|Sixth Sunday after Epiphany|
he First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, i. 2-10. Brethren: We give thanks to God always for you all: making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing, being mindful of the work of your faith, and labour, and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father. Knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election: for our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fulness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers of us, and of the Lord; receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia, and in Achaia, but also in every place, your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves relate of us, what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (Whom he raised up from the dead,) Jesus, Who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.
St. Paul wishes grace and peace to the Thessalonians; gives them the assurance of his prayers without ceasing, and declares his joy at their having received the faith in Christ, at their being zealous in good works and firm in tribulation, and at their perservering in the hope of reward, whereby they became a pattern to others, who were led to embrace the true religion, and were confirmed in it by their example. Oh, that we could say the same of Christians of the present day! Such a life is the glory of Christianity. Let us, therefore, endeavor to have a living faith, shining forth in all good works, with a firm hope of our salvation, that we too may be an example to unbelievers.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, xiii. 31-35. At that time Jesus spoke to the multitudes this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof. Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.
Why are the Church and doctrines of Christ compared to a grain of mustard-seed?
Because they are very similar: the mustard-seed, though small, in Palestine grows to be very high, spreads wide, and is very prolific. In like manner the Church and doctrine of Christ, though at the beginning very small, increased so fast, and in time reached such a large growth, as to surpass all other religions, so that the princes and wise men of the world sheltered themselves under the protection of Christianity, as the birds dwell under the branches of the tree.
Why are the Church and doctrines of Christ compared to leaven?
Because as leaven in a short time penetrates and makes palatable a large measure of meal, so the Church and the doctrines of Christ penetrated most rapidly three quarters of the globe, corrected the foolish opinions of the heathen, and gave them a taste for divine things and heavenly wisdom.
Most amiable Jesus, we thank Thee for having called us to Thy Church, and for having communicated to us Thy doctrine. Give us grace to become by it each day better and more pleasing to Thee, and finally to attain eternal happiness. Enlighten also the nations living in heresy and darkness, that they may know Thee, and be delivered from the wrath to come. Amen.