The BCP

Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do anything that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Commentary

This is a powerful petition in which we ask God to conform us, both internally and externally, to his righteousness (to what is rightful). Further, there is the honest admission that, in and of ourselves, that is in our wisdom and strength, we cannot please God by seeking to live what we consider to be the righteous and good life. (Note that this Collect is true to the meaning of the original Latin prayer, which is so terse that a literal translation of the second part would be, ìthat we, who cannot even exist without thee, may have strength to live according to theeî.)

Today we learn from our society and in our education and culture that each of us is an autonomous being. That is, I am in charge of my life and destiny and so are you! We think of the human being as being the centre of the universe and if we think of God at all in relation to the world it is as an Extra.

In contrast, genuine Christian thinking sees a person in total dependence upon God for his creation, his existence, his sustenance, his salvation and his eternal destiny. Whatever measure of free will and free determination a person possesses is itself from God and is only beneficial if conformed to the known will of God.

True freedom is not known in the exercise of personal autonomy and pursuing oneís own selfish will, but rather in thinking according to Godís ways and purposes and in doing his will, assisted and guided by his revelation and his Spirit. That is, the genuine life of righteousness and goodness is following the Way of Jesus Christ as his Spirit indwells the heart and mind and directs the will.

This Collect helps us to move from the mindset and spirit of the fallen world and evil age into the mindset and spirit of the kingdom of heaven and of Godís righteousness. And it presupposes that we are diligent readers of the sacred Scriptures where the mind and will of God is revealed to the Church.

The Epistle recalls the history of the Israelites in the wilderness in order to provide for us instruction in the moral and spiritual dangers we face and how they are to be overcome. The Gospel provides the Parable of the Unjust Steward in order to impress upon us the need and duty to make wise use of the present in providing for the life of the age to come.

 

Epistle 1 Corinthians 10. 1-13

BRETHREN, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 

Gospel St. Luke 16:1-9

JESUS said unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.