The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
excerpt fromCOMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 5: Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity to Twenty Sixth Sunday
after Trinity (p. 15-16)
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
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.
Melville Scott, in The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles and Gospels, suggests
that today begins a second series of teaching in Trinity Season. According
to this suggestion, the overall theme of Trinity Season—growth in holiness
and service to God—is divided into two distinct halves. Consideration of
the revelation of the life of God himself, found in the Holy Scriptures,
is summed up on Trinity Sunday which looks forward to the godly life which
must be lived by those who have received the full revelation of God. In
Trinity Season thus far we have reflected upon the care of God as the source
of love, and the motive of a life of service (Trinity I and II). We considered
the love of God in relation to sin, as grace (III); in relation to suffering,
as mercy (IV); and in relation to trials and dangers, as peace (V). Trinity
VI to X concern Christian duty as man’s response to the love of God. The
theme of Trinity XI and XII is directly that of the grace of God which
makes possible the fulfilment of duty. The first half of the Trinity season,
thus, is summed up under the headings of love (Trinity I to V), duty (VI
to X) and grace (XI and XII). God’s love for us demands a dutiful obedience
which is possible only through the help of his grace.
The second half of Trinity Season begins today. Having considered God’s
love for us, our responsibilities of duty, and the sufficiency of God’s
grace to fulfil these duties, we now reflect directly on Christian character
and virtue—how a Christian must live. Trinity XIII to XVII deal, respectively,
with the internal graces of love, holiness, singleness of heart, patience
and humility. These lead to the more external graces needed in the daily
work of life: dutiful activity (XVIII), renewed conduct (XIX), cheerfulness
(XX), peace in work (XXI) and perseverance in work (XXII). Themes of heavenly-mindedness
(XXIII) and the final deliverance from sin (XXIV) along with the themes
of judgement in the transitional Sundays (XXV and XXVI—the same propers
as Epiphany V and VI) bring the Christian year to a close.
However accurately the above may outline the structure of Trinity Season
as proceeding from a consideration of Christian motives (Trinity I to XII)
to that of Christian character (XIII to XXIV), it is certainly true that
the emphasis of the remaining Sundays in Trinity Season is that of the
practical development of Christian character.
The Collect for today begins with a declaration that only by God’s help
can we offer to him a true and praiseworthy service. We ask God that by
his help we may faithfully serve him in this life and hereafter obtain
his heavenly promises. The Epistle and Gospel point to the same truth that
it is not the law which saves us, but that our justification (being made
right with God) and our growth in holiness, are only possible through faith
in Jesus Christ. Love of God and love of men are brought together in the
Collect as we pray for the grace to: “do unto thee true and laudable service”.
The only true and laudable (praiseworthy) service is love.