[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—9 January, Thursday after the Epiphany, Ferial day in Christmastide
A READING FROM THE PROPHET ISAIAH 59:15-21
THE LORD IS COMING
Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped himself in fury as a mantle. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render requital. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.
“And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD.
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children’s children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore.”
A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST ODILO OF CLUNY
SERMO 9 IN DIE PENTECOSTES (PL 142, 1015-1016)
In order that our fallen human birth might become a new birth in the Spirit, Christ was born of a spotless virgin. He chose to be subject to the law of circumcision to make it clear that the law was of his own making and to enable us too to be circumcised after his example through the experience of spiritual joy. By this I mean that through our formation in the Christian life we might be found worthy of incorporation into God’s heavenly building.
After his circumcision Christ received the homage of the wise men, who brought him gifts of three different kinds. These gifts symbolized their belief that the child who had become man for our sake was the King and Lord of all ages. He also chose to be presented in the temple and to have offered on his behalf a turtledove and a pigeon. This he did to give us an example: when we come to the altar we must bring chastity, innocence, and all other virtues as our sacrificial offerings.
At the age of twelve years Jesus remained behind in the temple without the knowledge of his virgin mother. An urgent, anxious search found him after a little while sitting among the doctors, not teaching them but listening to them and absorbing what they said. In answer to his mother’s question as to why he had stayed there without telling her, he replied that he was in his Father’s house. These were the actions of a young boy, yet they are supported by the certitude of Catholic belief. When we see the mother of Jesus searching for him, we have no doubt that he is fully human. When Jesus declares that it is fitting for him to be in his Father’s house, all the faithful believe him to be the true and only Son of God. When they see him sitting among the doctors, listening and asking questions, they see in this a sign that only mature adults should aspire to the work of preaching.
Although as Son of God he needed neither cleansing nor purifying, yet on a particular day at a determined time when he was thirty years old he underwent the rite of baptism, that unique mystery by which alone we receive salvation. By undergoing baptism he consecrated it, and by that consecration he bestowed as a heavenly gift on all believers the holiness which baptism confers.
But while he has granted the faculty of baptizing to the ministers of his Church, the power of baptizing he keeps in his own hands, as if claiming this as a special privilege of his own. This is what the divine voice announced to the great and holy John when, without hesitation, Christ came to him for baptism. The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest, said that voice, is the one who is going to baptize. John himself was the friend of the Bridegroom, the faithful and humble forerunner, and Truth in person has testified that none greater than he has arisen among the sons of women. Yet even as John baptized, he preached another baptism. So it is written in the holy Gospel, where John is reported as saying: I baptize you with water, but another is to follow me who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.