Occurring Scripture for the
Hour of Matins
A reading from the book of Genesis
And the Lord said to Abram: "Go forth
out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father's house, and
come into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make of
thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, and thou
shall be blessed. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse
them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the kindred of the earth be
blessed": So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and
Lot went with him: Abram was seventy-five years old when he went forth from
Haran. And he took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son,
and all the substance which they had gathered, and the souls which they had
gotten in Haran: and they went out to go into the land of Chanaan. And when
they were come into it, Abram passed through the country into the
place of Sichem, as far as the noble vale: now the Chanaanite was at that
time in the land.
And the Lord appeared to Abram, and
said to him: To thy seed will I give this land. And he built there an altar
to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And passing on from thence
to a mountain, that was on the east side of Bethel, he there pitched his
tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east; he built there also an
altar to the Lord, and called upon his name. And Abram went
forward, going, and proceeding on to the south. And there came a
famine in the country; and Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there: for
the famine was very grievous in the land. And when he was near
to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife: "I know that thou art a
beautiful woman: And that when the Egyptians shall see thee,
they will say: She is his wife: and they will kill me, and keep thee.
Say, therefore, I pray thee, that thou art my sister: that I may be well
used for thee, and that my soul may live for thy sake."
And when Abram was come into Egypt, the
Egyptians saw the woman that she was very beautiful. And the
princes told Pharao, and praised her before him: and the woman was taken
into the house of Pharao. And they used Abram well for her sake.
And he had sheep and oxen, and he asses, and men servants and maid servants,
and she asses, and camels. But the Lord scourged Pharao and his
house with most grievous stripes for Sarai, Abram's wife. And
Pharao called Abram, and said to him: What is this that thou hast done to
me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? For what
cause didst thou say, she was thy sister, that I might take her to my wife?
Now, therefore, there is thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
From the Book on the Patriarch Abraham of St Ambrose, Bishop
Book I Ch. 2.
Abraham was truly a great man,
illustrious as an example of many virtues; one the like of whom the
day-dreams of Philosophy have not been able to produce. That which
Philosophy imagines is less than that which he did; his simple truth and
faith were something grander than her lying rounded periods. Let us then
consider what this man's loyalty was. For that virtue is first to be taken
which was the source of all the others, and thus this was the first which
God called for from him, when He said: Get thee out of thy country, and from
thy kindred, and from thy father's house. It would have been enough to have
said, Get thee out of thy country, for there were his kindred, and there his
But He gave the details of his
sacrifice one by one, that He might see whether he loved Him, lest also he
should begin rashly, or should seek to evade the heavenly commandment. But
as the whole of the precept was plainly set forth, lest anything should be
unconsidered, so also were the rewards set forth, lest the burden should
seem hopeless. He was tried as one that is strong, he was roused as one that
is true, he was called as one that is righteous; and he departed loyally as
the Lord had spoken unto him. And Lot went forth with him. That saying of
the Seven Wise Men of Greece is much spoken of "Follow God." But this did
Abraham before the Seven Wise Men were thought of; he followed God, and went
out of his own land.
But, forasmuch as Abraham had before
had another country, namely, Ur in the land of the Chaldees, from whence
went forth Terah the father of Abraham, and came unto Haran, and forasmuch
as he to whom it had been said, "Get thee out from thy kindred," took Lot,
his brother's son, with him, let us consider whether this "Get thee out of
thy country" signifieth not get thee out of this earthly dwelling, namely,
our body, from which Paul came forth, who said, "Our conversation is in
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to
time, Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them: Behold, we go up to
Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the
prophets concerning the Son of man. For he shall be delivered to the
Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon: And after
they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and the third day he
shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this
word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said.
Now it came to pass, when he drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man
sat by the way side, begging. And when he heard the multitude
passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him, that Jesus of
Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying: Jesus, son of
David, have mercy on me. And they that went before, rebuked him, that
he should hold his peace: but he cried out much more: Son of David, have
mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto him.
And when he was come near, he asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I
do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him:
Receive thy sight: thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he
saw, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it,
gave praise to God.
A Homily of Pope Saint Gregory the Great
Hom. II on the Gospels
Our Redeemer, foreseeing that the minds
of His disciples would be troubled by His suffering, told them long before
both of the pains of that suffering, and of the glory of His rising again,
to the end that, when they should see Him die as He had prophesied, they
might not doubt that He was likewise to rise again. But, since His disciples
were yet carnal, and could not receive the words telling of this mystery, He
wrought a miracle before them. A blind man received his sight before their
eyes, that if they could not receive heavenly things by words, they might be
persuaded of heavenly things by deeds.
