Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:

Reading 1:
1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior
and of Christ Jesus our hope,
to Timothy, my true child in faith:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Commentary on
1 Tm 1:1-2, 12-14

St. Paul begins his First Letter to Timothy introducing himself as an Apostle of Jesus. “Present gratitude for the Christian apostleship leads Paul to recall an earlier time when he had been a fierce persecutor of the Christian communities (cf
Acts 26:9-11) until his conversion by intervention of divine mercy through the appearance of Jesus. This and his subsequent apostolic experience testify to the saving purpose of Jesus' incarnation.”[4]

“Through the graces he has received, the virtues of faith and love have been manifested in Paul. Faith and love are fundamental virtues characterizing the Christian. At times (as here and in
Ephesians 3:17; Ephesians 6:23; Philemon 5), faith and love are mentioned alone; at other times, the virtue of hope is added (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 13:13)”[5]
Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 16:1b-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5) You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 16:1b-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

Psalm 16 is an individual hymn of praise. The psalmist prays that God will shield the faithful from harm and expresses confidence in the Lord’s salvation; closing the passage with praise for God’s loving mercy.

Luke 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.”
Commentary on
Lk 6:39-42

St. Luke continues Jesus’ dialogue from the “Sermon on the Plain” concerning the judgment of others. Taking his disciples aside he tells them that in time they will assume his role in proclaiming the Gospel (“…but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher”). The exhortation that follows is not intended to say that they should not notice the failings of others; that would be inconsistent with
Matthew 7:5, 6. Rather “…against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one's own faults.”[6]


Today we reflect upon the two edges of the sword of justice, judgment and forgiveness. In St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples through the parable of the Blind Leading the Blind. His intention is to insure that, in light of the authority provided in being disciples of the Son of Man, they do not become judgmental. His teaching implicitly instructs them to look first at their own failings before passing judgment on others.

Does this mean we should ignore others when they behave in ways that are contrary to the Lord’s Great Commandment? Should we meekly turn a blind eye to our brothers and sisters who consciously fail to love God, others or themselves? The answer, more clearly expressed in St. Matthew’s Gospel when he says “’Do not … throw your pearls before swine’” (
Matthew 7:5), is no. We have an obligation to lead others to the promise of Christ. What we do not do is judge the person. We judge the action or act (cliché is “Love the sinner, hate the sin”).

Once the action is confronted, culpability for sin must be left to God alone. “The prerogative of receiving the confession of sin and the power to forgive sin are two things that belong properly to God alone”, as the Blessed Isaac of Stella says in one of his sermons
[7]. In that same great sermon, which is part of the Divine Office for this date, he goes on to describe that God in Christ, wedded to his bride the Church, has given all things to her and one of those gifts is this delegated authority of expressing God’s love and forgiveness (however, were his bride somehow separated from him, there could be no forgiveness flowing from her). If this were not so, how would we come to understand his great love for us?

We see in St. Paul’s own testimony how even his grievous sins against the Bride of Christ were forgiven. How much more will he forgive us who are working diligently to do his will? It is a complex balance we observe – between judgment and forgiveness. Our prayer today is that we always fail on the side of love and seek first the log in our own eye.


[2] The picture is “The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind” by Pieter Bruegel (the Elder), 1568
[3] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[4] See NAB footnote on 1 Tm 1:12-17
[5] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 57-14 (Expanded notation and hyperlinks added)
[6] See NAB footnote on Matthew 7:1
[7] Sermo 11: PI. 194, 1728-1729

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