Friday, June 30, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Rembrandt, “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem”
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of the Lᴏʀᴅ, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! The Lᴏʀᴅ do so; the Lᴏʀᴅ perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the Lᴏʀᴅ’s house and all who were carried away captive, from Babylon to this place. Nevertheless hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms—of war and disaster and pestilence. As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lᴏʀᴅ has truly sent.” (Je 28:5–9)

Jeremiah could have said to Hananiah, “You speak falsely, and you are deceiving the people. You are not a prophet but a  false prophet.” But if he had said that, the false prophet could have said the same things in return to Jeremiah. Therefore Jeremiah avoids causing insult and speaks to him as if he were a prophet. “Not only are you and I prophets,” he says, “but before us there were many other prophets, such as Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, and others. They prophesied against many countries and against not small kingdoms but great ones, announcing to them war, adversity, and the deprivation of all things. there were others, of course, who promised peace and prosperity. But the truth of each message is confirmed not by the adulation that accompanies the lie but by the outcome of the events.” Thus, through the examples of others, Jeremiah speaks about himself and about Hananiah, asserting that the truthfulness of a prophet is shown when the final outcome of events has come to pass. The Lord also said this same thing through Moses: that a prophet is proven by the end result of his prophecy.*

Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah

* Deuteronomy 18:21–22

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