Saturday, 14 May 2016

Acts 28 and what's coming

The 4,000 year old Fresco was restored using a  laser
Icon of St Paul, Catacomb of St Thekla, Rome, c4th

And today, the conclusion of Acts, with St Paul's survival of shipwreck and a snake attack (verses 1-6); miracles performed on the island of Melita (verses 7-10); subsequent voyage and eventual arrival in Rome (verses 11-14); and preaching and teaching there (verses 15-31).

Acts 28:
1. When we were safe on land, we found that the island was called Melita. The kindness which the natives shewed to us was beyond the ordinary; they welcomed us all by making a fire for us, because rain was coming on, and it was cold. Paul had collected a bundle of faggots and had just put them on the fire, when a viper, coming out to escape the heat, fastened on his hand; and the natives, when they saw the beast coiled round his hand, said to one another, This must be some murderer; he has been rescued from the sea, but divine vengeance would not let him live. He, meanwhile, shook the beast into the fire, and was none the worse. They still waited to see him swell up, or fall down dead on a sudden; but when they had waited a long time, and found that there was nothing amiss with him, they changed their minds, and declared that he must be a god.
 Et cum evasissemus, tunc cognovimus quia Melita insula vocabatur. Barbari vero præstabant non modicam humanitatem nobis. Accensa enim pyra, reficiebant nos omnes propter imbrem qui imminebat, et frigus. Cum congregasset autem Paulus sarmentorum aliquantam multitudinem, et imposuisset super ignem, vipera a calore cum processisset, invasit manum ejus. Ut vero viderunt barbari pendentem bestiam de manu ejus, ad invicem dicebant: Utique homicida est homo hic, qui cum evaserit de mari, ultio non sinit eum vivere. Et ille quidem excutiens bestiam in ignem, nihil mali passus est.  At illi existimabant eum in tumorem convertendum, et subito casurum et mori. Diu autem illis exspectantibus, et videntibus nihil mali in eo fieri, convertentes se, dicebant eum esse deum.
Chrysostom (Homily 54):The Jews then, beholding all the many miracles they did, persecuted and harassed (Paul); but the barbarians, who had seen none, merely on the ground of his misfortune, were kind to him. They do not simply pronounce their judgment, but say, No doubt, (i.e.) as any one may see and vengeance, say they, suffers him not to live.

Why then, they held also the doctrine of a Providence, and these barbarians were far more philosophic than the philosophers, who allow not the benefit of a Providence to extend to things below the moon: whereas (these barbarians) suppose God to be present everywhere, and that although a (guilty) man may escape many (a danger), he will not escape in the end. And they do not assail him immediately, but for a time respect him on account of his misfortune: nor do they openly proclaim their surmise, but speak it among themselves: a murderer; for the bonds led them to suspect this. They showed no small kindness, and yet (some of them) were prisoners.

Let those be ashamed that say, Do not do good to those in prison: let these barbarians shame us; for they knew not who these men were, but simply because they were in misfortune (they were kind): thus much they perceived, that they were human beings, and therefore they considered them to have a claim upon their humanity.
7. Among the estates in that part were some which belonged to the leading citizen of the island, a man named Publius, who took us in and for three days entertained us hospitably; and it so happened that Publius’ father had taken to his bed, laid up with fever and dysentery. Paul, who had gone to visit him, laid his hands upon him with prayer, and healed him; whereupon all the other folk in the island who were suffering from infirmities came to him and found a cure. These paid us great honour, and when we embarked they loaded us with all the supplies we needed.
 In locis autem illis erant prædia principis insulæ, nomine Publii, qui nos suscipiens, triduo benigne exhibuit. Contigit autem patrem Publii febribus et dysenteria vexatum jacere. Ad quem Paulus intravit: et cum orasset, et imposuisset ei manus, salvavit eum. Quo facto, omnes qui in insula habebant infirmitates, accedebant, et curabantur:  qui etiam multis honoribus nos honoraverunt, et navigantibus imposuerunt quæ necessaria erant.
Chrys:  It is plain that having thus received them, they also received the word of the preaching: for it is not to be supposed, that during an entire three months they would have had all this kindness shown them, had these persons not believed strongly, and herein exhibited the fruits (of their conversion): so that from this we may see a strong proof of the great number there was of those that believed. Even this was enough to establish (Paul's) credit with those (his fellow-voyagers). Observe how in all this voyage they nowhere touched at a city, but (were cast) on an island, and passed the entire winter (there, or) sailing— those being herein under training for faith, his fellow-voyagers, I mean.
11 It was at the end of three months that we sailed, in a ship from Alexandria which had wintered at the island; its sign was Castor and Pollux. We put in at Syracuse, where we waited for three days then we coasted round the further shore, and so arrived at Rhegium. When we had spent a day there, a South wind came on, and we made Puteoli on the second day out. Here we found some brethren, who prevailed on us to stay with them for a week. And so we ended our journey at Rome.
 Post menses autem tres navigavimus in navi Alexandrina, quæ in insula hiemaverat, cui erat insigne Castorum. Et cum venissemus Syracusam, mansimus ibi triduo. Inde circumlegentes devenimus Rhegium: et post unum diem, flante austro, secunda die venimus Puteolos: ubi inventis fratribus rogati sumus manere apud eos dies septem: et sic venimus Romam. 
15 The brethren there, who had heard our story, came out as far as Appius’ Forum, and on to the Three Taverns, to meet us; Paul gave thanks to God and took courage when he saw them. Once we were in Rome, Paul was allowed to have his own residence, which he shared with the soldier who guarded him.
 Et inde cum audissent fratres, occurrerunt nobis usque ad Appii forum, ac tres Tabernas. Quos cum vidisset Paulus, gratias agens Deo, accepit fiduciam.Cum autem venissemus Romam, permissum est Paulo manere sibimet cum custodiente se milite.
17 It was three days later that he called a meeting of the leading men among the Jews. When they had assembled, he told them, Brethren, I am one who has done nothing to the prejudice of our people, or of our ancestral customs; yet, in Jerusalem, they handed me over to the Romans as a prisoner. These, when they had examined me, had a mind to release me, since no capital charge lay against me; but the Jews cried out against it, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, though it is not as if I had any fault to find with my own nation. That is why I have asked for the opportunity of seeing you and speaking to you. It is because I hope as Israel hopes, that I wear this chain.  
Post tertium autem diem convocavit primos Judæorum. Cumque convenissent, dicebat eis: Ego, viri fratres, nihil adversus plebem faciens, aut morem paternum, vinctus ab Jerosolymis traditus sum in manus Romanorum, qui cum interrogationem de me habuissent, voluerunt me dimittere, eo quod nulla esset causa mortis in me.Contradicentibus autem Judæis, coactus sum appellare Cæsarem, non quasi gentem meam habens aliquid accusare. Propter hanc igitur causam rogavi vos videre, et alloqui. Propter spem enim Israël catena hac circumdatus sum.  
21 At this they said to him, We have not received any letter about thee from Judaea, nor has any of the brethren come here with any ill report or hard words about thee. We ask nothing better than to hear what thy opinions are; all we know of this sect is, that it is everywhere decried. So they made an appointment with him, and met him at his lodging in great numbers. And he bore his testimony and told them about the kingdom of God, trying to convince them from Moses and the prophets of what Jesus was, from dawn till dusk.  
At illi dixerunt ad eum: Nos neque litteras accepimus de te a Judæa, neque adveniens aliquis fratrum nuntiavit, aut locutus est quid de te malum. Rogamus autem a te audire quæ sentis: nam de secta hac notum est nobis quia ubique ei contradicitur. Cum constituissent autem illi diem, venerunt ad eum in hospitium plurimi, quibus exponebat testificans regnum Dei, suadensque eis de Jesu ex lege Moysi et prophetis a mane usque ad vesperam. 
24 Some were convinced by his words, others refused belief; and they took their leave still at variance among themselves, but not till Paul had spoken one last word, It was a true utterance the Holy Spirit made to our fathers through the prophet Isaias: Go to this people, and tell them, You will listen and listen, but for you there is no understanding; you will watch and watch, but for you there is no perceiving.  The heart of this people has become dull, their ears are slow to listen, and they keep their eyes shut, so that they may never see with those eyes, or hear with those ears, or understand with that heart, and turn back to me, and win healing from me. Take notice, then, that this message of salvation has been sent by God to the Gentiles, and they, at least, will listen to it.
 Et quidam credebant his quæ dicebantur: quidam vero non credebant. Cumque invicem non essent consentientes, discedebant, dicente Paulo unum verbum: Quia bene Spiritus Sanctus locutus est per Isaiam prophetam ad patres nostros, dicens: Vade ad populum istum, et dic ad eos: Aure audietis, et non intelligetis, et videntes videbitis, et non perspicietis. Incrassatum est enim cor populi hujus,et auribus graviter audierunt,et oculos suos compresserunt: ne forte videant oculis, et auribus audiant, et corde intelligant, et convertantur, et sanem eos. Notum ergo sit vobis, quoniam gentibus missum est hoc salutare Dei, et ipsi audient.
Chrys: And having called together the chief of the Jews, he discourses to them, who both depart gainsaying, and are taunted by him, yet they dare not say anything: for it was not permitted them to deal with his matter at their own will.

For this is a marvellous thing, that not by the things which seem to be for our security, but by their very opposites, all comes to be for us. And that you may learn this— Pharaoh commanded the infants to be cast into the river. Exodus 1:22 Unless the infants had been cast forth, Moses would not have been saved, he would not have been brought up in the palace. When he was safe, he was not in honor; when he was exposed, then he was in honor. But God did this, to show His riches of resource and contrivance. The Jew threatened him, saying, Would you kill me? Exodus 1:14 and this too was of profit to him. It was of God's providence, in order that he should see that vision in the desert, in order that the proper time should be completed, that he should learn philosophy in the desert, and there live in security. And in all the plottings of the Jews against him the same thing happens: then he becomes more illustrious.

As also in the case of Aaron; they rose up against him, and thereby made him more illustrious Numbers 16 and 17: that so his ordination should be unquestionable, that he might be held in admiration for the future also from the plates of brass (τὥν πετάλων τοὕ χαλκοὕ). Of course you know the history: wherefore I pass over the narration. And if you will, let us go over the same examples from the beginning {he gives the examples of Cain and Abel; the three children in the furnace; Adam and Eve; Joseph]...

