Monday, August 27, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading  Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–8
Second Reading James 1:17–18, 21b–22, 27
Gospel Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23

St. John Chrysostom--the Pharisees erred in substituting the tradition of the elders for the Law of Moses:
‎But mark, I pray thee, how even by the question itself they are convicted; in not saying, “Why do they transgress the law of Moses,” but, “the tradition of the elders.” Whence it is evident that the priests were inventing many novelties, although Moses, with much terror and with much threatening, had enjoined neither to add nor take away. “For ye shall not add,” saith he, “unto the word which I command you this day, and ye shall not take away from it.” (De 4:2)
‎But not the less were they innovating; as in this instance, that one ought not to eat with unwashen hands, that we must wash cups and brazen vessels, that we must wash also ourselves. Thus, when men were henceforth, as time advanced, to be freed from their observances, at that very time they bound them with the same in more and more instances, fearing lest any one should take away their power, and wishing to strike more dread, as though they were themselves also lawgivers. The thing in fact proceeded so far in enormity, that while their own commandments were kept, those of God were transgressed; and they so far prevailed, that the matter had actually become a ground of accusation. Which was a twofold charge against them, in that they both invented novelties, and were so strict exactors on their own account, while of God they made no reckoning. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 51.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 314-315)

St. Athanasius--God draws nigh to his adopted children, but is in the Son:
‎For a son which is by nature, is one with him who begat him; but he who is from without, and is made a son, will be attached to the family. Therefore he immediately adds, ‘What nation is there so great who hath God drawing nigh unto them?’ (De 4:7) and elsewhere, ‘I a God drawing nigh;’ (Je 23:23) for to things originate He draws nigh, as being strange to Him, but to the Son, as being His own, He does not draw nigh, but He is in Him. (Athanasius, Oratio contra Ar. 4.5, NPNF2, vol. 4, pg. 435)

St. Augustine--let all praise be directed to God, from whom comes every perfect gift:
‎Again I say, “Let no man glory in men;” nay, oftentimes I repeat it, “Let no man glory in men.” If you perceive anything in us which is deserving of praise, refer it all to His praise, from whom is every good gift and every perfect gift; for it is “from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas 1:17) (Augustine, Contra Pellian. 3.2.3, NPNF1, vol. 4, pg. 597)

John Cassian--no one can show forth the fruits of the Spirit without his inspiration and cooperation:
‎How foolish and wicked then it is to attribute any good action to our own diligence and not to God’s grace and assistance, is clearly shown by the Lord’s saying, which lays down that no one can show forth the fruits of the Spirit without His inspiration and co-operation. For “every good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (Jas 1:17) (Cassian, Collat. 1.3.16, NPNF2, vol. 11, pg. 328)

St. Bede the Venerable--the washing of vessels is in vain for those who are not washed in the font of Savior:
‎For taking the spiritual words of the Prophets in a carnal sense, they observed, by washing the body alone, commandments which concerned the chastening of the heart and deeds, saying Wash you, make you clean; (Isa. 1:16) and again, Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. (Isa. 52:11) It is therefore a superstitious human tradition, that men who are clean already, should wash oftener because they eat bread, and that they should not eat on leaving the market, without washing. But it is necessary for those who desire to partake of the bread which comes down from heaven, often to cleanse their evil deeds by alms, by tears, and the other fruits of righteousness. It is also necessary for a man to wash thoroughly away the pollutions which he has contracted from the cares of temporal business, by being afterwards intent on good thoughts and works. In vain, however, do the Jews wash their hands, and cleanse themselves after the market, so long as they refuse to be washed in the font of the Saviour; in vain do they observe the washing of their vessels, who neglect to wash away the filthy sins of their bodies and of their hearts. (Bede, in Marc., in Cat. Aur. 2.131-132)

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