Augustine Sokolovski

On September 3 (17), the Church celebrates the memory of the prophet of God Moses. In the image of the three-day Resurrection of Christ, this day falls on the third day of the church new year coming in September. The celebration of the church new year on September 1 is an ancient Christian tradition, which, despite the general oblivion about it, is still preserved in Eastern and Western Christianity in worship.

The celebration in honor of the icon of the Mother of God, called the “Unburnt Bush,” is also connected with this memory of the great prophet. For the New Testament consciousness, this phenomenon undoubtedly predicted the Virgin Mary, who carried the Lord Jesus Christ, the living word of the Living God, and at the same time remained healthy, unharmed, and holy. The image of a burning and unburnt thorn bush was fulfilled in Her. Mary became the true Burning Bush, and the iconography depicted Her in the icon of the same name, which is revered in churches on the day of remembrance of the Prophet Moses.

It is important to remember that in prayer it is not the icon that is invoked, but Mary Herself, who, according to the Eucharistic prayer of the Church, is greatly present and helps Christians through Her intercession. It is also significant that in the Event of the Transfiguration in the glory of the light of Jesus, Moses himself became the living burning bush of the messianic light of Christ (cf. Matt. 17:1).

The memory of the Old Testament prophets is celebrated by the Church at various times and days of the church year. But this memory remains invisible to believers these days. Perhaps the only prophet who is truly celebrated by all the people is Elijah. He, as the most remembered of the ancient biblical saints, became a kind of personification of all the Old Testament righteousness before the Coming of Christ into the world.

Together with Moses, Elijah also talked with Christ in the light of the Transfiguration (cf. Mark 9:5). It turns out that on this September weekday, the Church, this Society of Believers wandering through history, remembers both this great Prophet, persecuted by people, but transfigured by Christ Himself. The simultaneous image of the burning bush and the Transfiguration of the Lord was the ascension of Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).

Let us note that in much earlier times, many Old Testament prophets were revered in the Church. A considerable number of biblical righteous people are remembered in the church calendar. Among them are those who left behind the Scriptures, and those who, like Elijah, did not compile their own sacred books. Their names are stored in the church calendar, but, unfortunately, they no longer have a place in the living memory of believers.

Perhaps the most obvious evidence that the Old Testament saints were revered in ancient times remains the liturgical texts. Ancient Constantinople and other hymnographers dedicated liturgical sequences to them, which can easily be found on the pages of liturgical books in modern use.

The fact is that the church people, especially the Eastern Roman and Constantinople emperors, and their successors and imitators in various lands, from Gaul to Ethiopia, considered themselves heirs to the glory of the Old Testament kings, David, Solomon, saw themselves as disciples and continuers of the work of the prophets.

“One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. And he who saw it bore witness, and his testimony is true,” says the Gospel (John 19:34). The ancient Church did not forget that. In the image of the blood and water that poured out on the Cross after the spear struck from the side of Christ, she was composed of Jews relative to Jesus, and of pagans who had not previously believed in the One God.

The pagans formerly worshiped false deities and were alien to God. In a paradoxical, unexpected, irresponsible and in many ways tragic way for the Old Testament biblical people (cf. Rom. 11:7-8), God, by the Holy Spirit, adopted them as sons in Christ Jesus and made them part of the People of God. This two-part structure of the Church is extremely important. Therefore, living memory of the prophets is necessary and obligatory. It contains a reminder of the very essence of the gospel, and, like the Burning Bush, a sign of the fulfillment of Old Testament biblical words.