Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity & St. Simon and St. Jude

In 2012, the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity is also the Feast of St. Simon and Saint Jude. In the traditional Prayer Book, the feasts of Apostles take precedence over Sundays after Trinity .On the significance of this feast, see my brief post from two years ago ( http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/10/saint-simon-and-saint-jude-apostles-28.html).

On the Epistle from Ephesians for TrinityXXI, see last year's post (  http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2011/11/twenty-first-sunday-after-trnity.html).  On the Gospel from St. John, see the post from two years ago (http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/10/trinity-xxi.html).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

In  last year's post, there is a comment on the Epistle. This time, let us focus on the Gospel from St. Matthew 22: 1-14. This is one of several passages that compares God's kingdom to a feast, in this case a wedding feast for the king's son. This re-telling of the story is more elaborate than a similar story in St. Luke's Gospel. Noteworthy is the addition of the related story of the unprepared guest in St. Matthew 22: 11-14:  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding-garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

The whole account is about people who do not respond properly to divine grace.This final story is about a person who claims to respond but does so in an unappreciative way. He accepts the King's invitation and arrives to dine, but he does not bother to make appropriate preparations. He seems to take the King's gracious offer as an indication that He has no standards or expectations. Such is not the case; the King expects His guests to show respect, to be grateful and to get ready. And anyone who does not respond in such a way is not allowed to remain in the King's presence; he cast out into the darkness. In a sense, this unworthy guest is expecting cheap grace, but God does not work that way.

Human beings make this mistake repeatedly. People like to think about divine grace, but they often forget that although grace is free, accepting grace means that they also accept certain responsibilities in their subsequent reactions. God's standards continue, and He expects our human reactions to show our appreciation of His holy nature. We must show respect, gratitude and preparation as we come to benefit from His great gifts. People are called by God in many contexts and in many ways, but whether we are truly chosen is indicated by the ways in which we respond.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Last year and the year before, I commented on the Epistle from Ephesians 4 and the Gospel from St. Matthew 9  (http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2011/10/nineteenth-sunday-after-trinity.html and http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/10/trinity-xix.html). This year, my attention has been drawn to the collect of the day:  O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The basic content of this brief collect is ancient and reflects the Christian awareness of the need for divine grace. We can never even begin to please God without His help. We depend upon prevenient or preceding grace. The 1662 revisers specified that divine help comes through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reaches out into this world and into our hearts and minds. Thus, by God's power directing and ruling our inner selves and overcoming our sin and frailty, we are empowered to do at least some of the things that please Him. With this thought in the background, we can approach the high standards found in texts such as the Epistle with hope and confidence. On our own, we can't please Him, but with His help, our lives can grow toward holiness.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

The Gospel for this Sunday (St. Matthew 22:34-46) combines two of Jesus' encounters with the Pharisees. First, He answers the question about the heart of the Law by citing the two great commandments. Secondly, He asks them a question about the Messiah which points to the divinity of the Messiah. These two simple encounters point out that Jesus' message is both similar to other rabbis and totally unique. His message continues that of the Judaic Law, but it introduces a completely new emphasis upon His own identity as the Christ and divine Son of God.

Human beings must still face this contrast. Yes, the message of Jesus Christ continues to present some basic religious and moral teachings common to other religious systems. However, Jesus' claims about Himself and Christian affirmations about Him are unique. He is not just one more teacher or prophet; He is God the Son, and thus, He is THE way, THE truth and THE life. The world, the flesh and the devil oppose this claim of His unique identity and meaning, but true Christian believers must not hesitate to proclaim this message.