(LifeSiteNews) –– The station church for today is in the Church of Saint Vitalis, martyr, the father of the two illustrious Milanese martyrs: saints Gervasius and Protasius.
Grant, O Almighty God, that being purified by this fast, we may come to the approaching solemnity with clean hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lesson from the Book of Genesis 37:6-22.
In those days: Joseph said to his brethren: Hear my dream which I have dreamed. I thought we were binding sheaves in the field; and my sheaf arose, as it were, and stood, and your sheaves, standing about, bowed down before my sheaf. His brethren answered: Shalt thou be our king? or shall we be subject to thy dominion? Therefore this matter of his dreams and words ministered nourishment to their envy and hatred.
He dreamed also another dream, which he told his brethren, saying: I saw in a dream, as it were, the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars, worshiping me. And when he had told this to his father and brethren, his father rebuked him, and said: What meaneth this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother, and thy brethren, worship thee upon the earth?
His brethren therefore envied him, but his father considered the thing with himself. And when his brethren abode in Sichem, feeding their father’s flocks, Israel said to him: Thy brethren feed the sheep in Sichem; come, I will send thee to them. And when he answered: I am ready; he said to him: Go, and see if all things be well with thy brethren and the cattle, and bring me word again what is doing.
So being sent from the vale of Hebron, he came to Sichem. And a man found him there wandering in the field, and asked him what he sought. But he answered: I seek my brethren; tell me where they feed their flocks. And the man said to him: They are departed from this place; for I heard them say: “Let us go to Dothain.”
And Joseph went forward after his brethren, and found them in Dothain. And when they saw him afar off, before he came nigh them, they thought to kill him, and said one to another: Behold the dreamer cometh; come, let us kill him, and cast him into some old pit: and we will say: Some evil beast hath devoured him; and then it shall appear what his dream avail him.
And Ruben hearing this, endeavored to deliver him out of their hands, and said: Do not take away his life, nor shed his blood; but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and keep your hands harmless. Now he said this, being desirous to deliver him out of their hands, and restore him to his father.
Today the Church reminds us of the apostasy of the Jewish nation, and of the consequent vocation of the Gentiles. This instruction was intended for the catechumens; let us, also, profit by it.
The history here related from the Old Testament is a figure of what we read in today’s Gospel. Joseph is exceedingly beloved by his father Jacob, not only because he is the child of his favorite spouse Rachel, but also because of his innocence.
Prophetic dreams have announced the future glory of this child; but he has brothers, and these brothers, urged on by jealousy, are determined to destroy him. Their wicked purpose is not carried out to the full; but it succeeds at least this far, that Joseph will never more see his native country. He is sold to some merchants. Shortly afterwards, he is cast into prison; but he is soon set free, and is made the ruler, not of the land of Canaan that had exiled him, but of a pagan country, Egypt.
He saves these poor gentiles from starvation during a most terrible famine, nay, he gives them abundance of food, and they are happy under his government. His very brothers, who persecuted him, are obliged to come down into Egypt and ask food and pardon from their victim.
We easily recognize in this wonderful history our Divine Redeemer, Son of God and Son of Mary: He was the victim of His own people’s jealousy, who refuse to acknowledge in Him the Messias foretold by the Prophets, although their prophecies were so evidently fulfilled in Him. Like Joseph, Jesus is the object of a deadly conspiracy; like Joseph, He is sold. He traverses the shadow of death, but only to rise again, full of glory and power.
But it is no longer on Israel that He lavishes the proofs of his predilection. He turns to the Gentiles, and with them He henceforth dwells. It is to the Gentiles that the remnant of Israel will come seeking Him when, pressed by hunger after the truth, they are willing to acknowledge, as the true Messias, this Jesus of Nazareth, their King, whom they crucified.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 21:33-46
At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitude of the Jews, and to the chief priests this parable: There was a house-holder who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a strange country.
And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits thereof. And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the former; and they did to them in like manner.
And last of all he sent them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves: This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him.
