Monday, June 25, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 1:13–15, 2:23–24
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13–15
Gospel Mark 5:21–43 or Mark 5:21–24, 35b–43

St. Cyprian on the envy of the devil:
‎From this source, even at the very beginnings of the world, the devil was the first who both perished (himself) and destroyed (others). He who was sustained in angelic majesty, he who was accepted and beloved of God, when he beheld man made in the image of God, broke forth into jealousy with malevolent envy—not hurling down another by the instinct of his jealousy before he himself was first hurled down by jealousy, captive before he takes captive, ruined before he ruins others. While, at the instigation of jealousy, he robs man of the grace of immortality conferred, he himself has lost that which he had previously been. How great an evil is that, beloved brethren, whereby an angel fell, whereby that lofty and illustrious grandeur could be defrauded and overthrown, whereby he who deceived was himself deceived! Thenceforth envy rages on the earth, in that he who is about to perish by jealousy obeys the author of his ruin, imitating the devil in his jealousy; as it is written, “But through envy of the devil death entered into the world.” (Wis 2:24) Therefore they who are on his side imitate him. (Cyprian, De zel. et liv. 4, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 492)

St. Augustine--God was not himself the cause of death:
[I]t is written, “God made not death,” (Wis 1:13) since He was not Himself the cause of death; but yet death was inflicted on the sinner, through His most just retribution. Just as the judge inflicts punishment on the guilty; yet it is not the justice of the judge, but the desert of the crime, which is the cause of the punishment. (Augustine, De Trin. 4.12.15, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 77)

St. Ambrose--for fallen man, death is a merciful end to the evils of this life, and, thus, a good:
‎And, indeed, death was no part of man’s nature, but became natural; for God did not institute death at first, but gave it as a remedy. Let us then take heed that it do not seem to be the opposite. For if death is a good, why is it written that “God made not death, (Wis 1:13ff) but by the malice of men death entered into the world”? For of a truth death was no necessary part of the divine operation, since for those who were placed in paradise a continual succession of all good things streamed forth; but because of transgression the life of man, condemned to lengthened labour, began to be wretched with intolerable groaning; so that it was fitting that an end should be set to the evils, and that death should restore what life had lost. For immortality, unless grace breathed upon it, would be rather a burden than an advantage. (Ambrose, De excessu fratris 2.47, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 181)

St. John Chrysostom on 2 Cor 8:9:
‎Christ raised up the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue who was dead in the house. (Mk 5:35) She was in the house, she had not yet been carried out. So is the man who hath determined on some wickedness in his heart; he is dead, but he lies within. But if he has come as far as to the action of the members, he has been carried out of the house. But the Lord raised also the young man, the widow’s son, when he was being carried out dead beyond the gate of the city. (Lk 7:12) So then I venture to say, Thou hast determined in thine heart, if thou call thyself back from thy deed, thou wilt be cured before thou put it into action. For if thou repent in thine heart, that thou hast determined on some bad and wicked and abominable and damnable thing; there where thou wast lying dead, within, so within hast thou arisen. But if thou have fulfilled, now hast thou been carried out; but thou hast One to say to thee, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” Even though thou have perpetrated it, repent thee, return at once, come not to the sepulchre. But even here I find a third one dead, who was brought even to the sepulchre. He has now upon him the weight of habit, a mass of earth presses him down exceedingly. For he has been practised much in unclean deeds, and is weighed down exceedingly by his immoderate habit. Here too Christ crieth, “Lazarus, come forth.” (Jn 11:43) For a man of very evil habit “now stinketh.” With good reason did Christ in that case cry out; and not cry out only, but with a loud Voice cried out. For at Christ’s Cry even such as these, dead though they be, buried though they be, stinking though they be, yet even these shall rise again, they shall rise again. For of none that lieth dead need we despair under such a Raiser up. (Augustine, Serm. 128.12, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 495)

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