Monday, July 30, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Exodus 16:2–4, 12–15
Second Reading Ephesians 4:17, 20–24
Gospel John 6:24–35

St. Ambrose--the sacraments of the Church are more excellent than the manna from heaven:
‎Now consider whether the bread of angels be more excellent or the Flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven, this is above the heavens; that was of heaven, this is of the Lord of the heavens; that was liable to corruption, if kept a second day, this is far from all corruption, for whosoever shall taste it holily shall not be able to feel corruption. For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ; water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity. The Jew drinks and thirsts again, you after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting; that was in a shadow, this is in truth. (Ambrose, De myst. 8.48, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 323)

St. Augustine--we are made after the image of God according to the rational mind, and are there renewed:
‎“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which is created after God;” (Eph 4:23, 34) and in another place more clearly, “Putting off the old man,” he says, “with his deeds; put on the new man, which is renewed to the knowledge of God after the image of Him that created him?” (Col 3:9, 10) If, then, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and he is the new man who is renewed to the knowledge of God after the image of Him that created him; no one can doubt, that man was made after the image of Him that created him, not according to the body, nor indiscriminately according to any part of the mind, but according to the rational mind, wherein the knowledge of God can exist. And it is according to this renewal, also, that we are made sons of God by the baptism of Christ; and putting on the new man, certainly put on Christ through faith. (Augustine, De Trin. 12.7.12, NPNF1, vol. 3, pg. 159)

St. John Chrysostom--as Christian doctrines are true, so is the Christian life:
‎“As truth is in Jesus; that ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man.”
‎That is to say, It was not on these terms that thou enteredst into covenant. What is found among us is not vanity, but truth. As the doctrines are true, so is the life also. Sin is vanity and falsehood; but a right life is truth. For temperance is indeed truth, for it has a great end; whereas profligacy ends in nothing. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 13, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 113)

St. Gregory of Nyssa--to put on the "new man" is to put on Christ:
‎“Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ro 13;14) and also where (using the same word) he says, “Put on the new man which after God is created.” (Eph 4:24) For if the garment of salvation is one, and that is Christ, one cannot say that “the new man, which after God is created,” is any other than Christ, but it is clear that he who has “put on Christ” has “put on the new man which after God is created.” For actually He alone is properly named “the new man,” Who did not appear in the life of man by the known and ordinary ways of nature, but in His case alone creation, in a strange and special form, was instituted anew. For this reason he names the same Person, when regarding the wonderful manner of His birth, “the new man, which after God is created,” and, when looking to the Divine nature, which was blended in the creation of this “new man,” he calls Him “Christ”: so that the two names (I mean the name of “Christ” and the name of “the new man which after God is created”) are applied to one and the same Person. (Greg. Nyss., Cont. Eun. 3.2, NPNF2, vol. 5, pg. 141)

St. Clement of Alexandria--on the Word, the Bread of Life:
‎Further, the Word declares Himself to be the bread of heaven. “For Moses,” He says, “gave you not that bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. And the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:32, 33, 51) Here is to be noted the mystery of the bread, inasmuch as He speaks of it as flesh, and as flesh, consequently, that has risen through fire, as the wheat springs up from decay and germination; and, in truth, it has risen through fire for the joy of the Church, as bread baked. But this will be shown by and by more clearly in the chapter on the resurrection. But since He said, “And the bread which I will give is My flesh,” and since flesh is moistened with blood, and blood is figuratively termed wine, we are bidden to know that, as bread, crumbled into a mixture of wine and water, seizes on the wine and leaves the watery portion, so also the flesh of Christ, the bread of heaven, absorbs the blood; that is, those among men who are heavenly, nourishing them up to immortality, and leaving only to destruction the lusts of the flesh. (Clem. Alex., Paed. 1.6, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 221)

St. Augustine--seek Jesus for his own sake:
‎“Jesus answered and said Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves.” Ye seek me for the sake of the flesh not for the sake of the spirit. How many seek Jesus for no other object but that He may bestow on them a temporal benefit! One has a business on hand, he seeks the intercession of the clergy; another is oppressed by one more powerful than himself, he flies to the church. Another desires intervention in his behalf with one with whom he has little influence. One in this way, one in that, the church is daily filled with such people. Jesus is scarcely sought after for Jesus’ sake. “Ye seek me, not because ye have seen the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life.” Ye seek me for something else, seek me for my own sake. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 25.10, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 163)

