Wednesday, March 23, 2016

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  See!  Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  (Mt 23:37-39)

Then He directs His speech unto the city, in this way too being minded to correct His hearers, and says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!”  What does the repetition mean?  This is the manner of one pitying her, and bemoaning her, and greatly loving her.  For, like a woman much beloved, herself indeed ever loved, but who had despised Him that loved her, and therefore on the point of being punished, He pleads, being now about to inflict the punishment, which He does in the prophets also, using these words, “I said, Turn to me, and she returned not.”

Then having called her, He tells also her blood-stained deeds, “You who kills the prophets, and stones those that are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, and you would not,” in this way also pleading for His own dealings:
Not even with these things have you turned Me aside, nor withdrawn Me from My great affection toward you, but it was My desire even so, not once or twice, but often to draw you unto Me.
“For how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not.”  And this He says, to show that they were scattering themselves by their sins.  And His affection He indicates by the comparison, for indeed the creature is warm in its love towards its brood.  And everywhere in the prophets is this same image of the wings, and in the song of Moses and in the Psalms, indicating His great protection and care.

“But you would not,” He says. “Behold your house is left desolate,” stripped of the protection which comes from Me.  Surely it was the same, who also was before protecting them, and holding them together, and preserving them; surely it was He who was chastening them.  And He appoints a punishment, which they had dreaded exceedingly; for it declared the entire overthrow of their polity.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 74.3

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