Lectio Divina – 3rd Sunday of Easter

Catena Aurea, Easter 3B, Luke 24:35-48

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): For He did not show Himself to all at the same time, in order that He might sow the seeds of faith. For Peter, who had first seen and was sure, told it to the rest. Afterwards the word going forth prepared the mind of the hearer for the sight, and therefore He appeared first to him who was of all the most worthy and faithful. For He had need of the most faithful soul to first receive this sight, that it might be least disturbed by the unexpected appearance. And therefore He is first seen by Peter, that he who first confessed Christ should first deserve to see His resurrection, and also because Peter had denied Him, Jesus wished to see him first, to console him, lest he should despair. But after Peter, He appeared to the rest, at one time fewer in number, at another more, which the two disciples (of Emmaus) show.

Theophylact (1055-1107):  The Lord then standing in the midst of the disciples, first with His accustomed salutation of “peace,” allays their restlessness, showing that He is the same Master who delighted in the word wherewith He also strengthened them, when He sent them to preach. Hence it follows, And he said to them, Peace be to you; I am he, fear not.

St. Gregory Nazianzen (330-390): Let us then reverence the gift of peace, which Christ when He departed hence left to us. Peace both in name and reality is sweet, which also we have heard to be of God, as it is said, The peace of God; and that God is of it, as He is our peace. Peace is a blessing commended by all, but observed by few. For peace is peculiarly of God, who binds all things together in one, to whom nothing so much belongs as the unity of nature, and a peaceful condition. It is borrowed indeed by angels and divine powers, which are peacefully disposed towards God and one another. It is diffused through the whole creation, whose glory is tranquillity. But in us it abides in our souls indeed by the following and imparting of the virtues, in our bodies by the harmony of our members and organs, of which the one is called beauty, the other health.

Theophylact (1055-1107):  Because by the word of peace the agitation in the minds of the Apostles was not allayed, He shows by another token that He is the Son of God, in that He knew the secrets of their hearts; for it follows, And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

St. Cyril of Alexandria (378-444): Our Lord showed that death was overcome, and human nature had now in Christ put on incorruption. He first shows them His hands and His feet, and the print of the nails; as it follows, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.

Lectio Divina – Fifth Sunday of Lent

Catena Aurea, Jn 12:20-30, Lent 5B

St. Augustine (354-430): Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe in Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fullness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Yourself, O God, above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth (Ps 56 and 107). But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Amen, Amen, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. He was that grain, to be put to death by the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.

He teaches you Whom you should call on, whose will you should prefer to your own. Let Him not seem to fall from His greatness, because He wishes you to rise from your meanness. He took upon Him man’s infirmity, that He might teach the afflicted to say, Not what I will, but what you will.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): As He draws near to the Cross, His human nature appears, a nature that did not wish to die, but cleaved to this present life. He shows how much He is not without human feelings. For the desire of this present life is not necessarily wrong, any more than hunger. Christ had a body free from sin, but not from natural weaknesses.

For this reason I came to this hour. However much you may be troubled and dejected at the thought of dying, do not run away from death. I am troubled, yet I ask not to be spared. I do not say, Save Me from this hour, but the contrary, Glorify your name. To die for the truth was to glorify God, as the event showed; for after His crucifixion the whole world was to be converted to the knowledge and worship of God, both the Father and the Son. But this He is silent about.

St. Augustine (354-430): Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have glorified it, i.e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i.e. when you shall rise from the dead. Or, I have glorified it when you were born of a Virgin, did work miracles, was made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when you shall rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth. The people therefore who stood by and heard it, said that it was thunder.

Lectio Divina – Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Fathers of the Church on this Sunday’s Gospel: Jn 3:14-21

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): See then the aptness of the figure. The figure of the serpent has the appearance of the beast, but not its poison: in the same way Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, being free from sin. By Christ’s being lifted up, understand His being suspended on high, by which suspension He sanctified the air, even as He had sanctified the earth by walking upon it. Herein too is typified the glory of Christ: for the height of the cross was made His glory for in that He submitted to be judged, He judged the prince of this world; for Adam died justly, because he sinned; out Lord unjustly, because He did no sin. So He overcame him, who delivered Him over to death, and thus delivered Adam from death. And in this the devil found himself vanquished, that he could not upon the cross torment our Lord into hating His murderers: but only made Him love and pray for them the more. In this way the cross of Christ was made His lifting up, and glory.

St. Augustine (354-430):. As then formerly he who looked to the serpent that was lifted up, was healed of its poison, and saved from death; so now he who is conformed to the likeness of Christ’s death by faith and the grace of baptism, is delivered both from sin by justification, and from death by the resurrection: as He Himself said; That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. What need then is there that the child should be conformed by baptism to the death of Christ, if he be not altogether tainted by the poisonous bite of the serpent?

