Christ's religion

Let us pray (in silence) [that our eyes might be opened to the way we should follow]


Almighty God,
you show to those who are in error
the light of your truth
that they may return into the way of righteousness;
may we and all who have been admitted
into the fellowship of Christ's religion
reject those things which are contrary
to our profession
and follow all that is agreeable to it;

through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

NZPB p. 598

ICEL (RC) translation:

God our Father,
your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him
reject what is contrary to the Gospel.

This can be read as another to flee-and-to-follow collect. The baptismal imagery of light, truth, way, righteousness, admitted, fellowship, and profession has traditionally given this collect an Easter Season placing. From its Leonine Sacramentary April Mass position (where it had "errantes in via posse redire - that erring ones are (may be) able to return on the way") through the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries ( second Sunday after the Easter Octave). From the Sarum Missal through successive English Prayer Books it has stayed at this position as the collect for the third Sunday after Easter. It retained that position in CofE's ASB and NZ's two year series. In the Roman Catholic Church it moved after Vatican II (and changed to "errantes ut in via possent redire - that erring ones would be able to return on the way"). It is now there assigned to the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Monday in the Third Week of Easter. In 2002 it was removed from the latter.

For Year C the NZ revisers place this collect in dialogue with Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. Here Jesus tells the third of three "lost" stories: sheep, coin, son (also called "the prodigal son" - preferably, perhaps "the prodigal father"). Some of the best work I know on this story has been produced by Kenneth Bailey (in Poet & Peasant). In his chapter on the father and two lost sons, he moves beyond the recognition of the Jewish reaction to working with pigs to highlighting the son's request for his share of the inheritance is an insult akin to saying "drop dead"; Bailey clarifies the indignity of an older person running in this culture; and points to the interruption of the son's carefully prepared repentance speech. How much do we spiritual, committed types, identify with and react like the older son as we see God's prodigal love to those who have not been carefully faithful to our understandings of spirituality and religiosity?


The NZ revisers have for Year B linked it to the story of blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight (Mk 10:46-52 cf. Mt 20:29-34, Lk 18:35-43). Seeing and following are clearly linked in this story, as in the collect. It is very worthwhile to pick up another dimension of this story - the question Jesus asks: "What do you want me to do for you?" It turns upside down our approach of asking God what do you want me to do for you, God. Too often too, we turn baptism more into our gift and promise to God, rather than God's gift and promise to me.


The original is:
Deus, qui errantibus, ut in viam possint redire, veritatis tuae lumen ostendis, da cunctis qui christiana professione censentur, et illa respuere, quae huic inimica sunt nomini, et ea quae sunt apta sectari.

This would translate something like:
God, you show the light of your truth to those in error that they might return to the Way; grant to all those who profess the Christian life both to reject those things that are inimical to this name, and to follow those things that are fitting to it.

The RC church now assigns this to the fifteenth Ordinary Sunday, with ICEL translating it as:
God our Father, your light of truth guides us to the way of Christ. May all who follow him reject what is contrary to the Gospel.

CofE's Common Worship now assigns it to the Second Sunday of Lent. USA's BCP does not appear to use it, but has a similar one drawn from the Gregorian Sacramentary (no. 423) rather than this Leonine (no. 75). It moves this from Sarum's Friday in Easter Week to the Thursday, and also uses it after the seventh lesson in the Easter Vigil:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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