Patristic Lectionary – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Seventh Sunday in Trinitytide) – 31 July 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: Melozzo da Forli, Profeta Abdia (Obadiah) from _Angeli coi simboli della passione e profeti_ (1477) – Santuario della Santa Casa, Loreto – “invaluerunt adversum te viri pacis tuae qui comedunt tecum ponent insidias subter te” (“the men of thy peace have prevailed against thee: they that eat with thee shall lay snares under thee”]
Prophecies against Edom
The vision of Obadiah.
Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard tidings from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! let us rise against her for battle!” Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, whose dwelling is high, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the LORD.
If thieves came to you, if plunderers by night – how you have been destroyed! – would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings? How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out! All your allies have deceived you, they have driven you to the border; your confederates have prevailed against you; your trusted friends have set a trap under you – there is no understanding of it. Will I not on that day, says the LORD, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau? And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter. For the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off for ever. On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. But you should not have gloated over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; you should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; you should not have boasted in the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of my people in the day of his calamity; you should not have gloated over his disaster in the day of his calamity; you should not have looted his goods in the day of his calamity. You should not have stood at the parting of the ways to cut off his fugitives; you should not have delivered up his survivors in the day of distress.
For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you, your deeds shall return on your own head. For as you have drunk upon my holy mountain, all the nations round about shall drink; they shall drink, and stagger, and shall be as though they had not been. But in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken. Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau, and those of the Shephelah the land of the Philistines; they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. The exiles in Halah who are of the people of Israel shall possess Phoenicia as far as Zarephath; and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negeb. Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.
St. Augustine of Hippo
De Civitate Dei ( The City of God) 18.31 (tr. Henry Bettenson, 1972)
Obadiah is the shortest of all the Prophets in respect of his writings. He holds forth against Edom, that is the race of Esau, the elder of the twin sons of Isaac, grandsons of Abraham, the one who was rejected. Now if we take Edom as standing for the Gentiles, by the figure of speech called ‘the part for the whole’, we can recognise a prophecy of Christ in the place where Obadiah says, among other things, Now on Mount Sion there will be salvation and there will be a holy place. And a little later, at the end of this prophecy, he adds, And those who have been saved will go up from Mount Sion, to defend Mount Esau; and the kingdom will be the Lord’s.
It is quite obvious that this was fulfilled when those saved from Mount Sion – that is, those from Judaea who believed in Christ, and in particular those recognised as Apostles – went up to defend Mount Esau. How were they to defend it, except by bringing salvation, through the preaching of the gospel, to those who became believers, so that they should be rescued from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God? This is expressed by the addition of the next words: And the kingdom will be the Lord’s. For Mount Sion signifies Judaea, where it was predicted that there would be salvation and a holy place, which is Christ Jesus. Whereas Mount Esau is Edom, by which is signified the Church of the Gentiles; and, as I have explained, the saved from Mount Sion defended it, so that it should be a kingdom for the Lord. This was obscure before the event: but what believer could fail to recognise it after the event?