Patristic Lectionary—2 January 2021, Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Doctors of the Church

[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from a 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.  When there are lacunae in the Durham edition, I draw from R. M. Healey’s edition.  Click here for the link to his formatting of the lectionary.]

Patristic Lectionary—2 January 2021, Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Doctors of the Church

[The image is of El Greco’s (Doménikos Theotokópoulos, 1541-1614) portrait of St. Basil the Great.]

Colossians 2:16 – 3:4

New Life in Christ

Therefore let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

St. Basil the Great

De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Spirit) 26, 61.64

If a man no longer lives according to the flesh, but is led by the Spirit of God and is called son of God and is conformed to the image of God, he is described as a spiritual man. As the power of seeing is to be found in the healthy eye, so the working of the Spirit is to be found in the purified soul.

The word is in the soul; sometimes as the thought of the heart, sometimes as spoken by the tongue. So too the Holy Spirit is in the soul: at one time he joins with our spirit in bearing witness and cries out in our hearts: Abba, Father; at another time he speaks on our behalf, as we are told: It is not you who will be speaking: it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.

Again, the Spirit is understood, in relation to the distribution of gifts, as a whole in its different parts. We are all joined to one another as different parts of one body, and have different gifts in accordance with the grace God has given us. Therefore, the eye cannot say to the hand: ‘I do not need you’, nor can the head say to the feet: ‘I do not need you.’ On the contrary, all the members together make up the body of Christ in the unity of the Spirit, and mutually contribute the necessary service in accordance with the gifts received.

God arranged the organs of the body, each one of them, as he chose; but these different parts have the same concern for one another in accordance with their sympathetic interaction, born of the spirit which they share. And so, if one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the other parts share its joy. As parts in the whole, so are we, individually, in the Spirit, because we were all baptized in one body into the one Spirit.

Just as the Father is seen in the Son, so the Son is seen in the Holy Spirit. Worship in the Spirit suggests the activity of our intelligence, which is carried on, as it were, in the light, as may be learned from the words spoken to the woman of Samaria. She was misled by the custom of her country into the belief that God was worshipped in a place. Our Lord corrected her; he said that men must worship in Spirit and in truth, and by ‘truth’ he clearly meant himself.

We speak of worship in the Son, which is worship in the one who is the image of God the Father. Similarly we speak of worship in the Spirit, as the one who shows in himself the divinity of the Lord. So then, to express it properly and in order, through the illumination of the Spirit we behold the radiance of God’s glory, the Son; and through the Son, the stamp of God’s very being, we are brought to the one to whom belong the stamp and the identical seal.

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