1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27
Psalm 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12
Saint Paul worked tirelessly to preach the Gospel to all the nations. It was his vocation, his response to God’s calling, an obligation imposed on him out of love. Today’s Gospel message asks us to walk in the light of Christ. If we are spiritually blinded by sin, we stumble and cannot lead others along the path to holiness.
Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being blind guides. Instead of teaching people the heart of the law, they concentrate on the minor aspects of the law. Instead of leading the people into the Kingdom of Heaven, they make it difficult for them to enter.
Sin has a blinding effect because it darkens our reason. It makes us ignorant. Grace, on the other hand, enlightens our reason and makes us wise. The spiritually blind cannot open their own eyes. The Lord is the only one who can open our eyes (Psalm 146:8).
When Jesus cures a blind man, it is a sign that points to something greater. Curing spiritual blindness is actually greater than curing physical blindness. When Jesus heals the paralyzed man, it testifies to his ability to forgive sins. To receive God’s mercy we must admit our faults.
Blindness is not the only effect of sin. Sin also enslaves us. Saint Paul enjoys the freedom of the children of God. A child of God, though, serves and is a slave to all. A child of God does not come to be served, but to serve.
Paul compares our life to a race. We are like runners in a stadium who run not for a laurel crown or an Olympic medal, but for an imperishable crown. To get the crown of glory, though, we need to accept the crown of thorns. When we work to uproot sin and vice, we imitate athletes who drive their bodies and train them. We do not do this alone, because our ascetic efforts ought to be sustained by God’s grace.
Part of our effort in the race of our life, involves removing the wooden beams of sin in our lives. What is my wooden beam? Am I blinded by pride or lust or greed or anger? The first step toward sight is simple: turn to Jesus the Divine Physician. He can remove the wooden beam and cure us.