Saturday, January 21, 2012

3rd Sunday after Epiphany

To-morrow, off to Hobart for to M.C. at our Missa cantata!  (The last few days I've been away up the far north-west, I'm about to go down to Hobart and back, and come Thursday I'm flying to Melbourne... a busy time.)

It being the Third Sunday after Epiphany, the Liturgy echoes with the glory of Christ's Manifestation to the Gentiles: that is the hermeneutical key for this Sunday, Adorate Deum. (If, as this year, there be any further Sundays after Epiphany before Septuagesima, the chants for this Sunday are repeated; so next Sunday in Melbourne, God willing, I will hear these again.)

The Introit, the Collect, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the Gospel, the Offertory, the Communion all emphasise the glorious manifestation of the saving power of God:
  • Dóminus regnávit - "the Lord hath reigned": Christ in His Majesty, revealed at the Epiphany.
  • déxteram tuæ majestátis exténde – "stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty" when Thou beholdest our weakness, and protect us: Christ is the Right Hand of the Father;
  • vidébitur in majestáte sua – "He shall be seen in His majesty" by the Gentiles, whose Name they shall fear and Whom they shall glorify;
  • Dóminus regnávit - "the Lord hath reigned", sings the Church once more in solemn asseveration of the truth;
  • exténdens Jesus manum – the Lord "Jesus stretching forth His hand" cleansed the outcast leper; 
  • tantum dic verbo et sanábitur – saying but the word, He healed the servant of the Gentile centurion;
  • Déxtera Dómini fecit virtutem – "the right hand of the Lord hath wrought wonders": indeed, Christ the Father's Right Hand hath done so;
  • Mirabántur omnes de his, quæ procedébant de ore Dei – "They marvelled at all these [words], which came forth from the mouth of God": here the Scripture (S. Luke iv, 22) has not been quoted literally, since the Liturgy dares to say the words come not merely from "the mouth of Him", but "from God's mouth".
Christ ever works signs and wonders by His hand and His command, proving in word and deed that He is the Incarnate Word by Whom all things were made, the Holy One come to restore all things in Himself, revealing to the nations His saving power.  The leper cleansed stands for the whole human race, stained with Adam's sin, now able to be washed clean in Christ's Blood through Baptism; the healed servant of the Gentile centurion affirms that God's salvation extends to all nations. 

"What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad", sings David.  Thus we ought be at every Holy Mass, wherein the Salvation of the World, wrought once for all on Calvary, is mightily made present.  As often as we offer the Sacrifice, Satan is confounded.  St Paul, teaching the Romans, that is, ourselves, counsels us therefore not to be defeated by evil, but to defeat evil by good, after the model of Christ Himself (Rom. xii, 16-21, this passage being the Epistle read this Sunday).

It is a pity, given its broad application, that the Epiphany Preface is not sung all through these Sundays after Epiphany: "For when Thine Only-begotten appeared in the substance of our mortality, He repaired us by the new light of His immortality."  Therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, with all the heavenly host, we sing the hymn of God's glory!

As a final note, the splendid Offertory Dextera Domini is also sung on Holy Thursday, and, formerly (with added alleluia for Eastertide), on  the 3rd of May, the old feast of the Invention of the Cross.

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