Becoming Fully Trained Disciples, 23rd Friday (II), September 9, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Peter Claver
September 9, 2016
1 Cor 9:16-19.22-27, Ps 84, Lk 6:39-42


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us an indication of what he hopes we will become: “When fully trained,” he said, “every disciple will be like his teacher.” Jesus wants us to become like him, to love as he has loved, to live as he has lived. The essence of human life and of Christian existence is to become “fully trained.” God provides this training, through his Word, through his Church, even through the suffering he permits. In the Gospel, in the powerful parable of the splinter and the wooden beam, Jesus indicates to us that he wants us paying attention to the ways that we need to grow, to those aspects of our own conduct that still need to be trained, rather than to obsess about others’ faults and flaws.
  • St. Paul in the first reading today likewise talks about the training necessary to become saints, to become like Jesus. He makes an analogy to the training of championship athletes. “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.” We need to learn how to exercise discipline in every way, because discipline makes disciples. In this, St. Paul leads the Corinthians and us by example. He says, “Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” He was taking out his own logs from his life and that’s why he was able to see so clearly to help others.
  • And help others he did. He wanted everyone to become fully trained disciples through exercising discipline in every way. He made himself “a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.” He became “all things to all, to save at least some.” His love for others and his recognition of God’s love for them because the driving force of his zeal. He wasn’t doing it for money or for earthly compensation, but because of an interior obligation to share the joy of what he himself had received. “Woe to me,” he says today, “if I do not preach the Gospel!” He recognized he had been given a treasure of which he had been made a steward and sought to pass on free of charge what he himself had received. A Christian spiritual athlete fully formed will have that same holy woe.
  • Today we celebrate one such great spiritual athlete. As a young Jesuit, he left his native Spain in order to go to Cartagena, Colombia, to minister to the African slaves where they would disembark after a brutal trans-Pacific journey, be sold and bought. Their condition was execrable. As our opening prayer reminds us, he became a “slave to the slaves,” and “seeking the things of Jesus Christ” sought to “love [his] neighbor in deeds and in truth.” Rather than insisting on his rights, he became a Good Samaritan to those whose rights were being denied. Fully trained, exercising discipline in every way and filled with a zeal to spread the faith, St. Peter crisscrossed the ocean to spend the last 44 years of his life as a slave to the slaves, catechizing them by learning their dialects or finding translators, baptizing more than 300,000 of them, sharing their life and doing everything he could to introduce them to the liberation that comes from Christ. And he preached to their slaveowners. And he preached to everyone he could, even from a stretcher when we was too infirm to walk. He made himself all things to the slaves — even sleeping in their quarters rather than in their masters’ when he came to preach missions to them — so as to save as many as he could. And his example remains a powerful witness to us all today.
  • The greatest spiritual training of all takes place through the Mass, in which we enter into Jesus’ own passion, death and resurrection. He gives us the chance here not only to become “like” him but to enter into communion with him, so that the Master can continue to teach and train us, his disciples, from the inside. This is the means by which we learn from him how to give our lives, our own body, blood and soul, for the salvation of others, to save as many as possible. Hearing the Word of God zealously proclaimed, we’re moved to receive God’s blessing at the end of Mass and to “go and proclaim the Gospel of the Lord.” Examining our consciences before Mass, we confess to God and to others that we’re sinners with logs in our eyes but that we’re turning together with them to the Lord so that we may likewise see and experience his mercy to such a degree that with our eyes healed we may help others to see by faith. This is where we receive a foretaste of the imperishable wreath with which God one day seeks to crown us, as he did St. Paul and St. Peter Claver. The Lord’s dwelling place is indeed lovely, and he seeks to make his dwelling place in us and in all those to whom he wishes to send us, as he sent Paul and Peter Claver before us. May we receive Jesus’ help to become as fully trained as they!


The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 1 COR 9:16-19, 22B-27

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race,
but only one wins the prize?
Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.
They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

Responsorial Psalm PS 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12

R. (2) How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
For a sun and a shield is the LORD God;
grace and glory he bestows;
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk in sincerity.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Alleluia SEE JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 6:39-42

Jesus told his disciples a parable:
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”