The Sunday called Septuagesima

Or the Third Sunday before Lent

Rembrandt_-_Parable_of_the_Laborers_in_the_Vineyard

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, 1637, Rembrandt, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

THE COLLECT

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

THE EPISTLE

1 Corinthians 9:24-end

KNOW ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things: now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.

THE GOSPEL

St. Matthew 20:1-16

THE kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good-man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way; I will give unto this last even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

 

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Conversion_on_the_Way_to_Damascus-Caravaggio_(c.1600-1)

Conversion on the Way to Damascus, circa, 1600, Caravaggio

THE COLLECT

O GOD, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

FOR THE EPISTLE

Acts 9:1-22

AND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And, as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened he saw no man; but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias, coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and, putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, (even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest,) hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

THE GOSPEL

St. Matthew 19:27-end

PETER answered and said unto Jesus, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

THE PSALM (1979 Book of Common Prayer)

Psalm 67

Deus misereatur

GOD be merciful unto us, and bless us : and shew us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us:
2. That thy way may be known upon earth : thy saving health among all nations.
3. Let the people praise thee, O God : yea, let all the people praise thee.
4. O let the nations rejoice and be glad : for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.
5. Let the people praise thee, O God : let all the people praise thee.
6. Then shall the earth bring forth her increase : and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
7. God shall bless us : and all the ends of the world shall fear him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


Second Psalm (unrelated to this commemoration)

Psalm 66

Jubilate Deo

OBE joyful in God, all ye lands : sing praises unto the honour of his Name, make his praise to be glorious.
2. Say unto God, O how wonderful art thou in thy works : through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies be found liars unto thee.
3. For all the world shall worship thee : sing of thee, and praise thy Name.
4. O come hither, and behold the works of God : how wonderful he is in his doing toward the children of men.
5. He turned the sea into dry land : so that they went through the water on foot; there did we rejoice thereof.
6. He ruleth with his power for ever; his eyes behold the people : and such as will not believe shall not be able to exalt themselves.
7. O praise our God, ye people : and make the voice of his praise to be heard;
8. Who holdeth our soul in life : and suffereth not our feet to slip.
9. For thou, O God, hast proved us : thou also hast tried us, like as silver is tried.
10. Thou broughtest us into the snare : and laidest trouble upon our loins.
11. Thou sufferedst men to ride over our heads : we went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
12. I will go into thine house with burnt-offerings : and will pay thee my vows, which I promised with my lips, and spake with my mouth, when I was in trouble.
13. I will offer unto thee fat burnt-sacrifices, with the incense of rams : I will offer bullocks and goats.
14. O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God : and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.
15. I called unto him with my mouth : and gave him praises with my tongue.
16. If I incline unto wickedness with mine heart : the Lord will not hear me.
17. But God hath heard me : and considered the voice of my prayer.
18. Praised be God, who hath not cast out my prayer : nor turned his mercy from me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL

from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Ed., 1894

THE great apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born at Tarsus, the capital of Silicia, and was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. He was early instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, which he thought the cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the martyrdom of the holy deacon, Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others. But God was pleased to show forth in him His patience and mercy. While on his way to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?” And Saul answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom thou dost persecute.” This mild expostulation of Our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Our Lord ordered him to arise and to proceed on his way to the city, where he should be informed of what was expected from him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. He was led by hand into Damascus, where he was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas. To this house came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight. Then he arose and was baptized; he stayed some few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the con. version of the world.

Reflection.—Listen to the words of the “Imitation of Christ,” and let them sink into your heart: “He who would keep the grace of God, let him be grateful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is taken away. Let him pray that it may be given back to him, and be careful and humble, lest he lose it.”

 

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

ChristCleansing

Christ cleansing a leper, 1864, Jean-Marie Melchior Doze

THE COLLECT

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE EPISTLE

Romans 12:16-end

BE not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

THE GOSPEL

St. Matthew 8:1-13

WHEN he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man, but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say unto this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour.

THE PSALM*

Psalm 110

Dixit Dominus

THE Lord said unto my Lord : Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2. The Lord shall send the rod of thy power out of Sion : be thou ruler, even in the midst among thine enemies.
3. In the day of thy power shall the people offer thee free-will offerings with an holy worship : the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning.
4. The Lord sware, and will not repent : Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.
5. The Lord upon thy right hand : shall wound even kings in the day of his wrath.
6. He shall judge among the heathen; he shall fill the places with the dead bodies : and smite in sunder the heads over divers countries.
7. He shall drink of the brook in the way : therefore shall he lift up his head.

  • (as appointed in the 2006 Lutheran Service Book, One-Year Lectionary)

The Confession of St. Peter

Jesus appears to the disciples

Confession of Saint Peter, detail from stained glass in the church of St Mary and St Lambert in Stonham Aspal in Suffolk, England

THE FIRST READING

Acts 4:8-13

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

THE EPISTLE

2 Peter 1:1-4

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

THE GOSPEL

Matthew 16:13-19

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(Readings taken from The Lectionary, 1979 Book of Common Prayer)


Psalm 23

Dominus regit me.

THE Lord is my shepherd : therefore can I lack nothing.
2. He shall feed me in a green pasture : and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.
3. He shall convert my soul : and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for his Name’s sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
5. Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them that trouble me : thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup shall be full.
6. But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life : and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Psalm 22 (Not related to today’s lessons)

Deus, Deus meus

MY GOD, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me : and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint?
2. O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not : and in the night-season also I take no rest.
3. And thou continuest holy : O thou worship of Israel.
4. Our fathers hoped in thee : they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them.
5. They called upon thee, and were holpen : they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded.
6. But as for me, I am a worm, and no man : a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people.
7. All they that see me laugh me to scorn : they shoot our their lips, and shake their heads, saying,
8. He trusted in God, that he would deliver him : let him deliver him, if he will have him.
9. But thou art he that took me out of my mother’s womb : thou wast my hope, when I hanged yet upon my mother’s breasts.
10. I have been left unto thee ever since I was born : thou art my God, even from my mother’s womb.
11. O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand : and there is none to help me.
12. Many oxen are come about me : fat bulls of Basan close me in on every side.
13. They gape upon me with their mouths : as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint : my heart also in the midst of my body is even like melting wax.
15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my gums : and thou shalt bring me into the dust of death.
16. For many dogs are come about me : and the council of the wicked layeth siege against me.
17. They pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones : they stand staring and looking upon me.
18. They part my garments among them : and casts lots upon my vesture.
19. But be not thou far from me, O Lord : thou art my succour, haste thee to help me.
20. Deliver my soul from the sword : my darling from the power of the dog.
21. Save me from the lion’s mouth : thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns.
22. I will declare thy Name unto my brethren : in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23. O praise the Lord, ye that fear him : magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob, and fear him, all ye seed of Israel.
24. For he hath not despised, nor abhorred, the low estate of the poor : he hath not hid his face from him, but when he called unto him he heard him.
25. My praise is of thee in the great congregation : my vows will I perform in the sight of them that fear him.
26. The poor shall eat and be satisfied : they that seek after the Lord shall praise him; your heart shall live for ever.
27. All the ends of the world shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the Lord : and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.
28. For the kingdom is the Lord’s : and he is the Governor among the people.
29. All such as be fat upon earth : have eaten and worshipped.
30. All they that go down into the dust shall kneel before him : and no man hath quickened his own soul.
31. My seed shall serve him : they shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation.
32. They shall come, and the heavens shall declare his righteousness : unto a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.