Preacher’s Sketchbook: Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 20, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


St. Gregory of Nazianzus, from On the Son, Theological Orations

As Word, Jesus Christ was neither obedient nor disobedient—the terms apply to amenable subordinates or inferiors who deserve punishment. Rather, as the “form of a servant” he comes down to the same level as his fellow servants; receiving an alien “form,” he bears the whole of me in himself along with all that is mine, so that he may consume within himself the baser element, as fire consumes wax, so that I may share in what is His through intermingling.

St. John Chrysostom, from On the Epistle to the Hebrews

Everywhere the devil leads the dance; he has entered into all and is master of all. Christ is dishonored, thrust aside; the Church is made no account of. Do you not hear Paul saying, “Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity?” (). He places “levity” along with “filthiness”; do you yet laugh? What is silly talk? That which has nothing profitable…. But perhaps there are some so dissolute and silly as even during this very rebuke are themselves laughing…

St. Iranaeus, from Against Heresies

A cutting from the vine planted in the ground bears fruit in its season, or a kernel of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed rises and is multiplied by the Spirit of God, who contains all things. And then, through the wisdom of God, it serves for our use when, after receiving the Word of God, it becomes the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time. The Word of God grants them resurrection to the glory of God…

Pope St. Leo the Great, from Letter to Flavian (“Leo’s Tome”)

The Lord of all things hid His immeasurable majesty to take on the form of a servant. The impassible God has not disdained to be a man subject to suffering nor the Immortal to submit to the law of death. He is generated by a new birth because an inviolate virginity, untouched by concupiscence, has provided the flesh of His body. Form His mother, the Lord assumed the nature of man, not his guilt. Yet the miraculous manner of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, born from the womb of a virgin, does not make his nature different from ours. For he who is truly God is the same who is also truly man and there is no deception in this unity in which the lowliness of man and the divine majesty coincide. God suffers no change because of His condescension, nor is man consumed by such dignity. For each of the two natures performs the functions proper to it in communion with the other: the Word does what pertains to the Word and the flesh what pertains to the flesh. The one shines forth in miracles, the other is subjected to insults. And as the Word does not lose the glory which is His in equality with the Father, so the flesh does not abandon the nature of our race…

Roman Missal (3rd ed.)

[Before the Orate fratres] The Deacon or Priest pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly: By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity. [Before the Agnus Dei] Then [the priest] takes the host, breaks it over the paten, and places a small piece in the chalice, saying quietly: May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.

St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., from Commentary on St. John

Emotions exist in us otherwise than in Christ. In us, they arise from necessity, insofar as we are moved and affected from without, as it were. But in Christ, they are not from necessity but from the command of reason, since there was never any emotion in him except that which he himself aroused. For in Christ the lower powers were subject to his reason so perfectly that they could not act or undergo anything except what reason appointed for them. Thus as was said above (11.33): “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled himself.” And so the soul of Christ was troubled in such a way that its perturbation was not opposed to reason, but according to the order of reason. .. [And when Christ says, “Father, save me”], this petition is not made as though it arose from the inclination of [Christ’s] reason; rather, reason is speaking as an advocate of the natural inclination to die. And so in this petition, reason is pointing out the impulse of a natural inclination.



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