Patristic Lectionary – Thursday, 11th Week in Ordinary Time (Feria after Trinity Sunday) – 16 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: G. F. Watts (designer), Antonio Salviati (mosaic artist) – Matthew, Mark, and Luke mosaics in spandrels of dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London – “they are living stones, and the building is constructed of those men who believe and who have themselves been created anew” – St. Augustine _De Civitate Dei_ ( Link to source for photo.) ]
Future Blessings, Promises Made to Zerubbabel
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests to decide this question, ‘If one carries holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and touches with his skirt bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered, “No.” Then said Haggai, “If one who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, says the LORD; and so with every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. Pray now, consider what will come to pass from this day onward. Before a stone was placed upon a stone in the temple of the LORD, how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. I smote you and all the products of your toil with blight and mildew and hail; yet you did not return to me, says the LORD. Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid, consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you.”
The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders; and the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his fellow. On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of She-alti-el, says the LORD, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
De Civitate Dei, 18.48, trans. Henry Bettenson (1972)
This House of God which is the Church of Christ is of greater glory than was that former house built of wood and precious stones and other costly materials and metals. Thus the prophecy of Haggai was not fulfilled in the restoration of that earlier Temple, for at no time after the restoration can it be shown to have had as great a glory as the Temple had in Solomon’s time. The truth is rather that the diminished glory of that house is demonstrated first in the cessation of prophecy, and then by great disasters of the nation itself down to the final destruction at the hands of the Romans. In contrast, this house of ours, which belongs to the new covenant, has assuredly a greater glory in that its stones are of more worth; for they are living stones, and the building is constructed of those men who believe and who have themselves been created anew. And yet this new house was symbolised in the restoration of that Temple, just because the very renewing of the Temple symbolises in a prophetic message the second covenant, the new covenant, as it is called. Thus, when God said, through the mouth of the Prophet just mentioned, And in that place I shall give peace, the word ‘place’ is symbolic, and by it we are to understand the person whom it symbolises. And so the rebuilding ‘in that place’ stands for the Church which was destined to be built by Christ; and the only acceptable meaning of the saying, ‘in that place I shall give peace’ is, ‘I shall grant peace in the place which this place symbolises.
The fact is that all things with symbolic meaning are seen as in some way acting the part of the things they symbolise; for instance, the Apostle says, That rock was Christ, because the rock in question undoubtedly symbolised Christ. And so the glory of this house, the new covenant, is greater than the glory of the former house, the old covenant, and it will be seen to be even greater when it is dedicated. For then will come the one who is longed for by all nations, as the Hebrew reads. Now his first coming was not yet longed for by all nations, for they did not know of him whom they were destined to long for, in whom they had not yet believed. Then too, in the version of the seventy translators (and their rendering is also prophetic), will come the chosen of the Lord from all nations.
For then, in truth, none but the elect will come, and it is of them that the Apostle says, Just as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. Then, we may be sure, the master builder himself, who said, Many are called, but few are chosen, is going to show us a house, built not of those who were called but came in such a way that they were thrown out of the feast, but of those who have been truly chosen. And that house will thereafter dread no downfall, whereas at the present time the Churches are made up of those who will later be separated out as by a winnowing from on the threshing floor. Thus the glory of this house is not yet shown in the splendour which will be seen when only the righteous remain.