Saturday, 7 May 2016

Acts 22 - Zeal for the law

Paul Addresses the Crowd After His Arrest by Gustave Doré.jpg
St Paul addresses the crowd after his arrest,
Gustave Dore

At the end of Acts 21 Paul is arrested by a tribune (captain), perhaps based on a misidentification.  He asks leave to address the crowd, gets it and today we have his speech, which recounts his conversion.  Paul more or less has the crowd on side until he mentions his mention to the gentiles.  The outcry leads to him being arrested.  He is about to be lashed when he asserts his citizenship rights

Acts 22:
 Brethren and fathers, listen to the defence I am putting before you. 2 (And now they gave him even better audience, finding that he spoke to them in Hebrew.) 3 I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia and brought up in this city; I was trained, under Gamaliel, in exact knowledge of our ancestral law, as jealous for the honour of the law as you are, all of you, to-day. 4 I persecuted this way to the death, putting men and women in chains and handing them over to the prisons. 5 The chief priests and all the elders will bear me out in that; it was from them that I was carrying letters to their brethren, when I was on my way to Damascus, to make fresh prisoners there and bring them to Jerusalem for punishment. 
1 Viri fratres, et patres, audite quam ad vos nunc reddo rationem. 2 Cum audissent autem quia hebræa lingua loqueretur ad illos, magis præstiterunt silentium. 3 Et dicit: Ego sum vir Judæus, natus in Tarso Ciliciæ, nutritus autem in ista civitate, secus pedes Gamaliel eruditus juxta veritatem paternæ legis, æmulator legis, sicut et vos omnes estis hodie: 4 qui hanc viam persecutus sum usque ad mortem, alligans et tradens in custodias viros ac mulieres, 5 sicut princeps sacerdotum mihi testimonium reddit, et omnes majores natu: a quibus et epistolas accipiens, ad fratres Damascum pergebam, ut adducerem inde vinctos in Jerusalem ut punirentur. 
 Chrysostom (Homily 47): He shows how great was his zeal for the worship, inasmuch as having left his native city, which was so great and so remote too, he chose to be brought up here for the Law's sake. See how from the beginning he attached himself to the law. But this he says, not only to defend himself to them, but to show that not by human intent was he led to the preaching of the Gospel, but by a Divine power: else, having been so educated, he would not have suddenly changed. For if indeed he had been one of the common order of men, it might have been reasonable to suspect this: but if he was of the number of those who were most of all bound by the law, it was not likely that he should change lightly, and without strong necessity.

But perhaps some one may say: To have been brought up here proves nothing: for what if you came here for the purpose of trading, or for some other cause? Therefore he says, at the feet of Gamaliel: and not simply, by Gamaliel, but at his feet, showing his perseverance, his assiduity, his zeal for the hearing, and his great reverence for the man. Taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. Not simply, the law, but the law of the fathers; showing that he was such from the beginning, and not merely one that knew the Law...

Then he brings forward proofs also, saying, and I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest does bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders (v. 4, 5): How does this appear. As witnesses he brings forward the high-priest himself and the elders. He says indeed, Being a zealot, as you (Hom. xix. p. 123): but he shows by his actions, that he went beyond them. For I did not wait for an opportunity of seizing them: I both stirred up the priests, and undertook journeys: I did not confine my attacks, as you did, to men, I extended them to women also: both binding, and casting into prisons both men and women.
6 While I was on my journey, not far from Damascus, about midday, this befell me; all at once a great light from heaven shone about me, 7 and I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? 8 Who art thou, Lord? I answered. And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom Saul persecutes. 9 My companions saw the light, but could not catch the voice of him who spoke to me. 10 Then I said, What must I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise up, and go into Damascus; there thou shalt be told of all the work that is destined for thee. 11 The glory of that light had blinded me, and my companions were leading me by the hand when I came into Damascus. 
 6 Factum est autem, eunte me, et appropinquante Damasco media die, subito de cælo circumfulsit me lux copiosa: 7 et decidens in terram, audivi vocem dicentem mihi: Saule, Saule, quid me persequeris? 8 Ego autem respondi: Quis es, domine? Dixitque ad me: Ego sum Jesus Nazarenus, quem tu persequeris. 9 Et qui mecum erant, lumen quidem viderunt, vocem autem non audierunt ejus qui loquebatur mecum. 10 Et dixi: Quid faciam, domine? Dominus autem dixit ad me: Surgens vade Damascum: et ibi tibi dicetur de omnibus quæ te oporteat facere. 11 Et cum non viderem præ claritate luminis illius, ad manum deductus a comitibus, veni Damascum. 
Chrys: Why did he suddenly fling away all this zeal? Because he looked for honor? And yet he got just the contrary. But an easy life, perhaps? No, nor that either. Well but something else? Why it is not in the power of thought to invent any other object. So then, leaving it to themselves to draw the inference, he narrates the facts....
12 There a certain Ananias, a man well known among his Jewish neighbours for his pious observance of the law, 13 came and stood beside me, and said, Brother Saul, look up and see. And at that instant I looked up into his face. 14 Then he said to me, The God of our fathers has made choice of thee to know his will, to have sight of him who is Just, and hear speech from his lips; 15 and what thou hast seen and heard, thou shalt testify before all men. 16 Come then, why art thou wasting time? Rise up, and receive baptism, washing away thy sins at the invocation of his name. 
12 Ananias autem quidam vir secundum legem, testimonium habens ab omnibus cohabitantibus Judæis, 13 veniens ad me et astans, dixit mihi: Saule frater, respice. Et ego eadem hora respexi in eum. 14 At ille dixit: Deus patrum nostrorum præordinavit te, ut cognosceres voluntatem ejus, et videres justum, et audires vocem ex ore ejus: 15 quia eris testis illius ad omnes homines eorum quæ vidisti et audisti. 16 Et nunc quid moraris? Exsurge, et baptizare, et ablue peccata tua, invocato nomine ipsius. 
Chrys: Again another witness. And see how unexceptionable he makes him also. And one Ananias, he says, a devout man according to the law,— so far is it from being anything alien!— having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt (there). And I in the same hour received sight. Then follows the testimony borne by the facts. Observe how it is interwoven, of persons and facts; and the persons, both of their own and of aliens: the priests, the elders, and his fellow-travellers: the facts, what he did and what was done to him: and facts bear witness to facts, not persons only. Then Ananias, an alien; then the fact itself, the recovery of sight; then a great prophecy...

