Friday, February 10, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Leviticus 13:1–2, 44–46
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1
Gospel Mark 1:40–45


St. Augustine--St. Paul pleases men in order to please God:
‎For the apostle also says, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ;” (Gal 1:10) while he says in another place, “Please all men in all things, even as I also please all men in all things.” (1 Co 10:32, 33) And they who do not understand this think it a contradiction; while the explanation is, that he has said he does not please men, because he was accustomed to act rightly, not with the express design of pleasing men, but of pleasing God, to the love of whom he wished to turn men’s hearts by that very thing in which he was pleasing men. Therefore he was both right in saying that he did not please men, because in that very thing he aimed at pleasing God: and right in authoritatively teaching that we ought to please men, not in order that this should be sought for as the reward of our good deeds; but because the man who would not offer himself for imitation to those whom he wished to be saved, could not please God; but no man possibly can imitate one who has not pleased him. (Augustine, De serm. Dom. in mont. 2.1.2, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 35)

St. John Chrysostom--our actions should draw the unbeliever, not give him an occasion for stumbling:
‎“Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the Church of God:” i.e., give no handle to anyone: since in the case supposed, both thy brother is offended, and the Jew will the more hate and condemn thee, and the Gentile in like manner deride thee even as a gluttonous man and a hypocrite.
‎Not only, however, should the brethren receive no hurt from us, but to the utmost of our power not even those that are without. For if we are “light,” and “leaven,” and “luminaries,” and “salt,” we ought to enlighten, not to darken; to bind, not to loosen; to draw to ourselves the unbelievers, not to drive them away. Why then puttest thou to flight those whom thou oughtest to draw to thee? Since even Gentiles are hurt, when they see us reverting to such things: for they know not our mind nor that our Soul hath come to be above all pollution of sense. And the Jews too, and the weaker brethren, will suffer the same. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor. 25.3, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 146)

St. Hilary--when we do all for the glory of God, we pray without ceasing:
‎Parallel to this passage are the words of the Apostle, Pray without ceasing. (1 Th 5:17) As though we were bound to set at naught our bodily requirements and to continue praying without any interruption! Meditation in the Law, therefore, does not lie in reading its words, but in pious performance of its injunctions; not in a mere perusal of the books and writings, but in a practical meditation and exercise in their respective contents, and in a fulfilment of the Law by the works we do by night and day, as the Apostle says: Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Co 10:31) The way to secure uninterrupted prayer is for every devout man to make his life one long prayer by works acceptable to God and always done to His glory: thus a life lived according to the Law by night and day will in itself become a nightly and daily meditation in the Law. (Hilary, Tract. super Ps. 1.12, NPNF2, vol. 9a, pg. 239)

St. John Chrysostom on the faith of the leper:
‎“For when He was come down from the mountain, there came a leper, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” (Mt 8:1-2, Mk 1:40, Lk 5:12) Great was the understanding and the faith of him who so drew near. For he did not interrupt the teaching, nor break through the auditory, but awaited the proper time, and approaches Him “when He is come down.” And not at random, but with much earnestness, and at His knees, he beseeches Him, (Mk 1:40, cf. Lk 5:12) as another evangelist saith, and with the genuine faith and right opinion about him. For neither did he say, “If Thou request it of God,” nor, “If Thou pray,” but, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” Nor did he say, “Lord, cleanse me,” but leaves all to Him, and makes His recovery depend on Him, and testifies that all the authority is His
‎“What then,” saith one, “if the leper’s opinion was mistaken?” It were meet to do away with it, and to reprove, and set it right. Did He then so do? By no means; but quite on the contrary, He establishes and confirms what had been said. For this cause, you see, neither did He say, “Be thou cleansed,” but, “I will, be thou clean;” that the doctrine might no longer be a thing of the other’s surmising, but of His own approval. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 25.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 172)

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