A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The lections for last Sunday, the eighth Sunday after Trinity, direct us toward the new character of life that comes from our conversion to Christ, and the way of faith which that conversion entails. In the first place, our Christian story is to be marked by a rejection of, and weaning from, the hurtful things of that fallen world from which we have been saved: “we are not debtors to the flesh, to live after the manner of the flesh,” Paul reminds us—to do so is the undoing of our life with God, if we turn toward those mortal pleasures that cannot satisfy our souls. To be led by such things, Paul tells us, “is to die.” The first part of this Trinity season has been all about the confrontation with our own weakness and poverty in that face of that worldly folly, how we are in continual need of instruction, and how our souls continually need to persevere patiently in God’s reforming Word and goodness. That is why Jesus calls us who follow Him, His ‘disciples’, the students of His teaching, constantly subject to His way, and not our own—I am the true vine, He told them, and you are the branches. Only as we adhere to the life of the Vine are we able to bear any fruit. And so in today’s Gospel we find Jesus’ warning about false teachers—those who would lead souls away from Christ’s one true course—who are revealed because they bear no good fruit: ‘by their fruits ye shall know them.’ Likewise with ourselves: we are called to know ourselves not by any earthly power or project, but by the Spirit of God moving within us to lift up our hearts to the Father, knowing that we are His own dear children, so that ‘we cry aloud, Abba, Father.’ It is in that cry that our faith is strengthened and confirmed.