Friday, June 23, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Third Sunday after Pentecost

“Jeremiah” by Michelangelo

You have deceived me, O Lord, and I have been deceived.
     You have been strong, and have prevailed.

I have become a  laughing stock,
    I am continually mocked every day.
For I will laugh with my bitter speech,
    I will call upon rebellion and misery;
for the word of the Lord has become a reproach to me
    and a mockery all my days.
Then I said, “I will by no means name the name of the Lord,
    and I will no longer speak in His name.”
But it was a burning fire
    flaming in my bones,
and I am utterly weakened on all sides,
    and cannot bear up.
For I have heard the reproach
    of many gathering round, saying,
“Conspire, and let us conspire together against him,
    even all his friends.
Watch his intentions,
    if perhaps he shall be deceived,
and we shall prevail against him,
    and we shall be avenged on him.” (Je 20:7–10 LXX)

Prophets are like healers of souls, and they are always occupied wherever there are those who need treatment. For, those who are well have no need of a physician; but those who are sick, but what healers suffer by unbridled sick people this also Prophets and teachers suffer from those who do not want to be treated. For thence they are hated, as are those who prescribe against the choice of the wishes of sick people, as are those who restrain those who want to live licentiously and to pursue pleasures in their diseases, who do not want to take what is appropriate for the diseases. Thus the unbridled people among sick people flee from healers, often after they have blasphemed and abused them and done every sort of thing which an enemy would do to an enemy. For they forget, when they look on the agony of his way of life, on the agony of the impact from the knife of surgeons, not on the objective beyond the pain, that healers come as friends, and they hate healers as fathers only of pains which bring to well-being those who are healed.

That people then was sick; there were all kinds of diseases among those who had the name of the people of God. God sent to them the prophets as healers. One of the healers was Jeremiah. He reproved the sinners since He wanted those who do evil to return, yet though needing to hear what was said they accused the prophet and they accused before judges similar to themselves. And always the prophet was judged by those who, with respect to his prophecy, had been cured but were not cured because of their own disobedience. It is due to them that he says,
And I said, “I will no longer speak nor name the name of the Lord.” But it happened as a burning fire flaming in my bones, and I am weakened on all sides, and I cannot bear it.
Origen, Homilies on Jeremiah 14.1–2

 But the Lord was with me as a mighty man of war;
    therefore they persecuted me, but could not perceive anything against me.
They were greatly confounded, for they did not perceive their disgrace,
    which shall never be forgotten.
O Lord, You who tests the righteous,
    and who understands the mind and heart,
let me see Your vengeance upon them:
    for to You I have revealed my cause.
Sing to the Lord,
    sing praises to Him:
for He has rescued the soul of the poor
    from the hand of evildoers. (Je 20:11–13 LXX)

But Jeremiah said concerning those who conspired: And the Lord is with me truly as a mighty man of war. If we become the sort of persons we need to be and we receive for our sins that fire which comes just as it came to Jeremiah and to similar persons, the Lord becomes after these events with us truly a mighty man of war. And because of this they persecuted and could not comprehend, for the Lord was with the persecuted one, and the persecuted one could not be made subject to them. Perhaps then, as many things of Jeremiah refer to the Savior, can this not also be such? For You conspire and let us conspire against him, is said also regarding the Savior, and the Lord was with them truly as a mighty man of war. That is why they, the Jews, the ones who persecuted Him, persecuted, and could not comprehend; they were greatly confounded and did not comprehend their own dishonor. They who are dishonored in such a time do not speak of their sins, which down through the ages will not be forgotten, but they suppose that their transgressions will be forgotten in this age. But let us realize that down through the ages their transgressions will not be forgotten, and when we realize this, let us recall the statement, Do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, how much more will He not spare those who are contrary to the natural? [Ro 11:21–22]

Origen, Homilies on Jeremiah 20.5

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