Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday
The Roman Breviary
Nocturn iii
The reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Lesson vii: c.21, 1-9
At that time: When Jesus drew nigh to Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto Mount Olivet: then he sent two disciples, saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke (Isa.62.11; Zach.9.9;John12.15). And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying:Hossanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Homily of St. Ambrose, Bishop
Book 9 on Luke

It is beautifully shown that when the Lord had deserted the Jews, that he might take up his abode in the hearts of the Gentiles, he went up into the temple. For this is the true temple, wherein the Lord is adored, not according to the letter, but in spirit. This is the temple of God, whereof he has laid the courses, not in stones built one upon another, but in faith. Thus they who hated him are forsaken: they are chosen who will love him. And so he comes to Mount Olivet, to plant upon the heights of virtue his slips of olive, whose mother is the Jerusalem which is above. In this mountain dwells the heavenly husbandsman: and thus when all are planted in the house of God, each one of them can say: But I, as a fruitful olive-tree in the house of Lord.
R. The Lord is with me as a strong warrior: therefore have they persecuted, me and have not been able to understand: O Lord, thou triest the reins and the heart: Unto thee have I laid open my cause.
V. Thou hast seen, O Lord, their iniquity against me: judge thou my cause.

Lesson viii
And perhaps Christ himself is this mountain. For who other than he could ever bear such a wealth of olive-trees, not, that is, of trees weighed down with the abundance of their fruit, but of the Gentiles fruitful with the fullness of the spirit? He it is by whom we ascend, and he, again, to whom we ascend. He is the gate, he is the way, he it is that is opened and he, also, who opens: it is he that is opened and he, also, who opens: it is he that is knocked at by those who enter in, and he that is adored by these who have obtained their reward. To return to the narrative: the colt was in the village, tied with the ass: he could not be loosed but by the Lord's command. It was an apostolic hand that set him free. Such as the work is, such the life, such the grace. Be then thyself also such, that thou mayst loose them that are bound.
R. The wicked have said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright: Let us lie in wait for the just one, because he is contrary to our doings: he boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the Son of God, and boasteth that he hath God for his father: Let us see if his words be true: and, if he be indeed the Son of God, let him deliver him from our hand: let us condemn him to a shameful death.
V. We are esteemed by him as triflers, and he astaineth from our ways as from our ways as from filthiness: and he preferred the latter end of the just.

Lesson ix
Now let us consider who those were, that being detected in error, and cast out of paradise, were consigned to the village. And thou seest, how those who have been driven out by death, are called back again by life. Therefore, according to Matthew, we read of an ass and colt: this is because when man was banished, both sexes were represented, and now, as typified by these two animals, both sexes are recalled. There, then, in the mother-ass, is figured Eve as the mother of error: and here too in the colt is shown the multitude of the Gentile nations: hence he is seated upon the colt of an ass. And well is it said: On which no one hath sitten: for, before Christ, no one called the people of the nations to the Church. Finally, according to Mark, thou findest these words: Upon which no man yet hath sat.
R. Liars have surrounded me: they have fallen upon me with scourges without cause: But do thou, O Lord, my defender, avenge me.
V. For trouble is near, and there is none to help.