Sunday, 24 April 2016

Feast of St Mark (April 25)

The readings at Matins in the Benedictine Office for the feast of St Mark (during Eastertide) are set out below.

Nocturn I: (Common of Apostles) - 1 Corinthians 4: 1-4; 5-7; 8-10; 11-15)

Reading 1: That is how we ought to be regarded, as Christ’s servants, and stewards of God’s mysteries.  And this is what we look for in choosing a steward; we must find one who is trustworthy. Yet for myself, I make little account of your scrutiny, or of any human audit-day; I am not even at pains to scrutinize my own conduct. My conscience does not, in fact, reproach me; but that is not where my justification lies; it is the Lord’s scrutiny I must undergo.

Reading 2: You do ill, therefore, to pass judgement prematurely, before the Lord’s coming; he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and reveal the secrets of men’s hearts; then each of us will receive his due award from God.All this, brethren, I have applied to myself and to Apollo, but it is meant for you. The lesson you must learn from our example is, not to go beyond what is laid down for you, one man slighting another out of partiality for someone else. After all, friend, who is it that gives thee this pre-eminence? What powers hast thou, that did not come to thee by gift? And if they came to thee by gift, why dost thou boast of them, as if there were no gift in question?

Reading 3: Well, you are already fully content; already you have grown rich; already you have come into your kingdom, without waiting for help from us. Would that you had come into your kingdom indeed; then we should be sharing it with you. As it is, it seems as if God had destined us, his apostles, to be in the lowest place of all, like men under sentence of death; such a spectacle do we present to the whole creation, men and angels alike. We are fools for Christ’s sake, you are so wise; we are so helpless, you so stout of heart; you are held in honour, while we are despised.

Reading 4: Still, as I write, we go hungry and thirsty and naked; we are mishandled, we have no home to settle in,  we are hard put to it, working with our own hands. Men revile us, and we answer with a blessing, persecute us, and we make the best of it, speak ill of us, and we fall to entreaty. We are still the world’s refuse; everybody thinks himself well rid of us. I am not writing this to shame you; you are my dearly loved children, and I would bring you to a better mind.Yes, you may have ten thousand schoolmasters in Christ, but not more than one father; it was I that begot you in Jesus Christ, when I preached the gospel to you.

Nocturn II: St Jerome, Book upon Church Writers; St Gregory on Ezekiel

Reading 5 (from St Jerome): Mark was the disciple and interpreter of Peter, and it was from what he had heard' Peter tell, that, at the request of the brethren at Rome, he wrote the shortest of the Gospels. When Peter had heard it, he approved it, and gave it to the Church to be read, by his authority. Mark betook himself to Egypt, with the Gospel which he had compiled, and was the first man who preached Christ at Alexandria. There he founded a Church with such teaching and austerity of life, that all who followed Christ were constrained to imitate him.

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: Last of all, Philo, that most learned Jew, observing that the first Church of Alexandria still kept the law of Moses, wrote a book concerning their manners, as if in praise of his own nation, wherein he saith that under the teaching of Mark, the Christians of Alexandria had all things in common, just as Luke telleth us was the case with all them that believed at Jerusalem. Mark died in the eighth year of Nero, and was buried at Alexandria. Anianus succeeded him.

Reading 7: The Prophet writeth very minutely touching the four holy living creatures, whom he saw in the spirit as being to come. He saith: "Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings." What signifieth the face save likeness whereby we are known? or wings, save the power to fly since it is by the face that man is known from man, and by their wings that the birds' bodies are carried up into the air. So the face pertaineth to certitude, and the wings to contemplation. With certitude we are known of God Almighty, Who saith: "I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine." And again: "I know whom I have chosen.".

Reading 8: And by contemplation, whereby we rise above ourselves, we as it were fly heavenwards."Verily one had four faces" four faces, that is, and one body. If thou seek to know what Matthew teacheth concerning the Incarnation of the Lord, he teacheth no other doctrine than teacheth Mark, or Luke, or John. If thou seek to know what John teacheth, it is beyond all doubt that his doctrine is the doctrine of Matthew, and Mark, and Luke. If thou ask concerning Mark, he hath that which hath Matthew, and John, and Luke. If thou wilt know of Luke, know that he teacheth as doth Matthew, and Mark, and John.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward.
* And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Nocturn III (Common of Apostles and Evangelists) - St Gregory the Great Homily 17

Reading 9:From the Holy Gospel according to Luke: At that time, the Lord appointed other seventy-two also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. And so on.

Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great: Dearly beloved brethren, our Lord and Saviour doth sometimes admonish us by words, and sometimes by works. Yea, His very works do themselves teach us for that which He doth silently His example still moveth us to copy. Behold how He sendeth forth His disciples to preach by two and two since there are two commandments to love, that is, a commandment to love God, and a commandment to love our neighbour and where there are not two, the one, being alone, hath not whereon to do the Lord's commandment.

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: And no man can properly be said to love himself: for love tendeth outward toward our neighbour, if it be the love whereto the Gospel doth oblige us.Behold, the Lord sendeth forth His disciples to preach by two and two and thus doing, He doth silently teach us that whosoever loveth not his neighbour, such an one it behoveth not to take upon him the office of a preacher.

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: Well also is it said that He sent them before His face into every city and place whither He Himself would come. The Lord followeth His preachers first cometh preaching, and then the Lord Himself cometh to the house of our mind, whither the word of exhortation hath come before and so cometh the truth into our mind.

Reading 12: Therefore, to preachers saith Isaiah: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight an highway for our God."  And again the Psalmist saith: "Spread a path before him that rideth upon the West." . The Lord rideth upon the West above that from which in death He veiled His glory, hath He royally exalted that glory that excelleth, even the glory of His rising again. He rideth upon the West, Who, being risen again from the dead, is throned high above the death to which He bowed. Before Him, therefore, That rideth upon the West, we spread a path, when we set forth His glory before the eyes of your mind, to the end that He Himself may come after, and Himself enlighten the same your minds by His presence and His love.

Gospel (Luke 10: 1-9)

After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them before him, two and two, into all the cities and villages he himself was to visit. 2 The harvest, he told them, is plentiful enough, but the labourers are few; you must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send labourers out for the harvesting. 3 Go then, and remember, I am sending you out to be like lambs among wolves. 4 You are not to carry purse, or wallet, or shoes; you are to give no one greeting on your way. 5 When you enter a house, say first of all, Peace be to this house; 6 and if those who dwell there are men of good will, your good wishes shall come down upon it; if not, they will come back to you the way they went. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they have to give you; the labourer has a right to his maintenance; do not move from one house to another. 8 When you enter a city, and they make you welcome, be content to eat the fare they offer you: 9 and heal those who are sick there; and tell them, The kingdom of God is close upon you.

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