Here it is a great thing he has uttered. For he said not, Be baptized in His name: but, calling on the name of Christ. It shows that He is God: since it is not lawful to call upon any other, save God. Then he shows also, that he himself was not compelled: for, I said, says he, What must I do? Nothing is (left) without witness: no; he brings forward the witness of a whole city, seeing they had beheld him led by the hand. But see the prophecy fulfilled. To all men, it is said. For he did become a witness to Him, and a witness as it ought to be; by what he suffered, by what he did, and by what he said. Such witnesses ought we also to be, and not to betray the things we have been entrusted withal: I speak not only of doctrines, but also of the manner of life.
17 Afterwards, when I had gone back to Jerusalem, and was at prayer in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18 and saw the Lord there speaking to me; Make haste, he said, leave Jerusalem with all speed; they will not accept thy witness of me here. 19 But, Lord, I said, it is within their own knowledge, how I used to imprison those who believed in thee, and scourge them in the synagogues; 20 and when the blood of Stephen, thy martyr, was shed, I too stood by and gave my consent, and watched over the garments of those who slew him. 21. And he said to me, Go on thy way; I mean to send thee on a distant errand, to the Gentiles.
Chrys: Here he establishes two things: both that they are without excuse, since they persecuted him contrary to all likelihood or calculation of reason; and, that Christ was God, as prophesying things contrary to expectation, and as not looking to past things, but fore-knowing the things to come...He reminded them of the murderous spirit heinously indulged (by him and them). Then of course above all they would not endure him, since this convicted them; and truly the prophecy was having its fulfilment: great the zeal, vehement the accusation, and the Jews themselves witnesses of the truth of Christ!
22 Up to this point, they listened to his speech; but then they cried aloud, Away with such a fellow from the earth; it is a disgrace that he should live. 23 So, when he saw them raising shouts and throwing down their garments and flinging dust into the air, 24 the captain had Paul taken into the soldiers’ quarters, telling them to examine him under the lash; thus he would find out the cause of the outcry against him. 25 And they had already tied Paul down with thongs, when he said to the centurion who was in charge, Have you the right to scourge a man, when he is a Roman citizen, and has not been sentenced? 
Chrys: ...Whereas both the tribune ought to have examined whether these things were so— yes, and the Jews themselves too— or, if they were not so, to have ordered him to be scourged, he bade examine him by scourging, that he might know for what cause they so clamored against him. And yet he ought to have learned from those clamorers, and to have asked whether they laid hold upon anything of the things spoken: instead of that, without more ado he indulges his arbitrary will and pleasure, and acts with a view to gratify them: for he did not look to this, how he should do a righteous thing, but only how he might stop their rage unrighteous as it was...

And observe he does not say it peremptorily (ἁ πλὥς), but, Is it lawful for you? The charges brought are two, both its being without examination, and his being a Roman. They held this as a great privilege, at that time: for they say that (it was only) from the time of Hadrian that all were named Romans, but of old it was not so...
26 The centurion, as soon as he heard this, went to the captain and told him of it, What art thou about? he said. This man is a Roman citizen. 27 So the captain came and asked him, What is this? Thou art a Roman citizen? Yes, he said. 28 Why, answered the captain, it cost me a heavy sum to win this privilege. Ah, said Paul, but I am a citizen by birth. 29 Upon this, the men who were to have put him to the question moved away from him; and the captain himself was alarmed, to find out that this was a Roman citizen, and he had put him in bonds. 30 So, the next day, determined to discover the truth about the charge the Jews were bringing against him, he released him, summoned a meeting of the chief priests and the whole Council, and brought Paul down to confront them with him.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Acts 21 - On receiving guests

Voyage Paul 3-pt.gif
St Paul's third voygage
Acts 21:
1 When we tore ourselves away from them, and at last put out to sea, we made a straight course, sailing to Cos, and next day to Rhodes, and thence to Patara. 2 There, finding a ship crossing to Phoenice, we went on board and set sail. 3 We sighted Cyprus, but passed it on our left, and held on for Syria, where we landed at Tyre, the port for which the vessel had shipped her cargo. 4 Here we enquired for the brethren, and made a stay of seven days with them; they, by revelation, warned Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, 5 but when the time came to an end, we left them and continued our journey. All of them, with their wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city; and so we knelt down on the beach to pray; 6 then, when farewells had been made on either side, we went on board the ship, while they returned home. 7 The end of our voyage brought us from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the brethren and stayed one day with them; 8 the day after, we left them and arrived at Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and lodged with him. 
Chrysostom (Homily 45): Now that they are near to Jerusalem, they no longer hurry. For observe, I pray you, all the days. After the day of unleavened bread they came to Troas in five days; then they there spent seven; in all, twelve: then to Thasos, to Mytilene, to Trogylium and over against Chios, and to Samos and Miletus; eighteen in all. Then to Cos, to Rhodes, to Patara, twenty-one: then say five to Tyre; twenty-six: there seven; thirty-three; Ptolemais, thirty-four; then to Cæsarea, many days; and then, thereafter, the prophet puts them up thence.
9 He had four daughters, unwedded maids, who possessed the gift of prophecy. 10 During our stay of several days there, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judaea. 11 When he visited us, he took up Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet with it; then he said, Thus speaks the Holy Spirit, The man to whom this girdle belongs will be bound, like this, by the Jews at Jerusalem, and given over into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 At hearing this, both we and our hosts implored Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 To which he answered, What do you mean by lamenting, and crushing my spirits? I am ready to meet prison and death as well in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 Finding that he would not take our advice, we composed ourselves, and said, The Lord’s will be done.
15 When the time came to an end, we made all ready, and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the brethren from Caesarea went with us, to take us to the house of a Cypriot called Mnason, one of the first disciples, with whom we were to lodge. 17 When we reached Jerusalem, the brethren received us with joy.
Chrys: Paul was the guest he entertained. Perchance some one of you says: Aye, if it were given me to entertain Paul as a guest, I readily and with much eagerness would do this. Lo! It is in your power to entertain Paul's Master for your guest, and you will not: for he that receives one of these least, he says, receives Me. By how much the brother may be least, so much the more does Christ come to you through him. For he that receives the great, often does it from vainglory also; but he that receives the small, does it purely for Christ's sake. It is in your power to entertain even the Father of Christ as your guest, and thou will not: for, I was a stranger, He says, and you took me in: and again, Unto one of the least of these the brethren that believe in Me, you have done it unto Me.

Though it be not Paul, yet if it be a believer and a brother, although the least, Christ comes to you through him. Open your house, take Him in. He that receives a prophet, He says, shall receive a prophet's reward.  Therefore too he that receives Christ, shall receive the reward of him who has Christ for his guest. Do not thou disbelieve His words, but be believing. Himself has said, Through them I come to you: and that you may not disbelieve, He lays down both punishments for those who do not receive, and honors for those who do receive; since He would not have done this, unless both the person honored and the person insulted were Himself.

You received Me, He says, into your lodging, I will receive you into the Kingdom of My Father; you took away My hunger, I take away your sins; you saw Me bound, I see you loosed; you saw Me a stranger, I make you a citizen of heaven; you gave Me bread, I give you an entire Kingdom, that you may inherit and possess it...

