This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
There are two things that caught my attention in this week's Collect, "offer you right and praiseworthy service" and all "the things."
First, though, let's look at this gift. The Latin form of the prayer is translated, "Almighty and merciful God, of whom the gift has come." The gift comes by way of, or from God. Because of this gift, we are able to offer the Father right and praiseworthy service. God has given us a perfect gift and it comes by way of the service that Christ offered on the Cross. Let that sink in for a bit: Jesus offered right and praiseworthy service to the Father when He offered Himself to die on the Cross for us. We can receive the perfect gift, because Jesus gave the perfect gift.
We often hear the phrase, "you can't give away what you don't have," and in this case, you can't give away what you haven't accepted. Our very life depended on the service that Jesus offered to the Father. I recently came across a video compilation of people afraid of heights. On man was sitting on the edge of a cliff and slipped. As he slid, his arms went behind his back and caught a rough spot on the rock. There he was, hanging there, his arms straight back and his fingertips clinging to the rock for all he was worth. I don't know how he got down, the suspense was too much for me so I stopped watching the video, but that was us! We were hanging on, destined to fall with no one to save us from sin and then Jesus became our gift.
Since Jesus offered Himself for us, we not only do not have to fear the fall off the cliff, our sins are forgiven. We are rescued. We should be running to the Father, seeking ways to offer Him right and praiseworthy service in return for what He has given us.
This is what the prayer calls "hasten without stumbling to receive the things." All "the things" are the promises of God. His promises to us are our very life. He will never leave us. He is for us. He is a God who keeps his promises.
In the Latin form of the prayer we are ask God to let us run to His promises without offense. Used here, stumble means to hesitate, doubt, or sin. As I got to this point in my lectio time, I was excited because I don't want to hesitate, doubt, or sin, I want to hasten towards all that God has for me. I also know that being human, life happens, and at some point, I'll probably hesitate, doubt, and sin. How can we stay focused on our goal? Besides the usuals, living a Sacramental life and keeping faithful to pray, you can picture your future self.
We've been doing some remodeling on our house. It seems like it's been a forever project and maintaining the motivation to keep working sometimes grows thin. However, the vision of my future self in my future house, is all I need to keep moving forward.
Try it for yourself! Just take a few minutes to think of your future self, walking with God who is always there, who always hears you and has more for you than you can imagine. You will soon find yourself hastening to receive more of what He has promised.
Thanks for praying with me,