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Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity MMXII

Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through...

 Omnipoteus sempiterne Deus, da nobis Fidie, Spei, et Caritatis augmentum; et ut  mereamur assequi, quod promitis, fac nos amare, quod praecipis,   per
[Leonine Sacramentary]

Introit: Have respect, O Lord, unto thy covenant...
Ps:  O God, why hast thou cast us off forever...
Epistle: Galatians 3:15-22  Brethren, I speak after the manner of men...
Gradual: Have respect, O Lord, unto thy covenant
Gospel: Luke 10:23-37  And he turned him unto his disciples...

The translation is from the English Book of Common Prayer.  This early collect has a brief address to God who is both Almighty and Everlasting, and then the prayer turns to a most important petition based on Paul's first letter to the Corinthians on Love (chapter 13).  We ask that God would give to us an increase of faith, hope and charity.  These are the three Spiritual or Christian virtues. They form the second part of the seven cardinal virtues that the Church has long recognized. Here they are from the Book of Wisdom and Paul's epistle:

"If a man loves righteousness, her labours are virtues; for she teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, which are such things as man can have nothing more profitable in their life." (Wisdom of Solomon 8:7) "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corenthians 13:13) 

 In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.  We find that of the priest, Levite, and Samaritan, only the Samaritan showed that most important virtue of Charity (Love).  He not only felt compassion, but took direct action to love his neighbor who was gravely injured.   He had hope and faith that God would work through him and the innkeeper to restore his "neighbor" to good health.

Now, notice the collect asks for an increase in these virtures.  God gives to those he calls a modicum of faith to confess the Lord Jesus Christ, and without that God-given faith no man may truly do so. Likewise he gives virtues of hope and charity. There is always the call to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ. We seek increase in the manifestation of those virtures which characterize the true Christian: Faith, Hope, and Charity.

This first petition is followed by yet another: that God would make (cause) us to love that which he commands.  Make (fac) is the operative term here. We cannot by nature love God's law. The ancient Israelite proved that time and again. It was Jeremiah who prophesied of a new covenant, wherein the Sovereign God would actually write true law in the hearts of his chosen, those whom he would make his people.   I think that was exactly what Jesus was teaching with the Samaritan.  Here was a man completely outside of the religious working of Israel, and yet he, and not the Levite (priestly tribe of Levi), nor the priest, lived out the ultimate law of God - Charity - Love of one's neighbor. It is they who have been so blessed with God's mercy and good gifts that will love and live by this law, and who will finally realize his promises.


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)
The Ancient Collect: Its history and form
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


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