Patristic Lectionary—Thursday, 20 February, Pre-Lenten Feria

 [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—Thursday, 20 February, Pre-Lenten Feria

[The image is of a section of John Nava’s Communion of Saints tapestries, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California]

Second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians 1:1-12

Greetings and Thanksgiving

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the Church of the Thessalonians in God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.  Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering – since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Reading from the Letter of Diognetus

(4.4-5.5; LOEB [1913]; Tr. Lake)

The distinction between Christians and other men is neither in country nor language nor customs. For they do not dwell in cities in some separate place of their own, nor do they use any strange variety of dialect, nor practise an extraordinary kind of life. This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the intellect or thought of busy men, nor are they the advocates of any human doctrine as some men are. Yet while living in Greek and barbarian cities and following the local customs, both in clothing and food and in the rest of life, they show forth the wonderful and paradoxical character of their own citizenship.

They dwell in their own fatherlands, but as if strangers in them; they share all things as citizens and suffer all things as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is a foreign country. They marry as all men, they bear children, but they do not expose their offspring. They offer free hospitality, but guard their purity. Their lot is cast in the flesh, but they do not live according to the flesh. They pass their time upon the earth, but they have their citizenship in heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all men. They are unknown and they are condemned. They are put to death and they gain life. They are poor and make many rich; they lack all things and have all things in abundance. They are dishonoured and are glorified in their dishonour, they are spoken evil of and are justified. They are abused and give blessing, they are insulted and render honour. When they do good, they are reviled as evil-doers, when they are reviled, they rejoice as men who receive life. Those who hate them cannot state the cause of their enmity.

To put it shortly, what the soul is in the body, that is what the Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians are spread throughout the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but is not of the body, and Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul is invisible and is guarded in a visible body, and Christians are recognised when they are in the world, but their religion remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wages war upon it, though it has suffered no evil, because it is prevented from gratifying its pleasures, and the world hates the Christians though it has suffered no evil, because they are opposed to its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh which hates it, and Christians love those that hate them. The soul has been shut up in the body, but itself sustains the body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, but themselves sustain the world. The soul dwells immortal in a mortal tabernacle, and Christians sojourn among corruptible things, waiting for the incorruptibility which is in heaven. The soul when treated badly in food and drink becomes better, and Christians when buffeted day by day increase more. God has appointed them to so great a post in the battle line, and it is not right for them to decline it.

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