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)

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