The Fifteenth 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. 42-43)
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
Keep, we beseech thee, 0 Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual
mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep
us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things
profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In only five of the Collects for the Sundays of the Christian year is the
Church specifically mentioned, and it is always as “thy Church”. The Church
is not ours, but his. The Church is founded upon his authority and made
holy by his Spirit. In faith, the Church of God looks to its Head, Jesus
Christ, and trusts that his promise will be kept, “Lo I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28. 20).
The “perpetual mercy” of God is required for the keeping of his Church
because perpetual danger threatens it. In the Service of Holy Communion,
the priest bids us pray “for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant
here on earth”—”militant” because his Church is engaged in a perpetual
warfare with the devil and his angels, and the wicked men who work his
will until Jesus Christ shall appear in glory at the end of time. The mercy
which alone can protect the Church is the mercy of the Cross which is unceasingly
shown in accepting Christ’s propitiation (sacrifice) for our sins. In the
words of the Epistle, the Church must bear in its body “the marks of the
Lord Jesus”. The Church can never be made strong and holy by its sheer
numbers, its political influence, or its wealth. Rather, the Church is
strong and faithful only when its priests and laity alike are able to say
with St. Paul in today’s Epistle: “But God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified
unto me, and I unto the world.” The crucified Christ is the Head of his
Church. The central act of worship of his Church is the Holy Communion
by which we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again” (I Cor. 11.
In the Collect, we acknowledge that without God’s grace we cannot stand,
and we ask that he will keep us from all things hurtful and lead us to
all things profitable to our salvation. Today’s Gospel teaches us that
we are entirely dependent upon the grace of God. We need grace to protect
us from harm, and grace to lead us to all that is good. Trusting in God
and him alone, we seek first the Kingdom of God and are assured that we
will receive his manifold and abundant blessings and comfort.
Our Christian service must be one of love, purity and singleness of
heart. May we resolve to seek first the kingdom of heaven in our lives,
glorifying in the Cross of Jesus Christ by whom the world is crucified
unto us, and we unto the world.