This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-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.
At times, Paul’s habit of dictating his letter gets the better of him and the connections between sentences become vague, and merely verbal connections are used to keep the thing going. Here the gospel is “free” that is, Paul earns his keep as a tentmaker while preaching it, so that hearers get it without cost. Paul is “free” that is, he is a free citizen, but he has “enslaved” himself to the customs of each nation so that he can bring them the gospel. Even his metaphor about training runs into trouble: is he a runner or a boxer? Still, the energy of the man pours into the writing: everything about him, his intelligence, his freedom, his body is put at the service of the good news. Those who think energy and endurance are just natural gifts are reminded that all excellence requires discipline.
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
The words in brackets seem to me to be an insertion into the manuscript by a scribe who didn’t like the idea that he would never be as wise as Jesus. If they are removed, the argument flows better. Guides must be clear-sighted. Sometimes people seem very clear-sighted about the faults of others, but this is usually spurious because of the blindness imposed by their own faults. Jesus’ humorous image lets us see how ridiculous our behaviour can be. Jesus is a skilled user of the wisdom-tradition of his people.Religious institutions and personnel are especially prone to this hypocrisy.