Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Matins readings for Tuesday in the second week of Advent (Isaiah 14)

Reading 1: Prope est ut veniat tempus eius, et dies eius non elongabuntur. Miserebitur enim Dominus Iacob, et eliget adhuc de Israël, et requiescere eos faciet super humum suam; adiungetur advena ad eos, et adhaerebit domui Iacob. Et tenebunt eos populi, et adducent eos in locum suum; et possidebit eos domus Israël super terram Domini in servos et ancillas: et erunt capientes eos qui se ceperant, et subiicient exactores suos.

Her time is near at hand, and her days shall not be prolonged. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose out of Israel, and will make them rest upon their own ground: and the stranger shall be joined with them, and shall adhere to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them into their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall make them captives that had taken them, and shall subdue their oppressors.

R. O ye mountains of Israel, shoot forth your branches and blossom and bring forth fruit.
* The day of the Lord is at hand to come.
V. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down the Righteous One let the earth open, and let her bring forth the Saviour.
R. The day of the Lord is at hand to come.

Reading 2: Et erit in die illa: cum requiem dederit tibi Deus a labore tuo, et a concussione tua, et a servitute dura qua ante servisti,  Sumes parabolam istam contra regem Babylonis, et dices: Quomodo cessavit exactor; quievit tributum? Contrivit Dominus baculum impiorum, virgam dominantium, Caedentem populos in indignatione plaga insanabili, subiicientem in furore gentes, persequentem crudeliter.

 And it shall come to pass in that day, that when God shall give thee rest from thy labour, and from thy vexation, and from the hard bondage, wherewith thou didst serve before, Thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and shalt say: How is the oppressor come to nothing, the tribute hath ceased? The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers,  That struck the people in wrath with an incurable wound, that brought nations under in fury, that persecuted in a cruel manner.

R. Let the mountains break forth into singing, and the hills bring forth righteousness * For the Lord, the Light of the world, cometh with power.
V. Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
R. For the Lord, the Light of the world, cometh with power.

Reading 3: Quomodo cecidisti de caelo, lucifer, qui mane oriebaris? corruisti in terram, qui vulnerabas gentes? Qui dicebas in corde tuo: In caelum conscendam, super astra Dei exaltabo solium meum; sedebo in monte testamenti, in lateribus Aquilonis. Ascendam super altitudinem nubium, similis ero Altissimo? Verumtamen ad infernum detraheris, in profundum laci.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north.  I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the most High.  But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit.

R. Behold, I, the Lord your God, come from the South * To visit you in peace.
V. I will look again upon you and make you to increase ye shall be multiplied, and I will establish My covenant with you.
R. To visit you in peace.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. To visit you in peace.


Today's chapter prophesies the return from Exile in Babylon and fall of Satan, as a type of the Second Coming.  The story of the return is told in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Times of exile and the need for restoration have not been infrequent in the history of the Church or for ourselves individually, who exile ourselves through sin.

So it is worth noting that not all returned at once; there were at least two waves of returnees.

Nor was the restoration process straightforward - those in neighbouring areas consistently opposed the restoration process, causing the rebuilding of Jerusalem to halt altogether for fifty years at one point, and then for a division of labour where half guarded while the other half of the labourers rebuilt the walls, swords strapped on at the ready.

There are lessons for us in this, as St Bede saw in his own time, asking the question, why was it so hard to rebuild the temple, when the first construction process went so smoothly?  The answer he gives is that it is much easier for the newly converted to maintain their fervour and stay on the path of righteousness than it is to recover from sin and the rejection of the sacraments, for:
The very habit of vices fights like a hostile crowd of Samaritans against the purification of such a person and is harder to conquer the longer it has occupied a land of heart empty of virtue. (On Ezra and Nehemiah, p;g 106)

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