Friday, December 28, 2007

the palm of victory

Saint Quodvultdeus, Bishop at Carthage from 437-453
Second sermon on the Creed; PL40, 655

Children, but witnesses to Christ


Why, Herod, do you fear when you hear a king is born? He has not come to
dethrone you but to overthrow the devil. But you fail to understand, you
take fright and fall into a fury. Because you lost the single child you
were seeking, you become the cruel murderer of the many. Neither the
weeping mothers’ love, nor the mourning of fathers weeping for their sons,
nor the screams and howling of the children themselves hold you back. You
massacre these little ones in their bodies because fear is killing you in
your heart. And you think that, if you achieve your end, you will live on
for a long time, whereas it is life itself you are trying to kill! He who
is the source of grace, who is both small and great, who is lying in a
manger, causes your throne to topple. He accomplishes his design through
you without your knowing it. He gathers together the children of your
enemies and makes of them children of adoption. These little ones died for
Christ without knowing it; their parents weep for the death of martyrs.
Although they were unable to speak, Christ made them capable of being his
witnesses. See how this King reigns. Already he is setting free and
bestowing salvation. But as for you, Herod, you are oblivious of what is
happening; you take fright and fall into a rage. And when you get annoyed
with a little child, you are already placing yourself at his service
without realising it. How great the gift of grace is! What are the merits
by which these children won the victory? They could not yet speak but
already they are confessing Christ. Their little bodies are as yet unable
to engage in combat but already they are carrying off the palm of victory.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

more on Matt 11:12

Ireneus Against Heresies:Book IV

And when I ceased, Trypho said, “All the words of the prophecy you repeat, sir, are ambiguous, 221 and have no force in proving what you wish to prove.” Then I answered, “If the prophets had not ceased, so that there were no more in your nation, Trypho, after this John, it is evident that what I say in reference to Jesus Christ might be regarded perhaps as ambiguous. But if John came first calling on men to repent, and Christ, while [John] still sat by the river Jordan, having come, put an end to his prophesying and baptizing, and preached also Himself, saying that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and that He must suffer many things from the Scribes and Pharisees, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again, and would appear again in Jerusalem, and would again eat and drink with His disciples; and foretold that in the interval between His [first and second] advent, as I previously said,21092109 Chap. xxv.
priests and false prophets would arise in His name, which things do actually appear; then how can they be ambiguous, when you may be persuaded by the facts? Moreover, He referred to the fact that there would be no longer in your nation any prophet, and to the fact that men recognised how that the New Testament, which God formerly announced [His intention of] promulgating, was then present, i.e., Christ Himself; and in the following terms: ‘The law and the prophets were until John the Baptist; from that time the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. And if you can “Are willing.”
receive it, he is Elijah, who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

the Violent take it by force

Today's Gospel:

Mt 11,11-15.
Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.

Origen's comments...

Homilies on Joshua, no.5 (SC 71)

Joshua crossed the Jordan to attack Jericho. But Saint Paul teaches: “Our
struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the unseen powers, with the
world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the
heavens,” (Ep 6,12). Those things that were written down are images and
symbols. For Paul says elsewhere: “These things happened as an example;
they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the
ages has come,” (1Co 10,11). If, then, these things have been written down
as a warning, well then!, why delay? Like Joshua, let us set out to war,
attacking the greatest city in the world, namely wickedness, and let us
throw down the arrogant walls of sin. Would you look around for which path
to take, which battlefield to choose? No doubt you will find my words
extraordinary; nevertheless, they are true: limit your quest to yourself
alone. In you lies the combat you are going to engage, within yourself the
structure of evil and sin to pull down; your enemy emerges from the depths
of your heart. It is not I who say this but Christ. Listen to him: “From
the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false
witness, blasphemy,” (Mt 15,19). Do you realize the power of this enemy
force that advances against you from the depths of your heart? Those are
our real enemies.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

he who made them from the beginning

The attempts to reduce, deconstruct, and denounce the sacrament of Marriage have apparently been a focus of those in the historical profession of late. What I chuckled at while in grad school has now become the basis for graduate assistantships no doubt.

Michael Fragoso's article is very instructive. But to me the best response - and only one that will ever matter - to the question of what marriage should or should not be was given by Christ to the Pharisees pestering him about divorce laws.

Matthew 19:
[1] Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan;
[2] and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
[3] And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?"
[4] He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
[5] and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
[6] So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
[7] They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"
[8] He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

This was where JP II launched from at the beginning of his Theology of the Body catechises (and then he bounces back to Genesis and all around Scripture on this same "from the beginning" theme).

Like Stan Lee always used to close with in the letters page of Marvel Comics: "Nuff said."