Patristic Lectionary – 10 April 2021 – Saturday in the Octave of Easter

[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 – 10 April 2021 – Saturday in the Octave of Easter

[The image is of a detail from Pickel Studios’ stained-glass window at Resurrection Mausoleum, Justice, Illinois.  It is interesting that though St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s ancient text (ca. 350 A.D.) connects Jesus’ Baptism and Resurrection, as does nearly any baptism preparation catechesis, there are apparently no artistic interpretations of this mystery.  The Pickel Studios design comes close, perhaps, in that the blue rays emanating from the resurrected Christ might be regarded as evoking the blue of baptismal water.]

1 Peter 4:12 – 5:14

Exhortations to the Elders and to the Faithful

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you that are in Christ.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Mystagogical Catecheses 2.4-6

You were conducted by the hand to the holy pool of sacred Baptism, just as Christ was conveyed from the cross to the sepulchre close at hand.

Each person was asked if he believed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You made the confession that brings salvation and submerged yourselves three times in the water and emerged: by this symbolic action you were secretly re-enacting the burial of Christ three days in the tomb.

Just as our Saviour spent three days and nights in the womb of the earth, so you upon first emerging were representing Christ’s first day in the earth, and by your immersion his first night. For at night one can no longer see but during the day one has light; so you saw nothing when immersed as if it were night, but you emerged as if to the light of day. In one and the same action you died and were born: that water of salvation became both tomb and mother for you.

What Solomon said in another context is apposite to you: There is a time to be born, and a time to die, but the opposite is true in your case – there is a time to die and a time to be born. A single moment achieves both ends, and your begetting was simultaneous with your death.

What a strange and astonishing situation! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we did not really hang from a cross and rise again. Our imitation was symbolic, but our salvation a reality.

Christ truly hung from a cross, was truly buried, and truly rose again. All this he did gratuitously for us, so that we might share his sufferings by imitating them, and gain salvation in actuality.

What boundless love! The innocent hands and feet of Christ were pierced by the nails: he suffered the pain. I suffer neither pain nor anguish: yet by letting me participate in his pain he gives me the free gift of salvation.

No one should think, then, that his Baptism is merely for the remission of sins and for adoption as sons in the way that John’s Baptism brought only remission of sins. We know well that not merely does it cleanse sins and bestow on us the gift of the Holy Spirit – it is also the counterpart of Christ’s suffering. This is why, as we heard just now, Paul cried out: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death.

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