Third Sunday after Trinity
excerpt fromCOMMON PRAYER
Volume 4: Trinity Sunday to the Twelfth Sunday After Trinity
Daily Reading on the Lectionary of the Book of
Common Prayer by W. J. Hankey, D. P. Curry, J.A. Matheson, B.L.
Craig, R. U. Smith, and G. W. ThorneRevised by D. P. Curry, P. W. Harris, and B. M. Large
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, 1999.Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that
we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty
aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
We begin today’s Collect by begging God to hear us and throwing ourselves
on God’s mercy: “O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us.”
But even this prayer that God would mercifully hear us is not our prayer.
We did not initiate this prayer, but it is God himself through his Spirit,
who gives us the desire to pray. As we reflect upon this, we are
less tempted to condemn others for their seeming unfaithfulness for we
realize that “there, but for the grace of God, go I”. Prayer begins
and ends with God—our role is to be a willing servant who desires God to
use us to his glory. St. Augustine, speaking of the centrality of
Jesus Christ in all prayer, said: “Christ prays for us as a priest, prays
in us as our Head, is prayed to, by us, as our God. Let us recognize, therefore,
our voices in him, and his voices in us.” Our petition is that we
“may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities”.
Note that we pray not that God shall keep us from danger, but keep us in
our dangers and adversities. Whatever ills and evils may befall us,
we know that God can make good come of any situation, if we offer it to
him. This is the meaning of Psalm 9: “There shall no evil happen
unto thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall
give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) points out how the experience of the
comfort of God serves to strengthen us to better withstand our “dangers
and adversities”: “Comfort is it by which, in the midst of our sorrows,
we are comforted, that is, strengthened, and made the better able to bear
them all out.”
The Epistle for today reminds us that a holy life is only possible through
grace, and that grace only comes to the humble (those who know their own
weakness, and trust in Christ) and to those who do not give up the effort
to resist temptation.
The Gospel for today is two parables, which together form a lesson on
grace. God’s grace is ready to pour into each one of us, however
lowly and outcast, however far from God we may be. God is always
ready to save us and sanctify us with his grace, regardless of how sinful
we may be and how long we may take to open up to him.