Monday, August 6, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading 1 Kings 19:4–8
Second Reading Ephesians 4:30–5:2
Gospel John 6:41–51


St. Augustine--the forty fast of Moses, Elijah and Christ signifies the time of temptation we face in this life:
‎That this number, then, is a sign of that laborious period in which, under the discipline of Christ the King, we have to fight against the devil, is also indicated by the fact that both the law and the prophets solemnized a fast of forty days,—that is to say, a humbling of the soul,—in the person of Moses and Elias, who fasted each for a space of forty days. (Ex 34:28; 1 Ki 19:18) And what else does the Gospel narrative shadow forth under the fast of the Lord Himself, during which forty days He was also tempted of the devil, (Mt 4:1, 2) than that condition of temptation which appertains to us through all the space of this age, and which He bore in the flesh which He condescended to take to Himself from our mortality? (Augustine, De consens. Ev. 2.4.9, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 105)

St. Augustine--imitate God in forgiving one another:
‎But since we are speaking of the remission of sins, lest ye should think it too high a thing to imitate Christ, hear the Apostle saying, “Forgiving one another, even as God in Christ hath forgiven you.” (Col 3:13; Eph 4:32) “Be ye therefore imitators of God.” They are the Apostle’s words, not mine. Is it indeed a proud thing to imitate God? Hear the Apostle, “Be ye imitators of God as dearly beloved children.” (Eph 5:1) Thou art called a child: if thou refuse to imitate Him, why seekest thou His inheritance? (Augustine, Serm. 114.3, NPNF1, vol. 6, pg. 453)

St. John Chrysostom--it is not enough to abandon sin, we must acquire virtue:
‎And therefore the blessed Paul also, in leading us away from sin, leads us on to virtue. For where, tell me, is the advantage of all the thorns being cut out, if the good seeds be not sown? For our labor, remaining unfinished, will come round and end in the same mischief. And therefore Paul also, in his deep and affectionate anxiety for us, does not let his admonitions stop at eradicating and destroying evil tempers, put urges us at once to evidence the implanting of good ones. For having said, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamor, and railing be put away from you, with all malice,” he adds, “And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other.” For all these are habits and dispositions. And our abandonment of the one thing is not sufficient to settle us in the habitual practice of the other, but there is need again of some fresh impulse, and of an effort not less than that made in our avoidance of evil dispositions, in order to our acquiring good ones. (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 16, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 126-127)

St. John Chrysostom--by forgiving, we are made like God:
‎“Be ye therefore imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us an offering and sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.”
‎That thou mayest not then think it an act of necessity, hear how He saith, that “He gave Himself up.” As thy Master loved thee, love thou thy friend. Nay, but neither wilt thou be able so to love; yet still do so as far as thou art able. Oh, what can be more blessed than a sound like this! Tell me of royalty or whatever else thou wilt, there is no comparison. Forgive another, and thou art “imitating God,” thou art made like unto God. It is more our duty to forgive trespasses than debts of money; for if thou forgive debts, thou hast not “imitated God”; whereas if thou shalt forgive trespasses, thou art “imitating God.” And yet how shalt thou be able to say, “I am poor, and am not able to forgive it,” that is, a debt, when thou forgivest not that which thou art able to forgive, that is, a trespass? And surely thou dost not deem that in this case there is any loss. Yea, is it not rather wealth, is it not abundance, is it not a plentiful store?
‎And behold yet another and a nobler incitement:—“as beloved children,” saith he. Ye have yet another cogent reason to imitate Him, not only in that ye have received such good at His hands, but also in that ye are called His children. And since not all children imitate their fathers, but those which are beloved, therefore he saith, “as beloved children.” (Chrysostom, Hom. Eph. 17, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 129)

Tertullian--we digest the Word made flesh by faith:
‎Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, (Jn 1:14) we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith. Now, just before (the passage in hand), He had declared His flesh to be “the bread which cometh down from heaven,” (Jn 6:51) impressing on (His hearers) constantly under the figure of necessary food the memory of their forefathers, who had preferred the bread and flesh of Egypt to their divine calling. (Jn 6:31, 49, 58) (Tertullian, De  res. 37, ANF, vol. 3, pg. 572)

