The Fourteenth 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. 29-30)
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase
of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost
promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.
As our faith strengthens, the more real becomes our hope and the greater
our capacity to love. As these virtues develop within us we learn to pour
out our heart to God and to pray for an increase of them in our souls.
The Bible makes it clear that we are called to a continual growth and progress
in our Christian life by nourishing these virtues until we finally meet
our God and become like Christ. “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given,
and he shall more abundance.” (Matt. 13. 12). “Now the Lord is that Spirit...
But we all...are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even
as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Cor. 3. 17, 18). We must never be satisfied
with the faith, hope and charity which we currently possess, but we must
plead daily for God’s grace to increase these Christian virtues in us.
The Collect places these virtues in St. Paul’s ordering of I Corinthians
13. 13, and St. Paul explains the relation between them in Colossians 1.
4, S. We pray for an increase of faith in God, an increase of hope for
ourselves that we may obtain the heavenly promises, and the increase of
love directed towards others.
One commentator has helped us to see the relation between the three
Christian virtues in the following way:
Faith, hope and love (or charity) have a certain correspondence
with the three divisions of time—past, present and future. Faith, in one
of its chief actings, looks back to the past. It is faith in God’s revelation
of Christ; faith in what Christ has done and suffered for man, all of which
lies behind us in the history of the past. But faith also throws itself
forward into the future, and when it does so, it takes the complexion of
the nearby allied grace of hope; ...of these things which God hath promised,
and which we desire to obtain. But are we to live only in the memories
of the past, and the anticipations of the future? Assuredly no. In order
that those bright anticipations may be well founded we must walk now in
the way of God’s commandments, the ‘narrow way’, as our Lord calls it,
‘which leadeth’, and which alone leadeth, ‘unto life’ (see Matt. 7. 14).
God indeed hath ‘chosen us to salvation’, but it is ‘through sanctification
of the Spirit and belief of the truth’, (see II Thess. 2. 13) ...And this
sanctification and belief are evidenced (and can be evidenced) only by
love. We shall never obtain that which God doth promise unless we love
that which he commands—not keep his commandments only, but love them...
The truth is that the commandments, which God lays upon us, are nothing
else then the expression of his character and will towards us. And we do
not love God himself, except we love his character and will... Without
this love in the present there is no evidence that our faith really grasps
the past, and our hope of a bright future is, in that case, a mere groundless
delusion. (E.M. Goulbourn, The Collects of the Day, Volume II, pp. 109-110).