12Sep 12th September. Friday, Week 23.


 The Holy Name of Mary.

This feast is in the Roman calendar since pope Innocent XI included it in 1684 after the Christian victory over the Turks at the Battle of Vienna the year before. As a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus it honours Mary’s special power of intercession with God and all the graces received through her. In the 1969 reform of the Roman Calendar, the feast was omitted as being too near the Nativity of Our Lady (Sept. 8th) but it was restored to the Calendar in 2002. The readings are of the Friday, but if celebrating the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Mary, these can be used: Gal. 4:4-7 (when the appointed time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law..) and Lk 1:39-47 (The Visitation).

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-27

(Paul’s total dedication to his preaching ministry.)

If I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach 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 preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Gospel: Luke 6:39-42

(The need for self-awareness before we offer to judge others.)

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.

Gifts are for Using

The readings deal with leadership but they can apply to all human relationships. We are asked to interact with one another, not as superiors who command inferiors but in humility recognizing the unique gift of each person.

Paul writes about himself in graphic terms, acknowledging the abundant grace he has received for his missionary work. It is a commission that Christ has entrusted to him, and he feels compelled to carry it out, even at the cost of considerable sacrifice. It is for apostolic freedom that he has remained celibate, being “free from all men” and he makes himself a slave to all, that he might win the more. Yet even such overflowing zeal can raise its own problems. Sometimes Paul can appear arrogant, demanding and difficult. He feels that he must pummel his body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others he should be disqualified himself. His public self-examination is a lesson in genuine leadership. Some centuries later, Saint Augustine did something similar in his “Confessions” by showing the kind of healthy introspection that can purify the human heart.

The Gospel asks us to respect, admire and learn from the gifts of one another. Otherwise, in our ignorance we will not only be arrogant but like a blind man trying to guide another we lead both into the ditch of error. Each of us needs the wisdom of others to balance our own special insights and strengths. It is difficult for a learned person to receive advice from another, no matter how experienced the other may be. We need charitable interaction in the Church to keep all of our gifts united, at the service of all, for the sake of the imperishable wreath of eternal life.