The Matins readings for today's feast are as follows:
Nocturn I: Epistle of St Jude 1-13
Nocturn II: On the life of the saints and sermon of St Gregory the Great
(Reading 5): Simon the Canaanite, called also Zelotes, went through Egypt preaching the Gospel, whileas the like was done in Mesopotamia by Thaddaeus, called also in the Gospel Judas the brother of James, and the writer of one of the Catholic Epistles. They met together afterwards in Persia, where they begat countless children in Jesus Christ, spread the faith far and wide in those lands, amid raging heathens, and glorified together by their teaching and miracles, and, in the end, by a glorious martyrdom, the most holy name of Jesus Christ.
Nocturn III: from Tractatus 87 on St John by St Augustine
Gospel: John 15: 17-25
17 Hæc mando vobis: ut diligatis invicem.18 Si mundus vos odit, scitote quia me priorem vobis odio habuit. 19 Si de mundo fuissetis, mundus quod suum erat diligeret: quia vero de mundo non estis, sed ego elegi vos de mundo, propterea odit vos mundus. 20 Mementote sermonis mei, quem ego dixi vobis: non est servus major domino suo. Si me persecuti sunt, et vos persequentur; si sermonem meum servaverunt, et vestrum servabunt. 21 Sed hæc omnia facient vobis propter nomen meum: quia nesciunt eum qui misit me. 22 Si non venissem, et locutus fuissem eis, peccatum non haberent: nunc autem excusationem non habent de peccato suo. 23 Qui me odit, et Patrem meum odit. 24 Si opera non fecissem in eis quæ nemo alius fecit, peccatum non haberent: nunc autem et viderunt, et oderunt et me, et Patrem meum. 25 Sed ut adimpleatur sermo, qui in lege eorum scriptus est: Quia odio habuerunt me gratis.
17 These are the directions I give you, that you should love one another.18 If the world hates you, be sure that it hated me before it learned to hate you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would know you for its own and love you; it is because you do not belong to the world, because I have singled you out from the midst of the world, that the world hates you. 20 Do not forget what I said to you, No servant can be greater than his master. They will persecute you just as they have persecuted me; they will pay the same attention to your words as to mine. 21 And they will treat you thus because you bear my name; they have no knowledge of him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and given them my message, they would not have been in fault; as it is, their fault can find no excuse. 23 To hate me is to hate my Father too. 24 If I had not done what no one else ever did in their midst they would not have been in fault; as it is, they have hated, with open eyes, both me and my Father. 25 And all this, in fulfilment of the saying which is written in their law, They hated me without cause. (Knox translation)
St Augustine on the Gospel:
(Reading 9): In the Gospel lesson which precedes this one, the Lord had said: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and appointed you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. On these words you remember that we have already discoursed, as the Lord enabled us. But here, that is, in the succeeding lesson which you have heard read, He says: These things I command you, that you love one another. And thereby we are to understand that this is our fruit, of which He had said, I have chosen you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain.
(Reading 10): And what He subjoined, That whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you, He will certainly give us if we love one another; seeing that this very thing He has also given us, in choosing us when we had no fruit, because we had chosen Him not; and appointing us that we should bring forth fruit—that is, that we should love one another—a fruit that we cannot have apart from Him, just as the branches can do nothing apart from the vine. Our fruit, therefore, is charity, which the apostle explains to be, Out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. 1 Timothy 1:5 So love we one another, and so love we God. For it would be with no true love that we loved one another, if we loved not God. For every one loves his neighbor as himself if he loves God; and if he loves not God, he loves not himself. For on these two commandments of love hang all the law and the prophets: Matthew 22:40 this is our fruit.
(Reading 11): And it is in reference, therefore, to such fruit that He gives us commandment when He says, These things I command you, that you love one another. In the same way also the Apostle Paul, when wishing to commend the fruit of the Spirit in opposition to the deeds of the flesh, posited this as his principle, saying, The fruit of the Spirit is love; and then, as if springing from and bound up in this principle, he wove the others together, which are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22
(Reading 12): For who can truly rejoice who loves not good as the source of his joy? Who can have true peace, if he have it not with one whom he truly loves? Who can be long-enduring through persevering continuance in good, save through fervent love? Who can be kind, if he love not the person he is aiding? Who can be good, if he is not made so by loving? Who can be sound in the faith, without that faith which works by love? Whose meekness can be beneficial in character, if not regulated by love? And who will abstain from that which is debasing, if he love not that which dignifies? Appropriately, therefore, does the good Master so frequently commend love, as the only thing needing to be commended, without which all other good things can be of no avail, and which cannot be possessed without bringing with it those other good things that make a man truly good.
St Augustine invites us to meditate on an important aspect of the mission of the apostles that applies equally to us, namely that it was not the Apostles that had chosen their mission, but rather Christ who had chosen them.
We do, of course, have to both hear and heed the call of Christ; for we have been given the gift of free will. But each of us is called to a state of life, and a personal way of living that out that is a divine call.
Co-operating in that call is often no easy thing. For the apostles, it meant martyrdom.
Yet to reject that call, to refuse to co-operate with the divine will, whether in the big decisions on state of life, or in the small inspirations of the Spirit that we hear each day, is a serious thing indeed.