SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The idea of the Epistle and Gospel for this Sunday appears to be that
of gaining liberty and victory through becoming the humble servants of
Christ. St. Paul writes out of his prison, "I the prisoner of the
Lord," as he writes in another place, "Remember my bonds:" and one who
was in the bonds of an infirmity was brought to Christ, "and He took him,
and healed him, and let him go," setting him free from his disease on the
instant in a manner which cannot be explained by physiological science.
Afterwards our Lord speaks of the humane work of setting free on the Sabbath
an ox or an ass that had fallen into a pit; and of one being bidden to
go up higher through his humility in taking the lowest room at a wedding
feast. All these may be taken as illustrations of the way in which
our Lord's service becomes perfect freedom to those who humbly take His
yoke upon them. They offer also a further illustration of the principle
stated in the end of the Epistle, "There is one body and one Spirit, even
as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all,
and in you all." This principle is of a restrictive character: bringing
the world out of a free worship of many gods to the worship of One; limiting
it to one faith, and to one only means of initiation into the family of
the one God. The idea conveyed is one of a bondage to rule and law
which leaves no room for invention or wild developement and speculation.
But as Christ reigned from the Cross; as St. Paul governed the churches
of Ephesus and other cities from his prison in Rome; as one who sits down
in the lowest room will hear the Host say to him, "Friend, go up higher;"
so limitations and restrictions of this kind are a means of real spiritual
freedom, however much they may seem an irksome bondage to those who regard
them superficially. The Christian who worships the One God is more
free than the heathen who worshipped many; and the believer in a Faith
once for all given is more free than he who is continually looking for
new developments and open to the bondage of every novel speculation.