Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Jesus Was Greater Than Jonah (Sts. John Chrysostom & Cyril of Jerusalem)


By St. John Chrysostom

(Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily 43.3)

"Behold, a greater than Jonah is here." (Matt. 12:41)

For Jonah was a servant, but I am the Master; and he came forth from the great fish, but I rose from death. He proclaimed destruction, but I am come preaching the good tidings of the kingdom. The Ninevites indeed believed without a sign, but I have exhibited many signs. They heard nothing more than those words, but I have made it impossible to deny the truth. The Ninevites came to be ministered to, but I, the very Master and Lord of all, have come not threatening, not demanding an account, but bringing pardon. They were barbarians, but these - the faithful - have conversed with unnumbered prophets. And of Jonah nothing had been prophesied in advance, but of me everything was foretold, and all the facts have agreed with their words. And Jonah indeed, when he was to go forth, instead ran away that he might not be ridiculed. But I, knowing that I am both to be crucified and mocked, have come nonetheless. While Jonah did not endure so much as to be reproached for those who were saved, I underwent even death, and that the most shameful death, and after this I sent others again. And Jonah was a strange sort of person and an alien to the Ninevites, and unknown; but I a kinsman after the flesh and of the same forefathers.


By St. Cyril of Jerusalem

(Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 14)

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:40)

And when we examine the story of Jonah, great is the force of the resemblance. Jesus was sent to ‎preach repentance; Jonah also was sent, but whereas the one fled, not knowing what should come to pass, ‎the other came willingly, to give repentance unto salvation. Jonah was asleep in the ship, and snoring ‎amidst the stormy sea; while Jesus also slept, the sea, according to God’s providence, began to rise, to show ‎in the sequel the might of Him who slept. To the one they said, “Why are you sleeping? Arise, call ‎your God, that God may save us;” but in the other case they say unto the Master, “Lord, save us.” But the one says, "Take me, and cast me into the ‎sea, so shall the sea be calm unto you;" the other, Himself rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a ‎great calm. The one was cast into a whale’s belly, but the other of His own accord went down, where the ‎invisible whale of death is. And He went down of His own accord, that death might cast up those whom he ‎had devoured, according to that which is written, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; and from ‎the hand of death I will redeem them." 


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