Patristic Lectionary—15 August 2020, The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

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—15 August 2020, The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Zechariah 14:1-21

The Tribulations and Glory of Jerusalem in the Last Time

Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.

And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the LORD), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter.

And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one.

The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security.

And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will smite all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will lay hold on the hand of his fellow, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the nations round about shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the asses, and whatever beasts may be in those camps.

Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then upon them shall come the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths.

And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar; and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the flesh of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Commentaria in Zachariam (Patrologia Latina 72:252-256)

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western, in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over the whole earth.

The Prophet again tells us symbolically that the most abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the faithful will be assigned to that time above all at which they are restored to holy and everlasting life, I mean, life as in the world to come. For now we are enriched by the first fruits of the Holy Spirit as by way of a pledge through faith in Christ. But after the resurrection of the dead, when sin has been altogether destroyed, we shall possess the divine Spirit within us no longer in the likeness and measure of a pledge but richly and abundantly, and then our delight in the gifts we receive through Christ will be complete.

So it is indeed the Spirit that the Prophet calls living water, when he tells us it will flow out even from the Jerusalem above. For since holy Scripture has said that the God of the universe dwells in heaven, though he is everywhere and fills the universe, it is in that way then that the Prophet says that the life-giving Spirit will flow even from heaven. But the divine Spirit is often compared to water in holy Scripture, as the giver of the Spirit, that is, the Son, will himself confirm, saying: Those who believe in me, as Scripture has said: streams of living water will flow from their hearts. And the holy evangelist goes on to interpret these words and make them clear, telling us: He said this about the Spirit, whom those who believe in him were going to receive. For since the Spirit is life-giving it is quite rightly compared in this way to water, which is life-giving to our bodies.

But to indicate how richly it is given to those considered worthy of holy life to share in the gift of the Holy Spirit and be filled as with life-giving water, the Prophet tells us: of the water expected to flow from Jerusalem at the appointed time, half will flow to the eastern sea and half to the western. But what exactly does this mean? Holy Scripture often likens the many nations of humanity and their countless multitudes to seas and waters. And through one of the holy Prophets we are told somewhere: For the whole earth is full of knowledge of the Lord, as much water will cover the seas. Then it is the fact that God will distribute the grace of the Spirit in equal measure to believers of both Jewish and Gentile origin that the Prophet indicates when he tells us about the life-giving water. And we are not saying by any means that the Holy Spirit is divided, and will be imperfect in both because of the word ‘half’. Far from it. Instead we shall believe that the Prophet wishes to imply by this word that the distribution will be assigned with equal grace to both. For the entire world will be full of the gifts that come through Christ, but the gift will dwell wholly in those who have received it. Then indeed, the Lord will be king over the whole earth.

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