The BCP

Second Sunday after Easter

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life: Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Commentary

The Father sent his only-begotten Son into the world as a PERSONAL GIFT to humanity. The Son took unto himself in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary human nature, body and soul, and lived as a Man, calling himself "the Son of Man".

That is, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in his human nature and without ceasing to be God, lived as the Messiah, revealed the Kingdom of God in word and deed, suffered and died, was buried and raised from the dead to be exalted to the Father's right hand in heavenly glory. The focus and centre of the Incarnation on earth was the passion and crucifixion where the sinless One died for sinners, where the Lamb of God offered himself a sacrifice for human sin, and where in all that he suffered Jesus Christ our Lord provided a perfect example of loving submission to the demanding yet perfect will of God.

The Gift of the Gospel of God the Father is the Son, for he that hath the Son hath life, everlasting life, abundant divine life, says St John. In the proclamation of good news the Church of God offers this amazing Gift that is beyond price, and blessed are they who receive HIM in penitence and faith, in joy and consecration.

In the petition of this Collect we recognize that the presence in baptized Christians, of the effects of sin, even as they aspire to holiness, need to be dealt with. These effects stay with us as long as we are in our mortal bodies with our human nature on this earth in this evil age. Thus the prayer is for grace, the assistance of divine help and mercy, for a thankful, receptive, believing and trusting heart, to recognize and appropriate the amazing and eternal nature of the GIFT that is in the Gospel. A truly thankful heart is a great motivation to seek to do God's holy will.

The petition is also a request for the commitment, determination and help needed by a baptized Christian to imitate the life of Jesus, to see him as the supreme example for the Christian to follow, day by day until his life's end. ("To endeavour oneself" is a reflexive verb not much in use today - cf. "The Form and Manner of Making Deacons" in the Ordinal, found bound within the BCP, and the seventh answer to the questions, "I will endeavour myself, the Lord being my helper...").

The particular feature of Christ's example brought out by the Epistle is the bearing patiently undeserved indignities and rough treatment ( 1 Peter 2:23).

Thus Jesus, the Christ, the Saviour of the world, is for the Church both God's GIFT and God's EXAMPLE; and, in receiving the gift and following the example, Christian people will be truly what they are called to be - the Body of Christ on earth. This is a most appropriate message for Eastertide!

The Collect above was written by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 and replaced this Collect found in the Sarum Missal: O God, who by thy Son's humbling himself hast raised up a fallen world: Grant unto thy faithful people perpetual joy, that they whom thou hast snatched from the dangers of perpetual death, may be brought by thee to the fruition of eternal joys. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Epistle 1 Peter 2:19-25

THIS is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

 

Gospel John 10:11-16

JESUS said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.