Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Eighth Sunday After Trinity

(We continue our commentary on the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church.)

As we reflect on the petition, “To all thy People give thy heavenly grace,” we must not neglect to clarify exactly what is meant by the term “thy People.” There are many who would suppose, in a thoughtless manner, that this simply means people in general. But remember, we are praying for the Church, God's “peculiar people,” the body of those who are chosen and set apart by their Baptism as the people of God, separated by their new birth from the old creation. Baptism draws a clear line between the old creation and the new, between God's people and those who are not His people, between the saved and the unsaved.

The phrase “thy people” has deep roots in the Bible. As God said in Deuteronomy 7:6ff., speaking to His chosen people Israel, “You are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set His love on you and chose you, for you are the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath which He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you....”

This ancient OT promise is applied in the NT to the “blessed company of all faithful people,” the Church. St Peter tells is (1 Peter 2:9), “But you are a chosen race, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The Old Testament chosen people Israel has now been enlarged and transformed into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the New Testament. The promise which echoes from page to page in the OT, “I will be your God, and you shall be My people, and I will dwell with you,” now belongs to the Christian com-munity, the Body of Christ. And for this chosen people, “elect from every nation, yet one in all the earth” as the hymn says, we persistently pray at every Mass, that God will continue to pour our His redeeming, justifying and sanctifying grace.

(To be continued)

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