St. Augustine--only in the unity of Christ's body do the faith profit by recieving the body of the Lord in the Sacrament:
‎And therefore we may reasonably inquire how we are to understand these words of the Lord Jesus: “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” (Jn 6:50, 51) And those, indeed, whom we are now answering, are refuted in their interpretation of this passage by those whom we are shortly to answer, and who do not promise this deliverance to all who have received the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s body, but only to the catholics, however wickedly they live; for these, say they, have eaten the Lord’s body not only sacramentally, but really, being constituted members of His body, of which the apostle says, “We being many are one bread, one body.” (1 Co 10:17) He then who is in the unity of Christ’s body (that is to say, in the Christian membership), of which body the faithful have been wont to receive the sacrament at the altar, that man is truly said to eat the body and drink the blood of Christ. And consequently heretics and schismatics being separate from the unity of this body, are able to receive the same sacrament, but with no profit to themselves,—nay, rather to their own hurt, so that they are rather more severely judged than liberated after some time. For they are not in that bond of peace which is symbolized by that sacrament. (Augustine, De civ. Dei 21.25.2, NPNF1, vol. 2, pg. 472)

St. Augustine--the Father draws the elect to will:
‎“No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me draw him”! (Jn 6:44) For He does not say, “except He lead him,” so that we can thus in any way understand that his will precedes. For who is “drawn,” if he was already willing? And yet no man comes unless he is willing. Therefore he is drawn in wondrous ways to will, by Him who knows how to work within the very hearts of men. Not that men who are unwilling should believe, which cannot be, but that they should be made willing from being unwilling. (Augustine, Contra duas epist. Pelag. 1.19.37, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 389)

St. Augustine--in what sense are all taught by God:
‎And yet in a certain sense the Father teaches all men to come to His Son. For it was not in vain that it was written in the prophets, “And they shall all be teachable of God.” (Jn 6:45) And when He too had premised this testimony, He added, “Every man, therefore, who has heard of the Father, and has learned, cometh to me.” As, therefore, we speak justly when we say concerning any teacher of literature who is alone in a city, He teaches literature here to everybody,—not that all men learn, but that there is none who learns literature there who does not learn from him,—so we justly say, God teaches all men to come to Christ, not because all come, but because none comes in any other way. (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 8.14, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 505)

St. Augustine--to have Christ is to have eternal life:
‎Let what follows admonish us: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath eternal life.” He willed to reveal Himself, what He was: He might have said in brief, He that believeth on me hath me. For Christ is Himself true God and eternal life. Therefore, he that believeth on me, saith He, goeth into me; and he that goeth into me, hath me. But what is the meaning of “to have me”? To have eternal life. Eternal life took death upon itself; eternal life willed to die; but of thee, not of itself; of thee it received that whereby it may die in thy behalf. Of men, indeed, He took flesh, but yet not in the manner of men. For having His Father in heaven, He chose a mother on earth; both there begotten without mother, and here horn without father. Accordingly, life took upon itself death, that life might slay death. “For he that believeth on me,” saith He, “hath eternal life:” not what is open, but what is hid. For eternal life is the Word, that “in the beginning was with God, and the Word was God, and the life was the light of men.” The same eternal life gave eternal life also to the flesh which it assumed. He came to die; but on the third day He rose again. Between the Word taking flesh and the flesh rising again, death which came between was consumed. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 26.10, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 171)

St. Augustine--we, too, will eat bread and die if we do not bring innocence to the altar:
‎But so far as relates to that death, concerning which the Lord warns us by fear, and in which their fathers died: Moses ate manna, Aaron ate manna, Phinehas ate manna, and many ate manna, who were pleasing to the Lord, and they are not dead. Why? Because they understood the visible food spiritually, hungered spiritually, tasted spiritually, that they might be filled spiritually. For even we at this day receive visible food: but the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another. How many do receive at the altar and die, and die indeed by receiving? Whence the apostle saith, “Eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.” (1 Co 11:29) For it was not the mouthful given by the Lord that was the poison to Judas. And yet he took it; and when he took it, the enemy entered into him: not because he received an evil thing, but because he being evil received a good thing in an evil way. See ye then, brethren, that ye eat the heavenly bread in a spiritual sense; bring innocence to the altar. Though your sins are daily, at least let them not be deadly. (Augustine, Tract. in ev. Joan. 26.11, NPNF1, vol. 7, pg. 171)

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