Alcuin (c. 735- 804): Truly through the Son of God shall the world have life; for no other cause came He into the world, except to save the world. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Lectio Divina – Third Sunday of Lent

Catena Aurea, Lent 3B, Jn 2:13-25

Origen (182-253/4): Should it appear something out of the order of things, that the Son of God should make a scourge of small cords, to drive them out of the temple? We have one answer in which some take refuge, viz. the divine power of Jesus, Who, when He pleased, could extinguish the wrath of His enemies however innumerable, and quiet the tumult of their minds: The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought. This act indeed exhibits no less power than His more positive miracles; on the contrary, more than the miracle by which water was converted into wine: in that there the subject-matter was inanimate, here, the minds of so many thousands of men are overcome.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): They then are the sellers of doves, who, after receiving the free grace of the Holy Spirit, do not dispense it freely, as they are commanded, but at a price: who confer the laying on of hands, by which the Holy Spirit is received, if not for money, at least for the sake of getting favour with the people, who bestow Holy Orders not according to merit, but favour.

Origen (182-253/4): Both those, i.e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with living stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it. And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days.

Lectio Divina – Second Sunday of Lent

Catena Aurea, 2nd Weekend of Lent (B), Mk 9:2-10

Theophylact (1055-1107): Again, mystically; after the end of this world, which was made in six days, Jesus will take us up (if we be His disciples) into a high mountain, that is, into heaven, where we shall see His exceeding glory.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): Hom. in Matt., 56: He brings Moses and Elijah before them; first, indeed, because the multitudes said that Christ was Elijah, and one of the Prophets. He shows Himself to the Apostles with them, that they might see the difference between the Lord and His servants. And again because the Jews accused Christ of transgressing the law, and thought Him a blasphemer, as if He arrogated to Himself the glory of His Father, He brought before them those who shone conspicuous in both ways; for Moses gave the Law, and Elijah was zealous for the glory of God; for which reason neither would have stood near Him, if He had been opposed to God and to His law. And that they might know that He holds the power of life and of death, He brings before them both Moses who was dead, and Elijah who had not yet suffered death. Furthermore He signified by this that the doctrine of the Prophets was the schoolmaster to the doctrine of Christ (Gal 4:2)1. He also signified the junction of the New and Old Testament, and that the Apostles shall be joined in the resurrection with the Prophets, and both together shall go forth to meet their common King.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): If the transfigured humanity of Christ and the society of but two saints seen for a moment, could confer delight to such a degree that Peter would, even by serving them, delay their departure, how great a happiness will it be to enjoy the vision of Divinity amidst choirs of Angels forever?

Now because Peter sought for a material tent, he was covered with the shadow of the cloud, that he might learn that in the resurrection they are to be protected not by the covering of houses, but by the glory of the Holy Spirit.

Wherefore it goes on, “There was a cloud that overshadowed them.” And the reason why they obtained no answer from the Lord was that they asked unadvisedly; but the Father answered for the Son. Wherefore there follows, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And we must observe, that, as when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, so on the mountain, covered with brightness, the whole mystery of the Holy Trinity is declared. . . Nor is it without reason that the Holy Spirit appeared here in a bright cloud, there in the form of a dove; because he who now with a simple heart keeps the faith which he has embraced, shall then contemplate what he had believed with the brightness of open vision.

1 Galatians 4:1-5  I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate;  2 but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father.  3 So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe.  4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Lectio Divina – First Sunday of Lent

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Hom. in Matt., xiii: Because all that Christ did and suffered was for our teaching, He began after His baptism to dwell in the wilderness, and fought against the devil, that every baptized person might patiently sustain greater temptations after His baptism, and not be troubled, as if what happened to Him was contrary to His expectation, but might bear up against all things, and come off conqueror. For although God allows that we should be tempted for many other reasons, yet for this cause also He allows it, that we may know, that man when tempted is placed in a station of greater honour. For the Devil does not approach except where he has seen someone set in a place of greater honour; and therefore it is said, “And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.” And the reason why He does not simply say that He went into the wilderness, but was driven, is that you may understand that it was done according to the word of Divine Providence. By which also He shows that no man should thrust himself into temptation, but that those who from some other state are as it were driven into temptation, remain conquerors.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): But He was tempted forty days and forty nights that He might show us that as long as we live here and serve God, whether prosperity smile upon us, which is meant by the day, or adversity smite us, which agrees with the figure of night, at all times our adversary is at hand, who ceases not to trouble our way by temptations.

Consider also that Christ dwells among the wild beasts as man, but, as God, uses the ministry of Angels. Thus, when in the solitude of a holy life we bear with unpolluted mind the bestial manners of men, we merit to have the ministry of Angels, by whom, when freed from the body, we shall be transferred to everlasting happiness.

Lectio Divina – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catena Aurea, Mk 1:29-39, Sunday 6B

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735), in Marc., i, 9: And because the Lord said that He came “not to destroy the Law but to fulfill,” (Matt. 5:17) he who was excluded by the Law, inferring that he was cleansed by the power of the Lord, showed that grace, which could wash away the stain of the leper, was not from the Law, but over the Law. And truly, as in the Lord authoritative power is shown, so in him the constancy of faith is shown.