But, dearly beloved brethren, we must
so take the miracles of our Lord and Savior, believing both that they were
actually worked, and that they have some mystic interpretation for our
instruction. For in His works, power speaks one thing and mystery yet
another. Behold this account, for instance. We know not historically who
this blind man was, but we do know of what he was mystically the figure.
Mankind is blind, driven out from Eden in the persons of his first parents,
knowing not the light of heaven, and suffering the darkness of condemnation.
But, nevertheless, through the coming of his Redeemer, mankind is
enlightened, so that now it sees by hope already the gladness of inward
light, and walks by good works in the path of life.
One must note that as Jesus drew to
Jericho a blind man received his sight. Now, this name Jericho, being
interpreted, signifies the city of the moon and in Holy Scripture the moon
is used as a figure of our imperfect flesh, of whose gradual corruption her
monthly waning is a type. As, therefore, our Maker draws nigh to Jericho, a
blind man receives his sight. While the Godhead takes into itself, our weak
manhood, man receives again the light which he had lost. By God's suffering
in the manhood, man is raised up toward God. This blind man is also well
described as sitting by the wayside begging, for the Truth said: “I am the
Let us pray:
O Lord, we beseech You, mercifully hear
our prayers; loose us from the chains of our sins and keep us from all
adversity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A reading from the book of Genesis
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he and
his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And he
was very rich in possession of gold and silver. 3 And he returned by the way
that he came, from the south to Bethel, to the place where before he had
pitched his tent between Bethel and Hai: 4 In the place of the altar which
he had made before; and there he called upon the name of the Lord. 5 But Lot
also, who was with Abram, had flocks of sheep, and herds of beasts, and
tents. 6 Neither was the land able to bear them, that they might dwell
together: for their substance was great, and they could not dwell together.
Whereupon also there arose a strife
between the herdsmen of Abram and of Lot. And at that time the Chanaanite
and the Pherezite dwelled in that country. Abram therefore said
to Lot: Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee, and
between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen: for we are brethren.
Behold the whole land is before thee: depart from me I pray thee: if thou
wilt go to the left hand, I will take the right: if thou choose the right
hand, I will pass to the left. And Lot, lifting up his eyes, saw
all the country about the Jordan, which was watered throughout, before the
Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha, as the paradise of the Lord, and like
Egypt as one comes to Segor. And Lot chose to himself the
country about the Jordan, and he departed from the east.
And they were separated one brother
from the other. Abram dwelt in the land of Chanaan; and Lot abode in
the towns that were about the Jordan, and dwelt in Sodom. And
the men of Sodom were very wicked, and sinners before the face of the Lord,
beyond measure. And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot was
separated from him: Lift up thy eyes, and look from the place wherein thou
now art, to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west.
All the land which thou see, I will give to thee, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.
A reading from the book of Genesis
And the king of Sodom, and the king of
Gomorrha, and the king of Adama, and the king of Seboim, and the king of
Bala, which is Segor, went out: and they set themselves against them in
battle array in the woodland vale: To wit, against Chodorlahomor king
of the Elamites, and Thadal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Sennaar,
and Arioch king of Pontus: four kings against five. Now the
woodland vale had many pits of slime. And the king of Sodom, and the king of
Gomorrha turned their backs and were overthrown there: and they that
remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the substance
of the Sodomites, and Gomorrhites, and all their victuals, and went their
way: And Lot also, the son of Abram's brother, who dwelt in
Sodom, and his substance.
And behold one that had escaped told
Abram the Hebrew, who dwelt in the vale of Mambre the Amorrhite, the brother
of Escol, and the brother of Aner: for these had made league with Abram.
Which when Abram had heard, to wit, that his brother Lot was taken, he
numbered of the servants born in his house, three hundred and eighteen well
appointed: and pursued them to Dan. And dividing his company, he
rushed upon them in the night: and defeated them, and pursued them as far as
Hoba, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back
all the substance, and Lot his brother, with his substance, the women also
And the king of Sodom went out to meet
him, after he returned from the slaughter of Chodorlahomor, and of the kings
that were with him in the vale of Save, which is the king's vale.
But Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he
was the priest of the most high God, Blessed him, and said:
Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who created heaven and earth.
And blessed be the most high God, by whose protection the enemies are in thy
hands. And he gave him the tithes of all.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to
At that time Jesus said to his
disciples: when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they
disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to
you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest
anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to
fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who sees in secret,
will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where
the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal.
