Monday, January 30, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Job 7:1–4, 6–7
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 9:16–19, 22–23
Gospel Mark 1:29–39

St. Augustine--life on earth is a trial:
‎Quite exceptional are those who are not punished in this life, but only afterwards. Yet that there have been some who have reached the decrepitude of age without experiencing even the slightest sickness, and who have had uninterrupted enjoyment of life, I know both from report and from my own observation. However, the very life we mortals lead is itself all punishment, for it is all temptation, as the Scriptures declare, where it is written, “Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation?” (Job 7:1) For ignorance is itself no slight punishment, or want of culture, which it is with justice thought so necessary to escape, that boys are compelled, under pain of severe punishment, to learn trades or letters; and the learning to which they are driven by punishment is itself so much of a punishment to them, that they sometimes prefer the pain that drives them to the pain to which they are driven by it. And who would not shrink from the alternative, and elect to die, if it were proposed to him either to suffer death or to be again an infant? Our infancy, indeed, introducing us to this life not with laughter but with tears, seems unconsciously to predict the ills we are to encounter. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 21.14.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 464)

St. Jerome--we risk our lives in the trials of this life that we may be crowned in the world to come:
‎We read in the book of Job how, while the first messenger of evil was yet speaking, there came also another; (Job 1:16) and in the same book it is written: “is there not a temptation”—or as the Hebrew better gives it—“a warfare to man upon earth?” (Job 7:1) It is for this end that we labour, it is for this end that we risk our lives in the warfare of this world, that we may be crowned in the world to come. That we should believe this to be true of men is nothing wonderful, for even the Lord Himself was tempted, (Mt 4:1 sq.) and of Abraham the scripture bears witness that God tempted him. (Ge 22:1) It is for this reason also that the apostle says: “we glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed.” (Ro 5:3-5) (Jerome, Ep. 130.7, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 264)

St. Augustine--St. Paul became all things to all men in compassion, not in deceit:
‎Why was it that, in becoming as a Gentile to the Gentiles, his teaching and his conduct are in harmony with his real sentiments; but that, in becoming as a Jew to the Jews, he shuts up one thing in his heart, and declares something wholly different in his words, deeds, and writings? But far be it from us to entertain such thoughts of him. To both Jews and Gentiles he owed “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned;” (1 Ti 1:5) and therefore he became all things to all men, that he might gain all, (1 Co 9:19-22) not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the love of one filled with compassion; that is to say, not by pretending himself to do all the evil things which other men did, but by using the utmost pains to minister with all compassion the remedies required by the evils under which other men laboured, as if their case had been his own. (Augustine, Ep. 82.3.27, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 359)

St. Augustine--the Son of God himself made himself weak to the weak:
‎ “[A]lthough He was in the same form, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,”—and so on down to the words “the death of the cross.” (Phil 2:17) What is the explanation of this but that He made Himself “weak to the weak, in order that He might gain the weak?” (1 Co 9:22) (Augustine, De catech. rud. 10.15, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 293)

St. Augustine--he who ministers the gospel should do so as a son:
‎“For woe is unto me,” says he, “if I preach not the gospel!” But how ought he to preach the gospel? Evidently in such a way as to place the reward in the gospel itself, and in the kingdom of God: for thus he can preach the gospel, not of constraint, but willingly. “For if I do this thing willingly,” says he, “I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me;” (1 Co 9:13-17) if, constrained by the want of those things which are necessary for temporal life, I preach the gospel, others will have through me the reward of the gospel, who love the gospel itself when I preach it; but I shall not have it, because it is not the gospel itself I love, but its price lying in those temporal things. And this is something sinful, that any one should minister the gospel not as a son, but as a servant to whom a stewardship of it has been committed; that he should, as it were, pay out what belongs to another, but should himself receive nothing from it except victuals, which are given not in consideration of his sharing in the kingdom, but from without, for the support of a miserable bondage. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 2.16.54, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 51)

St. John Chrysostom--preaching the gospel without charge is not in itself greater than preaching, but only in that goes beyond what is merely commanded:
‎What sayest thou? tell me. “If thou preach the Gospel, it is nothing for thee to glory of, but it is, if thou make the Gospel of Christ without charge?” Is this therefore greater than that? By no means; but in another point of view it hath some advantage, inasmuch as the one is a command, but the other is a good deed of my own free-will: for what things are done beyond the commandment, have a great reward in this respect: but such as are in pursuance of a commandment, not so great: and so in this respect he says, the one is more than the other; not in the very nature of the thing. For what is equal to preaching; since it maketh men vie even with the angels themselves. Nevertheless since the one is a commandment and a debt, the other a forwardness of free-will, in this respect this is more than that. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 22.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 127)

