A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
It is a remarkable co-incidence this year that the 18th Sunday after Trinity falls on Thanksgiving weekend, so that just as we celebrate God’s gracious care for His creation, bringing to fruit another harvest, we also hear St. Paul proclaim, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.” In this way our spiritual progress through the Trinity season, and the progress of nature through its season of growth and prosperity, cohere and combine to accomplish a single, united voice of thanksgiving to God. From His Almighty hand all things are made, and have their goodness, and with our prayers we renew the double-offering of thanks for the mercies of God in Creation, and in our Redemption.
And through the offering of our praise and thanksgiving we discover the unfolding joy that accompanies our growth into the knowledge of the love of God, “That in every thing [we] are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.” We come to see more and more the good order of all things, in heaven and earth, that, “to love [God] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [our] neighbour as himself, is better than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” We discover that at the heart of our being, just as we are made in the image and likeness of God, there is the longing to take up the way of communion and fellowship, and that in fact, we prefer to rejoice with and for our neighbour, rather than by ourselves.
According to this holy vision, we find that the things that are made, are made to glorify their maker, and that we who know this are made to uphold and share in that glory by using all things for their divinely given purpose. We find in nature the means, not only of sustenance, but of hospitality; we find in our intelligence not only the power to work out our own earthly advantage, but to know, and therefore to share in, our neighbour’s struggles, and to minister grace by our love for them.
This is truly one of our highest dignities, and yet so easy to overlook, that as we turn to God with our thanks, we are empowered with His grace to minister to one and other, and just as God’s own mercy transforms our hearts and souls, our care for each other can be a healing and transforming gift. Indeed, we can change each other for the better. Yet this is only possible as we know the ministry of God to us, and it is only as we know ourselves immersed in thankfulness, that we have any surplus of grace to share with others. And so, you might say, we must unravel the riddle at the end of today’s Gospel: how can David, the high king, call his grandson lord? Only because it is God Himself, who comes after David, Christ the Lord, born of David’s line. Only because God is with us, can we be with one and other. We cannot love if we are not loved. We can only work the works of God if we may come and put our faith in Him whom God has sent. And so, our happiness rests in just this: the hope that waits upon the constant revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who also shall confirm you unto the end’. In His gracious presence we know that we ‘come behind in no gift’, and make our offering, even the sound of our praises lifted up to God with joy, and thanksgiving.