Saturday, 17 December 2016

Ember Saturday in Advent

Today's readings are from a homily of St Gregory the Great.

Reading 1 -  Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea. And so on.

The date, at which the Fore-runner of our Redeemer entered on his public office of preaching, is indicated to us by the name of the ruler of the Roman Commonwealth, and by those of the princes of Palestine. The time of his preaching is indicated by these names, because he came as the Fore-runner of Him Who was to be the Redeemer of some Jews and many Gentiles. Moreover in the enumeration of these worldly monarchs there is a foreshadowing of the fact, that the Gentiles were about to be gathered into one, and the Jews to be scattered abroad in punishment of their unbelief; in the whole heathen Commonwealth we find the title of one Emperor, but in the small kingdom of Judaea are mentioned four masters.

R. There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his roots.
* And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
V. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him the spirit of wisdom and understanding the spirit of counsel and might.
R. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Reading 2 - The blessed voice of the Saviour itself hath said, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And we may well look for the ruin of the Jewish state when we see it divided among so many rulers. We observe likewise that the names of the reigning priests as well as kings are given. The Evangelist Luke hath left on record the chiefs both of the monarchy and of the priesthood who held office when John the Baptist began to preach, because John preached Him Who is at once our Priest and our King.

R. Behold, the root of Jesse that shall arise to bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust. * And his name shall be blessed for ever.
V. The Kings shall shut their mouths at him, to him shall the Gentiles seek.
R. And his name shall be blessed for ever.

Reading 3 - And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It is evident from these words that John the Baptist not only preached, but also administered the baptism of repentance, and yet that baptism of repentance which he gave, was not really a baptism for the remission of sins. For there is only one baptism for the remission of sins, and that is our Christian baptism. It is worthy of note here that the words used are, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, for he himself owned that his baptism was not the true baptism that washes away sin. Even as the Eternal Word of God made Flesh was greater than the preacher that went before Him, so was His holy baptism, by which our sins are washed away, far greater than that baptism of repentance which the Fore-runner preached, and which could never wash away sin.

R. O Lord, come, and make no tarrying loosen the bonds of thy people. * And gather together into their own land them that are scattered abroad.
V. Stir up, O Lord, thy power, and come among us, to save us.
R. And gather together into their own land them that are scattered abroad.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And gather together into their own land them that are scattered abroad.

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