The BCP

Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass manís understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Commentary

It seems reasonably sure that this Prayer is based on the words of St Paul as he quotes from Isaiah the prophet in 1 Corinthians 2:9, ìEye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love himî. Of course, this Collect had a history in Latin before it was made into an English Collect by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 and then slightly revised in 1661 for the Prayer Book of 1662.

The doctrine contained in the relative clause - ìwho has preparedÖî - is the mystery and yet the confidence of the Christian Hope. To be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven in the company of the saints and with all the angels and archangels and there to enjoy the beatific vision of the Father Almighty are ìthe good thingsî that pass our understanding. To live in perfect communion with the Holy Trinity [with the Father through the Son by the Holy Ghost] and in heavenly blessedness is the goal of the true Christian soul and the fulfilment of the promises of the Gospel.

But the enjoyment of God and the glorifying him for ever are only desirable and possible in and to those who truly love God - that is those who not merely love him as one amongst many, but who love him supremely and love others in the light of that love for him. The true quality of a saint is that he loves the Holy Trinity, the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost, chiefly and supremely and evaluates all else in the strength and light of this love.

And, since we are both sinful and morally weak, we can only love God in a way that is appropriate for loving our Creator, Redeemer and Judge, when he, as the Father, grants to us the gift and presence of his Holy Spirit, who brings the very love of God into our hearts, minds and wills. Thus it is this love, this divine and heavenly love, for which we ask here so that we can fulfil the law of God which requires us to love Him and our neighbour. In so doing we can experience by grace the fruit of such loving, including especially the enjoyment of the beatific vision of heaven.

The Lord Jesus in the Gospel for this week (Matthew 5) tells us that only in the possessing of a perfect righteousness can we enter into the kingdom of heaven. Happily, this is provided for us by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the Epistle for the week teaches. However, what we are reckoned by God the Father to be in Christ we are to strive to be in daily living.

St. Paul in the Epistle (Romans 6) tells us that it is only in union with Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, in his death, burial and resurrection that there can be genuine righteousness and therefore union with his Father and thus union with the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity.

 

Epistle Romans 6:3-11

KNOW ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Gospel St Matthew 5:20-26

JESUS said unto his disciples, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.