Patristic Lectionary – Tuesday, 10th Week in Ordinary Time (Feria, Whitsun Week) – 7 June 2022
[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: Symbol of the Trinity, St. Martin of Tours Church, Elsworthy, Somerset, England “The Son is equal to the Father; the gift of God the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father; and that’s why Father and Son and Holy Spirit are one God, not three gods; they are not attached to each other in grades, but united in majesty, and one God.” St. Augustine, Sermon 264 ]
[ Preceding selection of readings in this lectionary. ]
Philippians 1:27 – 2:11
Exhortation to Imitate Christ
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Sermon 264.1, 3, 6-7 (Works of St. Augustine, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., 1993)
The Apostle said to his brethren, Have this mind among yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus. Be willing, he is saying, to imitate the Son of God by being compassionate to the little ones. The Son of God who, though he was in the form of God, that is, equal to God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God.
What, my dearest brethren, what is it that the Apostle is saying, did not think it robbery? Because he was equal by nature. So for whom was equality with God a kind of robbery? For the first man, to whom it was said, Taste, and you will be like gods. He wished by an act of robbery to stretch himself up to equality, and as a punishment he lost his immortality. The one, you see, for whom it was not robbery, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. But what did he do? He emptied himself, he says, taking the form of a servant; being made into the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross.
It wasn’t enough to say death, he even indicated the kind of death, he chose the worst kind, one that was abominable to all Jews. He wasn’t afraid to die, you see, through false witnesses and the sentence of a judge, though he is going to come to judge the living and the dead. He wasn’t afraid to die disgracefully on the cross, in order to deliver all believers from all kinds of disgrace. So he became obedient to the death, even death on the cross; yet by nature he is equal to God; strong in the power of his greatness, weak in the compassion of his humanity; strong, in order to make all things; weak, in order to remake all things.
The next thing that happened was that the flesh, that is the head, went before us into heaven. The other members will follow. Why? Because it’s right that these members should get some sleep for a while, and that they should all rise again in their time. If the Lord had also wanted to rise then, at the end, there would be no one for us to believe in. The reason he wished to deliver the first fruits of them that sleep to God in his own person, was so that you could see in him what has been restored, and hope in yourself for what is to be granted. The whole people of God will be equated and associated with the angels.
And so, my brethren, hold on to the true, genuine, Catholic faith. The Son is equal to the Father; the gift of God the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father; and that’s why Father and Son and Holy Spirit are one God, not three gods; they are not attached to each other in grades, but united in majesty, and one God. But all the same, for our sakes the Son, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled himself, becoming obedient to the death, even death on the cross.