Thursday, 29 May 2014

Feast of the Ascension: Mark 16:14-20

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

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

 [14] At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. [15] And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.[16] He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. [18] They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. [19] And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. [20] But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

Matins Readings (from St Gregory the Great)

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

Reading 10: Now confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke Acts i. 4. "Eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not 1 John xiv. 16, 17 xvi. 7. depart from Jerusalem and a little afterward: "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Consider these words, note well these mysteries. After "eating together with them He was taken up." He ate and ascended: that the fact of His eating might show the reality of the Body in Which He went up. 

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

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

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