The BCP

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service: Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Collect Commentary

This is most certainly a prayer that assumes that human beings are made in the image of God to be his servants not only in this life but in the age to come. They are creatures who by Godís mercy look forward to a rich, full and everlasting life in the kingdom of God, where their service of the Lord will be richer and fuller and progress from glory to glory. However, in this prayer is also the biblical assumption that the fullness and quality of the life to be enjoyed in the age to come is related to the type of life that is lived in this evil age.

The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is addressed as the ìAlmightyî (the Sovereign, All-powerful) and as ìmercifulî (showing pity and love to the undeserving). Then, in bowing before his presence (by the device grammatically of the relative clause) his people remember that their vocation in this world, as Christians in the Household of God, is that they serve God fruitfully even as they daily pray, ìThy will be doneî. Also they remember that their right serving of their God and Father is dependent upon his gift to them of grace, mercy, wisdom and strength. The little word ìonlyî emphasises that they are wholly dependent on Godís help to serve him aright.

If the vocation of the creature is to serve the Creator, who is the Father and the Judge, in the name and merits of Christ Jesus, then it is most appropriate for the people of God to ask for spiritual strength to offer this service daily in the right mind and attitude and with appropriate fervour and consecration. ìGrant, we beseech thee,î is an emphatic way of showing total dependence and asking for total help with the intention of offering complete service.

The end of man is to enjoy and glorify God for ever. The Gospels and Epistles place before Christian believers an array of promises of eternal life with rewards for those who, in this world and life, faithfully serve the Lord and their fellow men. Implied in the words of petition is a warning ñ that we may fail to attain to the enjoyment of the content of the promises of heavenly bliss.

This prayer is offered not only through the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, but specifically through ìthe meritsî of the same Lord, for the attainment of the promises is only possible by what he as done for us and for our salvation.

From the Epistle we learn of the centrality of Christ in the purposes of God and that it is in, with and through him that we have a right relation with the Father through the Holy Ghost.

From the Gospel we learn that loving God also requires the loving of the neighbour and who in reality and fact the neighbour is.

 

Epistle Galatians 3. 16-22

TO Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

 

Gospel St Luke 10:23-27

BLESSED are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. And, behold, a certain Lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain Priest that way, and, when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and, when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.