The BCP

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Commentary

The Almighty Father, who is the Father of the only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is addressed as LORD, the self-existent holy Being, who is the Creator of heaven and earth, and Judge of all men.

He is not merely asked but he is also beseeched ñ that is, asked with a sense of urgency in a spirit of humility and submission before Him. Out of his great mercy and abundant grace he is asked to hear and grant ñ as a great favour to those who know they do not deserve favour ñ two petitions from his covenant people.

First of all, the inner strength and motivation to face real, daily temptations that if not resisted actually lead to the committing of sin against God. The temptations come from three basic sources ñ the world (human society and culture as organised and existing without submission to Godís law & with the influence therein of evil people); the flesh ñ human nature in its weakness and with its bias to assert the self and distrust God; and the devil ñ the spiritual being who has himself rebelled against Godís holy law and now seeks to persuade others to do the same. ìResist the devil and he will flee from you,î said James (iv.7).

In the second place, with contrite, cleansed and pure hearts and minds to follow with devotion and with zeal the will, purpose and commandments of the Almighty Father, as these are revealed and made known in the life, teaching, example and saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. While there are many kings and lords, rulers and authorities in the world, there is only ONE living and true God ñ thus the wording of the petition.

The first petition is made so that we do not go in the wrong direction while the second is made that we actually do go in the right direction, that is we follow Godís signposts and walk in his ways. ìBlessed are the pure in heart for they shall see Godî (Matthew 5:8).

In the original Latin this one-sentence Collect was composed in the fifth century and used in the Mass for many centuries. Archbishop Cranmer translated it for the original English Prayer Book of 1549 and Bishop Cosin improved the translation for the edition of the Prayer Book of 1662 (the edition that has been translated into around 150 languages).

From the Epistle the people of God are encouraged to receive the fullness that is available to them because of their union with Jesus Christ (they are ìin Christî); and in the Gospel they are reminded that their vocation on earth and in heaven is never less than to love God with the whole of their beings, with heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others heartily in the love of God.

 

Epistle 1 Corinthians 1.4-8

I THANK my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Gospel St Matthew 22: 34-46

WHEN the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy foot-stool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.