[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—2 March, Monday in the First Week of Lent
[The icon of Leo can be found at Orthodox Monastery Icons]
Another Story of the Call of Moses
And God said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they dwelt as sojourners. Moreover I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold in bondage and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment, and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.” But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, who am a man of uncircumcised lips?” But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a charge to the people of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
St. Leo the Great
Sermon 60.1-2 (Patrologia Latina 54:342-343)
The mystery of the Lord’s Passion was ordained before the beginning of time for the salvation of the human race and foretold by many signs in every era of the past. No longer do we look forward to something yet to be made manifest; we bow in adoration before what has already been fulfilled. Both the Old and New Testaments agree for our instruction, and the Gospel story unfolds for us what the prophet’s trumpet had sounded. As Scripture says: Deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents, since from the depths of each Testament voice answers voice, telling the same story of the glory of God’s grace. What was formerly hidden behind a veil of symbols is now clear in the light of Revelation.
Despite the miracles performed by our Saviour for all to see, few recognized the presence of Truth himself. If his disciples themselves were troubled by the Passion he voluntarily undertook, and if they yielded to the temptation of fear when faced with the scandal of the Cross, where can our faith find understanding, our minds find strength, except in the fact that all those events we know to have been accomplished were foretold in the Scriptures?
Now the Saviour’s triumph has been accomplished, dearly beloved, and those things which all the words of the Old Testament announced have found their completion, let carnal Jews mourn while spiritual Christians rejoice! This Feast, which has turned into night for unbelievers, shines forth upon us with its light, because the same Cross of Christ brings glory to believers and punishment to unbelievers.
Now that his power and strength have been made manifest in the assumption of human weakness, there must be no sadness among the faithful to cast a shadow upon the Paschal Solemnity. We should not recollect the story of his sufferings with any sadness, since our Lord put the malice of the Jews to such use that his will to show mercy has been fulfilled through their intention to do harm. If, during the exodus of Israel from Egypt, freedom was restored through the blood of a lamb and the wrath of the destroying angel averted through the sacrifice of a beast. And if this deliverance was marked by the institution of a solemn festival, how great should be the joy of Christian people, for whose sake the almighty Father spared not his only Son but delivered him up for us all! Consequently that Passover in the killing of Christ became the true Passover and unique sacrifice, no longer saving a single people from subjection to Pharaoh, but delivering the whole world from bondage to the devil.