But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor
moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.
For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
Homily by St Austin, Bishop. Book II
on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount
chapter xii., tome 4.
It is evident that by these precepts we
are bidden to seek for inner gladness, lest, by running after that reward
which is without, we should become conformed to the fashion of this world,
and should so lose the promise of that blessing which is all the truer and
more stable that it is inward, that blessing wherein God has chosen us to be
conformed to the likeness of His Son. In this chapter we will principally
consider the fact that vain-glory finds a ground for its exercise in
struggling poverty as much as in worldly distinction and display; and this
development is the most dangerous, because it entices under pretence of
being the serving of God.
He that is characterized by unbridled
indulgence in luxury or in dress, or any other display, is by these very
things easily shown to be a follower of worldly vanities, and deceives no
one by putting on an hypocritical mask of godliness. But those professors of
Christianity, who turn all eyes on themselves by an eccentric show of
groveling and dirtiness, not suffered by necessity, but by their own choice,
of them we must judge by their other works whether their conduct really
proceeds from the desire of mortification by giving up unnecessary comfort,
or is only the mean of some ambition. The Lord bids us to "beware of wolves
in sheep's clothing, but by their fruits," says He, "ye shall know them."
The test is when, by
diverse trials, such persons lose those things which under the cover of
seeming un-worldliness they have either gained or sought to gain. Then must
it appear whether they are wolves in sheep's clothing, or indeed sheep in
their own. But that hypocrites do the contrary, it is not duty of a
Christian to shine before the eyes of men with a display of needless luxury.
The sheep need not to lay aside their own clothing because wolves sometimes
falsely assume it.
Let us pray: Grant, O Lord, to thy
faithful people, that they may undertake with fitting piety the venerable
solemnities of fasting, and complete them with steadfast devotion. Through
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thursday after Ash
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to
At that time when He had entered
into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying,
Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously
tormented. And Jesus said to him: I will come and heal him. And
the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou should
enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I
say to this, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my
servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marveled;
and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so
great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the
east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in
the kingdom of heaven: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast
out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed,
so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
An Homily of Saint Augustine, Bishop.
Book 2 of the Harmony of the Gospels, chap. xx.
Let us see whether Matthew and Luke agree together concerning this
servant of the centurion. For Matthew said: "There came unto Him a
centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, My servant lies at home sick of the
palsy.: That which Luke said seems to contradict this: "And when he heard
of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He
would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus they besought
Him instantly, saying, 'That he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loves our nation, and hath built us a synagogue.' Then He went with them:
and when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to
Him, saying unto Him: 'Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that
Thou should enter under my roof. '"
If the circumstances were as Saint Luke has related them, how is Saint
Matthew's narrative true: There came unto Him a certain centurion: seeing
that he did not come himself, but sent friends? Not unless we perceive on
careful examination, that Saint Matthew has here employed a customary method of
speech. For we are accustomed to say that a man came, even before he arrives
at the place, of the which it is said that he came thither; thus we say: he came a little way, or he came a considerable way, towards that
point which he desires to reach. And not only so, but also we speak of a
journey as having been accomplished even though he who is said to arrive
does not see the person to whom he has journeyed; as when a man reaches any
one through the intervention of a friend, whose good offices are needed for
such a purpose. This custom of speech is so common, that persons who
by skilful efforts influence the minds of powerful men difficult of access, by
employing suitable agents, are commonly called emissaries, implying that
they have actually reached the persons whom they have but indirectly
Matthew then, wishing to state briefly that the centurion obtained
access to the Lord by means of others, does not speak foolishly, but rather
in a way that would generally be understood, saying: "there came unto Him a
centurion." And yet the depth of this mystical speech of the Holy Evangelist
is not to be lightly regarded, according as it is written in the Psalms,
"Draw nigh unto Him and be enlightened." For whereas Jesus Himself praised the
faith of the centurion who truly came to Him, saying, I have not found so
great faith, no not in Israel," the wise Evangelist means to say that the
centurion himself came to Christ, rather than those persons by whom he sent
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples:
You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shall love thy neighbor, and
hate thine enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them
that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who makes his
sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and rains upon the just and the unjust.
For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even
the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you
more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also
your heavenly Father is perfect. Take heed that you do not your
justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a
reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an
alms deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the
synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say
to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let
not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be
in secret, and thy Father who sees in secret will repay thee.
