Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Occurring Scripture for the Hour of Matins

Second Week of Lent
Our Lady of the Rosary
Sunday    Monday    Tuesday    Wednesday    Thursday    Friday    Saturday


Sunday

Lesson I

A reading from the book of Genesis
Genesis 27:1-10

     Now Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, and he could not see: and he called Esau, his elder son, and said to him: My son? And he answered: Here I am.  And his father said to him: Thou see that I am old, and know not the day of my death.  Take thine arms, thy quiver, and thybow, and go abroad: and when thou hast taken some thing by hunting,  make me savory meat thereof, as thou know I like, and bring it, that I may eat: and my soul may bless thee before I die.  And when Rebecca had heard this, and he was gone into the field to fulfill his father's commandment,  She said to her son Jacob: I heard thy father talking with Esau thy brother, and saying to him:  Bring me of thy hunting, and make me meats that I may eat, and bless thee in the sight of the Lord, before I die.  Now, therefore, my son, follow my counsel:  and go thy way to the flock, bring me two kids of the best, that I may make of them meat for thy father, such as he gladly eats:  Which when thou hast brought in, and he hath eaten, he may bless thee before he die.

Lesson ii

Genesis 27:11-20

    And he answered her: Thou does know that Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am smooth.  If my father shall feel me, and perceive it, I fear lest he will think I was mocking him, and that I shall bring upon me a curse instead of a blessing.  And his mother said to him: Upon me be this curse, my son: only hear thou my voice, and go, fetch me the things which I have said.  He went, and brought, and gave them to his mother. She dressed meats, such as she knew his father liked.  And she put on him very good garments of Esau, which she had at home with her:  And the little skins of the kids she put about his hands, and covered the bare of his neck.  And she gave him the savory meat, and delivered him bread that she had baked.  Which when he had carried in, he said: My father? But he answered: I hear. Who art thou, my son?  And Jacob said: I am Esau thy firstborn: I have done as thou didst command me: arise, sit, and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.  And Isaac said to his son: How couldst thou find it so quickly, my son? He answered: It was the will of God, that what I sought came quickly in my way.

Lesson iii

Genesis 27:21-29

    And Isaac said: Come hither, that I may feel thee, my son, and may prove whether thou be my son Esau, or not.  He came near to his father, and when he had felt him, Isaac said: The voice indeed is the voice of Jacob; but the hands are the hands of Esau.  He said: Art thou my son Esau? He answered: I am.  Then he said: Bring me the meats of thy hunting, my son, that my soul may bless thee. And when they were brought, and he had eaten, he offered him wine also, which after he had drunk,  He said to him: Come near me, and give me a kiss, my son.  He came near, and kissed him. And immediately as he smelled the fragrant smell of his garments, blessing him, he said: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which Lord hath blessed.  God give thee the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance of corn and wine.  And let peoples serve thee, and tribes worship thee: be thou lord of thy brethren, and let they mother's children bow down before thee. Cursed be he that curseth thee: and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings.

Lesson iv

From the Book against Lying written by Saint Augustine, Bishop
Chapter ix. Tome IV

    If we consider faithfully and carefully what it was that Jacob did by the advice of his mother, and wherein he seems to have deceived his father, it appears that it has an aspect in which it is not a lie, but is rather an allegory. If we denounce this allegorical sense as a lie, then must we also give the name of "lie"  even to parables, and to every figure devised to set forth the nature of anything, which is not to be taken in its literal sense, but in which one thing is to be understood under the name of another. This we cannot do.. Whosoever should do this, would bring the charge of falsehood against very many figures of speech, including that one called "metaphor" (in which a word is transferred from that meaning which belongs to it, to some other meaning) which would, by such reasoning, be given the name of a "lie."

