Pope Saint Leo the Great

“As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.” (Wisdom 3:6.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“God removes evil from us in two ways, by “wind” and by “fire.” If we are good and obedient to his teachings and allow ourselves to be instructed by his Word, the “wind” sweeps away our evils, according to what is written, “If by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you will live.” But if the Spirit has not taken away our evils, there is need of purification by fire. Observe closely, however, each combination of terms. The first is “wind” and “cloud,” the second “fire” and “light,” the third “electrum” and “splendor.” Each of these, as though it were sad, is paired with something more cheerful. Indeed, if the wind dies down, immediately a cloud appears. If fire appears, there is light. If one speaks of electrum, there is brightness all around. We must, “like gold in the furnace” and electrum, be fused by an extremely hot fire. You will find, in the prophet we are commenting on, the Lord who sits in the middle of Jerusalem, fanning those who are a heap of silver, tin, iron and lead. With laments, he reproaches those who bear within themselves the dross of more base material. He says, “You have become the dross of silver, silver that is no longer pure like the grape.” When we superimpose on God’s creature, which at the beginning is good, the vices and passions that come from our wrongs, then we mix iron, tin and lead with gold and silver. To be purified, fire is necessary. As early as possible, then, we must act in such a way so as, when we arrive at this fire, to pass through it peacefully, like gold and silver and precious stones, which have no blemish of adultery. Not that we would be defeated by the fire, but that we might emerge from it approved.” (Homilies on Ezekiel, 1)

O God,
who never allow the gates of hell
to prevail against your Church,
firmly founded on the apostolic rock,
grant her, we pray,
that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo,
she may stand firm in your truth
and know the protection of lasting peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen