09 Sept, Friday of Week 23

1 Tim 1:1ff. Grace has been granted to Paul in overflowing measure, along with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

Lk 6:39ff. Can the blind lead the blind? Don’t focus on the speck in the eye of a neighbour.

Respecting Others’ Gifts

The readings centre mostly on leadership but their application reaches out to all human relationships. Very positively too we are asked to interact with one another, not so much as superior to inferior but as recognizing the unique gift of each person. It is because of diversity of strength and grace that problems arise and helpful direction is necessary.

What Paul writes about himself in First Timothy is true of each of us. At times we all act out of ignorance and misguided zeal and so appear arrogant to others. We are also recipients of the grace of our Lord, granted in overflowing measure. Such abundant grace solves many problems, converting a persecutor like Saul of Tarsus into a missionary like Paul who belongs to a world mission. Yet overflowing zeal can raise still other problems. Each of us, like Paul in confronting Peter on the question of Gentile conversions (Gal 2:14), can appear arrogant, demanding and difficult. The problem is no longer our ignorance but now our brilliant insight that others do not share.

The Scriptures ask us to respect, admire and learn from the gifts of one another. Otherwise, in our ignorance we will not only be arrogant but also like a blind man trying to guide another blind person. Both will fall into the pit, both teacher and student. Each of us needs the wisdom of others to balance our own special insights and strengths. We find this complementarity of gifts in regard to Paul and Peter. We are told by Paul himself that the pillars of the church in Jerusalem recognized him as entrusted with the Gospel for the uncircumcised just as Peter was for the circumcised. The greatest problems emerge when the gifts are strongest. It is extremely difficult for a learned person to receive advice from another person, no matter how learned or experienced. Even Paul and Barnabas disagreed over the presence of young John Mark, and the disagreement which ensued was so sharp that the two went their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark along with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul, for his part, chose Silas to acompany him on his journey (Acts 15:39-40). Paul shows us how to learn from the goodness of others and to adapt ourselves to their needs and possibilities.

Only when the Church blends the works of all these early missionaries into the New Testament and in later writings, can a proper balance be achieved. We too need the Church to keep all of our gifts united, at the service of all, lest the body of the Lord be misshapen or psychologically imbalanced.

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

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Gospel: Luke 6:39-42

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 neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, ‘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 neighbour’s eye.

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