St. John Chrysostom--St. Paul, in his zeal, shows care for all, even knowing that only some will be saved:
‎Seest thou how far it is carried? “I am become all things to all men,” not expecting, however, to save all, but that I may save though it be but a few. And so great care and service have I undergone, as one naturally would who was about saving all, far however from hoping to gain all: which was truly magnanimous and a proof of burning zeal. Since likewise the sower sowed every where, and saved not all the seed, notwithstanding he did his part. And having mentioned the fewness of those who are saved, again, adding, “by all means,” he consoled those to whom this was a grief. For though it be not possible that all the seed should be saved, nevertheless it cannot be that all should perish. Wherefore he said, “by all means,” because one so ardently zealous must certainly have some success. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 22.5, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 128-129)

St. Bede on the meaning of the healing of Simon's mother-in-law:
‎The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength, that she is able to minister to those, of whose help she had before stood in need. Again, if we suppose that the man delivered from the devil means, in the moral way of interpretation, the soul purged from unclean thoughts, fitly does the woman cured of a fever by the command of God mean the flesh, restrained from the heat of its concupiscence by the precepts of continence. (Bede, in Marc. 1.6, 8, Cat. Aur. 2, pg. 28-29)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Deuteronomy 18:15–20
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:32–35
Gospel Mark 1:21–28

St. Clement of Alexandria--Moses prophesied the coming of Christ:
‎Presently, therefore, Moses prophetically, giving place to the perfect Instructor the Word, predicts both the name and the office of Instructor, and committing to the people the commands of obedience, sets before them the Instructor. “A prophet,” says he, “like Me shall God raise up to you of your brethren,” pointing out Jesus the Son of God, by an allusion to Jesus the son of Nun; for the name of Jesus predicted in the law was a shadow of Christ. He adds, therefore, consulting the advantage of the people, “Him shall ye hear;” (De 18:15) and, “The man who will not hear that Prophet,” (De 18:19) him He threatens. Such a name, then, he predicts as that of the Instructor, who is the author of salvation. (Clement of Alexandria, Paed. 1.7, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 224)

St. Augustine--that the good of the unmarried is honorable does not imply that the bond of marriage is base:
‎But whereas the Apostle, when commending the fruit of unmarried men and women, in that they have thought of the things of the Lord, how to please God, added and saith, “But this I say for your profit, not to cast a snare on you” (1 Co 7:35) that is, not to force you; “but in order to that which is honorable;” we ought not, because he saith that the good of the unmarried is honorable, therefore to think that the bond of marriage is base. (Augustine, De bono viduit. 5.7, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 443)

St. Augustine--body and soul are sanctified together:
‎Whence, also, what the Apostle Paul said of the unmarried woman, “that she may be holy both in body and spirit;” (1 Co 7:34) we are not so to understand, as though a faithful  woman being married and chaste, and according to the Scriptures subject unto her husband, be not holy in body, but only in spirit. For it cannot come to pass, that when the spirit is sanctified, the body also be not holy, of which the sanctified spirit maketh use. (Augustine, De bono vidiut. 6.8, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 443)

St. John Chrysostom--she that is careful about the things of the world cannot be a virgin:
‎“And this I say for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.” Let the virgins hear that not by that one point is virginity defined; for she that is careful about the things of the world cannot be a virgin, nor seemly. Thus, when he said, “There is difference between a wife and a virgin,” he added this as the difference, and that wherein they are distinguished from each other And laying down the definition of a virgin and her that is not a virgin, he names, not marriage nor continence but leisure from engagements and multiplicity of engagements. For the evil is not in the cohabitation, but in the impediment to the strictness of life. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 19.7, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 110-111)

St. Jerome on the difference between marriage and virginity:
‎“The time is shortened, that henceforth those that have wives may be as though they had none”: cleaving to the Lord, we are made one spirit with Him. And why? Because “He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.” (1 Co 7:32, 33) And there is a difference also between the wife and the virgin. She that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” Why do you cavil? Why do you resist? The vessel of election says this; he tells us that there is a difference between the wife and the virgin. Observe what the happiness of that state must be in which even the distinction of sex is lost. The virgin is no longer called a woman. “She that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.” (1 Co 7:34) A virgin is defined as she that is holy in body and in spirit, for it is no good to have virgin flesh if a woman be married in mind. (Jerome, Adv. Helv. 22, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 344)

