Julie Storr shares a reflection on the Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Thank you for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all, who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians, the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. 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.
You know how you read Scripture one day and then a month or so later, when you read it again, it seems to have completely changed? That’s how it was with this prayer.
In the first part of the prayer, the part that gives a description of God (I call this part the “who,”) we hear about the light of God’s truth that returns those who have gone astray from the right path.
The light, or lumen in Latin, refers to the revelation of God. Jesus Christ was that light in the world.
The conjunction “that” tells us that in order for those who are astray to come back, they need the light of truth.
In the Latin form of the prayer, the word for right path is via, meaning "way." We hear of “the way” in the book of Acts. It refers to the way of life that a Christian follows: that way was Christ.
When I first read this prayer, I thought about how God could show His light, and honestly, I thought it would be great if God would put a spotlight on everyone who went astray from the Christian life, just like he did for Saul at his conversion. Although God can do whatever He wishes to do, I haven’t heard of that happening much, but that would sure make it easy for the rest of us. That being said, anything or anyone could be God’s instrument of the light of His truth. Yes, that means you and me. We are the ones in the world today, called to reveal God and his love in the world. We are spiritual lighthouses.
The remainder of the prayer focuses on the “name,” which is used twice in the prayer, Christian and Christ. The prayer tells us that we are Christian by the faith we profess. This is our identity, and this identity is defined for us. It is not a lifestyle; it is a life to be lived, and that life is Christ’s.
Our lifestyle could be such that we spend the summer at the lake, I’ve even heard of a low-carb lifestyle. Sometimes our faith seems to become a lifestyle when we see being a Christian as just going to church on Sunday, but living a Christian life isn’t the same.
We receive the name "Christian" at our baptism. As a Christian, we become like Paul:
Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)
We are other Christs in the world, not just on weekends, but every day. The life we are called to live mirrors the life of Jesus. Everything He did gave glory to God’s name.
It seems that in the world today, there is a blurred line with Christianity. There are some who want to change what it means to be Christian. They want to make their faith fit what is popular, or what feels good. However, Christianity has already been defined. We are called to conform to Christ, not the other way around.
I found an interesting contrast and yet a similarity between striving after honor and rejecting what is contrary. For example, grumbling about a person or a situation does not bring honor, but rejecting the temptation and uttering a blessing or a prayer of praise does.
Perhaps being God’s light of truth in the world is as simple as deciding between choosing to honor the name of Christ and rejecting what is contrary. Will that be easy? Some days not. God never said it would be easy, but He did say it would be worth it.
Copyright 2023 Julie Storr
About the Author
Julie Storr is a convert and Benedictine Oblate who is in awe of the depth of the relationship with God that can be found in the Catholic Church. Julie and her husband live in Pocahontas, Iowa. They have two sons, and is learning girl things from a new daughter-in-law. She writes and is available for speaking engagements. Visit her website at LectioTheLiturgy.com.