Patristic Lectionary – 11 November – St. Martin de Tours, Bishop; Thursday, Twenty-Third Week in Trinitytide
[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.]
[Image: Église Saint-Martin, Colmar, France (14th century) – The following is a translation of this sculpture’s description at this site. “This sculpture [of St. Martin’s act of charity to the poor man] is on the tympanum of the collegial church of St. Martin in Colmar, France. It captures, almost like a freeze-frame (assez figée), aquasi-angelic act of charity. The figure of the saint is very static, his cloak is already cut in two, one part resting on his arm, the other falling into place on the head of the curled-up beggar bewailing his poverty. Neither the saint nor the poor man looks at each other. Instead, they look outward to passersby, thus inviting them into the scene and emphasizing the virtue of charity itself more than a narration of this scene.”]
The People’s Journey into Exile is Presented Symbolically
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight; you shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile; and you shall go forth yourself at evening in their sight, as men do who must go into exile. Dig through the wall in their sight, and go out through it. In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder, and carry it out in the dark; you shall cover your face, that you may not see the land; for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.”
And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands; I went forth in the dark, carrying my outfit upon my shoulder in their sight.
In the morning the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.’ Say, ‘I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall go into exile, into captivity.’ And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder in the dark, and shall go forth; he shall dig through the wall and go out through it; he shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare; and I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it; and he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all who are round about him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will unsheathe the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may confess all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
Enarrationes in Psalmos 64, 1-3(Corpus Christianorum Latina 39:822-825)
The Israelites were taken captive and transported from the city of Jerusalem to a life of servitude in Babylon. The holy man Jeremiah, however, prophesied that seventy years later they should return from captivity, and the city of Jerusalem, over whose fall into enemy hands he had lamented, should be restored. At that time there were Prophets among the captive people in Babylon, and one of these was Ezekiel. The people were looking forward to the end of the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah: and indeed when the seventy years were up, the majority of the people did return and the Temple which had been destroyed was rebuilt. But since the Apostle says: These things happened to them as a warning, and were written down as a lesson for us upon whom the end of the ages has come, we too must first be aware of our captivity and then of our liberation; we must be aware of Babylon, where we are enslaved, and of the Jerusalem, to which we long to return.
Consider the names of these two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon means ‘confusion’, Jerusalem ‘vision of peace’; now take note of the city of confusion in order to understand the vision of peace. You endure the former while you long for the latter. How can these two cities be told apart? Can we possibly separate them from one another in this world? They are intermingled; they have been from the very origin of the human race, and shall remain so until the end of time. What proof have we now then that they are intermingled? The Lord will make it plain when he places some at his right hand and others at his left; Jerusalem will be on his right, Babylon on his left. Jerusalem will hear him say: Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, take possession of the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.
Babylon will hear: Depart into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Nevertheless, with the Lord’s help we can suggest how believers can distinguish even now between citizens of Jerusalem and citizens of Babylon. Two loves built these two cities. Love of God built Jerusalem; love of the world built Babylon. We have only then to ask ourselves what we love, and we shall learn which city we belong to. Those who find that they are citizens of Babylon should root out avarice and plant charity; those who find that they are citizens of Jerusalem should endure their captivity, looking forward to their release.
One can truthfully say of a ship riding at anchor that it has made land: though it still moves with the waves, in a certain sense it is ashore, protected from gales and tempests. On our own pilgrimage we have a similar safeguard against temptations, for hope set fast on the city of Jerusalem will prevent our being dashed against the rocks.