[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, this is a series of occasional 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. R. M. Healey’s edition is also used if there are lacunae in the Durham edition. Click here for the link to Healey’s formatting of the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary – 25 September 2021 – Saturday, Sixteenth Week in Trinitytide
[Image: Hubert and Jan van Eyck, The Prophet Micah, from the Ghent Altarpiece (15th century, St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium)]
Micah 1:1-9; 2:1-11
Prophecies About Samaria and Jerusalem
[The ministry of Micah the Morashite, considered one of the twelve minor prophets, probably began a few years before Samaria was conquered in 722 B.C. Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. Isaiah’s focus was to the royal court, Micah’s to the people of Jerusalem.]
The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Hear, you peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that is in it; and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy Temple. For behold, the LORD is coming forth out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him and the valleys will be cleft, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of the house of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards; and I will pour down her stones into the valley, and uncover her foundations. All her images shall be beaten to pieces, all her hires shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste; for from the hire of a harlot she gathered them, and to the hire of a harlot they shall return.
For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable; and it has come to Judah, it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.
Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil upon their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, against this family I am devising evil, from which you cannot remove your necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time. In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you, and wail with bitter lamentation, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! Among our captors he divides our fields.” Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.
“Do not preach” – thus they preach – “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient? Are these his doings? Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly? But you rise against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my glory for ever. Arise and go, for this is no place to rest; because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction. If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink”, he would be the preacher for this people!
St. Gregory Nazianzen
Orations: Oration 14.21-22 (The Fathers of the Church 107 , tr. Martha Vinson)
Who is wise, and who will understand these things? Who will leave behind what is fleeting? Who will throw in his lot with what abides? Who will think of the present as passing away? Who will distinguish between appearance and reality, ignore the one and court the other? Who will distinguish between fact and fiction, between the tabernacle below and the city above? Who between temporary and permanent home? Who between darkness and light? Who will barter the things of the present for the future? Who will exchange the wealth that slips away from the kind that is not lost, things visible for things unseen?
Yes, blessed is the man who distinguishes between these things, dividing them in accordance with the separation of the Word that divides the better from the worse, and purposes in his heart to go up, as the divine David says at one point, and, fleeing this valley of weeping, seeks with all his might the things that are above; he takes his place at Christ’s side, crucified to the world along with Christ, and together with Christ ascends, heir to the life that no longer fails or deceives. The same David, like a herald most loud of voice booming an important public proclamation, rightly cries out to us not to cling so tightly to the visible world or to regard the sum of earthly happiness as nothing more than a full supply of perishable food and drink. And I expect the blessed Micah too has something like this in mind when he says, confronting those who make a show of virtue as they creep along the ground, Draw near to the everlasting mountains. Arise; for this is not your rest. These are almost the very words that our Lord and Saviour uses to admonish us. What does he say? Rise, let us go hence. He is not merely conducting his disciples of the moment from that specific place, as one might think, but he is drawing all his disciples as well away for all time from the earth and the things of earth to the heavens and the blessings of heaven.
So let us now follow the Word; let us seek the repose on high; let us cast aside the opulence of this world; let us have recourse to only that portion of it that serves a good end; let us gain our lives by acts of charity; let us share what we have with the poor that we may be rich in the bounty of heaven. Give a portion of your soul too, not just your body; give a portion to God too, not just the world; take something from the belly, dedicate it to the Spirit; pluck something from the fire, place it far from the devouring flame below; rob from the tyrant, commit to the Lord. Give a portion to seven, that is, to this life, and even to eight, the life that will receive us after this one; give a little to him from whom you have so much; give even the whole to him who has bestowed all. You will never surpass God’s generosity even if you hand over your entire substance and yourself in the bargain. Indeed, to receive in the truest sense is to give oneself to God.