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—13 August 2020, Feria after the Ninth Sunday of Trinitytide (Thursday ~ 19th Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is of a mosaic of the Good Shepherd in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy.]
Zechariah 11:4 – 12:8
The Parable of the Shepherds
Thus said the LORD my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished; and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich’; and their own shepherds have no pity on them. For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, says the LORD. Lo, I will cause men to fall each into the hand of his shepherd, and each into the hand of his king; and they shall crush the earth, and I will deliver none from their hand.”
So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slain for those who trafficked in the sheep. And I took two staffs; one I named Grace, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die; what is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed; and let those that are left devour the flesh of one another.”
And I took my staff Grace, and I broke it, annulling the covenant which I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the traffickers in the sheep, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Cast it into the treasury” – the lordly price at which I was paid off by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and cast them into the treasury in the house of the LORD. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Then the LORD said to me, “Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd. For lo, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed, or nourish the sound, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword smite his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!”
The word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus says the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: “Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it. On that day, says the LORD, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But upon the house of Judah I will open my eyes, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.’
“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.
“And the LORD will give victory to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over that of Judah. On that day the LORD will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head.”
Expositio in Canticis Canticorum (Commentary on the Song of Songs), 2
Where do you pasture your flock, O good shepherd, you who take on your shoulders the whole flock, for the whole of human nature which you take on your shoulders forms one sheep? Show me the place of green pastures and the restful waters, lead me to the grass which nourishes, call me by name, so that I who am your sheep may hear your voice. Give me by your voice eternal life. Speak to me, you whom my soul loves.
This is how I name you, for your name is above every name and cannot be uttered or comprehended by any rational nature. Your name which reveals your goodness is the love my soul has for you. How can I not love you who loved me, even though I was black, so much that you laid down your life for the sheep whose shepherd you are? Greater love than this cannot be conceived, that you should purchase my salvation with your life.
Show me then, she says, where you pasture your flock that I may find the pasture of salvation and be satisfied with heavenly food, that food which a man must eat to enter into eternal life. I shall run to you, the fountain, I shall drink the heavenly draught which you pour forth for those who thirst, pouring water out of your side like a fountain when the veins were opened with the spear. If any man tastes of this, he becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
If you feed me with these things you will make me lie down at noon, when, sleeping in peace, I shall rest in light that knows no shade. For everywhere at noon there is no shade when the sun shines over the peak upon which you make to lie down those whom you pasture, when you take your children with you into bed. None is thought worthy of this noonday rest unless he has become the son of light and of the day. He who has placed himself at an equal distance from the shadows of the dawn and of nightfall, that is from the beginning and the conclusion of evil, that man is made to lie down to rest at midday by the sun of righteousness.
Show me then, she says, how I must sleep and what is the way to the noontide rest, that I may not lose your good and guiding hand and be brought by ignorance of truth to join the flock of sheep who are strangers to your flock.
This she said when she was anxious about the beauty which she had been given by God, when she wished to learn how her loveliness might remain for ever.