Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Wednesday, Third Week in Ordinary Time (Ferial Day following the Third Sunday after Epiphany) – 25 January 2023 – Conversion of Paul, Apostle
[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: Bruce Denny, _The Conversion of St Paul_ (2010) – Churchyard of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, London ]
[ Next selection of readings in this lectionary. ]
Free Omnipotence of the Creator
You will say to me then, Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, Why have you made me thus? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call my people, and her who was not beloved I will call ‘my beloved’. And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, they will be called sons of the living God.”
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch. And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.”
What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
St. Gaudentius of Brescia
Sermon 9 (Patrologia Latina 20:902-6)
It is not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. We who were once Gentiles were dogs, and the Jews of that time were the children; the Lord was therefore unwilling to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. But once the heavenly bread itself came to his own domain, and his own people did not accept him; once this same Lord of ours was acknowledged by the Gentiles, who were formerly dogs, while the children barked blasphemy against him; and once these same children cried out, We have no King but Caesar when Pilate objected to pronouncing sentence of crucifixion against Christ whom he thought to be their King – then God once again said of them through the Prophet: I begot children and brought them up, but they have scorned me.
But they shall be converted in the evening, as the Prophet says, and suffer hunger like dogs. The Jews themselves will also be converted, but belatedly, in the evening of the world. For it is written: Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sands of the sea, a remnant of them will be saved. And the Apostle Paul proclaims that the Jews will be stricken with blindness until the full number of the Gentiles has entered in. They shall be converted at the end of the world and will hunger for the word of God like the dogs that wanted to fill themselves with the crumbs that fell from their master’s table. The Gentiles who were once dogs are thus adopted as children, while the children are compared to dogs. All unbelievers are surely beasts, not indeed in their natures but by reason of their way of life; for when they prospered people lacked wisdom; they became like ignorant beasts.
Therefore, even though the Jews had acted impiously like the Gentiles, but with a greater measure of guilt, Christ nonetheless continued to love them, not for their own sake but for the sake of their righteous ancestors; though they were still unworthy, he called them children in order to convert them; being compassionate and sharing the Father’s love for them he was unwilling hastily to deprive them of himself, the heavenly bread and author of life, and give himself to the Gentiles, until the latter by their steadfast faith should have put the unbelieving children to shame, and until he himself should have come in the flesh to teach and instruct the children. He would chastise them with gifts of healing; because they remained ungrateful, he would pass judgment on them by divine miracles; since they disdained to be converted to the faith, he would condemn them. And when at last their wickedness had reached its extreme in his Passion, he would, after his own resurrection, turn to the Gentiles, give himself to them as the bread of life, and grant them the cup of the Holy Spirit to drink in the water of Baptism.