September 3, 2022 –
St. Gregory the Great

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1 Corinthians 4:6-15  +  Luke 6:1-5

“What do you possess that you have not received?”

St. Paul in yesterday’s First Reading referred to Christians as “stewards of the mysteries of God”.  In today’s First Reading Saint Paul continues to preach on the topic of stewardship, noting that everything in our life is a “given”.  But if this is so, he rhetorically asks the Corinthians, why are they “boasting as if [they] did not receive it?”  In fact, the “givenness” of our lives and everything in them calls for humility from us.

But St. Paul goes further.  In describing himself and the other apostles, he debases himself for a specific purpose.  He describes the apostles as being “like people sentenced to death”, as “fools on Christ’s account”, and “like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all”.  At the same time, he raises up those whom he serves, saying that the apostles are weak, but the Corinthians are strong, and that the Corinthians are held in honor, but the apostles in disrepute.

These points are made to admonish the Corinthians as Paul’s spiritual children.  Here he reveals his motive in this passage of his letter:  to beget in his children the humility that will foster spiritual growth.  He concludes with a verse that contradicts those who say that Christians—such as priests—cannot serve as spiritual fathers:  “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”