Thursday, 2 March 2017

Readings for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday

The Gospel for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday at Mass in the EF/1963 Benedictine calendar is St Matthew 8:5-13:
And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,  And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.  And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven:  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour. 
The readings on it at Matins are as follows:

Reading 1 (Homily by St Augustine): Let us consider whether Matthew and Luke are at one as touching this centurion's servant. Matthew saith There came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying Lord, my servant lieth at home sick, of the palsy. This seemeth to differ from what Luke saith namely And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying That he was worthy for whom He should do this; for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them; and when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him: Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof.

R. Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and grievously tormented. * Amen, I say unto thee, I will come and heal him:
V. Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.:
R. Amen, I say unto thee, I will come and heal him.

Reading 2: If it were done thus, how is Matthew truthful, when he saith that the centurion came unto Him, seeing that, in fact, he sent his friends? We must then look well into this, and we shall see that Matthew only made use of a common form of speech. Now, we use to say of a man that he cometh to a place even though he be not already come: whence also we say, He arrived close; or He arrived long way off, that is, to that place to which he would come; yea, we speak of that coming, toward which he tendeth, as though it had already taken place, when he that should be come at, seeth not yet him that cometh, but is come at for him by friends, to obtain his favour, which is needful for him that would come to him. And so much doth this manner of speaking hold, that they are commonly said to come at a great man, (who is beyond their personal reach,) who, by means of suitable persons, succeed in laying before him such things as they desire.

R. Abraham stood by the oak of Mamre, and he saw three men coming up by the path. * He saw three, and worshipped One.
V. Behold, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac.
R. He saw three, and worshipped One.

Reading 3: Therefore it is not strange that Matthew should make use of the common short phrase, and say of the centurion, who reached the Lord's sympathies, by mean of friends, that he came unto Him. Also we must needs not pass by lightly the mystic depth which underlieth the words of this holy Evangelist. It is written in the Psalms xxxiii. 6 Draw near unto Him and be enlightened. Thus did the centurion in faith draw near unto Jesus, and the Lord so praised him that He said: I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Of him of whom these words were spoken, the Evangelist deemeth it wiser to say that he had found his way to Jesus; that he had got to Christ, than that they came, through whom he sent his message unto Him.

R. The Lord did tempt Abraham, and said unto him: * Take thy son Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
V. And when the Lord called him, he answered Behold, here I am. And the Lord said unto him:
R. Take thy son Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Take thy son Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

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