Sunday, March 15, 2009

Epistle for the Third Sunday in Lent

I don't know why, but on feasts the short chapters read at Lauds, the Little Hours and Vespers are snippets from the Epistle; and this is the case also on the Sundays of Lent. To-day's Epistle is from Ephesians v, 1-9: its start (v, 1-2) is read as the capitulum at both Vespers, at Lauds and at Terce - which would be ideally before Mass; its middle (v, 5) is read at Sext - which ought naturally follow Mass; and its end (v, 8-9) is appointed for use at None.

Herewith, the Epistle (in translation of course), with these parts highlighted:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks. For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.
Now, even the just falls seven times a day (Proverbs xxiv, 16), but that is not to say that we should wallow in sin - no, for such have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Rather, we ought ever repent, ever be converted and turned again to the Lord, responding to His grace and not by a hard impenitent heart grieving the Spirit, sinning against Him, and becoming entirely captive to evil.  In this regard, the Gospel of this Sunday (St Luke xi, 14-28) contains a most awful warning: if an evil spirit be driven out of one by Christ's power, it roams in desert wastes, joins with seven other worse devils, then returns to inhabit its former abode - one's very soul (cf. St Luke xi, 24-26a)!  "And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." (St Luke xi, 26b)  Hence our bounden duty to both hear and keep the word of God, lest we be not blessed, but cursed (cf. St Luke xi, 28).

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