If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.
To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today is the feast of the Spanish Jesuit priest, Peter Claver, patron of the missions to African peoples and defender of human rights: the Apostle of Cartagena. His great faith did charitable justice. For him black lives did not just matter: they were essential to the building of the Kingdom. For Peter, people of color were his brothers and sisters. He defended their civil rights and their Christian rights.
Like St. Paul in today’s Corinthians reading, who surrendered his liberty to be a slave to the gospel, Peter Claver also sacrificed his freedom by becoming a slave to slaves. This he did in the service of justice, to spread the Good News that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all people. In a world that so highly values liberty, are we as Christians willing to give up even our freedom to insure liberty and justice and salvation for all?
—Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, write from Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high high school in Los Angeles CA.
Take Lord receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will, all that I have and possess. Dispose of them only according to your will. Give me your love and Your grace; this is enough for me. Amen.
—St. Ignatius Loyola