Lesson v

    The deep meaning is given; but what is considered is the lie because men do not understand the way in which that signification, which is a truth, is set forth but the falsehood is plainly expressed, and believed. That we may understand this more plainly by way of illustration, consider what Jacob did. It is certain that he covered his limbs with the skins of goats. If we consider his object in point of fact, we shall find that it was to lie, because he did this that he might be thought to be he who he was not. But if we consider this his deed in that deep typical sense which it undoubtedly possesses, we find that by the goat-skins are represented sins, and by him who covered himself therewith Him Who bore not His own sins, but the sins of others.

Lesson vi

    It is impossible to apply the term "lie" to that mystic aspect of this transaction in which it was true and such an aspect there is, not only in the acts, but in the words. When Isaac said to Jacob: "Who art thou, my son" and Jacob answered "I am Esau, thy first-born, if we take this in its sense relative to the two brothers, it will be apparent that it was a lie. If, however, we look at it relatively to that for the sake of which these words and deeds were written down, we shall see that Christ is here signified in His mystic body, the Church. Concerning her, (the younger covenant,) He said (to them of the older covenant) "Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last." Thus did the younger take away the title and inheritance from the elder, and acquire it to himself.

Lesson vii

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Matthew 17:1-9

    And after six days Jesus took Peter and James, and John his brother, and brought them up onto a high mountain apart:  And He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun: and His garments became white as snow.  And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him.  And Peter said to Jesus: "Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias."  And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him."  And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, "Arise, and fear not."  And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus.  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: "Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead."

An Homily of Pope Saint Leo the Great
On the Transfiguration of the Lord.

    Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an exceeding high mountain apart, and manifested forth the brightness of His glory. Hitherto, though they understood that there was in Him the Majesty of God, they knew not the power of that Body which veiled the Godhead. And therefore He had individually and markedly promised to some of the disciples that had stood by Him that they should "not taste of death till they had seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom, that is, in the kingly splendor, which is the right of the Manhood taken into God, and which He willed to make visible to those three men. This it was that they saw, for the unspeakable and unapproachable vision of the Godhead Himself which will be the everlasting life of the pure in heart, can no man, who is still burdened with a dying body, see and live.

Lesson viii

    When the Father said "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased hear ye Him," did they not plainly hear Him say "This is My Son, Whose it is to be of Me and with Me without regard to time."  For neither is He That begets, before Him That is begotten, neither is He That is begotten, after Him That begets Him. " This is My Son between Whom and Me, to be God is not a point of difference to be Almighty, a point of separation nor to be Eternal, a point of distinction. " This is My Son not by adoption, but My very Own not created from, or of another substance, or out of nothing, but begotten of Me not of another nature, and made like unto Me, but of Mine own Being, born of Me, equal unto Me.

Lesson ix

    This is My Son by Whom all things were made, and without Whom was not anything made that was made, Who makes, likewise, all things whatsoever that I make, and all things whatsoever I do,  He does likewise, inseparably and indifferently. " This is My Son Who thought it not robbery, nor hath taken it by violence, to be equal with Me, but, abiding still in the form of My glory, that He may fulfill Our common decree for the restoration of mankind, has bowed the unchangeable Godhead even to the form of a servant. Him therefore in Whom I am in all things well pleased, by Whose preaching I am manifested, and by Whose lowliness I am glorified, Him instantly hear ye. For He is the Truth and the Life, My Power, and My Wisdom.

    Let us pray: O God, Thou sees that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday

Lesson i


The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John
John 8:21-29

    Again therefore Jesus said to them: "I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come."  The Jews therefore said: "Will he kill himself, because he said: 'Where I go, you cannot come?'"  And He said to them: "You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world.  Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sin."  They said therefore to Him: "Who art thou?" Jesus said to them: "The beginning, who also speak unto you.  Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me, is true: and the things I have heard of Him, these same I speak in the world."  And they understood not, that he called God His Father.  Jesus therefore said to them: "When you shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know, that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as the Father hath taught Me, these things I speak:  And He that sent Me, is with Me, and He has not left Me alone: for I do always the things that please Him.

An Homily of St Augustine, Bishop
Tract 38 on John.

