Lectio Divina – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catena Aurea, Jn 1:35-42

St. Augustine (354-430): John was the friend of the Bridegroom; he sought not his own glory, but bore witness to the truth. And therefore he did not wish his disciples to remain with him, to the hindrance of their duty to follow the Lord, but rather showed them whom they should follow.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): He makes not a long speech, having only one object before him, to bring them and join them to Christ; knowing that they would no longer need his witness. John does not however speak to his disciples alone, but publicly in the presence of all. And so, undertaking to follow Christ, through this instruction common to all, they remained thenceforth firm, following Christ for their own advantage, not as an act of favour to their master. John does not exhort: he simply gazes in admiration on Christ, pointing out the gift He came to bestow, the cleansing from sin: and the mode in which this would be accomplished: both of which the word Lamb testifies to. Lamb has the article affixed to it, as a sign of pre-eminence.

Theophylact (1055-1107): Observe then, that it was upon those who followed Him, that our Lord turned His face and looked upon them. Unless you by your good works follow Him, you shall never be permitted to see His face, or enter into His dwelling.

Alcuin (c. 735- 804): They do not wish to be under His teaching for a time only, but inquire where He stays, wishing an immediate initiation in the secrets of His word, and afterwards meaning often to visit Him, and obtain fuller instruction. And, in a mystical sense too, they wish to know in whom Christ dwells, that profiting by their example they may themselves become fit to be His dwelling. Or, their seeing Jesus walking, and straightway inquiring where He resides, is an intimation to us, that we should, remembering His Incarnation, earnestly entreat Him to show us our eternal habitation. The request being so good a one, Christ promises a free and full disclosure. He said to them, Come and see: that is to say, “My dwelling is not to be understood by words, but by works; come, therefore, by believing and working, and then see by understanding.”

St. Augustine (354-430): What a blessed day and night was that! Let us too build up in our hearts within, and make Him a house, to which He may come and teach us.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): The Evangelist does not mention what Christ said to those who followed Him; but we may infer it from what follows. Andrew declares in few words what he had learnt, discloses the power of that Master Who had persuaded them, and his own previous longings after Him. For this exclamation, We have found, expresses a longing for His coming, turned to exultation, now that He was really come.

Lectio Divina – The Baptism of Our Lord

Attr. to St. Jerome: Who again is mightier than the grace, by which sins are washed away, which John signifies? He who seven times and seventy times seven remits sins (Matt 18:22). Grace indeed comes first, but remits sins once only by baptism, but mercy reaches to the wretched from Adam up to Christ through seventy-seven generations, and up to one hundred and forty-four thousand.

Theophylact (1055-1107): Some persons also understand it thus; all who came to John, and were baptized, through penitence were loosed from the bands of their sins by believing in Christ. John then in this way loosed the sandal straps of all the others, that is, the bands of sin. But Christ’s sandal straps he was not able to unloose, because he found no sin in Him.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): in Marc., i, 4: He was baptized, that by being baptized Himself He might show His approval of John’s baptism, and that, by sanctifying the waters of Jordan through the descent of the dove, He might show the coming of the Holy Spirit in the washing of believers.

Whence there follows, “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit like a dove descending, and resting upon him.” But the heavens are opened, not by the opening of the elements, but to the eyes of the spirit, to which Ezekiel in the beginning of his book relates that they were opened; or that His seeing the heavens opened after baptism was done for our sakes, to whom the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened by baptism, the washing of rebirth.

Attr. to St. John Chrysostom: Or else, that from heaven sanctification might be given to men, and earthly things be joined to heavenly. But the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon Him, not as if He then first came to Him, for He never had left Him; but that He might show forth the Christ, Who was preached by John, and point Him out to all, as it were by the finger of faith.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): Well indeed in the shape of a dove did the Holy Spirit come down, for it is an animal of great simplicity, and far removed from the malice of gall, that in a figure He might show us that He looks out for simple hearts, and deigns not to dwell in the minds of the wicked.

Attr. to St. Jerome: Again, the Holy Spirit came down in the shape of a dove, because in the Canticles it is sung of the Church: “My bride, my love, my beloved, my dove.”

