THE GOSPEL. S. Luke 14. 1
LORD, we pray thee, that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.In this prayer the word "prevent" in old English means to 'go before' and hence to anticipate.
The idea of the Epistle and Gospel for this Sunday appears to be that of gaining liberty and victory through becoming the humble servants of Christ. St. Paul writes out of his prison, "I the prisoner of the Lord," as he writes in another place, "Remember my bonds:" and one who was in the bonds of an infirmity was brought to Christ, "and He took him, and healed him, and let him go," setting him free from his disease on the instant in a manner which cannot be explained by physiological science. Afterwards our Lord speaks of the humane work of setting free on the Sabbath an ox or an ass that had fallen into a pit; and of one being bidden to go up higher through his humility in taking the lowest room at a wedding feast. All these may be taken as illustrations of the way in which our Lord's service becomes perfect freedom to those who humbly take His yoke upon them. They offer also a further illustration of the principle stated in the end of the Epistle, "There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all." This principle is of a restrictive character: bringing the world out of a free worship of many gods to the worship of One; limiting it to one faith, and to one only means of initiation into the family of the one God. The idea conveyed is one of a bondage to rule and law which leaves no room for invention or wild development and speculation. But as Christ reigned from the Cross; as St. Paul governed the churches of Ephesus and other cities from his prison in Rome; as one who sits down in the lowest room will hear the Host say to him, "Friend, go up higher;" so limitations and restrictions of this kind are a means of real spiritual freedom, however much they may seem an irksome bondage to those who regard them superficially. The Christian who worships the One God is more free than the heathen who worshipped many; and the believer in a Faith once for all given is more free than he who is continually looking for new developments and open to the bondage of every novel speculation. -JOHN HENRY BLUNT