With God, indeed, death is sleep, for God can bring a dead person back to life sooner than a sleeping person can be wakened from sleep by humans; and God can sooner restore life-giving warmth to limbs frozen in death than humans can infuse vigor in bodies immersed in sleep. Hear the words of the apostle: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye the dead shall rise.” Because the blessed apostle was unable to refer to the speed of the resurrection in words, he opted for examples. How could he touch upon rapidity when divine power anticipates rapidity itself? And how does time enter the picture when something eternal is given outside of time? Even as time applies to temporality, so does eternity exclude time.1
In the synagogue ruler we perceive a figure of the prophets or apostles, especially Peter, by whom the calling of the Gentiles was first heard; that is, the girl represented all those holy people who pleased God, not through the works of the law but through the righteousness of faith.…Moreover, for us to understand that the entire mystery of our salvation is prefigured in this girl; after she was raised from the dead, as Luke reports, the Lord directs her to eat something. Evidently the order of our faith and salvation is here shown. For when each believer among us is freed in baptism from perpetual death and comes back to life upon acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is necessary that the person also be directed to eat that heavenly bread about which the Lord says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”2
It is very difficult indeed to ascend from earth into heaven. We fall more easily than we rise. We fall easily; it requires great labor, a great deal of sweat to climb upwards. If I am on the lowest step, how many more are there before I reach heaven? If I am on the second, the third, the fourth, the tenth, what benefit to me unless I reach the top? Grant with me that this ladder has fifteen rungs. I climb as high as the fourteenth, but unless I reach and hold the fifteenth, what profit to me to have mounted the fourteenth? If I should arrive at the fifteenth and then fall, the higher my ascent, the greater my fall.3
Would you know that the stone at Jacob’s head was Christ, the cornerstone? “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” That is the stone that is called Ebenezer in the Book of Samuel. That stone is Christ. The name Ebenezer, moreover, means “the Stone of Help.” “Jacob woke from his sleep,” Scripture says, and what did he say? “This is the house of God.” What did he do? “He poured oil over the stone.” Unless we penetrate the spiritual mystery of holy Scripture, what reason is there that he should anoint the stone?4
In a dream Jacob saw a ladder, and on this ladder he saw angels ascending and descending; and he anointed the stone that he had placed at his head. You have heard that the Messiah is the Christ; you have heard that the Christ is the Anointed. For he did not place the anointed stone so that he might come and adore it; otherwise it would be idolatry and not a representation of Christ. Therefore a representation was made, so far as a representation needed to be made, and Christ was represented. The stone was anointed. Why a stone? “Behold, I lay in Zion a chosen stone, precious; and he who believes in it shall not be confounded.” Why anointed? Because [the name] “Christ” [is derived] from [the word] chrisma.5
- SERMONS 34.5. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 184–185). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATE ON MATTHEW 47.6–7. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 185). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON THE PSALMS 41. Sheridan, M. (Ed.). (2002). Genesis 12–50 (p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON THE PSALMS 46. Sheridan, M. (Ed.). (2002). Genesis 12–50 (p. 188). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATE ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 7.23.2. Sheridan, M. (Ed.). (2002). Genesis 12–50 (p. 192). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.