Love Adapts Theory to Practice
September 9, 2016 Friday Twenty-Third Week of Year II
The Responsorial (Psalm 84) suggests a motive for perseverance: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God.”
In 1Corinthians 9:16-27 Paul explains his life as a passion to achieve a clear goal. What keeps him “running so as to win” is “not losing sight of the finish line.” To “run” is to preach the Good News. It is his passion. Everything else he does, he does for the sake of spreading the Gospel, “building up” the Church. He does it “free of charge.” Giving the Good News is itself his “recompense.” It is both the means and the end: in preaching Paul is already achieving what he is living for. But he keeps his eye on the “finish line,” when the Good News will permeate all humanity with its blessings. It is Paul’s “hope” that in these blessings he himself will “have a share.” And “a crown that is imperishable.” What he accomplishes will last and be a joy for him forever.
Paul’s apostolate was a stewardship (oikonimia). He knew himself as “entrusted with a charge.” He had given up ownership over everything: his time, energy, preferences, physical well-being. He made himself “the slave of all” for the sake of achieving what God had charged him to achieve: “to win over as many as possible.” He was totally dedicated, single-minded, undivided, completely focused on the one unifying goal of his life: to preach Christ until all “become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.” In the midst of all of his labors and hardships Paul had that peace defined as “the tranquility of order.” Everything in his life was directed toward a single end, and everything he did contributed to it. Paul found peace in that. The peace of single-minded stewardship.
The key to Paul’s life was keeping his eye — and his heart — on the goal. In Luke 6:39-42 Jesus talks about the same thing: the light we need to show us both the goal and the path: “Can a blind person act as guide to a blind person? Will they not both fall into a ditch?”
The blindness Jesus warned against was not physical but spiritual. He claimed for himself both the messianic promise and its fulfillment: “He has sent me to proclaim… recovery of sight to the blind….” And “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight….” In Matthew’s Gospel two parallel passages show the physically blind recognizing him with spiritual sight as the promised “Son of David.” And Jesus rails against the Pharisees for being “blind guides.” The truly blind are those who reject Jesus, the Light of the world.
What blinds us are our attachments. Unlike Paul, we do not have a single focus. Our vision is distorted by the ‘planks” in our eye, the things of this world that are so much in our face we cannot see around them. When we judge others for not living by our cultural standards, Jesus says, “Remove the plank from your own eye first….”
Jesus said, ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Anything that distracts us from looking at Jesus blinds us.
Initiative: Be a faithful steward. Keep your eye on the finish line.