Patristic Lectionary—27 June 2020, Feria after Second Sunday of Trinitytide (Saturday ~ 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

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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 June 2020, Feria after Second Sunday of Trinitytide (Saturday ~ 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

 [The image is of Gustave Doré’s engraving, “Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem’s Walls,” from Doré’s The Holy Bible (1866)]

Nehemiah 2:9-20

Preparing to Rebuild Jerusalem’s Walls

Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.

So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; and I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no beast with me but the beast on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Jackals Well and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the Kings Pool; but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall; and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that were to do the work.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace.” And I told them of the hand of my God which had been upon me for good, and also of the words which the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they derided us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build; but you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria

In Michaeam Prophetam, 3.35-36 (Patrologia Latina 71:689-703)

Behold I am laying a stone for the foundations in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone; and he who has faith in it will not be put to shame. The builders of Zion rejected the tested and precious stone, but now it is in place as the cornerstone. For Christ has become king of both the Gentiles and the Jews, whom he has created into a single new man, making peace through the cross, and joining them in spiritual union to form a cornerstone. For it is written: The whole multitude of believers were united in heart and soul.

Through sanctification and faith they have become similar in form to that most precious cornerstone, and so St Peter wrote well and wisely: You yourselves, like living stones, must be built up into a spiritual house, to be a holy temple and a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.

And in the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be revealed. We can see in these prophetic words a clear reference to the future Church of the Gentiles. For Israel in the flesh had, as it were, ceased to exist, the sacrificial rites of the Law had come to an end, the priests of the house of Levi had abandoned their office, and lastly the famous temple itself had been destroyed by fire and Jerusalem demolished. This was the moment when Christ proclaimed the Church of the Gentiles, as if in the last days, that is, at the consummation of our age; for it was then that he became man. The Prophet speaks of the Church as a mountain, which is the house of the living God. It soars aloft, because there is nothing whatsoever earthbound in the Church. It is raised on high by the knowledge of the precepts of God; and the very mode of life of those justified by Christ and sanctified by the Spirit is made sublime.

Yet the Prophet shows that Israel could not entirely lose hope. The people were indeed crushed and rejected, or rather cast off, because of their utter disregard for God. They fought against him, with shameless and profane idolatry, and were liable in no small degree to charges of blood-guilt. For they had killed the Prophets, and in the end they crucified the very Saviour and Redeemer of the world.

But, for the sake of their fathers, the remnant were pitied and saved, to become a great people.

For it is true and right to consider this holy multitude whom Christ has justified as a very great people. The things that distinguish them, and should make them a cause of wonder, are goodness of mind and nobility of heart, that is, sanctification, hope in Christ, faithful sonship, admirable virtues and marvellous endurance, submission to Christ’s rule and devotion to his teaching. For we have one teacher, Christ. And the Prophet’s Mount Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem, mother of the first-born, where we shall dwell in unity with Christ.

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