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The Eighth 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. 119-120)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth: We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today’s Collect is a confession of God’s never-failing providence (that is, his all-seeing and all-knowing loving care for us), and of his gracious ordering of all things in heaven and earth. The word “providence” literally means “seeing in advance” or “looking ahead”. This all-seeing and all-knowing power of God can never fail to keep us in his love because there is nothing that is outside God’s seeing. We can know only a very small part of the universe and from our limited and finite point of view we cannot directly see that: “.... all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8. 28).

It may often seem that God’s hand is nowhere to be seen in a certain situation, but that is simply the fault of our narrow and short-sighted vision. God is working out all things in his love, and in the proper way and at the right time he will “.... gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph. 1. 10). Nothing can happen to us which God has not foreseen and provided for: “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12. 7). Even when we have gone astray and taken the control of our lives into our own hands, spurning God’s care for us, it is never too late in this life for God’s love and providence to receive us back into his hands —nothing is beyond his reach.

In the Collect we ask that God may (a) put away from us all hurtful things, and (b) give us all things that are profitable. The order is always the same — repenting of evil and then turning to the good. We cannot grasp hold of what is good, loving and beautiful, while we cling to our own selfish impulses and desires.

The Epistle teaches us that we must “mortify” or “put to death” the deeds of the body. For this we require the help of God’s Holy Spirit. God refuses to save us against our will; we must co-operate with him. We cannot live after the flesh and at the same time live after the Spirit.

The Gospel reading for today teaches us that we must believe in God’s providence and place ourselves within his will for our lives. Living in accordance with God’s will as expressed in the Bible and in his Church, we will bring forth good fruit. We must not disregard the will of God for our lives.

We began, in the Collect, by recognizing God’s never-failing providence, but we then also recognize that we must bring our lives into accordance with his providence and his will for us.