Friday, 23 September 2016

Ember Saturday of September

The readings for Ember Saturday are from St Gregory's Homily 31 on the Gospels.

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke: At that time, Jesus spake unto the multitudes this parable: A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. And so on.

Our Lord and Redeemer speaketh unto us sometimes by words, and sometimes by deeds, sometimes one thing by words, and another by deeds, and sometimes the same thing both by word and deed. In the portion of the Gospel which hath this day been read, ye have heard, my brethren, two things, the parable of the fig-tree and the history of the woman which was bowed together. In both is a manifestation of the Lord's mercy, but in the one by a parable, in the other by an example. But the barren fig-tree signifieth the same thing as doth the woman bowed together, and the patience shown to the fig-tree the same thing as doth the healing of the woman bowed together.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 2: What is the fig-tree a type, but of mankind? Of what is the woman bowed together by a spirit of infirmity a type, but of the same mankind? Man was originally placed in a garden like the fig-tree, and created upright like the woman, but man fell away by his own willful fault like the fig-tree he brought forth no fruit like the woman he ceased to stand straight. When he willfully went into sin, because he would not bring forth the fruit of obedience, he lost his uprightness. The nature which had been created in the image of God, continued not in honour, but cast aside the state wherein it had been placed and made. The lord of the vineyard came thrice to the fig-tree, for God hath come in hope, and in warning, seeking fruit from mankind under three successive dispensations, that is to say, before the law, under the law, and under grace.

Reading 3: It came before the law, in that by natural understanding, He let all know by example of Himself, what and how they should do toward their neighbor. In the law He came teaching. After the law He came by grace, opening, manifesting His merciful Presence. But after all these three years He yet hath to complain that He findeth no fruit upon the fig-tree, for there are still some degraded minds which the inborn voice of the natural law doth not control, which the commandments do not teach, and which the wonders of the Incarnation itself do not convert. Of what is the dresser of the vineyard a type, but of the Episcopacy? For these are they who have the government in the Church, and are therefore truly called the dressers of the Lord's vineyard.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

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