First Lesson: Ecclesiastes 11:1 – 6
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
Canticle: Magnificat. St. Luke 1:46-55
My soul doth magnify the Lord, * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek;.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; * as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Second Lesson: John 4:31 – 38
In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
Canticle: Nunc dimittis. St. Luke 2:29-32
LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, * according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen * thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared * before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, * and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope concerning the Parable of the Sower.
Dearly beloved brethren, the passage from the Holy Gospel which ye have just heard, needeth not so much that I should explain it, as that I should seek to enforce its lesson. For what the Truth himself hath explained, human weakness may not presume to comment upon. But there is, in that very explanation by the Lord, something which we ought to consider carefully. For if we had told you that the seed is meant to signify the Word, ye might have doubted our understanding. Or if we had said that the field is the world ; and the birds, devils ; and the thorns, riches ; ye would perchance have denied the truth of our explanation. Therefore the Lord himself vouchsafed to give this explanation ; and that, not for this parable only, but that ye may know in what manner to interpret others, whereof he hath not given the meaning.
Beginning his explanation, the Lord saith that he speaketh in parable, that is he sheweth his language to be figurátive. Hereby he giveth confidence to the preacher when, in spite of his incapacity, he must needs endeavour to lay open to you the hidden meaning of the Lord’s words. If I spake of myself, who would believe me when I say that riches are thorns? Thorns prick, but riches lull to rest. And yet riches are indeed thorns, for the anxiety they bring is a ceaseless pricking to the minds of their owners. And, if they lead into sin, they are thorns which made us bleed with the wounds which they inflict. But we understand from the Evangelist Matthew that in this place the Lord speaketh, not of riches themselves, but of the deceitfulness of riches.
Those riches are deceitful riches, which can be ours only for a little while ; those riches are deceitful riches, which cannot relieve the poverty of our souls. They only are the true riches, which made us rich in virtues. If then, dearly beloved brethren, ye seek to be rich, earnestly desire the true riches. If ye would be truly honourable, strive after the kingdom of heaven. If ye love the bravery of titles, hasten to have your names written down at the Court of the heavenly King, where Angels are. Take to heart the Lord’s words which your ear heareth. The food of the soul is the Word of God. When the stomach is sick it throweth up again the food which is put into it ; and so is the soul sick when a man heareth and digesteth not in his memory the Word of God. For if any man canot keep his food, that man’s life is in desperate case.
From the Roman Breviary for the day.
And the Apostles Creed and the rest of the office.
O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do: mercifully grant that by thy powere, we may be defended against all adversity. Through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.