Saturday, August 8, 2009

John Chrysostom: No Glass Ceiling for Priesthood

Let us note, however, how she planted him; let us follow the woman, let us enter into the temple with her. "She went up with him," the text says, "to Shiloh with a three year-old heifer." Then the double offering occurred: one was irrational, a heifer, the other rational; while the priest sacrificed the former, the woman offered the latter - or, rather, the woman's sacrifice was better than the sacrifice the priest offered. She was, in fact, a priestess in her very being, imitating the patriarch Abraham and rivaling him for preeminence: whereas he took his son and descended, she let hers stay permanently in the temple - or, rather, he also made the offering in a broad sense; be sure to focus, not on the fact that he took no life, but on the fact that he saw to its completion in his will. Do you see the woman rivaling the man? do you see there was no obstacle on the part of nature to her emulating the patriarch.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Homilies on Hannah, Homily 3, in St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume 1, p. 102 (2003), Robert C. Hill translator.