An Homily of Saint Jerome, Priest
Book I, Commentary on Matthew chapters v and
But I say unto you: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you." There are many who judge of the commandments of the Lord by their own
weakness, and not by the strength of His Saints; and so deem Him to have
commanded things impossible. These are they who think that not to hate their
enemies is all that they are able to do; and that to command us to love
them, is to command more than man's nature can bear. It behooves them to
know, that this which Christ commanded is not impossible, albeit perfect.
This is what David did in respect of Saul and Absalom; the martyr Stephen
also prayed for his enemies, even while they were stoning him; and Paul
could wish that himself were accursed from Christ for his persecutors. And
this, Jesus Himself did, as well as taught, when He said: "Father, forgive
them for they know not what they do."
That ye may be the children of your
Father Who is in heaven. If he that obeys the commandments of God becomes a
son of God, then is he not a son by nature, but by his own choice. Therefore
when thou give
alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the
synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. He that
sounds a trumpet before him, when he gives alms, is an hypocrite. He that disfigures his face, when he fasts, to the end that he may show the
emptiness of his belly in his looks, he also is an hypocrite.
He that prays in the synagogues and in the corners of the
streets, that he may be seen of men, is an hypocrite. From all which, we
gather that an hypocrite is one which doeth anything that he may have glory
of men. To me also it seems that he which says unto his brother: "Let me
pull out the mote out of thine eye", that he also is an hypocrite; for
he proposes to take upon him that office [of healing] for vainglory's sake, that he
himself may appear righteous. Therefore the Lord said unto him: "Thou
hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye." Thus we see that
it is, not the doing good, but the motive which moves us to do good, which
will meet with reward from God; and, if thou stray but a little from the
right way, it is of small moment whether thou wander to the right hand or to
the left, once thou hast lost the straight path.
Let us pray. Further with thy gracious favor, we beseech thee, O Lord,
the fasts which we have begun, that we may be able to practice the bodily
fasts which we keep, with sincere minds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Mark
At that time when it was
late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and himself alone on the land.
And seeing them laboring in rowing, (for the wind was against them,) and
about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them walking upon the sea,
and he would have passed by them. But they seeing him walking upon the
sea, thought it was a ghost, and they cried out. For they all saw him,
and were troubled. And immediately He spoke with them, and said to them:
Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. And he went up to them into
the ship, and the wind ceased: and they were far more astonished within
themselves: For they understood not concerning the loaves; for their
heart was blinded. And when they had passed over, they came into the
land of Genezareth, and set to the shore. And when they were gone out
of the ship, immediately they knew him: And running through that whole
country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they
heard He was. And whithersoever He entered, into towns or into
villages or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that
they might touch but the hem of His garment: and as many as touched Him were
A homily of the Venerable Bede, Priest and Doctor of the Church.
Bk. ii., cap. 6, on Mark vi. 45
The toil of the disciples in rowing, and the wind contrary to them, is a
figure of the diverse toils of the Holy Church, as, amid the waves of a world
that fights against Her, and the stormy blasts of unclean spirits, She
labors to reach the rest of her Fatherland above, as a shore safe for her
anchor. Here also it is well said that the ship was in the midst of the sea,
and He alone on the land; for sometimes it cometh to pass that the Church
is, by the great pressure of the Gentiles, not only so afflicted, but also
hindered, that it seems as though, if it were possible, Her Redeemer has for
the time forsaken her.
Whence it is that there cometh that cry of Hers, when she is taken amid the
waves, and the winds of temptations that break upon Her, and with piteous
entreaty She calls on Him to protect her: "Why stand Thou afar off, O Lord,
why hide Thou thyself in times of trouble?" And then, in the verses that
follow, she tells Him what saith the enemy that persecuted her, saying: For
he hath said in his heart God hath forgotten; He hides His face, He will
never see it. "
Truly, He forgets not the prayer of the poor, neither turns He His
face away from any that put their trust in Him; yea, rather, to him
whosoever is striving with the enemy, He gives him help to conquer, and,
whosoever conquers, to him He gives an everlasting crown. For the same
reason it is said here plainly: "He saw them toiling in rowing." The Lord sees
them that are toiling in the sea, even though He is on the land.
Although He seems for a moment to delay in aiding the distressed,
nevertheless the look of His love is strengthening them, all the while, lest
they should faint—and sometimes He sets them free, even by an open
deliverance, conquering all their adversaries for them, as when He walked
upon the swelling of the waves, and stilled them.
Let us pray.
Hearken, O Lord, to our supplications; and grant that we may celebrate with
devout service this solemn fast, which thou hast instituted for the healing
of soul and body. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.