[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 – 11 October 2021 – Monday, Nineteenth Week in Trinitytide
The Call of Jeremiah
The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” Then the LORD put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a rod of almond.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the LORD; and they shall come and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. But you, gird up your loins; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.”
St. John Cassian
Conferences 18, 13.1-5 (Ancient Christian Writers 57, tr. Boniface Ramsey, O.P.)
True patience and tranquillity are not acquired or retained without profound humility of heart. If they proceed from this source they will stand in need of neither the benefit of a cell nor the refuge of solitude. For whatever is sustained within by the virtue of humility does not require the protection of anything without. But if we are so provoked as to be angered by someone, it is certain that the foundations of humility have not been firmly established in us, and it is for that reason that our edifice is ruinously shaken by the onslaught of even an insignificant squall. For patience would not be praiseworthy or admirable if it maintained its intended tranquillity without having been assailed by any of the enemy’s darts, but it is distinguished and glorious when it remains unmoved while storms of trial break upon it. For it is strengthened at the very moment that it believes itself to be troubled and broken by adversity. Everyone knows that patience takes its name from suffering and endurance, and therefore it is clear that no one can be called patient but the man who puts up with everything that is inflicted upon him without indignation. Therefore he is deservedly praised by Solomon: Better is the man who is patient than he who is strong, and the man who restrains his anger than he who captures a city.
When, therefore, someone who has suffered mistreatment is inflamed with the fire of anger, it must not be believed that his bitterness at the abuse inflicted on him is the cause of his sin, but rather that it is the manifestation of a hidden weakness. This is in accordance with the parable of the Lord, the Saviour, which he told about the two houses – one that was established on solid rock and the other on sand, upon the both of which there fell rainstorms and torrents and tempests. But the one that was established on solid rock experienced no damage from that violent onslaught, whereas the one that was built on the uncertain and shifting sands collapsed at once. It appears to have caved in not, indeed, because it was struck by an outpouring of torrential rain but because it was foolishly built on sand.
For the holy man does not differ from the sinner in that he is not similarly tested but rather in that he is not conquered even by a great onslaught, while the other is overcome even by a slight trial. As we have said, the fortitude of a righteous man would not be praiseworthy if he were victorious without having been tried, when in fact there can be no place for victory without the adversity of a struggle. For blessed is the man who undergoes trial, because when he has been tested he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. According to the Apostle Paul too, strength is perfected not in leisure and pleasure but in weakness. For, behold, the Lord says to Jeremiah, I have made you today into a fortified city and an iron pillar and a brass wall over all the land, to the kings of Judah and to its princes and its priests and to all the people of the land. And they will fight against you and they shall not prevail, because I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.