FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22B-27
Brothers and sisters:
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.
I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
Psalm 84:3-6, 12
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.
Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the LORD withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
Some people believe that once you are baptized, or once your sins are washed away and you are saved, you are saved forever. But this is not the teaching of the Church. We can be lost through sin if we do not repent. That is why we have the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.
In the reading in Corinthians, Paul talks about the possibility of losing the grace of salvation. He says that he gets his body under submission. He understands that he needs self-control like athletes who compete for a crown. We will receive a crown for every person we have brought to the Lord for salvation says St. Gregory.
Paul is working hard to proclaim the Gospel to save souls and asks for no pay for his efforts. He has so much zeal for God. He wants to reach all men, rich or poor, slave or free. Yet Paul still watches out for the sake of his soul least he suffer ‘disqualification’ as he puts it.
In the Gospel we read that a blind person can’t lead. Perhaps the blindness, a spiritual blindness, is the log in the eye of seeing only the faults of others and not our own. We can assess our own sins and faults but not the sins and faults of others. We need the grace of God in the Sacrament of Penance to be cleansed from the sins we commit after our baptism. If an evangelist like St. Paul had to be concerned about losing grace, how much more do we?
Today, we consider the need for a spiritual inventory. Do I judge others? Do I find fault easily? Is sorrow for my sin making me a more humble person? Have I grown in love for God and neighbor? If not, what do I need to do to see spiritual growth?