Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time Year 2Night Office Readings,
First Reading Genesis 24:1-27.
FROM A HOMILY BY BISHOP JACOB OF SARUGH
The Wedding of Rebecca prefigures
the spiritual wedding of the Church.
There are symbols hidden in the Scriptures for those who know how to interpret them, and great wealth to be found by those who immerse themselves in these texts. The inspired Prophets were artists who drew portraits of the Son of God, and they used symbolism to veil his beauty in their writings. Let those who would see the Son spiritually open the Bible: there, in his splendour, they will find him.
Thus the fiancée, whom the old servant Eliezer presented to Isaac as his bride, represents the church of the nations. Isaac himself is a symbol of the Son of God, our Lord, the incorruptible Victim. For anyone who seeks to understand, Eliezer symbolises John the Baptist, who also brought about the wedding of his Master through water. Rebecca’s wells represent and foretell the baptism that prepares the bride for her marriage with the Son of God. Abraham is the symbol of the true Father who gave his Son a mysterious bride, chosen from far off among the nations, to make her heir of his wealth.
You who have understanding, take the book, study it, and recognise the image of the Son hidden in these texts. When one goes over the broad outlines of this history, it is the path of our Lord that stands out. When you listen to the Bible being read, open your ears to the two ways of understanding it; develop the art of distinguishing the two levels of meaning. When the history of Isaac is related literally, learn how to see in it another figurative meaning.
Thus the Son of God used water to celebrate his marriage. By water he wedded the Church and made her his own. By baptism the Bridegroom and the bride were united; they were two and they became only one in the one Spirit, as it is written. It is toward these symbols that Eliezer speeds when he unites the daughter of pagans to the son of promise. The way he travels is a foreshadowing of the true and definitive way opened by John the Baptist. The wedding of Rebecca, a virgin of dazzling beauty, prefigures the spiritual wedding of the Church.
Bishop Jacob of Sarugh, Hom. sur les fiancailles de Rebecca (L’Orient Syrien 3.324-326); Word in Season VII)
From the various extant accounts of Jacob's life and from the number of his known works, we gather that his literary activity was unceasing. According to Barhebraeus (Chron. Eccles. i. 191) he employed 70 amanuenses and wrote in all 760 metrical homilies, besides expositions, letters and hymns of different sorts. Of his merits as a writer and poet we are now well able to judge from P. Bedjan's edition of selected metrical homilies (Paris 1905-1908), containing 146 pieces. They are written throughout in dodecasyllabic metre, and those published deal mainly with biblical themes, though there are also poems on such subjects as the deaths of Christian martyrs, the fall of the idols and the First Council of Nicaea.