Octavia Hill, Social Reformer, 1912
(native of Wisbech)
Lesser Festival
13 August

[Octavia Hill portrait]

Octavia Hill was born in Wisbech in 1838 into a family active in social work, and, during her teens, she was influenced by the friendship of F D Maurice and John Ruskin. Earning her living through teaching, Octavia was appalled at the conditions in which most of her pupils lived. Borrowing money, she bought some slum properties and began to manage them in a more sympathetic way, insisting on financial viability rather than mere charity. The success of the scheme led to its extension and Octavia became a pioneer of housing reform. Her interest in protecting open space for the enjoyment of all led her to be one of the three founders of the National Trust. Strongly motivated by her faith, she never allowed her growing fame to undermine her personal humility. She continued her work until her death on this day in 1912.




Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 58.6–11

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

This is the word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 82

R Arise, O God, and rule the earth,
[for you shall take all nations for your own].

God takes his stand in the council of heaven;
he gives judgement in the midst of the gods:
‘How long will you judge unjustly,
and show favour to the wicked? R

‘Save the weak and the orphan;
defend the humble and needy;
rescue the weak and the poor;
deliver them from the power of the wicked. R

‘They do not know, neither do they understand;
they go about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken. R

‘Now I say to you, “You are gods,
and all of you children of the Most High;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals,
and fall like any prince.”’ R

New Testament Reading: 1 John 3.14–18

A reading from the First Letter of John.

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

This is the word of the Lord.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25.31–46

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

‘Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

‘Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

This is the gospel of the Lord.

Post Communion

God our redeemer,
who inspired Octavia Hill to witness to your love
and to work for the coming of your kingdom:
may we, who in this sacrament share the bread of heaven,
be fired by your Spirit to proclaim the gospel in our daily living
and never to rest content until your kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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