St. Irenaeus--even the demons confessed that Christ is God:
‎And through the Word Himself who had been made visible and palpable, was the Father shown forth, although all did not equally believe in Him; but all saw the Father in the Son: for the Father is the invisible of the Son, but the Son the visible of the Father. And for this reason all spake with Christ when He was present [upon earth], and they named Him God. Yea, even the demons exclaimed, on beholding the Son: “We know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mk 1:24) (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.6.6, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 469)

St. Augustine--Christ made himself known to the demons not by the light which illumines the just but by the temporal effects of his power:
‎The devils themselves knew this manifestation of God so well, that they said to the Lord though clothed with the infirmity of flesh, “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us before the time?” (Mk 1:24) From these words, it is clear that they had great knowledge, and no charity. They feared His power to punish, and did not love His righteousness. He made known to them so much as He pleased, and He was pleased to make known so much as was needful. But He made Himself known not as to the holy angels, who know Him as the Word of God, and rejoice in His eternity, which they partake, but as was requisite to strike with terror the beings from whose tyranny He was going to free those who were predestined to His kingdom and the glory of it, eternally true and truly eternal. He made Himself known, therefore, to the demons, not by that which is life eternal, and the unchangeable light which illumines the pious, whose souls are cleansed by the faith that is in Him, but by some temporal effects of His power, and evidences of His mysterious presence, which were more easily discerned by the angelic senses even of wicked spirits than by human infirmity. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 9.21.1, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 177)

St. Augustine--Peter confessed the divinity of Christ in love, the demons did so only in fear:
‎Call to mind with me whereupon Peter was praised, whereupon called blessed. Was it because he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? (Mt 16:16) He who pronounced Him blessed, regarded not the sound of the words, but the affection of the heart. For would ye know that Peter’s blessedness lay not in these words? The devils also said the same. “We know Thee who Thou art, the Son of God.” (Mt 8:29; Mk 1:24) Peter confessed Him to be “the Son of God;” the devils confessed Him to be “the Son of God.” “Distinguish, my lord, distinguish between the two.” I do make a plain distinction. Peter spake in love, the devils from fear. (Augustine, Serm. 90.8, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 395)

St. Augustine--faith without charity puts us only on a level with the devils:
‎But what says James? “The devils believe and tremble.” (Jas 2:19) Faith is mighty, but without charity it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ. Accordingly it was from believing, but not from loving, they said, “What have we to do with Thee?” (Mk 1:24) They had faith, but not charity; hence they were devils. Boast not of faith; so far thou art on a level with the devils. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 6.21, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 46)

St. Athanasius--Jesus silences the demons that the truth should not proceed from an unclean mouth:
‎And again, when He put a curb in the mouths of the demons that cried after Him from the tombs. For although what they said was true, and they lied not then, saying, ‘Thou art the Son of God,’ and ‘the Holy One of God;’ (Mt 8:29; Mk 1:24) yet He would not that the truth should proceed from an unclean mouth, and especially from such as them, lest under pretence thereof they should mingle with it their own malicious devices, and sow these also while men slept. (Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt 3, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 224)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Jonah 3:1–5, 10
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:29–31
Gospel Mark 1:14–20

On the Gospel, see also parallels in Matthew and Luke at Ordinary Time 3, Year A and Ordinary Time 5, Year C.

St. John Chrysostom--the Ninevites were restored to God's favor not just by fasting but by turning from their evil ways:
‎‎In old time the Ninevites sinned, and they did the things which ye too now are doing. Let us see however what it was that availed them. For as in the case of the sick, physicians apply many remedies; howbeit the man of understanding regardeth not that the sick person has tried this and that, but what was of service to him; such must be also our inquiry here. What then was it that availed those barbarians? They applied fasting unto the wounds, yea applied extreme fasting, lying on the ground too, putting on of sackcloth, and ashes, and lamentations; they applied also a change of life. Let us then see which of these things made them whole. And whence, saith one, shall we know? If we come to the Physician, if we ask Him: for He will not hide it from us, but will even eagerly disclose it. Rather that none may be ignorant, nor need to ask, He hath even set down in writingthe medicine that restored them. What then is this? “God,” saith He, “saw that they turned every one from his evil way, and He repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them.” (Jonah 3:10) He said not, He saw [their] fasting and sackcloth and ashes. And I say not this to overturn fasting, (God forbid!) but to exhort you that with fasting ye do that which is better than fasting, the abstaining from all evil. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor. 4.6, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 299)

