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Patristic Quotes for Trinity 1/Trinity 4

by pastorjuhl ~ June 10th, 2009

M.F. Toal’s The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers features Patristic homilies for the Sundays of the Historic Lectionary according to post-Tridentine reforms. The Patristic homilies for Trinity 1 fit more for Trinity 4 (Luke 6:36-42), but are apropos for the Rich Man and Lazarus too. Here are some quotes from Ambrose and Chrysostom. I’ll save the Augustine homily for Trinity 4.

Some weeks the homilies and the Catena Aurea are splendid, other weeks are not so good. The set is worth the investment because of the specific locatedness of so much Patristic resources. Sometimes you can find an older printing (softcover) if you dig around on the Internet.

St. Ambrose

Be ye therefore Merciful. How great the reward of mercy we receive under the law of Divine adoption! Walk in the way of mercy that you may merit this divine blessing. The kindness of God spreads far and wide. It rains upon the unthankful; and the fruitful earth does not deny its yield even to the wicked. The same light of the world shines on impious and God-fearing alike. Or that we may consider these things mystically, the Lord watered the people of Israel with prophetic rains, and shone upon them in the rays of His Eternal Sun; even upon those who were not deserving. But because they became drenched with the dew of earth the Church of God is now received into that celestial Light, that believing they may also attain to the rewards of mercy. Judge not, and you shall not be judged.

St. John Chrysostom

It seems to me that in these words He does not absolutely command us not to judge any sins, neither does He wholly forbid us to do this, but that He is here speaking to those who, laden with countless sins, trample on others because of their misfortunes. He seems to be referring to certain Jews who, though bitter denouncers of the small and trifling sins of their neighbour, were themselves carelessly committing the gravest sins. And in fact, towards the end, rebuking them, He says to them, They bind heavy and insupportable burdens, but with a finger of their own they will not move them; and again: You tithe mint, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgement, and mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:4, 23).

It is to this therefore that Christ is referring, and not alone does He refer to it, but He makes it a matter of grave anxiety and inexorable punishment: For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged. For it is not the other person that you condemn, He says, but your own self. You are preparing a dreadful judgement for yourself, and your punishment shall be severe. For as with the forgiveness of our sins we begin with ourselves, so likewise in this judgement, the measure of our own condemnation is fixed by ourselves. For we ought not to condemn, or insult, but to admonish; we ought not to slander, but to counsel; not to attack in arrogance, but to correct with gentleness and affection. For it is not this other person that you are giving over to severe punishment, not sparing him when there was need to pass sentence on his faults, but your own self.

For the Lord did not say: do not restrain the sinner from his sins, but, Do not judge, that is, Do not be a  harsh judge. And besides, it was not of great faults or of things forbidden He said this, but of things that do not appear to have been sins at all. And that was why He said: Why seest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye? And this is what many are doing even now. For if they see, for example, a monk wearing some extra covering, they invoke the law of the Lord against him, although they themselves are grabbing at everything, cheating day after day. And if they see him eat a bit more than he is accustomed to, they criticize him bitterly, though every single day they are themselves eating and drinking to excess; not caring that together with their own sins, because of this rash judging, they are building up for themselves a still bigger fire, leaving for themselves no grounds for God’s mercy. For when you sit in judgement on your neighbour in this way, you are yourself laying down the law according to which your own sins shall be examined. You must not think it severe if it is you yourself who will inflict the penalties.

And so if you do this out of care for him, have a care first for yourself; where the sin is nearer to you, and greater. But if you have no care for yourself, it is very plain indeed that you judge your brother, not out of care for him, but out of hate, and because you want to defame him. And if he must be judged, then let him be judged, but not by thee, but by One Who does no wrong.

3 Responses to Patristic Quotes for Trinity 1/Trinity 4

  1. Alms

    I agree with your comments in regard to the Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers series. I find it more helpful than the Ancient Christian Commentary Series because of the full length sermons and such rather than very short abbreviated snippets. However, the ACCS is also helpful at times. Have you looked at the new patristic commentary series, the Church's Bible, edited by Robert Wilken? Looks promising.

  2. knke11

    I couldn't agree more about the series and they contain the Catena. I didn't think the price was bad at Amazon for the 4 volume set. I've spent that much (and more) on one book! As to the commentary edited by Wilken, I have the Isaiah volume-which was the only one out when I bought it. I do like it and will probably buy others.

  3. ToddPeperkorn

    They are some of my favorite volumes.

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