The Patriarch knew not that he was entertaining Angels, and he did entertain them. Genesis 18:3 Let us take shame to ourselves, I beseech you: he was sitting in mid-day, being in a foreign land, where he had none inheritance, not so much as to set his foot on: he was a stranger, and the stranger entertained strangers: for he was a citizen of heaven...though you may not wish to take them into your houses, at any rate in some other way (receive them), by supplying them with necessaries.
18 The next day Paul took us with him to see James; all the presbyters had gathered; 19 and he greeted them, and told them point by point of all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 They praised God for the news he gave, and said, Brother, thou canst see for thyself how many thousands of the Jews have learned to believe, and they are all zealous supporters of the law. 21 And this is what has come to their ears about thee; that thou dost teach the Jews in Gentile parts to break away from the law of Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, and not to follow the tradition. 22 What will happen? Why, a multitude of them will assuredly gather round thee, hearing that thou hast come. 23 Follow our advice, then, in this; we have four men here who are under a vow; 24 if thou wilt take these with thee, and join in their purification and defray the cost for the shaving of their heads, then all will see clearly that the report they have heard about thee has no substance, and that thou dost follow the observances of the law like other men. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have already written to them; we laid it down that they must abstain from what is sacrificed to idols, and from blood-meat and meat which has been strangled, and from fornication.
26 So, next day, Paul took the men with him, and began going to the temple, publicly fulfilling the days of purification, until the time came for each to have sacrifice made on his behalf. 27 And when the seven days were all but at an end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple. Whereupon they threw the whole multitude into an uproar, and laid hands on him, crying out; 28 Men of Israel, come to the rescue; here is the man who goes about everywhere, teaching everybody to despise our people, and our law, and this place. He has brought Gentiles into the temple, too, profaning these sacred precincts. 29 They had seen Trophimus, who was from Ephesus, in the city with him, and it was he whom they suspected Paul of introducing into the temple. 30 The whole city was in a commotion, and the common folk ran up from all sides. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, upon which the gates were shut; 31 and they were preparing to kill him, when word came to the captain of the garrison that the whole of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once summoned his troops, with their officers, and swept down upon them; and at the sight of the captain with his troops they left off beating Paul.
33 The captain came up and arrested him, giving orders that he should be bound with a double chain; then he asked who he was, and what he had done. 34 But some of the crowd were shouting this and some that, and it was impossible to find out the truth amidst the clamour; so he gave orders that Paul should be taken to the soldiers’ quarters. 35 When he reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the crowd’s violence; 36 a rabble of the common people kept following behind, with cries of, Put him to death. 37 And just as he was being taken into the soldiers’ quarters, Paul asked the captain, May I have a word with thee? At which he said, What, canst thou talk Greek? 38 Thou art not, then, that Egyptian, who raised a band of four thousand cut-throats, some time back, and led them out into the wilderness? 39 I am a Jew, said Paul, a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, no mean city; my request of thee is that thou wouldst let me speak to the people. 40 And so, having obtained his leave, Paul stood there on the steps, and made a gesture with his hand to the people. There was deep silence, and he began addressing himself to them in Hebrew.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Feast of the Ascension

The readings for Matins of the Ascension in the Benedictine Office (1963):

Nocturn I (Acts 1: 1-3; 4-8; 9-11; 12-14)

Reading 1: The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach,  Until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

R. Being seen of them forty days after that He had suffered, and speaking of the kingdom of God. Alleluia.
* And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.
V. And, eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father.
R. And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.

Reading 2: And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth.  For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power:  But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

R. The Lord hath set His beauty above the stars;
* His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.
V. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it.
R. His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.

Reading 3: And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

R. Be Thou exalted, O Lord. Alleluia.
* In thine Own strength. Alleluia.
V. O God, Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens.
R. In thine Own strength. Alleluia.

Reading 4: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day' s journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Nocturn II (sermon 73 of St Leo)

Reading 5: After the blessed and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein the Divine Power raised up in three days the true Temple of God Which the iniquity of the Jews had destroyed J God was pleased to ordain, by His Most Sacred Will, and in His Providence for our instruction and the profit of our souls, a season of forty days which season, dearly beloved brethren, doth end on this day. During that season the bodily Presence of the Lord still lingered on earth, that the reality of the fact of His having risen again from the dead might be armed with all needful proofs.

R. My time is come that I should return unto Him That sent Me, saith the Lord. Be not sorrowful, neither let your heart be troubled.
* I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you where I am ascended, I will send Him unto you.

R. I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: The death of Christ had troubled the hearts of many of His disciples their thoughts were sad when they remembered His agony upon the Cross, His giving up of the Ghost, and the laying in the grave of His lifeless Body, and a sort of hesitation had begun to weigh on them.Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been fearful at the finishing on the Cross, and doubtful of the trustworthiness of the rising again, were so strengthened by the clear demonstration of the fact, that, when they saw the Lord going up into the height of heaven, they sorrowed not, nay they were even filled with great joy

R. Let not your heart be troubled I go unto the Father, and when I am taken from you, I will send unto you, alleluia,
* The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.
R. The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Reading 7: And, in all verity, it was a great an unspeakable cause for joy to see the Manhood, in the presence of that the multitude of believers, exalted above all creatures even heavenly, rising above the ranks of the angelic armies and speeding Its glorious way where the most noble of the Archangels lie far behind, to rest no lower than that place where high above all principality and power, It taketh Its seat at the right hand of the Eternal Father, Sharer of His throne, and Partaker of His glory, and still of the very man's nature which the Son hath taken upon Him.

R. When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive
* He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
R. He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 8: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us also rejoice with worthy joy, for the Ascension of Christ is exaltation for us, and whither the glory of the Head of the Church is passed in, thither is the hope of the body of the Church called on to follow. Let us rejoice with exceeding great joy, and give God glad thanks. This day is not only the possession of Paradise made sure unto us, but in the Person of our Head we are actually begun to enter into the heavenly mansions above. Through the unspeakable goodness of Christ we have gained more than ever we lost by the envy of the devil. We, whom our venomous enemy thrust from our first happy home, we, being made of one body with the Son of God, have by Him been given a place at the right hand of the Father with Whom He liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Nocturn III  (from St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: I may be allowed to say that the disciples' slowness to believe that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, was not so much their weakness as our strength. In consequence of their doubts, the fact of the Resurrection was demonstrated by many infallible proofs. These proofs we read and acknowledge. What then assureth our faith, if not their doubt For my part, I put my trust in Thomas, who doubted long, much more than in Mary Magdalene, who believed at once. Through his doubting, he came actually to handle the holes of the Wounds, and thereby closed up any wound of doubt in our hearts.

R. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter
* That He may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth. Alleluia.
V. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.

R. That He may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth. Alleluia.

Reading 10: Now confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke. "Eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem and a little afterward: "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Consider these words, note well these mysteries. After "eating together with them He was taken up." He ate and ascended: that the fact of His eating might show the reality of the Body in Which He went up. 

R. Thou makest the clouds the chariot, O Lord
* Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.
V. Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, covering thyself with light as with a garment
R. Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.

Reading 11: But Mark telleth us that before the Lord ascended into heaven He upbraided His disciples; with their unbelief and hardness of heart. From this I know not why we should gather, but that the Lord then upbraided His disciples, for whom He was about to be parted in the body, to the end that the words which He spoke unto them as He left them might be the deeper imprinted on their hearts.

R. Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? Alleluia.
* As you have seen him going into heaven, shall so come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said:
R. As you have seen him going into heaven, shall so come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 12: When then, He had rebuked the hardness of their heart, who command did He give them Let us hear. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Was the Holy Gospel, then my brethren, to be preached to thing insensate, or to brute beasts, that the Lord said to His disciples "Preach the Gospel to every creature." Nay but by the words "every creature" we must understand man, in whom are combined qualities of all creatures. Being he hath in common with stones, life in common with trees, feeling in common with beasts, understanding in common with angels. If, then, man hath something in common with every creature, man is to a certain extent every creature. The Gospel, then, if it be preached to man only, is preached to every creature.

R. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you but if I depart, I will send Him unto you
* And when He is come, He will guide you into all truth Alleluia.
V. For He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak and He will show you things to come.
R. And when He is come, He will guide you into all truth. Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.

R. And when He is come, He will guide you into all truth. Alleluia.

The Gospel for the feast of the Ascension is from St Mark 16:

14 Novissime recumbentibus illis undecim apparuit: et exprobravit incredulitatem eorum et duritiam cordis: quia iis, qui viderant eum resurrexisse, non crediderunt. 15 Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum prædicate Evangelium omni creaturæ. 16 Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur. 17 Signa autem eos qui crediderint, hæc sequentur: in nomine meo dæmonia ejicient: linguis loquentur novis: 18 serpentes tollent: et si mortiferum quid biberint, non eis nocebit: super ægros manus imponent, et bene habebunt. 19 Et Dominus quidem Jesus postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in cælum, et sedet a dextris Dei. 20 Illi autem profecti prædicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante, et sermonem confirmante, sequentibus signis.

At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again.  And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues.  They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.  And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.  But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Acts 20 - Hastening to Pentecost

Raising of Eutychus
Acts 20 sees Paul determined to return to Jerusalem in time to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, even though he knows it will result in his imprisonment.  The first half of Acts 20 deals of the trip back, and includes the the raising of Eutychus.  The second is his farewell speech to the Ephesians.

Acts 20:
1 When the tumult was over, Paul summoned his disciples, to rally their spirits and bid them farewell, and set out on his journey into Macedonia. 2 He passed through all that region, and gave them much encouragement; then he entered Greece. 3 When he had stayed three months there, he was meaning to take ship for Syria; but, finding that the Jews were plotting against him, he resolved to go back again through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied as far as Asia by Sopater, son of Pyrrhus, from Beroea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and two friends from Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on first, and waited for us at Troas. 6 As soon as the time of unleavened bread was over, we set sail from Philippi, and took five days to reach them at Troas, where we spent seven days. 7 When the new week began, we had met for the breaking of bread, and Paul was preaching to them; he meant to leave them next day, and he continued speaking till midnight. 8 There were many lamps burning in the upper room where we had met; 9 and a young man called Eutychus, who was sitting in the embrasure of the window, was overcome by deep sleep. As Paul still went on preaching, sleep weighed him down, and he fell from the third storey to the ground, where he was taken up dead. 10 Paul went down, bent over him, and embraced him; then he said, Do not disturb yourselves; his life is yet in him. 11 And so he went up again and broke bread and ate; afterwards he talked with them for some time until dawn came, when he left. 12 And the boy was taken home alive, to their great comfort.
1 Postquam autem cessavit tumultus, vocatis Paulus discipulis, et exhortatus eos, valedixit, et profectus est ut iret in Macedoniam. 2 Cum autem perambulasset partes illas, et exhortatus eos fuisset multo sermone, venit ad Græciam: 3 ubi cum fecisset menses tres, factæ sunt illi insidiæ a Judæis navigaturo in Syriam: habuitque consilium ut reverteretur per Macedoniam. 4 Comitatus est autem eum Sopater Pyrrhi Berœensis, Thessalonicensium vero Aristarchus, et Secundus, et Gajus Derbeus, et Timotheus: Asiani vero Tychicus et Trophimus. 5 Hi cum præcessissent, sustinuerunt nos Troade: 6 nos vero navigavimus post dies azymorum a Philippis, et venimus ad eos Troadem in diebus quinque, ubi demorati sumus diebus septem. 7 Una autem sabbati cum convenissemus ad frangendum panem, Paulus disputabat cum eis profecturus in crastinum, protraxitque sermonem usque in mediam noctem. 8 Erant autem lampades copiosæ in cœnaculo, ubi eramus congregati. 9 Sedens autem quidam adolescens nomine Eutychus super fenestram, cum mergeretur somno gravi, disputante diu Paulo, ductus somno cecidit de tertio cœnaculo deorsum, et sublatus est mortuus. 10 Ad quem cum descendisset Paulus, incubuit super eum: et complexus dixit: Nolite turbari, anima enim ipsius in ipso est. 11 Ascendens autem, frangensque panem, et gustans, satisque allocutus usque in lucem, sic profectus est. 12 Adduxerunt autem puerum viventem, et consolati sunt non minime.
Chrysostom (Homily 43):  It was then the (season between Easter and) Pentecost. See how everything was subordinate to the preaching. It was also, it says, the Lord's day. Not even during night-time was he silent, nay he discoursed the rather then, because of stillness. Mark how he both made a long discourse, and beyond the time of supper itself. But the Devil disturbed the feast— not that he prevailed, however— by plunging the hearer in sleep, and causing him to fall down...

At the very time (of breaking bread) the discourse having taken its commencement, extended: as representing that they were hungry, and it was not unseasonable: for the principal object (which brought them together) was not teaching, but they came together to break bread; discourse however having come up, he prolonged the teaching.

See how all partook also at Paul's table. It seems to me, that he discoursed while even sitting at table, teaching us to consider all other things as subordinate to this. Picture to yourselves, I beseech you, that house with its lights, with its crowd, with Paul in the midst, discoursing, with even the windows occupied by many: what a thing it was to see, and to hear that trumpet, and behold that gracious countenance!