Do you see not, that Christ also thus trains His own disciples? If they needed these things, much more do we. But if we need them, let us not grieve, but even rejoice in our afflictions. For these are remedies, answering to our wounds, some of them bitter, others mild; but either of them by itself would be useless.

Let us therefore return thanks to God for all these things: for He does not suffer them to happen at random, but for the benefit of our souls. Therefore, showing forth our gratitude, let us return Him thanks, let us glorify Him, let us bear up courageously, considering that it is but for a time, and stretching forward our minds to the things future, that we may both lightly bear the things present, and be counted worthy to attain unto the good things to come...,
29 So much he told the Jews, and then they left him, with much dissension among themselves. And for two whole years he lived in a lodging hired at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming God’s kingdom, and teaching them the truths which concern our Lord Jesus Christ, boldly enough, without let or hindrance.
Et cum hæc dixisset, exierunt ab eo Judæi, multam habentes inter se quæstionem.  Mansit autem biennio toto in suo conducto: et suscipiebat omnes qui ingrediebantur ad eum,  prædicans regnum Dei, et docens quæ sunt de Domino Jesu Christo cum omni fiducia, sine prohibitione.
Homily 55: But of his affairs after the two years, what say we?  (The writer) leaves the hearer thirsty for more: the heathen authors do the same (in their writings), for to know everything makes the reader dull and jaded...

Up next...

I do hope you have found reading Acts afresh fruitful, and St John Chrysostom's comments on the Acts of the Apostles helpful.

Next week being the Octave of Pentecost, there are Matins readings set for each day (Patristic readings), so I will post them instead of Scriptural posts.  The Epistle each day at Mass (in the EF) up until Thursday (when it shifts to Joel) though are from Acts:

Sunday: Acts 2:1-11
Monday Acts 10 34, 42-48
Tuesday:Acts 8:14-17
Wednesday: Acts 2:14-21; 5:12-16
Thursday: 8:5-8.

Friday and Saturday's readings from Joel 2 (which in older versions of the Benedictine Office were read at Matins earlier in the week) and other Old Testament texts (from Leviticus and Deuteronomy) and make the link between the Old Testament feast of seven weeks (Pentecost) and the Christian feast.

 After Pentecost, by way of a change of pace I thought I'd look at St Paul's letter to Hebrews fairly slowly, primarily with the help of St Thomas Aquinas' commentary.  I was then planning on looking at Revelations with the help of St Bede's commentary. But I'm open to suggestions, feel free to email me or put something in the comments box (along with any other comments on how to make the notes more useful to you).

Friday, 13 May 2016

Acts 27 - Saving souls from shipwreck

Paul's journey to rome

In Acts 27, we set sail with Paul to Rome, yet facing strong winds against us and even shipreck:
1 And now word was given for the voyage to Italy, Paul being handed over, with some other prisoners, to a centurion called Julius, who belonged to the Augustan cohort.  We embarked on a boat from Adrumetum which was bound for the Asiatic ports, and set sail; the Macedonian, Aristarchus, from Thessalonica, was with us.  Next day we put in at Sidon; and here Julius shewed Paul courtesy by allowing him to visit his friends and be cared for.
Ut autem judicatum est navigare eum in Italiam, et tradi Paulum cum reliquis custodiis centurioni nomine Julio cohortis Augustæ,  ascendentes navem Adrumetinam, incipientes navigare circa Asiæ loca, sustulimus, perseverante nobiscum Aristarcho Macedone Thessalonicensi. Sequenti autem die devenimus Sidonem. Humane autem tractans Julius Paulum, permisit ad amicos ire, et curam sui agere.
Chrysostom (Homily 53):... it was but natural that he should be much the worse from his bonds and the fear, and the being dragged hither and there. See how the writer does not hide this either, that Paul wished to refresh himself.
4 Then, setting sail, we coasted under the lee of Cyprus, to avoid contrary winds,
 Et inde cum sustulissemus, subnavigavimus Cyprum, propterea quod essent venti contrarii. 
Chrys: Again trials, again contrary winds. See how the life of the saints is thus interwoven throughout: escaped from the court of justice, they fall in with shipwreck and storm.
5 but made a straight course over the open sea that lies off Cilicia and Pamphylia, and so reached Lystra in Lycia.  There the centurion found a boat from Alexandria which was sailing for Italy, and put us on board.  We had a slow voyage for many days after this; we made Gnidus with difficulty, and then, with the wind beating us back, had to sail under the lee of Crete by way of Salmone.  Here we were hard put to it to coast along as far as a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Thalassa.
 Et pelagus Ciliciæ et Pamphyliæ navigantes, venimus Lystram, quæ est Lyciæ: et ibi inveniens centurio navem Alexandrinam navigantem in Italiam, transposuit nos in eam.  Et cum multis diebus tarde navigaremus, et vix devenissemus contra Gnidum, prohibente nos vento, adnavigavimus Cretæ juxta Salmonem: et vix juxta navigantes, venimus in locum quemdam qui vocatur Boniportus, cui juxta erat civitas Thalassa.
 Chrys: See how God does not innovate or change the order of nature, but suffers them to sail into the unfavorable winds. But even so the miracle is wrought. That they may sail safely, He did not let them go out in the (open) sea, but they always sailed near the land.
9 Much time had now been wasted, and sailing had become dangerous; the fast was already over; and Paul bade them make the best of it.
 Multo autem tempore peracto, et cum jam non esset tuta navigatio eo quod et jejunium jam præteriisset, consolabatur eos Paulus,
Chrys: By the fast here, I suppose he means that of the Jews. For they departed thence a long time after the Pentecost, so that it was much about midwinter that they arrived at the coasts of Crete. And this too was no slight miracle, that they also should be saved on his account.
10 Sirs, he said, I can see plainly that there is no sailing now, without injury and great loss, not only of our freight and of the vessel, but of our own lives too.
 dicens eis: Viri, video quoniam cum injuria et multo damno non solum oneris, et navis, sed etiam animarum nostrarum incipit esse navigatio.
Chrys: And observe how unassuming the expression is. That he may not seem to prophesy, but to speak as of conjecture, I perceive, says he. For they would not have received it, had he said this at the outset. In fact he does prophesy on this former occasion, as he does afterward, and says (there), The God whom I serve, leading them on.

Then how comes it that it was not with loss (of any) of their lives? It would have been so, but that God brought them safe through it. For as far as depended on the nature of the thing, they had perished, but God prevented it.
11 The centurion, however, paid more attention to the helmsman and the master than to Paul’s advice. The harbour was not well placed for wintering in; so that more of them gave their voices for sailing further still, in the hope of making Phoenice and wintering there; it is a harbour in Crete, which faces in the direction of the South-west and North-west winds. A light breeze was now blowing from the South, so that they thought they had achieved their purpose, and coasted along Crete, leaving their anchorage at Assos.  But it was not long before a gale of wind struck the ship, the wind called Euraquilo;  she was carried out of her course, and could make no head against the wind, so we gave up and let her drive.
We now ran under the lee of an island named Cauda, where we contrived, with difficulty, to secure the ship’s boat. When it had been hoisted aboard, they strengthened the ship by passing ropes round her; then, for fear of being driven on to the Syrtis sands, they let down the sea-anchor, and so drifted. On the next day, so violently were we tossed about in the gale, they lightened ship, and on the third, they deliberately threw the spare tackle overboard. For several days we saw nothing of the sun or the stars, and a heavy gale pressed us hard, so that we had lost, by now, all hope of surviving; and we were much in want of food.
21b And now Paul stood up in their presence, and said, Sirs, you should have taken my advice; if you had not put out from Crete, you would have saved all this injury and damage.  But I would not have you lose courage, even now; there is to be no loss of life among you, only of the ship.  An angel stood before me last night, sent by the God to whom I belong, the God whom I serve,  and said, Have no fear, Paul, thou art to stand in Caesar’s presence; and behold, God has granted thee the safety of all thy fellow voyagers. Have courage, then, sirs; I trust in God, believing that all will fall out as he has told me.  Only we are to be cast up on an island. 
tunc stans Paulus in medio eorum, dixit: Oportebat quidem, o viri, audito me, non tollere a Creta, lucrique facere injuriam hanc et jacturam. 22 Et nunc suadeo vobis bono animo esse: amissio enim nullius animæ erit ex vobis, præterquam navis. 23 Astitit enim mihi hac nocte angelus Dei, cujus sum ego, et cui deservio, 24 dicens: Ne timeas, Paule: Cæsari te oportet assistere: et ecce donavit tibi Deus omnes qui navigant tecum. 25 Propter quod bono animo estote, viri: credo enim Deo quia sic erit, quemadmodum dictum est mihi. 26 In insulam autem quamdam oportet nos devenire.
Chrys:  Then after so great a storm he does not speak as insultingly over them, but as wishing that at any rate he might be believed for the future. Wherefore also he alleges what had taken place for a testimony of the truth of what was about to be said by him.And he foretells two things; both that they must be cast upon an island, and that though the ship would be lost, those who were in it should be saved— which thing he spoke not of conjecture, but of prophecy— and that he must be brought before Cæsar. But this that he says, God has given you all, is not spoken boastfully, but in the wish to win those who were sailing in the ship: for (he spoke thus), not that they might feel themselves bound to him, but that they might believe what he was saying. God has given you; as much (as to say), They are worthy indeed of death, since they would not listen to you: however, this is done out of favor to you...
27 On the fourteenth night, as we drifted about in the Adriatic sea,the crew began to suspect, about midnight, that we were nearing land;  so they took soundings, and made it twenty fathom; then they sounded again a short distance away, and made it fifteen fathom. Afraid, therefore, that we might be cast ashore on some rocky coast, they let down four anchors from the stern, and fell to wishing it were day.
 Sed posteaquam quartadecima nox supervenit, navigantibus nobis in Adria circa mediam noctem, suspicabantur nautæ apparere sibi aliquam regionem.  Qui et summittentes bolidem, invenerunt passus viginti: et pusillum inde separati, invenerunt passus quindecim. Timentes autem ne in aspera loca incideremus, de puppi mittentes anchoras quatuor, optabant diem fieri. 
 30 And now the sailors had a mind to abandon the ship, and lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they meant to lay out anchors from the bows.  But Paul told the centurion and the soldiers, These must stay on board, or there is no hope left for you; whereupon the soldiers cut the boat’s ropes away and let it drop.
Chrys: Then, severe the storm (that ensued), deep the darkness: and that they may not forget, the vessel also goes to pieces, and the grain is flung out and all beside, that they may not have it in their power after this to be shameless. For this is why the vessel goes to pieces, and their souls are tightly braced. Moreover, both the storm and the darkness contributed not a little to his obtaining the hearing he did. Accordingly observe how the centurion does as he bids him, insomuch that he even let the boat go, and destroyed it. And if the sailors did not as yet comply with his bidding, yet afterwards they do so: for in fact this is a reckless sort of people...

