Patristic Lectionary – 18 November – Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul; Thursday, Twenty-Fourth Week in Trinitytide
[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: Origen by Eileen McGuckin]
The Life of the Prophet a Sign for the People
Also the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of mourners.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
And the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things mean for us, that you are acting thus?” Then I said to them, “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and the desire of your soul; and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of mourners. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your shoes on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and groan to one another. Thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign; according to all that he has done you shall do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord GOD.’
“And you, son of man, on the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes and their heart’s desire, and also their sons and daughters, on that day a fugitive will come to you to report to you the news. On that day your mouth will be opened to the fugitive, and you shall speak and be no longer dumb. So you will be a sign to them; and they will know that I am the LORD.”
Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 12.1-3 (The Ante-Nicene Fathers 10, tr. John Patrick )
And the Sadducees and Pharisees came, and tempting him kept asking him to show them a sign from heaven. The Sadducees and Pharisees who disagreed with each other in regard to the most essential truths, – for the Pharisees champion the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, hoping that there will be a world to come, while the Sadducees know nothing after this life in store for a man whether he has been advancing towards virtue, or has made no effort at all to come out from the mountains of wickedness, – these, I say, agree that they may tempt Jesus.
They agree together and ask him to show them a sign from heaven. For, not satisfied with the wonderful signs our Saviour showed among the people by healing all forms of disease and sickness, they wished him to show to them also a sign from heaven. And I think they suspected that the signs upon earth might possibly not be of God; for they did not hesitate indeed to say, Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebub the prince of the demons; and it seemed to them that a sign from heaven could not spring from Beelzebub or any other wicked power. But they erred in regard to both types of sign, not being approved money changers nor knowing how to distinguish between spirits from God and those that have revolted against him. And they ought to have known that even many of the portents wrought against Egypt in the time of Moses, though they were not from heaven, were clearly from God. On the other hand one should note that which is said by the Apostle about the man of sin, the son of perdition, that with all power and signs and lying wonders and with all deceit of unrighteousness he shall be manifested to them that are perishing, imitating all kinds of wonders, even those of truth.
Next let us note that when asked in regard to one sign from heaven, he answers the Pharisees and Sadducees, An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign, and there shall be no sign given to it, other that the sign of Jonah the Prophet. But the sign of Jonah was not merely a sign but also a sign from heaven, so that even to those who tempted him and sought such a sign he gave one. For if, as Jonah passed three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so the Son of man was in the heart of the earth, and after this rose up from it, – whence but from heaven shall we say that the sign of the resurrection of Christ came? In his passion, after he became a sign to the thief who entered into the paradise of God, he descended into Hades to the dead, as free among the dead. This was the sign of Jonah, the meaning of which was found in the fact that the Saviour suffered, and passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Seek out therefore every sign in the Old Scriptures as indicative of some passage in the New Scripture; and also take everything which is called a sign in the new covenant as indicative of something either in the age to come or in the generations after the sign has taken place.