my miscellany

Proper 5 and Ordinary Time 10 — 9 Jun 16

Proper 5 and Ordinary Time 10

Last weekend I attended the Baccalaureate Mass of a Jesuit preparatory school, and the Propers were quite similar to those of the Eucharist I offered on Sunday morning. I am used to the Readings on Sundays in the Episcopal Church resembling those of the Roman Catholic Church. But a similarity in Collects of the Day is new to me.

Here is the Opening Prayer in the Roman Mass for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (5 June 2016):

Almighty God, from whom every good gift proceeds, grant that by your inspiration we may discern those things that are right and, by your merciful guidance, do them. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

And here is the Collect of the Day in the Episcopal Church for the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5 on 5 June 2016):

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Practically the Collects are the same. A bit of research indicates that it was originally appointed in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries for the Fourth Sunday after the Easter Octave. From Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer through the BCP 1928 it was used on the Fifth Sunday after Easter or Rogation Day. The recognition that all good comes from God echoes the seventeenth verse of the Letter of James: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (The New Revised Standard Version).

I invite your comment.

Pentecost 3, 2016 — 5 Jun 16

Pentecost 3, 2016

RCL C Proper 5 Complementary
I Kings 17:17-24, Psalm 30, Galatians 1:11-22, Saint Luke 7:11-17

Zarephath and Nain are out-of-the-way and inconsequential towns. Except for the Lessons today, they are unknown. Neither their location, nor their prominence, nor their wealth distinguish them from any other places off the beaten track. But that does not keep those dusty towns unknown. The Lord God chooses to disclose himself and his ways in those remote places. Something close to the heart of God, something very important to the meaning of creation comes to light in those far away towns in the Lessons today.

And that something is this. Only the author of life can confer life. No one but God can create and bring life from dust. And the presence and activity of the author of life give us the meaning of our world and the meaning of the entire world. Zarephath’s and Nain’s inconsequentiality thus becomes a deep and important consequentiality. The last shall be first, as we often hear in the Scriptures.

The Old Testament Lesson and the Gospel today begin with widows who lose their sons. Elijah brings back to life the son of the widow of Zarephath. And Jesus brings back to life the son of the widow of Nain. A man of God and a man who is God perform the same miracle. The certainly dead become the certainly alive. The last shall be first, and the dead shall live.

That miracle turns our expectation and our understanding upside-down. Death is supposed to be certain. But the Lord God discloses himself to be the God of the living and not the God of the dead. The Lord God is the author of life, and the author of life gives life over and over again. That is God. And that is what God does.

And so, the Scriptures, and Elijah, and Jesus open to us a world very different from what we usually accept as a certainty. They disclose a world of meaning, a world that God rules, and a world where the unexpected rightly is to be expected.

The dead sons of the widows are not effects without a cause; they are not random and unconnected data; they are linked directly to the author of life who discloses himself by giving life over and over again. The author of life raises them from the dead to remind us who made the world and all that therein is. The author of life raises them from the dead to remind us that when we face the choice of meaninglessness or God, we should hold out for God.

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