The sailors however, were about to escape, having no faith in what was said: but the centurion does believe Paul, For he says, If these flee, ye cannot be saved: so saying, not on this account, but that he might restrain them, and the prophecy might not fall to the ground. See how as in a church they are instructed by the calmness of Paul's behavior, how he saved them out of the very midst of the dangers. And it is of providential ordering that Paul is disbelieved, that after proof of the facts, he might be believed: which accordingly was the case. And he exhorts them again to take some meat, and they do as he bids them, and he takes some first, to persuade them not by word, but also by act, that the storm did them no harm, but rather was a benefit to their souls...
33 As day began to break, Paul entreated them all to take some food; To-day, he said, is the fourteenth day you have been in suspense, and all that time gone hungry, neglecting to eat; pray take some food, then; it will make for your preservation; not a hair of anyone’s head is to be lost.  And with that he took bread, and gave thanks to God before them all, and broke it, and began to eat.  Thereupon they all found courage, and themselves took a meal.  The whole number of souls on board was two hundred and seventy six.  So all ate till they were content; and afterwards they began to lighten the ship, throwing the corn into the sea.
 Et cum lux inciperet fieri, rogabat Paulus omnes sumere cibum, dicens: Quartadecima die hodie exspectantes jejuni permanetis, nihil accipientes.  Propter quod rogo vos accipere cibum pro salute vestra: quia nullius vestrum capillus de capite peribit.  Et cum hæc dixisset, sumens panem, gratias egit Deo in conspectu omnium: et cum fregisset, cœpit manducare. Animæquiores autem facti omnes, et ipsi sumpserunt cibum.  Eramus vero universæ animæ in navi ducentæ septuaginta sex. Et satiati cibo alleviabant navem, jactantes triticum in mare.
39 When day broke, they found that the coast was strange to them. But they sighted a bay with a sloping beach, and made up their minds, if it should be possible, to run the ship ashore there. They lifted the anchors and trusted themselves to the mercy of the sea, at the same time unlashing the tiller; then they hoisted the foresail to the breeze, and held on for the shore.  But now, finding they were running into a cross-sea, they grounded the ship where they were. The bows, which were stuck fast, felt no movement, but the stern began falling to pieces under the violence of the waves;  whereupon the soldiers would have killed the prisoners, for fear that any of them should dive overboard and escape,  but the centurion balked them of their will, because he had a mind to keep Paul safe. He gave orders that those who could swim should go overboard first, and make their way to land; of the rest, some were ferried across on planks, and some on the ship’s wreckage. So it was that all reached land in safety.
 Cum autem dies factus esset, terram non agnoscebant: sinum vero quemdam considerabant habentem littus, in quem cogitabant si possent ejicere navem.  Et cum anchoras sustulissent, committebant se mari, simul laxantes juncturas gubernaculorum: et levato artemone secundum auræ flatum, tendebant ad littus.  Et cum incidissemus in locum dithalassum, impegerunt navem: et prora quidem fixa manebat immobilis, puppis vero solvebatur a vi maris.  Militum autem consilium fuit ut custodias occiderent, ne quis cum enatasset, effugeret.  Centurio autem volens servare Paulum, prohibuit fieri: jussitque eos qui possent natare, emittere se primos, et evadere, et ad terram exire:  et ceteros, alios in tabulis ferebant, quosdam super ea quæ de navi erant. Et sic factum est, ut omnes animæ evaderent ad terram.
Chrys: Again the devil tries to hinder the prophecy, and they had a mind to kill some, but the centurion suffered them not, that he might save Paul, so much was the centurion attached to him...

So that righteous men, though they may be in a tempest, or on the sea, or in the deep, suffer nothing dreadful, but even save others together with themselves. If (here was) a ship in danger and suffering wreck, and prisoners were saved for Paul's sake, consider what a thing it is to have a holy man in a house: for many are the tempests which assail us also, tempests far more grievous than these (natural ones), but He can also give us to be delivered, if only we obey holy men as those (in the ship) did, if we do what they enjoin...

 Let us think that the whole world is a ship, and in this the evildoers and those who have numberless vices, some rulers, others guards, others just men, as Paul was, others prisoners, those bound by their sins: if then we do as Paul bids us, we perish not in our bonds, but are released from them: God will give us also to him....

For Paul is sailing even now with us, only not bound as he was then: he admonishes us even now, and says to those who are (sailing) on this sea, take heed unto yourselves: for after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you: and again, In the last times perilous times shall come: and men shall be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, boasters. 2 Timothy 3:2 This is more grievous than all storms.

Let us therefore abide where he bids us— in faith, in the safe haven: let us hearken unto him rather than to the pilot that is within us, that is, our own reason.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Acts 26: Three proofs - the light, the prophets and the signs

Paul, Festus, Agrippa

Acts 26 takes us through familiar territory, with Paul giving once again his life-story, and explaining why he is innocent of the charges made against him by the Jews.  But this time, in his presentation to King Agrippa, knowing that he has a knowledgeable and interested audience (verses 1-3), he adds some important details that summarise the significance of his life to the Christian cause.

In particular:
  • his Jewish background and early zeal for the law is important, partly because it makes his conversion all the more telling(verses 4-18);
  • his vision of Christ on the way to Damascus took place at midday, the same time of day that St Peter had his vision that led to the admission of the gentiles to the ranks of the faithful; and
  • the Christian message is nothing more than what has been foretold in the prophets and had been expected by all Jews (verses 22-23).
Acts 26:
Then Agrippa said to Paul, Thou art free to give an account of thyself. And Paul, stretching out his hand, began his defence: 2 King Agrippa, I count myself fortunate to-day, to be defending myself against all the accusations of the Jews in thy presence. 3 No one is more familiar than thou with the customs of the Jews, and their controversies; and this makes me bold to ask thee for a patient audience.
Agrippa vero ad Paulum ait: Permittitur tibi loqui pro temetipso. Tunc Paulus extenta manu cœpit rationem reddere: 2 De omnibus quibus accusor a Judæis, rex Agrippa, æstimo me beatum apud te cum sim defensurus me hodie, 3 maxime te sciente omnia, et quæ apud Judæos sunt consuetudines et quæstiones: propter quod obsecro patienter me audias.
 Chrysostom (Homily 52):  The Jews desisted ever since Paul exercised his right of appeal. Then also for him the theatre becomes a splendid one: with great pomp they were present...It shows that he did right in appealing to Cæsar. For if though they had no great matter to allege against him, yet those (at Jerusalem) were mad against him, with good reason may he go to Cæsar. That after examination had by you, he says, I may get somewhat to write. Observe how the matter is repeatedly put to the test. The Jews therefore may thank themselves for this vindication (of Paul), which would come to the ears of those also who were at Rome. See how they become the unwilling heralds both of their own wickedness and of Paul's virtue, even to the emperor himself: so that Paul was carried away (to Rome) with more renown than if he had gone there without bonds: for not as an impostor and a deceiver, after so many judges had acquitted him, was he now carried there. Quit therefore of all charges, among those with whom he was bred and born, and not only so, (but) thus free from all suspicion, he makes his appearance at Rome.
4 What my life was like when boyhood was over, spent from the first among my own people and in Jerusalem, all the Jews know; 5 their earliest memory of me, would they but admit it, is of one who lived according to the strictest tradition of observance we have, a Pharisee. 6 And if I stand here on my trial, it is for my hope of the promise God made to our fathers. 7 Our twelve tribes worship him ceaselessly, night and day, in the hope of attaining that promise; and this is the hope, my lord king, for which the Jews call me to account. 8 Why should it be beyond the belief of men such as thou art, that God should raise the dead?9 Well then, I thought it my duty to defy, in many ways, the name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 And that is what I did, at Jerusalem; it was I, under powers granted me by the chief priests, who shut up many of the faithful in prison; and when they were done to death, I raised my voice against them. 11 Often have I tried to force them into blaspheming, by inflicting punishment on them in one synagogue after another; nay, so unmeasured was my rage against them that I used to go to foreign cities to persecute them. 
Et quidem vitam meam a juventute, quæ ab initio fuit in gente mea in Jerosolymis, noverunt omnes Judæi: 5 præscientes me ab initio (si velint testimonium perhibere) quoniam secundum certissimam sectam nostræ religionis vixi pharisæus. 6 Et nunc, in spe quæ ad patres nostros repromissionis facta est a Deo, sto judicio subjectus: 7 in quam duodecim tribus nostræ nocte ac die deservientes, sperant devenire. De qua spe accusor a Judæis, rex. 8 Quid incredibile judicatur apud vos, si Deus mortuos suscitat?9 Et ego quidem existimaveram me adversus nomen Jesu Nazareni debere multa contraria agere, 10 quod et feci Jerosolymis, et multos sanctorum ego in carceribus inclusi, a principibus sacerdotum potestate accepta: et cum occiderentur, detuli sententiam. 11 Et per omnes synagogas frequenter puniens eos, compellebam blasphemare: et amplius insaniens in eos, persequebar usque in exteras civitates. 
Chrys:  Then he tells, how he persecuted: this also helps the proof: and he brings forward the chief priests as witnesses, and the strange cities, and that he heard Him saying to him, It is hard for you to kick against the pricks, and shows the mercifulness of God, that, though being persecuted He appeared (to men), and did that benefit not to me only, but also sent me as teacher to others: and shows also the prophecy, now come to pass, which he then heard, Delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send you...