     The Lord spoke to the Jews, saying: "I go My way" for, to the Lord Christ, death was a departure to that place whence He had come, and whence He had never departed. "I go My way," said He, "and you shall seek Me not from love, but from hatred." Yea after He had withdrawn Himself from the sight of men, two classes sought Him, even they that loved Him, and they that hated Him; the one because they longed for His presence, the other because they were fain to hunt Him down. In the Psalms the Lord Himself said by His Prophet: "Refuge failed me, and no man cared for my soul (Psalm cxli. 5)." And again He said in another Psalm: "Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul (Psalm xxxiv:4)."

Lesson ii.

    Thus He blames them that seek Him not, and condemns those who seek. Yes, it is a good thing to seek the soul of Christ, as the disciples sought it; and an evil thing to seek it, as the Jews sought it; the first sought it to possess, the second to destroy it. What then does He bid us know will be the reward of such as seek it evilly in a perverse heart? "You shall seek Me, and lest ye think that you do well so to seek Me, I tell you that ye shall die in your sins." To seek Christ with bad intent, is as much as to die in sin, for it is to hate Him through Whom alone we can be saved.

Lesson iii

    Whereas men whose hope is in God ought to return good even for evil, those men returned evil for good. The Lord therefore told them beforehand, and, because He knew it, He let them know their coming end, how that they should die in their sins. Then He said farther "Where I go, you cannot come." This He said in another place to His disciples, but He never said to them "You shall die in your sins." What said He? The same words as to the Jews "Where I go, you cannot come. Yet, to the disciples, these words only deferred, they cut not away hope for they, though for a little while they could not come whither He was to go, were yet in the end to go there. Not so they to whom He foretold and said "You shall die in your sins."

    Let us pray. Almighty God, grant, we beseech thee, unto this thy family, that as they do abstain from meals to afflict the flesh, so by following after righteousness they may fast from sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Tuesday

Lesson i

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Matthew 26:1-12

    Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, Saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses.  All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them.  And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues,  And salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi.  But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master; and all you are brethren.  And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven.  Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ.  He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

An Homily of Saint Jerome, Priest
Book IV. Commentary on Matthew xxiii.

    Was there ever man gentler and kinder than the Lord? The Pharisees tempted Him; their craft was confounded, and, in the words of the Psalmist, The arrows of babes have pierced them, (Psalm lxiii:8), and nevertheless, because of the dignity of their priesthood and name, He exhorts the people to be subject to them, by doing according to their words, though not according to their works. By the words Moses' seat we are to understand the teaching of the law. Thus also must we mystically take, Sit in the seat of the scornful, (Psalm i:1), and likewise, "overthrew the seats of them that sold doves," (Matthew xxi:12), to describe doctrine.

Lesson ii

    How they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. This is generally directed against all teachers who command things hard, and themselves do not even things easy. But it is to be remarked that the shoulders, the fingers, and the binding of the burdens, have a spiritual interpretation. But all their works they do for to be seen by men. Whosoever therefore doth anything for to be seen of men, the same is, so far, a Scribe and a Pharisee.

Lesson iii

    "They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi." Woe to us miserable sinners who have inherited the vices of the Pharisees! When the Lord had given the commandments of the law to Moses He added afterwards: "Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." The sense of these words is: My Law shall be in thine hand to order whatsoever thou do, and ever before thine eyes that thou may meditate therein day and night. But the Pharisees, by a bad interpretation, were accustomed to write on pieces of parchment the Decalogue of Moses, that is, the Ten Words of the Law, and to tie these pieces of parchment, plaited in a peculiar manner, on their foreheads, so as to make a sort of crown round their heads, which projected in front of their eyes, and always moved before them.

Wednesday

Lesson i

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Matthew 20:17-28

    And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said to them:  Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death.  And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified, and the third day he shall rise again.  Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, adoring and asking something of him.  Who said to her: What wilt thou? She saith to him: Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom.  And Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They say to him: We can.  He said to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand, is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father.  And the ten hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren.  But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them.  It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister:  And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant.  Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many.

An homily of Saint Ambrose, Bishop
Book V to Gratian, on Faith, ch. ii.

