Monday, February 13, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 43:18–19, 21–22, 24b–25
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 1:18–22
Gospel Mark 2:1–12

St. Cyprian--Isaiah foretells the coming of salvation to the nations through baptism:
‎But as often as water is named alone in the Holy Scriptures, baptism is referred to, as we see intimated in Isaiah: “Remember not,” says he, “the former things, and consider not the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, which shall now spring forth; and ye shall know it. I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry place, to give drink to my elected people, my people whom I have purchased, that they might show forth my praise.” (Is 43:18-21) There God foretold by the prophet, that among the nations, in places which previously had been dry, rivers should afterwards flow plenteously, and should provide water for the elected people of God, that is, for those who were made sons of God by the generation of baptism. (Cyprian, Ep. 63.8, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 360)

John Cassian--our efforts cannot expiate our offences unless they are blotted out by the Lord:
‎Let not the stubbornness of an obdurate heart turn away any from the saving remedy and the fount of so much goodness, because even if we have done all these things, they will not be able to expiate our offences, unless they are blotted out by the goodness and mercy of the Lord, who when He sees the service of pious efforts offered by us with a humble heart, supports our small and puny efforts with the utmost bounty, and says: “I even I am He that blotteth out thine iniquities for Mine own sake, and I will remember thy sins no more.” (Is 43:25) (Cassian, Collat. 20.8, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 500)

St. Augustine--all things spoken to Israel are fulfilled in Christ:
‎All things that were spoken to the ancient people Israel in the manifold Scripture of the holy law, what things they did, whether in sacrifices, or in priestly offices, or in feast-days, and, in a word, in what things soever they worshipped God, what things soever were spoken to and given them in precept, were shadows of things to come. Of what things to come? Things which find their fulfillment in Christ. Whence the apostle says, “For all the promises of God are in Him yea;” (2 Co 1:20) that is, they are fulfilled in Him. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 28.9, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 181)

St. John Chrysostom on 2 Cor. 1:20:
‎But what is, “In Him is the yea, and the Amen.” He signifies that which shall certainly be. For in Him, not in man, the promises have their being and fulfilment. Fear not, therefore; for it is not man so that thou shouldest mistrust; but it is God Who both said and fulfilleth. “Unto the glory of God through us.” What is, “unto [His] glory through us?” He fulfilleth them by us, that is, and28 by His benefits towards us unto His glory; for this is “for the glory of God.” But if they be for the glory of God, they will certainly come to pass. For His own glory He will not think little of, even did He think little of our salvation. But as it is, He thinketh not little of our salvation either, both because He loveth mankind exceedingly, and because our salvation is bound up with His glory from these things accruing. So that if the promises are for His glory, our salvation also will certainly follow (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor 3.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 289)

St. John Chrysostom--we are anointed with the Spirit as priests, prophets and kings:
‎And what is, “anointed,” and “sealed?” Gave the Spirit by Whom He did both these things, making at once prophets and priests and kings, for in old times these three sorts were anointed. But we have now not one of these dignities, but all three preeminently. For we are both to enjoy a kingdom and are made priests by offering our bodies for a sacrifice, (for, saith he, “present your members a living sacrifice unto God” [Ro 12:1]) and withal we are constituted prophets too: for what things “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” (1 Cor. 2:9) these have been revealed unto us. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor. 3.4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 290)

St. John Chrysostom on the "earnest" of the Spirit:
‎Thus here also he makes the things already bestowed a sure token of the promise of those which are yet to come. For this reason he further calls it an “earnest,” (Cf. also 2 Cor. 1:22.) for an earnest is a part of the whole. He hath purchased what we are most concerned in, our salvation; and hath given us an earnest in the mean while. Why then did He not give the whole at once? Because neither have we, on our part, done the whole of our work. We have believed. This is a beginning; and He too on His part hath given an earnest. When we show our faith by our works, then He will add the rest. Nay, more, He hath given yet another pledge, His own blood, and hath promised another still. In the same way as in case of war between nation and nation they give hostages: just so hath God also given His Son as a pledge of peace and solemn treaties, and, further, the Holy Spirit also which is from Him. For they, that are indeed partakers of the Spirit, know that He is the earnest of our inheritance. Such an one was Paul, who already had here a foretaste of the blessings there. And this is why he was so eager, and yearned to be released from things below, and groaned within himself. He transferred his whole mind thither, and saw every thing with different eyes. Thou hast no part in the reality, and therefore failest to understand the description. Were we all partakers of the Spirit, as we ought to be partakers, then should we behold Heaven, and the order of things that is there. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 2, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 56)

