Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Feast of St Matthew

Nocturn I: Ezekiel 1:1-12 (Common of Evangelists)

Reading 1:  Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, when I was in the midst of the captives by the river Chobar, the heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, the same was the fifth year of the captivity of king Joachin, The word of the Lord came to Ezechiel the priest the son of Buzi in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chobar: and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.

R. Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, said the Lord:
* Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.
V. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light
R. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.

Reading 2: And I saw, and behold a whirlwind came out of the north: and a great cloud, and a fire infolding it, and brightness was about it: and out of the midst thereof, that is, out of the midst of the fire, as it were the resemblance of amber. And in the midst thereof the likeness of four living creatures: and this was their appearance: there was the likeness of a man in them. Every one had four faces, and every one four wings. Their feet were straight feet, and the sole of their foot was like the sole of a calf's foot, and they sparkled like the appearance of glowing brass.

R. Take up my yoke upon you, said the Lord, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart
* For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
V. And you shall find rest to your souls.
R. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Reading 3: And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides: and they had faces, and wings on the four sides, And the wings of one were joined to the wings of another. They turned not when they went: but every one went straight forward. And as for the likeness of their faces: there was the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.

R. But when they shall deliver you up to the judges, take no thought how or what to speak:
* for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak:
V. For it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
R. For it shall be given you in that hour what to speak.

Reading 4: And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies: And every one of them went straight forward: whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went: and they turned not when they went.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: It came to pass one day at Capernaum, that Christ went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom; and He said unto him: Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house. This Levi is the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. After that Christ was risen again from the dead, and while he was yet in Judea, before he set forth for that land which had fallen to the lot of his preaching, he wrote the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Hebrew tongue, for the sake of them of the circumcision who had believed. His was the first written of the four Gospels. Thereafter he went to Ethiopia, and there preached the Gospel, confirming his preaching with many miracles.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying
* These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.
V. I saw a strong Angel of God fly into the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice
R. These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.

Reading 6: Of his miracles, the most notable was that he raised the King's daughter from the dead, and thereby brought to believe in Christ the King her father, his wife, and all that region. After that the King was dead, Hirtacus, who came after him, was fain to take his daughter Iphigenia to wife, but by the exhortation of Matthew she had made vow of her maidenhood to God, and stood firm to that holy resolution, for which cause Hirtacus commanded to slay the Apostle at the Altar while he was performing the mystery. He crowned the dignity of the Apostleship with the glory of martyrdom upon the 21 st day of September. His body had been brought to Salerno, where it was afterwards buried in a Church dedicated in his name during the papacy of Gregory VII, and there it is held in great worship and sought to by great gatherings of people.

R. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake;
* Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
V. When men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
R. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Reading 7 (St Gregory on Ezekiel): The Prophet writeth very minutely touching the four holy living creatures, whom he saw in the spirit as being to come. He saith Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. What signifieth the face save likeness whereby we are known? or wings, save the power to fly? since it is by the face that man is known from man, and by their wings that the birds' bodies are carried up into the air. So the face pertaineth to certitude, and the wings to contemplation. With certitude we are known of God Almighty, Who saith: I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.  And again: I know whom I have chosen.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward.
* And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Reading 8: And by contemplation, whereby we rise above ourselves, we as it were fly heavenwards.[rest not available online]

Nocturn III - St Jerome

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time, Jesus saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and He saith unto him Follow Me. And so on.

The other Evangelists, out of tenderness towards the reputation and honour of Matthew, have abstained from speaking of him as a publican by his ordinary name, and have called him Levi. Both names were his. But Matthew himself, according to what Solomon saith: The just man is the first to accuse himself, and again, in another place: Declare thou thy sins that thou mayest be justified, doth plainly call himself Matthew the publican, to show unto his readers that none need be hopeless of salvation if he will but strive to do better, since he himself had been all of a sudden changed from a publican into an Apostle.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood* They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

Reading 10: Porphyry and the Emperor Julian (the Apostate) will have it that the account of this call of Matthew is either a stupid blunder on the part of a lying writer, or else that it showeth what fools they were who followed the Saviour, to go senselessly after any one who called them. But there can be no doubt that before the Apostles believed they had considered the great signs and works of power which had gone before.

R. These men are saints, whom the Lord hath chosen in love unfeigned, and hath given them glory everlasting. These are they
* By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.
V. The saints through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness.
R. By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.

Reading 11: Moreover, the glory and majesty of the hidden God, which shone somewhat through the Face of the Man Christ Jesus, were enough to draw them which gazed thereon, even at first sight. For if there be in a stone a magnetic power which can make rings and straws and rods come and cleave thereunto, how much more must not the Lord of all creatures have been able to draw unto Himself them whom He called?

Reading 12: And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him. They saw how that a publican who had turned to better things had found a place of repentance, and therefore they also hoped for salvation. It was not, as the Scribes and Pharisees complained, sinners clinging to their sinfulness who came to Jesus, but sinners repenting, as indeed appeareth from the next words of the Lord, where He saith: I will have mercy and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. The Lord went to eat with sinners to the end that He might have occasion to teach, and to break spiritual bread unto them which bade Him.

Gospel: Matthew 9

As he passed further on his way, Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at work in the customs-house, and said to him, Follow me; and Matthew rose from his place and followed him.  And afterwards, when he was taking a meal in the house, many publicans and sinners were to be found at table with him and his disciples.  The Pharisees saw this, and asked his disciples, How comes it that your master eats with publicans and sinners?  Jesus heard it, and said, It is not those who are in health that have need of the physician, it is those who are sick.  Go home and find out what the words mean, It is mercy that wins favour with me, not sacrifice. I have come to call sinners, not the just.

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