St. Augustine--Christ declares faith itself to be a work:
‎Faith is indeed distinguished from works, even as the apostle says, “that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law:” (Ro 3:28) there are works which appear good, without faith in Christ; but they are not good, because they are not referred to that end in which works are good; “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Ro 10:4) For that reason, He willeth not to distinguish faith from work, but declared faith itself to be work. For it is that same faith that worketh by love. (Gal 5:6) Nor did He say, This is your work; but, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent;” so that he who glories, may glory in the Lord. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan 25.12, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 164)

St. John Chrysostom on Jn 6:35:
‎“I am the bread of life.” Now He proceedeth to commit unto them mysteries. And first He discourseth of His Godhead, saying, “I am the bread of life.” For this is not spoken of His Body, (concerning that He saith towards the end, “And the bread which I shall give is My flesh,”) but at present it referreth to His Godhead. For That, through God the Word, is Bread, as this bread also, through the Spirit descending on it, is made Heavenly Bread.  (Chrysostom, Hom. Jn. 45.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 161)

St. Hilary--the Son of Man is sealed by the Father:
‎He goes on to say, For Him hath the Father sealed, even God. (Jn 6:27) It is the nature of a seal to exhibit the whole form of the figure graven upon it, and that an impression taken from it reproduces it in every respect; and since it receives the whole of that which is impressed, it displays also in itself wholly whatever has been impressed upon it. Yet this comparison is not adequate to exemplify the Divine birth, because in seals there is a matter, difference of nature, and an act of impression, whereby the likeness of stronger natures is impressed upon things of a more yielding nature. But the Only-begotten God, Who was also through the Mystery of our salvation the Son of Man, desiring to point out to us the likeness of His Father’s proper nature in Himself, said that He was sealed by God; because the Son of Man was about to give the food of eternal life, and that we thereby might perceive in Him the power of giving food unto eternity, in that He possessed within Himself all the fulness of His Father’s form, even of the God Who sealed Him: so that what God had sealed should display in itself none other than the form of the God Who sealed it. These things indeed the Lord spoke to the Jews, who could not receive His saying because of unbelief. (Hilary, De Trin. 8.44, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 150)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Ezekiel 2:2–5
Second Reading 2 Corinthians 12:7–10
Gospel Mark 6:1–6

For the Gospel, see also the parallel passage from Luke at Ordinary Time 4, Year C.

St. Ireneaus--strength is made perfect in weakness:
‎The Apostle Paul has, moreover, in the most lucid manner, pointed out that man has been delivered over to his own infirmity, lest, being uplifted, he might fall away from the truth. Thus he says in the second [Epistle] to the Corinthians: “And lest I should be lifted up by the sublimity of the revelations, there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. And upon this I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. But he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for strength is made perfect in weakness. Gladly therefore shall I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Co 12:7-9) What, therefore? (as some may exclaim:) did the Lord wish, in that case, that His apostles should thus undergo buffering, and that he should endure such infirmity? Even so it was; the word says it. For strength is made perfect in weakness, rendering him a better man who by means of his infirmity becomes acquainted with the power of God. For how could a man have learned that he is himself an infirm being, and mortal by nature, but that God is immortal and powerful, unless he had learned by experience what is in both? For there is nothing evil in learning one’s infirmities by endurance; yea, rather, it has even the beneficial effect of preventing him from forming an undue opinion of his own nature (non aberrare in natura sua). But the being lifted up against God, and taking His glory to one’s self, rendering man ungrateful, has brought much evil upon him. [And thus, I say, man must learn both things by experience], that he may not be destitute of truth and love either towards himself or his Creator. But the experience of both confers upon him the true knowledge as to God and man, and increases his love towards God. Now, where there exists an increase of love, there a greater glory is wrought out by the power of God for those who love Him. (Ireneaus, Adv. Haer. 5.3.1, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 529)

St. Augustine--it is known by God what is expedient for us:
‎It is known, then, to God what is expedient for us: let us make this only our endeavor, that our hearts be whole from sins; and when it happens that we are scourged in the body, let us pray to Him for relief. The Apostle Paul besought Him that He would take away the thorn in his flesh, and He would not. Was he disturbed? Was he filled with sadness, and did he speak of himself as deserted? Rather did he say that he was not deserted, because that was not taken away which he desired to be taken away, to the end that infirmity might be cured. For this he found in the voice of the Physician, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Co 12:8, 9) Whence knowest thou, then, that God does not wish to heal thee? As yet it is expedient for thee to be scourged. Whence knowest thou how diseased that is which the physician cuts, using his knife on the diseased parts? Does he not know the measure, what he is to do, and how far he is to do it? Does the shrieking of him he cuts restrain the hands of the physician cutting according to his art? The one cries, the other cuts. Is he cruel who does not listen to the man crying out, or is he not rather merciful in following the wound, that he may heal the sick man? These things have I said, my brethren, in order that no one seek any other aid than that of God, when we happen to be under the reproof of God. See that ye perish not; see that ye do not depart from the Lamb, and be devoured by the lion. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 7.12, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 52)