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the Third Sunday of Advent

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28, Third Sunday of Advent (B)

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): The way of the Lord is made straight to the heart, when the word of truth is heard with humility; the way of the Lord is made straight to the heart, when the life is formed upon the commandment.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407):There is one among you.” It was fitting that Christ should mix with the people, and be one of the many, showing everywhere His humility.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): Or it was, that our Lord was in the midst of the Pharisees; and they not knowing Him. For they thought that they knew the Scriptures, and therefore, inasmuch as our Lord was pointed out there, He was in the midst of them, i.e. in their hearts. But they knew Him not, inasmuch as they understood not the Scriptures. Or take another interpretation. He was in the midst of them, as mediator between God and man, wishing to bring them, the Pharisees, to God. But they knew Him not.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the Second Sunday of Advent

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735), in Marc., i, 1: The beginning of this Gospel should be compared with that of Matthew, in which it is said, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” But here He is called “the Son of God.” Now from both we must understand one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and of man. And fitly the first Evangelist names Him “Son of man,” the second, “Son of God,” that from less things our sense may by degrees mount up to greater, and by faith and the sacraments of the human nature assumed, rise to the acknowledgment of His divine eternity.

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): The Forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, therefore, is called an angel, on account of his angelic life and lofty reverence. Again, where he says, “Before thy face,” it is as if he said, Thy messenger is near thee: whence is shown the intimate connection of St. John the Baptist with Christ; for it is their greatest friends who walk next to kings. The “way” is the New Covenant, and the “paths” are the Old, because it is a trodden path. For it was necessary to be prepared for the way, that is, for the New Covenant; but it was right that the paths of the Old Covenant should be straightened.

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): What he cried is revealed, in that which is added, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” For whosoever preaches a right faith and good works, what else does he but prepare the way for the Lord’s coming to the hearts of His hearers?

St. Jerome: Now by John as by the bridegroom’s friend, the bride is brought to Christ, just as by a servant Rebecca was brought to Isaac (Gen 24:61).

Gregory the Great (540-614), Moralia, xxxi, 25: John pointed out the Lord, of whom he was the forerunner, even by the kind of his food; for in that our Lord took to Himself the sweetness of the barren Gentiles, he ate wild honey.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the First Sunday of Advent

Catena Aurea, Mk 13:33-37, First Sunday of Advent (B)

The Venerable Bede (672/3-735): The man who, travelling abroad, left his house is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the Resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): Hom in Evan, 9: “And he left his servants in charge, each with his own task,” when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work. He has also ordered the doorkeeper to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping. Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, “Stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn: if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep.”

Theophylact of Ochrid (1055-1107): See again that He has not said, “I know not when the time will be,” but, “Ye know not.” For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we do not know the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickedness even unto the end. Let us therefore listen to His words; for the end comes at evening, when a man dies in old age; a midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us. For when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now anyone in these ages must look out for the end.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the Solemnity of Christ the King

Mt 25:31-46, Christ the King

St. Jerome (340/2-420): He who was within two days to celebrate the Passover, to be delivered to the cross, and mocked by men, fitly now holds out the glory of His triumph, that He may overbalance the offences that were to follow by the promise of reward. And it is to be noted, that He who shall be seen in majesty is the Son of Man.

Origen (182-253/4): Or, we need not understand this of a local gathering together, but that the nations shall be no more dispersed in various and false dogmas concerning Him. For Christ’s divinity shall be manifested so that not even sinners shall any longer be ignorant of Him. He shall not then show Himself as Son of God in one place and not in another; as He sought to express to us by the comparison of the lightning. So as long as the wicked know neither themselves nor Christ, or the righteous “see through a glass darkly,” (1 Cor. 13:12) so long the good are not separated from the evil, but when by the manifestation of the Son of God all shall come to the knowledge of Him, then shall the Saviour divide the good from the evil; for then shall sinners see their sins, and the righteous shall see clearly to what end the seeds of righteousness in them have led. They that are saved are called sheep by reason of that mildness which they have learnt of Him who said, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly,” (Matt 11:29) and because they are ready to go even to death in imitation of Christ, who “was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” (Isa 53:7) The wicked are called goats, because they climb rough and rugged rocks, and walk in dangerous places.

