Saturday, 18 June 2011

Ember Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost

As well as marking the end of Whitsuntide, and thus of the extended Easter season, today is one of the traditional days on which to hold ordinations, so do pray for those being ordained today.

The Gospel for today is Luke 4: 38-44, Our Lord heals St Peter's mother-in-law.  The Matins readings are from St Ambrose:

See how long-suffering is the Lord our Saviour! His displeasure moved him not at all to desert Jewry, even though he was vexed by their guilt, and outraged by their insults. Nay, unmindful of insults, and remembering mercy only, he strove to soften their hard and unbelieving hearts, sometimes by his teaching, sometimes by freeing them from sin, sometimes by healing them. Rightly does Luke first speak of a man who was delivered from an unclean spirit, and afterwards of the healing of a woman. For the Lord came to heal male and female both; but that is fitly healed first which was created first; and then must not woman be passed over, for we should remember that her first sin arose rather from permitting the serpent to deceive her than from malice in her heart.

That the Lord began to heal on the Sabbath Day shows in a figure how the new creation begins where the old ended. It shows, moreover, that the Son of God, who is come not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil, is not under, but above, the Law. For the world was not made by the Law, but by the Word, as it is written: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made. Wherefore, the Law is not destroyed, but fulfilled, in the redemption of fallen man. Whence also the Apostle says: Put off, concerning the old man, and put on the new man, which after God is created.

Rightly then does he begin to heal on the Sabbath Day, that so he may show himself to be the Creator. He carries out his works in due order and succession. Wherefore he continues what he had already begun; even as a workman, setting out to repair a house, begins not by removing that which is old from the foundations, but from the roof. Thus does the Lord begin to lay-to his hand again, in that place whence last he left off. He begins with things lesser, that he may go on to things greater. Even men are able to cast out evil spirits by the Word of God. But to command the dead to rise again is for God's power alone. Perchance, also, this woman, the mother-in-law of Simon and Andrew, was a type of our nature, stricken down with the great fever of sin, and burning with unlawful lusts after divers objects. Nor would I say that the fever of passion is a lesser thing than bodily fever. Avarice and lust and luxury and ambition and anger: these be our fevers.

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