Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 2 Chronicles 36:14–16, 19–23
Second Reading Ephesians 2:4–10
Gospel John 3:14–21


For the Gospel, see also Trinity Sunday, Year A.

St. Augustine--God creates us anew as good men:
And lest men should arrogate to themselves the merit of their own faith at least, not understanding that this too is the gift of God, this same apostle, who says in another place that he had “obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful,” (1 Co 7:25) here also adds: “and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8, 9) And lest it should be thought that good works will be wanting in those who believe, he adds further: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) We shall be made truly free, then, when God fashions us, that is, forms and creates us anew, not as men—for He has done that already—but as good men, which His grace is now doing, that we may be a new creation in Christ Jesus, according as it is said: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Ps 51:10) For God had already created his heart, so far as the physical structure of the human heart is concerned; but the psalmist prays for the renewal of the life which was still lingering in his heart. (Augustine, Enchir. 31, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 247-248)

St. John Chrysostom--the Church is already raised up in Christ her head:
Beholdest thou the glory of His inheritance? That “He hath raised us up together,” is plain. But that He “hath made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” how does this hold? It holds as truly, as that He hath raised us together. For as yet no one is actually raised, excepting that inasmuch as as the Head hath risen, we also are raised, just as in the history, when Jacob did obeisance, his wife also did obeisance to Joseph. (Gen. 37:9, 10.) And so in the same way “hath He also made us to sit with Him.” For since the Head sitteth, the body sitteth also with it, and therefore he adds “in Christ Jesus.” Or again, if it means, not this, it means that by the laver of Baptism He hath “raised us up with Him.” How then in that case hath He made “us to sit with Him?” Because, saith he, “if we suffer we shall also reign with Him,” (2 Tim. 2:12.) if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him. Truly there is need of the Spirit and of revelation, in order to understand the depth of these mysteries. And then that ye may have no distrust about the matter, observe what he adds further. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 66-67)

St. John Chrysostom--created in Christ Jesus for good works:
Ver. 10. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”
‎Observe the words he uses. He here alludes to the regeneration, which is in reality a second creation. We have been brought from non-existence into being. As to what we were before, that is, the old man, we are dead. What we are now become, before, we were not. Truly then is this work a creation, yea, and more noble than the first; for from that one, we have our being; but from this last, we have, over and above, our well being.
‎“For good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”
‎Not merely that we should begin, but that we should walk in them, for we need a virtue which shall last throughout, and be extended on to our dying day. If we had to travel a road leading to a royal city, and then when we had passed over the greater part of it, were to flag and sit down near the very close, it were of no use to us. This is the hope of our calling; for “for good works” he says. Otherwise it would profit us nothing. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 4, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 68)

St. Augustine on the serpent and the cross:
What means the uplifted serpent but the death of Christ, by that mode of expressing a sign, whereby the thing which is effected is signified by that which effects it? Now death came by the serpent, which persuaded man to commit the sin, by which he deserved to die. The Lord, however, transferred to His own flesh not sin, as the poison of the serpent, but He did transfer to it death, that the penalty without the fault might transpire in the likeness of sinful flesh, whence, in the sinful flesh, both the fault might be removed and the penalty. As, therefore, it then came to pass that whoever looked at the raised serpent was both healed of the poison and freed from death, so also now, whosoever is conformed to the likeness of the death of Christ by faith in Him and His baptism, is freed both from sin by justification, and from death by resurrection. For this is what He says: “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:15) (Augustine, De pecc. merit. et remiss. 1.32.61, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 39-40)

St. John Chrysostom on the serpent and the cross:
Seest thou the cause of the Crucifixion, and the salvation which is by it? Seest thou the relationship of the type to the reality? there the Jews escaped death, but the temporal, here believers the eternal; there the hanging serpent healed the bites of serpents, here the Crucified Jesus cured the wounds inflicted by the spiritual dragon; there he who looked with his bodily eyes was healed, here he who beholds with the eyes of his understanding put off all his sins; there that which hung was brass fashioned into the likeness of a serpent, here it was the Lord’s Body, builded by the Spirit; there a serpent bit and a serpent healed, here death destroyed and a Death saved. But the snake which destroyed had venom, that which saved was free from venom; and so again was it here, for the death which slew us had sin with it, as the serpent had venom; but the Lord’s Death was free from all sin, as the brazen serpent from venom. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 27.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 94)

St. John Chrysostom--the hardened sinner flees even the chance of pardon:
Ver. 19, 20. “Because,” He saith, “their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
‎Yet he came not to judge or to enquire, but to pardon and remit transgressions, and to grant salvation through faith. How then fled they? Had He come and sat in His Judgment seat, what He said might have seemed reasonable; for he that is conscious to himself of evil deeds, is wont to fly his judge. But, on the contrary, they who have transgressed even run to one who is pardoning. If therefore He came to pardon, those would naturally most hasten to Him who were conscious to themselves of many transgressions; and indeed this was the case with many, for even publicans and sinners sat at meat with Jesus. What then is this which He saith? He saith this of those who choose always to remain in wickedness. He indeed came, that He might forgive men’s former sins, and secure them against those to come; but since there are some so relaxed, so powerless for the toils of virtue, that they desire to abide by wickedness till their latest breath, and never cease from it, He speaks in this place reflecting upon these. (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 28.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 97-98)

No comments: