Readings of Monday of the Holy Pascha
Explanation of the readings:
Today’s readings revolve around the arrangement and will of God to redeem His people. The love of God can be testified through the cross, He gave His only begotten son so that no believer should perish but that he may receive eternal life. We also read how the temple of the Holy Church of the New Testament was founded, whose members come from every tribe, language, people, and nation, as written in Revelation 5:9.
Therefore, today we read about God’s plan for His creation of man, the glory God gave him along with man’s authority over all creation, and how man lost his dignity, glory, and authority through his fall. (Prophecy of the first and ninth hour)
On the mountain with Moses the prophet, God wanted to return the glory of His Word to the people, but the people went astray, lost their way to God and worshiped a calf. (Prophecy of the sixth hour)
Despite God’s power to redeem all the nation (prophecy of the eleventh hour), the nation has refused His law and redeeming Will. This ultimately led to their downfall (Prophecy of the Sixth Hour).
Furthermore, we read how God has consecrated His Holy place, the temple (gospel of the first and third hours). Not just for believers but for everyone and all nations. So that it may be a cause of joy, praise, and glory (psalm of the third and sixth hour), and to see one another in the love of the Father.
This is according to His power, which no man can contain (gospel of the sixth hour) and His will which has been one with the Father since the beginning (gospel of the eleventh hour).
The first hour of Monday
The first prophecy: Genesis: (1:1-31, 2:1-3)
This hour’s readings begin with the story of creation and God’s plan to create man. In glory God set man on earth and gave him power over all creation. We also read how God first created everything and thought it was good, but created man in His own image, the image of God. The creation then became very good.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of heaven, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that moves on the earth.’ So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them… Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
The second prophecy: Isaiah (5:1-9)
This prophecy explains to us how perfect God’s plan is for the church of the Old Testament, a beloved new plant, and the perfection of His care for His people. We read how God did all that was good for them. God expected truth, justice, and mercy in return, but found nothing but injustice and sin.
“There was a vineyard for My Beloved, a place in power and richness. He placed a wall around it and fortified it. He planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst and also made a winepress in it. So I waited for it to bring forth grapes, but it produced thorn-plants. And now, man of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, judge between Me and My vineyard.”
The third prophecy: Wisdom of Sirach (1:1-19)
Next, in the prophecy of Sirach son of Joshua, we read about the Word of God and His eternal wisdom, which He has poured out upon mankind. This has been realized only by those who love and fear God.
“There is one who is wise and is feared exceedingly, He who sits upon His throne. The Lord Himself created wisdom. He saw and numbered her and poured her out on all His works, in the midst of all flesh according to His gift; and He provided her for those who love Him… The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and soundness of health to flourish. The Lord saw and numbered her, and poured out the power of comprehension; and He exalted the glory of those who hold fast to her.”
“Blessed is the Lord God, The God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. And blessed is the name of His glory forever. Amen”
In accordance with what Abouna Tadros Yacoub Malaty says, in this verse we read about the announcement of the kingdom of God and its inhabitants.
This psalm (42-72) is considered to be the conclusion of the second part of the book of Psalms, which also corresponds with the book of Exodus. This psalm speaks of redemption as a collective ecclesiastical life. At the end of the book of Exodus we read a similar passage announcing the establishment of the tabernacle as a heavenly palace for the heavenly King where the glory of God is revealed, where God is close to his people.
This verse offers a conclusion of the pslam about God’s salvation of the people, in addition, this verse is also a conclusion of the second part of the psalms, that together talk about the salvation of God. The purpose of God is to redeem his people and church, which is also the subject of this hour’s gospel.
The Gospel according to St. Mark (11:12-24)
This hour’s gospel speaks of the normal fig tree and the spiritual fig tree, both of which unfortunately ended with a curse.
The reading begins with the normal fig tree, where fruits grow with or before the bloom of its leaves. However, the fig tree in this gospel shows many leaves without fruit. Also, the spiritual fig tree, the holy temple of God, which also shows many leaves that it has not flowered itself. It also contained much promise and information (Romans 4:9) but did not contain any fruit of God’s knowledge. After all, the temple was filled with merchants and became a trading house, which can be compared to a den of robbers where much injustice and theft took place.