I was not one of Christ's disciples: among those who fought against Him, was I. Whence also he is a witness who has a right to be believed, because he, a man who was doing numberless things, makes war on the believers, persuading them to blaspheme, stirring up all against them, cities, rulers, and by himself doing all this of his own accord, was thus suddenly changed.
12 It was on such an errand that I was making my way to Damascus, with powers delegated to me by the chief priests, 13 when, journeying at midday, I saw, my lord king, a light from heaven, surpassing the brightness of the sun, which shone about me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice which said to me, in Hebrew, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? This is a thankless task of thine, kicking against the goad.15 Who art thou, Lord? I asked. And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom Saul persecutes. 16 Rise up, and stand on thy feet; I have shewn myself to thee, that I may single thee out to serve me, as the witness of this vision thou hast had, and other visions thou wilt have of me. 17 I will be thy deliverer from the hands of thy people, and of the Gentiles, to whom I am now sending thee. 18 Thou shalt open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive, through faith in me, remission of their sins and an inheritance among the saints.
In quibus dum irem Damascum cum potestate et permissu principum sacerdotum, 13 die media in via vidi, rex, de cælo supra splendorem solis circumfulsisse me lumen, et eos qui mecum simul erant. 14 Omnesque nos cum decidissemus in terram, audivi vocem loquentem mihi hebraica lingua: Saule, Saule, quid me persequeris? durum est tibi contra stimulum calcitrare. 15 Ego autem dixi: Quis es, domine? Dominus autem dixit: Ego sum Jesus, quem tu persequeris. 16 Sed exsurge, et sta super pedes tuos: ad hoc enim apparui tibi, ut constituam te ministrum, et testem eorum quæ vidisti, et eorum quibus apparebo tibi, 17 eripiens te de populo et gentibus, in quas nunc ego mitto te, 18 aperire oculos eorum, ut convertantur a tenebris ad lucem, et de potestate Satanæ ad Deum, ut accipiant remissionem peccatorum, et sortem inter sanctos, per fidem quæ est in me. 
Chrys: Then again the witnesses, those who were with him: next he shows what just cause he had to be persuaded, both from the light, and from the prophets, and from the results, and from the things which have now taken place. See accordingly, how both from the prophets, and from these particulars, he confirms the proof to them.
19 Whereupon, king Agrippa, I did not show myself disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 First to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem, then to all the country of Judaea, then to the heathen, I preached repentance, bidding them turn to God, and so act as befits men who are penitent. 21 That is why the Jews, when they caught me in the temple, tried to murder me. 22 But, thanks to God’s help, I still stand here to-day, bearing my witness to small and great alike. Yet there is nothing in my message which goes beyond what the prophets spoke of, and Moses spoke of, as things to come; 23 a suffering Christ, and one who should shew light to his people and to the Gentiles by being the first to rise from the dead.
 9 Unde, rex Agrippa, non fui incredulus cælesti visioni: 20 sed his qui sunt Damasci primum, et Jerosolymis, et in omnem regionem Judææ, et gentibus, annuntiabam, ut pœnitentiam agerent, et converterentur ad Deum, digna pœnitentiæ opera facientes. 21 Hac ex causa me Judæi, cum essem in templo, comprehensum tentabant interficere. 22 Auxilio autem adjutus Dei usque in hodiernum diem, sto, testificans minori atque majori, nihil extra dicens quam ea quæ prophetæ locuti sunt futura esse, et Moyses, 23 si passibilis Christus, si primus ex resurrectione mortuorum, lumen annuntiaturus est populo et gentibus
Chrys: Two arguments he lays down for the Resurrection: one, the argument from the prophets: and he does not bring forward any prophet (in particular,) but the doctrine itself as held by the Jews: the other and stronger one, the argument from the facts— (especially from this,) that Christ Himself held discourse with him...And then another argument. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? Since, if such an opinion had not existed, if they had not been brought up in these dogmas, but they were now for the first time brought in, perhaps some one might not have received the saying...

 For that he may not seem to be broaching some novelty, although he had great things to say, yet he again takes refuge with the prophets, and puts this as a question for discussion. Now this had a stronger claim upon belief, as having actually come to pass: but since he alone saw (Christ), he again fetches proof of it from the prophets. And see how he does not discourse alike in the court of justice, and in the assembly (of his own people); there indeed he says, ye slew Him: but here no such thing, that he might not kindle their anger more: but he shows the same thing, by saying, Whether the Christ was to suffer. He so frees them from accusations: for the prophets, he says, say this. Therefore receive ye also the rest. Since he has mentioned the vision, he then without fear goes on to speak also of the good wrought by it...He shows the evils which possess unbelievers, Satan, darkness; the good things belonging to believers, light, God, the inheritance of the saints.
 24 When Paul had proceeded so far with his defence, Festus said in a loud voice, Paul, thou art mad; they are driving thee to madness, these long studies of thine. 25 But Paul answered, No, most noble Festus, I am not mad; the message which I utter is sober truth. 26 The king knows about all this well enough; that is why I speak with such confidence in his presence. None of this, I am sure, is news to him; it was not in some secret corner that all this happened. 27 Dost thou believe the prophets, king Agrippa? I am well assured thou dost believe them. 28 At this, Agrippa said to Paul, Thou wouldst have me turn Christian with very little ado. 29 Why, said Paul, it would be my prayer to God that, whether it were with much ado or little, both thou and all those who are listening to me to-day should become just such as I am, but for these chains. 30 Then the king rose, and so did the governor, and Bernice, and all those who sat there with them. 31 When they had retired, they said to one another, This man is guilty of no fault that deserves death or imprisonment. 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, If he had not appealed to Caesar, this man might have been set at liberty.
 Hæc loquente eo, et rationem reddente, Festus magna voce dixit: Insanis, Paule: multæ te litteræ ad insaniam convertunt. 25 Et Paulus: Non insanio, inquit, optime Feste, sed veritatis et sobrietatis verba loquor. 26 Scit enim de his rex, ad quem et constanter loquor: latere enim eum nihil horum arbitror. Neque enim in angulo quidquam horum gestum est. 27 Credis, rex Agrippa, prophetis? Scio quia credis. 28 Agrippa autem ad Paulum: In modico suades me christianum fieri. 29 Et Paulus: Opto apud Deum, et in modico et in magno, non tantum te, sed etiam omnes qui audiunt hodie fieri tales, qualis et ego sum, exceptis vinculis his. 30 Et exsurrexit rex, et præses, et Bernice, et qui assidebant eis. 31 Et cum secessissent, loquebantur ad invicem, dicentes: Quia nihil morte aut vinculis dignum quid fecit homo iste. 32 Agrippa autem Festo dixit: Dimitti poterat homo hic, si non appellasset Cæsarem.
Chrys: He not only exhorts them to repent, but also to show forth a life worthy of admiration. And see how everywhere the Gentiles are admitted into connection with the people (Israel): for those who were present were of the Gentiles. Testifying, he says, both to great and small, that is, both to distinguished and undistinguished. This is also for the soldiers. Observe: having left the post of defendant, he took up that of teacher— and therefore also it is that Festus says to him, You are beside yourself— but then, that he may not seem to be himself the teacher, he brings in the prophets, and Moses: Whether the Christ was to suffer, whether He as the first to rise from the dead should show light both to the people, and to the Gentiles.

 St John Chrysostom on divine wisdom:

Such is a soul winged with heavenly love. For if those who cherish the foul (earthly passion which men call) love, think nothing either glorious of precious, but those things alone which tend to gratify their lust, they think both glorious and honorable, and their mistress is everything to them; much more do those, who have been taken captive by this heavenly love, think nothing of the cost (τὰ ἐπιτίμια).

But if we do not understand what I am saying, it is no marvel, while we are unskilled in this Divine Wisdom. For if any one be caught with the fire of Christ's love, he becomes such as a man would become who dwelt alone upon the earth, so utterly careless is he for glory or disgrace: but just as if he dwelt alone, he would care for nothing, no more does he in this case.

As for trials, he so despises them, both scourges and imprisonments, as though the body in which he suffers these things were another's and not his own, or as though he had got a body made of adamant: while as for the sweet things of this life, he so laughs them to scorn, is so insensible to them, as we are insensible of dead bodies, being ourselves dead.

He is as far from being taken captive by any passion, as the gold refined in the fire and purified is free from alloy. For even as flies would not dart into the midst of a flame, but fly from it, so the passions dare not even to come near this man.

Would that I could bring forward examples of all this from among ourselves: but since we are at a loss for such, we must needs betake ourselves to this same Paul. Observe him then, how he felt towards the whole world. The world is crucified unto me, he says, and I unto the world Galatians 6:14: I am dead to the world, and the world is dead to me. And again: It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me....

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Acts 25 - Paul appeals to Rome

Berenice with her brother and Herod Agrippa II at Paul's trial,
St Paul's Melbourne

Acts 25 sees the appointment of a new procurator, Festus, and so the Jewish authorities lobby to bring Paul back to Jerusalem, and invites them to come to Caesarea instead (verses 1-6).  Paul, seeing he is in danger of being handed over to the Jews, appeals to Rome.  Festus involves Herod in the process, on the grounds that when he tried to find our what his crimes were from his accusers, there seemed to be nothing serious enough to warrant a death sentence.