But why did he discourse during night time? Since he was about to depart, it says, and was to see them no more: though this indeed he does not tell them, they being too weak (to bear it), but he did tell it to the others. At the same time too the miracle which took place would make them evermore to remember that evening; so that the fall turned out to the advantage of the teacher. Great was the delight of the hearers, and even when interrupted it was the more increased. That (young man) was to rebuke all that are careless (of the word), he whose death was caused by nothing else than this, that he wished to hear Paul.
13 For ourselves, we took ship and sailed to Assos, where we were to take Paul on board; he had arranged this, because he himself meant to go across by land. 14 So at Assos we met him, and took him on board, and journeyed to Mitylene. 15 Sailing thence, we reached a point opposite Chios the following day; on the next, we put in at Samos, and arrived on the third at Miletus. 16 Paul had made up his mind to sail past Ephesus, for fear of having to waste time in Asia; he was eager, if he found it possible, to keep the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem.17 From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, summoning the presbyters of the church there. 18 And when they had come out to him and gathered round him, he said to them,
You yourselves can testify, how I have lived among you, since the first day when I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord in all humility, not without tears over the trials which beset me, through the plots of the Jews; 20 and how I have never failed you, when there was any need of preaching to you, or teaching you, whether publicly or house by house. 21 I have proclaimed both to Jew and to Greek repentance before God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 Now, a prisoner in spirit, I am going up to Jerusalem, knowing nothing of what is to befall me there; 23 only, as I go on from city to city, the Holy Spirit assures me that at Jerusalem bondage and affliction await me. 24 I care nothing for all that; I do not count my life precious compared with my work, which is to finish the course I run, the task of preaching which the Lord Jesus has given me, in proclaiming the good news of God’s grace.
25 Here, then, I stand, well knowing that you will not see my face again; you, among whom I came and went, preaching the kingdom of God. 26 And I ask you to bear me witness to-day that I have no man’s blood on my hands; 27 I have never shrunk from revealing to you the whole of God’s plan.
28 Keep watch, then, over yourselves, and over God’s Church, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops; you are to be the shepherds of that flock which he won for himself at the price of his own blood. 29 I know well that ravening wolves will come among you when I am gone, and will not spare the flock; 30 there will be men among your own number who will come forward with a false message, and find disciples to follow them. 31 Be on the watch then; do not forget the three years I spent, instructing every one of you continually, and with tears.
32 Now, as then, I commend you to God, and to his gracious word, that can build you up and give you your allotted place among the saints everywhere. 33 I have never asked for silver or gold or clothing from any man; 34 you will bear me out, that these hands of mine have sufficed for all that I and my companions needed. 35 Always I have tried to shew you that it is our duty so to work, and be the support of the weak, remembering the words spoken by the Lord Jesus himself, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 36 When he had said this, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 They all wept abundantly, and embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 grieving most over what he had said about never seeing his face again. And so they escorted him to the ship.

Vigil of the Ascension

The Vigil of the Ascension has one nocturn, with readings from Homily 104 of St Augustine on St John:

Reading 1:Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John: At that time Jesus lifted up His Eyes to heaven, and spake these words Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo: Our Lord, the Only-begotten and coeternal Son of the Father, was able, if need were, in and from the form of a servant, to pray in silence but He thus manifested Himself in prayer, remembering that He is our Teacher. Thus He made known unto us the prayer which He made for us since He was so great a Master that, not only His discourse to them, but His prayer to the Father for them, is an up-building to His disciples. And if it was so for them who were there to hear, truly it is so for us also for whose instruction it hath been written down.

R. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God Alleluia.
* Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee Thou art my God, and I will exalt thee.
R. Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 2: Wherefore, by these words: " Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son" He showeth that all time, and all whatsoever He doth, or alloweth to be done, and the season wherein He will do or allow it, is alike ordained of Him Who is Himself not subject to time. Yea, all things which were then to come, or are yet to come now, have the reason why they should be, in the Wisdom of God, Which is Itself independent of all time. " The hour is come." We must not believe that that hour was brought on by the march of destiny, but was by ordination of God. No stars decreed irresistibly that the time was come for Christ to suffer God forbid that the revolutions of His planets should force death on Him Who made them.

R. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord Alleluia
* And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the harp with a solemn sound.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.

Reading 3: Come think that the glorification of the Son by the Father was that "He spared Him not, but delivered Him up for us all." But if we say that He was glorified by suffering, how much more shall we say that He was glorified by rising again While He suffered, His humbleness was more manifested than His glory, as witnesseth the Apostle, where he saith "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" then he addeth touching His glorification "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."  This is the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, that glorification whose first rays dawned on the Resurrection morning.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Acts 19 - On the necessity of baptism and Christian unity


The first section of Acts 19 picks up the theme of baptism started in the previous chapter, and I've placed a few key extracts from St John's topical homily on the necessity of charity to bind the believers together so that they act as one at the end of the post.

The second half of Acts 19 chronicles a dispute in Ephesus, prompted by a silvermith whose livelihood making tourist mementoes of the goddess Diana was threatened by the conversion of so many to Christianity.

Acts 18:24-28; 19:1-7:
1 It was while Apollo was away at Corinth that Paul finished his journey through the inland country, and came to Ephesus. He met some disciples there 2 and asked them, Was the Holy Spirit given to you, when you learned to believe? Why, they said, nobody even mentioned to us the existence of a Holy Spirit. 3 What baptism, then, did you receive? Paul asked; and they said, John’s baptism. 4 So Paul told them, John baptized to bring men to repentance; but he bade the people have faith in one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus. 5 On hearing this, they received baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus; 6 and when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied. 7 In all, these men were about twelve in number.
1 Factum est autem cum Apollo esset Corinthi, ut Paulus peragratis superioribus partibus veniret Ephesum, et inveniret quosdam discipulos: 2 dixitque ad eos: Si Spiritum Sanctum accepistis credentes? At illi dixerunt ad eum: Sed neque si Spiritus Sanctus est, audivimus. 3 Ille vero ait: In quo ergo baptizati estis? Qui dixerunt: In Joannis baptismate. 4 Dixit autem Paulus: Joannes baptizavit baptismo pœnitentiæ populum, dicens in eum qui venturus esset post ipsum ut crederent, hoc est, in Jesum. 5 His auditis, baptizati sunt in nomine Domini Jesu. 6 Et cum imposuisset illis manus Paulus, venit Spiritus Sanctus super eos, et loquebantur linguis, et prophetabant. 7 Erant autem omnes viri fere duodecim.
Chrysostom (Homily 40): But whence had those, being in Ephesus, the baptism of John? Probably they had been on a visit at Jerusalem at the time (of John's preaching), and did not even know Jesus. And he does not say to them, Do ye believe in Jesus? But what? Have ye received the Holy Ghost? He knew that they had not, but wishes themselves to say it, that having learned what they lack, they may ask.

From the baptism itself he (John) prophesies: and he leads them (to see) that this is the meaning of John's baptism. (That they should believe in Him that was to come: on what kind (of Person)? I indeed baptize you with water, but He that comes after me, shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

And when Paul, it says, had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.  The gift is twofold: tongues and prophesyings. Hence is shown an important doctrine, that the baptism of John is incomplete. And he does not say, Baptism of forgiveness, but, of repentance. What (is it) then? These had not the Spirit: they were not so fervent, not even instructed. And why did (Apollos) not receive baptism? (The case) seems to me to be this: Great was the boldness of the man. He taught diligently the things concerning Jesus, but he needed more diligent teaching. Thus, though not knowing all, by his zeal he attracted the Holy Ghost, in the same manner as Cornelius and his company...

