Sunday 27th September – 16th Sunday after Trinity 


The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.

Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

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First Reading

Ezekiel 18.1-4,25-32

The word of the Lord came to me:  What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.  Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine:  it is only the person who sins that shall die.  Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’

Hear now, O house of Israel:  Is my way unfair?  Is it not your ways that are unfair?  When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die.  Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life.  Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die.  Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’  O house of Israel, are my ways unfair?  Is it not your ways that are unfair?  Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God.  Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin.  Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!  Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God.  Turn, then, and live.

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 Gospel

Matthew 21.23-32

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’  Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.  Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’

And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?  ” But if we say, “Of human origin,” we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’  So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’  And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

‘What do you think?  A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.”   He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went.  The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his father?’  They said, ‘The first.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’

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 Post Communion Prayer

Almighty God,
you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law:
grant that we may love you with our whole heart
and our neighbours as ourselves;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Reflection – Trinity 16 2020

One of my teachers used to say to us, when one of the class had forgotten, for the umpteenth time, to do some thing she had asked me to do, ‘The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.’ What she meant by that is that we can intend all kinds of good, but it’s no use unless we actually do the good we intend. Perhaps she was thinking of the parable in the Gospel today.

 Today’s parable was addressed to the chief priests and elders. Its purpose was to highlight Jesus’ invitation and acceptance of sinners and outcasts.  More than that: it invites us to pay attention to two words that govern or direct our lives. These two words are ‘yes’ and ‘no’. They, in a way, sum up our lives.

What makes the difference in our lives is not the words themselves but the spirit in which they are said. They can be said without thinking or be said thoughtfully. But what really matters is whether or not we have acted upon them.

This parable is not foreign to our family life experience. This happens over and over again. The first son, at the request of his father, declared spontaneously, “I will not go.”  The truth is we do not know why he refused. He could have been a lazy person, had other plans to go out or felt that he was constantly being asked to do things. However, time passed and he reconsidered his response.

Why did he change his mind? Was he a person given to reflection? What we do know is that at some point he began to reconsider his decision that eventually led him to change his mind. There is always time to reconsider one’s decision.

The second son must have said a powerful ‘yes’ but never acted on it. Again we do not know why he did so. Did he forget? Did he really intend to do it? Or did he think that it was not an urgent matter? What we do know is that his ‘yes’ gave way to a resounding ‘no’.

There is a part of each son in us. Sometimes our actions do not always match our promises.  It is easy to say yes because we do not always know what is involved in the task to which we are committing ourselves. Doubts, panic, fears begin to overwhelm us and so it is easy for us to change our ‘yes’.

The opposite also happens. We may initially say no but as the day goes by we begin to see things differently and so change our minds. In order to fulfill our promises we must hold on to our yes.

A person may make a mistake and redeem himself or herself by the grace of God. Many of the saints in the Church were sinners who had said no to God and then later changed their minds and became heroic men and women. St. Augustine of Hippo is a classic example. A person will not be judged by a single act or some stage of his or her life, but by the whole of his or her life.

So how does today’s parable challenge us? With which son do we identify? Do we strive to keep our word come what may? Do we find ourselves constantly changing our ‘yes’ to ‘no’?

We must remember that God gives us the freedom to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Sometimes we say yes to God with words and no to him with our deeds. Words can never be a good substitute for deeds. We must constantly examine ourselves. We must try always to fulfil our promises and put our words into action.

Every ‘no’ of yesterday or of this morning can be turned into a ‘yes’ now. We must say what we mean and mean what we say.

Amen