[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—16 March, Monday in the Third Week of Lent
[The image is of a statue of St. Thomas More at Chelsea Old Church, London. More’s residence was along this part of the Thames. He worshiped at the Old Church, and he had the south chapel of the church rebuilt. (The church was bombed in World War II, though the south chapel avoided much of the damage.) Though most readings from this lectionary come from the Church Fathers, More was steeped in, and influenced by, patristic literature.]
The Covenant on Mount Sinai
And he said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship afar off. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.
Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses rose with his servant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Tarry here for us, until we come to you again; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a cause, let him go to them.”
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
St. Thomas More
A Treatise Upon the Passion, 4.1
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus it is related that Moses, in confirmation of the old Law, put half the blood of the sacrifice into a cup, and the other half he shed upon the altar. And, after the book of the Law had been read, he sprinkled the blood upon the people and said unto them: This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in all these words. And so was the Old Testament ratified and confirmed with blood. And in like manner was the New Testament confirmed with blood, saving that, in order to declare the greater excellence of the New Testament brought by the Son of God, above the Old Testament brought by the prophet Moses, whereas the Old Testament was ratified with the blood of a brute beast, the New Testament was ratified with the blood of a rational man, and of that man who was also God, that is to say, with the blessed blood of our holy Saviour himself. And that self-same blood did our Lord here give unto his apostles in this blessed sacrament, as he plainly declared himself, saying: This is my blood of the New Testament, or: This is the chalice of the New Testament in my blood which shall be shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.
When our Lord said this, he declared therein the efficacy of the New Testament above the old, in that the old Law in the blood of beasts could only promise the remission of sin that was to come later. For as Saint Paul says: It was impossible that sin should be taken away by the blood of brute beasts. But the new Law with the blood of Christ does perform the thing that the old Law promised, that is, the remission of sin. And therefore our Saviour said: This is the chalice of the New Testament in my blood—that is, to be confirmed in my blood—which shall be shed for the remission of sins. His words also declared the wonderful excellence of this new blessed sacrament above the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, in these words: For you and for many. For in these words our Saviour spoke, says Saint Chrysostom, as though he meant to say: The blood of the paschal Lamb was shed only for the first-born among the children of Israel, but this blood of mine shall be shed for the remission of the