp, so is it also in us: it is the eye and the ear. Suffer not a violent blast of wickedness to fall upon these, since it would extinguish the lamp, but close them up with the fear of God. The mouth is the door. Shut it, and fasten it, that it may both give light, and repel the attack from without. For instance, has any one insulted and reviled you? Do you shut the mouth; for if you open it, you add force to the wind. Do you not see in houses, when two doors stand directly opposite, and there is a strong wind, if you shut one, and there is no opposite draught, the wind has no power, but the greater part of its force is abated? So also now, there are two doors, thy mouth, and his who insults and affronts thee; if thou shuttest thy mouth, and dost not allow a draught on the other side, thou hast quenched the whole blast but if thou openest it, it will not be restrained. Let us not therefore quench it. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 11, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 370-371)

St. John Chrysostom on "prove all things":
‎Seest thou that this is what he means by, “Prove all things”? Because he had said, “Despise not prophesyings,” lest they should think that he opened the pulpit to all, he says, “Prove all things,” that is, such as are really prophecies; “and hold fast that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil”; not from this or that, but from all; that you may by proof distinguish both the true things and the false, and abstain from the latter, and hold fast the former. For thus both the hatred of the one will be vehement and the love of the other arises, when we do all things not carelessly, nor without examination, but with careful investigation. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Thess. 11, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 371)

St. Augustine on John's denial that he is Elijah:
‎‎Wherefore then did he say, “I am not Elias;” and the Lord, “He is Elias”? Because the Lord Jesus Christ wished in him to prefigure His own advent, and to say that John was in the spirit of Elias. And what John was to the first advent, that will Elias be to the second advent. As there are two advents of the Judge, so are there two heralds. The Judge indeed was the same, but the heralds two, but not two judges. It was needful that in the first instance the Judge should come tobe judged. He sent before Him His first herald; He called him Elias, because Elias will be in the second advent what John was in the first.
‎‎6. For mark, beloved brethren, how true it is what I say. When John was conceived, or rather when he was born, the Holy Spirit prophesied that this would be fulfilled in him: “And he shall be,” he said, “the forerunner of the Highest, in the spirit and power of Elias.” (Lk 1:17) What signifieth “in the spirit and power of Elias”? In the same Holy Spirit in the room of Elias. Wherefore in room of Elias? Because what Elias will be to the second, that John was to the first advent. Rightly therefore, speaking literally, did John reply. For the Lord spoke figuratively, “Elias, the same is John:” but he, as I have said, spoke literally when he said, “I am not Elias.” Neither did John speak falsely, nor did the Lord speak falsely; neither was the word of the herald nor of the Judge false, if only thou understand. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 4.5-7, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 27)

St. John Chrysostom--John is a prophet but is not the prophet:
‎Then they ask, “Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” (Matt. xvii. 10.) Yet surely he was a prophet. Wherefore then doth he deny it? Because again he looks to the intention of his questioners. For they expected that some especial prophet should come, because Moses said, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet of thy brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye harken.” (Deut. xviii. 15.) Now this was Christ. Wherefore they do not say, “Art thou a prophet?” meaning thereby one of the ordinary prophets; but the expression, “Art thou the prophet?” with the addition of the article, means, “Art thou that Prophet who was foretold by Moses?” and therefore he denied not that he was a prophet, but that he was “that Prophet.” (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 16.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 56)

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