Thursday, January 18, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : St. Anthony the Abbot

Melito : «Grieved at their hardness of heart»

Letter to the Hebrews 7,1-3.15-17.

This "Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High," "met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings" and "blessed him." And Abraham apportioned to him "a tenth of everything." His name first means righteous king, and he was also "king of Salem," that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. For it is testified: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Psalms 110,

A psalm of David. The LORD says to you, my lord: "Take your throne at my righthand, while I make your enemies your footstool."
The scepter of your sovereign might the LORD will extend from Zion. The LORD says: "Rule over your enemies!
Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you."
The LORD has sworn and will not waver: "Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 3,1-6.

Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Commentary of the day :

Melito (?-about 195), bishop of Sardis
Easter Homily, § 71-73

«Grieved at their hardness of heart»

It is he, the slaughtered lamb; he, the lamb who does not open his mouth; he, who was born of Mary, the graceful lamb. He is the one who was taken from the flock and lead to death...

He was put to death. And where was he put to death? In the heart of Jerusalem. Why? Because he cured its lame, cleansed its lepers, brought its blind back to light, and risen its dead (Lk 7,22). This is why he suffered. It is written in the Law and the Prophets: “They repaid me evil for good. I am abandoned. They meditated evil against me. Let us tie the just, they would say, for he is unbearable to us” (Ps 37,21; Jer 11,19).

Why have you committed this nameless crime? You dishonored the one who had honored you, you humiliated the one who had exalted you, you denied the one who had recognized you, you rejected the one who had called you, you killed the one who gave you life...He had to suffer, but not because of you. He had to be humiliated, but not by you. He had to be judged, but not by you. He had to be crucified, but not by your hand. Why did you not beg God with this prayer: “O Master, if your son has to suffer, if this is your will, may he suffer, but not because of me”.


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