Patristic Lectionary—6 August 2020, The Transfiguration of the Lord

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—6 August 2020, The Transfiguration of the Lord

[The image is Irina Bradley’s icon, “Heavenly Jerusalem”]

Joel 4:9-21

After Judgement, Eternal Happiness

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”

Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there. Bring down thy warriors, O LORD. Let the nations bestir themselves and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about.

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.

And the LORD roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.

“So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it.

“And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the valley of Shittim.

“Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the LORD dwells in Zion.”

Rupert of Deutz

Commentaria in Joelem (Patrologia Latina 168:254-255)

And then there will be the heavenly Jerusalem, says St Paul, presented as a beautiful bride, free from blemish, unmarred by any defect. It is that bride of whom St John writes in the Apocalypse: I saw a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, made ready by God, like a bride for her husband. In those days, Scripture says, the mountains will give forth fragrance and the hills flow with milk, and water shall run through all the rivers of Judah.

The mountains of that country are the Prophets and the Apostles; the hills are the other Saints, whose teaching ordinary people have humbly taken in and for that reason received a share of their glory, drinking in at the sight of them the sweetness of the divine love with which they are imbued, and on which indeed they draw by their daily contact; for they will behold God’s glory more fully in those people from whom they have come to know God’s teaching. The psalmist conveys this thought succinctly when he says: They will be taken aback – inebriated – by the largesse, the abundance, of your presence; and you will give them to drink of the overwhelming bountifulness of your good cheer; for you are the very source of life, and in your light they shall see the light. The mountains shall exude fragrance and the hills flow with milk; and through all the rivers of Judah – that is to say, through the hearts of the faithful confessing Christ – shall waters gush to life eternal; yet of the same fragrance, of the same milk, of the same waters the one spring shall lead forth through the mountains and the hills, and through all the rivers from the Lord’s house. So Scripture says. The house is rightly understood to be Christ’s body: for that in itself is the house which wisdom has built for itself, or for herself. And so we read that: the spring shall lead forth from the Lord’s house, and shall water a bed thick with thorns: the source of all life and the torrent of joy welling up and leading forth from the Lord’s house shall indeed swell a river, a torrent running over thorns: that really means, the realm of God’s chosen ones. There shall be what before there was not, from East to West amongst the thorns of tribulation and sin; what is now a torrent of delights, abounding with the plenty of eternal good cheer.

Of this, we read in the Apocalypse: And he showed me a river of running water, clear as crystal, flowing from the seat of God and the Lamb, amidst a city plain. And from both sides of the river the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, each month yielding its own. We should note that this is the spring, the river, of the Holy Spirit, who says, speaking through the Prophet: Behold, I flow down and run through them like a river of peace and tranquillity, like a gushing torrent, for the glory of the people. This river of peace, I say, this torrent of glory, this river of rejoicing, this torrent of pleasure, this abundance of God’s house – this is the Holy Spirit. For he is the love of bride and groom, whereby what was a mass of thorns is irrigated, enlivened, healed, and refreshed, to become a torrent of delights. That is our human condition: mortal and wretched as it was, now become immortal and blessed.

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