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The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
excerpt from
COMMON 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, Canada
Reprinted 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.