Friday, July 7, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Mt 11:25–28)

Jesus praises and glorifies the Father, who had foreseen the entire trajectory of the Word first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Our Lord here gives thanks to his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, for his mission in becoming incarnate in the form of a servant. He speaks about the Father's good pleasure now to hide this mystery about himself from Israel, which might be expected to be wise, and to reveal it to the Gentiles, who were until now without understanding. It is thereby demonstrated that God did not forget to fulfill his purpose, nor did Christ's coming fail in its appointed end. These things indeed have happened, God knowing them beforehand and having commanded beforehand the repentance of grace. The justice of God's good pleasure is here passed over in silence, but elsewhere it is clearly displayed. God's good will is not irrational. People do not fail to attain knowledge and wisdom about it for any reason other than their own deficiencies.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew

He employs the phrase “I confess you” in accordance with human custom. Instead of saying “I acknowledge you,” he brings in the phrase “I glorify you.”* For it is customary in the divinely inspired Scripture for the word confession to be taken in some such a sense. It is written, “Let the people give thanks,” Lord, “to Your great name, because it is formidable and holy.”† And again, “I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart.”‡

But those who are perverted in mind say, “Look here, if He renders thanks to the Father, how then is He not less than the Father?” To this objection one who knows how to guard the doctrines of truth might say, “My good man, what prevents the consubstantial Son from accepting and praising his own Father, who through him saves what is under heaven? If you believe because of this confession that He is in a lesser position than the Father, look also at what comes next. Jesus acknowledges and calls His Father Lord of heaven and earth. For He confesses Him as ‘Lord of heaven and earth’ and at the same time He calls upon Him as ‘Father.’ But the Son of God who is ruler of all is in every way with Him the Lord and Master of all, not as one worse or differing in substance, but as God from God. He is crowned with equal renown, having substantially with Him equality in everything whatsoever.”

Cyril of Alexandria,  Fragment 145

*  Cyril indicates that exomologeisthai is here used not in its normal sense of “to confess, admit, acknowledge” but in the sense of “to glorify.”
†  Psalm 99:3
‡  Psalm 9:1 ; 111:1

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