What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost:

Omnípotens et miséricors Deus, de cuius múnere venit, ut tibi a fidélibus tuis digne et laudabíliter serviátur: tríbue, quǽsumus, nobis; ut ad promissiónes tuas sine offensióne currámus.

Here is my translation:

Almighty and merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that Thou art worthily and commendably served by Thy faithful: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may run without mishap to Thy promises.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Almighty and merciful God, by Whose grace Your faithful people serve You worthily and righteously, grant, we beseech You, that we may hasten without stumbling to those things You have promised us.

In the Epistle (2 Cor. 3:4-9), Saint Paul speaks of the greatness and the glory of the New Law of Christ over the Old Law mediated through Moses — even though the Old Law was so glorious that the face of Moses shone with blinding brilliance after he had received it on Mount Sinai.

Having stated his great confidence in Christ, the Apostle is quick to add this humble clarification: “Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.”

The Gospel (Luke 10:23-37) narrates the episode of a lawyer asking Our Lord how he may have eternal life. When Jesus elicits the correct answer from His inquisitor — “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself” — the man seeks to “justify himself” by asking who his neighbor is. Jesus then goes on to tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan, admonishing the lawyer to “go and do likewise” when the lawyer has correctly replied that the Samaritan was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers.

Many commentators, following Saint Ambrose and Saint Bede the Venerable, have it that the “certain man” who fell among robbers is humanity in general, Jesus is the Good Samaritan, the inn is the Church, the wine and oil are the sacraments, and the inn-keeper is the sacred hierarchy, who continue the work of healing the human race. In this interpretation, today’s parable is another “parable of the kingdom” without explicitly purporting to be. This is a beautiful reading of the parable, in my opinion. But there is also the moral exhortation that suits the immediate context. Jesus admonishes the lawyer to “go and do likewise” — to imitate, that is, the neighborly charity of the parable’s protagonist.

But to do likewise — at least to do so supernaturally and meritoriously of eternal life — is quite beyond us. Why? Because we are not “sufficient to think [much less do] any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.” The Eternal Good Samaritan has both merited and continuously mediates to us the grace to think and to act in a Christian way. With that help, we are empowered not only pursue the divine promises of eternal life, but to “run” (currámus) to God’s promises, in the language of today’s collect. We ask in this lovely prayer that we may run “sine offensióne,” that is, without mishap or offense to that goal.

It is the gift of God Himself that we can serve Him worthily and laudably, like the Good Samaritan. That is the gift we beg in today’s collect.


Parable of the Good Samaritan, by Jan Wijnants, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (Public Domain, Link