A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
As we make our way through this troubled and troublesome world, and as we struggle to persevere in our faith, confronting the temptations and darkness which constantly test our spiritual resolve, it can often seem that we must wait for heaven to have any sense of our blessing. It seems there can be no true joy, no fullness of beatitude, until we cross the eternal finish line, and that as we run this earthly race, we must be stoic, we must brave the trials of this earthly course with determination.
And no doubt it is certain that only as we continue faithful, and manage to hold bravely to our calling, shall we know any sense of progress toward our goal, only as we stand undaunted before our demons can our faith prevail. That was the sense of Paul’s word’s in last week’s epistle (for Trinity 21): “my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The battle is real.
And yet, we do not fight from the side of an uncertain, mortal struggle. We do not fight to gain the victory, but to receive it for our own, we fight on the side of Christ’s triumph, which has already accomplished all things for our glory. We stand against the darkness as the children of a new peace. That is quite different from standing as the soldiers of an enduring war. The war is over, the demons are defeated, cast down from their assault on heaven, overcome by the blood of the Lamb. They may seek to frustrate our progress in victory, with all the lies and temptations they can muster, but they have no power over us: resist them, and they will flee, James told us in our readings this past week. Nothing can prevent our continued drawing near to God, and His gathering us into His loving embrace.
Therefore, says St. Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” We are learning the joys of heaven, even here and now, “confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in [us] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We are learning, not how to get by in this fallen world, but the meaning of the kingdom of God, which is founded upon His redeeming mercy: “how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times; but until seventy times seven.” His goodness is to become our goodness. So let us pray this, daily for one and other: ‘that our love may abound more and more’, and daily our joy will more nearly mirror heaven.