Monday, September 3, 2012

Sententiae Patristicae: Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Isaiah 35:4–7a
Second Reading James 2:1–5
Gospel Mark 7:31–37

St. Justin Martyr--Christ is the spring of living water in the desert:
“‎Be comforted, ye faint in soul: be strong, fear not. Behold, our God gives, and will give, retributive judgment. He shall come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. Then the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be distinct: for water has broken forth in the wilderness, and a valley in the thirsty land; and the parched ground shall become pools, and a spring of water shall [rise up] in the thirsty land.’ (Is 35:1-7) The spring of living water which gushed forth from God in the land destitute of the knowledge of God, namely the land of the Gentiles, was this Christ, who also appeared in your nation, and healed those who were maimed, and deaf, and lame in body from their birth, causing them to leap, to hear, and to see, by His word. (Justin Martyr, Dial. 69, ANF, vol. 1, pg. 233)

St. Augustine--injustice to the poor is as great a transgression as idolatry:
‎See how the apostle calls those transgressors of the law who say to the rich man, “Sit here,” and to the poor, “Stand there.” See how, lest they should think it a trifling sin to transgress the law in this one thing, he goes on to add: “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou do not kill, yet, if thou commit adultery, thou art become a transgressor of the law,” according to that which he had said: “Ye are convinced of the law as transgressors.” Since these things are so, it seems to follow, unless it can be shown that we are to understand it in some other way, that he who says to the rich man, “Sit here,” and to the poor, “Stand there,” not treating the one with the same respect as the other, is to be judged guilty as an idolater, and a blasphemer, and an adulterer, and a murderer—in short,—not to enumerate all, which would be tedious,—as guilty of all crimes, since, offending in one, he is guilty of all.” (Augustine, Ep. 167.1.3, NPNF1, vol. 1, pg. 533-534)

St. Augustine--God did not choose the rich in faith, but made his chosen rich in faith:
‎Therefore God elected believers; but He chose them that they might be so, not because they were already so. The Apostle James says: “Has not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love Him?” (Jas 2:5) By choosing them, therefore, He makes them rich in faith, as He makes them heirs of the kingdom; because He is rightly said to choose that in them, in order to make which in them He chose them. (Augustine, De praed. sanct. 17.34, NPNF1, vol. 5, pg. 515)

St. Gregory Nazianzen--do not be deaf to the instruction of the Lord:
‎If you were deaf and dumb, let the Word sound (Mk 7:37) in your ears, or rather keep there Him Who hath sounded. Do not shut your ears to the Instruction of the Lord, and to His Counsel, like the adder to charms. (Ps 58:4, 5) (Greg. Naz., Orat. 40.34, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 372)

St. Ambrose explains the meaning Ephphatha Rite performed on catechumens:
‎Open, then, your ears, inhale the good savour of eternal life which has been breathed upon you by the grace of the sacraments; which was signified to you by us, when, celebrating the mystery of the opening, we said, “Epphatha, which is, Be opened,” (Mk 7:34) that whosoever was coming in quest of peace might know what he was asked, and be bound to remember what he answered.
‎Christ made use of this mystery in the Gospel, as we read, when He healed him who was deaf and dumb. But He touched the mouth, because he who was healed was dumb and was a man, as regards one point that he might open his mouth with the sound of the voice given to him; as regards the other point because that touch was seemly towards a man, but would have been unseemly towards a woman. (Ambrose, De myst. 1.3-4, NPNF2, vol. 10, pg. 317)

St. Ephrem the Syrian--the deaf man touched Godhead that may not be touched:
‎That Power Which may not be handled came down and clothed itself in members that may be touched; that the needy may draw near to Him, that in touching His manhood they may discern His Godhead. For that dumb man [whom the Lord healed] with the fingers of the body, discerned that He had approached his ears and touched his tongue; (Mk 7:34-37) nay, with his fingers that may be touched, he touched Godhead, that may not be touched; when it was loosing the string of his tongue, and opening the clogged doors of his ears. For the Architect of the body and Artificer of the flesh came to him, and with His gentle voice pierced without pain his thickened ears. And his mouth which was closed up, that it could not give birth to a word, gave birth to praise to Him Who made its barrenness fruitful in the birth of words. He, then, Who gave to Adam that he should speak at once without teaching, Himself gave to the dumb that they should speak easily, tongues that are learned with difficulty. (Ephrem Homily On Our Lord 10, NPNF2, vol. 13, pg. 309)

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