St. Augustine on martyrs who used the world as though not using it:
‎‎In the Catholic Church there are believers without number who do not use the world, and there are those who “use it,” in the words of the apostle, “as not using it,” (1 Co 8:31) as was proved in those times when Christians were forced to worship idols. For then, how many wealthy men, how many peasant householders, how many merchants, how many military men, how many leading men in their own cities, and how many senators, people of both sexes, giving up all these empty and transitory things, though while they used them they were not bound down by them, endured death for the salutary faith and religion, and proved to unbelievers that instead of being possessed by all these things they really possessed them? (Augustine, De mor. Eccl. 35.77-78, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 62)

St. Augustine on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31:
‎This entire passage (that I may express my view on this subject in the shape of a brief exposition of the apostle’s words) I think must be understood as follows: “This I say, brethren, the time is short.” No longer is God’s people to be propagated by carnal generation; but, henceforth, it is to be gathered out by spiritual regeneration. “It remaineth, therefore, that they that have wives” be not subject to carnal concupiscence; “and they that weep,” under the sadness of present evil, should rejoice in the hope of future blessing; “and they that rejoice,” over any temporary advantage, should fear the eternal judgment; “and they that buy,” should so hold their possessions as not to cleave to them by overmuch love; “and they that use this world” should reflect that it is passing away, and does not remain. “For the fashion of this world passeth away: but,” he says, “I would have you to be without solicitude,”—in other words: I would have you lift up your heart, that it may dwell among those things which do not pass away. (Augustine, De nup. et concup. 1.13.15, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 270)

St. Gregory the Great--the things of the world may be of service to us only to the extent that they do not turn our minds away from higher things:
They that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as though they used it not (1 Cor. vii. 30). So may the things that are supplied to us be of service to us outwardly to such extent only as not to turn our minds away from desire of supernal delight; and thus the things that afford us succour in our state of exile may not abate the mourning of our soul’s pilgrimage; and we, who see ourselves to be wretched in our severance from the things that are eternal, may not rejoice as though we were happy in the things that are transitory. (Gregory the Great, Pastor. 3.26, NPNF2, vol. 12, pg. 55)

St. Bede the Venerable--Christ sent unlettered men to preach:
‎Now fishers and unlettered men are sent to preach, that the faith of believers might be thought to lie in the power of God, not in eloquence or in learning. (Bede, in Marc. 1.6, Cat. Aur. 2, pg. 22)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 1 Samuel 3:3b–10, 19
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a, 17–20
Gospel John 1:35–42

St. Irenaeus--glorify God in your body:
‎‎Now, what is mortal shall be swallowed up of life, when the flesh is dead no longer, but remains living and incorruptible, hymning the praises of God, who has perfected us for this very thing. In order, therefore, that we may be perfected for this, aptly does he say to the Corinthians, “Glorify God in your body.” (1 Co 6:20) Now God is He who gives rise to immortality. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 5.13.3, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 540)

St. Clement of Alexandria--we who seek the heavenly bread must rule the belly:
‎‎But we who seek the heavenly bread must rule the belly, which is beneath heaven, and much more the things which are agreeable to it, which “God shall destroy,” (1 Co 6:13) says the apostle, justly execrating gluttonous desires. For “meats are for the belly,” (1 Co 6:13) for on them depends this truly carnal and destructive life. (Clement of Alexandria, Paed. 2.1, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 238)

St. Cyprian of Carthage--our bodies are temples, and we are the worshippers and priests of these temples:
‎‎Considering as well as knowing that our members, when purged from all the filth of the old contagion by the sanctification of the layer of life, are God’s temples, and must not be violated nor polluted, since he who does violence to them is himself injured. We are the worshippers and priests of those temples; let us obey Him whose we have already begun to be. Paul tells us in his epistles, in which he has formed us to a course of living by divine teaching, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a great price; glorify and bear God in your body.” (1 Co 6:14) Let us glorify and bear God in a pure and chaste body, and with a more complete obedience; and since we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, let us obey and give furtherance to the empire of our Redeemer by all the obedience of service, that nothing impure or profane may be brought into the temple of God, lost He should be offended, and forsake the temple which He inhabits. (Cyprian, De habit. virg. 2, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 430)

