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Lectio Divina – Trinity Sunday

Catena Aurea, Mt 28:16-20, Trinity Sunday B

St. Jerome (340/2-420): After His Resurrection, Jesus is seen and worshipped in the mountain in Galilee; though some doubt, their doubting confirms our faith.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): Hom. Aest. in Fer., vi., Pasch.: The Lord appeared to them in the mountain to signify, that His Body which at His Birth He had taken of the common dust of the human race, He had by His Resurrection exalted above all earthly things; and to teach the faithful that if they desire there to see the height of His Resurrection, they must endeavour here to pass from low pleasures to high desires. And He goes before His disciples into Galilee, because “Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor 15:20) And they that are Christ’s follow Him, and pass in their order from death to life, contemplating Him as He appears with His proper Divinity. And it agrees with this that Galilee is interpreted ‘revelation.’ [The Hebrew verb glh in some forms has the meaning of “to reveal.”]

Remigius of Auxerre, 841-908: The disciples then, when they saw Him, knew the Lord; and worshipped Him, bowing their faces to the ground. And He their affectionate and merciful Master, that He might take away all doubtfulness from their hearts, coming to them, strengthened them in their belief; as it follows, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

St. Jerome (340/2-420): Power is given in heaven and in earth, that He who before reigned in heaven, should now reign on earth by the faith of the believers.

St. Jerome (340/2-420): They first then teach all nations, and when taught dip them in water. For it may not be that the body receive the sacrament of Baptism, unless the soul first receive the truth of the Faith.

Pope St. Leo the Great (c.400-461): Serm., 72, 3: For by ascending into heaven He does not desert His adopted; but from above strengthens to endurance those whom He invites upwards to glory. Of which glory may Christ make us partakers, he who is the King of glory, “God blessed for ever,” AMEN.

Lectio Divina – Pentecost Sunday

Catena Aurea, Pentecost, Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

St. Augustine (354-430): As if He said, Seeing Me, they hated and killed Me; but the Paracleteshall give such testimony concerning Me as shall make them believe, though they see Me not. And because He shall testify, you shall testify also: And you also shall bear witness; He will inspire your hearts, and you shall proclaim with your voices. And you will preach what you know, Because you have been with Me from the beginning; which now you do not do, because you have not yet the fullness of the Spirit. But the love of God shall then be shed abroad in your hearts by the Spirit which shall be given you, and shall make you confident witnesses to Me. The Holy Spirit by His witness made others witness, taking away fear from the friends of Christ’s, and converting the hatred of His enemies into love.

Didymus the Blind (313-398): The Holy Spirit He calls the Comforter, a name taken from His office, which is not only to relieve the sorrows of the faithful, but to fill them with unspeakable joy. Everlasting gladness is in those hearts, in which the Spirit dwells. The Spirit, the Comforter, is sent by the Son, not as Angels, or Prophets, or Apostles, are sent, but as the Spirit must be sent which is of one nature with the Divine wisdom and power that sends Him. … The Holy Spirit is not sent by the Son, and proceeds from the Father, in the sense of change of place. For as the Father’s nature, being incorporeal, is not local, so neither has the Spirit of truth, Who is incorporeal also, and superior to all created things, a local nature.

St. Augustine (354-430): While in the body we cannot know all the truth, as the Apostle says, Weknow now in part (1 Cor 13); but the Holy Spirit sanctifying us fits us for enjoying that fullness of which the same Apostle says, Then face to face. Our Lord’s promise, But when He the Spirit of truth shall come, He shall teach you all truth, or shall lead you into all truth, does not refer to this life only, but to the life to come, for which this complete fullness is reserved. The Holy Spirit both teaches believers now all the spiritual things which they are capable of receiving, and also kindles in their hearts a desire to know more.

Lectio Divina – The Ascension

Catena Aurea, Easter 6B, Mk 16:15-20

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): What shall we say here about infants, who by reason of their age cannot yet believe; for as to older persons there is no question. In the Church then of our Saviour, children believe by others, as also they drew from others the sins which are remitted to them in baptism.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): It goes on: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents. That is, they shall scatter before them serpents, whether intellectual or sensible, as it is said, Ye shall tread upon serpents and scorpions, (Luke 10:19) which is understood spiritually. But it may also mean sensible serpents, as when Paul received no hurt from the viper. There follows: And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. We read of many such cases in history, for many persons have drank poison unhurt, by guarding themselves with the sign of Christ. It goes on: They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): Are we then without faith because we cannot do these signs? No, but these things were necessary in the beginning of the Church, for the faith of believers was to be nourished by miracles, that it might increase. Thus we also, when we plant groves, plant them strong in the earth; but when once they have firmly fixed their roots, we leave off irrigating them. These signs and miracles have other things which we ought to consider more minutely. For Holy Church does every day in spirit what then the Apostles did in body; for when her Priests by the grace of exorcism lay their hands on believers, and forbid the evil spirits to dwell in their minds, what do they, but cast out devils? And the faithful who have left earthly words, and whose tongues sound forth the Holy Mysteries, speak a new language; they who by their good warnings take away evil from the hearts of others, take up serpents; and when they are hearing words of pestilent persuasion, without being at all drawn aside to evil doing, they drink a deadly thing, but it will never hurt them; whenever they see their neighbours growing weak in good works, and by their good example strengthen their life, they lay their hands on the sick, that they may recover. And all these miracles are greater in proportion as they are spiritual, and by them souls and not bodies are raised.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen. – But we must also know from this that words are confirmed by deeds as then, in the Apostles, works confirmed their words, for signs followed. Grant then, O Christ, that the good words which we speak may be confirmed by works and deeds, so that at the last, Thou working with us in word and in deed, we may be perfect, for Thine as is fitting is the glory both of word and deed. Amen.

(Picture: John Singleton Copley, The Ascension. Wiki Commons.)

Lectio Divina – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Catena Aurea, Easter 5B, Jn 15:1-8

St. Augustine (354-430): For we cultivate God, and God cultivates us. But our culture of God does not make Him better: our culture is that of adoration, not of ploughing: His culture of us makes us better. His culture consists in extirpating all the seeds of wickedness from our hearts, in opening our heart to the plough, as it were, of His word, in sowing in us the seeds of His commandments, in waiting for the fruits of piety.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): And in so far as Christ was sufficient for Himself, but His disciples needed the help of the Vinedresser, of the vine He says nothing, but adds concerning the branches, Every branch in Me that bears not fruit, He takes away. By fruit is meant life, i.e. that no one can be in Him without good works.

And inasmuch as even the best of men require the work of the vinedresser, He adds, And every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit. He alludes here to the tribulations and trials which were coming upon them, the effect of which would be to prune, and so to strengthen them. By pruning the branches we make the vine shoot out the more.

Alcuin (c. 735- 804): All the fruit of good works proceeds from this root. Jesus, who has delivered us by His grace, also carries us onward by his help, so that we bring forth more fruit. Wherefore He repeats, and explains what He has said: I am the vine, you are the branches. He that remains in Me, by believing, obeying, persevering, and I in Him, by enlightening, assisting, giving perseverance, the same, and none other, brings forth much fruit.

(image: The Vineyard, from Codex Aureus Epternacensis (1030-1050) in the German National Museum, Nuremberg.)

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.