[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 – 29 April 2021 – St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin, Doctor of the Church
Revelation 15:5 – 16:21
The Seven Bowls of the Wrath of God
After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, and their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives for ever and ever; and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”
So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and foul and evil sores came upon the men who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea.
The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of water say, “Just art thou in these thy judgments, thou who art and wast, O Holy One. For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink. It is their due!” And I heard the altar cry, “Yea, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are thy judgments!”
The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch men with fire; men were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.
The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was in darkness; men gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores and did not repent of their deeds.
The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs; for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon.
The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and great hailstones, heavy as a hundred-weight, dropped on men from heaven, till men cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
Commentary on St. John’s Gospel 4.2
‘I am dying’; said the Lord, ‘for all men, so that through me all may have life; by my flesh I have redeemed the flesh of all men. For in my death, death will die, and fallen human nature will rise again with me. In this way l have become, like you, a man descended from Abraham, so that I may be made like my brethren in every respect.’
Saint Paul understood this well when he said: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. There was never any other way to destroy the one who had the power of death, and therefore death itself. Christ who had to give himself up for us; the one had to be the ransom for all, for he was the head of all.
Accordingly, he said in another place, namely in the psalms, when he offered himself to God his Father as a spotless sacrifice on your behalf: You wanted no sacrifice or oblation, but you prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said, “Here I am.” He was crucified on behalf of us all and for the sake of us all, so that, when one had died instead of all, we all might live in him. For it was impossible that he should be defeated by death or that one who is life by its very nature should yield to corruption. Indeed, Christ’s own words prove to us that he offered his flesh for the life of the world: Holy Father, keep them. And again: For their sake I make myself holy.
He said, I make myself holy, meaning ‘I consecrate and offer myself as a spotless sacrifice with a sweet savour.’ For what was offered on the altar was made holy or called holy according to the Law. Therefore Christ gave his body for the life of all, and through his body planted life among us again. How this came about I shall explain as best I can. When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life. Being linked with flesh in this unique form of union, he made it a source of life, just as he is by his own nature, a source of life.
Thus the body of Christ gives life to those who share with him. By being among those who are liable to death, his body drives death out; by bringing forth in itself a principle capable of utterly destroying corruption, his body expels corruption.