    Consider what it was that the mother of Zebedee's children came to Christ desiring, with, and for her sons. She was a mother, who, longing for the honor of her sons, preferred a request immoderate, and yet pardonable. She was a mother who, albeit stricken in years and comfortless, at an age when she had sore need of the strength of her offspring to help and keep her, was yet so earnest in godliness and motherly love, that she would rather suffer the loss of her sons, that they might gain the reward of following Christ still, as we read they had already done, when, at the first call of the Lord, they left their nets and their father.

Lesson ii

    She, then, yielding to the intensity of her motherly love, besought the Savior, saying, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one at thy right hand and the other at thy left hand, in thy kingdom. Although it was a mistake, it was a mistake of love. For a mother's love knows no moderation. Yet, although it was a greedy prayer, that was a pardonable greed, which hungered, not for riches, but for grace. Neither was that request shameless which sought, not her own good, but her children's. Remember that she was a mother. Think how that she was a mother.

Lesson iii

    Christ took into His consideration that mother's love of hers, which made her sons' reward the comfort of her own old age, and which could bear the loss of her loved ones, broken as she was by a mother's yearnings. Consider also that she was a woman, that is, of the weaker sex, to which the Lord had not yet given strength by His Passion. Consider, I say, that she was an heiress of Eve, and weakened by that transmission of the unbridled covetousness of the first woman, which the Lord had not yet disarmed by His Blood, even that craving for undue dignity, wherewith all our natures are imbued, and which Christ's Blood-shedding had not yet washed away. She erred indeed, but the mistake was an inherited weakness.

    Let us pray. Look down in mercy upon thy people, O Lord, we beseech thee, and grant unto them, whom Thou command to abstain from flesh-meats, power to abstain also from the corruption of sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday

Lesson i


The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Luke 16: 19-31

    At that time Jesus said to the pharisees: There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day.  And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,  Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell.  And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:  And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.  And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither.  And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren,  That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments.  And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.  And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

Lesson i

An homily of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
XL on the Gospels.

    Whom, dearly beloved brethren, whom are we to understand as signified by that rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, whom, I ask, are we to understand, but the Jewish people, who had all the outward life of religious ordinances, and who turned the treasure of the law they had received to show and not to use? What but the herd of the Gentiles is figured in Lazarus, full of sores? Whosoever turns himself to God and is not ashamed to confess his sin, hath his sores on the skin, for in a sore on the skin breaks out the corruption, which is drawn from within.

Lesson ii

    What is, then, the confession of our sins but the breaking out of our sores? The corrupt matter of sin is healthily opened in confession, instead of remaining in the mind to rot it. Open sores on the skin bring the poisonous matter to the surface, and when we confess our sins, what do we but open up the evil that there is lurking in us? But Lazarus desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, and no man gave unto him; even so did that proud people scorn to admit a Gentile to the knowledge of their law.

Lesson iii

The teaching of the law moved them to pride, and not to love, as though they swelled with self importance at the thought of their riches, and the words which some Gentiles caught of their knowledge were as crumbs falling from their sumptuous table. On the other hand, the dogs came and licked the sores of the beggar that was laid at their gate. Sometimes in Holy Writ, under the figure of dogs, preachers are understood. A dog's tongue heals the sore which it licks, and so do holy teachers, when we confess our sins, and they speak to us, mollify by their tongues the sores of our souls.

    Let us pray Grant unto us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the help of thy grace, that we, who are now bent on fasting and prayer, may be freed from enemies both of our bodies and of our souls. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Friday

Lesson i

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Matthew 21:33-46

    At  that time, Jesus said to the multitude of Jews and the chief priests: Hear ye another parable. There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country.  And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof.  And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner.  And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son.  But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance.  And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him.  When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen?  They said to him: "He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season."  Jesus said to them: "Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.  Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.  And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder."  And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they knew that he spoke of them.  And seeking to lay hands on him, they feared the multitudes: because they held him as a prophet.

 

An Homily of Saint Ambrose, Bishop
Book IX on Luke xx.