Acts 25:
And Festus, three days after entering his province, went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Here the high priest and the leaders of the Jews put before him their case against Paul, and were urgent with him, asking as a favour, that he would summon Paul to Jerusalem; meanwhile they were preparing an ambush, so as to make away with him on the journey. But Festus answered that Paul was in safe keeping at Caesarea; he himself would be removing there as soon as possible; Let those of you who are men of influence, he said, travel down with me, and bring your charges against this man, if you have anything against him. So, when he had spent a week with them, or ten days at most, he went down to Caesarea; and next day, sitting on the judgement-seat, he gave orders for Paul to be brought in. 
  7 When he appeared, there were the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem, standing round him and bringing many grave accusations against him, which they could not prove; 8 while Paul said in his defence, I have committed no crime against the Jewish law, or against the temple, or against Caesar. 9 But Festus had a mind to ingratiate himself with the Jews, so he answered Paul thus, Art thou ready to go up to Jerusalem, and meet these charges before me there? 10 Upon which Paul said, I am standing at Caesar’s judgement-seat, where I have a right to be tried. As for the Jews, I have done them no wrong, as thou knowest well enough. 11 If I am guilty, if I have done something which deserves death, I do not ask for reprieve; if their charges are without substance, no one has a right to make them a present of my life. I appeal to Caesar. 12 Then Festus conferred with his council, and answered, Hast thou appealed to Caesar? To Caesar thou shalt go.
 Qui cum perductus esset, circumsteterunt eum, qui ab Jerosolyma descenderant Judæi, multas et graves causas objicientes, quas non poterant probare: 8 Paulo rationem reddente: Quoniam neque in legem Judæorum, neque in templum, neque in Cæsarem quidquam peccavi. 9 Festus autem volens gratiam præstare Judæis, respondens Paulo, dixit: Vis Jerosolymam ascendere, et ibi de his judicari apud me? 10 Dixit autem Paulus: Ad tribunal Cæsaris sto: ibi me oportet judicari: Judæis non nocui, sicut tu melius nosti. 11 Si enim nocui, aut dignum morte aliquid feci, non recuso mori: si vero nihil est eorum quæ hi accusant me, nemo potest me illis donare. Cæsarem appello. 12 Tunc Festus cum concilio locutus, respondit: Cæsarem appellasti? ad Cæsarem ibis.
13 Some days later, king Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea, to give Festus their greeting, 14 and, since he was spending several days there, Festus put Paul’s case before the king; There is a man here, he said, whom Felix left behind him in prison; 15 and when I went to Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews denounced him to me, asking for his condemnation. 16 I replied that it is not the Roman custom to pronounce a condemnation, until the accused man has been confronted with his accusers, and been given the opportunity to clear himself of the charge. 17 So they came here with me, and I did not keep them waiting; the next day, sitting on the judgement-seat, I gave orders for the man to be brought in. 18 His accusers, as they stood round him, could not tax him with any criminal offence, such as I had expected; 19 their controversies with him were concerned with scruples of their own, and with a dead man called Jesus, whom Paul declared to be alive. 20 For myself, I hesitated to enter upon the discussion of such matters; so I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem, and meet these charges there. 21 Upon which Paul appealed to have his case reserved for the emperor’s cognizance; and I gave orders that he should be kept safe until I can send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said to Festus, I have often wished, myself, to hear this man speak. Thou shalt hear him, said he, to-morrow.
 13 Et cum dies aliquot transacti essent, Agrippa rex et Bernice descenderunt Cæsaream ad salutandum Festum. 14 Et cum dies plures ibi demorarentur, Festus regi indicavit de Paulo, dicens: Vir quidam est derelictus a Felice vinctus, 15 de quo cum essem Jerosolymis, adierunt me principes sacerdotum et seniores Judæorum, postulantes adversus illum damnationem. 16 Ad quos respondi: Quia non est Romanis consuetudo damnare aliquem hominem priusquam is qui accusatur præsentes habeat accusatores, locumque defendendi accipiat ad abluenda crimina. 17 Cum ergo huc convenissent sine ulla dilatione, sequenti die sedens pro tribunali, jussi adduci virum. 18 De quo, cum stetissent accusatores, nullam causam deferebant, de quibus ego suspicabar malum. 19 Quæstiones vero quasdam de sua superstitione habebant adversus eum, et de quodam Jesu defuncto, quem affirmabat Paulus vivere. 20 Hæsitans autem ego de hujusmodi quæstione, dicebam si vellet ire Jerosolymam, et ibi judicari de istis. 21 Paulo autem appellante ut servaretur ad Augusti cognitionem, jussi servari eum, donec mittam eum ad Cæsarem. 22 Agrippa autem dixit ad Festum: Volebam et ipse hominem audire. Cras, inquit, audies eum.
23 So, on the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and made their entry into the hall of judgement, attended by the captains and all the eminent persons of the city; and Paul, at Festus’ command, was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, King Agrippa, and all you who are present, you see before you a man over whom the whole Jewish body has been petitioning me, not only here but at Jerusalem, crying out that he must not be allowed to live a day longer. 25 For myself, I was satisfied that he had not done anything deserving of death; but, since he has appealed to the emperor, I have thought it best to send him, 26 and now, writing to my sovereign lord, I have no clear account to give of him. That is why I have brought him before you, and before thee especially, king Agrippa, so that the examination may afford material for my letter. 27 It would be unreasonable, I conceive, to remit a prisoner for trial without putting on record the charges that lie against him.
 23 Altera autem die cum venisset Agrippa et Bernice cum multa ambitione, et introissent in auditorium cum tribunis et viris principalibus civitatis, jubente Festo, adductus est Paulus. 24 Et dicit Festus: Agrippa rex, et omnes qui simul adestis nobiscum viri, videtis hunc de quo omnis multitudo Judæorum interpellavit me Jerosolymis, petentes et acclamantes non oportere eum vivere amplius. 25 Ego vere comperi nihil dignum morte eum admisisse. Ipso autem hoc appellante ad Augustum, judicavi mittere. 26 De quo quid certum scribam domino, non habeo. Propter quod produxi eum ad vos, et maxime ad te, rex Agrippa, ut interrogatione facta habeam quid scribam. 27 Sine ratione enim mihi videtur mittere vinctum, et causas ejus non significare.
Chrysostom (Homily 52): See what an audience is gathered together for Paul. Having collected all his guards, the governor has come, and the king, and the tribunes, with the principal men, it says, of the city. Then Paul being brought forth, see how he is proclaimed as conqueror. Festus himself acquits him from the charges...For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Mark how he accuses them, while he acquits him. O what an abundance of justifications! After all these repeated examinations, the governor finds not how he may condemn him. They said he was worthy of death. On this account he said also: When I found, says he that he had committed nothing worthy of death.— Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. This too is a proof of Paul's spotlessness, that the judge found nothing to say concerning him. Therefore I have brought him forth, he says, before you. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crime laid against him. Such were the great straits into which the Jews brought themselves and their rulers!  

SS Philip and James

The feast of SS James and Philip used to be celebrated on May 1, but displaced by the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, and moved to May 11.  Here are the readings in the Benedictine Office:

Nocturn I (James 1:1-16)

Reading 1: James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, sends greeting to the members of the twelve tribes scattered throughout the world. Consider yourselves happy indeed, my brethren, when you encounter trials of every sort,  as men who know well enough that the testing of their faith breeds endurance.  Endurance must do its work thoroughly, if you are to be men full-grown in every part, nothing lacking in you.

R. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, alleluia.* He shall delight exceedingly in his commandments, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
R. He shall delight exceedingly in his commandments, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 2: Is there one of you who still lacks wisdom? God gives to all, freely and ungrudgingly; so let him ask God for it, and the gift will come. (Only it must be in faith that he asks, he must not hesitate; one who hesitates is like a wave out at sea, driven to and fro by the wind; such a man must not hope to win any gift from the Lord.

R. Your sorrow, alleluia.* Shall be turned into joy, alleluia.
V. The world shall rejoice: and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow.
R. Shall be turned into joy, alleluia.

Reading 3: No, a man who is in two minds will find no rest wherever he goes.  Is one of the brethren in humble circumstances? Let him be proud of it; it exalts him, whereas the rich man takes pride in what in truth abases him. The rich man will pass by like the bloom on the grass; 11 the sun gets up, and the scorching wind with it, which dries up the grass, till the bloom on it falls, and all its fair show dies away; so the rich man, with his enterprises, will disappear.

R. Precious in the sight of the Lord, alleluia.* Is the death of his saints, alleluia.
V. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit.
R. Is the death of his saints, alleluia.

Reading 4: Blessed is he who endures under trials. When he has proved his worth, he will win that crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Nobody, when he finds himself tempted, should say, I am being tempted by God. God may threaten us with evil, but he does not himself tempt anyone. No, when a man is tempted, it is always because he is being drawn away by the lure of his own passions. When that has come about, passion conceives and gives birth to sin; and when sin has reached its full growth, it breeds death. Beloved brethren, do not deceive yourselves over this.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: Philip was born in the town of Bethsaida, and was one of the first of the twelve Apostles who were called by the Lord Christ. Then Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him: “We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write.” And so he brought him to the Lord. How familiarly he was in the company of Christ, is manifest from that which is written: "There were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the Feast the same came therefore to Philip, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus." When the Lord was in the wilderness, and was about to feed a great multitude, He said unto Philip: “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Philip, after that he had received the Holy Ghost, took Scythia, by lot, as the land wherein he was to preach the Gospel, and brought nearly all that people to believe in Christ. At the last he came to Hierapolis in Phrygia, and there, for Christ's Name's sake, he was fastened to a cross and stoned to death. The day was the first of May. The Christians of Hierapolis buried his body at that place, but it was afterwards brought to Rome and laid in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, beside that of the blessed Apostle James.

R. Eternal light will shine over your saints, O Lord,* And the eternity of the times, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness
R. And the eternity of the times, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 6: JAMES, surnamed the Just, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was a Nazarite from the womb. During his whole life he never drank wine or strong drink, never ate meat, never shaved, and never took a bath. He was the only man who was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies. His raiment was always linen. So continually did he kneel in prayer, that the skin of his knees became horny, like a camel's knees. After Christ was ascended, the Apostles made James Bishop of Jerusalem and even the Prince of the Apostles gave special intelligence to him after that he was delivered from prison by an angel.

R. With great power did the Apostles* Give testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, alleluia, alleluia.
V. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they spoke the word of God with confidence.
R. Give testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 7: When in the Council of Jerusalem certain questions were mooted touching the law and circumcision, James, following the opinion of Peter, addressed a discourse to the brethren, wherein he proved the call of the Gentiles, and commanded letters to be sent to such brethren as were absent, that they might take heed not to lay upon the Gentiles the yoke of the Law of Moses. It is of him that the Apostle Paul saith, writing to the Galatians: “Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.”

R. These are the young lambs, who were promised, they are just coming to the fountains.
* They are filled with glory, alleluia, alleluia.
V. In sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
R. They are filled with glory, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 8: So great was James' holiness of life that men strove one with another to touch the hem of his garment. When he was ninety-six years old, and had most holily governed the Church of Jerusalem for thirty years, ever most constantly preaching Christ the Son of God, he laid down his life for the faith. He was first stoned, and afterward taken up on to a pinnacle of the Temple and cast down from thence. His legs were broken by the fall, and he was well-nigh dead, but he lifted up his hands towards heaven, and prayed to God for the salvation of his murderers, saying: “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As he said this, one that stood by smote him grievously upon the head with a fuller's club, and he resigned his spirit to God. He testified in the seventh year of Nero, and was buried hard by the Temple, in the place where he had fallen. He wrote one of the Seven Epistles which are called Catholic.

Nocturn III (St Augustine, Tractates on John, 67)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John, John 14:1-13: At that time, Jesus said unto His disciples: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house there are many mansions.” And so on.

Our special attention, brethren, must be earnestly turned to God, in order that we may be able to obtain some intelligent apprehension of the words of the holy Gospel, which have just been ringing in our ears. For the Lord Jesus says: Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, and believe [or, believe also] in me. That they might not as men be afraid of death, and so be troubled, He comforts them by affirming Himself also to be God.

