On the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the Passion Week we pray the Lenten evening prayers. We have a special prayer for every day with a cycle of readings from the Old and the New Testament announcing the death of Jesus Christ as the fulfilment and the achievement of all the promises of the Prophets.
On Monday we hear of Joseph Son of Jacob. In Genesis we learn that Joseph was rejected by his jealous brothers and sold as a slave. Joseph was taken to Egypt where he became successful and was promoted in the Court of Egypt. He ultimately saved his brothers who came to him desperate and hungry (read Genesis 37, 39-40 and 50). Joseph son of Jacob is a type of Christ, sent to save his brothers who rejected him.
So what is the purpose of the typology? It is a way of teaching and one which was adopted by the early Church. It was a way of preparation for the Jewish people and is a preparation for us. So often people misunderstand the Gospel’s because they do not understand the use of typology by the early Syriac thinkers and writers. Typology is an instrument that continues to be used by our Maronite Liturgy.
There is also an individual Maronite Liturgy of the Word for the Mass for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Monday Gospel is Matthew 21:17-27. This is also an important Gospel in Syriac thought. Jesus on seeing a fig tree said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once.
In his commentary on the Diatessaron, Ephrem explains:
“When Adam sinned and was stripped of the glory in which he was clothed, he covered his nakedness with fig leaves. Our saviour came and underwent suffering in order to heal Adam’s wounds and to provide a garment of glory for his nakedness. He dried up the fig tree (Matthew 21:20-21) in order to show that there would no longer be any need for fig leaves to serve as Adam’s garment, since Adam had returned to his former glory, and so no longer had any need of leaves or ‘garments of skin’.”
God has come to save us. This week will witness it, but we also need to believe it. Even in times of despair we need to trust in what God has told us. God has come to save both those who have listened to him and those who have turned away from him and it is not too late, he wants to help us.