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)

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