This Sunday’s liturgy is concerned with the forgiveness of injuries and like last Sunday, is made up of two elements, i.e., the reading of the history of David which is continued in the Breviary and that of a passage of one of the epistles of St. Peter the Apostle whose feast is kept about this time. In fact the week beginning with the seventh Sunday after Pentecost was called the week after the feast of the Apostles.
When David had gained his victory over Goliath the Israelites went back victorious to their towns and villages singing to the accompaniment of instruments, “Saul slew his thousands and David his ten thousands.”
Angered at this and with jealousy eating into his heart, Saul exclaimed: “They have given David ten thousands, and to me they have given but a thousand, what can he have more than the kingdom?” “And Saul did not look on David with a good eye from that day forward” as if he guessed that David had been chosen by God. And jealousy turned him into a criminal. Twice while David was playing the harp to calm Saul’s fit of madness he threw his javelin at him and twice David nimbly stepped aside while the javelin stuck quivering in the wall. Then Saul sent him into the battle, hoping that he would be killed, but David returned at the head of his armies, victorious, safe and sound (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Postcommunion).
After this Saul became desperate and hunted David up and down the kingdom and one night he went into a cave, very deep and dark, in the recesses of which David happened to lie concealed. One of David’s companions told him that it was the king; that the Lord was about to deliver him from his enemy’s hand and that the moment had come to strike him dead with his spear. David, however replied that he would never lay his hand upon the Lord’s anointed, and contented himself with secretly cutting off the hem of Saul’s robe, after which he left the cave.
At sunrise, from a safe distance, he showed Saul the piece he had cut off and Saul wept and cried: “My son David, you are better than I.” Again, on another occasion, David came across Saul fast asleep at night with his spear stuck in the earth close to his pillow and did no more than take the spear and Saul’s drinking vessel with it. And Saul blessed him again, however, without slackening in his pursuit.
Later on the Philistines recommenced the war and Israel being defeated, Saul killed himself by “throwing himself on his sword”. When David learned of Saul’s decease, far from rejoicing, he rent his garments and had the Amalekite killed who brought the news while carrying Saul’s crown and claiming for himself the fictitious merit of having slain David’s enemy. David sang a dirge for Saul: “Ye mountains of Gelboe, let neither dew nor rain come upon you, neither be they fields of first-fruits: for there was cast away the shield of the valiant, the shield of Saul as though he had not been anointed with oil… Saul and Jonathan, lovely and comely in their life, even in death they were not divided.”
“Why,” asks St. Gregory, “did David, who had not even rendered evil for evil, utter this curse upon the mountains of Gelboe, when he learned that Saul and Jonathan had fallen in the fight? In what sense have the mountains of Gelboe been guilty of the death of Saul, that receiving neither dew nor rain, all their verdant vegetation should be turned into barrenness, in accordance with this imprecation?”
Saul whose anointing in no way prevented his death is a type of our Mediator in His death, and the mountains of Gelboe, whose name means watercourses, stand for the Jews with their proud hearts who dissipate themselves in a stream of worldly ambitions. The King the true anointed one, lost the life of his body among them, wherefore wholly deprived of the dew of grace they remain in a state of barrenness. These proud souls bring forth no fruit, for they remain faithless to the Redeemer’s coming, and while the Church, from the beginning, has shown herself prematurely fertile by the multitude of nations she has brought forth, it is with difficulty that in the last days she will garner some Jews, gathered like a late harvest or like fruit out of season (2nd Nocturn).
From all these considerations there stands out a great lesson of charity, for as David spared his enemy Saul and rendered him good for evil, so God forgives the Jews, since in spite of their unfaithfulness, He is always ready to welcome them into the kingdom of which Christ their Victim is King. Hence we can understand the reason for the choice of today’s Epistle and Gospel, which proclaim the great duty of the forgiveness of injuries, “Be ye all of one mind in prayer, not rendering evil for evil, not railing for railing,” says the Epistle. And the Gospel adds: “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar and there, thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother and then coming, thou shalt offer thy gift.”
David, having been anointed king by the elders of Hebron, took the citadel of Sion, which thus became his city, and put the Ark of God in the sanctuary there (Communion). This was the reward for his great charity, a virtue indispensable if the worship offered by men in the holy places is to be acceptable to God (Ibid.). It is for this reason that the Epistle and Gospel call our attention to the fact that it is especially when we meet in prayer that we must be unite in heart.
Certainly, as the history of Saul and today’s Mass show, divine Justice has its rights, but if it utter a final sentence, it is only after almighty God has exhausted in vain, all the means suggested by His love.
The best way to come to the possession of charity is to love God, to desire the good things of eternity (Collect), and the possession of happiness in heavenly places (Communion), where entrance is only to be had through the continual practice of this fair virtue.
INTROIT Psalm 26: 7-9
Hear, O Lord, my voice with which l have cried to Thee: be Thou my helper, forsake me not, nor do Thou despise me, O God, my Savior. (Ps. 26: 1) The Lord is my light, and my salvation, whom shall I fear? v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Repeat Hear, O Lord…
O God, Who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee in all things, and above all things, may obtain Thy promises which exceed all that we can desire. 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.
Collect of the Souls
From all perils of soul and body defend us, O Lord, we beseech thee, and by the intercession of blessed and gloriosus ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, graciously grant us safety and peace that all adversities and errors being overcome, thy Church may serve thee in security and freedom…
for the Church
Mercifully hear the prayers of thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, that all adversities and errors being overcome, she may serve thee in security and feedom. 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.
EPISTLE 1 Peter 3: 8-16
Lesson from the first Epistle of Blessed Peter the Apostle. Dearly beloved Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful, modest, humble, not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this you are called, that you may inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him decline from evil and do good let him seek after peace, and pursue it because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His ears unto their prayers, but the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things, And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? But if also you suffer anything for justice’ sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear, and be not troubled: but sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 83: 10, 9
Behold, O God our protector, and look on Thy servants. V. O Lord God of hosts, give ear to the prayers of Thy servants. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 20: 1) In Thy strength, O Lord, the king shall enjoy and in Thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 20-24
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: “Except your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment and whosoever shall say to his brother: Raca, shall be in danger of the council and whosoever shall say: Thou fool, shalt be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 15: 7-8
I will bless the Lord, Who hath given me understanding; I set God always in my sight; for He is at my right hand, that I be not moved.
Be merciful, O Lord, to our humble pleading: and favorably receive these offerings of Thy servants and handmaidens, that what each of us has offered to the honor of Thy Name, may profit us all unto salvation. Through our 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.
Of the souls
Hear us, O God, our salvation that through the power of this Sacrament thou mayest defend us from all enemies of soul and body and bestow upon us grace here and glory hereafter…
for the Church
Protect us, O Lord, who celebrate thy mysteries, that holding fast to divine things, we may serve thee with body and soul. 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.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Psalm 24: 4
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
May the Mysteries which we have received, we beseech Thee, O Lord, purify us, and by their virtue defend us. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Of the souls
May the offering of this divine Sacrament cleanse and protect us, O Lord we beseech thee, and by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, may it purify us from all sin, and free us from all adversity…
for the Church
We beseech thee, O Lord, our God, that thou permit not those, to whom thou hast given a participation of divine things to be subjected to human dangers. 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.