Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sententiae Pastristicae: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48
Second Reading 1 John 4:7–10
Gospel John 15:9–17


St. Augustine on Ac 10:44-48 and the necessity of baptism:
‎Now, in this matter I do not hesitate for a moment to place the Catholic catechumen, who is burning with love for God, before the baptized heretic; nor yet do we thereby do dishonor to the sacrament of baptism which the latter has already received, the former not as yet; nor do we consider that the sacrament of the catechumen is to be preferred to the sacrament of baptism, when we acknowledge that some catechumens are better and more faithful than some baptized persons. For the centurion Cornelius, before baptism, was better than Simon, who had been baptized. For Cornelius, even before his baptism, was filled with the Holy Spirit; (Ac 10:44) Simon, even after baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit. (Ac 18:13, 18-19) Cornelius, however, would have been convicted of contempt for so holy a sacrament, if, even after he had received the Holy Ghost, he had refused to be baptized. But when he was baptized, he received in no wise a better sacrament than Simon; but the different merits of the men were made manifest under the equal holiness of the same sacrament—so true is it that the good or ill deserving of the recipient does not increase or diminish the holiness of baptism. But as baptism is wanting to a good catechumen to his receiving the kingdom of heaven, so true conversion is wanting to a bad man though baptized. (Augustine, De bapt. 4.21.29, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 460)

St. John Chrysostom--water is still necessary for baptism, even when the Holy Spirit had come down before it was applied:
‎That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47.) (Chrysostom, Hom. Jo. 25.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 89)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Acts 10:48 illustrates the John 3:3:
‎Except a man be born anew (and He adds the words) of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Jn 3:3) Neither doth he that is baptized with water, but not found worthy of the Spirit, receive the grace in perfection; nor if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but receive not the seal by water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine, for it is Jesus who hath declared it: and here is the proof of the statement from Holy Scripture. Cornelius was a just man, who was honoured with a vision of Angels, and had set up his prayers and alms-deeds as a good memorial before God in heaven. Peter came, and the Spirit was poured out upon them that believed, and they spake with other tongues, and prophesied: and after the grace of the Spirit the Scripture saith that Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; (Ac 10:48) in order that, the soul having been born again by faith, the body also might by the water partake of the grace. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 3.4, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 15)

St. Augustine--we recieve from God the love by which we love:
‎In order, indeed, that we might receive that love whereby we might love, we were loved while as yet we had no love ourselves. This the Apostle John most expressly declares: “Not that we loved God,” says he, “but that He loved us;” (1 Jn 4:10) and again, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) Most excellently and truly spoken! For we could not have wherewithal to love Him, unless we received it from Him in His first loving us. And what good could we possibly do if we possessed no love? Or how could we help doing good if we have love? For although God’s commandment appears sometimes to be kept by those who do not love Him, but only fear Him; yet where there is no love, no good work is imputed, nor is there any good work, rightly so called (Augustine, De grat. Christi 1.26.27, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 227-228)

St. Augustine--to act against love is to act against God:
‎Now see that to act against love is to act against God. Let no man say, “I sin against man when I do not love my brother, (mark it!) and sin against man is a thing to be taken easily; only let me not sin against God. How sinnest thou not against God, when thou sinnest against love? “Love is God.” Do “we” say this? If we said, “Love is God,” haply some one of you might be offended and say, What hath he said? What meant he to say, that “Love is God”? God “gave” love, as a gift God bestowed love. “Love is of God: Love IS God.” Look, here have ye, brethren, the Scriptures of God: this epistle is canonical; throughout all nations it is recited, it is held by the authority of the whole earth, it hath edified the whole earth. Thou art here told by the Spirit of God, “Love is God.” Now if thou dare, go against God, and refuse to love thy brother! (Augustine, Tract. in ep. Joan. 7.5, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 503)