St. Augustine--the bodies of the married are holy, so long as they keep faith with one another and to God:
‎‎What therefore he says, “She, that is unmarried, thinketh of the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit;” we are not to take in such sense, as to think that a chaste Christian wife is not holy in body. Forsooth unto all the faithful it was said, “Know ye not that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost within you, Whom ye have from God?” (1 Co 6:19) Therefore the bodies also of the married are holy, so long as they keep faith to one another and to God. (Augustine, De bono coniug. 11.13, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 405)

St. Augustine--take heed what you do in the temple of God:
‎‎“Know ye not,” says the same Apostle, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” (1 Co 6:19) Do not then any longer disregard sins of the body; seeing that your “bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God.” If thou didst disregard a sin of the body, wilt thou disregard a sin which thou committest against a temple? Thy very body is a temple of the Spirit of God within thee. Now take heed what thou doest with the temple of God. If thou wert to choose to commit adultery in the Church within these walls, what wickedness could be greater? But now thou art thyself the temple of God. In thy going out, in thy coming in, as thou abidest in thy house, as thou risest up, in all thou art a temple. Take heed then what thou doest, take heed that thou offend not the Indweller of the temple, lest He forsake thee, and thou fall into ruins. “Know ye not,” he says, “that your bodies” (and this the Apostle spake touching fornication, that they might not think lightly of sins of the body) “are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” For “ye have been bought with a great price.” If thou think so lightly of thine own body, have some consideration for thy price. (Augustine, Serm. 82.10.13, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 371)

St. John Chrysostom--John the Baptist, the friend of the Bridegroom:
‎“Again,” saith the Evangelist, “John stood, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God.” Christ utters no word, His messenger saith all. So it is with a bridegroom. He saith not for a while anything to the bride, but is there in silence, while some show him to the bride, and others give her into his hands; she merely appears, and he departs not having taken her himself, but when he has received her from another who gives her to him. And when he has received her thus given, he so disposes her, that she no more remembers those who betrothed her. Soit was with Christ. He came to join to Himself the Church; He said nothing, but merely came. It was His friend, John, who put into His the bride’s right hand, when by his discourses he gave into His hand the souls of men. He having received them, afterwards so disposed them, that they departed no more to John who had committed them to Him. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 18.1, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 63)

St. Augustine--the Lamb conquers the lion:
‎‎When the time came for God to have mercy, the Lamb came. What sort of a Lamb whom wolves fear? What sort of a Lamb is it who, when slain, slew a lion? For the devil is called a lion, going about and roaring, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pe 5:8) By the blood of the Lamb the lion was vanquished. Behold the spectacles [spectacula, i.e. gladiatorial shows] of Christians. And what is more: they with the eyes of the flesh behold vanity, we with the eyes of the heart behold truth. Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles; for if there are no spectacles, why have ye come together to-day? Behold, what we have said you saw, and you exclaimed; you would not have exclaimed if you had not seen. And this is a great thing to see in the whole world, the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb: members of Christ delivered from the teeth of the lions, and joined to the body of Christ. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 7.6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 50)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Baptism of the Lord, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7 or Isaiah 55:1–11
Second Reading Acts 10:34–38 or 1 John 5:1–9
Gospel Mark 1:7–11

For the readings from Isaiah 42 and Acts and the Gospel's parallel in Luke, see Baptism of the Lord, Year C. For the Gospel's parallel in Matthew, see Year A.

St. Clement of Alexandria--the inheritance of the Christian:
‎‎Ye that thirst, come to the water; and ye that have no money, come, and buy and drink without money. (Is 55:1) He invites to the laver, to salvation, to illumination, all but crying out and saying, The land I give thee, and the sea, my child, and heaven too; and all the living creatures in them I freely bestow upon thee. Only, O child, thirst for thy Father; God shall be revealed to thee without price; the truth is not made merchandise of. He gives thee all creatures that fly and swim, and those on the land. These the Father has created for thy thankful enjoyment. What the bastard, who is a son of perdition, foredoomed to be the slave of mammon, has to buy for money, He assigns to thee as thine own, even to His own son who loves the Father; for whose sake He still works, and to whom alone He promises, saying, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity,” for it is not destined to corruption. (Clem. Alex., Prot. 10, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 198)

St. Augustine--the Lord is to be sought even when found:
‎‎For it is not said, The heart shall rejoice of them that find, but of them that seek, the Lord. And yet the prophet Isaiah testifies, that the Lord God can be found when He is sought, when he says: “Seek ye the Lord; and as soon as ye have found Him, call upon Him: and when He has drawn near to you, let the wicked man forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” (Is 55:6, 7) If, then, when sought, He can be found, why is it said, “Seek ye His face evermore?” Is He perhaps to be sought even when found? For things incomprehensible must so be investigated, as that no one may think he has found nothing, when he has been able to find how incomprehensible that is which he was seeking. Why then does he so seek, if he comprehends that which he seeks to be incomprehensible, unless because he may not give over seeking so long as he makes progress in the inquiry itself into things incomprehensible, and becomes ever better and better while seeking so great a good, which is both sought in order to be found, and found in order to be sought? For it is both sought in order that it may be found more sweetly, and found in order that it may be sought more eagerly. (Augustine, De Trin. 15.2.2, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 199-200)

St. Augustine--God's commands are not grievous to those with the right disposition:
‎‎Now all things are easy for love to effect, to which (and which alone) “Christ’s burden is light,” (Mt 11:30) —or rather, it is itself alone the burden which is light. Accordingly it is said, “And His commandments are not grievous;” (1 Jn 5:3) so that whoever finds them grievous must regard the inspired statement about their “not being grievous” as having been capable of only this meaning, that there may be a state of heart to which they are not burdensome, and he must pray for that disposition which he at present wants, so as to be able to fulfil all that is commanded him. (Augustine, De nat. et grat. 69.83, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 151)

St. Augustine--the love of God and of his Son and of his members is compacted into one love:
‎‎“In this we know that we love the sons of God, in that we love God.” And how? Are not the sons of God one thing, God Himself another? But he that loves God, loves His precepts. And what are the precepts of God? “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.” (Jn 13:34) Let none excuse himself by another love, for another love; so and so only is it with this love: as the love itself is compacted in one, so all that hang by it doth it make one, and as fire melts them down into one. It is gold: the lump is molten and becomes some one thing. But unless the fervor of charity be applied, of many there can be no melting down into one. “That we love God,” by this “know we that we love the sons of God.” (Augustine, Tract. in ep. Joan. 10.3, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 521-522)

St. Ambrose--the three witnesses in the adoption. baptism and redemption of the Christian:
‎‎‎Hear how they are witnesses: The Spirit renews the mind, the water is serviceable for the laver, and the blood refers to the price. For the Spirit made us children by adoption, the water of the sacred Font washed us, the blood of the Lord redeemed us. So we obtain one invisible and one visible testimony in a spiritual sacrament, for “the Spirit Himself beareth witness to our spirit.” (Ro 8:16) Though the fulness of the sacrament be in each, yet there is a distinction of office; so where there is distinction of office, there certainly is not equality of witness. (Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct. 3.10.68, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 144)

St. Bede--John the Baptist proclaims Christ only as a man greater than himself to those not yet capable of recieving the mystery of his divinity:
‎Thus then John proclaims the Lord not yet as God, or the Son of God, but only as a man mightier than himself. For his ignorant hearers were not yet capable of receiving the hidden things of so great a Sacrament, that the eternal Son of God, having taken upon Him the nature of man, had been lately born into the world of a virgin; but gradually by the acknowledgment of His glorified lowliness, they were to be introduced to the belief of His Divine Eternity. To these words, however, he subjoins, as if covertly declaring that he was the true God, I baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. For who can doubt, that none other but God can give the grace of the Holy Ghost. (Bede, in Marc. 1.2, Cat. Aur. 2.14)

St. Bede on the reason for Our Lord's baptism:
‎‎He was baptized, that by being baptized Himself He might shew His approval of John’s baptism, and that, by sanctifying the waters of Jordan through the descent of the dove, He might shew the coming of the Holy Ghost in the laver of believers; whence there follows, And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit like a dove descending, and resting upon him. But the heavens are opened, not by the unclosing of the elements, but to the eyes of the spirit, to which Ezekiel in the beginning of his book relates that they were opened; (Ezek. 1.) or this His seeing the heavens opened after baptism was done for our sakes, to whom the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened by the laver of regeneration. (Bede, in Marc. 1.4, Cat. Aur. 2.15)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Second Sunday after Christmas

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Sirach 24:1–2, 8–12
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3–6, 15–18
Gospel John 1:1–18 or John 1:1–5, 9–14

For Ephesians 1:15-18, see Ascension, Year C.
For John 1:1-18, see Christmas, During the Day.

