A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The twenty-third Sunday after Trinity marks the official finale of this long green season, which has served to guide our passage out of our fallen, worldly, confusions and predicaments, and into the marvellous light and life our resurrected Lord and Saviour. We have been moved from our frustration with earthly sorrows and limitations, to consider instead the unlimited-ness of God’s heavenly goodness, and we have come to discover, step by step, how we may share in that goodness.
We have learned what it means to face temptation, by learning to trust in our Saviour’s care for us, and the folly of all mortal ways and means, which in the end, must fail us. And as we have found our strength in His power over sin, His will to forgive and to heal us, and His desire for us to share in His glory, we have also come to know one and other, not only as neighbours, but as the members of one body, formed and constituted by the gracious life-blood of Jesus. We have come to know what it means, to be called the children of God.
All this, and more, much more, has been set before us, and brought within us, by the patient steps of discipleship which this wonderful season called Trinity represents. And so today, as though by way of summing up and highlighting the point, St. Paul sends us off, on the verge of a new year and a new Advent, with a kind of valediction: “BRETHREN, be followers together of me and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. For many … are the enemies of the cross of Christ … who mind earthly things…Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our hearts have been set clearly upon their goal in God, so that we take now this earthly life and story as the occasion to wait upon His redeeming presence.
In just a few days that presence will be refreshed and renewed for us, in the Baptist’s cry announcing the coming of the Lord, and we will waken once more to the thrilling promise of God come to His people, fulfilled in the mystery of the Incarnation. But today, for a last moment in the waning hours of a pilgrimage completed, we are blessed with a glimpse of the sheer wisdom and goodness that has compelled our faith, and led our way, all along: “…they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
To the world, it is an uncanny answer, without any satisfaction, either as a reason for hatred, or admiration. But for us, who have travelled the road of servanthood with Him, we know His words as they truly are: as the windows of heaven; and hearing them ring out into this fallen world with all the beauty of His own divine person, we feel, and we know, that our conversation is to be so glorious, also. “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change this lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Amen.