In the Collect for this weekend, we hear the words, “Grant us O Lord, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve you with constancy.”
From these words, we will move directly to the first reading, describing the Archangel, Michael, who guards God’s people with ongoing commitment.
Such ‘constant’ devotion, as demonstrated by Michael and referred to again at the Eucharistic prayer when we join with the angels to acclaim “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts,” calls for a heavenly direction of heart, mind, strength and soul.
When we gather for Eucharist, we gather in the heavenly experience of being the People of God, made so through our Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon us and made us holy, just as the Holy Spirit descends upon our gifts and makes them holy. We are caught up in a ‘constancy’ of God’s activity in our lives, calling from us, ‘constancy’ of joy in God’s presence and once grasped, a joy in serving the Lord.
A more common interpretation of the word, ‘constancy’ in this context is ‘perseverance in faith’. Bromiley’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament tells us that perseverance, which has its roots deep in the life and power of God, knits the Church together with a firm bond. It is not just a pious discipline but serious work which demands persistence.
Being devoted to God is not simply about a personal progression but, a progression of the unity of the Church, overseen by the Archangel Michael and all the angels who gather at the throne in heaven. For us, this is demonstrated above all, in the way we celebrate the Eucharist. This progression of unity in the Church finds expression in our full and active participation in the liturgy – our singing, our commitment to the responses and even the way we receive Holy Communion as instructed by our Bishop’s Conference. It is through our perseverance in working towards our unity as a worshipping community on earth, that we will truly know ‘the constant gladness of being devoted to God’, which we will carry with us when we join the angels and Saints.
Fr Bob Harwood