Feast of Sts Lucillian of Byzantium, Four Martyred Youths & Paula the Virgin
LET US KEEP feast spiritually. And this is the beginning of our speech—for we must speak even if our speech digresses a little, and we must labor for those who love speeches that we may, as it were, mix in some seasoning with the celebration. The children of the Hebrews honor the number seven following the legislation of Moses, just as later Pythagoreans honored the number four by which also they made oaths; and the followers of Simon and Marcion honored the numbers eight and thirty, to which indeed they attached an equal number of aeons, which they honored. I do not know what their principles of analogy are or what power this number has, but they honor it.
Yet it is clear that in six days God produced and shaped matter and adorned it with varied and complex forms and created this present visible world, then on the seventh day rested from His works, as also the name “sabbath” makes clear, which in Hebrew means “rest.” But if anyone has a more exalted explanation of these matters, let others study it.
Yet the honor is not for these days alone but also extends to years. Thus among days the sabbath is that which they continually honor, just as likewise the removal of leaven is for the same number of days (Ex. 12.15); and among years the seventh is the year of release (Lev. 25.4). And this concerns not only sevens but sevens of sevens, alike in days and years. Thus the sevens of days generate Pentecost which is called by them a holy day [“Pentecost” is a form of the Greek word for fifty and thus names the fiftieth day after Pascha]; the sevens of years to what they call Jubilee, which brings all at once release of land, freedom for slaves and release of property bought (Lev. 25.8ff.). For this people consecrates to God not only the firstfruits of offspring or the firstborn but also the firstfruits of days and years.
Thus the honoring of the number seven brought with it the honor of Pentecost. For seven multiplied by itself generates fifty minus one day, and this we have taken from the age to come, which is at once the eighth and the first, or rather one and indissoluble. For the present sabbath of souls must cease in the age to come as a portion of the seven is given and of the eight, as some of those before us have already understood the text of Solomon (Eccl. 11.2).
—St Gregory the Theologian, On Pentecost