Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Corinthians 9, 19-27

So though I was not a slave to any human being, I put myself in slavery to all people, to win as many as I could.

To the Jews I made myself as a Jew, to win the Jews; to those under the Law as one under the Law (though I am not), in order to win those under the Law;

to those outside the Law as one outside the Law, though I am not outside the Law but under Christ's law, to win those outside the Law.

To the weak, I made myself weak, to win the weak. I accommodated myself to people in all kinds of different situations, so that by all possible means I might bring some to salvation.

All this I do for the sake of the gospel, that I may share its benefits with others.

Do you not realise that, though all the runners in the stadium take part in the race, only one of them gets the prize? Run like that -- to win.

Every athlete concentrates completely on training, and this is to win a wreath that will wither, whereas ours will never wither.

So that is how I run, not without a clear goal; and how I box, not wasting blows on air.

I punish my body and bring it under control, to avoid any risk that, having acted as herald for others, I myself may be disqualified.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The true liberty that Paul witnesses to and proclaims to us is the liberty of making himself a “slave to all” in order to communicate the Gospel. With the strength that comes from the testimony of his life, the apostle combines two statements: even though “free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all.” Here we can sense an echo of Jesus’ own words: “But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43). This is not an ascetic exercise intended to perfect the soul. The apostle made himself a slave in order to win over as many people as possible to Christ. He repeats the verb “to win” five times in just a few lines, linking it to another verb, “to save.” The apostle’s heart does not beat for itself, but expands to embrace the world: “I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some.” Not only does he refuse to exclude anyone (whether Jewish or pagan), but neither does he seem to let himself rest until he has reached as many people as possible. This is his contest, his race, to which he dedicates his entire life. This witness should resound especially strongly for the Christians living at the beginning of this new millennium. Once again, Paul comes into our midst as the one who knows how to welcome the universal spirit of Jesus’ preaching and make it the foundation of his life. We could say that he was the first one to make the globalization of love a reality, defeating all close-mindedness, every boundary, and every ethnic or even religious division. The apostle wants to reach the entire world. He has Rome on his mind, the capital of the empire, and he even wants to go as far as Spain, the empire’s farthest reaches. Even today, Paul remains the example for every Christian community of how to communicate the Gospel all the way to the ends of the earth. Once again, the problem is not an external one. We do not have any definite proof that Paul made it to Spain. What counts is the universality of the heart. It is here, in our heart that boundaries and barriers must be brought down. They are traced out in the hearts and minds of people before they exist on the outside.