Gloss., non occ.: Under the figure of a sheep in Scripture is signified simplicity and innocence. Beautifully then in this place are the elect denoted by sheep.

Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856): Mystically, He who with the bread of the word and the drink of wisdom refreshes the soul hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or admits into the home of our mother the Church him who is wandering in heresy or sin, or who strengthens the weak in faith, such a one discharges the obligations of true love.

When they say, “”Lord, when saw we you?” they say it not because they distrust the Lord’s words, but they are in amazement at so great exaltation, and at the greatness of their own glory; or because the good which they have done will seem to them to be so small in comparison, according to the saying of the Apostle, “For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18).

Origen (182-253/4): It should be remarked, that though He had said to the Saints, “Ye blessed of my Father,” He says not now, “Ye cursed of my Father,” because of all blessing the Father is the author, but each man is the origin of his own curse.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): The man in travelling into a far country is our Redeemer, who ascended into heaven in that human body which He had taken upon Him. For the proper home of the human body is the earth, and it, as it were, travels into a foreign country, when it is placed by the Redeemer in heaven.

St. Jerome (340/2-420): Calling together the Apostles, He gave them the Gospel doctrine, to one more, to another less, not as of His own bounty or scanting, but as meeting the capacity of the receivers, as the Apostle says (1 Cor 3:2), that he fed with milk those that were unable to take solid food. In the five, two, and one talent, we recognise the diversity of gifts wherewith we have been entrusted. … The servant who of five talents had made ten, and he who of two had made four, are received with equal favour by the Master of the household, who looks not to the largeness of their profit, but to the disposition of their will.

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): To hide one’s talent in the earth is to devote the ability we have received to worldly business.

Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856): “Well done” is an interjection of joy; the Lord showing us therein the joy with which He invites the servant who labours well to eternal bliss; of which the Prophet speaks, “In thy presence is fulness of joy.” (Ps 16:11)

Elias Levi-Merikakis (Br. Simeon): ‘We know what the Lord thinks of servants who bury their talents out of fear of losing them. Our greatest talent and treasure is our ability to love, and in this enterprise the champion is the greatest risk taker, which means the one most willing to invest himself where the odds appear most against him The absolute victor is Jesus crucified. Love, the overflow of goodness, is, as Thomas Aquinas tells us, “diffusive of itself.” […] If a characteristic of cosmic nature is horror vacui, an “abhorrence of the [physical] void” the divine nature abhors the void of love and runs to remedy it. To be in heaven, to have one’s dwelling in the heavens, far from connoting a spiritualistic fleeing from the earth, means rather to reside in the fullness of love and to be always engaged in bestowing the benefits of love on others – to pour out one’s being into the void of others as if one were sunlight and rain.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the 32th Sunday of Ordinary time

Origen (182-253/4): They that believe rightly, and live righteously, are likened to the five wise; they that profess the faith of Jesus, but prepare themselves not by good works to salvation, are likened to the five foolish.

St. Jerome (340/2-420): For there are five senses which hasten towards heavenly things, and seek after things above. Of sight, hearing, and touch, it is specially said, “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled.” (1 John 1:1) Of taste, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps 34:8) Of smell, “Because of the savour of thy good ointments.” (Song of Songs 1:3) There are also other five senses which gape after earthly husks.

St. Augustine (354-430): Or, The “oil” denotes joy, according to that, “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness” (Ps 45:7). He then whose joy springs not from this that he is inwardly pleasing to God, has no oil with him; for they have no gladness in their continent lives, save in the praises of men. “But the wise took oil with their lamps,” that is, the gladness of good works, “in their vessels,” that is, they stored it in their heart and conscience, as the Apostle speaks, “Let every man prove himself, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another” (Gal 6:4).

St. Jerome (340/2-420): Suddenly thus, as on a stormy night, and when all think themselves secure, at the hour when sleep is the deepest, the coming of Christ shall be proclaimed by the shout of Angels, and the trumpets of the Powers that go before Him. This is meant when it says, “Lo, the bridegroom comes, go out to meet him.”

Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): The lamps of the foolish virgins go out, because the works which appeared outwardly to men to be bright, are dimmed within at the coming of the Judge. That they then beg oil of the wise virgins, what is it but that at the coming of the Judge, when they find themselves empty within, they seek for witness from without?

St. Jerome (340/2-420): These wise virgins do not refuse to share out of covetousness, but out of fear. Wherefore, each man shall receive the recompense of his own works, and the virtues of one cannot atone for the vices of another in the day of judgment. Their worthy confession calling Him, “Lord, Lord,” is a mark of faith. But what avails it to confess with the mouth Him whom you deny with your works?

(Photo: The Five Wise Virgins, St. Finnbarr’s Cathedral, Cork.)

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the 30th Sunday of Ordinary time

Catena Aurea, Matthew 22:34-40, 30th Sunday in Ordinary time, Year A.

St. Jerome (340/2-420): The Pharisees having been themselves already confuted (in the matter of the denarius), and now seeing their adversaries also overthrown, should have taken warning to attempt no further deceit against Him; but hate and jealousy are the parents of imprudence.

St. Augustine (354-430) You are commanded to love God “with all your heart,” that is, your whole thoughts— “with all your soul,” that is, your whole life— “with all your mind,” that is, your whole understanding— so that these may be given to Him from whom you have received them, so that you may give them. Thus He has left no part of our life which may justly be un-filled with Him; but if anything else presents itself for the soul’s love, it should be absorbed into that channel in which the whole current of love runs. For man is then the most perfect when his whole life tends towards the life which is unchangeable, and clings to it with the whole purpose of his soul.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: But whoever loves man is like someone who loves God; for man is God’s image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honoured in his statue. For this reason this commandment is said to be like the first.

St. Hilary of Poitiers (300-368): Or otherwise; That the second command is like [p. 764] the first signifies that the obligation and merit of both are alike; for no love of God without Christ, or of Christ without God, can profit to salvation. It follows, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856): For to these two commandments belongs the whole Ten Commandments; the first three commandments to the love of God, and the remaining seven to the love of our neighbour.

Lectio Divina – Quotes related to the 29th Sunday of Ordinary time

Catena Aurea, Mt 22:15-21, Sunday 29A

St. Jerome (340/2-420): Lately under Caesar Augustus, Judaea, which was subject to the Romans, had been made tributary when the census was held of the whole world; and there was a great division among the people, some saying that tribute ought to be paid to the Romans in return for the security and quiet which their arms maintained for all. The Pharisees on the other hand, self-satisfied in their own righteousness, contended that the people of God who paid tithes and gave first-fruits, and did all the other things which are written in the Law, ought not to be subject to human laws. But Augustus had given the Jews as king, Herod, son of Antipater, a foreigner and proselyte; he was to exact the tribute, yet to be subject to the Roman dominion. The Pharisees therefore send their disciples with the Herodians, that is, with Herod’s soldiers, or those whom the Pharisees in mockery called Herodians, because they paid tribute to the Romans, and were not devoted to the worship of God.

Attributed to St. John Chrysostom On Matthew: He therefore calls them hypocrites, that seeing Him to be a discerner of human hearts, they might not be foolish enough to carry through their design. Observe thus how the Pharisees spoke pleasantly that they might destroy Him, but Jesus put them to shame that He might save them; for God’s wrath is more profitable to man, than man’s favour.

St. Hilary of Poitiers (300-368) On Matthew: We should also to render unto God the things that are His, namely, body, soul, and will. For Caesar’s coin is in the gold, in which His image was portrayed; but that is God’s coin, on which the Divine image is stamped. Give therefore your money to Caesar, but preserve a conscience without offence for God.

Origen (182-253/4) On Matthew: They then who without any moderation inculcate the law of God, and command us to have no care for the things required by the body, are the Pharisees, who forbade to give tribute to Caesar, “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created” (1 Tim. 4:3). They, on the other hand, who allow too much indulgence to the body are the Herodians. But our Saviour wishes neither that virtue should be enfeebled by caring immoderately for the flesh; nor that our fleshly nature should be oppressed by our unremitting efforts after virtue.