[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—27 January, Ferial Day Following the Third Sunday After Epiphany.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS
THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM: GENESIS 19:1-17, 23-29
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening; and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the earth, and said, “My lords, turn aside, I pray you, to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the street.” But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”
Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot and drew near to break the door. But the men put forth their hands and brought Lot into the house to them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves groping for the door.
Then the men said to Lot, “Have you any one else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or any one you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up, get out of this place; for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city. And when they had brought them forth, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed.” The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.
A READING FROM THE LETTER OF ST CLEMENT OF ROME TO THE CORINTHIANS
CORINTHIANS, 9.1-4; 10.1-7; 11.1-2 (SC 167:114-118)
Dear friends, let us obey the sovereign, glorious will of God. Let us cast ourselves in entreaty upon his mercy and kindness and turn back once more to his compassion. Let us have done with our vain struggles, our discords and the jealousy which leads to death, and direct our gaze instead towards the men who perfectly served his glorious majesty.
Look at Enoch, for example: he was found righteous in his obedience and was taken away by God, so that no trace was ever found of his death. Noah too was found faithful. His ministry was to be the herald of rebirth, for through him the Lord saved all the living creatures which agreed to enter the ark together. Abraham, whom God called his ‘friend’, proved his loyalty by his obedience to God’s orders. He forsook his country, his kindred and his father’s house out of obedience, so that leaving behind a restricted homeland, an obscure family, and a little house, he might inherit the promises of God. For God had said to him, Come away from your land, your kindred and your father’s house into a land which I am going to show you. I will make you into a mighty nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be blessed. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all the races of the earth will be blessed in you. And again at the time of his separation from Lot God said to him: Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are standing toward the north and the south, to the sunrise and to the sea, for I am going to give all the land you can see to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as many as the earth’s grains of sand; if anyone is able to number the grains of sand on the ground, then he will be able to count your descendants too. Elsewhere Scripture tells us, God took Abraham outside and said to him, ‘Look up to heaven and count the stars, if it is in your power to reckon them. That is what your posterity will be like.’ Abraham believed God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness. In view of his faith and his hospitality a son was granted to him in his old age, and in obedience he offered the boy as a sacrifice to God on one of the mountains that he had shown him.
Lot was rescued from Sodom because of his hospitality and his piety, when the whole surrounding countryside was punished by fire and brimstone. In this way the Lord made it clear that he does not abandon those who hope in him. But he does consign the rebellious to chastisement and torment; a sign of this was given when Lot’s wife, who had indeed left Sodom with her husband but was inconstant in mind and out of harmony with him, was turned into a pillar of salt. So she remains to this day, as a reminder to all of us that waverers who doubt God’s power are condemned to stand as a warning sign for all generations.