The Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity
excerpt fromCOMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 5: Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity to Twenty Sixth Sunday
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
(same lections as Epiphany VI)
O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy
the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal
life: Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify
ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power
and great glory, we may be like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth,
ever one God, world without end. Amen.
The rubrics on page 258 of the Prayer Book indicate that in a year when
there are 25 Sundays after Trinity prior to the Sunday next before Advent,
the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of Epiphany VI should be used on Trinity
XXV. In a year when there are 26 Sundays after Trinity prior to the Sunday
next before Advent, the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of Epiphany V should
be used on Trinity XXV, and the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of Epiphany
VI on Trinity XXVI.
The beautiful collect for Epiphany VI / Trinity XXVI was crafted by
the great liturgist, John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, who lived from 1594
to 1672. It draws together the Epiphany of Christmastide with the
epiphany of Christ in the Advent of Judgement. Because the Son of
God came in the flesh to destroy sin and to make us God’s heirs, we have
hope in the face of approaching Judgement. Jesus Christ (who is both
‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’) makes us pure as he is pure. Without
the purity of his likeness we cannot see God. The purity of Christ,
given to us by the Incarnation, fits us for glory in the Final Resurrection.
The Epistle is from I John 3. 1-8. St. John reminds us of the
love of God—a love so complete that we have been made his children. Not
only that, but as his children, we shall be made like him when he comes.
We must view sin in contrast to this perfect, saving love of God.
In the face of God’s tender mercy, man so often works against the good
purposes of God, by doing what St. John calls “the works of the devil”.
As Christians, we rejoice in our belief that Jesus Christ “was manifested
that he might destroy the works of the devil”. The Collect for today
beautifully draws upon the thoughts and images contained in this Epistle.
The Gospel gives an account of our Lord’s words, as recorded in Matthew
24. 23-31, concerning the “signs of the end”. Using vivid imagery,
Jesus describes the things that will herald his second coming. He
says that his coming will be like lightning in the sky that shines from
the east to the west. The sun and the moon will be darkened and the
stars will fall from heaven, as the “Sun of Righteousness” returns in the
clouds with his angels, who will assist in gathering all together for judgement.
Christ’s second ‘coming’ is the final judgement, the fulfilment of his
ever-present judgement upon all things. In the face of God’s ever-present
and final judgement, we must be faithful and wise servants who listen attentively
to the words of the Lord.