St. Augustine--the Holy Spirit subsists in love:
‎In what sense then was it said a while ago, “Love is of God;” and now, “Love Is God?” For God is Father and Son and Holy Ghost: the Son, God of God, the Holy Ghost, God of God; and these three, one God, not three Gods. If the Son be God, and the Holy Ghost God, and that person loveth in whom dwelleth the Holy Ghost: therefore “Love is God;” but “IS God,” because “Of God.” For thou hast both in the epistle; both, “Love is of God,” and, “Love is God.” Of the Father alone the Scripture hath it not to say, that He is “of God:” but when thou hearest that expression, “Of God,” either the Son is meant, or the Holy Ghost. Because while the apostle saith, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us:” (Ro 5:5) let us understand that He who subsisteth in love is the Holy Ghost. (Augustine, Tract. in ep. Joan. 7. 6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 503)

St. Irenaeus--the friendship of God imparts immortality to those who embrace it:
‎“I will not now call you servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard from My Father I have made known.” (Jn 15:15) For in that which He says, “I will not now call you servants,” He indicates in the most marked manner that it was Himself who did originally appoint for men that bondage with respect to God through the law, and then afterwards conferred upon them freedom. And in that He says, “For the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth,” He points out, by means of His own advent, the ignorance of a people in a servile condition. But when He terms His disciples “the friends of God,” He plainly declares Himself to be the Word of God, whom Abraham also followed voluntarily and under no compulsion (sine vinculis), because of the noble nature of his faith, and so became “the friend of God.” (Jas 2:23) But the Word of God did not accept of the friendship of Abraham, as though He stood in need of it, for He was perfect from the beginning (“Before Abraham was,” He says, “I am” [Jn 8:58]), but that He in His goodness might bestow eternal life upon Abraham himself, inasmuch as the friendship of God imparts immortality to those who embrace it. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4.13.4, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 478)

St. Augustine--Christ chose his disciples that they might choose him:
‎Let us, then, understand the calling whereby they become elected,—not those who are elected because they have believed, but who are elected that they may believe. For the Lord Himself also sufficiently explains this calling when He says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (Jn 15:16) For if they had been elected because they had believed, they themselves would certainly have first chosen Him by believing in Him, so that they should deserve to be elected. But He takes away this supposition altogether when He says “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” And yet they themselves, beyond a doubt, chose Him when they believed on Him. Whence it is not for any other reason that He says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” than because they did not choose Him that He should choose them, but He chose them that they might choose Him; because His mercy preceded them according to grace, not according to debt. (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 17.34, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 514-515)

St. Augustine--we love Christ in the same measure as we keep his commandments:
 ‎“Continue ye,” He says, “in my love.” How shall we continue? Listen to what follows: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” Love brings about the keeping of His commandments; but does the keeping of His commandments bring about love? Who can doubt that it is love which precedes? For he has no true ground for keeping the commandments who is destitute of love. And so, in saying, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” He shows not the source from which love springs, but the means whereby it is manifested. As if He said, Think not that ye abide in my love if ye keep not my commandments; for it is only if ye have kept them that ye shall abide. In other words, it will thus be made apparent that ye shall abide in my love if ye keep my commandments. So that no one need deceive himself by saying that he loveth Him, if he keepeth not His commandments. For we love Him just in the same measure as we keep His commandments; and the less we keep them, the less we love. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 82.3, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 347)

St. Ambrose on friendship with God:
‎God Himself makes us friends instead of servants, as He Himself says: “Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (Jn 15:14) He gave us a pattern of friendship to follow. We are to fulfil the wish of a friend, to unfold to him our secrets which we hold in our own hearts, and are not to disregard his confidences. Let us show him our heart and he will open his to us. Therefore He says: “I have called you friends, for I have made known unto you all things whatsoever I have heard of My Father.” (Jn 15:15) A friend, then, if he is a true one, hides nothing; he pours forth his soul as the Lord Jesus poured forth the mysteries of His Father. (Ambrose, De offic. 3.22.136, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 89)

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