The First Sunday after Easter.
HEAR my prayer, O Lord, and consider my desire : hearken unto me for thy truth and righteousness’ sake.
2. And enter not into judgement with thy servant : for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
( . . . )
7. Hear me, O Lord, and that soon, for my spirit waxeth faint : hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
8. O let me hear thy loving-kindness betimes in the morning, for in thee is my trust : shew thou me the way that I should walk in, for I lift up my soul unto thee.
( . . . )
ALMIGHTY Father, who has given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may alway serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 43.1-12
Psalter: Psalm 110, 111 | 2, 57
Epistle Reading: 1 John 5.4-12
Gospel Reading: St. John 20.19-23
Barbee and Zahl: “What is the “leaven of malice and wickedness” which the Collect bids us put away? ( . . . ) “Leaven” refers to teaching (St. Matthew 16:11; St. Luke 12:1). Leaven is used in the Gospels to denote the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which is specified further, in Luke’s Gospel, as being hypocrisy. ( . . . ) So much emphasis is placed by their teaching on rectitude, that the motives and intentions inside the person come to be of less weight than the actual doing of things as observed from the outside. The problem with this, and the reason why Jesus excoriates it as producing “whited sepulchers,” which outside are nice enough to look at but inside are full of dead men’s bones (St. Matthew 23:27), is that performance on its own term can easily conceal a tawdry bag of mixed motives. The results of hypocrisy include malice (i.e., active resentment and envy) and wickedness (i.e., immorality, conspiracy, and active evil hidden). Now we can understand why the Collect focuses on the Lord who rose again “for our justification.” In order to avoid the “leaven” or teaching of Pharisaism, which clocks in the deed rather than the ‘will for the deed,” we have to know that our status before God has been secured previously. We do not require justification before other people, or self-justification, or even justification before God on the basis of any outward standard. God has justified us by placing us in a new sphere of unimpeachable regard. This He has done by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, we, being justified, do not require the imperative “Just Do It.” Christ has done it. The Collect for Easter I, pure Thomas Cranmer in its formation, arrangement, and placement, draws profoundly on St. Paul’s linking of our justification with Christ’s resurrection in Romans 4:25. If the prayer does nothing more than send us back to that verse, it has done its job well” (53).
Primus Pilus II