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: Origen (184 - 254)|
Origen is a giant among early Christian thinkers. He was knowledgeable in all the arguments of the Greek philosophical schools but believed firmly in the Bible as the only source of true inspiration. He is thus a representative of that curious hybrid called “Christianity”, which on the one hand maintains (like the Jews) an ongoing direct relationship with the living God, who is the principle and source of being itself, but on the other hand maintains (like the Greeks) that everything makes sense rationally and it is our duty to make sense of it. As the Gospels say (but the Pentateuch does not), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind”.
A first stage in this, when it comes (for example) to disputations with the Jews over their view of Christianity as a recently-founded syncretizing heresy of Judaism, is to decide what Scripture is and what it says. If I argue from my books and you argue from yours, we will never meet; but if we share an agreed foundation, there is some chance. Accordingly Origen compiled a vast synopsis of the different versions of the Old Testament, called the Hexapla. Not all Origen’s specific judgements on soundness were generally accepted, even at the time, but the principle remains a necessary one, indispensable for any constructive meeting of minds.
Origen’s principle of interpretation of Scripture is that as well as having a literal meaning, its laws, stories and narratives point us to eternal and spiritual truths. The prime purpose of Scripture is to convey spiritual truth, and the narrative of historical events is secondary to this. While we still accept that “Scripture provides us with the truths necessary for salvation”, this view does leave room for over-interpretation by the unscrupulous, and in the controversies of succeeding centuries people would either claim Origen as an authority for their own interpretations or accuse their opponents of Origenizing away the plain truths of Scripture. Even today, the literalist view taken by some heretics of narratives in Genesis which most of us accept as allegorical shows that this controversy will never die.
As part of his programme of founding everything on Scripture, Origen produced voluminous commentaries – too many of them for the copyists to keep up, so that today some of them have perished. But what remains has definite value, and extracts from his commentaries and also his sermons are used as some of our Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Monday, 4th week of Lent|
Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem “Joy” and her people “Gladness”. I shall rejoice over Jerusalem and exult in my people. No more will the sound of weeping of the sound of cries be heard in her. (Is 65:17-18)
This reading from the third and final part of Isaiah pairs with the Gospel reading for today, the account of Jesus’s cure of the son of the centurion of Capernaum in St John. That story is therefore seen as a part of the renewal of the world and the end of sorrow promised by Isaiah. Of all the sadnesses of death the death of a child is a sadness from which parents perhaps never recover. If Jesus can prevent this sorrow, then his act of healing the boy is to be seen as a sign that Jesus is introducing the Kingdom of God which will wipe away all sorrow. A more particular contact with the Isaiah reading is the phrase, “never again will there be an infant who lives only a few days.”
The reading from Isaiah is a high point of the exultation at the return from exile in Babylon. This return was seen as the beginning of the renewal of the world, “a new heaven and a new earth”. The names of the new Jerusalem would be “Joy” and “Gladness”. This had been promised already during the exile in Ezekiel’s vision of the new Jerusalem (chapters 40-48), where the name of Jerusalem would be “The Lord is there” (48:35). At the end of the new Testament the same promise is repeated in the vision of the descent of the new Jerusalem as a bride adorned for her wedding (Rv 21:1-22:5). These are all images, positive images such as the river of life flowing crystal clear from the throne of God and of the lamb, a massive reassurance that all will draw life from God and from the lamb.
The Gospel reading of the day is Jn 4:43-54.
Gather together some clothes for refugees (and wash and iron them!)
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)||Wisdom 11:23-24 ©|
Lord, you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, you hold in abhorrence nothing of what you have made.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Ezekiel 18:23 ©|
Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?
|Afternoon reading (None)||Isaiah 58:6,7 ©|
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks – to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?