“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’… Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them: Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
The third hour of Monday
This hour’s readings speak of the reason of condemnation and cursing, underestimating God’s holy word, and refusing His exalted will. This hour also proclaims His reign and purification.
The first prophecy: Isaiah (5:20-30)
This prophecy warns us against injustice and underestimating God’s word and commandments.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil… who justify the ungodly for a bribe and take away justice from the righteous man… for they did not will to do the law of the Lord of hosts, but despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Thus, the wrath of the Lord of hosts is furious against His people.”
The second prophecy: Jeremiah (9:12-19)
In this prophecy we read the same points.
“Why the land was ravaged by fire… Because they forsook My law which I set before their face, and they did not hear My voice.”
And the Lord calls them to repentance to be saved from death and destruction.
“Call for the mourning women and let them come. Send for the wise women and let them give utterance. Let them take up a lamentation over you. Let your eyes run with tears, and your eyelids flow with water. For a voice of wailing is heard from Zion.”
The strange thing is that in this chapter God criticizes Israel for rejecting God’s house and presence. Because of this and their greed, they were limited to the paths of the world. “You live in the midst of deception” Jer 9:6.
“I was glad when they said to me: Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet stand in your courts, O Jerusalem.”
This psalm was sung by the people who went to Jerusalem from all over the world, desiring the holy house of God.
As one of the holy fathers says, many people belittled the worship and sacrifice to God until they were in captivity, in which they could not enter the temple for years. In this period, they longed for the temple, and they rejoiced greatly when the captivity was lifted.
The Gospel according to St. Mark (11:11-19)
The gospel of this hour, like the gospel of the first hour, comes from the book of Mark chapter 11. The gospel continues with what happened in the morning when the fig tree was cursed by Jesus and dried up. And Peter remembered that Jesus had cursed the fig tree, and Jesus answered him that faith is so powerful that a believer can move a mountain from its place.
The sixth hour of Monday
This hour’s readings tell us about the purification of the temple, as a building, but also the human temple.
The first prophecy: Exodus: (32:7-15)
The wickedness of the human temple, the people of God, was exposed when Moses the prophet was on the mountain longer than they expected. They then made a golden calf to worship, which eventually became the cause of God’s wrath on them.
But the Lord said to Moses: Go quickly! Get down from here! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt are transgressing the law. They turned aside quickly from the way I commanded them. They made themselves a calf and are worshiping and sacrificing to it.”
This prophecy also shows the intercession of Moses on behalf of the people as a symbol of the intercession of the blood of Jesus, the son of God, on behalf of the church of God in the New Testament.
“But Moses prayed before the Lord God and said: Why, O Lord, does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?… o the Lord granted mercy for the harm He said He would do to His people. Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands.”
In this piece Saint Augustine compares Moses to a tender mother, who is willing to sacrifice herself for the survival of her children .
Saint Ephraim the Syrian notes in this passage God’s words to Moses: ” Now therefore, let Me be, that I may burn in wrath against them and consume them.” St. Ephraim translates this as if God is saying to Moses do not leave me lest my anger increase, this reveals the value of Moses to God.
The second prophecy: Wisdom of Solomon: (1:1-9)
God is charting a path for the purification of our human temples, our hearts, through:
- Love for justice
- Righteous life
- Simplicity of the heart while praying
- Resistance to evil thoughts
- Stay away from fraud and injustice
- Beware of blasphemy against God
“Love righteousness, you who judge on the earth… For wisdom is a spirit that loves mankind, but she will punish a blasphemer because of his words; for God is the witness of his thoughts, the true examiner of his heart, and the hearer of his tongue; because the Spirit of the Lord fills the world, and He who holds all things together knows what is said.”
Here we see how the glory of the temple, both the building and our hearts, is in congregational prayer. Hereby they go to the temple as one praising soul.
“There the tribes went up / The tribes of the Lord / a testimony to Israel / To give thanks to the name of the Lord.”
The Gospel according to St. John: (2:13-17)
This hour ends with the gospel where the Son was angry in the house of God, which became a trading place.
“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves… When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple… And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written: Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
It is remarkable that in the first prophecy, the psalm, and the gospel there is mention of stepping to a higher place (mountain, temple & Jerusalem). Moses the prophet ascended the mountain and spoke to God (first prophecy). The tribes went up to the house of God (psalm). And Jesus went up to Jerusalem (the gospel).
