Trinity 24: Father Gethin

Trinity 24

A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin

(The readings may be found here)

The lections for this twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity serve us in two ways: first, to sum up what is the gracious and fruitful end of our long Trinitytide journey, and second, to renew our spiritual aspiration in the Gospel, so as to ready us for the coming of a new Christian year.  “We give thanks to God,” says Saint Paul, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints.”  We who we were once lost and blind are made the cause of thanks and prayers in our fellow-Christians, who find in our faith, bearing its fruit in love, encouragement for their own spiritual journey.

And this is one of the great joys and privileges of our life in Christ: we, who know so deeply our own challenges and weaknesses and struggles, nonetheless come to shine with the light of our redemption for the world around us, and in a special sense, for our brothers and sisters in the Gospel.  As we learn to stand in our calling, and to persevere in faith, our life becomes more and more a lucid blessing to our neighbour, and especially to those of the house of faith.  Our many unhappy divisions, and the discouragement to which such divisions naturally lead, so often distract us from this simple, gracious fact, and so we ought to take time, as we draw to the end of another liturgical year, to allow ourselves to be surprised by joy (to borrow a lovely phrase from C. S. Lewis).  Today we ought to recall that God has indeed continued to advance His purposes of love, day by day, in our lives and souls.

In other words, it is we, who confess the saving goodness of Christ Crucified and Risen, who are the special subjects of His redeeming mercy.  Day by day, year by year, and indeed, moment by moment, grace surrounds and suffuses us, so that our time on this earth is made an unfolding experience of our Lord’s heavenly promises fulfilling themselves within us, even as we learn more and more to place our trust and faith in Him.  That is the second part of the story: our conversion, our life with God, is always in need of revision and renewal, even as we continually meet new and more daunting challenges, both from the world around us, and from our souls within us.  Always our faith must relearn what it means to trust our Lord’s mercy, and to call for His help.

And so in today’s Gospel we find two such images, of the revision and renewal of the heart’s trust in God, just as faith must always be transformative, carrying our praying beyond the limits of the divine goodness that we have yet known.  “If I can but touch the hem of His garment, I shall be whole,” and, “come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.”  Transformation and renewal, our rediscovery of God’s power to heal and to save us.  Such is our mandate as His body, the church, and such has been the subject of our journey through another church year.  Now it remains only for us to renew our hope, and to ready our faith once again for the refining fire of God’s love to come and dwell more nearly with us, in the sending of the Word made flesh, proclaimed and received once more, and ever more profoundly, in the dawning of another Advent.  It is Paul’s prayer that rallies us to the heavenly cause: “that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”  To the appearing of that light may we ever awaken as ones rising afresh out of sleep, and so may the uprising of our faith constantly encourage and inspire those who wander in darkness to come to Lord, who is the true Light which lights every soul, and find in Him the meaning of their salvation, and ours.

Trinity 24: Father Gethin