[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 – 7 October 2021 – Our Lady of the Rosary; Thursday, Eighteenth Week in Trinitytide
Isaiah’s Prophecies About the King of the Assyrians
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him: ‘She despises you, she scorns you – the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you – the daughter of Jerusalem.
‘Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and haughtily lifted your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I came to its remotest height, its densest forest. I dug wells and drank waters, and I dried up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.
‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins, while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown.
‘I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. Because you have raged against me and your arrogance has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.’
“And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same; then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, says the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
Enarrationes in xii. Psalmos Davidicos. On Psalm 48:14-15 (according to St. Ambrose’s numbering).
When Christ reconciled the world to God, he himself certainly did not need reconciliation. For what sin of his own was he to make propitiation, when he knew no sin? When the Jews were asking for the didrachma, which according to law was given for sin, he said to Peter: ‘Simon, from whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?’ Peter answered: ‘From others.’ Jesus said to him: ‘Then the sons are free. However, not to give offence to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.
He is pointing out that he is not obliged to propitiation for sins on his own behalf, because he is not a slave of sin, but the Son of God, free from all fault. For the Son sets free; it is the slave who is guilty. So he was free from all sin, and gives no price of redemption for his own soul: the price of his blood was more than sufficient to redeem all the sins of the world. Justly then he sets others free, owing nothing for himself.
Furthermore: not only does Christ owe no price of redemption for himself or propitiation for sin, but if you take the case of any man, it can be understood that no individuals owe propitiation for themselves, since Christ is the propitiation of all, and himself the redemption of all.
What man’s blood has now the power to redeem him, when Christ shed his own blood for the redemption of all? Is there anyone’s blood comparable to the blood of Christ? What man is so mighty that he can offer propitiation for himself surpassing that which Christ offered in himself, Christ who alone reconciled the world with God through his own blood? What greater victim is there, what superior sacrifice, what better advocate than he who was made the atonement for the sins of all, and gave his life as the redemption for us?
Individual propitiation or redemption, therefore, is not to be sought, because the price of all is the blood of Christ, with which the Lord Jesus, who alone reconciled the Father, redeemed us. He laboured to the end, since he took upon himself our labours, as he says, Come to me, all you who labour, and I will refresh you.