In the minds of the Church Fathers, the Church was not at all an earthly kingdom. The Church, as they explain, is a hospital. St. Maximus of Turin sees the Church as a boat wherein we find an abundance of fish pulled out of the waters of the world and half-dead. By remaining in the boat, the fish are brought – not to the market – but to the shores of eternal life. The fish are certainly taken out of the comforts of the waters where they swam, but they are given lungs to begin breathing the pure air of the Spirit.
When the Church knows earthly glory and success too well, it may be tempted to vanity and a kind of self-sufficiency. It may be tempted to despise the poor and the weak, or at least to consider Herself better. Christ always comes knocking as a poor beggar at the door our souls. He is the Bridegroom in rags, but when we reach out to serve Him in His poverty we discover that He is actually rich and mysteriously drawing us out of the poverty we couldn’t recognize in our foolishness. Christ is the Doctor whose beloved spouse – the Church – lies sick and dying in the street. Let us not hide from Him, taking cover behind our confused systems of justice, self-sufficiency, control, self-justification, and denial. Let us stop protecting our putrefying, stinking, infectious wound of worldly wealth and power from the Good Doctor. Let us call out to Him that He may find us quickly, heal us, and draw us back into His loving and saving embrace.
ISAAC OF NINEVEH:
Those who are tiny of body and those who, being wise in the world, abandon their knowledge and … become like babes of their own free will, will learn a wisdom which is not learned through study’s labors.1
THEODORET OF CYR:
The wisdom of this world is that which lacks the grace of God. It is purely human in character.2
Having criticized the Corinthians, Paul now turns to encourage them once more. He even puts down the pride of the teachers by implying that they ought to be grateful to the others, for whose sake they were made what they are.3
The nets were cast. The Lord had not yet suffered, not yet risen again. The nets were cast. They caught so many fish that two boats were filled, and the very nets were torn by that vast quantity of fish. Then he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They received from him the nets of the Word of God, they cast them into the world as into a deep sea, and they caught the vast multitude of Christians that we can see and marvel at. Those two boats, though, stood for the two peoples, Jews and Gentiles, synagogue and church, those circumcised and those uncircumcised.4
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
For the net is still being drawn, while Christ fills it, and calls to conversion those who, according to the Scripture phrase, are in the depths of the sea, that is to say, those who live in the surge and waves of worldly things.5
MAXIMUS OF TURIN:
Ordinarily people are not given life on a boat but transported. Nor are they comforted on a vessel but anxious about its journey. Notice also that this boat is not a boat that is given to Peter to be piloted—rather, it is the church, which is committed to the apostle to be governed. For this is the vessel that does not kill but gives life to those borne along by the storms of this world as if by waves. Just as a little boat holds the dying fish that have been brought up from the deep, so also the vessel of the church gives life to human beings who have been freed from turmoil. Within itself, I say, the church gives life to those who are half-dead, as it were.6
- ASCETICAL HOMILIES 72. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 36). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS 184. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 36). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 10.4. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 36). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 248.2. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 87–88). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 12. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 88). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 110. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 89). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.