Thursday, March 16, 2006

Second Week of Lent. From the "Roman Breviary"

TUESDAY at Matins

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Lesson i : c.23, 1-12
At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitudes, and to his disciples, saying: The scribes and Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do, but according to their works do ye not. And so forth.

Homily of St. Jerome, Priest.
Book 4, Commentary on Matthew, cap. 23
Where shall we find one milder, gentler than the Lord? He was tempted by the Pharisees, their snares were broken, and, as the Psalmist says: the arrows of children are their wounds. And yet, nevertheless, because of the dignity of the priesthood and of their title, he exhorts people to be subject to them, not having regard to their works, but to their teaching. For when he says: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses; by chair, he gives them to understand the doctrine of the law. And therefore, as to what is said in the Psalm: Nor sat in the chair of pestilence; and again: He overthrew the chairs of them that sold doves; we must take it as signifying doctrine.

Lesson ii
For they bind heavy and unsupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders, but with a finger of their own they will not move them. This is spoken generally against all masters, who order hard things to be done, and will not themselves do the least of them. But it is to be noticed, that shoulders, and the finger, and the burdens, and the bonds with which the burdens are tied, are to be understood here in a spiritual sense. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. Whosoever therefore does anything merely that he may be seen by men, he is a scribe and a Pharisee.

Lesson iii
For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. They love also the first places at the feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and the salutations in the market-place, and to be called by men, Rabbi. Woe unto us miserable men, to whom the voices of the Pharisees have passed. When the Lord had given the commandments of the law by Moses, at the end he added: Thou shalt bind them upon thy hand, and they shall be fixed before thy eyes. And the meaning is this: Let my commandments be upon thy hand, that they nay be fulfilled in works; let them be before thy eyes, that thou mayest meditate upon them day and night. The Pharisees, wrongly interpreting this passage, wrote out the decalogue of Moses, that is to say, the ten sentences of the law, upon skins, and folding them, bound them upon their foreheads, making, as it were, a crown for the head; that thus the commandments might ever to move to and from before their eyes.

Perfect within us, we beseech thee, O Lord, in thy mercy, the benefits of this holy observance`; that those things which thou hast appointed for us to do, we may by thy assistance be enabled to fulfill. Through Our Lord.