Friday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time


The servant sent by the Lord does what he has to do even if he is not willing, because if he does not do it he will suffer for it. Moses preached to Pharaoh even though he did not want to, and Jonah was forced to preach to the Ninevites.1


The fact that he is completely free makes Paul the exemplary apostle. For it is possible to be free of immorality but a slave to anger, to be free of greed but a slave to boasting, to be free of one sin but a slave to another.2


It is not from the one who wills nor from the one that runs but from God who has mercy that we obtain what we hope for and reach what we desire. Esau was unwilling and did not run. Had he been willing and had he run, he would have obtained the help of God who by calling him would have given him the power both to will and to run.3


No effort, no crown! Today there are people who place the widow above the virgin in terms of self-control, because the widow has rejected a pleasure which she once enjoyed.4


Like an athlete he comes last into the arena. He lifts his eyes to heaven.… He sees that his whole task awaits him.… He chastises his body so that it will not defeat him in the contest. He anoints it with the oil of mercy. He practices daily exhibitions of virtue. He smears himself with dust. He runs with assurance to the goal of the course. He aims his blows, he darts his arms, but not at empty spaces.… Earth is man’s training ground, heaven his crown.5


Free us, Lover of men, from the danger which Paul mentions, that while preaching to others I may myself be found false. You truly know how weak we are. You recognize the nature of the foe who oppresses us. In our uneven contest and our mortal weakness we seek you, for the glory redounds to your majesty if the roaring lion is overcome by the feeble sheep.6


This parable he added as a most necessary attachment to what had been said. The blessed disciples were about to be the initiators and teachers of the world. It was necessary for them therefore to prove themselves possessed of everything piety requires. They must know the pathway of the evangelic mode of life and be workmen ready for every good work. They must be able to bestow upon well-instructed hearers such correct and saving teaching as exactly represents the truth. This they must do, as having already first received their sight and a mind illuminated with the divine light, lest they should be blind leaders of the blind. It is not possible for those enveloped in the darkness of ignorance to guide those who are afflicted in the same way into the knowledge of the truth. Should they attempt it, they will both roll into the ditch of carelessness.
He overthrew the bragging passion of boastfulness, which most give way, that they may not enviously strive to surpass their teachers in honor. He added, “The disciple is not above his teacher.” Even if some make such progress, as to attain to a virtue that rivals that of their teachers, they will range themselves no higher than their level and be their imitators. Paul shall again support us. He says, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”7


  1. COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 84). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. COMMENTARY ON 1 CORINTHIANS 3.43.1–5. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 86). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. TO SIMPLICIAN 10. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 88). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. STROMATEIS 3.101.4–5. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 88). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. LETTER 49. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 89). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. EXPLANATION OF THE PSALMS, PRAYER. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 90). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 29. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 112). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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