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The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 4: Trinity Sunday to the Twelfth Sunday After Trinity (p. 106-107)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The overall theme of today’s Collect and Scripture lessons is that of growth in holiness. Our Collect itself is a prayer for grace in our desire to become holy. The Epistle is a call to holiness, by yielding our whole life to the service of God. The Gospel is the story of the feeding of the four thousand in the wilderness.

In today’s Collect we address God as the source of all power (authority) and might (strength), and then as the author and giver of all good things, thus echoing the Epistle of St. James (1.17): “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Only from the true and living God whom we are able to address in this way do we dare ask for the wonderful gifts which we do ask of him in today’s Collect, namely that he may:

(a) Graft in our hearts the love of his Name;
(b) Increase in us true religion;
(c) Nourish us with all goodness;
(d) Keep us in this love, and religion, and goodness.
That God would plant or graft in our hearts the love of his Name is suggested by the reference in the Epistle to the different fruits of the natural man and the spiritual man. We desire not only that God’s love be known to us externally, but that his love become a part of ourselves, as the engrafted bud becomes a part of the stem on which it grows. Note that this implies that without God’s planting or grafting of his love in our hearts, it is not there. God’s love in Jesus Christ is not in us naturally, but we pray that it might be given to us. A commentator from the last century comments:
You cannot have a beautiful rose-tree in your garden, without some one’s bringing it in and planting it there. Your garden does not grow rose-trees naturally; nor, with all your digging and weeding and watering, could you ever make it do so. Then, if the rose-tree of the love of God is to grow in your heart, God must transplant it out of his nursery garden into your heart, which by nature can bring forth nothing but thorns and thistles, or at best poisonous gourds, and wild grapes. (E.M. Goulbourn, The Collects of the Day, Volume II, p. 53)

The other three things we ask for in today’s Collect (b-d above) follow from our first petition. Plants must grow (“increase in us true religion”), be nourished (“nourish us with all goodness”) and be protected and kept by the gardener (“Keep us in this love, and religion and goodness”). Our Gospel today reminds us that we can only be truly nourished by the Son of God. He who fed four thousand in the wilderness with seven loaves and a few small fishes, can feed our souls in the wilderness of this sinful world with his spiritual mercies.