The 23nd Sunday after Pentecost
Introit: (Jeremiah 29:11, 12, and 14) Thus says the Lord: “I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places.” (Ps 84: 2) Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Glory be … Thus says the Lord: “I think thoughts of peace …”
Collect: O Lord, we beseech Thee, absolve Thy people from their offenses, that through Thy bountiful goodness, we may be freed from the bonds of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ …
Epistle: (Philippians 3:121 and 4:1-3) Brethren, be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we looked for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord: and I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
Gradual: (Psalm 43:8-9) Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy name we will give praise for ever.
Alleluia: (Psalm 129:1-2) Allelúia, allelúia. From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.
Gospel (Matthew 9:18-26) At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold a certain ruler came up, and adored Him, saying: “Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live.” And Jesus, rising up, followed him, with His disciples. And behold a woman, who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: “If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed.” But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: “Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, He said: “Give place; for the girl is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame thereof went abroad into all that country.
Offertory (Psalms 129:1-2) From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer: from the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord.
Secret: We offer to Thee, O Lord, this sacrifice of praise, as an increase of our service: that what Thou hast conferred on us who are unworthy, Thou may mercifully accomplish. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, …
Antiphon: (Mark 11:24) Amen I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and it shall be done to you.
Postcommunion: We beseech Thee, O almighty God: that Thou suffer us not to yield to human dangers whom Thou dost grant to rejoice in this sharing in divine gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
We should all strive to become friends with the saints, and also, in a different way, with good people. We should all strive to be worthy to be friends of saints and of good people. For that, we ourselves need to be sincerely and diligently seeking holiness. A bad man can be no one’s true friend for the simple reason that bad people do not have principles, and so their affection is changeable. The moment they do not receive what they want, they abandon their former friends. We are all in the same boat: only to the extent that we are good, and are firm in our goodness (i.e. possess and practise the virtues), can we ourselves be good friends.
A great man I know says: “Show me your friend of today, and I will show you yourself as you will be tomorrow.” This is all too true. We do become like our friends. It stands to reason: we like and respect someone and naturally we like much of what they do. We imitate them to be in their good books. If we do things they do not like, we tend to change our behaviour so that we will continue to enjoy their friendship. So friendship with people whom we respect already contains a certain danger: our actions are governed by the desire to please man rather than to please God.
But friendship with someone we respect is not the most dangerous type of friendship. No, that would be friendship with someone whom we do not respect. That is because if we maintain friendship with such a person we will, little by little, start to start to accept that behaviour which we did not respect. And even if we do not positively approve of it, we shall start to lose our opposition to it. So, people who are friends with immoeral persons find that they start to not only not condemn but to actually accept vice and bad actions and speech.
This subtle and insidious process starts with saying: “She doesn’t mean any harm with her talk,” or “He is just like that, he doesn’t really know or appreciate it.” But this also means that we are becoming accustomed to immoral behaviour, and making excuses for it. It is much harder to be able to stand alone, even without friends, but that is the better path: that is the path to holiness. Our Lord is, as Fr G.M. Hopkins said, our “first, fast, last friend.” Love God above all else, and friendships will fall into place; they will assume their proper proportions, and we shall be worthy of being friends to good people.