[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from Durham University’s two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings. The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University). Click here for the link to the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary—23 December
A READING FROM THE PROPHET ISAIAH
SALVATION IS PROMISED TO THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM: ISAIAH 51:1-11
“Hearken to me, you who pursue deliverance, you who seek the LORD; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many. For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
“Listen to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go forth from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. My deliverance draws near speedily, my salvation has gone forth, and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended.
“Hearken to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, and be not dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my deliverance will be for ever, and my salvation to all generations.”
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not thou that didst cut Rahab in pieces, that didst pierce the dragon? Was it not thou that didst dry up the sea, the waters of the great deep; that didst make the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
A READING FROM ST HIPPOLYTUS’S TREATISE AGAINST THE HERESY OF NOETUS
ADV. NOETUS 9-12, FROM THE DIVINE OFFICE VOL. I
There is one God, and we can come to know him only through sacred Scripture. So then, let us look at what Scripture proclaims, let us discover what its teaching is. As the Father wants to be believed, so let us believe; as he wants the Son to be glorified, so let us glorify him; as he wants the Holy Spirit to be given, so let us receive him. We must not act in accordance with our own mind or our own will; we must not do violence to what God has given. We must look at things rather as God has chosen to make them known through Scripture.
God, existing alone, without contemporary of any sort, decided to make the world. He conceived it in his mind, willed it, spoke the word, and so made it, and immediately it came into being, formed as he had willed it. It is enough for us simply to know that God had no contemporary; apart from him there was nothing. But though alone, God was manifold. He was not without reason or wisdom or power or counsel. All things were in him and he was all. When he willed, and as he willed, he revealed his Word, at times which he himself had determined. Through his Word he made all things.
The Word was in God and was invisible to the created world, but God made him visible. He spoke, as he had done before, and, begetting light from light, he sent forth his own mind to the world as its Lord. He who formerly had been visible only to God and invisible to the world was now made visible, so that through this manifestation the world could see him, and be saved. The Word is the mind of God; he came into the world and was shown forth as Son of God. All things, then, come into being through him, and he alone is from the Father. It was this one God who gave the law and the prophets. In giving them, he made them speak by the Holy Spirit: the Father’s power inspires them, and they proclaim the Father’s purpose and will.
And so the Word was manifested. Saint John sums up what the prophets said and shows that this is the Word through whom all things came to be: In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. Later he goes on: The world had its being through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.