St. Clement of Alexandria--Christ heals both body and soul:
‎For a while the “physician’s art,” according to Democritus, “heals the diseases of the body; wisdom frees the soul from passion.” But the good Instructor, the Wisdom, the Word of the Father, who made man, cares for the whole nature of His creature; the all-sufficient Physician of humanity, the Saviour, heals both body and soul. “Rise up,” He said to the paralytic; “take the bed on which thou liest, and go away home.” (Mk 2:11) (Clem. Alex., Paed. 1.2, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 210)

St. Augustine--Christ orders us to master our flesh as the paralytic carried his bed:
‎He cured the sick man, and told him to carry his couch, and go unto his house. (Jn 5:8, 9) And so too He said to the sick of the palsy whom He cured. (Mk 2:9) What is it to carry our couch? The pleasure of our flesh. Where we lie in infirmity, is as it were our bed. But they who are cured master and carry it, are not by this flesh mastered. (Augustine, Serm. 125, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 481)

St. John Chrysostom on the faith of the paralytic:
‎But this man had the fortitude to go outside the house, and to be carried into the midst of the market place, and to exhibit himself in the presence of a crowd. And it is the habit of sick folk to die under their disorder rather than disclose their personal calamities. This sick man however did not act thus, but when he saw that the place of assembly was filled, the approaches blocked, the haven of refuge obstructed, he submitted to be let down through the roof. So ready in contrivance is desire, so rich in resource is love. “For he also that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Lk 11:10) The man did not say to his friends “What is the meaning of this? why make this ado? why push on? Let us wait until the house is cleared and the assembly is dissolved: the crowds will withdraw, we shall then be able to approach him privately and confer about these matters. Why should you expose my misfortunes in the midst of all the spectators, and let me down from the roof-top, and behave in an unseemly manner?” That man said none of these things either to himself or to his bearers, but regarded it as an honour to have so many persons made witnesses of his cure. (Chrysostom, Paralyt. 5, NPNF1, vol. 9, pg. 216)

St. John Chrysostom--Christ first destroys sin as a physician addresses the cause of a malady:
‎For it is a habit with physicians to destroy the originating cause of the malady before they remove the malady itself. Often for example when the eyes are distressed by some evil humour and corrupt discharge, the physician, abandoning any treatment of the disordered vision, turns his attention to the head, where the root and origin of the infirmity is: even so did Christ act: He represses first of all the source of the evil. For the source and root and mother of all evil is the nature of sin. (Chrysostom, Paralyt. 5, NPNF1, vol. 9, pg. 217)

St. John Chrysostom--to forgive sins is a greater act than to heal the body, but Christ demonstrates the greater from the more manifest:
‎See moreover He makes a second proof of His power of forgiving sins. For to forgive sins is a very much greater act than to heal the body, greater in proportion as the soul is greater than the body. For as paralysis is a disease of the body, even so sin is a disease of the soul: but although this is the greater it is not palpable: whereas the other although it be less is manifest. Since then He is about to use the less for a demonstration of the greater proving that He acted thus on account of their weakness, and by way of condescension to their feeble condition He says “whether is easier? to say thy sins are forgiven thee or to say arise and walk?” For what reason then should He address Himself to the lesser act on their account? Because that which is manifest presents the proof in a more distinct form. (Chrysostom, Paralyt. 7, NPNF1, vol. 9, pg. 219)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--the paralytic is healed through the faith of others:
‎Yea, so much power hath faith, that not the believer only is saved, but some have been saved by others believing. The paralytic in Capernaum was not a believer, but they believed who brought him, and let him down through the tiles (Mk 2:4): for the sick man’s soul shared the sickness of his body. And think not that I accuse him without cause: the Gospel itself says, when Jesus saw, not his faith, but their faith, He saith to the sick of the palsy, Arise! (Mt 9:2, 6) The bearers believed, and the sick of the palsy enjoyed the blessing of the cure. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 5.8, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 31)

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