We have the sum and substance of the good things: through baptism we received remission of sins, sanctification, participation of the Spirit, adoption, eternal life. What would ye more? Signs? But they come to an end (ἀ λλὰ καταργεἵται). You have faith, hope, charity, the abiding things: these seek thou, these are greater than signs. Nothing is equal to charity. For greater than all, says he, is charity...
8 And now he went into the synagogue, and for three months spoke boldly there, reasoning with them and trying to convince them about the kingdom of God; 9 but since there were some who hardened their hearts and refused belief, discrediting the way of the Lord in the eyes of the multitude, he left them, and withdrew his own disciples, holding disputations daily in the school of a certain Tyrannus. 10 This lasted for two years, so that the Lord’s word came to the ears of all those who lived in Asia, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God did miracles through Paul’s hands that were beyond all wont; 12 so much so, that when handkerchiefs or aprons which had touched his body were taken to the sick, they got rid of their diseases, and evil spirits were driven out.
Chrysostom (Homily 41): He that believes in Me, says Christ, does greater works than those which I do. This, and the miracle of the shadows is what He meant (in those words).
13 Some of the wandering Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, with the words, I conjure you in the name of Jesus, the name that is preached by Paul. 14 Among these were the seven sons of Sceva, one of the Jewish chief priests. 15 And the evil spirit answered, Jesus I recognize, Paul I know well enough; but you, what are you? 16 And with that, the man who was possessed by the evil spirit ran at them and got the better of them, defying the power of both; so that they fled from the house naked and wounded.
Chrys: They did it in secret: then their impotence is publicly exposed. Then not the Name does anything, unless it be spoken with faith.  See how they used their weapons against themselves! So far were they from thinking Jesus to be anything great: no, they must needs add Paul, as thinking him to be something great. Here one may marvel how it was that the demon did not cooperate with the imposture of the exorcists, but on the contrary exposed them, and laid open their stage-play. He seems to me (to have done this) in exceeding wrath: just as it might be, if a person being in uttermost peril, should be exposed by some pitiful creature, and wish to vent all his rage upon him.
17 This came to the ears of every Jew and Greek living in Ephesus; fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in great honour. 18 Many believers came forward, confessing their evil practices and giving a full account of them; 19 and a number of those who followed magic arts made their books into a heap and burned them in public: the value of these was reckoned up, and proved to be fifty thousand silver pieces. 20 So, irresistibly, the word of the Lord spread and prevailed. 21 When all this was over, the thought in Paul’s heart was to go to Jerusalem, first travelling through Macedonia and Achaia; When I have been there, he said, I must go on and see Rome. 22 And he sent on two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, into Macedonia, but waited for a while himself in Asia. 23 It was just at this time that the way of the Lord was the cause of a notable disturbance. 24 There was a silversmith called Demetrius, who used to make silver models of Diana’s temple, and so gave plentiful employment to the craftsmen. 25 And now he called a meeting of these, and of the workmen who were in the same trade, and spoke thus, Friends, you all know that our prosperity depends upon this business of ours. 26 And you can see and hear for yourselves that this Paul has persuaded a whole multitude to change their allegiance, not only at Ephesus but over most of Asia, by telling them that gods made by men’s hands are no gods at all. 27 It is not only that we are in danger of finding this work of ours discredited. The temple of the great goddess Diana will count for nothing, she will be shorn of her greatness, the goddess whom Asia and all the world reveres. 28 At these words, they were all overcome with rage, and began to shout, Great is Diana of Ephesus. 29 Their uproar filled the whole city, as they ran by common consent into the theatre, carrying with them Gaius and Aristarchus, who were companions of Paul from Macedonia. 30 When Paul had a mind to shew himself before the people, his disciples tried to prevent it: 31 and some of the delegates of Asia, who were his friends, sent a message to him, imploring him not to risk his life in the theatre. 32 Meanwhile some cried this, some that; the meeting was all in confusion, and most of them could not tell what had brought them together. 33 The Jews thrust Alexander forward, and some of the crowd brought him down with them; so Alexander made a gesture with his hand, and tried to give an account of himself before the people; 34 but as soon as they found out that he was a Jew, a single cry came from every mouth, and for some two hours they kept on shouting, Great is Diana of Ephesus. 35 Then the town clerk restored quiet among the crowd; Ephesians, he said, as if there were anyone who does not know that the city of Ephesus is the acolyte of the great Diana, and of the image which is Jupiter’s offspring! 36 Since this is beyond dispute, you had best be quiet, and do nothing rashly. 37 These men you have brought here have not robbed the temples; they have not used blasphemous language about your goddess. 38 And if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have any charge to bring against them, why, we have court-days, we have proconsuls; let the two parties go to law. 39 If, on the other hand, you have any further question to raise, it can be settled by lawful assembly. 40 We may easily be called to account for to-day’s proceedings, and there is no grievance which will enable us to account for this riot. With these words he broke up the meeting.
Baptism and the unity of believers 

St John on the effects of baptism and repairing disunity amongst believers:

But now, love is in jeopardy, for only its name is left behind, while the reality is nowhere (seen), but we are divided each from the other. What then shall one do to reunite (ourselves)? For to find fault is easy, but how may one make friendship, this is the point to be studied; how we may bring together the scattered members.

For be it so, that we have one Church, or one doctrine— yet this is not the (main) consideration: no, the evil is, that in these we have not fellowship— living peaceably, as the Apostle says, with all men, on the contrary, we are at variance one with another. For be it that we are not having fights every day, yet look not thou to this, but (to this), that neither have we charity, genuine and unswerving. There is need of bandages and oil.

 Let us bear it in mind, that charity is the cognizance of the disciples of Christ: that without this, all else avails nothing: that it is an easy task if we will. Yes, say you, we know all this, but how (to go to work) that it may be achieved? What (to do), that it may be effected? In what way, that we may love one another?

First, let us put away the things which are subversive of charity, and then we shall establish this. Let none be resentful, none be envious, none rejoicing in (others') misfortunes: these are the things that hinder love; well then, the things that make it are of the other sort. For it is not enough to put away the things that hinder; the things that establish must also be forthcoming...

...What makes love of persons? Beauty of person. Then let us also make our souls beautiful, and we shall be amiable one to another: for it is necessary, of course, not only to love, but also to be loved. Let us first achieve this point, that we may be loved, and the other will be easy. How to act that we may be loved? Let us become beautiful, and let us do this, that we may always have lovers.

(Once) there were three thousand Acts 2:41— there were five thousand Acts 4:4— and yet they had all one soul...And here too is a wonderful thing to be seen— many in one, and one in many.  Just as in an harp, the sounds are diverse, not the harmony, and they all together give out one harmony and symphony, I could wish to bring you into such a city, were it possible, wherein (all) should be one soul: then should you see surpassing all harmony of harp and flute, the more harmonious symphony.

