Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Second Sunday of Lent – 5 March 2023

Patristic Lectionary (Year 1) – Second Sunday of Lent – 5 March 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: Ladislav Záborský, _Transfiguration on Mount Tabor_  (2006).  Cyril of Alexandria on reading Deuteronomy Christologically: “In Christ the teaching of the Law reached its consummation, for as Scripture says, Christ is the fulfilment of the Law [Moses] and the Prophets [Elijah].” ]

[ Preceding selection of readings in this lectionary.  Next selection of readings in this lectionary. ]

Deuteronomy 18:1-22

On Priests, Levites, and Prophets

“The Levitical priests, that is, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings by fire to the LORD, and his rightful dues. They shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them. And this shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. The first fruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. For the LORD your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand and minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons forever.

“And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives – and he may come when he desires – to the place which the LORD will choose, then he may minister in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow-Levites who stand to minister there before the LORD. They shall have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD; and because of these abominable practices the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you so to do.

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren – him you shall heed – just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They have rightly said all that they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.”

Cyril of Alexandria

In Joannis Evangelium ( Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John ) 3.3 ( Patrologia Graeca 73:428-433 )

Deuteronomy is a kind of review and summary of the Mosaic books. Again the mystery of Christ is plainly revealed to us, skilfully presented from close consideration of the resemblance of Christ to Moses. For the Lord your God, said Moses, will raise up for you a prophet of your own race, like myself.

Between God and the people of those days Moses was the appointed mediator. It was his task to help their infirmity by communicating to them the divine decrees. This symbol, understood in terms of the reality it foreshadows, will show you that Christ is the true mediator between God and man. When for our sake he was born of a woman, he communicated to the more teachable with a human voice the hidden will of God the Father, which was known to him alone. In his nature as Son of the Father and as Wisdom he knows all things, even the depths of God.

The divine, the inexpressible glory of the supreme Being could not be seen and unveiled by bodily eyes, for Scripture says, No one can see my face and live. The only-begotten Word of God had therefore to become like us in our weakness by clothing himself in a human body, according to the mysterious plan of God’s providence, and so make known to us the will of heaven, that is, the will of God the Father. I make known to you, he said, all that I have heard from the Father; and in another place, I have not spoken on my own authority. The Father who sent me has told me what to say and how to speak.

In his role as mediator Moses of old may be regarded as a type of Christ, for he faithfully communicated to the people the divine decrees. But the mediation of Moses was that of a servant, whereas the mediation of Christ was free and also deeply mysterious. He was in contact by his very nature with those between whom he mediated; in his own person he linked the humanity that was reconciled and God the Father. In Christ the teaching of the Law reached its consummation, for as Scripture says, Christ is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.


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