Saturday, 23 August 2008

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus our Life

Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene OCD sees this Sunday's dominant theme as the thought that Jesus is our life, symbolised in the Gospel with the story of the raising to life of the son of the widow of Naim (Luke 7). He says:

"Whatever good there is in us is the fruit of His grace, by which we remain steadfast in good (Collect) and live in the Spirit (Ep); by His grace we rise from sin (Gosp), and eating His flesh, we nourish His life within in us (Communion). Without Jesus we would abide in death; without Him we could never live the glorious life of the Spirit described by St Paul in today's Epistle (Gal 5:25-6, 6:1-10)."

Sequela Christi

But I wonder if there isn't another, perhaps even more important theme in this Sunday's texts. It seems to me that the Gospel provides a model of how we should respond to other's sorrows and problems. When Jesus saw the widow with her dead son, he was 'moved with mercy towards her, and he said to her weep not!'. Now we of course cannot literally (well normally at least!) go around raising the dead, but we maybe we can metaphorically, responding in the terms suggested in the Epistle on not provoking one another, and instead bearing one another's burdens.

Last week we were enjoined to trust in divine providence, and this weeks propers pick up that idea - the Introit starts:"Incline Thine ear, O Lord: save thy servant, O my God, that trusteth in thee..."

But today's readings reminds us that God often effects that help through others, if they only respond to the impulses of grace he gives, and pay heed to the call to do good works when they see the opportunity. The Alleluia reminds us that 'the Lord is a great King...', and a king has servants to do his will. And the Offertory is the prayer of someone whose prayer has been heard:'...he had regard to me, and He put a new canticle into my mouth..'.

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