[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—Monday, 24 February, Pre-Lenten Feria
Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:15-2:11
Why the Apostle Altered His Journey
Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double pleasure; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
But I call God to witness against me – it was to spare you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
For I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure – not to put it too severely – to you all. For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
In Epistolas ad Corinthios (Patrologia Graeca 74:921-3)
God the Father makes us firm in Christ and establishes in all souls a faith that is correct and unshakable in holding that Christ is God by nature and in truth. That is so even if he was visibly in a form like ours, being born from a woman according to human nature and yet being above every created thing. At any rate, when Peter confessed his faith, saying clearly that, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ our Lord replied himself, saying, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. For since the mystery is a great one, it is reasonable that it has need of the revelation which is from above, from the Father.
It is God, therefore, who makes us firm in Christ, God who seals and anoints us and gives the Spirit as the guarantee, so that we might know that the Son is not ‘yes’ and ‘no’ but, rather, is truly God and that the ‘yes’ to all good things is in him. God is said to seal and to anoint us, giving the guarantee of the Spirit, so that Christ might be the one who fulfils these things in us, not in a servile way nor as one anointing and sealing us with an alien spirit, but with the Spirit which is his own and the Father’s. For the Holy Spirit is in both Father and Son by means of the identity of nature, not as something shared between them but rather as coming forth from the Father through the Son to the created universe.
Christ breathed on the holy Apostles and said Receive the Holy Spirit, and it is through him and in him that we have received the impress of the divine and intelligible image. For the divine Apostle himself said in his letter to the Galatians, My children, with whom I am again suffering labour pains until such time as Christ is formed in you. Now if we are conformed to Christ, and if we are enriched by the divine image within us, then Christ himself is the image of God the Father and his exact resemblance, and we are called to his likeness, not by means of a participation in holiness but rather in nature and essence.
For it is not unreasonable that the one who, by nature, is related to him who is true God by nature and who is generated from his substance should himself be God. He has been sealed by God the Father, as John the wise says, He who receives his witness has put his seal to the fact that God is true. But he has not been sealed in the same way as we have, for the Father reveals that he himself is wholly in the nature of the Son, which is not true for us. Thus Christ says, He who has seen me has seen the Father.