R. I am the vine: you the branches.* He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit, alleluia, alleluia.
V. As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you.
R. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 10: Believe, He says, in God, believe also in me. For it follows as a consequence, that if you believe in God, you ought to believe also in me: which were no consequence if Christ were not God. Believe in God, and believe in Him, who, by nature and not by robbery, is equal with God; for He emptied Himself; not, however, by losing the form of God, but by taking the form of a servant. Philippians 2:6-7 You are afraid of death as regards this servant form, let not your heart be troubled, the form of God will raise it again.

R. Her Nazarites are become pure, Alleluia: they reflect the glory of God, Alleluia.* They are whiter than milk. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. They are purer than snow, they are whiter than milk, they are more ruddy in body than coral, their polishing is of sapphire.
R. They are whiter than milk. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 11: But why have we this that follows, In my Father's house are many mansions, but that they were also in fear about themselves? And therein they might have heard the words, Let not your heart be troubled. For, was there any of them that could be free from fear, when Peter, the most confident and forward of them all, was told, The cock shall not crow till you have denied me thrice?

Reading 12: Considering themselves, therefore, beginning with Peter, as destined to perish, they had cause to be troubled: but when they now hear, In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you, they are revived from their trouble, made certain and confident that after all the perils of temptations they shall dwell with Christ in the presence of God. For, albeit one is stronger than another, one wiser than another, one more righteous than another, in the Father's house there are many mansions; none of them shall remain outside that house, where every one, according to his deserts, is to receive a mansion.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Acts 24 - Sedition, justice and the Romans

Paul before Felix, showing St Paul on trial before Felix, governor of Caesarea; the Saint to right, Felix and two priests on a dais, one sitting, asleep, beside the governor, two clerks in front of the bench at which St Paul stands, a figure with the Roman standard and a scroll to left, a soldier to right and two figures carrying fascae either side of the dais; state before quotation from Warton included and date earsed.  1752 Etching and engraving
William Hogarth, Paul before Felix (etching, 1752)
Source: British Museum, Print by Luke Sullivan

Acts 24
 Five days later the high priest Ananias came down, accompanied by some of the elders and by an advocate named Tertullus; these appeared before the governor against Paul. 2 So, when Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began his indictment thus. Such is the peace thou hast enabled us to enjoy, so many wrongs have been righted for us through thy wisdom, 3 that always and everywhere, most noble Felix, we are ready to acknowledge it with grateful hearts. 4 But I must not weary thee with more of this; what we ask of thy courtesy is no more than a brief audience. 5 Here is a man who is known to us as a pestilent mover of sedition among Jews all over the world, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, 6 who has not scrupled to attempt a violation of the temple. We arrested him, and had intended to try him according to our own law, 7 when the captain, Lysias, came and took him out of our hands, with great violence, 8 and insisted that his accusers must appear before thee. Interrogate him thyself, and thou wilt be able to learn the truth about all the accusations we bring against him.9 And the Jews, for their part, supported the indictment, alleging that all this was the truth.
Post quinque autem dies descendit princeps sacerdotum Ananias, cum senioribus quibusdam, et Tertullo quodam oratore, qui adierunt præsidem adversus Paulum. 2 Et citato Paulo cœpit accusare Tertullus, dicens: Cum in multa pace agamus per te, et multa corrigantur per tuam providentiam, 3 semper et ubique suscipimus, optime Felix, cum omni gratiarum actione. 4 Ne diutius autem te protraham, oro, breviter audias nos pro tua clementia. 5 Invenimus hunc hominem pestiferum, et concitantem seditiones omnibus Judæis in universo orbe, et auctorem seditionis sectæ Nazarenorum: 6 qui etiam templum violare conatus est, quem et apprehensum voluimus secundum legem nostram judicare. 7 Superveniens autem tribunus Lysias, cum vi magna eripuit eum de manibus nostris, 8 jubens accusatores ejus ad te venire: a quo poteris ipse judicans, de omnibus istis cognoscere, de quibus nos accusamus eum. 9 Adjecerunt autem et Judæi, dicentes hæc ita se habere.

Chrysostom (Homily 50): See how this man also from the very outset with his praises seeks to gain the judge beforehand.... And see how he would put up the judge to a desire of punishing, seeing he had here an opportunity to coerce the man that turned the world upside down! ...see how maliciously they calumniate him: (found him), as if he had been always giving them the slip, and with difficulty they had succeeded in getting him: though he had been seven days in the Temple!
10 Then the governor made a sign to bid Paul speak, and he answered, I am the more emboldened to make my defence, because I know well that thou hast been a judge over this nation for many years. 11 Thou hast the means of assuring thyself that it is only twelve days since I came up to Jerusalem, to worship there. 12 They have never found me raising controversy, or bringing a crowd together, either in the temple, or in the synagogues, or in the open city; 13 nor can they produce any proof of the charges they bring against me. 14 But this I admit to thee, that in worshipping God, my Father, I follow what we call the way, and they call a sect. I put my trust in all that is written in the law and the prophets, 15 sharing before God the hope they have too, that the dead will rise again, both just and unjust. 16 To that end I, like them, am at pains to keep my conscience clear of offence towards God or man, at all times.  
Respondit autem Paulus (annuente sibi præside dicere): Ex multis annis te esse judicem genti huic sciens, bono animo pro me satisfaciam. 11 Potes enim cognoscere quia non plus sunt mihi dies quam duodecim, ex quo ascendi adorare in Jerusalem: 12 et neque in templo invenerunt me cum aliquo disputantem, aut concursum facientem turbæ, neque in synagogis, neque in civitate: 13 neque probare possunt tibi de quibus nunc me accusant. 14 Confiteor autem hoc tibi, quod secundum sectam quam dicunt hæresim, sic deservio Patri et Deo meo, credens omnibus quæ in lege et prophetis scripta sunt: 15 spem habens in Deum, quam et hi ipsi exspectant, resurrectionem futuram justorum et iniquorum. 16 In hoc et ipse studeo sine offendiculo conscientiam habere ad Deum et ad homines semper
 Chrys:  This is not the language of flattery, his testifying to the judge's justice: no, the adulation was rather in that speech of the orator...What Paul sought was justice.
17 After some years’ absence I came up to bring alms to the men of my own race, and certain offerings. 18 It was when I had just made these offerings and had been purified in the temple, that I was found there, no crowd about me, no rioting, by whom? 19 By some Jews from Asia, who ought to be here, standing in thy presence, if they had any quarrel with me. 20 In default of that, it is for those who are here to give their own account of what blame they found in me, when I stood before the Council; 21 unless it were over one single utterance, when I cried out, standing there among them, If I am on my trial before you to-day, it is because of the resurrection of the dead.
Post annos autem plures eleemosynas facturus in gentem meam, veni, et oblationes, et vota, 18 in quibus invenerunt me purificatum in templo: non cum turba, neque cum tumultu. 19 Quidam autem ex Asia Judæi, quos oportebat apud te præsto esse, et accusare si quid haberent adversum me: 20 aut hi ipsi dicant si quid invenerunt in me iniquitatis cum stem in concilio, 21 nisi de una hac solummodo voce qua clamavi inter eos stans: Quoniam de resurrectione mortuorum ego judicor hodie a vobis.
 22 Felix, who had full information about this way, reserved judgement; I will give you a hearing, he said, when Lysias, the captain, has come down here. 23 And he gave orders to the centurion that Paul was to be kept safely, but left at his ease, and that any of his friends should be given liberty to minister to him. 24 And some days afterwards, when Felix was there with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and listened to his message about faith in Jesus Christ. 25 When he spoke of justice, and continence, and of the judgement that is to come, Felix was terrified; 
Distulit autem illos Felix, certissime sciens de via hac, dicens: Cum tribunus Lysias descenderit, audiam vos. 23 Jussitque centurioni custodire eum, et habere requiem, nec quemquam de suis prohibere ministrare ei. 24 Post aliquot autem dies veniens Felix cum Drusilla uxore sua, quæ erat Judæa, vocavit Paulum, et audivit ab eo fidem quæ est in Christum Jesum. 25 Disputante autem illo de justitia, et castitate, et de judicio futuro, tremefactus Felix,  
Chrys (Homily 51): And observe Paul, how, though reasoning with a ruler, he says nothing of the sort that was likely to amuse and entertain, but (he reasoned, it says,) of righteousness, and of the coming judgment, and of the resurrection. And such was the force of his words, that they even terrified the governor. This man is succeeded in his office by another, and he leaves Paul a prisoner: and yet he ought not to have done this; he ought to have put an end to the business: but he leaves him, by way of gratifying them....

And his wife also hears, together with the governor: This seems to me to show great honor. For he would not have brought his wife to be present with him at the hearing, but that he thought great things of him. It seems to me that she also longed for this. And observe how Paul immediately discourses not only about faith, nor about remission of sins, but also about practical points of duty.
No more of this for the present, he said, I will send for thee when I can find leisure. 26 At the same time, he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe, and for that reason sent for him often, and courted his company. 27 So two years passed; then Porcius Festus came as successor to Felix; and Felix, who wished to ingratiate himself with the Jews, left Paul in prison.
 respondit: Quod nunc attinet, vade: tempore autem opportuno accersam te: 26 simul et sperans quod pecunia ei daretur a Paulo, propter quod et frequenter accersens eum, loquebatur cum eo. 27 Biennio autem expleto, accepit successorem Felix Portium Festum. Volens autem gratiam præstare Judæis Felix, reliquit Paulum vinctum.
Chrys: Observe on all occasions how the governors try to keep off from themselves the annoyance of the Jews, and are often compelled to act contrary to justice, and seek pretexts for deferring: for of course it was not from ignorance that he deferred the cause, but knowing it.

...Observe his hardness of heart: hearing such things, he hoped that he should receive money from him!  And not only so, but even after conversing with him— for it was towards the end of his government— he left him bound, willing to show the Jews a pleasure...

From Homily 50:

Let us imitate him, since he also was an imitator of Christ. If he, with enemies, who went even to the length of murder and slaughter, said nothing offensive to them, what pardon shall we deserve, who in reviling and abuse become infuriated, calling our enemies villains, detestable wretches? ...

