Let us pray (in silence) [that we may run to receive God’s gift of God’s divine life]
O God, [or God of heaven and earth]
you declare your almighty power
above all by showing mercy and compassion;
grant us the fullness of your grace,
that we, who are running to obtain your promises,
may be partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The above ancient prayer is used by Roman Catholics and Episcopalians/Anglicans and others – and on the same day! It has a long, shared history which you can find here with commentary and reflection: Ordinary 26, or below. The above is my rendering in my Book of Prayers in Common.
Lectionary Readings Introduction
This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways.
This story is also told in Numbers 20:2-13. Here it is set at “Horeb” – the name of “Sinai” in the Elohistic and Deuteronomistic source in the Pentateuch.
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
The context of this reading is verse 2 (missing in the RC lectionary), the belief that parental virtue results in blessing in the life of the children, and parental vice results in their punishment. Ezekiel responds sarcastically highlighting the unfairness of this.
The hymn that Paul is quoting presumably precedes this letter. Paul adds “on the cross”. The shock in the hymn in an honour culture is the teaching that shame leads to honour. Philippi was a Roman colony with many there retired from the army. A lot of the imagery needs to be read against the background of Genesis 1-3, and also the imperial cult divinising the emperor.
The Mediterranean peasant, living very publicly and having honour central, would have seen the son who said “yes” to his father as honouring his father, not shaming him publicly. This follows verse 23 in which Jesus’ honour is challenged.
Creation Season 2023
Many, at this time, celebrate Creation Season.
A creation reading of the lectionary for the Sunday between 25 and 1 October:
Exodus could lead in to a very effective reflection on issues relating to water, its use, abuse, shortage, problems,… Ezekiel points to everything belonging to God, we are caretakers of everything. This fits with the Matthew reading in which we co-operate with God in God’s work in creation. Philippians can lead to a reflection on incarnation, God takes on full humanity and is united to creation which is sacred and good.
Other resources, if you are celebrating Creation Season.
Reflection on the Collect
The above is part of my attempt to provide a set of collects with history and commentary. It is a prayer prayed by Roman Catholics, Anglicans/Episcopalians, and others – and on the same day.
The earliest occurrence of this collect that we have is as a collect for a Sunday Eucharist in the Gallican Missale Gothicum (no. 477). Then as a collect for a Sunday Eucharist in the Gelasian Sacramentary (no. 1198) [compiled between 628CE and 715CE for priests to use in the titular churches of Rome]. It is included in the supplement to the Hadrianum (compiled by Benedict of Aniane 810-815). In the Gregorian Sacramentary (no. 1159) it is found for the Eleventh Sunday after the Pentecost Octave where it stayed through the Sarum Missal and the various Books of Common Prayer (for the eleventh Sunday after Trinity).
qui omnipotentiam tuam
parcendo maxime et miserando manifestas,
multiplica super nos gratiam tuam,
ut, ad tua promissa currentes,
caelestium bonorum facias esse consortes.
The 1549 Book of Common Prayer translates it as
GOD, which declarest thy almighty power, most chiefly in shewyng mercy and pitie; Geve unto us abundauntly thy grace, that we, running to thy promises, may be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christe our Lorde.
The primary image is of running swiftly to receive what is freely offered to us. The preamble highlights that God’s almighty power is chiefly shown in God’s redemptive love and compassion (probably a better translation than “pity” for miserando). Parcendo (sparing) and miserando (commiserating) are both gerunds contemporaneous with the present tense of the verb manifestas (you manifest). God spares us, not in response to anything we do, but as a manifestation of God’s almighty power. The collect asks that we, having received God’s grace through sparing and compassion, may have God’s grace multiplied upon us. – “that you may make us sharers of the heavenly goods.” We are now made co-heirs with Christ (2 Peter 1:4). Our response to God’s almighty power, declared chiefly in mercy and compassion, is to run to obtain these promises, which then becomes the reason for God’s fulfilling them through our becoming equal sharers (consortes) of the heavenly treasures, the divine life.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer revisers altered the sense to salvation becoming a reward for obedience to God’s commandments, rather than the present possession of a free gift.
O God, who declarest thine almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Common Worship for the 11th Sunday after Trinity continues this mistranslation
O God, you declare your almighty power
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
TEC BCP p.234:
you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
Grant us the fullness of your grace,
that we, running to obtain your promises,
may become partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Roman Catholic ICEL’s earlier translation (1973) had:
you show us your almighty power
in your mercy and forgiveness.
Continue to fill us with your gifts of love.
Help us to hurry towards the eternal life
you promise and come to share in the joys
of your kingdom.
In the failed 1998 English Missal translation:
God of heaven and earth,
your almighty power is shown above all
in your willingness to forgive and show mercy;
let your grace descend upon us without ceasing, that we may strive for the things you have promised and come to share the treasures of heaven.
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.
The Roman Catholic new translation 2011:
who make known your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us,
and make thouse hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord…