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Friday, September 17, 2010

Matins Lesson, Antiphon, and Collect for Ember Friday

Ember Friday in September

A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope
Of what doth the Pharisee remind us, presuming upon his false righteousness, save of the chosen of God, the Jewish people? And of what doth the woman remind, which was a sinner that came and wept at the Lord’s feet, save of the conversion of the Gentiles? She brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head ; and ceased not to kiss those feet which she had thus anointed and wiped. Therefore, that woman is typical of us, if so be that after our sins we turn unto the Lord with all our heart, and imitate the sorrow of her penitence. And what meaneth the ointment, save the sweet savour of a good report? Whence Paul saith ; In every place we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.

Therefore, if we by good works spread abroad through the Church the savour of a good report, what do we but pour ointment upon the body of the Lord? The woman stood behind Jesus, at his feet. We withstood the Lord, at his very face, what time we were in sin, and went contrary to his way. But when we turn again, and truly repent us of our sins, we stand behind him, at his feet, for we follow in his footsteps, even as once we withstood him before his face. The woman washed his feet with her tears. This we also do in very deed whenever we are moved by loving-kindness toward any of the least of his members, and whenever we feel compassion with his saints in their tribulations, and whenever we count their sorrows to be our own.

Therefore, we ourselves wipe the Lord’s feet, as it were with the superfluous hair of our head, whomsoever we shew loving-kindness to his saints by helping them from what we have over and above our own necessities, and in such wise that our bountiful hand proveth our compassion of heart. On the other hand, we wash the feet of our Redeemer with our tears, but wipe them not with the hairs of our head, whensoever we are conscious of the sufferings of our neighbours, but give them no help from what we have over and above our own necessities. That man weepeth but wipeth not, who offered words of tenderness, but removeth not the source of sorrow by ministering such things as be lacking. The woman kissed the feet which she wiped. And we do likewise if we not only offer aid from our superfluities, but also keep true charity in our hearts, in such wise that the neediness of our neighbour is not irksome to us ; nor the penury which we relieve, burdensome ; but rather that when the hand is giving what is needful, the heart is not untouched by compassion.
Ant on Benedictus: A woman in the city which was a sinner, stood at the Lord’s feet behind him, and began to wash his feet with tears, * and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God; that we, who year by year devoutly keep this holy ordinance of fasting, may serve thee acceptably both in body and soul. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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