[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 – 30 September 2021 – St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church; Thursday, Seventeenth Week in Trinitytide
2 Chronicles 29:1-2; 30:1-16
The Priestly Account of King Hezekiah’s Passover
Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.
Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover to the LORD the God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the passover in the second month – for they could not keep it in its time because the priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient number, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem – and the plan seemed right to the king and all the assembly. So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the passover to the LORD the God of Israel, at Jerusalem; for they had not kept it in great numbers as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who were faithless to the LORD God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD, and come to his sanctuary, which he has sanctified for ever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”
So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Only a few men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also upon Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD.
And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great assembly. They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron valley. And they killed the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were put to shame, so that they sanctified themselves, and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. They took their accustomed posts according to the law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand of the Levites.
St. Leo the Great
Sermon 59.5, 7 (The Fathers of the Church 93, tr. Jane P. Freeland & Agnes J. Conway)
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed, as the Apostle says. Offering himself to the Father as a new and real sacrifice of reconciliation, he was crucified – not in the Temple whose due worship is now completed, nor within the enclosure of the city which was to be destroyed because of its crime, but outside and beyond the camp. That way, as the mystery of the ancient sacrifices was ceasing, a new victim would be put on a new altar, and the Cross of Christ would be the altar not of the Temple but of the world.
O wonderful power of the Cross! O indescribable glory of the Passion! In this is the tribunal of the Lord, and the judgement of the world, and the power of the Crucified. You have drawn all things to yourself, Lord, and when you had stretched out your hands all day for an unbelieving and rebellious people, all the world received the understanding to confess your majesty.
You have drawn all things to yourself, Lord, when all the elements expressed the same feeling in condemning that crime perpetrated by the Jews. With the lights of heaven darkened and day turned to night, even the earth shook with unaccustomed motions, and all creation turned its back on the practices of the wicked.
You have drawn all things to yourself, Lord, when the veil of the Temple was split apart and the Holy of Holies withdrew from unworthy priests, so that figure was turned into truth, prophecies into reality, and the law into the Gospel. You have drawn all things to yourself, Lord, so that what was once done in the one Temple of Judea with concealed meanings, the devotion of all nations everywhere now celebrates in a clear and open mystery.
Now, when the variety of animal sacrifices has ceased, the one oblation of your body and blood fulfils all the many kinds of offering. You are the true Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, and thus you perfect all mysteries in yourself. As one sacrifice is made on behalf of all victims, so there will be one kingdom for all nations.
Now there is a higher order of Levites, a worthier order of Elders, and a holier anointing of Priests, since your Cross is the fountain of all benediction, the cause of all graces, through which there is given to believers strength from weakness, glory from reproach, and life from death.