When, therefore, the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen? They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end: and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen that shall render him the fruit in due season.
Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this hath been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they knew that he spoke of them. And seeking to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude; because they held him as a prophet.
Here we have more than the mere figures of the Old Law, which show us our Redeemer in the far distant future; we have the great reality. Yet a little while, and the thrice-holy victim will have fallen beneath the blows of his persecutors.
How awful and solemn are the words of Jesus, as His last hour approaches! His enemies feel the full weight of what He says; but in their pride, they are determined to keep up their opposition to Him who is the Wisdom of the Father. They have made up their minds not to acknowledge Him to be what they well know He is — the Stone on which he that falls, shall be broken, and which shall grind to powder him on whom it shall fall.
But what is the Vineyard, of which our Lord here speaks? It is revealed truth; it is the rule of faith and morals; it is the universal expectation of the promised Redeemer; and lastly, it is the family of the children of God, His inheritance, His Church.
God had chosen the Synagogue as the depository of such a treasure. He willed that His Vineyard should be carefully kept, that it should yield fruit under their keeping, and that they should always look upon it as His possession, and one that was most dear to Him. But in its hard-heartedness and avarice, the Synagogue appropriated the Lord’s vineyard to themselves. In vain did He, at various times, send His Prophets to reclaim His rights; the faithless husbandmen put them to death.
The Son of God, the Heir, comes in person. Surely they will receive Him with due respect, and pay Him the homage due to His Divine character! But no; they have formed a plot against Him; they intend to cast Him forth out of the Vineyard, and kill Him. Come, then, ye Gentiles, and avenge this God! Leave not a stone on stone of the guilty city that has uttered this terrible curse, May his blood be upon us and upon our Children! (Matthew 27:25)
But you shall be more than the ministers of the divine justice; you yourselves are now the favored people of God. The apostasy of these ungrateful Jews is the beginning of your salvation. You are to be keepers of the Vineyard to the end of time; you are to feed on its fruits, for they now belong to you. From East and West, from North and South, come to the great Pasch that is being prepared!
Come to the font of salvation, O ye new people, who are gathered unto God from all nations under the sun! Your Mother the Church will fill up from you, if you be faithful, the number of the elect; and when her work is done, her Spouse will return, as the dread Judge, to condemn those who would not know the time of their visitation. (Luke 19:44)
Bow down your heads to God.
Grant, we beseech, thee, O Lord, to thy people health both of soul and body, that the continual practice of good works they may always defended by thy powerful protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us encourage within ourselves the spirit of humility and penance by the following Hymn, which we take from the Greek Liturgy. It was composed by St. Andrew of Crete.
(Feria V. quintæ Hebdomadæ)
I would mourn over the sins of my wretched life; but where shall I begin? O Jesus how shall I commence the lamentation I fain would make this day? Do thou, my merciful God, forgive me my sins.
Come, my poor soul, and thou, too, my body, come, and confess to the great Creator and henceforth, restrain you senseless passions, and offer to God the tears of repentance.
I have imitated my first parent in his sin; I acknowledge my nakedness, for I have lost my God, and the kingdom and the joys of eternity.
Alas, unhappy soul! where fore hast thou made thyself like unto Eve! Oh that guilty look! Oh that cruel wound! Thou didst stretch forth thy hand to the tree and, in thy frowardness, didst eat the forbidden fruit.
Adam was deservedly driven out of Paradise, because he broke one of thy commandments, O my Savior! I, then, who am for ever setting thy life-giving words at defiance, what punishment shall I not have?
Now is the time for repentance. I come to thee, my Creator! Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and, for thy mercy’s sake, pardon me my crimes.
Despise me not, my Savior! Cast me not away from thy face. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and, for thy mercy’s sake, pardon me my crimes.
Do thou, my Savior, and my merciful God, pardon me my sins, deliberate or indeliberate, public or private, known or unknown. Have mercy on me, and save me!
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875). LifeSiteNews is grateful to The Ecu-Men website for making this classic work easily available online.