Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Maximus the Confessor (c.580 - 662)|
Beginning life as a civil servant and rising to high office, Maximus saw the light and took monastic vows, at an unknown time and for unknown reasons, at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar). In due course he became the abbot there.
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius the Areopagite. He applied rigorous Aristotelian logic to these writings to make their doctrine clearer, and harder to misunderstand.
The perennial argument in the East over the nature of Christ – whether true God and true man, or just a divinely commanded man-shaped puppet – flared up yet again, and this time both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople were on the latter side. Maximus taking the side of orthodoxy, he was arrested in Rome in 653, together with Pope Martin I. The Pope was condemned without a trial and died before he could be sent to Constantinople. Maximus was taken there to be tried as a heretic in 658 and was sentenced to four years’ exile. In 662 he was brought back and tried again, and this time his tongue was cut out so that he could no longer speak rebellion and his right hand cut off so that he could no longer write letters. He was exiled to a distant region of the empire, where he died on 13 August of the same year.
The passages from St Maximus which adorn the Office of Readings have nothing of these controversies in them, but are chosen to reflect for us the glory of the light of the events of our redemption.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Wednesday, 4th week of Lent|
At the favourable time I will answer you,
on the day of salvation I will help you.
I have formed you and have appointed you
as covenant of the people. (Is 49:8)
The Gospel reading speaks of the union of the Son and the Father: the Son does the works of the Father and without the Father does nothing. This first reading shows us the saving work of the Father which the Lord Jesus will accomplish. Writing at the last moments of the Babylonian Exile, the prophet can already see the Lord bringing back his people across the desert, no longer the desert of the Exodus from Egypt but the desert from Babylon to Zion. They will pass, no longer plagued by thirst, scorching wind and sun, but grazing on every hilltop beside springs of water. This is a joyful message of consolation. It is finally sealed by the precious guarantee of the certainty and tenderness of God’s love, the love of a mother for her baby: if a mother were to forget the baby at her breast, even so “I shall not forget you”.
At the same time as the message of consolation for God’s Chosen People of Israel it is a message of promise for the whole world, “some are on their way from afar, others from the north and the west”. The whole world is approaching to draw salvation from Jerusalem. We are progressing on the journey up to the Resurrection which we are invited to complete in the Easter Vigil. But if the Easter Vigil is to be a true renewal we need to prepare for it by our devotion during Lent. There is still time!
The Gospel reading of the day is Jn 5:17-30.
Do something towards healing or renewing a broken relationship.
This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, published by the Catholic Truth Society and used by permission. “40 Days and 40 Ways” has meditations for each day in Lent. To find out more about the booklet, or to buy it, please visit the CTS web site.
The Universalis Readings at Mass page shows the readings for today’s Mass.
|Liturgical colour: violet|
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Ezekiel 18:30-32 ©|
Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent and live!
|Noon reading (Sext)||Zechariah 1:3-4 ©|
Return to me, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will return to you. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the prophets in the past cried ‘Turn back from your evil ways and evil deeds’ but they would not listen.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Daniel 4:24 ©|
By virtuous actions break with your sins, break with your crimes by showing mercy to the poor, and so live long and peacefully.