[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—9 January 2021, Saturday after Epiphany
[The image is of Edward Burne-Jones’s tapestry The Adoration of the Magi (1890)]
Isaiah 66:10-14, 18-23
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory.”
For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
“For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.”
St. Leo the Great
In Epiphania Solemnitate Sermo VII, 1-3 (Sources Chrétiennes 22, 276-280)
Calling to mind all that has been accomplished by the Saviour of the human race will be of great profit to us, beloved, if we set ourselves to imitate what we believe and venerate. Even his first moments when the Son of God was born from his virgin mother can further our devotion. For the upright of heart behold in one and the same person both human lowliness and divine majesty. He who is seen in the cradle as a newborn child is proclaimed by heaven and the heavenly hosts as their creator. This child with its tiny body is the lord and ruler of the world. His mother holds in her bosom him whom no limits can contain. But therein lies the healing of our wounds and the reversal of our abasement, for without the union of such diversity humankind could never have been reconciled to God.
It is not without reason that when the brilliance of a new star led the three Magi to worship Jesus they did not see him commanding demons, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk or the dumb to speak, or performing any other act pertaining to divine power. Instead, they saw a child silently resting under his mother’s watchful care – a child who showed no sign of power, but only the great marvel of humility.
So it was that the sight of this holy babe to whom the divine Son of God was united presented our eyes with a teaching that was not yet proclaimed in our ears. For the whole victory of the Saviour by which he overcame the devil and the world was begun in humility and consummated in humility. He began his allotted days under persecution and he ended them under persecution. The child was not without suffering, nor was he who was destined to suffer without the submissiveness of childhood. For by a unique abasement of his majesty the only Son of God freely undertook to be born as a human being and to be put to death by human beings.
If then almighty God has changed our wretched condition into a happy one by the singular grace of his humility, and if he has destroyed death and the author of death by not refusing any of the sufferings inflicted on him by his persecutors but calmly enduring in obedience to the Father the cruelties of those who raged against him, how humble and patient should we not be who never suffer any misfortune without deserving it? Thus the whole practice of Christian wisdom, beloved, consists not in many words, nor in skilful argument, nor in a desire for praise and glory, but in the genuine and voluntary humility which, in preference to any kind of power, our Lord Jesus Christ chose and taught from his mother’s womb to his death upon the cross.