Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Augustine on John

In my short experience as a preacher, I have made it a habit to read Augustine's Tractates and Origen's Commentary whenever I have a text from the Gospel of John. The experience, especially reading Augustine, can be bittersweet. Sweet because this is Augustine at his pastoral best: a man of the people, gentle, engaging and humorous. I would recommend not reading his polemical works until one has had a long exposure to his homilies. The experience has a bitter aftertaste, however, when I contemplate the fact that Augustine could preach on remarkably difficult theological and philosophical problems to his backwater congregation in Hippo, apparently without losing everyone. In the Tractate on this past Sunday's gospel, he spends a good deal of time explaining the significance of Jesus possessing a human soul, rather than the logos substituting for it. I'd love to hear if anyone has ever been present at a homily that dealt with this or a similar Christological issue. By god's grace, I was: it was Christmas morning during college, and it changed the way I thought about the Church. God bless Fr. Alban, O.Praem. of St. Norbert Abbey!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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