But the musician is the Might of Love: it is this that strikes out the sweet melody, singing, (withal) a strain in which no note is out of tune. This strain rejoices both Angels, and God the Lord of Angels; this strain rouses (to hear it) the whole audience that is in heaven; this even lulls (evil) passions— it does not even suffer them to be raised, but deep is the stillness. For as in a theatre, when the band of musicians plays, all listen with a hush, and there is no noise there; so among friends, while Love strikes the chords, all the passions are still and laid to sleep, like wild beasts charmed and unnerved: just as, where hate is, there is all the contrary to this...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Acts 18 - the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila

Aquila and Priscilla
SS Priscilla and Aquila
Chapter 18 of Acts takes us to St Paul's visits made forever famous by his letters to the communities in them, including Corinth and Ephesus:
Paul left Athens after this, and went to Corinth. 2 Here he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who, with his wife Priscilla, had lately come from Italy, when Claudius decreed that all Jews should leave Rome. He paid them a visit: 3 then, since they were brothers of the same craft (both were tent-makers) he stayed and worked with them. 
Chrysostom (Homily 39): For though it was in the reign of Nero that the war against the Jews was consummated, yet from the time of Claudius and thenceforward it was fanning up, at a distance indeed, so that, were it but so, they might come to their senses, and from Rome they were now driven as common pests. This is why it is so ordered by Providence that Paul was led there as a prisoner, that he might not as a Jew be driven away, but as acting under military custody might even be guarded there...
4 Every sabbath he held a disputation in the synagogue, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks by confronting them with the name of the Lord Jesus. 5 Just at the time when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was much occupied with preaching, while he bore witness to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But they set their faces against it and talked blasphemy, until he shook the dust out of his garments, and said to them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clear of it; I will go to the Gentiles henceforward. 
 4 Et disputabat in synagoga per omne sabbatum, interponens nomen Domini Jesu: suadebatque Judæis et Græcis. 5 Cum venissent autem de Macedonia Silas et Timotheus, instabat verbo Paulus, testificans Judæis esse Christum Jesum. 6 Contradicentibus autem eis, et blasphemantibus, excutiens vestimenta sua, dixit ad eos: Sanguis vester super caput vestrum: mundus ego: ex hoc ad gentes vadam.
Chrys: But therefore it is that Paul having testified to them— not teaches now, but testifies— having shaken his garments, to terrify them not by word only but by action, said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: he speaks the more vehemently as having already persuaded many. I, says he, am clean. Then we also are accountable for the blood of those entrusted to us, if we neglect them...So that also when he says, Henceforth let no man trouble me , he says it to terrify. For not so much did the punishment terrify, as this stung them.
7 So he left them, and went to the house of one Titius Justus, a worshipper of the true God, who lived next door to the synagogue. 8 But Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, learned to believe in the Lord, and so did all his household; and by now many of the Corinthians listened and found faith, and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul in a vision at night, Do not be afraid, speak out, and refuse to be silenced; 10 I am with thee, and none shall come near to do thee harm; I have a great following in this city. 11 So he remained there a year and six months, preaching the word of God among them.12 Then, when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul, and dragged him before the judgement-seat. 13 This fellow, they said, is persuading men to worship God in a manner the law forbids. 14 Paul was just opening his mouth to speak, when Gallio said to the Jews, It would be only right for me to listen to you Jews with patience, if we had here some wrong done, or some malicious contrivance; 15 but the questions you raise are a matter of words and names, of the law which holds good among yourselves. You must see to it; I have no mind to try such cases. 16 And he drove them away from the judgement-seat. 17 Thereupon there was a general onslaught upon Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, who was beaten before the judgement-seat; but all this caused Gallio no concern.
Chrys: This man let us also imitate: to them that beat us, let us return blow for blow, by meekness, by silence, by long-suffering. More grievous these wounds, greater this blow, and more heavy. For to show that it is not the receiving a blow in the body that is grievous, but the receiving it in the mind, we often smite people, but since it is in the way of friendship, they are even pleased: but if you smite any indifferent person in an insolent manner, you have pained him exceedingly, because you have touched his heart. So let us smite their heart...

Let this be a consolation to you when suffering insult. Are you insulted? God also is insulted. Are you reviled? God also was reviled. Are you treated with scorn? Why, so was our Master also. In these things He shares with us, but not so in the contrary things.

For He never insulted another unjustly: God forbid! He never reviled, never did a wrong. So that we are those who share with Him, not ye. For to endure when insulted is God's part: to be merely abusive, is the part of the devil. See the two sides. You have a devil, Christ was told: He received a blow on the face from the servant of the high-priest. They who wrongfully insult, are in the same class with these. For if Peter was even called Satan for one word; much more shall these men, when they do the works of the Jews, be called, as those were called, children of the devil  because they wrought the works of the devil...
18 Paul stayed on many days yet, then took leave of the brethren and sailed off to Syria; before he left Cenchrae he shaved his head, since he was under a vow. He took Priscilla and Aquila with him, 19 but left them behind when he reached Ephesus. 
Paulus vero cum adhuc sustinuisset dies multos fratribus valefaciens, navigavit in Syriam (et cum eo Priscilla et Aquila), qui sibi totonderat in Cenchris caput: habebat enim votum. 19 Devenitque Ephesum, et illos ibi reliquit. Ipse vero ingressus synagogam, disputabat cum Judæis.
 Chrysostom (Homily 40): See how the Law was breaking up; see how they were bound by conscience. This, namely, was a Jewish custom, to shear their heads agreeably with a vow. But then there ought to be also a sacrifice, which was not the case here...

And with him Priscilla— lo, a woman also — and Aquila. But these he left at Ephesus. With good reason, namely, that they should teach. For having been with him so long time, they were learning many things: and yet he did not at present withdraw them from their custom as Jews.
He himself went to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, 20 who asked him to make a longer stay. But he would not consent; 21 he said, as he took leave of them, I will come back to you again, if it is God’s will, and departed from Ephesus by sea. 22 On landing at Caesarea, he went up from there to greet the church, then went down again to Antioch, 23 where he spent some time; he left it to make an orderly progress through the Galatian and Phrygian country, where he established all the disciples in the faith. 24 Meanwhile a Jewish visitor came to Ephesus, Apollo by name; he was born in Alexandria, and was an eloquent man, well grounded in the scriptures. 25 He had had instruction in the way of the Lord; and, with a spirit full of zeal, used to preach and teach about the life of Jesus accurately enough, although he knew of no baptism except that of John. 26 So he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue, whereupon Priscilla and Aquila, who had been listening, made friends with him, and explained the way of God to him more particularly. 27 He was meaning to continue his journey into Achaia; in this the brethren encouraged him, and wrote asking the disciples there to welcome him. His visit was a welcome reinforcement to the believers; 28 he spared no pains to refute the Jews publicly, proving from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Feast of St Joseph the Worker

The readings for the feast of St Joseph the Worker (note these were composed for the new feast implemented by Pope Pius XII; there is also an option to use the Office of the feast previously celebrated on the Wednesday of the third week after Easter):

Nocturn I (Genesis 2:27-38, 31; 2: 1-3; 2:7-9, 15; 3: 17-19, 23-24)

Reading 1: And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.  And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

R. Six days shall you labor, and shall do all your works, but on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God.
* You shall do no work on it, alleluia.
V. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh day.
R. You shall do no work on it, alleluia.

