[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 – 13 February 2021 – Ferial Day Following Sexagesima Sunday; Saturday, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
I Corinthians 6:1-11
Lawsuits with Pagan Judges
When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
St. Peter Chrysologus
Sermon 38 ( Corpus Christianorum Latina 24:217-9)
I say to you: Do not resist an evil man. When Christ says this, he means that we should not repay one offence with another but overcome it by virtue, thus extinguishing the fire of anger while it is still only a spark, for if it becomes a full raging blaze it will not be put out without blood being shed. Anger is overcome by mildness, rage is extinguished by gentleness, cruelty is subverted by goodness; patience punishes impatience, the acceptance of insults halts strife, and humility overthrows pride. Therefore, if you wish to overcome offences, take up the weapons not of rage but of religion. Now let us look further and see the reason for this command.
When the sickness of sin, vice, wickedness and impiety entered the deranged souls of men and with its savage rage drove out all knowledge, sense, and reason, it caused the nations of the world to flee from God, follow demons, and worship creatures; to spurn the creator, desire evil and bring death to the living. Consequently, the only way of healing the race was to send men, armed with all the devotion and patience of the heavenly physician, who would endure the insults of their frenzied fellows, put up with their curses, bear their blows, and let themselves be wounded by them, until they could bring them back to sobriety and sense and thus enable them to seek God, flee demons, realise their illnesses, desire healing, reject vice, acquire virtue, cease from wounding others, abhor bloodshed, reject killing, and restore life.
I ask you, what greater madness, what fiercer rage, or even comparable delirium, than to strike the cheek of a holy person, inflict a blow on the face of a gentle brother, vent grim spite against a winning, peaceful countenance, strip men of their only garment, and, out of vile greed, pay no heed to God, man, nature, or modesty; to commandeer the service of people going about their own work, and find one’s solace in the sufferings of others? Therefore, since we know that those who do such things suffer from a very severe derangement, let us obey Christ and with all the strength afforded by religion let us put up with the bites and blows and burdens heaped on us by frenzied brethren; in this way we may deliver them from punishment and win an everlasting reward for our patience.
Let us not refuse to accept from our fellow servants what our Lord deigned to accept from and for his servants. He did not withdraw his face from their blows; to those who took his tunic and his coat he gave his body as well; and when they imposed forced labour on him, he freely and gladly followed them to death. Therefore, if the Lord thought it right that he should suffer, can a servant consider it beneath him or her? If we think so, we are mistaken, brethren, we are mistaken; for those who will not do what the Lord commanded will wait in vain for what he promised.