Psalm: 68
Gospel: John 4:43-54
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

For those of you who don’t know, the Evening Prayer service begins with this versicle and response:

V: O Lord, I call to you, come to me quickly
R: Hear my voice when I cry to you
V: Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense
R: and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

In tonight’s Patristic reading, Augustine examines the implications of this imagery for the Christian understanding of who Jesus is:

The evening sacrifice is then the passion of the Lord, the cross of the Lord, the oblation of the victim that brings salvation, the holocaust acceptable to God. In his resurrection he made this evening sacrifice a morning sacrifice. Prayer offered in holiness from a faithful heart rises like incense from a holy altar. Nothing is more fragrant than the fragrance of the Lord. May all who believe share in this fragrance.

Aside from the sheer aesthetic beauty of this metaphor, it stands as a perfect example of why I read the Church Fathers.

There is no way in a million years that I would make that kind of mental leap as an academic theologian….but that doesn’t mean that the comparison offered by Augustine is useless. The early centuries of Christian thought allow us to see the Bible in a completely different light. For the early Church, the Scriptures were always a whole unit, as the complete revelation of God to the world.

It stands in stark contrast to the logical and often streamlined approach of the historical-critical method. It points to a fundamental difference in mindset…..When you approach the Bible….what hat do you wear? Does it make a difference? I think it does.

When we read the lections in a context and attitude of prayer….does that also make a difference??? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below + 🙂

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