Reading 2: So the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the furniture of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.  And he blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Reading 3: And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning: wherein he placed man whom he had formed.  And the Lord God brought forth of the ground all manner of trees, fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of: the tree of life also in the midst of paradise: and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it.

R. The Lord put the man whom He had formed, in the paradise of pleasure,
* To till and keep it, alleluia.
V. This was the condition of man from the beginning.
R. To till and keep it, alleluia.

Reading 4: And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.  Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken.  And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

R. After the sin, God cast out Adam from the paradise of pleasure,
* To till the earth by his labor, alleluia.
V. "And in the sweat of your brow," said God, "you shall eat bread."
R. To till the earth by his labor, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. To till the earth by his labor, alleluia.

Nocturn II (from the Acts of Pope Pius XII)

Reading 5: The Church, most provident Mother of All, expends the greatest efforts for the protection and relief of the workers, erecting and promoting for them societies which Pius XII, the Supreme Pontiff, now wishes to be entrusted to the most powerful patronage of St. Joseph. For St. Joseph, since he was reckoned the father of Christ, who deigned to be called the son of a workman, on account of the irrevocable bond which united him to Jesus, drank abundantly of that spirit which ennobles and elevates labor. In like manner, associations of workers ought to be aware of the same kind of spirit, so that Christ may always be present in them, in their members, in their families and in fact in every labor organization, because the chief purpose of these associations is to foster and nourish the Christian life in their members, to spread the Kingdom of God more widely, especially among fellow workers in the same plant.

R. You shall not calumniate your neighbor, nor oppress him by violence.* The wages of him who has been hired by you shall not be withheld from him overnight, alleluia.
V. The laborer is worthy of his wages.
R. The wages of him who has been hired by you shall not be withheld from him overnight, alleluia.

Reading 6: The same Pontiff supplied a new proof of the Church's solicitude for labor organization, when, upon the occasion of a convention of workingmen held in Rome on the first of May in the year 1955, he took the opportunity of speaking to a large multitude gathered in the square before St. Peter's Basilica, and commended most highly the instruction of workingmen. For in our day it is of prime importance that the workers be properly imbued with Christian doctrine in order that they may avoid the widespread errors concerning the nature of society and economic matters. Moreover, such instruction is needed that they might have a correct knowledge of the moral order established by God as it effects the rights and duties of workers, and which the Church discloses and interprets, so that by partaking in the needed reforms they might work more effectively toward their realization. For Christ was the first one to promulgate in the world those principles which he delivered to the Church and which still stand unchangeable and most valid for the solution of these problems.

R. You have given me your saving shield, and your right hand has upheld me,
* My protector and my support.
V. I am your protector and your reward is very great.
R. My protector and my support.

Reading 7: In order that the dignity of human labor and the principles which underlie it might penetrate more deeply into souls, Pius XII has instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Workman, as an example and a protection for all associations of workers. For from this example, those who follow the worker's calling ought to learn how and in what spirit they should discharge their duties, so that, obeying the first law of God, they might likewise subdue the earth and attain to economic prosperity, and at the same time reap the rewards of eternal life. Nor will the prudent guardian of the Family of Nazareth fail to shield with his protection, and from heaven bless the homes of those who, like him, are artisans and workmen.

R. I am wretched and poor;
* The Lord is solicitous for me, alleluia.
V. You shall eat the labor of your hands and it shall be well with you, alleluia.
R. The Lord is solicitous for me, alleluia.

Reading 8: Most aptly has the Supreme Pontiff ordered this feast to be celebrated on the first of May, a day which the workers have adopted as their own; from henceforth let it be hoped that this day, dedicated to St. Joseph the Workman, will, as time goes on, not sharpen hatred and inflame strife, but with each recurring year, invite everyone to strive more and more for those things which are still lacking to civil peace, and indeed that it may stimulate the public authorities to use their abilities in effecting whatever right order demands of human fellowship.

Nocturn III (St. Albert the Great)

Reading 9: On the Sabbath day he entered the synagogue, where those who came to listen had gathered. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were intent upon him. Some indeed with devotion, some out of curiosity, while some watched him that they might trap him in his talk. And the Scribes and Pharisees said to the people, in whom faith and devotion had already made a beginning: "Is not this the son of Joseph?" See this attitude of disparagement toward him whom they did not even deign to call by his name. "The son of Joseph," this little the Evangelist says because he had known that both in Mark and in Matthew a fuller statement would be made: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is he not a workman, the son of Mary?" All these things were said contemptuously.

R. Jesus was about thirty years of age,
* Who, as was supposed, was the son of Joseph, alleluia.
V. Now Joseph was a carpenter, the spouse of the Virgin Mary, of whom Christ was born.

R. Who, as was supposed, was the son of Joseph, alleluia.

Reading 10: Joseph is said to have been a carpenter who earned his living by his skill and the work of his hands, and he did not eat his bread in idleness and indulgence, like the Scribes and Pharisees. Mary also worked for her living with her husband, and with competent hands. And here is the meaning of what they said about him: "This man of ignoble and poverty-stricken birth could not be Christ the Lord, whom God anointed. And thus no credence is to be given to such an uncultivated and low-born man."

R. How did this man come by this wisdom and these miracles?
* Is not this the carpenter's son? Alleluia.
V. So they spoke in the city of Nazareth.

R. Is not this the carpenter's son? Alleluia.

Reading 11: Now the Lord was a workman because the prophet said of him: "You fashioned the moon and the sun." A similar contemptuous way of speaking is found in the Book of Kings, where they said of Saul when he became king: "What is this that has happened to the son of Cis? Is Saul also among the prophets?" This slight remark shows great disparagement. 

Reading 12: For the Lord says: "Amen I say to you, that no prophet is acceptable in his own country." Here the Lord calls himself a prophet. For he, to whom all things are known through his divinity, receives no revelation of inspiration from outside himself. Here, however, he definitely calls the place of his birth and upbringing his own country. But he was not acceptable to his fellow townsmen who were incited against him by envy.

Gospel (St Matthew 13:54-58)

54 Et veniens in patriam suam, docebat eos in synagogis eorum, ita ut mirarentur, et dicerent: Unde huic sapientia hæc, et virtutes? 55 Nonne hic est fabri filius? nonne mater ejus dicitur Maria, et fratres ejus, Jacobus, et Joseph, et Simon, et Judas? 56 et sorores ejus, nonne omnes apud nos sunt? unde ergo huic omnia ista? 57 Et scandalizabantur in eo. Jesus autem dixit eis: Non est propheta sine honore, nisi in patria sua, et in domo sua. 58 Et non fecit ibi virtutes multas propter incredulitatem illorum.

54 and came to his own country-side, where he taught them in their synagogue; so that they said in astonishment, How did he come by this wisdom, and these strange powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son, whose mother is called Mary, and his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And do not his sisters, all of them, live near us? How is it that all this has come to him? 57 And they had no confidence in him. But Jesus told them, It is only in his own country, in his own home, that a prophet goes unhonoured. 58 Nor did he do many miracles there, because of their unbelief.