    Many derive diverse spiritual meanings from the term vineyard, but Isaias gives us to know that the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth is the house of Israel. Who but God planted that vineyard? He it was that let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country; not that the Lord, Who is everywhere present, moves from place to place; but because He is nigh unto them that seek Him, and from such as regard Him not He stands afar off. For a long time He tarried away, lest He might seem to ask too early for the fruits of His vineyard. For where kindness is greatest, there ingratitude is worst.

Lesson ii

Therefore it is well written in Matthew, for our instruction, that He hedged it round about, that is, He girded it with the fortifications of His own Divine protection, that it might not easily lie open to the ravages of spiritual wild beasts. And dug a wine-press in it. What sense are we to put upon the wine-press, unless it be that the Psalms are here described under that title, because in them the mysteries of the Lord's Passion flow over like new wine, working under the power of the Holy Ghost? Whence also, they upon whom the Holy Ghost was outpoured were deemed to be drunken [Acts of the Apostles ii: 13. God therefore dug a wine-press, into which the rational grapes of inward fruitfulness poured their spiritual richness.

Lesson iii

    "And built a tower," that is, He raised up the goodly structure of the Law. And so this, His vineyard, thus fortified, furnished, and garnished, He gave over to the Jews. And when the time of the fruit drew near, He sent His servants to the husbandmen. Well doth He call it the time of the fruit, not the time of the in-gathering. For the Jews yielded Him no fruit; the Lord had no ingathering from that vineyard of which He said: When I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes. [Isaias v: 4] Not that wine that makes glad the heart of man, not with the new wine of the spirit, reeked that wine-press, but with the blood of the Prophets, brutally shed.

    Let us pray. O Almighty God, grant, we beseech thee, that the Sacred Fast may so cleanse us that thereby Thou may make us to come with clean hearts unto those holy ordinances which are now before us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Saturday

Lesson i


The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Luke 15: 11-32

    At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees and scribes in parable:  A certain man had two sons:  And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of inheritance that falls to me. And he divided unto them his substance.  And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously.  And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want.  And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine.  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him.  And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father's house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger?  I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee:  I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.  And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him.  And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son.  And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry:  Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.  Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing:  And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.  And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe.  And he was angry, and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him.  And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends:  But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.  But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine.  But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.

 

Homily by St Ambrose, Bishop
Book VII, Comment on Luke xv

    We see how that the heavenly goods are given to such as seek them. Neither ought we think to blame the father because he gave to his younger son. In the kingdom of God there is no age of weakness, nor does faith wax infirm with years. He, surely, who asked, deemed himself of sufficient age. And would that he had not left his father! then had he been ignorant of the obstacle of his age! But after that he had left his father's house, and had gone into a far country, he began to be in want. Well is he said to have wasted his substance, who hath cut himself off from the Church!

Lesson ii

He took his journey into a far country. No man can go farther than to abandon his own better self, to leave, not his country, but his morals, and, as it were, in an hideous fever of lust after the world, to divorce himself from the ties that bind him to holy things. Yes, he that turns his back on Christ, banishs himself from his Fatherland, and becomes a citizen of the world. But we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, since we who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the Blood of Christ. Let us not envy the pleasures of them who remain in the far country. We too have once been there, but, as says Isaias, "they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (ix: 2). And that far country is the land of the shadow of death.

Lesson iii

    But we to whom the Lord Christ is the breath of life, are alive under the shadow of Christ. And therefore it is that the Church says; "I sat down under His shadow with great delight (Canticles ii: 3).The prodigal son by riotous living wasted all the gifts of nature. Take warning, O thou who art made in the image and likeness of God, lest thou waste the same by brutish wallowing. Thou art the work of God; say not to a tree Thou art my father, (Jeremias: ii. 27), lest thou grow into the likeness of a tree, as it is written They that make them are like unto them.

Let us pray Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that our fasts may bring forth their fruit unto salvation, that so the affliction which we lay upon our bodies may quicken our souls unto spiritual increase. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 


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