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Lindemann on Trinity 17

by revalkorn ~ September 20th, 2010

THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

The first half of the Trinity Season brought before us the fundamental motives of the Christian life and the grace needed for its realization. The second half presents in detail the various aspects of the Christian character. It teaches first those passive graces that form the only solid foundation for future activity and usefulness. The Church’s teaching is most obviously parallel with the Beatitudes and in harmony with the Sermon on the Mount. First she insists on love as the great essential of “true and laudable service.” Next she brings before us the silent graces of purity on the Fourteenth Sunday, singleness of heart on the Fifteenth, patience in tribulation on the Sixteenth, and humility on the present Sun-day. The insistence on humility is a very marked feature. Many of the Collects emphasize this Christian virtue. It is the theme of Sexagesima, Palm Sunday, and the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. This last treats of humility towards God as seen in St. Paul’s character and in the Publican’s prayer. Today we are to learn the still harder lesson of humility in our dealings with men. Poverty of spirit to-ward God is needed for the Kingdom of Heaven. Meekness alone can inherit the earth.. Notice that both Gospels, this day’s and that for Trinity XI, end with the same words: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and (but) he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Introit. “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments. Deal with Thy servant according to Thy mercy. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the Law of the Lord.”

The words “way’; and “walk” suggest that the Christian life is a journey, a pilgrimage of exiles through a strange land toward home. All visitations are right and upright, for God is righteous. For this reason we pray that the Lord deal with His servant according to His steadfast love, His mercy. Our concern is that we walk blamelessly in the Law of the Lord to the end.

The Collect. “Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee, the only God.”

An allusion to the life of the Christian as a journey is again brought in the word “follow.” We pray that God would give us grace to withstand the temptations of the devil as we walk through this earthly life. The Missal translates, “To avoid every contact with the devil.” We ask for the equipment of grace that will enable us to conquer all temptations of our great enemy and for such devotion to God as Christ demands when He bids us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The “only,” the undivided God demands an undivided service in faith, purpose, and life.

The Epistle, Ephesians 4:1-6. Humility, lowliness, and meekness is demanded not only by the calling to which we have been called but also by the unity of Christ’s mystical body. He who has called us to follow Him said: “I am meek [gentle] and lowly in heart.” We must follow His example. We are members of His body. The individual and his aims must be merged entirely with his fellow believers, sacrificing and dedicating self for the common love and peace. The Apostle gives seven bases of and for this unity. One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all.

The Gradual. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. Alleluia! Alleluia! The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. Alleluia!”

The Common Service Book has Ps. 116:1 instead of Ps. 118: 15,16 as the final verse. The Gradual may be closely related to the Epistle, for if we reflect the Lord Jesus and the unity of Christ’s body in our lives, we shall be a blessed nation, chosen by God for His inheritance. Especially uplifting is the concluding note of Easter victory. The entire verse of Psalm 118 reads: “Hark, glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: ‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!’ ” The following verses sing: “I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death.” The last words echo the thoughts of the Introit.

The Proper Sentence. “Alleluia! O Lord, deal with Thy servant according unto Thy mercy, and teach me Thy statutes. I am Thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies. Alleluia! ”

Or: “Alleluia! Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers; praise Him and highly exalt Him forever. Alleluia!”

The Gospel, St. Luke 14:1-11. We have here a lesson against pride. The attitude of the lawyers and Pharisees to our Lord and the man with the dropsy reveals an utter lack of fellow feeling, of sympathy, patience. It reveals nothing but envy, jealousy, and enmity. After healing the sick man, our Lord told the parable of humility, teaching the proud, conceited, contemptuous, who chose the places of honor, the law of humility. Their relationship with others was purely individualistic.

The Proper Preface. “Who with Thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord. And in the confession of the only true God we worship the Trinity in Person and the Unity in Substance, of Majesty coequal.”

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE EPISTLE

The Epistle teaches that humility is a great Christian duty and enforces this by two cogent reasons.

The Necessity of Humility

A. Our Vocation as Christians Demands It. Our highest duty is to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” and this high calling must keep us humble. We can be worthy of the grace of God as seen in our baptismal standing. God took us as we were, and we cannot be otherwise than humble. Lowly in himself, the Christian will be meek toward others. He will show patience and forbearance when the offense seems against himself. Any pride or harshness is absolutely unchristian.

B. The Unity of the Church Demands It. The unity of the Church is a fact. St. Paul does not say that there ought to be one body but that there is one body. To cut that body asunder is not to make two bodies any more than the sword of Solomon could make two children out of one. But the. unity of the Church can be realized only in the bond of peace, just as the unity of husband and wife or the unity of a family can be realized only by forbearance and mutual love. The unity is there, but it must be felt. Individual aims and opinions must be willingly sacrificed. The things that unite must be preferred to the things that separate. St. Paul gives seven claims of unity: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father, above all in His dignity, through all by His providence, in all by His grace. These great unities, once realized, will make easy any degree of needful mutual subordination in the interest of unity, for whatever testifies to the one must be an argument for the other. As we are all members of one mystical body and have one divine Spirit in us; as we all have one hope of our common home, one Lord and Master, whom we serve, one saving truth on which to feed and live; as we all had the same baptismal water poured on us, and the same cross impressed upon our brows; as we all are children of one Father, who is watching over us all, ever mingling with us all, and in us all by His Spirit, we must of necessity cultivate every grace of humility toward those who are so united with us in God.

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE HOLY GOSPEL

The part of the holy Gospel which is most nearly connected with this Sun-day’s subject of humility is towards the close, but it was the behavior of the Pharisees in the earlier portion that gave rise to our Lord’s teaching on humility.

Humility at the Command of Christ

A. An Example and a Warning. Christ would not refuse the invitation of a Pharisee, even if it were given with hostile intent. He answered objections by an appeal to conscience rather than by denunciation, with all meekness and forbearance. In the Pharisee we see the unreasonableness of pride, how it is ready to condemn, slow to receive correction and to acknowledge error. All bigotry is rooted and grounded in pride, and is in danger of the unpardonable sin, for it refuses to repent and is therefore incapable of forgiveness.

B. A Parable of Humility. The aim of this Parable, or illustration, is to show that pride defeats its own ends. He who claims the place of honor will al-ways find it claimed by others, and probably with greater justice. Pride is doomed to fall, if only because it must encounter the pride of others. It is hard to believe that the lowest place is nearest the front, but it is a fact of experience.

C. The Law of Humility. Our Lord shows humility to be not only our wis-dom but also our duty, for it is His law that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. These words are not to be understood to forbid: (1) The desire of approval. We do ill indeed if we merit contempt; rather, by our attainments, the management of our affairs, our soundness of judgment, our weight of character and depth of principle, we should seek to hold anything but a low place in the estimate of men who know how to estimate, and in God’s estimate. (2) The claims of self-respect. There is a certain conscious dignity not inconsistent with humility. There is no man who does not owe something to himself, and Christianity calls upon no one to cease to be a man. But this being granted, humility must be seen in the whole spirit and feeling of our natures. It must be based on the sense of our unworthiness before God, on our knowledge of ourselves, on the comparison of ourselves with others, of.whom many surpass us in everything and all in something, on the fact that such lowliness is the invariable characteristic of true worth, and that by it alone can we render ourselves endurable to per-sons whose regard and confidence are worth the having. We must also remember that we can only rise by humility and only sink by pride, for humility, comparing itself only with that which is above itself, must tend to rise, while pride, com-paring itself with what is mean and low, is too satisfied to see the need of improvement. This is our Lord’s justification of the virtue which men call a vice but which is rather that which makes all virtue possible.

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