This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Sunday, 30 September 2018

19th Sunday after Pentecost

19th Sunday after Pentecost

About this time (Fifth Sunday in September) the story of Esther is read in the divine office. In order, therefore, that with the Church, we may every year review these Old Testament types, and also continue our study of the Sundays after Pentecost in the light of the breviary, we may usefully make Esther the subject for exposition to-day.

Assuerus, king of Susa in Persia 4*2-472, B.C.), had chosen Esther, niece of Mardochai as his queen. Anin, the major-domo of the palace, noticing that Mardochai refused to bow the knee before him, flew into a great rage, and knowing Mardochai to be a Jew, swore to exterminate at one blow all the members of his rare. To this end, he laid a complaint before the king against these foreigners who were settled in all the towns of his kingdom, and obtained a decree authorizing their wholesale massacre.

Upon learning of this decree, Mardochai indulged in great lamentations, the Jewish community, as a whole, bin?, naturally, plunged into extreme 
mourning, while Mardochai took the further step of telling Esther that, if the opportunity presented itself, she ought, even at the peril of her life, to inform the king of Aman's plot. "Who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom that thou mightest be ready for such a time as this?"

(The Introit for the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost is Mardochai's prayer. Perhaps we have here a sign that the Church wishes at his season to connect the story of Esther with a Mass of this period.)

Whereupon Esther, after fasting three days with her servants, presented herself the third day, royally dressed before the king with the request that he would join her in a feast, together with Aman. This the king promised to do. In the course of the banquet the queen began her complaint to the king " We are given up, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain and to perish."

And Assuerus learning that Esther was a Jewess and that Mardochai was her uncle, " answered and said : 4 Who is this, and of what power that he should do these things'. And Esther said : * It is this Aman that is our adversary and most wicked enemy.' Upon this, the king enraged against his minister rose up and commanded that Aman should be hanged on the gibet that he had prepared for Mardochai, this sentence being carried out immediately, while the edict against the Jews was revoked. Esther had saved her people and on the same day Mardochai became the king's favourite minister and " going forth from the palace, and from the king's presence, shone in royal apparel: to wit of violet and sky colour, wearing a golden crown on his head, and clothed with a cloak of silk and purple and with the king's ring on his finger.

This bible narrative shows how God watched over His people and preserved them, for the sake of the promised Messias. " I am the salvation of the people," saith the Lord, «in whatever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them ; and I will be their Lord forever" (Introit). " If I walk in the midst of tribulation, Thou wilt quicken me, O Lord ; and Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies ; and Thy right hand shall save me " (Offertory). The Communion psalm speaks of the just man weighed down by misfortune whom God forsakes not, while that of the Gradual shows, how in answer to the cry of those who hope in Him God causes the sinner to fall into his own net and again, that of the Alleluia sings of all the marvels which God has wrought for the deliverance of His people.

All this is a type of what God is constantly doing for His Church and of what He will do in a special way at the end of time. Aman, whom the king condemned at Esther's banquet, is like the man spoken of in the Gospel who came to the wedding feast and was cast by the king's command into exterior darkness because he had not on a wedding garment, that is because he had not " put on the new man who according to God is created in justice and holiness and truth and for not having put away lying and those feelings of anger against his neighbour which he cherished in his heart (Epistle).

Thus will almighty God treat all those who, while belonging to the body of the Church by their faith, are found within the wedding-chamber without being clothed, as St. Augustine puts it, with the robe of charity Since they are not quickened by sanctifying grace they have no share in the soul of the mystical body of Christ. "Wherefore," says St. Paul," putting away lying speak the truth every one with his neighbour, for we are members one of another... Let not the sun go down upon your anger" (Epistle). Those who do not fulfil this command will be cast by the supreme judge into the torments of hell, like the Jews who refused the invitation to the wedding feast of the king's son, that is of Jesus Christ with the Church, His bride (2nd Nocturn), and who slew the prophets and apostles who were sent to bear the invitation.

Assuerus, in his anger, caused Aman to be hanged. So also the king in the Gospel "was angry; and sending he destroyed those murderers and burnt their city." More than a million Jews perished at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, the Roman general when the city was destroyed, and the Temple burned.

1. In his " Journeys in Persia Chardin relates an incident of an official being put to death
for failing to conform to the etiquette which imposed the wearing of a festive costume upon
anyone present at a state banquet. Such a " garment " was often sent to the guests by the
host himself.

The faithless Aman was replaced by Mardochai; the wedilir by those whom the king's servants found in the highways ; the the Gentiles. To these last, at Pentecost, the apostles turned, illl. d wlili the Holy Ghost. And at the last Judgment, foretold on these 1bhI Numi of the cycle, these rewards and punishments will be final. The clret wilt take part in the eternal marriage feast, while the damned will be ciihi int.. exterior darkness, into the avenging flames, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Salus populi ego sum, dicit Dominus: de quacumque tribulatione clamaverint ad me, exaudiam eos: et ero illorum Dominus in perpetuum. * Attendite, popule meus, legem meam : inclinate aurem vestram in verba oris mei.
I am the salvation of the people, saith the Lord: in whatever tribulation they shall cry to Me, I will hear them; and I will be their Lord for ever. * Attend, O My people, to My law; incline your ear to the words of My mouth. (Introit, Ps. lxxvii. i.)

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude: et mente et corpore pariter expediti, quae tua sunt, liberis mentibus exsequamur.
O almighty and merciful God, in Thy goodness keep us, we beseech Thee, from all things hurtful; that we, being ready both in body and soul may accomplish those things which belong to Thy service. (Collect)

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. At that time, Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the Pharisees in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son; and he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage, and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying : Tell them that were invited: Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come ye to the marriage. But they neglected : and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise; and the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry ; and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready, but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good; and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests ; and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment: and he saith to him: Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? but he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters : Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, For many are called, but few are chosen.

Intravit autem Rex, ut videret discumbentes: et vidit ibi hominem non vestitum veste nuptiali, et ait illi: Amice, quomodo huc intrasti, non habens vestem nuptialem?
And the king went in to see the guests ; and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how earnest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment ?
(Antiphon at the Magnificat: Matt. xxii. n)

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