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Fourth Sunday after Trinity

O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Romans viii. 18 & St. Luke vi. 36

Can the blind lead the blind?

"Can the blind lead the blind?" Jesus asks this rhetorical question in the context of his exhortation to the disciples to exercise mercy and forgiveness while reserving judgement and condemnation to God. The blind leaders were undoubtedly the religious leaders of the day who judged the condition of men and proclaimed them sinners, and yet failed to live up to God's standard. He said both shall fall, the leaders and those whom they led. Both are subject to condemnation because both go along life blindly. They fail to see the way God had laid out for them.

Jesus makes it plain however, that the blindness of the religious leaders is a much more serious matter than that of the people. Both are blind, but the leaders have a beam in their eye, while the people have a small speck. Then he calls them hypocrites, because they preach one thing and do another. They judge the people, and fail to recognize where they have fallen short of God's way. They condemn the sinners, while failing totally to perceive any shortcomings in their lives.

Jesus concludes this little sermon with the solution. Take the beam from their own eye first. The leaders must take a candid look at their own lives. What do they believe? How do they behave? What are their inner thoughts? How do they as men measure up to God's way? Then they must repent of their misdeeds and failures so as to model their lives after the perfection of the Master's. When that is done, they will have the clarity of vision to assist their brother to see the speck in their lives, the indentify those things that blind them and lead them astray, and to do something to correct it.

In the Church today, we are faced with many issues where the beliefs and conduct of the world clearly are in contravention to the Scriptures. In addressing these issues, we often hear very loudly from those who wish to continue leading their blind lives within the Church. These rebellious Christians quote our Lord saying that we should "judge not." Just this week my wife told me of her admiration for Dr. Ralph Stanley of Insight Ministry, and how she thought he approached the issue of judging in his televised sermons. She said Dr. Stanley often says, "It isn't I that say it, but the Bible." Dr. Stanley then proceeds to quote liberally from the Scriptures to demonstrate the lesson. That is the correct standard for us all - the Holy Scriptures. In the Order of Centurions, our Credo is prefaced with, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." We should look not to the customs of the world to determine what is right and wrong, what is sinful and what is not. No, we are called to measure by one standard - the Scriptures both in particulars and generally. Let us be careful too, that we do not read into the Scripture things that were not said. Let the plain Word of God stand as our beacon. Let each man walk focused on the Light of Jesus Christ. As the saying goes, "watch your own lane". Concern yourself first and foremost with your life and how it follows Christ's road to Salvation. Let the Scripture serve you and your neighbor for reproof, correction, and instruction. Be careful that you do not judge your brother unjustly -- St. Augustine's Prayer book lists the sin of Malice under Envy, one of the seven Mortal Sins of the historic Church. Malice includes ill-will, false accusations, slander, backbiting, and reading false motives into others' behaviors. Jesus said we would be judged for every careless word; so let us take today's admonition to heart. Let us search our lives and beliefs against the Scriptures; and strive to amend our lives using Christ's example of behavior, love, and mercy as our standard, Finally, as the collect today says, may God increase and multiply upon us his mercy and be our Guide to eternal salvation.



Romans viii. 18.

I RECKON that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
St. Luke vi. 36.

BE ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Prayer

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