Thursday, June 12, 2008
The conquest of Jericho
Jericho is besieged and surrounded but has yet to fall. How is it to be conquered? Not with arrows or swords or battering-ram. Nothing is deployed but the priests’ trumpets, and the walls of Jericho crumble.
In Scripture we often find Jericho used as a symbol of the world. Even in the Gospel, when the traveller from Jerusalem to Jericho is set upon by robbers, is he not an image of Adam, thrown out of paradise into exile in this world? And again, those blind men who were in Jericho, when Jesus came to them to give them sight, are they not an example of those who live in this world, oppressed by the blindness of ignorance until the Son of God enlightens them?
And so this Jericho – this world – must fall. The consummation of this present age has long been prophesied by the sacred books.
How will this consummation come about? By what means? Scripture tells us, at the sound of the trumpet. What trumpet is that? Paul gives you the key to this secret. Listen to him: The trumpet will sound, and the dead who are in Christ will be raised, imperishable. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven. Then, therefore, our Lord Jesus will come with trumpets to conquer Jericho and throw it down, so that out of all its people there will survive only the prostitute and her household. Our Lord Jesus will come down, come down with the sound of the trumpet.
May he save that one woman who gave succour to his spies, who received his Apostles in trust and obedience and hid them in her roof. May he take that prostitute and give her a share with the house of Israel. But let us not go over this story again and label her with the name of her past sin. She may have been a prostitute once but now she is a chaste virgin, joined to her chaste spouse, who is Christ. Listen to what St Paul says about her: I arranged for you to marry Christ so that I might give you away as a chaste virgin to this one husband. And he was still speaking of her when he said: There was a time when we too were ignorant, disobedient and misled and enslaved by different passions and luxuries.
Do you want to know more about how the prostitute ceased to be a prostitute? Listen again to Paul: These are the sort of people you were once, but now you have been washed clean, and sanctified, and justified through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God. To enable to escape the destruction of Jericho she received from the spies a powerful sign of safety, the scarlet rope. For it is through the blood of Christ that the whole Church is saved, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom belong glory and power throughout all the ages. Amen.