The Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity
excerpt fromCOMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 5: Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity to Twenty Sixth Sunday
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people
pardon and peace; that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve
thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The theme of this Sunday is pardon and peace. We pray for pardon, that
we may be cleansed from all our sin; and for peace, that we may serve God
with quiet minds.
Today’s Epistle encourages us to “put on” the whole armour of God in
our Christian life. We pray so earnestly for pardon and peace in the Collect
because the Christian is engaged in a life-long conflict with the forces
of evil and wickedness. Our only hope is to lay hold of the armour of God
which he so graciously offers us, taking the shield of faith, trusting
that we have “pardon” (the helmet of salvation), and that our feet are
“shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Note how St. Paul himself
shows the power of pardon to give peace in that, although he writes this
letter from prison, its tone is bold and cheerful.
The Gospel tells of the nobleman of Capernaum whose son was at the point
of death, and teaches that true peace depends upon faith and comes only
to those who believe. There can be no pardon or peace without faith in
the saving and forgiving power of God through Jesus Christ. In the Gospel
reading, Christ speaks the words “Thy son liveth”, and the nobleman “believed
the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and went on his way rejoicing.”
Recall the joy in your heart when you have confessed your sins to God and
hear in faith God’s pronouncement, given through his priest, that your
soul, once dead in sin, now lives because of his loving mercy.
The Collect brings to mind one of the Comfortable Sentences of the Holy
Communion Service (Book of Common Prayer, p. 77):
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am
meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my
yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mart. 11. 28-30).
When we come to Christ in faith, he forgives our sins and bestows upon
us the sense of pardon which brings peace to our souls. Until we have humbled
ourselves to come to him for pardon, we will not be able to serve him with
a quiet mind. In 1824, John James concluded his comment on today’s Collect:
Indeed, if there be happiness on this side of the grave, it
is surely found when—with a heart unburdened of its weight of sin; no longer
perplexed with the distracting and vain attempt to reconcile sin and peace;
but free to offer our whole soul to Almighty God—we ‘serve him with a quiet
mind’, and even amid the varied turmoil of a busy world, still ‘have our
conversation in heaven’ (Phil. 3. 20).