23rd Week in Ordinary Time – Peter Claver
1st Reading: 1Cor 9:16-19, 22-27
Brothers and sisters: If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel. Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
Gospel: Lk 6:39-42
Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
THE ROAD TO QUALIFICATION: While reflecting on his approach to his apostolic vocation of preaching and witnessing to the Gospel, Saint Paul invites Christians to compete for the imperishable crown. As a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, he strives to be a witness, confirming his words by his lifestyle. He combines preaching with witnessing. A life modelled on the Gospel values and principles is far from a child’s play. It requires daily training and admits of failures through which we learn to follow Christ more steadfastly and convincingly. While it is true that we can achieve a lot by preaching and pointing out the mistakes of others, a life of witnessing that involves improving our own lives, removing the plank in our eyes, making sacrifices for others, becoming all things to all people could create an incredible effect in the process of our salvation and that of others.
Prayer: Lord, help us with your grace that we may be credible witnesses of your call to conversion and to witness to the Gospel by our lives.
DON’T JUDGE YOUR NIEGHBOUR: “First take off the log in your eye”. Jesus knows that human beings have failings, and that is why He uses parables to help us recognize that we are weak. In this, He warns that we should focus on our failings before addressing those of others. If we do not address our issues, we are walking in darkness due to our blindness of heart. In this state, we cannot lead others in the journey of faith. We need to ask God to send us the spirit of truth to enlighten us so that we might not judge and mislead others. What are the logs in my eyes? What destroys my relationship with God and with my neighbour?
FRATERNAL CORRECTION: A blind person cannot lead the other person. Perfection consists in imitating God the Father. He is God by being compassionate, and his compassion is his ability to feel for others. The attitude of judging our brothers and sisters is opposite of being merciful to them. St. Paul warns that one who has a bad behavior cannot be a leader and cannot lead others in a right path. Yet he can be healed by the pure grace of God like St. Paul who was changed by the Grace of God from arrogance to a servant of God (1 Tim 1:13). For God nothing is impossible. We need to purify our minds and our spirits to become like Him. St. Paul gives a guidance to us all, that apostolic life requires us to know our environment very well and the problems of others. Let us renounce whatever is contrary to the Gospel and ask the grace of God for the complete transformation.