Keep free from passion, keep unwounded: do not, by wishing to smite another, bring the hurt upon yourself. What, is the other tumult of our soul not enough for us, the tumult that is stirred up, though there be none to stir it up— for example, its outrageous lusts, its griefs and sorrows, and such like— but we must needs heap up a pile of others also?

And how, you will say, is it possible, when one is insulted and abused, to bear this? And how is it not possible, I ask?

Is a wound got from words; or do words inflict bruises on our bodies? Then where is the hurt to us? So that, if we will, we can bear it. Let us lay down for ourselves a law not to grieve, and we shall bear it: let us say to ourselves, It is not from enmity; it is from infirmity— for it is indeed owing to an infirmity, since, for proof that it comes not from enmity nor from malignity of disposition, but from infirmity, the other also would fain have restrained (his anger), although he had suffered numberless wrongs.... 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Acts 23 - Do not lose heart; on the providential ordering of things

File:Caesaria Palace site 0595 (494541628).jpg
Site of the palace at Caesaria
Photo: James Emery

In Acts 22 Paul confronts the Council of the Jews, and manages to gain support from the Pharisees, who he claims to be a member of, setting off a dispute with the Sadducees (verses 1-10).  A plot to kill him via an ambush on the way to the Council the next day is foiled with the help of Paul's nephew (10-21), and he is hustled off to Caesaria under guard (22-35).  In the midst of this, he has a vision telling him that he is headed for Rome...

Acts 23:
Paul fastened his eyes on the Council, and said, Brethren, all my life I have behaved myself with full loyalty of conscience towards God. 
Intendens autem in concilium Paulus, ait: Viri fratres, ego omni conscientia bona conversatus sum ante Deum usque in hodiernum diem. 
Chrysostom (Homily 48): What he means is this: I am not conscious to myself of having wronged you at all, or of having done anything worthy of these bonds.
2 At this, the high priest Ananias bade those who were standing near smite him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, It is God that will smite thee, for the whitened wall thou art; thou art sitting there to judge me according to the law, and wilt thou break the law by ordering them to smite me?4 What, said the bystanders, wouldst thou insult God’s high priest? 5 And Paul said, Brethren, I could not tell that it was the high priest; to be sure, it is written, Thou shalt not speak ill of him who rules thy people.
 Princeps autem sacerdotum Ananias præcepit astantibus sibi percutere os ejus. 3 Tunc Paulus dixit ad eum: Percutiet te Deus, paries dealbate. Et tu sedens judicas me secundum legem, et contra legem jubes me percuti? 4 Et qui astabant dixerunt: Summum sacerdotem Dei maledicis. 5 Dixit autem Paulus: Nesciebam, fratres, quia princeps est sacerdotum. Scriptum est enim: Principem populi tui non maledices.
 Chrys:  He says himself, Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; but here he does the contrary, and not only reviles, but curses. They are the words of boldness, rather than of anger; he did not choose to appear in a contemptible light to the tribune. For suppose the tribune himself had spared to scourge him, only as he was about to be delivered up to the Jews, his being beaten by their servants would have more emboldened him: this is why Paul does not attack the servant, but the person who gave the order.

...And indeed I am fully persuaded that he did not know that it was the high priest, since he had returned now after a long interval, and was not in the habit of constant intercourse with the Jews; seeing him too in the midst among many others: for the high priest was no longer easy to be seen at a glance, there being many of them and diverse. So, it seems to me, in this also he spoke with a view to his plea against them: by way of showing that he does obey the law; therefore he (thus) exculpates himself.
.6 And now, finding that there were two factions among them, one of the Sadducees and the other of the Pharisees, Paul cried out in the Council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee, and my fathers were Pharisees before me. And I am standing on my trial because I am one who hopes for the resurrection of the dead.
 Sciens autem Paulus quia una pars esset sadducæorum, et altera pharisæorum, exclamavit in concilio: Viri fratres, ego pharisæus sum, filius pharisæorum: de spe et resurrectione mortuorum ego judicor.
Chrys: ..both in this, and in what comes after it, he wished to divide the multitude, which had an evil unanimity against him. And he does not speak a falsehood here either: for he was a Pharisee by descent from his ancestors. Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. For since they would not say for what reason they arraigned him, he is compelled therefore to declare it himself. But the Pharisees, it says, confess both.

Comment: It is always good to be reminded of the continuity of Christian doctrines with those of contemporary Judaism (Sadducees notwithstanding).
7 When he said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the assembly was in two minds. 8 The Sadducees will have it that there is no resurrection, that there are no angels or spirit[s], whereas the Pharisees believe in both. 9 So that a great clamour followed; and some of the Pharisees came forward to protest; We cannot find any fault in this man, they said. Perhaps he has had a message from a spirit, or an angel.
Et cum hæc dixisset, facta est dissensio inter pharisæos et sadducæos, et soluta est multitudo. 8 Sadducæi enim dicunt non esse resurrectionem, neque angelum, neque spiritum: pharisæi autem utraque confitentur. 9 Factus est autem clamor magnus. Et surgentes quidam pharisæorum, pugnabant, dicentes: Nihil mali invenimus in homine isto: quid si spiritus locutus est ei, aut angelus?
Note: Knox makes spirit plural for no obvious reason from the Greek or Latin that I can see.

Chrys: ...Why did they not plead for him before this? Do you observe, how, when the passions give way, the truth is discovered? Where is the crime, say they, if an angel has spoken to him, or a spirit? Paul gives them no handle against him.
10 Then dissension rose high; and the captain, who was afraid that they would tear Paul in pieces, ordered his troops to come down and rescue Paul from their midst, and bring him safe to the soldiers’ quarters.
Chrys: ...The tribune is afraid of his being pulled in pieces, now that he has said that he is a Roman: and the matter was not without danger...Sufficient for proof of his innocence was even this, that the man was saved when at the point to be pulled in pieces, and that with these so great dangers about him, he escaped them all.
 On the next night, the Lord came to his side, and told him, Do not lose heart; thou hast done with bearing me witness in Jerusalem, and now thou must carry the same witness to Rome.
  Sequenti autem nocte assistens ei Dominus, ait: Constans esto: sicut enim testificatus es de me in Jerusalem, sic te oportet et Romæ testificari.
Chrys: See what strong consolation! First he praises him, As you have testified to My cause in Jerusalem; then He does not leave him to be afraid for the uncertain issue of his journey to Rome: for there also, He says, you shall not depart alone (μόνος, Cat. and Edd. μόνον), but you shall also have all this boldness of speech. Hereby it was made manifest, not (only) that he should be saved, but that (he should be so) in order to great crowns in the great city. But why did He not appear to him before he fell into the danger? Because it is evermore in the afflictions that God comforts us; for He appears more wished-for, while even in the dangers He exercises and trains us. Besides, he was then at ease, when free from bonds; but now great perils were awaiting him.
12 When day came, the Jews held a conclave, and bound themselves under a solemn curse that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul; 13 more than forty of them joined in this conspiracy. 14 So they went to the chief priests and elders, and told them, We have bound ourselves under a solemn curse not to take food until we have killed Paul. 15 Your part, then, is to signify to the captain your wish and the Council’s, that he would bring him down before you, as if you meant to examine his cause more precisely; and we are ready to make away with him before he reaches you.
Chrys: See how vehement and revengeful they are in their malice! What means, bound under a curse? Why then those men are accused forever, seeing they did not kill Paul. And forty together. For such is the nature of that nation: when there needs concerting together for a good object, not even two concur with each other: but when it is for an evil object, the entire people does it. And they admit the rulers also as accomplices.
16 Paul’s sister had a son who heard of this ambush being laid; and he went to the soldiers’ quarters and gave news of it to Paul. 17 Whereupon Paul had one of the centurions brought to him, and said, Take this young man to the captain; he has news to give him. 18 So he bade him follow, and took him to the captain; The prisoner, Paul, he said, had me summoned and asked me to take this young man into thy presence; he has a message for thee. 19 And the captain, taking him by the hand and drawing him aside, asked, What is the news thou bringest me? 20 The Jews, he said, have formed this design; they will ask thee to bring Paul down before the Council to-morrow, as if they meant to examine his cause more precisely. 21 Do not listen to them; some of them will be lying in ambush for him, more than forty in number. They have sworn not to eat or drink until they have made away with him; even now they are in readiness, only waiting for thy consent.22 Thereupon the captain dismissed the young man, warning him not to let anyone know that he had revealed this secret to him. 23 Then he summoned two of the centurions, and told them, You are to have two hundred men from the cohort ready to march to Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen; they will set out at the third hour of the night. 24 And you must provide beasts, so that they can mount Paul and take him safely to the governor, Felix. 25 (He was afraid that the Jews might seize on Paul and kill him; and that he himself might be falsely accused of taking a bribe from them.)
Chrys:  Such are God's ways of ordering: the very things by which we are hurt, by these same are we benefited.

Thus it was with Joseph: his mistress sought to ruin him: and she seemed indeed to be contriving his ruin, but by her contriving she placed him in a state of safety: for the house where that wild beast (of a woman) was kept was a den in comparison with which the prison was gentle...This (Joseph's) uncle (Esau) had ill designs against his father (Jacob), and drove him out of his native land: what then?  He too set him (thereby) aloof from the danger; for he too got (thereby) to be in safety. He made him a wiser and a better man (φιλοσοφώτερον); he was the means of his having that dream...Thus, in every point of these men's history, the more people designed their hurt, the more their affairs flourished...
He also wrote a letter, with these contents: 26 Claudius Lysias, to his excellency Felix, the governor, sends greeting. 27 Here is a man whom the Jews seized, and set about killing him; but I came up with my men and rescued him, learning that he was a Roman citizen. 28 Since I had a mind to discover what complaint it was they had against him, I took him down into the presence of their Council; 29 but I found that the accusation was concerned with disputes about their own law, and that he was charged with nothing that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 And now, since I have information of a plot which they have laid against him, I am sending him to thee, telling his accusers at the same time that they must plead their cause before thee. Farewell.
Chrys:  See how the letter speaks for him as a defence— for it says, I found nothing worthy of death, but as accusation against them (rather) than against him. About to have been killed of them: so set upon his death were they. First, I came with the army, and rescued him: then also I brought him down unto them: and not even so did they find anything to lay to his charge: and when they ought to have been stricken with fear and shame for the former act, they again attempt to kill him, insomuch that again his cause became all the more clear. And his accusers, he says, I have sent unto you: that at the tribunal where these things are more strictly examined, he may be proved guiltless.
31 The soldiers, obeying their orders, took Paul with them, and conducted him, travelling all night, to Antipatris. 32 Next day they left the horsemen to accompany him, and went back to their quarters. 33 The horsemen, upon reaching Caesarea, delivered the letter to the governor, and brought Paul, too, into his presence. 34 So the governor read the letter, asked from what province he came, and was told, From Cilicia; 35 then he said, I will give thee a hearing when thy accusers, too, are present. And he gave orders that he should be kept safe in Herod’s palace.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Scriptural readings at Matins in the Benedictine Office

For those wanting to plan out their lectio divina, here is a listing of the Scriptural readings covered at Matins in the Benedictine Office.

