Monday, October 8, 2012

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

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Wisdom of Solomon 7:7–11
Second Reading Hebrews 4:12–13
Gospel Mark 10:17–30 or Mark 10:17–27


Origen--Christ as sword:
‎The texts of the New Testament, which we have discussed, are things said by Himself about Himself. In Isaiah, however, He said (Is 49:3) that His mouth had been set by His Father as a sharp sword, and that He was hidden under the shadow of His hand, made like to a chosen shaft and kept close in the Father’s quiver, called His servant by the God of all things, and Israel, and Light of the Gentiles. The mouth of the Son of God is a sharp sword, for (He 4:12) “The word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” And indeed He came not to bring peace on the earth, that is, to corporeal and sensible things, but a sword, and to cut through, if I may say so, the disastrous friendship of soul and body, so that the soul, committing herself to the spirit which was against the flesh, may enter into friendship with God. Hence, according to the prophetic word, He made His mouth as a sword, as a sharp sword. Can any one behold so many wounded by the divine love, like her in the Song of Songs, who complained that she was wounded: (So 2:5) “I am wounded with love,” and find the dart that wounded so many souls for the love of God, in any but Him who said, “He hath made Me as a chosen shaft.” (Origen, Comm. Jo. 1.36, ANF, vol. 9, pg. 316)

St. John Chrysostom on "dividing soul and spirit":
‎“Piercing,” he says, “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” What is this? He hinted at something more fearful. Either that He divides the spirit from the soul, or that He pierces even through them disembodied, not as a sword through bodies only. Here he shows, that the soul also is punished, and that it thoroughly searches out the most inward things, piercing wholly through the whole man. (Chrysostom, Hom. Heb. 7.2, NPNF1, vol. 14, pg. 398)

St. Clement of Alexandria--Christ bids us banish our anxieties about wealth:
‎What then was it which persuaded him to flight, and made him depart from the Master, from the entreaty, the hope, the life, previously pursued with ardour?—“Sell thy possessions.” And what is this? He does not, as some conceive off-hand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed, and abandon his property; but bids him banish from his soul his notions about wealth, his excitement and morbid feeling about it, the anxieties, which are the thorns of existence, which choke the seed of life. For it is no great thing or desirable to be destitute of wealth, if without a special object,—not except on account of life. (Clem. Alex., Quis dives salv. 11, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 594)

St. Clement of Alexandria--let us be poor in vice and rich in virtue:
‎If then it is the soul which, first and especially, is that which is to live, and if virtue springing up around it saves, and vice kills; then it is clearly manifest that by being poor in those things, by riches of which one destroys it, it is saved, and by being rich in those things, riches of which ruin it, it is killed. And let us no longer seek the cause of the issue elsewhere than in the state and disposition of the soul in respect of obedience to God and purity, and in respect of transgression of the commandments and accumulation of wickedness. (Clem. Alex. Quis dives salv. 18, ANF, vol. 2, pg. 596)

St. Augustine--goodness is peculiarly the quality of God:
‎“For He is good.” I see not what can be more solemn than this brevity, since goodness is so peculiarly the quality of God, that the Son of God Himself when addressed by some one as “Good Master,” by one, namely, who beholding His flesh, and comprehending not the fulness of His divine nature, considered Him as man only, replied, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mk 10:17, 18) And what is this but to say, If thou wishest to call Me good, recognise Me as God? (Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 118.1, NPNF1, vol. 8, pg. 557)

St. John Chrysostom--affluence makes the love of money more tyrranical:
‎“But when the young man heard it, he went away sorrowful.” (Mt 19:22; cf. Mk 10:22) After this the evangelist, as it were to show that he hath not felt anything it was unlikely he should feel, saith, “For he had great possessions.” For they that have little are not equally held in subjection, as they that are overflowed with great affluence, for then the love of it becomes more tyrannical. Which thing I cease not always saying, that the increase of acquisitions kindles the flame more, and renders the getters poorer, inasmuch as it puts them in greater desire, and makes them have more feeling of their want. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 63.2, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 388)

St. John Chrysostom--the forsaking was done for the sake of following:
‎But mark also how exactly his reply is according to Christ’s demand. For He had required of the rich man these two things, to give that he had to the poor, and to follow Him. Wherefore he also expresses these two things, to forsake, and to follow. “For behold we have forsaken all,” saith he, “and have followed Thee.” For the forsaking was done for the sake of following, and the following was rendered easier by the forsaking, and made them feel confidence and joy touching the forsaking. (Chrysostom, Hom. Mt. 64.1, NPNF1, vol. 10, pg. 391)

St. Jerome on the rich young man:
‎Once upon a time a rich young man boasted that he had fulfilled all the requirements of the law, but the Lord said to him (as we read in the gospel): “One thing thou lackest: if thou wilt be perfect, go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor; and come and follow me.” (Mk 10:21) He who declared that he had done all things gave way at the first onset to the power of riches. Wherefore they who are rich find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom which desires for its citizens souls that soar aloft free from all ties and hindrances. “Go thy way,” the Lord says, “and sell” not a part of thy substance but “all that thou hast, and give to the poor;” not to thy friends or kinsfolk or relatives, not to thy wife or to thy children. (Jerome, Ep. 118.4, NPNF2, vol. 6, pg. 222)