“Be merciful, even as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36–42). The old Adam in us wants to condemn and seek vengeance. But the Lord says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (Rom. 12:14–21). To condemn, to avenge yourself, is to put yourself in the place of God. It is to fail to trust that He is just. Ultimately, it is to disbelieve that Jesus suffered the full vengeance for all wrongs. Only Christ is merciful as the Father is merciful. He is the one who overcame all evil with the good of His cross, forgiving even His executioners. Jesus is our Joseph, who comforts us with words of pardon and reconciliation (Gen. 50:15–21). He is the One who does not condemn but gives life that runs over. Only through faith in Christ are we sons of the Father—being merciful, forgiving, doing good to our enemies. For in Christ we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:8–13).
O Lord, grant that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Scripture Readings:
or Romans 8:18–23
Excerpt from a Sermon by Martin Luther on Trinity 4
Thus, says Christ here, should you Christians also do, because you are children of grace and peace, not of anger and discord, and are also called to inherit the blessing. Therefore you should also bring the blessing among the people, first by your preaching and public confession, and after that also by your good outward conduct, so that when the unbelievers judge and condemn you, treat you unmercifully and rob you, you will be merciful to them, and not avenge yourselves, but give and forgive, and besides help, love and bless them, and speak the best things of them before God and the world; that they may also observe by your good conduct that you are pious and blameless people, who do not only suffer evil, but also return good for evil. By this you will obtain a good name among the heathen, and be estimable and honorable in my sight, who art your Lord and God.
Extant Bach Cantatas for the 3rd Sunday After Trinity
Text and Performance of BWV 24 (Performance follows after the text)
Violino I/II e Violaall’ unisono, Continuo
Ein ungefärbt Gemüte An unstained character Von deutscher Treu und Güte with German faithfulness and goodness Macht uns vor Gott und Menschen schön. makes us beautiful before God and man. Der Christen Tun und Handel, The actions and business of Christians, Ihr ganzer Lebenswandel their whole way of life Soll auf dergleichen Fuße stehn. should be based on this sort of footing.
Die Redlichkeit Honesty Ist eine von den Gottesgaben. is one of God’s gifts. Dass sie bei unsrer Zeit The fact that in our time So wenig Menschen haben, so few people have it Das macht, sie bitten Gott nicht drum. is because they do not ask God for this. Denn von Natur geht unsers Herzens Dichten For by nature what our hearts contrive Mit lauter Bösem um; is nothing but evil; Soll’s seinen Weg auf etwas Gutes richten, if our heart is to direct its way to something good, So muss es Gott durch seinen Geist regieren then God has to rule it through his spirit Und auf der Bahn der Tugend führen. And lead it on a path of virtue. Verlangst du Gott zum Freunde, If you long for God as your friend So mache dir den Nächsten nicht zum Feinde then don’t make an enemy of your neighbour Durch Falschheit, Trug und List! Through falsehood, deceit and cunning! Ein Christ A Christian Soll sich der Taubenart bestreben should strive to have the nature of a dove Und ohne Falsch und Tücke leben. And live without falsehood and malice. Mach aus dir selbst ein solches Bild, Make yourself such an image Wie du den Nächsten haben willt! As you want your neighbour to have!
Chorus [S, A, T, B]
Clarino, Oboe I e Violino I all’ unisono, Oboe II e Violino II all‘ unisono, Viola, Continuo
Alles nun, das ihr wollet, dass euch die Leute tun sollen, das tut ihr ihnen.(Matthew 7:12) Everything now, that you want that other people do to you you, you should do yourself for them.
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Die Heuchelei Hypocrisy Ist eine Brut, die Belial gehecket. is a brood concocted by Belial. Wer sich in ihre Larve stecket, Anyone who puts on hypocrisy’s mask Der trägt des Teufels Liberei. is wearing the Devil’s livery. Wie? lassen sich denn Christen I ask you, should Christians allow themselves Dergleichen auch gelüsten? To hanker after such things also? Gott sei’s geklagt! die Redlichkeit ist teuer. Alas!honesty costs dear. Manch teuflisch Ungeheuer Many a devilish monster Sieht wie ein Engel aus. Seems to be an angel. Man kehrt den Wolf hinein, they keep the wolf hidden inside Den Schafspelz kehrt man raus. While the sheep’s fleece is turned outside. Wie könnt es ärger sein? How could it be worse? Verleumden, Schmähn und Richten, Slander, abuse and condemnation, Verdammen und Vernichten damnation and destruction Istüberall gemein. Are common everywhere. So geht es dort, so geht es hier. These things go on here, there and everywhere. Der liebe Gott behüte mich dafür! Dear God preserve me from them!
Oboe d’amore I/II, Continuo
Treu und Wahrheit sei der Grund May faithfulness and truth be the foundation Aller deiner Sinnen, of every thought of yours, Wie von außen Wort und Mund, as your words and mouth on the outside Sei das Herz von innen. so may your heart be inside. Gütig sein und tugendreich To be full of kindness and rich in virtue Macht uns Gott und Engeln gleich. Makes us like God and his angels.
O Gott, du frommer Gott, O God, you righteous God Du Brunnquell aller Gaben, you source of all gifts, Ohn den nichts ist, was ist, without whom nothing is that is Von dem wir alles haben, from whom we have everything, Gesunden Leib gib mir, grant to me a healthy body, Und dass in solchem Leib and that in such a body Ein unverletzte Seel there may remain a soul uninjured Und rein Gewissen bleib. And a pure conscience.
English Translation by Francis Browne (July 2008)
Contributed by Francis Browne (July 2008)