For there follows: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He falls on his face, which is at once a gesture of lowliness and of shame, to show that every man should blush for the stains of his life. But his shame did not stifle confession; he showed his wound, and begged for medicine, and the confession is full of devotion and of faith, for he refers the power to the will of the Lord.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): For he said not, If you wish, pray unto God, but, “If you wish,” as thinking Him true God.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Hom. in Matt., 25:  Further, the reason why He touches the leper, and did not confer health upon him by word alone, was, that it is said by Moses in the Law, that he who touches a leper shall be unclean till the evening; that is, that he might show that this uncleanness is a natural one, that the Law was not laid down for Him, but on account of mere men. Furthermore, He shows that He Himself is the Lord of the Law; and the reason why He touched the leper, though the touch was not necessary to the working of the cure, was to show that He gives health, not as a servant, but as the Lord.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): Another reason why He touched him, was to proved that He could not be defiled, who free others from pollution.

And now it may well be asked why our Lord ordered His action to be concealed, and yet it could not be kept hidden for an hour? But we can see that the reason why, in doing a miracle, He ordered it to be kept secret, and yet for all that it was shouted abroad, was so that His elect, following the example of His teaching, should wish indeed that in the great things which they do, they should remain concealed, but should nevertheless unwillingly be brought to light for the good of others. Not then that He wished anything to be done which He was not able to bring about. But, by the authority of His teaching, He gave an example of what His members ought to wish for, and of what should happen to them even against their will.

Lectio Divina – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time

Attributed to St. John Chrysostom: But the disciples, because they knew that they were to receive his goodness, without waiting for the evening, asked that Peter’s mother should be healed.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): In a mystical sense, the setting of the sun signifies the suffering and death of Him, who said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) And when the sun was going down, more demoniacs and sick persons were healed than before: because while He lived in the flesh for a time he taught a few Jews, but he has transmitted the gifts of faith and health to all the Gentiles throughout the world. Again, mystically if by the setting of the sun, the death of the Saviour is intended, why should not His resurrection be intended by the returning dawn? For by its clear light, He went far into the wilderness of the Gentiles, and there continued praying in the person of His faithful disciples.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): After that the Lord had cured the sick, He departed into a desert place. By this He taught us not to do any thing for the sake of appearance, but if we do any good, not to proclaim it openly. For He shows to us that we ought to attribute to God whatever we do well, and to say to Him, “Every good gift comes down from above,” (James 1:17) from Thee.

Attributed to St. John Chrysostom: In which word, He manifests the mystery of His “emptying himself,” (cf. Phil. 2:7-8) that is, of His incarnation, and the sovereignty of His divine nature, in that He here asserts, that He came willingly into the world. Luke however says, “To this end was I sent,” proclaiming the good pleasure of God the Father concerning the Incarnation of the Son.

Lectio Divina – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catena Aurea, Mk 1:21-28, Sunday 4B

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735), in Marc., 1, 7: Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, “And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.”

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, ‘by taking away uncleanness, and giving to the souls of men divine knowledge, you allow us no place in men.’

St. Augustine (354-430), Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh.

For there follows, “And he cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do we you, Jesus of Nazareth, &c.’” For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free those he had predestined. He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, (see 1 John 5:20, John 17:3) but by some temporal effects of His Power

Picture: Jesus expels the demon in the Synagogue in Capernaum, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Lectio Divina – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Attr. St. Jerome: For he must repent, who would keep close to eternal good, that is, to the kingdom of God. For he who would have the kernel, breaks the shell; the sweetness of the apple makes up for the bitterness of its root; the hope of gain makes the dangers of the sea pleasant; the hope of health takes away from the painfulness of medicine. They are able worthily to proclaim the preaching of Christ who have deserved to attain to the reward of forgiveness; and therefore after He has said, “Repent,” He subjoins, “and believe the Gospel.” For unless ye have believed, ye shall not understand.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): “Repent,” therefore, “and believe;” that is, renounce dead works; for of what use is believing without good works? The merit of good works does not, however, bring anyone to faith, but faith begins, that good works may follow.

Remigius of Auxerre (841-908): For by the net of holy preaching they drew fish, that is, men, from the depths of the sea, that is, of infidelity, to the light of faith. Wonderful indeed is this fishing! for fishes when they are caught, soon after die; when men are caught by the word of preaching, they rather are made alive.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): Now fishermen and unlettered men are sent to preach, that the faith of believers might be thought to lie in the power of God, not in eloquence or in learning.

Attr. St. Jerome: Further, we are mystically carried away to heaven, like Elijah, by this chariot, drawn by these fishers, as by four horses. On these four corner-stones the first Church is built; in these, as in the four Hebrew letters, yhwh, we acknowledge the name of the Lord, we who are commanded, after their example, to “hear” the voice of the Lord, and “to forget” the spider’s net, in the meshes of which we, like gnats, were all but fallen. Again, Simon, means obedient; Andrew, manly; James, supplanter; John, grace; by which four names, we are knit together into God’s host; by obedience, that we may listen; by manliness, that we do battle; by overthrowing, that we may persevere; by grace, that we may be preserved.