I repeat today a piece I offered several years ago; it relates to the early medieval lectionary readings for the Sunday Next Before Advent.
I think I am the only person who comments upon these ancient readings and their ancient message, which is why I beg indulgence for my ancient repetitiousness.
Most Sundays' Sarum/Prayer Book lections are basically the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V, although with dislocations which put Epistles and Gospels onto different Sundays.
But sometimes, there is a real difference from the Pian lectionary. This happens on the Sunday Next Before Advent, when Sarum (followed by the Prayer Book) and many other Northern European uses has a quite different provision. In these uses we find an Epistle (well, actually, a Lesson from Jeremiah) and a Gospel (from S John) which both moved around a bit in the Middle Ages but pretty well always came just before or just at the start of Advent, as a taster and a preliminary for that season. Their loss is an impoverishment even in the Missal of S Pius V and, a fortiori, in the Novus Ordo.
I will explain the importance of these readings in the words of Abbot Rupert of Deutz (1075- 1129) - a considerable mystagogue. I believe that we can learn from his words about what Scripture and the Tradition teach concerning the redemption of our Jewish brethren, in greater detail than we can learn it from the fumbling (but not unorthodox) Nostra aetate or silly (non-Magisterial) documents from Rome.
"Holy Church is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she sings each year: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren according to the flesh; thus realising what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognised them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so too, our Lord who is reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians, (that is, to the gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favour, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.
"The benefit of this divine table is signified, in the office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of the Lord's feeding the multitude with five loaves. For it will be then that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole and not yet broken - yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.
"Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this gospel: They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, which brought up, and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north-country, and from all countries whither I have driven them.
"Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: It is thou, O Lord, that savest us from our enemies!
"The words we use in the Offertory: Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and it shall be done unto you, is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children." (The Reading is Jeremiah 23:5 ff; the Gospel, John 6: 5 ff, is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. My translations of the propers are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the good old English Missal.)
This is a superb exposition, in the biblical and patristic 'typological' idiom, of an important theme in Pauline eschatology - see Romans 9-11. The crucial passage, Romans 11:25-28, is omitted from the Novus Ordo Sunday lectionaries. There is significance, I suspect, in the fact that modern lectionaries delicately step around this Biblical theme: the Eschatological Submission of the Jews to the Call of Christ.
Sometimes I feel that, despite the call for a "richer table of Scripture" in Sacrosanctum concilium, the Scriptures read to the People of God have in some respects, paradoxically, been made conceptually narrower in the post-conciliar books. I commend (yet again) to the reader the fine Index Lectionum by Matthew Hazell ... a must-have for anybody seriously concerned with Liturgy. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback).