[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 – 12 April 2021 – Feria in Eastertide
[The Alpha-et-Omega and Chi-Rho image is from a window at St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco, California.]
Vision of the Son of Man
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
Rupert of Deutz
Commentary on the Apocalypse (Patrologia Latina 169:841-842)
He has made us a royal race of priests to the honour of God, his Father. In this text Scripture shows us Christ’s marvellous kindness and condescension. Our minds are too limited to grasp a statement of such magnitude, our tongues too weak to render adequate praise. The truth is that when Christ bought us at such great cost to himself – at the cost indeed of his most precious blood – it was not with the intention of making us his slaves; his purpose was to create a royal race of priests to the honour of God his Father. We were to be his Father’s kingdom, and priests in the service of God. He alone was King and Priest in his own right, yet he resolved to make kings of the slaves of sin and priests of the children of death. To that end he shed his blood.
O Lord our God, how wonderful is your name, how wonderful the majesty and honour with which you have crowned the Lord Jesus as King of kings! You have set on his head the crowns of all those kings who form your kingdom, for yours is a kingdom of kings, resplendent in their regalia, each consecrated to you by the blood of Christ.
We are also told that he has made us priests who share in that sacrifice by which Christ himself triumphed over the devil and so destroyed the dominion of sin. We do not all possess the fullness of the priesthood here on earth, with the power to bring about the real presence of our Lord’s body and blood by pronouncing the words of consecration, but all of us are called to exercise a priestly function by offering ourselves to God according to that exhortation of the Apostle Paul: I beseech you to present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him, since this is the service required of rational beings. In no other way shall we be permitted to enter into the celestial Holy of Holies, by which I mean heaven itself.
In heaven the sacramental species of bread and wine, which constitute our present sacrifice, will find no place. None of us, however, will ever lack matter for sacrifice there. Our lips will always be able to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, a hymn of rejoicing and the proclamation of God’s mighty works.
Indeed the next verse from the Apocalypse supplies us with a model for such a heavenly sacrifice in the acclamation: Glory and power to him for ever and ever! Amen. And this is certainly what the law of justice requires of us, namely, that creatures should return thanks and praise to their creator for all the benefits they have received. As an example, we can take Moses and the children of Israel. When they had been delivered from bondage in Egypt by the immolation of the passover lamb, and had seen Pharaoh and his army drowned in the Red Sea, they sang a canticle of praise to the Lord.
To keep one’s mouth closed and to silence one’s tongue, instead of voicing one’s thanks in acknowledgment of a favour received, is a sure sign of ingratitude. Therefore when John intones this short hymn of praise and thanksgiving, Glory and power to him forever and ever! let us all reply: Amen. In the words of the Apostle Paul: Let every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.