Friday, April 12, 2019

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Palm Sunday

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude. Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. (Luke 22:1–7)

By its shadows, the law prefigured from of old the mystery of Christ. He is himself the witness of this when he said to the Jews, “If you would have believed Moses, you would have also believed me, for he wrote concerning me.” Christ is presented everywhere by means of shadows and types, both as slain for us, as the innocent and true Lamb, and as sanctifying us by his life-giving blood. We further find the words of the holy prophets in complete agreement with those of most wise Moses. Paul says, “When the fullness of time was come,” the only-begotten Word of God submitted to the emptying of himself, the birth in the flesh of a woman, and subjection to the law according to the measure that was fitting for human nature. He was also then sacrificed for us, as the innocent and true lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. This feast day was called Pascha, a word belonging to the Hebrew language and signifying the passing over.…

As then Israel was delivered form the tyranny of the Egyptians, and having loosed its neck from the yoke of bondage, was now free; and fleeing from the violence of the tyrant passed with dry foot in a manner wonderful and beyond the power of language to describe through the midst of the sea, and journeyed onward to the promised land: so must we too, who have accepted the salvation that is in Christ, be willing no longer to abide in our former faults, nor continue in our evil ways, but manfully cross over the sea, as it were, of the vain trouble of this world, and the tempest of affairs that is therein. We pass over therefore from the love of the flesh to temperance; from our former ignorance to the true knowledge of God; from wickedness into virtue: and in hope at least, from the blame of sin unto the glories of righteousness, and from death into incorruption. The name therefore of the feast on which Emmanuel bore for us the saving cross was the Passover.

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 141.

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