It only covers non-Gospel Scriptural readings - for full lists of the readings see the more detailed posts for the various liturgical seasons.  In the Benedictine Office there are no weekday readings during summer.

The main point to note is that the readings do not cover the entire Bible. The Matins cycle does of course have to be considered in conjunction with the Epistles read at Mass, and the texts set for feasts (including of the saints).  All the same:

  • some books are not read at all, or get only one or two readings (generally for feasts) - the books of the Pentateuch other than Genesis, Chronicles (Parahelion), Acts, and Revelations in particular get short shrift;
  • even those that are included can be omitted depending on the number of weeks after Epiphany and Pentecost;
  • the readings typically select out a few verses from the opening chapters of many books, they don't cover the full chapter or book; and
  • some receive a quite disproportionate amount of time on the face of it (Maccabees for example, compared to the Wisdom books).

In a monastery of course, the Matins readings would be supplemented by table readings during meals, readings after Vespers and the monk's own lectio divina.

Advent: Isaiah

Advent 1
Sunday: Isaiah 1:1-11
Monday: Isaiah 1: 16-28)
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-9
Wednesday: Isaiah 3:1-11
Thursday: Isaiah 4: 1-7
Friday: Isaiah 6:1-10
Saturday: Isaiah 7:1-15

Advent 2

Sunday: Isaiah 11:1-13
Monday: Isaiah 13: 1-11
Tuesday: Isaiah 14:1-15
Wednesday: Isaiah 16:1-8
Thursday: Isaiah 19: 1-13
Friday: Isaiah 24:1-16a
Saturday: Isaiah 25:1-4a, 4b-7, 8-12

Advent 3

Sunday: Isaiah 26:1-14
Monday: Isaiah 28:1-18a
Tuesday: Isaiah 30 18-28
Wednesday (Ember Day)
Thursday: Isaiah 33:1-17
Friday: Ember Day
Saturday: Ember Day

Advent 4

Sunday: Isaiah 35:1-10; 41: 1-4
Monday: Isaiah 41:8-10, 11-13; 14-16
Tuesday: Isaiah 42:1-13
Wednesday: Isaiah 51:1-8
Thursday: Isaiah 64:1-11
Friday: Isaiah 66:5-16

Christmastide: Romans

Christmas Day: Isaiah 9:1-6; 40:1-8; 52:1-6
Sunday in the Octave of Christmas: Romans 1: 1-19
St Stephen (Dec 26): Acts 6:1-10; 7:54-60a
St John (Dec 27): 1 John 1:1-5a
Holy Innocents (Dec 28): Jeremiah 31:1-23

1 January (Octave of the Nativity): Romans 4 1-17
2 January: Romans 5: 1-12
3 January: Romans 6:1-18
4 January: Romans 7:1-9
5 January: Romans 8:1-11
Feast of the Epiphany (Jan 6): Isaiah 55:1-4; 60:1-6;61: 10-11; 62:1
7 January: Romans 9:1-16
8 January: Romans 12:1-16
9 January: Romans 13:1-10
10 January: Romans 14:1-13
11 January: Romans 15:1-16
12 January: Romans 15:17-27
13 January: Baptism of Our Lord (generally of the date but displaced by the Sunday)

Epiphanytide: Epistles of St Paul

First week after Epiphany

Sunday: 1 Corinthians I: 1-13
Monday: 1 Corinthians 2: 1-13
Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 5: 1-11
Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 6: 1-18
Thursday: 1 Corinthians 7: 1-14
Friday: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Saturday: 1 Corinthians 16: 1-14

Second week after Epiphany

Sunday: 2 Corinthians 1: 1-5, 6-7, 8-11, 12-13
Monday: 2 Corinthians 3: 1-3, 4-8, 9-14
Tuesday: 2 Corinthians 5: 1-4, 6-10, 11-15
Wednesday:2 Corinthians 7: 1-3, 4-7, 8-10
Thursday: 2 Corinthians 10: 1-3, 4-9, 10-12
Friday:2 Corinthians 12: 1-4, 5-9, 9-11
Saturday: 2 Corinthians 13: 1-4, 5-9, 10-13

Third week after Epiphany

Sunday: Galatians 1: 1-5; 6-8, 9-10, 11-14
Monday: Galatians 3
Tuesday: Galatians 5
Wednesday: Ephesians 1
Thursday: Ephesians 4
Friday: Ephesians 5
Saturday: Ephesians 5

Fourth week after Epiphany

Sunday:  Philippians 1
Monday: Philippians 4
Tuesday: Colossians 1
Wednesday: Colossians 3
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 1
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 4
Saturday: 2 Thessalonians 1

Fifth Week after Epiphany

Sunday:  1 Timothy 1
Monday: 1 Timothy 3
Tuesday: 2 Timothy 1
Wednesday: 2 Timothy 3
Thursday: Titus 1
Friday: Titus 3
Saturday: Philemon

Sixth Week after Epiphany

Sunday:  Hebrews 1
Monday: Hebrews 3
Tuesday: Hebrews 4
Wednesday: Hebrews 6
Thursday: Hebrews 7
Friday: Hebrews 11
Saturday: Hebrews 13

Septuagesimatide: Genesis

Septuagesima Sunday: Genesis 1:1-26
Monday after Septuagesima Sunday: Genesis 1:27-31; 2: 1-10
Tuesday: Genesis 2:1-24
Wednesday: Genesis 3:1-20
Thursday: Genesis 4:1-16
Friday: Genesis 4:17-26; 5:1-5
Saturday: Genesis 5:15-31

Sexagesima Sunday: Genesis 5:32, 6:1-15
Monday after Sexagesima Sunday: Genesis 7: 1-5& 10-14&17
Tuesday: Genesis 8:1-4; 5-9; 10-13
Wednesday: Genesis 8:1 -22; 9:1-6
Thursday: Genesis 9:12-29
Friday: Genesis 10:1-6; 11:1-8
Saturday: Genesis 11:10--30

Quinquagesima Sunday: Genesis 12: 1-19
Monday after Quinquagesima Sunday: Genesis 13:1-16
Tuesday: Genesis 14: 8-20


First Sunday of Lent: 2 Corinthians 6:1-9
Sunday II in Lent:  Genesis 27:1-29
Third Sunday of Lent: Genesis 37:2-25
Fourth Sunday in Lent: Exodus 3:1-15

Passiontide and Holy Week: Jeremiah; Lamentations

First Passion Sunday:  Jeremiah 1: 1-19
Palm Sunday: Jeremiah 2:12-32
Holy Tuesday: Jeremiah 11:1520; 12: 1-11
Holy Wednesday: Jeremiah 17:13-18; 18: 13-23
Maundy Thursday: Lamentations 1: 1-14
Good Friday: Lamentations 2: 8-15; 3: 1-9
Holy Saturday: Lamentations 3:22-30;4:1-6; 5:1-11


Easter Sunday:  Romans 6: 2-13
Low Sunday: Colossians 3: 1-17
Second Sunday after Easter: Acts 1: 1-26
Third Sunday after Easter: Revelation 1:1-19
Fourth Sunday after Easter: St James 1:1-16
Fifth Sunday after Easter: 1 Peter 1: 1-9

Feast of the Ascension: Acts 1: 1-14
Sunday after the Ascension: 1 John 1:1-10; 2: 1-6
Pentecost Sunday: Acts 2: 1-21

Trinity Sunday: Isaiah 6:1-12
Corpus Christi: 1 Corinthians 11:20-32

[NB Readings are of the month from the first Sunday of August]

After Pentecost: 1&2 Samuel; 1&2 Kings

Second Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 1:1-11
Sacred Heart: Jeremiah 24:5-7; 30: 18-19, 21-24; 31:1-3; 31-33
Third Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 9:18-10:1
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 17:1-16
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Kings (II Samuel) 1:1-15
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Kings (II Samuel) 12:1-16
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: 3 Kings (I Kings) 1:1-15
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: 3 Kings (I Kings) 9:1-14
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: 4 Kings (II Kings): 1:1-10)
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: 4 Kings (II Kings) 9: 29-10:7
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: 4 Kings (II Kings) 20:1-11

[NB Number of Sundays in the month depends on the calendar year]

August: Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, Sirach

First Sunday of August: Proverbs 1: 1-22
Second Sunday of August: Ecclesiastes 1:1-17
Third Sunday of August: Wisdom 1: 1-13
Fourth Sunday of August: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 1:1-16
Fifth Sunday of August: Ecclesiasticus 5:1-16

September: Job, Tobit, Judith and Esther

First Sunday in September: Job 1:1-11
Second Sunday in September: Job 9:1-17
Third Sunday in September: Tobit 1:1-15
Fourth Sunday in September: Judith 1:1-12: 2:1-3
Fifth Sunday in September: Esther 1:1-9

October: 1&II Maccabees

First Sunday in October: 1 Maccabees 1:1-16
Second Sunday in October: 1 Maccabees 4:36-51
Third Sunday in October: 1 Maccabees 9:1-20
Fourth Sunday in October: 2 Maccabees 1: 1-22

November: Ezekiel, Daniel and Minor Prophets

First Sunday in November: Ezekiel 1: 1-12
[weekday readings: Ezekiel 2, 3, 7, 14, 15, 19]
Second Sunday in November: always omitted
Third Sunday in November: Daniel 1:1-15
[weekdays: Daniel 2, 3, 4,5,6,9]
Fourth Sunday in November: Hosea 1:1-11
[Weekdays: Hosea 4; Joel 1, 3; Amos, Abdias (Obadiah), Jonah]
Fifth Sunday in November: Micah 1:1-9
[Weekdays: Nahum 1; Habacuc 1; Sophonias (Zeppaniah) 1; Aggaeus (Haggai) 1; Zachariah 1; Malachias 1]