The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 41.8-10, 17-20
Psalter: Psalm 20, 21 | 27, 29
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.16-21
Gospel Reading: *St. Matthew 8.1-13
(*this is the Gospel reading designated in the 1662 BCP, which the Collect is referencing with “stretch forth thy right hand…”)
Barbee and Zahl: “The prayer, which is terse, asks God to look and help. The desired looking is not detached and it is not analytical. God is asked to look at our weakness. This is important. Would we not rather have Him take a good look at our “strengths”? Would we not rather shine? No, the Collect is composed from the place of need. ( . . . ) We are infirm, shaky. Our weaknesses are the cracks and loosened foundations which always render us idols with feet of clay. In my infirmity, I need helping, to move positively forward through it. I need defending, to hold back the forces (of the world, the flesh, and the devil) that see my weaknesses like gaps in a wall and pour right through them, taking terrible advantage of me. The prayer is therefore both offensive and defensive. This, too, is the character of the Christian faith ( . . . ) simultaneously on the offensive and on the defensive” (21).
Primus Pilus II