21 March 2020


Ar Mass today, we have the marvellous story of Susanna and the Elders, paired with the narrative called the pericope de adultera, now found at the beginning of John 8 (whether or not it has always been part of the text of S John's Gospel, it does of course come to us from Holy Mother Church as part of canonical scripture; I have sometimes fantasised about how congregations would react if one announced it as Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Hebraeos).

I wonder how Mass-goers ... and my reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood ... would analyse this pairing. Would one, for example, say that in the Writings, an innocent woman is saved from a false accusation based upon lust, while in the Gospel a guilty woman is saved from the punishment she deserved and warned not to sin again? Or is there more to it than this?

Hippolytus saw the Susanna story typologically: the bath which she had prepared foretells the Bath of Baptism and her Ointments look to the anointing with Chrism. (The statio, by the way, was ad Sanctam Susannam ... the Christian Susanna was a martyr under Diocletian.)

I often wonder what degrees of correlation paired lections are meant to inculcate. Last Saturday, we had the story of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 27:6-40) combined with the parable of the Prodigal Son. Was the link there simply 'Two Stories of Two Sons who were at odds'?

Whatever the Lord meant by that parable, I have a sneaking suspicion that S Luke saw a relevance to the Jew/Gentile question with which he was to deal throughout his Acts. The elder brother, like the unbelieving Jews, resented the welcome given to his brother, symbolising Gentile Repentance.

Should we see the Esau-narrative as vindicating God's free choice; his sovereign elective purpose which does not always select the 'obvious' candidate? Esau, of course, was to be the ancestor of the Edomites; his father Isaac erred in purposing to give his Blessing to Esau. Rebecca's somewhat devious manipulations had the purpose of setting things back on the right track, the track that led through Jacob and his Twelve Sons.

Ultimately, might there again be an allusion here to God's Call, in the fulness of His time, to the Gentiles?


Romulus said...

In Scripture, it's always the younger son who enjoys the greater favor. Hmm.

Banshee said...

Daniel and Jesus both act to reveal the wrongdoing of the witnesses.

I love Daniel the kid detective!