With this said, we can regard this hour as a journey, an eternal ascent for every soul and for the Holy Church as a whole. Gathered to praise and glorify the Lord with a pure heart of simplicity, as we read in the second prophecy.
The ninth hour of Monday
The first prophecy: Genesis: (2:15, 3:24)
The readings of this hour begin with the power that God gave to man in the beginning. First to plant and maintain paradise. In addition, He gave him authority over the animals, to call them by their name. And it was as He said:
“Then the Lord God took the man He formed and put him in the garden to tend and keep it… Also, God formed out of the ground all the wild animals of the field and all the birds of heaven, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Thus whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all the cattle, to all the birds of heaven, and to all the wild animals of the field.”
When the temptation of man took place, believing the serpent and his false wisdom, he became aware of his nakedness. However, God did not leave him alone, despite his disobedience, and He knew that one of his descendants will come and crush the serpent’s head.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and be- tween your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall be on guard for His heel.”
After God’s cleansing of the temple, the building and our hearts, in the readings of the previous hour, God here announces the redemption. The redemption through his divine power, the power that was also given to man, Adam, but was not kept.
The second prophecy: Isaiah: ((40:1-5)
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people, says God. O priests, speak to the heart of Jerusalem, comfort her, for her humiliation is ended, her sin is pardoned; for she received from the Lord’s hand double for her sins.”
God gave the priests power to comfort the people and forgive their sins.
The third prophecy: Proverbs: (1:1-10)
Here God gives the king power for wisdom, justice, and leadership, to carry out the plan of God according to His will.
“The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, who reigned in Israel, to know wisdom and instruction, and to understand words of discernment; to receive both subtlety of words, and to understand true righteousness and up- right judgment; so as to give astuteness to the simple, and both perception and understanding to a young man.”
He also gives power to parents to discipline and guide their children.
“Hear, my son, the instruction of your father, and do not reject the laws of your mother. For you will receive a crown of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck.”
The psalm speaks of the lordship of God extending over the chosen forever, and the redemption of all people and nations.
“Hear us, O God our savior / The hope of all the ends of earth / Blessed is he whom You choose and help / He shall dwell in Your courts.”
This psalm is quoted several times in the liturgy. “In the liturgy of the renewal of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, during the Feast of the Cross and during the Psalm of the Gospel of Palm Sunday.” – Abouna Tadros Yacob Malaty.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew: (21:23-27)
The readings of this hour end with the absence of the vision of the monarchs and rulers, the lack of understanding of the power of the Son of God, and their limitation to the temporal and earthly power, so that they do not lose their power over the people.
“Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said: By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
The eleventh hour of Monday
The first prophecy: Isaiah: (50:1-3)
This prophecy speaks of the gift of redemption, which is freely given to all people. However, this redemption is achieved only by those who live and believe in it with eternal repentance.
“Why, when I came, was there no man? Why, when I called, was there none to obey? Is My hand unable to deliver? Or have I no strength to deliver?”
The second prophecy: Wisdom of Sirach (1:25-30)
Here God’s wisdom appears to those who live in fear of God and keep His commandments.
“The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and her branches are length of days… If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will supply it to you.”
“Look upon me and hear me, O Lord my God. Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death. Lest my enemy say: I prevailed against him.”
Saint Cyril the Great says that death is a death of the soul when one chooses for falsehood and corruption. This death is because of the negligence and lack of vigilance.
“To come near to the true Light, Christ, and to praise Him, saying, ‘Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death.’ For true death is the death of the soul, and not the death of the body, when we fall and exchange doctrine of truth for falsehood. Therefore, we must gird our loins and light our lamps.” – St. Cyril the Great according to Abouna Tadros Malaty.
The Gospel according to St. John: (8:51-59)
We end this day’s readings with the Word of life that redeems us from eternal death.
“If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.”
The gospel also declares that God’s plan for redemption was known and evident from the time of the patriarchs.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
- Oden, T.C. & Hall, C.A. (2002). Exodus,Leviticus,Numbers,Deuteronomy (The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament part II). Illinois (U.S.A): InterVarsity Press. Pages 140 – 142