Saturday, September 17, 2016

"What you are saying is obvious"

Origen (184-254 A.D.) makes a few passing comments in his homilies on Luke's Gospel, illustrating his keen awareness that Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as his "visitation" (which is the main point of this series).

Commenting on Luke 19:41-45, he wrote in Homily 38:
When our Lord and Savior approached Jerusalem, he saw the city, wept, and said, "If only you had known on that day what meant peace for you! But now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with earthworks. These are mysteries that are spoken. If God reveals their significance, we hope we can open to you what is hidden. ...No one suffered such persecution on account of justice as the Lord Jesus did, who was crucified for our sins. Thus, the Lord exhibited all the beatitudes in himself. For the sake of this likeness, he himself wept, because of what he had said: "Blessed are those who weep," to lay the foundations for this beatitude, too. He wept for Jerusalem "and said, 'If only you had known on that day what meant peace for you! But now it is hidden from your eyes,'" and the rest, up to the point where he says, "Because you did not know the time of your visitation." One of the hearers might say, "What you are saying is obvious, and indeed has been accomplished in Jerusalem. For, the Roman army surrounded it, destroyed it, and exterminated the people. And a time will come when a stone will not be left upon a stone in this city." Now I do not deny that Jerusalem itself was destroyed on account of the crimes of its inhabitants.1

And in another fragment of a homily about Luke 19, he wrote:
In the hardening that has happened to a part of Israel, "until the full number of Gentiles comes in," there is hidden from the eyes of Jerusalem "the things that belong to her peace." She did not know them, and this in the day of Jesus' visitation. But days are coming upon her when her "enemies will cast up a wall" around her, and what follows. 
This is the sense of the words: since you did not recognize your peace, namely myself, you were handed over to your enemies. Now, since peace "has been hidden from your eyes," you have no peaceful thoughts, nor do you love what has happened, but you look to contradiction. "Days will come upon you" in which "your enemies" will lord it over you--and intelligible enemies instead of sensible ones. For, externally, the Jews were conquered by Romans, but internally by unclean demons. Thirty-five years after Christ's Ascension the city was conquered by Romans.

1.  Joseph T. Lienhard, trans., The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, Volume 94. Origen. Homilies on Luke, Fragments on Luke (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996) pp. 156-7
2.  Ibid. pp. 221-2

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