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—17 September 2020, Feria after the Fourteenth Sunday of Trinitytide (Thursday ~ 24th Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is Edward Armitage’s “The Festival of Esther” (1865) – Esther 7:8 ‘When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?”’ The following information on the painting is taken from this site. “Armitage depicts … King Ahasuerus [thinking Haman] is assaulting the queen rather than imploring her. Queen Esther recoils from the pleading Haman, Ahasuerus stands above them ordering his minister’s death, and Esther’s foster father Mordecai looks down at his defeated enemy from the right of the frame. Armitage used authentic artifacts in his paintings. The carved reliefs that form the backdrop, as well as the statue to the extreme left of the composition, are taken from actual Assyrian artifacts unearthed from the palace at Nimrud, dating to the ninth century B.C. When Armitage painted The Festival of Esther, these discoveries had just entered the British Museum, where they are still on view today.”]
Esther 5:1-5; 7:1-10
The King and Haman at Esther’s Banquet; Haman is Hanged
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace; and when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she found favour in his sight and he held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the sceptre. And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come this day to a dinner that I have prepared for the king.” Then said the king, “Bring Haman quickly, that we may do as Esther desires.” So the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared.
The king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, that would presume to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was in terror before the king and the queen. And the king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then said Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, Moreover, the gallows which Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing in Haman’s house, fifty cubits high. And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Expositio in Librum Esther (Commentary on Esther) 13.14 (Patrologia Latina 109:662.670)
What does it mean that Esther falls at the king’s feet, and begs him to spare her people, but that holy Church humbly begs almighty God daily for the deliverance of her children, through her faith in the incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God, since by the grace of that mystery the boldness of her enemies is restrained, and the innocence of the faithful is delivered from their hands? The heavenly king extends his golden sceptre over the prostrate queen, for he powerfully bestows the mercy of his faithful love upon her. She begs that the former letters of the most wicked Haman may be exchanged for newly-written ones. For it is the preoccupation of the true queen that every pocket of error and all the destructive devices which the ancient enemy, through his servants, contrives for the annihilation of the people of God shall be thrown back and destroyed by the saving witness of the gospel. These letters, written in the king’s name, are sealed with his signet ring, for the gospel teaching which is fully proclaimed throughout the world is everywhere confirmed by the seal of the Holy Spirit. By his gift, the preachers themselves, filled with abiding strength, seem to everyone to be unanswerable, and stand as glorious victors over their enemies.
How does it come to be said that Ahasuerus is king over the whole earth and makes all the islands in the sea his tributaries? For the historical king of the Medes and Persians did not have the whole world in his gift, nor could he have made all the islands in the sea his tributaries. For even the knowledge of his name could not have reached those islands or many parts of the earth. But this belief more genuinely refers to Christ, our king and lord, whose power is in heaven and earth, in the sea and in all the depths. In the gospel he calls himself the door, for through him we gain entrance to eternal life, as the psalmist bears witness: And all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him! The kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, the kings of Arabia and Seba bring him gifts. How the true Mordacai – that is to say, the company of the holy teachers of the Church – exalts the power of this king and his authority, dignity, and sublimity is testified to the whole Christian people by the words and writings not only of the one people of Judea, but of every nation in the world. For, from the beginning, he has exalted his chosen ones by the gift of his grace and made them renowned and honoured before all peoples.