Romans 6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.
Prayer: O my God I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. (Act of Faith)
Practical Commentary this week…
GOD also sent to the inhabitants of the kingdom of Juda a great number of prophets, whose powerful voice was heard throughout the land calling them to repentance, by proclaiming and foretelling the judgments of God. Many times did their words produce the desired effect, and bring the people to repentance, and for a while they served God with fidelity and sincerity.
Unhappily these returns to virtue and religion were of short duration. Then it was that the prophets, with sorrowful hearts, began to announce to the rebellious people the gradual downfall of their country, and the only consolation left to the prophets was the thought of the Messias, whose coming they saw more clearly as time went on.
The prophet Joel spoke to the people in these terms: “Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Blow the trumpet in Sion, sound an alarm in my holy mountain; because the day of the Lord comes; because it is nigh at hand. A day of darkness and of gloom; a day of clouds and whirlwinds; a numerous people and a strong people, as the morning spread upon the mountains. Before the face thereof a devouring fire and behind it a burning flame. Sacrifices and oblations have ceased to be offered in the house of the Lord. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God. Between the porch and the altar, the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: “Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people.”
Prayer: Having risen from sleep I hasten to Thee, O Lord, Lover of men, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive to do Thy work, and I pray to Thee: help me at all times, in everything, and deliver me from every evil thing of the world and every attack of the devil, and lead me into Thine eternal Kingdom. For Thou art my Creator, the Giver and Provider of everything good, and all my hope is in Thee, and to Thee I send up glory, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*Prayer for the next day’s morning
The prophet Micheas is not less terrible in his warning: “Hear, all ye peoples,” he cries out, “and let the earth give ear. I will make Samaria as a heap of stones! I will bring down the stones thereof into the valley, and will lay her foundations bare. Hear this, ye princes of the house of Jacob; you that abhor judgment, and pervert all that is right; you who build up Sion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Therefore, on account of you, Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a heap of stones; and the mountain of the Temple as the high places of the forests. And [= but] thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda; out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be the Ruler in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.”
These prophecies have all been literally fulfilled. The prophecy about Bethlehem refers to the Saviour, so that the Jews might know that the Redeemer promised to Adam, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Juda, and to David would be born in Bethlehem.
Prayer: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Commentary on the later kings of Israel: Evil passions are at the root of unbelief. It seems almost incredible that, although God had made Himself known to them in such marvellous ways, so many of the kings of Israel and of Juda should have fallen away from Him. Their apostasy shows us the enormous power of those human passions which obscure the reason. The idolatrous kings knew the true God, but they refused to acknowledge Him, because His commandments put a curb on their passions. The worship of false gods, which encouraged sensuality, and was not opposed to despotism or extravagance, was preferable to them, for while practising it they were free to live according to their lusts. Therefore, they turned their hearts from God and set up a senseless idolatry which permitted them to do exactly as they wished.
Prayer: Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray : O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beg Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
OZIAS (Uzziah) was one of the few faithful kings who reigned in Juda. He reigned fifty-two years, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. And God directed him in all things. Unhappily prosperity made him proud, and he carried his audacity so far as to usurp the priestly office. One day, going into the Temple, he went to burn incense upon the altar. Eighty priests, with Azarias, the High Priest, at their head, opposed the king, and prevented him from burning incense.
Ozias, being very angry, threatened to strike the priests with the censer which he held in his hand. No sooner had he raised his hand than he himself was stricken with leprosy, which appeared on his forehead before all the priests. And they, seized with horror at this sudden and awful punishment, took hold of the king and put him out of the Temple.
The king was terrified, and feeling the leprosy spread all over his body hastened away from the Temple to shut himself up in a palace apart from all others. He remained a leper till the day of his death. Such was the fearful punishment which God inflicted on an otherwise faithful king, because of his sacrilegious attempt to perform an office that belonged only to priests.
Prayer: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death.
Commentary on Uzziah:
The case of Ozias, like that of Saul, shows us that it is easy for a man to be made proud by prosperity, power or riches. To be king, no longer satisfied him; he must be priest as well This led him to sin grievously against the law of God, and as a punishment for his pride he lost even his royal position, and led a sad and solitary life. No doubt, in his solitude, he renounced his pride, and heartily repented of his crime. “Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled” (Luke 14:11).
Even in the Old Testament God, in His wisdom, separated the spiritual or priestly from the temporal or royal authority, perpetuating it in Aaron and his descendants. In the New Testament our Lord instituted a special priesthood, entrusting its authority to the apostles and their successors. Both Church and State represent God’s authority, and they ought mutually to respect each other, and work together for the good of the people, but neither of them ought to usurp the prerogatives of the other. The severe punishment which followed the crime of Ozias ought to serve as a warning to temporal rulers in all ages not to encroach on the rights of the Church; and it ought to show all men that it is a sin not to respect the spiritual authority instituted by God, to set themselves up against it, or blame or abuse its decrees.
Prayer: 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. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Metropolitan Onuphy of Kiev on the visitors to the Christchild…
History tells us that the Magi, who are also called kings, came not from one country, but from three different countries: Persia, Arabia, and Ethiopia. All of them, independent of one another, studied the heavenly bodies, and the miraculous star appeared to each of them, independently and separately, and led each of them from his country to Bethlehem. They met on the way to Judea and arrived to Bethlehem together. In Bethlehem, in the cave, they found the Divine Christ Child and worshiped Him as King and God, placing their gifts at His feet: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Magi gave the Christ Child gold as a sign that He is the King of kings, incense as a sign that He is the High Priest of eternal blessedness, and myrrh as a sign that He is the Divine High Priest Who will offer Himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of us sinful men.
The interpreters of the Sacred Scriptures say that the miraculous star appeared in the heavens on the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos and shone in the sky for nine months, until it brought the Magi to Bethlehem, to the blessed cave, where Christ the Savior of the world was born. The Magi arrived in Bethlehem on the very day of Christ’s Nativity. Thus, the Lord wisely arranged everything with those who sought Divine Wisdom.
We, modern men, sometimes ask ourselves: If we lived during the time of Christ’s Nativity, would the Lord have revealed to us this mystery—the mystery of His coming into the world, as He revealed it to the shepherds and Magi?
He would have revealed it if we, like the shepherds and Magi, had sought God in simplicity and humility.
Prayer: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.