Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Tuesday, Second Week in Ordinary Time – 17 January 2023

Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Tuesday, Second Week in Ordinary Time (Ferial Day following the Second Sunday after Epiphany) – 17 January 2023 – Anthony of Egypt, Abbot

[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: Artisanats des monastères de Bethléem, _La Résurrection_.  Christ, the new Adam, raises the old Adam and Eve. ]

[ Preceding selection of readings in this lectionary. ]

Romans 5:12-21

The Old and the New Adam

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned – sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St. Ambrose

Commentary on Psalm61 (Patrologia Latina 14:1224-5)

When our Lord Jesus assumed our human nature in order to purify it in his own person, his first task was surely to destroy the primary infection of original sin. It was through disobedience and challenging of God’s command that wrongdoing had crept in, and obedience had to be restored before anything else if transgression was to be denied room in which to develop. It was through disobedience that the canker of sin had spread, and therefore our Lord’s first duty as a good physician must be to cut out the tumour at the roots, so that the surface of the wound may feel the healing effect of his medicine. And so Jesus accepted obedience for himself in order to impart it to us. It was only right that as through one man’s disobedience all men were reckoned as sinners, so through one man’s obedience all should be reckoned just.

This means that those who maintain that Christ assumed our carnal nature but not our passions are very far from the truth; indeed they contravene our Lord’s own intention by depriving him of his manhood, for without human passions he could not be a man at all. Human nature without human passions would incur neither merit nor guilt. What Christ had to take upon himself and heal was the actual fountainhead of guilt, in order to stop up the source of transgression and any further outlets for wrongdoing.

It was as man, then, that he was made weak, as man that he suffered, as man that we thought of him in his sufferings; but he overcame his weaknesses instead of being overcome by them. It was for us he suffered, not for himself. He was made weak not on account of any sins of his own but on account of  our sins, so that by his stripes we might be healed. He took our sins upon himself both to assume the burden of them and to purge them away, and because of this he shall obtain many for his inheritance and share out the spoils of the strong. His acceptance of the burden of our sins is bound up with their remission, his purging of them with their correction. And so in taking it upon himself to suffer with us he took it upon himself to accept our own subjection; and whereas his subjection of all things to himself is his divine prerogative, his own acceptance of subjection belongs to the human nature he shares with us.

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