THE EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) : When are we overcome by evil? When we wish to take revenge. “Revenge is no sign of courage,” says St. Ambrose, “but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word.” “Are you impatient,” says the same saint, “you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome.” What should we do if our reputation is injured? We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. “But as a good name,” says St. Francis de Sales, “is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbour, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it.” We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility’ and lay our honour and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle. How do we “heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?” When we return him good for evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: “By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love.” Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecute you.
THE GOSPEL (Matt. VIII. 1-13.) : Why did the leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”? He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition. Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper? To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick! Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man? To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward. Why did Christ send the healed leper to the Priest? That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean: that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honour the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests. What is taught by the centurion’s solicitude for his servant? That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care. Why did Christ say: I will come and heal him? Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ’s humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the wants of a poor servant. Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof? Because he recognised Christ’s divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house. From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion’s words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive. Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed? By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ’s divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word. If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence in God? What is meant by: 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 into the exterior darkness? This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God’s chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God’s grace, be eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.
INTROIT Psalm 96:7-8
Adore God, all you His angels: Sion hears and is glad, and the cities of Juda rejoice. Ps 96:1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Adore God, all you His angels: Sion hears and is glad, and the cities of Juda rejoice.
Almighty and everlasting God, look with favor upon our weakness, and stretch forth the right hand of Your majesty to help and defend us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Collect for the Blessed Mother
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Romans 12:16-21
Lesson from the letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Romans: Brethren: Be not wise in your own conceits. To no man render evil for evil, but provide good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as far as in you lies, be at peace with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine: I will repay, says the Lord. But, If your enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 101:16-17
The nations shall revere Your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. V. For the Lord has rebuilt Sion, and He shall appear in His glory. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Ps 96:1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 8:1-13
At that time, when Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And behold, a leper came up and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. And stretching forth His hand Jesus touched him, saying, I will; be made clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a witness to them. Now when He had entered Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion who entreated Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying sick in the house, paralyzed, and is grievously afflicted. Jesus said to him, I will come and cure him. But in answer the centurion said, Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, and have soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. And when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following Him, Amen I say to you, I have not found such great faith in Israel. And I tell you that many will come from the east and from the west and will feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be put forth into the darkness outside; there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; as you have believed, so be it done to you. And the servant was healed in that hour.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 117:16-17
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power: the right hand of the Lord has exalted me; I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
May this offering, O Lord, we beseech You, wipe away our transgressions, and make holy the minds and bodies of Your servants for celebrating this sacrifice. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Secret for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Strengthen in our minds, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the mysteries of the true faith, that, confessing Him Who was conceived of the Virgin to be true God and true man, we may deserve, through the power of His saving resurrection, to attain everlasting joy.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 4:22
All marvelled at the words that came from the mouth of God.
O Lord, as You grant us to use this great sacrament, deign, we beseech You, to make us truly worthy of its fruits. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.