St. Augustine--God chose us not because we were already holy but that we might become so:“Blessed,” says he, “be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us in all spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ; even as He hath chosen us in Himself before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted.” (Eph 1:3) Not, then, because we were to be so, but that we might be so. Assuredly it is certain,—assuredly it is manifest. Certainly we were to be such for the reason that He has chosen us, predestinating us to be such by His grace. Therefore “He blessed us with spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ Jesus, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and immaculate in His sight, order that we might not in so great a benefit of grace glory concerning the good pleasure of our will. “In which,” says he, “He hath shown us favour in His beloved Son,”—in which, certainly, His own will, He hath shown us favour. Thus, it is said, He hath shown us grace by grace, even as it is said, He has made us righteous by righteous. “In whom,” he says, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches is His grace, which has abounded to us in all was according to His own pleasure, should aid it to become so. But when he had said, “According to His good pleasure,” he added, “which He purposed in Him,” that is, in His beloved Son, “in the dispensation of the fulness of times to restore all things in Christ, which arein heaven, and which are in earth, in Him inwhom also we too have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will; that we should be to the praise of His glory.” (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 18.36, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 516)

St. John Chrysostom--God has blessed us with every spiritual, not carnal, blessing:
‎“With every spiritual blessing.” And what lackest thou yet? Thou art made immortal, thou art made free, thou art made a son, thou art made righteous, thou art made a brother, thou art made a fellow-heir, thou reignest with Christ, thou art glorified with Christ; all things are freely given thee. “How,” saith he, “shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. viii: 32.) Thy First-fruits is adored by Angels, by the Cherubim, by the Seraphim! What lackest thou yet? “With every spiritual blessing.” There is nothing carnal here. Accordingly He excluded all those former blessings, when He said, “In the world ye have tribulation,” (John xvi: 33.) to lead us on to these. For as they who possessed carnal things were unable to hear of spiritual things, so they who aim at spiritual things cannot attain to them unless they first stand aloof from carnal things. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 50)

St. John Chrysostom on predestination:
“In love,” saith he, “having predestinated us.” Because this comes not of any pains, nor of any good works of ours, but of love; and yet not of love alone, but of our virtue also. For if indeed of love alone, it would follow that all must be saved; whereas again were it the result of our virtue alone, then were His coming needless, and the whole dispensation. But it is the result neither of His love alone, nor yet of our virtue, but of both. “He chose us,” saith the Apostle; and He that chooseth, knoweth what it is that He chooseth. “In love,” he adds, “having foreordained us;” for virtue would never have saved any one, had there not been love. For tell me, what would Paul have profited, how would he have exhibited what he has exhibited, if God had not both called him from the beginning, and, in that He loved him, drawn him to Himself? But besides, His vouchsafing us so great privileges, was the effect of His love, not of our virtue. Because our being rendered virtuous, and believing, and coming nigh unto Him, even this again was the work of Him that called us Himself, and yet, notwithstanding, it is ours also. But that on our coming nigh unto Him, He should vouchsafe us so high privileges, as to bring us at once from a state of enmity, to the adoption of children, this is indeed the work of a really transcendent love. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 1, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 51-52)

St. Athansius--Ephesians 1:3-5 implies that the Son existed before all creation:
‎‎How then has He chosen us, before we came into existence, but that, as he says himself, in Him we were represented beforehand? and how at all, before men were created, did He predestinate us unto adoption, but that the Son Himself was ‘founded before the world,’ taking on Him that economy which was for our sake? or how, as the Apostle goes on to say, have we ‘an inheritance being predestinated,’ but that the Lord Himself was founded ‘before the world,’ inasmuch as He had a purpose, for our sakes, to take on Him through the flesh all that inheritance of judgment which lay against us, and we henceforth were made sons in Him? and how did we receive it ‘before the world was,’ when we were not yet in being, but afterwards in time, but that in Christ was stored the grace which has reached us? (Athanasius, Cont. Ar. 2.22.76, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 389)