Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Tuesday, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time – 7 February 2023

Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Tuesday, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time (Feria after Septuagesima Sunday) – 7 February 2023

[ 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: Friedrich Stummel and Karl Wenzel, fresco of St. Paul the Apostle in Herz-Jesu-Kirche (early twentieth century).  The inscription held by Paul is I Corinthians 2:2 “Non enim iudicavi scrie me aliquid inter vos nisi Iesum Christum et hunc crucifixum” “For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ: and him crucified.” ]

[ Preceding selection of readings in this lectionary. ]

I Corinthians 2:1-16

Wisdom is Revealed by the Spirit of God.

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”, God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

John Chrysostom

Homily on 1 Corinthians  7.1-2 (trans., Bareille 16:393-6)

We impart the wisdom of God in a mystery. A mystery does not need to be proved, but simply proclaimed. It would not be a wholly divine mystery if you added to it anything of your own. Besides, the reason it is called a mystery is that we cannot penetrate its depths: what we see is one thing, what we believe is another. In this lies the very nature of our mysteries.

My reactions to them are therefore different from the reactions of an unbeliever. When I hear that Christ was crucified I am filled with amazement at his love for us, but to the unbeliever this shows weakness.  When I hear that Christ became a servant I am astonished at his solicitude for us, but to the unbeliever this is a disgrace. When I hear that Christ died I marvel at his power, since he was not conquered by death, but instead put an end to death. The unbeliever, however, sees Christ’s death as a sign of helplessness.

The unbeliever regards the resurrection as pure fiction, but I accept the proven facts and venerate God’s saving plan. In Baptism the unbeliever sees only water, but I perceive not only what meets the eye, but also the purification of the soul by the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever thinks only the body is cleansed, but I believe that the soul also is made pure and holy, and I am reminded of the tomb, the resurrection, our sanctification, justification, redemption, adoption, and inheritance, of the kingdom of heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I judge outward appearances not by what I see but by the eyes of the mind. When the body of Christ is mentioned, the words have one meaning for me, another for the unbeliever.

Just as the letters on a page are meaningless to a child who has not learned to read, so it is with the Christian mystery. Unbelievers are deaf to what they hear, whereas the experience of the Spirit empowers believers to perceive its hidden meaning. Paul made this clear when he said: Our preaching is obscure, but only for those on the way to perdition. Something proclaimed everywhere without being understood by those lacking an upright spirit is undoubtedly a mystery. For to the extent that we are able to receive it, it is revealed not by human wisdom but by the Holy Spirit. Rightly therefore, is the mystery said to be a secret, for even we believers have not been given a completely clear and accurate knowledge of it. As Paul said: Our knowledge and our prophesying are imperfect. We see now as it were a dim reflection in a mirror, but then face to face. This is why he said: We impart the wisdom of God in a mystery predestined by God before all ages for our glory.


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