Patristic Lectionary—12 December 2020, Our Lady of Guadalupe

[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—12 December 2020, Our Lady of Guadalupe

[The image is of William de Brailes’s circa-1250 manuscript illumination of Ruth at the feet of Boaz.  William de Brailes was an English artist active at Oxford.  He is one of the few 13th-c English artists whose names we can associate with surviving works.]

Ruth 3:1-18

Dream and Promise of Boaz

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek a home for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had told her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and lay down. At midnight the man was startled, and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant; spread your skirt over your maidservant, for you are next of kin.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter; you have made this last kindness greater than the first, in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear, I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of worth. And now it is true that I am a near kinsman, yet there is a kinsman nearer than I. Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will do the part of the next of kin for you, well; let him do it; but if he is not willing to do the part of the next of kin for you, then, as the LORD lives, I will do the part of the next of kin for you. Lie down until the morning.”

So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” And he said, “Bring the mantle you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and laid it upon her; then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.”

St. Augustine of Hippo

Sermo 277, 15-16 (Patrologia Latina 38, 1266-1267)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Let us make every effort to purify our hearts, exert ourselves to stay alert, and as far as in us lies gain this grace by constant prayer. And if we wonder about external purity, the Lord tells us: Clean the inside, and then the outside will be clean as well.

Some may think that Scripture refers to the body as much as to the heart, for it is written: All mankind will see God’s salvation. How then can there be any doubt that the sight of God is promised to us, unless there is doubt as to the meaning of God’s salvation. But since there is no uncertainty about this, there is no doubt: God’s salvation is Christ the Lord. The divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ can be seen by the eyes of the heart when they are pure, perfect, and full of God; and he was seen also in the body according to the text: Afterward he was seen on earth and lived among men. Thus the meaning of the text: All mankind will see the salvation of God is clear: let no one doubt that it means that we shall see Christ.

Uncertainty remains, however, as to whether we shall see the Lord Christ in the body, or as the Word who was in the beginning, the Word who was with God and who was God, and into this we must inquire. All mankind will see God’s salvation is said to mean that all mankind will see God’s Christ. But Christ was also seen in a body that was no longer mortal, a body that had undergone a spiritual transformation. After his resurrection he himself said to those who saw and touched him: Handle and see, for spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. This is how he will be seen: not only how he was seen in the past but how he will be seen in the future. And then surely the words all mankind will be more perfectly fulfilled. For people see him now, but not all people. On the Day of judgement, however, when he comes with his angels to judge the living and the dead, when all who are in their graves hear his voice and come forth, some rising to life, others to condemnation, they will see the very form which he deigned to assume for our sake. Not only will the righteous see it but also the wicked, both those on the right hand and those on the left, for even those who killed him will see him whom they pierced.

All mankind, then, will see God’s salvation. Both those who see and he who is seen will be in the body because it is in his real body that he will come to judge. But to those placed on his right and sent to the kingdom of heaven he will show himself in the way he promised when he was already seen in the body: Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and show myself to them.

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