EPISTLE, (ii. Thess. ii. i 8.)
BRETHREN, we beseech you, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him: that you be not easily moved from your mind, nor be frighted, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh: only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way, and then that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
EXPLANATION. At the time when St. Paul wrote this epistle, the false report was circulated that the Last Day was at hand, and Christ was coming to judge all men. The Apostle warns the faithful against trusting this, telling them they should not permit themselves to be misled; for first, the greater part of mankind would fall away from God, and Antichrist, the son of perdition appear, but not until the gospel was everywhere preached. The great falling off would be gradual, caused by the heresies which would arise from time to time, and would be completed by Antichrist, whom our Lord, at last, on the Day of Judgment would kill with the breath of his mouth. Let us learn from this epistle not to be curious concerning the Last Day, and the Advent of Christ, but to prepare, rather for the coming of Jesus into our hearts, that He may be merciful to us in death, and at judgment.
ASPIRATION. Ah, Jesus! when wilt Thou come and take my heart wholly into Thy possession, that I may be forever Thine! Remark. The gospel of this day will be found in the instruction on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who seest us afflicted on account of our own wickedness; mercifully grant, that by Thy coming we may be comforted.
Who livest and reignest &c.
EXPLANATION. In this lesson the Lord announced to the Jews, through the prophet, the consoling promise that when they were sufficiently punished, and had come to the consciousness of their own misery, the Saviour would come and bring all things to order. The rod spoken of by the prophet, is the Blessed Virgin who would proceed from the root of Jesse, that is, from the stem of David, and give birth to the flower, viz., to the Saviour upon whom the HolyGhost, with His sevenfold gifts, would descend, that is, dwell in Him. As a reader of the heart He would judge man, not according to his outward appearance , but according to his intentions. He would not flatter the sinner, but with severe words punish his sinful life, and because just and faithful, He would reward every man without respect to person. Let us be always mindful in all our omissions and commissions, that our Lord sees into our hearts, and judges not only according to our works, but principally according to our intentions, and let us strive ever to have pure motives in all our actions.
ASPIRATION. O Fragrant Flower of the Virgin, Jesus our Saviour, come and draw us to Thee, that we may walk in the perfume of .Thy ointments , and obtain a merciful judgment from Thee.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Show forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power, and come, that we who confidently trust in Thy love, may be the sooner delivered from all adversities, who livest and reignest &c.