[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 December 2020, Thursday in the Third Week of Advent
[The image is Edith A. Ibbs’s 1905 illumination of the O Antiphon for 17 December. Ibbs represents the revelation of heavenly wisdom to earthly wisdom (the magi).]
The City of God Awaits Salvation
But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall behold his deliverance. Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will gloat over her; now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets.
A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be far extended. In that day they will come to you, from Assyria to Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain. But the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings.
De Catechizandibus 4, 8 (Corpus Christianorum Latina 46, 128-129)
The main reason why Christ came was so that men might learn how much God loves them; and that they might learn this so as to glow with love for the God by whom they were first loved, and so as to love their neighbour, following the direction and example of him who made himself their neighbour by loving them at a time when they were not close to him but were wandering far from him. All divine Scripture that was written before the Lord’s coming was written to announce that coming, and whatever has since been committed to writing and invested with divine authority speaks of Christ and teaches us love. In view of this, it is plain that on these two commandments of love for God and neighbour rest not only the whole law and the prophets – which at the time of Christ were as yet the only holy Scripture – but also all the books of divine writings which were later set apart for our salvation and handed down to us.
Hence, in the Old Testament is hidden the New, and in the New Testament is revealed the Old. In keeping with that hiddenness, those who live and understand according to the flesh have been made subject to the fear of punishment, both then and now. In keeping with this revelation, on the other hand, those who live and understand according to the Spirit are set free thanks to the gift of love. This includes both those who in former times knocked devoutly at the door and had opened to them even things that were hidden, and those who in our own times seek without pride so that they will not find closed to them even things that were unhidden.
Therefore, since nothing is more opposed to love than envy, and the mother of envy is pride, the same Lord Jesus Christ, God-man, is both the disclosure of divine love for us and the example of human humility among us, in order that the swelling of our arrogance, great as it is, may be healed by an even stronger antidote. For the proud human being is a great affliction, but the humble God is an even greater mercy.
Keep this love before you then as a goal to which you refer all that you say, and whenever you speak, speak in such a way that your listeners by hearing may believe, by believing may hope, and by hoping may love.