History Is Divine Poetry

by Edmond Lo
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Genesis 14:18:20

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Luke 9:11B-17

“An inexhaustible treasury of heavenly doctrine” – St. John Chrysostom on the sacred Scripture[ S. Chrys. in Gen. Hom. xx, 2.]. Of the numerous jewels and gems that I discovered so joyfully over the years in the inexhaustible treasury of the sacred Scripture, the Divine Author’s ability to write typologically is one that continues to stir in me the deepest awe and reverence.

Typology, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what He accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of His incarnate Son” (CCC 128).

History doesn’t just happen. God uses history to reveal important truths about Himself to us, especially truths about Jesus, our Savior. He uses created things (historical figures, peoples, events, institutions, other signs and images) to prefigure and foretell uncreated realities that are eternal and invisible (heaven, salvation, everlasting life, purification of sin, Jesus’ kingship, etc.) Dr. Scott Hahn, a world-renowned Catholic scriptural scholar, a mentor and guardian that God sent to help me and thousands of other people to understand the Bible, observes that history doesn’t just repeat itself, it rhymes because it is divine poetry[ See S. Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, p.22.].

In this Sunday’s readings, we hear how wonderfully God’s divine poetry rhymes using two important biblical figures: Melchizedek, an Old Covenant person born more than 1800 years before Jesus, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Melchizedek was the first priestly figure to appear in the Bible who was also a king, a righteous person, and a man of peace (Gn 14:18, Hebrews 7:2). Like Jesus the eternal High Priest (cf. Hebrews 8:1-2) who instituted the Holy Eucharist in the last supper using bread and wine and whom he prefigured, Melchizedek brought with him “bread and wine” to bless Abram.

Like Christ the King, whose Heavenly Kingdom as foretold by Daniel prevailed over all earthly kingdoms (cf. Daniel 2:31-45), whom Pilate unknowingly labelled “king of the Jews” (John 19:19-22), and who was confirmed as “Lord of lords and King of kings” in John’s apocalyptic vision (Revelation 17:14), Melchizedek was a royal figure - the king of Salem, an ancient city which eventually became Jerusalem. Melchizedek, king of Salem, was a prefiguration of Jesus, King of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Like Jesus, the righteous man who suffered for us, the unrighteous (cf. 1 Peter 3:18), Melchizedek was a righteous man - the “righteous king” of Salem (Hebrews 7:2).

“Salem” means “peace”. Like Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”, Melchizedek as king of Salem was the “king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2).

History is divine poetry. It doesn’t just repeat itself, it rhymes.

I love reading. I have studied history and fictions, arts and sciences. I have benefited much from the wisdom of scholars, poets, philosophers, politicians, and religious founders. But of all the books I read, there has never been one that resembles even remotely the inexplicable power of the Bible – an amazing book whose Author demonstrated a knowledge that transcended time and space, a plot of perfect coherence, and a mysterious but powerful writing skill that used ancient, historical persons, signs and images to foretell perfectly the most important historical person ever born to humanity – Jesus, our Lord. The knowledge and skill prove to me beyond the shadow of a doubt the divinity of the Author of the Bible.