Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts
Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction; you shall call upon Me, and I will hear you: and I will bring back your captive people from all places. Psalm. Thou, O Lord, hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast brought back the captive children of Jacob. Glory be to the Father, etc.
Absolve, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the sins of Thy people; that, by Thy clemency, we may be delivered from the bonds of sins contracted by our own frailty. Through Christ Our Lord, etc.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Chapters III, IV.
Brethren: Be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame: who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy, and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord. And I entreat you also, my sincere companion, help those women that have laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Reflection on the Epistle
The Church is a magnificent temple, which is built up, to the glory of God, of the living stones, which let themselves be set into its walls. The constructing of those sacred walls on the plan laid down by Christ is a work in which all are permitted to share. What one does by word, another does by good example; but both of them build, both of them edify the holy city; and, as it was in the apostolic age, so always; example is more powerful than word, unless that word be supported by the authority of holiness in him who speaks it, unless, that is, he lead a life according to the perfection taught by the Gospel.
But, as the giving of edification to those around him is an obligation incumbent on the Christian – an obligation imposed both by the charity he owes to his neighbour, and by the zeal he should have for the house of God – so likewise, under pain of presumption, he should seek his own edification in the conduct of others. The reading of good books, the study of the lives of the saints, the observing, as our Epistle says, those holy people with whom he lives, all this will be an incalculable aid to him, in the work of his own personal sanctification and in the fulfilment of God’s purposes in this regard. This devout intercourse with the elect of earth and of heaven will keep us away from men who are enemies of the cross of Christ and mind earthly things, and put their happiness in carnal pleasures. It will make our conversation be in heaven. Preparing for the day which cannot now be far off, the day of the coming of our Lord, we shall stand fast in Him, in spite of the falling off of so many amongst us, who, by the current of the world’s fashion, are hurried into perdition. The troubles and sufferings of the last times will but intensify our hope in God; for they will make us long all the more ardently for the happy day when our Redeemer will appear and complete the work of the salvation of His servants by imparting to their very flesh the brightness of His own divine Body. Let us, as our apostle says, be of one mind in the Lord; and then, as he bids his dear Philippians, let us rejoice in the Lord always, for the Lord is nigh.
Thou hast saved us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. In God shall we glory all the day long: and in Thy name we will give praise for ever. Alleluia, alleluia. Out of the depths I have cried unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter IX.
At that time: As Jesus was speaking to the multitude: Behold a certain ruler came up and adored Him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus rising up followed him, with His disciples. And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout, He said: Give place: for the girl is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.
Reflection on the Gospel
The Holy Church is so zealous in fulfilling the supplications, prayers and thanksgiving for all men requested by the Apostle that she is seen to give thanks also for the future salvation of lost children, which she knows must one day be united to her body. She rejoices in them as in her future members. In the Introit, she sings every year, recalling without end the prophecies which concern them: The Lord says: My thoughts are thoughts of peace and not of affliction. His thoughts are all thoughts of peace indeed, since He promises to admit repentant sinners to the banquet of His grace, fulfilling what had been figured in the story of Patriarch Joseph. Joseph’s brothers, who had sold him, came to him out of hunger when he extended his dominion over all the land of Egypt; they were recognized and received by him, and he made a great feast with them: So our Lord, reigning over all the world and feeding the Egyptians, that is, the Gentiles, with the bread of life, will see the remnant of the children of Israel return to Himself; received in the grace of Him whom they denied and put to death, He will give them a place at His table, and the true Joseph will drink deliciously with His brothers.
Then shall be fulfilled the saying of Jeremiah: no more shall it be said, “Long live the Lord who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt!” but: “Long live the Lord who brought them back from the land of Aquilon and from all those where they were scattered!”
Delivered therefore from the spiritual captivity that now holds them, they will sing from the depths of their souls the thanksgiving indicated in the Gradual: You have delivered us, Lord, from those who persecuted us.
The supplication with which we say in the Offertory: “From the depths of the abyss I cried to You, Lord”, is also clearly in response to the same circumstances. For on that day, His brothers will say to the great and true Joseph: “We beseech You to forget the crime of your brothers…”. The answer of the same Joseph will say, as the first one once did: “Do not be afraid”. You had formed an evil plan against Me, but God has turned it to good, in order to raise Me up as you see it now and to save many peoples. Fear not therefore: I will feed you and your children.”
The request for forgiveness keeps coming up again and again in the mouths of the Christian people, because the fragility of nature constantly drags the righteous man himself down here on earth. God knows our misery; He forgives without end, on the condition of a humble confession of faults and trust in His goodness. These are the sentiments that inspire the Church in the terms of today’s Collect.