Patristic Lectionary—14 September 2020, Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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—14 September 2020, Exaltation of the Holy Cross

[The image is Paul Alexander Leroy’s “Haman and Mordecai” (1884)]

Esther 3:1-15

The Jews in Danger

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did obeisance to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance. Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is the lot, before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “here is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not for the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.

Then the king’s secretaries were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the princes of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language; it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went in haste by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the capital. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Susa was perplexed.

The Second Vatican Council

Nostra Aetate (The Declaration of the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) 4-5

Christ’s Church acknowledges that all Christian believers, as children of Abraham in faith, are included in the patriarch’s invitation, and the salvation of the Church is prefigured mystically in the exodus of the chosen people from the land of bondage. Wherefore the Church cannot forget that she received the Old Testament through the chosen people, with whom in his unspeakable mercy God made the old covenant; and that she is nourished from the root of the good olive, to which the branches of the wild olive were grafted. For the Church believes that Christ our peace has reconciled by his cross Jew with Gentile, Gentile with Jew, and made of the two olives one single tree in himself.

As sacred Scripture bears witness, Jerusalem failed to perceive the time of his visitation, and in great part the Jews did not accept the gospel: indeed, not a few of them opposed its spread. Nevertheless, the Apostle tells us that because of the patriarchs the Jews still remain most dear to God, who does not repent of his gifts or of his calling. Together with the Prophets and the Apostle himself, the Church awaits the day known only to God when all people will call upon the Lord with one voice and will serve him with one common effort.

Although the Jewish authorities with their followers encompassed Christ’s death, the misdeeds perpetrated during his sacred passion cannot even so be imputed to all Jews then alive, indifferently, nor yet to modern Jewry at all. And though the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews themselves should not be deemed as cast off or accursed by God, as if this were something which can be drawn from sacred Scripture. Let all be mindful, therefore, lest they teach anything, through their catechetics or their preaching of God’s word, which is not in harmony with evangelical truth and the spirit of Christ.

Moreover, the Church condemns all persecution, no matter of whom, being mindful of its common patrimony with the Jews. It deplores all the hatred, persecution, and demonstrative anti-semitism there has ever been at any time, from any quarter, against the Jews: and this is not said out of political motivations, but those merely of evangelical charity.

Again, the Church has always held, and still holds even now, that Christ underwent his passion and death with immeasurable love, willingly and for the sins of all men, that all might come to be saved. It is therefore for the preaching Church to declare Christ’s cross to be the sign of God’s universal love and the source of all grace.

We cannot call on God the Father of all if we refuse to behave in a brotherly way towards people created in God’s image. Man’s attitudes to God the Father and to his brethren and fellow human beings are so conjoined that Scripture says: he who does not love does not know God.

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