[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—4 January 2021, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Married Woman, Religious Founder, Educator; Monday after Epiphany
[The image is of J. C. Leyendecker’s “The Magi,” a magazine illustration from 1900.]
The Spirit of the Lord Upon His Servant
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Aliens shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall be your ploughmen and vinedressers; but you shall be called the priests of the LORD, men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory. Instead of your shame you shall have a double portion, instead of dishonour you shall rejoice in your lot; therefore in your land you shall possess a double portion; yours shall be everlasting joy.
For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
St. Peter Chrysologus
The distinguishing marks of the Godhead were always clearly present in the very mystery of the Lord’s incarnation. But today’s feast especially shows and reveals that God came into a human body so that mortal man, who is continually in confusion and darkness, should not lose through ignorance what he merited to have and possess through grace alone.
He who willed to be born for us, was unwilling that we should be ignorant of him. Hence, he chose this way of revelation so that the great mystery of love would not become the occasion of a great mistake.
Today the Magus, the wise man, finds weeping in a crib him whom he sought for shining in the stars. Today the wise man reveres clearly revealed in swaddling clothes him whom he had long patiently awaited unseen in the heavens. Today the wise man ponders in profound amazement over what he sees there: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, and him whom the whole universe cannot contain, confined in a tiny body. And immediately on seeing, he professes with mystical gifts that he believes and does not argue: he acknowledges God with frankincense, the King with gold, with myrrh the mortal one destined to die. So it is that the Gentile, who was last, has become first: for then the belief of the nations began from the faith of Magi.
Today Christ entered the riverbed of the Jordan, to wash away the world’s sin: John himself bears witness that he came for this: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Today the servant holds the Lord, man holds God, John holds Christ: holds him, as about to receive, not to grant forgiveness.
Today as the prophet says: The Lord’s voice is on the waters. What voice? This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Today the Holy Spirit floats over the waters in the form of a dove, so that by this sign it might be known that the world’s universal shipwreck has ceased, as the dove had announced to Noah that the world’s flood had subsided. Nor does this dove carry a branch of the old olive, but it pours the whole richness of the olive on the head of the author of the new anointing, in order to fulfil what the prophet foretold: Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above other kings.
Today Christ gives the beginnings of the signs from heaven, when he changes water into wine. But water was to be changed into the mystery of the blood, so that Christ, from the goblet of his Body, might give pure draughts to those who drink, to fulfil that saying of the prophet: My chalice which inebriates me, how good it is.