St. Augustine--the prayers of Christians are heard in all things unto salvation:
‎Lo, he was not heard in his prayer that the “angel of Satan” should be taken from him. But wherefore? Because it was not good for him. He was heard, then, for salvation, when he was not heard according to his wish. Know, my beloved, a great mystery: which we urge upon your consideration on purpose that it may not slip from you in your temptations. The saints are in all things heard unto salvation: they are always heard in that which respects their eternal salvation; it is this that they desire: because in regard of this, their prayers are always heard. (Augustine, Tract in ep. Joan. 6.6, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 496)

St. John Chrysostom on the "angel of Satan":
‎What then is the meaning of what is said? An adversary is called in the Hebrew, Satan; and in the third Book of Kings the Scripture has so termed such as were adversaries; and speaking of Solomon, says, ‘In his days there was no Satan,’ that is, no adversary, enemy, or opponent. (1 Kings 5:4) What he says then is this: God would not permit the Preaching to progress, in order to check our high thoughts; but permitted the adversaries to set upon us. For this indeed was enough to pluck down his high thoughts; not so that, pains in the head. And so by the “messenger of Satan,” he means Alexander the coppersmith, the party of Hymen├Žus and Philetus, all the adversaries of the word; those who contended with and fought against him, those that cast him into a prison, those that beat him, that led him away to death; for they did Satan’s business. As then he calls those Jews children of the devil, who were imitating his deeds, so also he calls a “messenger of Satan” every one that opposeth. He says therefore, “There was given to me a thorn to buffet me;” not as if God putteth arms into such men’s hands, God forbid! not that He doth chastise or punish, but for the time alloweth and permitteth them. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor. 26.2, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 400)

St. John Chrysostom--for when I am weak, then am I strong:
‎“For when I am weak, then am I strong.”
‎‘Why marvellest thou that the power of God is then conspicuous? I too am strong “then;” ’ for then most of all did grace come upon him. “For as His sufferings abound, so doth our consolation abound also.” (Chap. 1:5)
‎[4.] Where affliction is, there is also consolation; where consolation, there is grace also. For instance when he was thrown into the prison, then it was he wrought those marvellous things; when he was shipwrecked and cast away upon that barbarous country, then more than ever was he glorified. When he went bound into the judgment-hall, then he overcame even the judge. (Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor. 26.3-4, NPNF1, vol. 12, pg. 401)

John Cassian--what can be burdensome for the one who embraces the yoke of Christ?
‎For what can be burdensome, or hard to one who has embraced with his whole heart the yoke of Christ, who is established in true humility and ever fixes his eye on the Lord’s sufferings and rejoices in all the wrongs that are offered to him, saying: “For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ: for when I am weak, then am I strong”? (2 Co 12:10) By what loss of any common thing, I ask, will he be injured, who boasts of perfect renunciation, and voluntarily rejects for Christ’s sake all the pomp of this world, and considers all and every of its desires as dung, so that he may gain Christ, and by continual meditation on this command of the gospel, scorns and gets rid of agitation at every loss? (Cassian, Collat. 3.24.23, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 541)

St. Augustine--"the carpenter" or "the carpenter's son"?
Now Mark, indeed, gives this passage in terms almost precisely identical with those which meet us in Matthew; with the one exception, that what he says the Lord was called by His fellow-townsmen is, "the carpenter, and the son of Mary," (Mk 6:1-6) and not, as Matthew tells us, the "carpenter’s son." Neither is there anything to marvel at in this, since He might quite fairly have have been designated by both these names. For in taking Him to be the son of a carpenter, they naturally also took Him to be a carpenter. (Augustine, De consens. Ev. 2.42.90, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 144)

John Cassian--the bounty of God is shaped according to the capacity of man's faith:
‎Among some so richly did He pour forth the mighty works of His cures that of them the Evangelist says: “And He healed all their sick.” (Mt 14:14) But among others the unfathomable depth of Christ’s beneficence was so stopped up, that it was said: “And Jesus could do there no mighty works because of their unbelief.” (Mk 6:5, 6) And so the bounty of God is actually shaped according to the capacity of man’s faith, so that to one it is said: “According to thy faith be it unto thee:” (Mt 9:29) and to another: “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed so be it unto thee;” (Mt 8:13) to another “Be it unto thee according as thou wilt,” (Mt 15:28) and again to another: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Lk 18:42) (Cassian, Collat. 2.13.15, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 432-433)