Thursday, 18 February 2016

Ember Friday in the first week of Lent

Today's Gospel is from St John 5:1-15:

1 Post hæc erat dies festus Judæorum, et ascendit Jesus Jerosolymam. 2 Est autem Jerosolymis probatica piscina, quæ cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens. 3 In his jacebat multitudo magna languentium, cæcorum, claudorum, aridorum, exspectantium aquæ motum. 4 Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam, et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquæ, sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate. 5 Erat autem quidam homo ibi triginta et octo annos habens in infirmitate sua. 6 Hunc autem cum vidisset Jesus jacentem, et cognovisset quia jam multum tempus haberet, dicit ei: Vis sanus fieri? 7 Respondit ei languidus: Domine, hominem non habeo, ut, cum turbata fuerit aqua, mittat me in piscinam: dum venio enim ego, alius ante me descendit. 8 Dicit ei Jesus: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum et ambula. 9 Et statim sanus factus est homo ille: et sustulit grabatum suum, et ambulabat. Erat autem sabbatum in die illo. 10 Dicebant ergo Judæi illi qui sanatus fuerat: Sabbatum est, non licet tibi tollere grabatum tuum. 11 Respondit eis: Qui me sanum fecit, ille mihi dixit: Tolle grabatum tuum et ambula. 12 Interrogaverunt ergo eum: Quis est ille homo qui dixit tibi: Tolle grabatum tuum et ambula? 13 Is autem qui sanus fuerat effectus, nesciebat quis esset. Jesus enim declinavit a turba constituta in loco. 14 Postea invenit eum Jesus in templo, et dixit illi: Ecce sanus factus es; jam noli peccare, ne deterius tibi aliquid contingat. 15 Abiit ille homo, et nuntiavit Judæis quia Jesus esset, qui fecit eum sanum.

In English:

After these things was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [2] Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. [3] In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered; waiting for the moving of the water. [4] And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole, of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. [5] And there was a certain man there, that had been eight and thirty years under his infirmity.[6] Him when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? [7] The infirm man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me. [8] Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. [9] And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed, and walked. And it was the sabbath that day. [10] The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed.[11] He answered them: He that made me whole, he said to me, Take up thy bed, and walk. [12] They asked him therefore: Who is that man who said to thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? [13] But he who was healed, knew not who it was; for Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. [14] Afterwards, Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. [15] The man went his way, and told the Jews, that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

Matins readings (St Augustine, via Divinum Officium):

Reading 1: Let us see what is mystically signified by that one infirm man whom alone the Lord, keeping to a mysterious unity, chose out of so many sufferers, to be the subject of His healing power. He found in him a certain number of years of sickness. He had had an infirmity thirty and eight years. How this number is proper rather to weakness than to health, will now be the subject of a few careful remarks. I bespeak your attention; the Lord will be present, that I may speak fitly, and you may understand. The number forty is put before us as hallowed, and, in a way, perfect. I think that your love knoweth this God's Scriptures often and; often witness it. Ye well know that a Fast of this number of days is hallowed. Moses fasted forty days. Elias did the same. And our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself fasted this number of days complete. Moses representeth the Law, Elias the Prophets, and the Lord the Gospel. And therefore these three appeared on the Mount of the Transfiguration. There the Lord showed Himself to His disciples with His Face shining as the sun, and His raiment glistering; and He stood between Moses and Elias; as it were, the Gospel receiving testimony, on the one hand from the Law, and, on the other, from the Prophets.

R.br. Let us amend for the better in that wherein we have sinned unknowingly, or ever the day of death suddenly prevent us, and we seek a place of repentance, and find none.
* Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.
V. Help us, O God of our salvation, and for the glory of thy Name deliver us, O Lord.
R. Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.

Reading 2: Whether, therefore, it be in the Law, or in the Prophets, or in the Gospel, the number of forty is recommended to us for Fast-days. The great and general Fast is this to abstain from the iniquity of the world, and her forbidden pleasures. This is the perfect Fast, that, denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. After such a Fast, what is the Feast that followeth? Hear what the Apostle saith in continuation Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Titus ii. 12, 13. We, then, make our pilgrimage in this world a Lent, by living good lives, and abstaining from her iniquities and her forbidden pleasures. But at the end of this life-long Lent there will be an Easter indeed. We look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ When that hope is realised, when that faith is swallowed up in knowledge, then indeed shall we receive every man a penny. In good sooth, it is true that every labourer in the vineyard will get his wages witness that Gospel which I believe ye have not forgotten, and which it is not my business to quote again as if ye were ignorant children. Now, the word used in the original for this penny which the labourers received is denarion. And the derivation of the word denarion is the numeral decem, ten. There are forty days in Lent, and if we add ten, we get fifty. So do we toil in fasting for the forty days of Lent before Easter, and, then, when we have, as it were, received our reward, we keep holiday for the fifty days of Easter- tide.

R.br. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him;
* For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.
V. The Lord hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that he turn from his way and live.

R. For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.

Reading 3: Remember how I remarked, that the man healed by our Lord at the pool of Bethesda had had an infirmity thirty and eight years. I wish to explain why this number of thirty-eight is proper rather to weakness than to health. Love is the fulfilling of the law Rom. xiii. 10; to the fulfilling of the law belongeth in every work the number forty. But in love we have given us two precepts Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matth. xxii. 37-40. When the widow gave all she had for an offering to God she gave two mites Mark xii. 42; the inn-keeper received two pence wherewith to cure him that had fallen among thieves (Luke x. 35;) Jesus abode for two days among the Samaritans John iv. 40, that He might establish them in love. When, then, anything good is spoken of as two, the two great divisions of love are the chief mystic interpretation. If, then, the law is fulfilled in the number forty, and it is not fulfilled if there be lacking the two precepts of love, what wonder is it that he was infirm who lacked two of forty?

R.br. The season of the Fast openeth unto us the gates of heaven; let us enter thereon in prayer and supplication,
* that on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him
V. In all things let us approve ourselves the ministers of God, in much patience.
R. That on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. That on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him.

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