Saturday, 27 February 2016

Third Sunday of Lent

Nocturn 1: Genesis 37

Reading 1: By now, Joseph was sixteen years old, and helped his brethren to feed the flocks, young though he was. He worked with the sons of his father’s wives, Bala and Zelpha; and against these brothers of his he told his father ill tales. 3 Among his children, Jacob loved Joseph best, as old men love the sons old age has brought them; and he dressed him in a coat that was all embroidery. 4 Whereupon his brethren, who saw that he was his father’s favourite, bore him a grudge, and never had a good word for him.

R. And when his brethren saw Joseph afar off, they said one to another Behold, this dreamer cometh.
* Come, let us slay him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
V. And when his brethren saw that their father loved Joseph more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him; therefore they said
R. Come, let us slay him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Reading 2: They hated him the more, when he recounted to them a dream of his; 6 Listen, he said, to this dream I have had. 7 I dreamt that we were all binding sheaves in a field, and my sheaf seemed to lift itself up and stand erect, while all your sheaves stood about it and did reverence to mine. 8 What, said his brethren, art thou to be our king? Are we to be thy subjects? So this talk about his dream fed the fires of their envious anger. 9 Then he had another dream which he disclosed to his brethren; In this dream of mine, he said, it seemed to me that the sun and the moon and eleven stars did reverence to me. 10 When he reported this to his father and his brethren, his father said, in reproof, What means this dream of thine? Must I and thy mother and thy brethren bow down to earth before thee?

R. Judah said unto his brethren Behold, the Ishmaelites pass by; come, let us sell him, and let not our hands be defiled.
* For he is our flesh, and our brother.
V. What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? It is better to sell him.
R. For he is our flesh, and our brother.

Reading 3:  So his brethren eyed him with jealousy, while his father pondered over the story in silence.12 One day, when his brethren were away at Sichem, feeding their father’s flocks, 13 Israel said to him, Thy brethren are pasturing the sheep at Sichem; I have an errand for thee there. And when Joseph answered, 14 I am here, at thy command, he said to him, Go and see whether all is well with thy brethren, and with the flock, then come back and tell me their news. So he set out from Hebron valley and reached Sichem, 15 where a stranger found him wandering on the open plain, and asked what was his errand. 16 I am looking for my brethren, he said; Canst thou tell me where they are feeding their flocks? 17 They have left this part, the man answered; I heard them say, Let us go to Dothain. So Joseph went on in search of his brethren, and it was at Dothain he found them. 18 Before he came up to them, they caught sight of him in the distance, and began plotting against his life. 19 They said to one another, Here comes the dreamer; 20 how if we kill him, and throw his body into a dry well? We can pretend he has fallen a prey to some wild beast. Now we shall see what good these dreams of his can do him!

R. They drew up Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ismaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
* And Reuben returned unto the pit, and when he found not Joseph, he rent his clothes, and wept, and said The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?
V. And they took Joseph's coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid of the goats, and they sent one that brought the coat unto their father, and said See now whether this be thy son's coat or no.
R. And Reuben returned unto the pit, and when he found not Joseph, he rent his clothes, and wept.

Reading 4: Upon this, Ruben began scheming to save Joseph from their violence; No, he said, 22 do not take his life, there must be no bloodshed. Throw him down into this well here, far from all help, and so keep clear of any murderous act. His meaning was to rescue Joseph out of their hands, and restore him safe to his father. 23 As soon, then, as Joseph reached his brethren, they stripped him of his long, embroidered coat, 24 and threw him into a disused well, which had no water left in it.25 And now, as they sat down to take their meal, they saw a company of Ismaelites mounted on camels, who were on their way from Galaad to Egypt, with a load of spices, balm, and myrrh.

Nocturn II: St Ambrose on the Patriarch Joseph

Reading 5: The lives of the saints are the models for the lives of others. This is one of the reasons why we have been given the wise tale of the Scriptures, that while, by reading therein, we come to know Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and others of the righteous, we may follow them in that path of innocency which is opened to us for our imitation by the record of their godly conversation. Of them I have often treated, and to-day the story of the holy Joseph cometh before me. In that story there are patterns of many virtues, but chiefly is he glorious on account of his clean living.

R. When Jacob saw Joseph's coat he rent his clothes, and mourned; and he said* An evil beast hath devoured my son Joseph.
V. And his brethren took his coat, and sent it to his father and he knew it, and said
R. An evil beast hath devoured my son Joseph.

Reading 6:  Right is it then that ye who have learnt in Abraham the devotedness of a faith that nothing could daunt, in Isaac the transparency of an upright soul, in Jacob a wonderful patience of spirit in great travails, should now turn from their worthy deeds, to see the bright example of Joseph's self-control. The holy Joseph is put before us as a pattern of chastity. Modesty shineth in his manners and in his deeds, and a certain loveliness, which is found with chastity, shineth there also. Hence his parents loved him more than their other children.

R. When Joseph came into the land of Egypt, he heard a language that he understood not; his hands were burdened with labour;* And his tongue spake wisdom among princes.
V. Whose feet they hurt with fetters; the iron entered into his soul, until the time that his word came
R. And his tongue spake wisdom among princes.

Reading 7: But this love caused him to be the object of an envy, which we must needs not pass by, and upon this the whole story turneth. Yet, at the same time, we learn how that just man was not swayed by any desire to avenge his own sufferings, neither repaid evil for evil. Whence also David saith If I have rewarded evil. In what would Joseph have been worthy to be chosen before others, if he had harmed them which harmed him, and loved them which loved him? For this do many do. But it is a wonder if one do that which the Saviour teacheth, and love his enemy.

R. Think on me when it shall be well with thee
* And make mention of me unto Pharaoh, that he may bring me out of this prison. For I was stolen away; and here have I done nothing, that they should put me into the dungeon.
V. For yet three days, and then Pharaoh shall remember thy service, and restore thee unto thy place; then think of me
R. And make mention of me unto Pharaoh, that he may bring me out of this prison.

Reading 8: Well, then, may we wonder at him who did this before the Gospel came; who, being injured, spared; being assailed, forgave; being sold, returned no evil; but repaid insult with favour. We, from the Gospel, have been taught to do all this, and we cannot. Let us also, then, learn how that there was envy even among some of the holy (Patriarchs), that we may follow the example of the patience (wherewith others of them bore it;) and let us feel that they were not men of another and higher nature than ours, but only more heedful; that they were not sinless, but that they repented. But if the passion of envy scorched even some of the holy race, how much more need is there for the sinful to take heed lest it set fire to them?

Nocturn III

Reading 9: We read in Matthew that the devil, by which this poor creature was possessed, was not only dumb, but also blind; and that, when he was healed by the Lord, he saw as well as spake. Three miracles, therefore, were performed on this one man; the blind saw, the dumb spake, and the possessed was delivered. This mighty work was then indeed wrought carnally, but it is still wrought spiritually in the conversion of believers, when the devil is cast out of them, so that their eyes see the light of faith, and the lips, that before were dumb, are opened that their mouth may show forth the praise of God. 

R. We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.
* Therefore is this distress come upon us.
V. And Reuben answered his brethren, saying Spake I not unto you, saying: Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear?

R. Therefore is this distress come upon us.

Reading 10: But some of them said He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. These some were not of the multitude, but liars among the Pharisees and Scribes, as we are told by the other Evangelist. While the multitude, who were less instructed, wondered ever at the works of the Lord, the Pharisees and Scribes, on the other hand, denied the facts when they could, and when they were not able, twisted them by an evil interpretation, and asserted that the works of God were the works of an unclean spirit. 

R. And Reuben answered his brethren, saying Spake I not unto you, saying Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear?
* Behold, his blood is required.
V. We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.
R. Behold, his blood is required.

Reading 11: And others, tempting Him, sought of Him a sign from heaven. They would have had Christ either to call down fire from heaven like Elias, to have made thunder roll, and lightning flash, and rain fall at midsummer. And yet and if he had so done, they had been still able to explain away these signs also, as being the natural result of some unusual, though, till that moment, unremarked state of the atmosphere. O thou, who stubbornly deniest that which thine eye seeth, thine hand holdeth, and thy sense perceiveth, what wilt thou say to a sign from heaven? In good sooth, thou wilt say that the magicians in Egypt also wrought divers signs from heaven.

R. Jacob lamented for his two sons, saying Woe is me; I am bereaved of Joseph, for he is not; and afflicted because of Benjamin, because he is taken away for bread.
* I pray the King of heaven in my distress, that He may make me to see them yet again.
V. And Jacob cast him down upon his face upon the ground, and wept sore; and he prayed, saying

R. I pray the King of heaven in my distress, that He may make me to see them yet again.

Reading 12: But He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and an house divided against an house falleth. He answered not their words, but their thoughts; as though He would compel them to believe in the power of Him Who seeth the secrets of the heart. But if every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, then have not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost a divided kingdom, since His is a kingdom that, without all contradiction, shall never be brought to desolation by any shock, but abideth unchanged and unchangeable for ever. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because ye say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. In saying this, He sought to draw from their own mouth a confession that they had chosen for themselves to be part of that devil's kingdom, which, if it be divided against itself, cannot stand.

This Sunday's Gospel is St Luke 11:14-28:

14 Et erat ejiciens dæmonium, et illud erat mutum. Et cum ejecisset dæmonium, locutus est mutus, et admiratæ sunt turbæ. 15 Quidam autem ex eis dixerunt: In Beelzebub principe dæmoniorum ejicit dæmonia. 16 Et alii tentantes, signum de cælo quærebant ab eo. 17 Ipse autem ut vidit cogitationes eorum, dixit eis: Omne regnum in seipsum divisum desolabitur, et domus supra domum cadet. 18 Si autem et Satanas in seipsum divisus est, quomodo stabit regnum ejus? quia dicitis in Beelzebub me ejicere dæmonia. 19 Si autem ego in Beelzebub ejicio dæmonia: filii vestri in quo ejiciunt? ideo ipsi judices vestri erunt. 20 Porro si in digito Dei ejicio dæmonia: profecto pervenit in vos regnum Dei. 21 Cum fortis armatus custodit atrium suum, in pace sunt ea quæ possidet. 22 Si autem fortior eo superveniens vicerit eum, universa arma ejus auferet, in quibus confidebat, et spolia ejus distribuet. 23 Qui non est mecum, contra me est: et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit. 24 Cum immundus spiritus exierit de homine, ambulat per loca inaquosa, quærens requiem: et non inveniens dicit: Revertar in domum meam unde exivi. 25 Et cum venerit, invenit eam scopis mundatam, et ornatam. 26 Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum, nequiores se, et ingressi habitant ibi. Et fiunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. 27 Factum est autem, cum hæc diceret: extollens vocem quædam mulier de turba dixit illi: Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti. 28 At ille dixit: Quinimmo beati, qui audiunt verbum Dei et custodiunt illud.

[14] And he was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb: and when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: [15] But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.[16] And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. [17] But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. [18] And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. [19] Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub; by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. [20] But if I by the finger of God cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you.[21] When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. [22] But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him; he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. [23] He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. [24] When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. [25] And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. [26] Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. [27] And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. [28] But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

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