The Liturgical Calendar

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Agatha of Sicily, Martyr, 251

The Collect:

Rite I:
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy martyr Agatha with constancy and courage: Grant us for the love of thee to make no peace with oppression, to fear no adversity, and to have no tolerance for those who wouldst use their power to abuse or exploit; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Rite II:
Almighty and everlasting God, who strengthened your martyr Agatha with constancy and courage: Grant us for the love of you to make no peace with oppression, to fear no adversity, and to have no tolerance for those who would use their power to abuse or exploit; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

First Lesson: Judith 9:1–4, [5–9], 10–14

1Then Judith prostrated herself, put ashes on her head, and uncovered the sackcloth she was wearing. At the very time when the evening incense was being offered in the house of God in Jerusalem, Judith cried out to the Lord with a loud voice, and said:

2‘O Lord God of my ancestor Simeon, to whom you gave a sword to take revenge on those strangers who had torn off a virgin’s clothing to defile her, and exposed her thighs to put her to shame, and polluted her womb to disgrace her; for you said, “It shall not be done”—yet they did it; 3so you gave up their rulers to be killed, and their bed, which was ashamed of the deceit they had practised, was stained with blood, and you struck down slaves along with princes, and princes on their thrones. 4You gave up their wives for booty and their daughters to captivity, and all their booty to be divided among your beloved children who burned with zeal for you and abhorred the pollution of their blood and called on you for help. O God, my God, hear me also, a widow.

[5‘For you have done these things and those that went before and those that followed. You have designed the things that are now, and those that are to come. What you had in mind has happened; 6the things you decided on presented themselves and said, “Here we are!” For all your ways are prepared in advance, and your judgement is with foreknowledge.

7‘Here now are the Assyrians, a greatly increased force, priding themselves on their horses and riders, boasting in the strength of their foot-soldiers, and trusting in shield and spear, in bow and sling. They do not know that you are the Lord who crushes wars; the Lord is your name. 8Break their strength by your might, and bring down their power in your anger; for they intend to defile your sanctuary, and to pollute the tabernacle where your glorious name resides, and to break off the horns of your altar with the sword. 9Look at their pride, and send your wrath upon their heads. Give to me, a widow, the strong hand to do what I plan.] 10By the deceit of my lips strike down the slave with the prince and the prince with his servant; crush their arrogance by the hand of a woman.

11‘For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, saviour of those without hope. 12Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all your creation, hear my prayer! 13Make my deceitful words bring wound and bruise on those who have planned cruel things against your covenant, and against your sacred house, and against Mount Zion, and against the house your children possess. 14Let your whole nation and every tribe know and understand that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who protects the people of Israel but you alone!’

Psalm: Psalm 125

1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, *
       which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.
2 The hills stand about Jerusalem; *
       so does the Lord stand round about his people,
       from this time forth for evermore.
3 The scepter of the wicked shall not hold sway over the
                                land allotted to the just, *
       so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.
4 Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good *
       and to those who are true of heart.
5 As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,
   the Lord will lead them away with the evildoers; *
       but peace be upon Israel.

Gospel: Mark 9:42–50

42‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49‘For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

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Liturgical Calendar

The Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels readings are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Collects, Psalms, and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

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